“Indeed. But don’t ever forget the power that you have over him. He seeks to control you, but he doesn’t understand you. It’s his greatest weakness. I do not think he has realized that harming you was a tactical error.”
Reyna raised her chin. “He will one day.”
Washington let a small smile grace his cheeks. “I believe you.”
With that, Reyna grabbed fresh clothes out of one of their duffel bags, climbed two flights of stairs, turned left, and faced down the door to Beckham’s room. She slowly walked toward it and placed her hand on the metal doorknob. Her hand shook on the knob before she worked up the courage to turn it and push the door open. She flipped on the lights and the room was bathed in a soft glow from the antique lamps. It felt homey in Beckham’s space instead of threatening. A four-poster bed took up the center of the room, complete with a canopy and navy duvet. An entire wall was full from top to bottom with books in every shape, color, and size. An old-fashioned writing desk sat unoccupied in a corner, still littered with papers he’d apparently left behind.
She knew immediately that the Beckham who had lived and worked at this residence had not been the Beckham she had known. This was the ruthless vampire who had risen to the top with murder and destruction. The vampire he had been before he’d turned his back on this life and started to help Elle. Before he became hers.
She could sense it in every fiber of her being, standing here. Still, somehow, she was completely connected to Beckham in every way. He was gone, but she could feel him like phantom pain in a severed limb.
Reyna swallowed back the bile rising in her throat and then for the first time since Beckham had wrapped his jacket around her shoulders, she removed it from her body. She found a wardrobe against the wall…still stocked with clothes. The smell of him nearly overwhelmed her. For a moment it was as if he were standing directly behind her. She could close her eyes and feel his hands on her and breathe him in. But he wasn’t there.
She pushed all the clothes together, took out a hanger, and hung the jacket in the wardrobe. She hated the absence of it already. She wouldn’t let it go, but she would keep moving forward. If she stopped entirely, his death would be for nothing. Beckham would want her to go on. He would want her to use his death to further their cause. He would want so much more from her. He always had.
Mourning would be a long process, but she couldn’t let it cripple her. Not when there was so much left to do. After her shower, Reyna felt much clearer and levelheaded. She dragged on new clothes, pulled her hair up in a sharp ponytail, and knew what she needed to do.
* * *
An hour later, she had everyone assembled in the dining room. The room was much too big for their motley crew of five, but it was better than nothing. Tye had stood on the antique table to light the candles on the chandelier, which somehow had survived all this time and not been replaced by electric.
“Do you know how old that table is you’re standing on?” Washington tsked. Reyna didn’t know how else he was supposed to light it.
“Probably not as ancient as you, old man,” Tye said teasingly before jumping down and taking his seat.
“I take no offense to having three hundred or so years on you,” Washington said.
Reyna stood from her seat at the head of the table. It had been purposeful to take what had been Sydney’s place. None of them knew if the leader of Elle had survived the attack on the bunker.
“I called this meeting,” Reyna said, “because I don’t want to waste any time. Though I am thankful that we have a place to stay, there’s a lot that needs to be done.”
“Reyna,” Meghan said with a sigh, “this is really not the time. You should rest. You should grieve. You need the time to recover.”
Reyna held up her hand, and to her surprise Meghan actually stopped talking. “I understand where you’re coming from, but no. I don’t need downtime. I don’t need to grieve. I’ll sleep when I’m dead. Right now we need to regroup and hit them back. They’ll never expect us to rally.”
“Because we have nothing to rally around,” Meghan said.
“That’s where you’re wrong. We have everything to rally around. Everything. Visage is still going to unveil their plans for a feeding camp. They still have humans imprisoned beneath their building in the city. They’re trying to take over the world. We can’t let them get away with it.”