“Another one?” she whispered.

Katarina tipped her head at Reyna and smiled as she pushed past her. “Morning!”

Beckham appeared then. Coming out of the early morning light in a fresh three-piece suit. Not a trace of his near-death experience on him.

“Little One,” he said with a smile as he approached.

“What are you doing with these people?”

“They’re vampires. My circle found them. Do you have another solution?”

“Becks, please. This is wrong.”

“I know,” he said.

“If you know, then stop this.”

“What’s going on?” came a voice from behind her. It was Jodie. She glanced between Reyna and Beckham and Katarina’s disappearing back. “You found someone to…experiment on?”

“Beckham is going to put a stop to this,” Reyna said.

“It is us or them. And none of my men are going to volunteer for something like this.”

“So instead you’re going to force people to do it against their will?” Jodie asked, her voice near hysteria.

She stalked toward them, stomping her feet with each step. By the time she’d made it in front of Beckham, the rest of the house had woken up. Gabe, Meghan, and Tye were standing at the top of the stairs, staring down at them. Even Genevieve had peeked her head out for a moment.

“I was taken at the age of twelve and experimented on by men who believed that this was ethical, or who just didn’t fucking care. They wanted my blood and they didn’t care what the fuck it did to me. If you do this…how are we any better than Visage?” Jodie asked with fire in every word.

“We wouldn’t be,” Reyna said. “We do not need this cure to win. We can be better than them.”

“I would keep you innocent of this if I could,” Beckham said. “But sometimes we have to think like our enemies to defeat them.”

Jodie reared back and slapped Beckham across the face. His head moved not an inch. She rung out her hand like a dirty dish towel as she yelped in pain. Reyna’s jaw dropped. Holy fucking balls!

Beckham took a step forward. His face mere inches from Jodie’s. “You have known torment of the likes I have inflicted. You are stronger for it. Do not break now.”

Then he walked away, leaving them standing in his wake, wondering what they were going to do. They could not overpower a vampire. Not a one of them. They weren’t about to shoot them. If they did nothing, were they giving their implicit acceptance?

“I can’t…I can’t let them do it. These two are innocent,” Jodie said, choking on unshed tears. “Innocents should not be the casualty of war.”

“And yet they are,” Reyna said. “We all are. Innocence lost.”

Reyna took a deep breath and then did the only thing she could—she walked away. On some level, she knew that Beckham was right. What else could they do? This was war. It was messy. It was awful. It brought death and destruction and mayhem. Why wouldn’t it destroy her integrity as well?

A few months ago, she wouldn’t have even stopped to think about this, but now she was different. Now she had to be a leader. She had to win this war. And at the end of the day, there were only two options—what she could and couldn’t live with. Walking away wasn’t the easier choice, but it was the only real one. As much as that ripped at her heart, Beckham had already come to this conclusion. He was the hardened warrior allowing them to vent their human morality on him. It wasn’t the first time he’d been the bad guy. It wouldn’t be the last. But he’d get the job done…and so would she.

Jodie disappeared out the front door, silent tears streaming down her face. Meghan dashed down the stairs and out the door after her. But Reyna couldn’t follow. She a hundred percent understood where Jodie was coming from. If anyone did, it was Reyna. But she couldn’t be of comfort here. Not when she understood why they must do this…even if she hated understanding.

Instead, she went up the stairs, resigned. Both Tye and Gabe moved out of her way. Neither of them had to say anything. Her face said enough.

She should go back to Beckham’s room and pass out. She definitely hadn’t gotten enough sleep and her emotions felt as if they’d gone through a blender. But that felt too accepting. As if it wouldn’t matter if she could just stay up a little longer.

Her feet carried her the opposite direction until she was standing outside of Brian’s room. Reyna took a deep breath and then entered the room.

Genevieve had ceased reading her book and was looking down at the words absentmindedly. Brian was staring directly at Reyna. He was lucid, sharp, intelligent. It was clear that this much time feeding had helped. Yet he still appeared…savage. Not quite civilized. It was eerie.

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