They both tore them off as quickly as possible. Reyna finally felt like she could breathe again and Beckham still looked pissed at the indignation of it all. She hardly blamed him. He wasn’t the sort of man who was accustomed to such disrespect. Nor did he take orders well. This should be interesting.

The driver came around and let them out of the limo. He walked toward elevator doors, which were built into the garage wall. Reyna and Beckham followed. When the doors dinged open, he let them inside first then pressed a button.


“Have a nice time,” he said pleasantly.

Beckham straightened and dropped all emotion from his face in the span of a second. She knew that she wasn’t as good at that as he was. She’d hardened because of all the pain, but fear wasn’t as easy to conceal as she would have liked.

When the elevator opened, a butler was waiting for them. But Reyna’s eyes moved beyond the butler. The entrance to the home was at least three stories tall and as grand as any castle she’d read about in Europe. Persian rugs carpeted the floor, artwork hung in gilded frames, a crystal chandelier dangled from the ceiling. It was opulent beyond measure.

“Ah, Miss Reyna Carpenter and Mr. Beckham Anderson,” the butler said. “What a pleasure to have you in residence tonight. I am Edgar. May I take your coats?”

Reyna swallowed before taking her jacket off and handing it to Edgar, who didn’t even glance twice at her dress. He hung her and Beckham’s jackets up in a hall closet.

“Your meeting will be in the office tonight. Would you care for some refreshments? Coffee, tea, wine? Biscuits and scones?”

“No…no, thank you,” Reyna said.

“Ah, well, I am certain you will want something while you wait.” Edgar snapped his fingers. A woman in a black dress and white apron glided into the room. “Prepare a tray for our guests.”

“Of course.” She curtsied—actually curtsied—and then disappeared.

Beckham didn’t blink. Reyna couldn’t stop blinking.

“This way,” Edgar said.

They walked through grandiose room after grandiose room. Some as large as ballrooms, with marble floors and fireplaces as large as people, others elaborate sitting rooms with antique Tiffany lamps, sumptuous curtains, and velvet-cushioned furniture. Dining rooms with antique bone china and seating for at least twenty. Everything was luxe and old…very very old.

“Here we are.” Edgar pushed the door open to a room at the end of the hall. “He will be in soon. Make yourself at home and I’ll have refreshments brought in.”

Reyna walked into the room in a daze. “Oh my God,” she barely breathed.

His office was…a library.

It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen in her entire life. It went up as far as the eye could see. Floor after floor after dizzyingly high floor. It boggled her mind the sheer height of the place. It didn’t seem possible that the library could keep going up and up forever. But somehow that was how it appeared.

And books covered every surface. Tables full of books half-opened and abandoned. Hardly a single space was free in the whole place. Just more books and more learning and more information trapped in here. Enough for a hundred lifetimes. A thousand lifetimes.

Her mouth watered with the desire to reach out and take a book off of the shelf and dig in. How could she feel otherwise being in this bastion of learning?

“I want one,” she told Beckham with wide eyes.

“I’ll get right on that.”

Reyna’s high heels clicked on the hardwood floor as she walked mesmerized through the room. What an incredible place to call an office. To get to cozy up in here anytime they wanted and indulge. To forget the world and all its troubles in a story. Was there anything greater than losing and finding yourself in the pages of a book?

“Good evening,” a woman said, appearing at the entrance to the office. She whisked in a tray full of treats—little finger sandwiches, delicate desserts, and piping hot tea. “My name is Isolde. It’s a pleasure to have you in residence tonight. Please, have a seat. No one wants to wait without having a spot of tea.”

Isolde directed them to a sitting area with plush brown-leather chairs that may have been the most comfortable thing Reyna had ever sat in. Isolde settled the tray of treats on the table then poured both Beckham and Reyna a cup of tea.

“Thank you,” Reyna said with a smile.

“Anytime, dear. It’s wonderful to have you here. It’s not often we have guests.”

Reyna felt like a guest. Though the thought confused her. She’d been hooded to get here and she didn’t even know their contact’s name. They were being pampered and treated with the utmost respect, but Gabe thought this guy was a scary motherfucker. It felt like a strange duality.

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