It was the first time in two weeks that he’d been unchained and out of that room. His eyes took in everything like a sponge soaking up water. Reyna could see that his vampire abilities had manifested just in the way that he moved. Most vampires post–blood type cure had developed a human way of walking again, especially around humans. But Brian seemed to shift from one space to the next as if he couldn’t quite control his vampire speed. He prowled more like an animal than a man. It was…disturbing.

God, she hoped this worked. She desperately wanted her brother back. She knew he’d never be the same.

Brian took a seat next to Washington, flanked by Beckham and Philippé. The rest of Becks’ circle was observing the other “participants” and were to report to Washington if anything changed.

Reyna clenched the lab table as Washington prepped Brian for the cure.

“You understand that this is experimental treatment for the case of vampirism. Possible issues related to the cure are still uncertain,” Washington said to Brian as he swabbed his arm with an alcohol pad.

“Yes,” Brian said. “Just…fix me.”

“You’ll feel a pinch and then a burning. That’s normal.”

“I’ve endured torture. Just get it over with.”

Beckham raised an eyebrow at Reyna. She shrugged. He’d asked her for another solution. She just wished she’d figured one out sooner.

It only took a second. Washington inserted the needle and pumped the plunger until the liquid was gone. He removed the needle just as quickly, covered the drop of blood with a cotton ball, and then placed a ridiculous Band-Aid over the injection site. A vampire with a Band-Aid. Now she’d seen everything.

“Did it work?” Reyna asked. She chewed on her lip and stared intently at Brian to look for any changes.

He hissed and clutched his arm. “You said burning. Not like I was on fire from the inside out.”

“It was hard to determine the mental state of the others,” Washington said by way of apology.

Brian doubled over, clutching his stomach. It was as if he had a stomach bug and was about to spew everything he’d recently eaten. Except all he did was moan over the pain. Utter uncontrollable pain. It scorched through him as Golden Blood took root, acting as white blood cells fighting the vampiric virus that had infected his body.

Suddenly, he fell backward off of his stool and collapsed onto the ground. His body seized once, twice, three times.

Washington rushed to him, turning him on his side to try to mitigate the problem. Reyna was there next. Her hand on Brian’s shoulder. Her eyes full of worry. She didn’t care that she was potentially in danger. This was her brother. She would not let this happen.

“What can I do?” Reyna gasped. “My blood?”

“No,” Washington snapped. “I warned you it would be traumatic. Golden Blood has to get through his entire system. It’s as painful to be remade human as it was to be turned.”

Brian convulsed, yet was unresponsive for a solid five minutes while Reyna watched helplessly. He had volunteered. This was what he wanted. But he must be in unbelievable agony. Suddenly he stopped, shifting onto his back and groaning.

His eyes fluttered open and he looked up at the ceiling. “Oh God.”

“Brian? How are you feeling?”

“My skin is melting off.”

“Did it work?” she asked Washington eagerly.

“Let’s carefully get him back up,” Washington said. “I need to test his blood.”

Philippé helped Brian back into his seat. Brian shuddered against every touch as if he had an intense sunburn and his skin was on fire. Beckham stood stoically nearby and awaited the verdict. Washington drew blood and went to work to verify what he had seen with the other two. Reyna remained at Brian’s side, hoping and praying that this wasn’t all for naught.

Finally, Washington loosed a breath. “It’s eliminating the virus.”

Reyna gasped. “It worked?”

“It appears that the first wave of the injection worked as with the others. His vampirism is being fought off, eliminated. It will take some more time of observation to determine how much of the other side effects of vampirism are eliminated, but at this time…yes, it worked.”

* * *

Reyna stayed with Brian until Washington forced him to rest. The elimination of the virus would wreck him and leave him exhausted. He needed as much sleep as possible to process it.

Before she left him though, she got his permission to call Drew and Laura to tell them the good news. She was beyond ready to have something good to tell them. She knew that they’d both been worrying as much as she had. Laura had been a wreck, and Reyna was happy to tell her that they would bring her up to the mansion the next time they sent a car into town. At least this gave them hope.

“How’s he doing?” Jodie asked.