“It’s untested,” Katarina said. “Who knows what it could do to us? I’ll take my chances as a vampire before that.”
“We have to test it,” Beckham insisted. “Think of the possibilities.”
Washington’s eyes lit up. “Indeed! Imagine the number of people we could save. The number of lives we could change.”
Beckham shot him an incredulous look. “Think of the weapon it could be.”
Washington’s face fell. “This isn’t biological warfare.”
“No. Not everything created has to be a weapon.”
“Fortunately for us the inventor doesn’t get to dictate its potential uses.”
“We don’t even know if it works,” Reyna said, jumping in before their argument got heated.
“It works!” Washington insisted.
“What we need is someone to test it on,” Gerard spoke up from the corner. He gently placed a bookmark into his romance novel and stood from his seat. “I’m not volunteering, but it’d be easy enough to find a vampire nearby to experiment on.”
“Absolutely not!” Meghan gushed.
“It is the most efficient option,” Zoya added.
“That’s unethical! It goes against all medical practice.” Meghan’s head snapped to Washington. “You cannot do that.”
“I agree with Meghan. I won’t force someone,” Washington said.
“For fuck’s sake,” Gabe said. “We have a couple of vamps here. One of you should man up.”
Every vampire in the room turned to glare at him. He hastily held up his hands and backed down from that notion.
“There’s only one option,” Gerard said. “We’ll go now.”
He nodded at Beckham before moving at super vamp speed out of the house. Katarina and Zoya followed close behind. Only Beckham remained.
“You’re not going to let them do this, are you?” Reyna asked.
He just stared at her. Fuck, he was going to let this happen. It made her sick to even consider it.
“Becks,” she whispered.
“It’s been a long night, Reyna. You should clean up and rest.”
“Don’t patronize me.”
“In war, there are no rules.”
“No. In war, we decide what rules to break. We decide how much of our humanity we will have left. We decide.”
“Then you would rather choose to do nothing?” he asked. Not an ounce of offense or blame in his words. He was truly curious. In every world he’d ever lived, this was his reality. His life was a never-ending war of his own choosing, where rules applied to someone else and might was right.
“Not nothing. But we’ve known about this for a few minutes. We can’t expect there to be only one answer.”
“Find me another solution, then.”
He affectionately brushed her hair back and then disappeared. Reyna cursed softly under her breath. She turned to find the rest of her ramshackle team of Elle members staring wide-eyed at her.
“You heard the man. Anyone know another solution?”
“I hate to say it, but…this seems like the only answer,” Gabe said, getting a good scowl from Meghan. “We have to test it. There’s an army of vampires out there somewhere who want to take us down and rogue vampires going mad with an incurable disease. Would you rather have a weapon to stop them or not?”
“Start looking,” Reyna said, and strode to a computer.
She wouldn’t believe there was no other option unless she had to. And she really fucking didn’t want to have to.
* * *
“Get the fuck off of me!”
Reyna jolted awake. She stared blearily around her and realized she’d fallen asleep at her computer. The screen was blank. She’d accomplished nothing. Great.
She rubbed her eyes to try to clear the haze of the evening. It was late. When she glanced at the giant clock in the corner, she realized it was just past six in the morning. So much for trying to find a different way to test this cure. She’d been brain-dead.
Jodie was passed out on the couch in the corner. Gabe, Meghan, and Tye had long ago gone to bed, by the looks of things.
Another string of curses came from the entranceway. Reyna stood and stretched her aching limbs. When she walked out of the dining room, she found Gerard and Zoya restraining a blond woman. She appeared to be in her late twenties. Tall, trim, otherworldly beautiful with blue eyes that nearly glowed. Reyna watched in horror as the blonde snapped her fangs at Gerard. He dismissed her as if she were nothing. And to him she probably was.
“What’s going on?” Reyna croaked. She cleared her throat. “Who’s this?”
Gerard shot her an impassive glance. “You asked for a vampire. I brought you a vampire.”
“I didn’t ask for anything.”
“What the hell is going on here?” the blond woman asked.
“I won’t be a part of this,” Reyna said, ignoring the woman.
“Then don’t,” Gerard said.
He had begun to muscle his way past her, when Katarina and Philippé entered the room, holding an unconscious man between them. He looked to be in his forties in a battered button-down and slacks. Unlike the screaming blonde, he looked as if he’d come out of a gutter. Dirty and disheveled.