“Miss Reyna, now might not be the best time,” Genevieve muttered.
“I want to speak to my brother. Alone.”
“I said I didn’t want to see you,” Brian snarled.
“Doesn’t look like I care what you want right now.”
Brian snarled but Reyna held her ground. What the hell could he do to her? He was chained to that chair.
“Five minutes. I’ll come back if I hear anything out of the ordinary,” Genevieve said. She looked once more at Brian. “Behave.”
He flashed his fangs at her in warning. She laughed this little tinkling thing in response and then left, closing the door behind her.
Reyna grabbed Genevieve’s abandoned chair and moved it so it was facing backward across from Brian with enough distance to make her feel safe. She kicked a leg over the side, sat down, and placed her arms on the back of the chair.
“Hey,” she said.
“You’re obstructing my recovery.”
“Bullshit. That’s what you are. You’re bullshit.”
“Get the fuck out of here,” Brian snarled, pulling against his chains.
“Tell me what happened and I’ll leave.”
A low growl came out of him. She was too numb about what was happening downstairs to care about the warning call.
“I said tell me what happened,” she repeated. “Or I’m going to bring Drew and Laura here to see you.”
“No,” he snapped.
“I know you want to see them. That you’re just feeling guilty about what happened. I saw it. I know the devastation. But I’m pretty much learning that we all have casualties to this war. And whatever happened to you happened against your will. You were another experiment, another weapon in Harrington’s arsenal.”
“Don’t say his name.”
“Harrington? Yeah, I’m not too happy with him either. Remember when he kidnapped me? That wasn’t great.”
Brian’s chest heaved up and down, but his eyes were on the ground. “He…tortured me.”
“I know,” she whispered.
“He captured us that night, brought us to his facilities, stripped us naked, and tortured us near to death. He killed Xavier in front of us. He did anything you can imagine…and anything you can’t, to get information out of us.”
Reyna swallowed. Jesus. And poor Xavier. He’d been one of the few vampires of Elle that Reyna had known. Quiet but dutiful.
“Then he turned you?” Reyna guessed softly.
“Almost. Over and over again. Drain us near to dying, then keep us alive, and then do it again. He did it all without the bites so that we never had a single feeling of euphoria, only pain. A few people died. A few people…killed themselves.”
Reyna closed her eyes against the images that assaulted her.
“Then he turned me. Me and one other—Andrew. I don’t know what happened to him. We were taken into different rooms and starved. I remember little of that time, only when I was unleashed on the safe house and you found me. Beckham stopped me.” Brian released a harsh breath. As if finally telling his story had loosened something in him. He stared down at the floor as he said, “I heard you talking downstairs.”
Reyna froze. “About what?”
“The cure. A cure for vampirism.”
“No,” Reyna said. She couldn’t let that happen. Not when she still had never brought Laura or Drew back to see him. “It’s untested. What if something went wrong, Brian? I can’t let you do it.”
“I’m volunteering. You wanted a volunteer.” He met her eyes. “Well, here I am. You don’t get to make these choices for me.”
“Please,” she whispered.
“This is what I want.” Something clicked into place at that. Brian sat up straighter. His movements became more fluid. Some of the madness left his face. “I’d rather die than spend another moment as a vampire.”
“Tell me about the side effects again,” Reyna said anxiously. She paced back and forth in front of Washington’s table, where he was removing another dose of Golden Blood. She couldn’t believe this was happening. That Brian, her Brian, was going to take this experiemental cure.
“Reyna,” Washington said with a sigh, “I have already informed you that I do not know what could happen to Brian. So far our two other…participants are moving along nicely. Maybe better than I expected. But it has been under an hour. I have no way of determining what could go wrong.”
“Guesses?” she pushed.
“That is not how medicine works.”
“Well, we’re about to throw my brother under the proverbial bus. Give me something?”
“Why? So that you can worry?” Washington set the tube down and turned to face her again. “If you persist in badgering me, I’ll have you escorted out of my laboratory. Brian has volunteered for this operation. That’s what you wanted—a volunteer. It would be imprudent to reject the opportunity now.”
“Fine. Fine,” Reyna grumbled. Except she desperately wanted to reject the opportunity.
Reyna tried to sit and wait out the process as Washington added Golden Blood to a syringe. The needle made her mouth dry. It wasn’t even for her and it made her want to run in the other direction. She shuddered and hastily glanced away just as Brian was escorted in.