Graves’ eyes met hers and she regretted repeating the question. He didn’t seem prone to repeating himself. And the way his irises swirled dangerously, she wondered how close she was to pushing him over a precarious edge.
“I know much about William Harrington. He’s a man who I keep tabs on for business purposes. I’ve never much cared if vampires spread like parasites on the surface of the earth,” Graves said. “They can lay claim to the world they believe they own. It matters not to me. As petty as human wars.”
Reyna saw then the machinations behind that beautiful face. Humans and vampires were ants to him. Moving around and waiting for someone to stomp on their ant hill. He wheedled away his time lording over it all with none the wiser. A true master.
“Will you help us?” Reyna whispered.
Graves snapped his finger and moved away from the table. “Yes. I think I will.”
Reyna breathed a sigh of relief.
“But there’s a cost.”
“We already paid,” Beckham reminded him.
“That gaudy necklace covered as much as I’ve told you.” Graves turned from the bookshelf he was inspecting. “We both know it really meant nothing to you anyway.”
Beckham balked at the accusation, but there was some truth to it. Reyna knew that material possessions mattered little to Beckham. He enjoyed living in luxury, but the objects were always replaceable. The only thing that truly mattered, that he fought for, was…her.
“What price?” Reyna whispered, fear pricking her.
Graves looked at her from under long black lashes. His devious, wicked, trickster mind at work.
“A bite, if you please.”
“No,” Beckham said.
“Becks,” Reyna muttered.
“I’m not going to bite her for your fucked-up pleasure of watching.”
Graves turned his palms up and arched his eyebrows. He didn’t care one bit that Beckham was averse to biting her. That it was deeply intimate and personal. That it had only happened when they’d had sex. Not once outside of that erotic moment.
Beckham had never willingly given in to his lust for her blood. Even while he was recovering, he couldn’t bring himself to do it except while they were having sex. That’s how much he feared the monster within. That carnal beast that threatened to break free to the surface. To end up in the same position they’d been in when he’d first bitten her. When he hadn’t been able to stop.
She couldn’t do this to him.
Not in front of Graves.
“We can’t,” she whispered.
“Something else,” Beckham barked. “Ask for something else.”
“Don’t bite her, then. Give her to me for a night instead.” Graves lifted one shoulder mockingly. “Your choice.”
Beckham moved so fast that he was just a blur. Reyna could hardly process it. One minute he was standing beside her, the next he was holding on to Graves’ throat and glaring into his stormy eyes.
“I think I’ve had enough of you,” Beckham snarled. “I should snap your fucking neck or rip out your throat for half of what you’ve done tonight.”
“Becks!” she cried. “Stop it!”
Graves didn’t even look bothered by the fact that Beckham was attacking him. Reyna had never seen anyone look like that. It was unsettling.
Finally, he lifted his hand, held on to Beckham’s wrist, and twisted it. Reyna winced. On a human that move would have snapped his wrist in two. Pulverized the bone into paste. On Beckham, it just swatted his hand away as if he were a fly that had irritated Graves.
“Vampires,” Graves said with a disdainful sigh. “You are tiresome. As if resorting to violence is always the answer.”
Beckham looked as if he were going to punch Graves in the face. But he’d reassessed Graves after that maneuver. This wasn’t some amateur. Graves could handle a vampire. That was…terrifying.
“I’d like to remind you that you came to me,” Graves told them, irritation finally settling into his voice. “You offered me something that wasn’t valuable enough for the information you requested and then threatened me. In my own home.” He stared at Beckham with malice on his face. “Now get the fuck out of my house.”
Reyna jolted at his tone. Then she dashed forward between Graves and Beckham again before it came to blows. “He’s sorry. I’m sorry. This isn’t what we expected. You have to understand that we had no idea what to expect here. We’re coping poorly. But we want the information.” She placed her hand on Beckham’s wrist. “We do.”
“You know my price,” Graves said. “Either get on with it or leave. I don’t have time for games.”
Which was the opposite of true. Graves seemed to only deal in games.
Reyna nodded and then turned to face Beckham. His face was grim. His mouth set in a line of stone. His jaw feathering with barely controlled rage. His eyes the window to his soul, which was screaming to unleash.
“Hey,” she whispered. She brought her hands up to cup his cheeks. “It’s okay. It’ll be fine.”