Beckham grinned. “I’ll put it on the list.”
“How do you feel?” Meghan asked.
“Better. I’m not even sore. How long was I out?”
“About an hour.”
Reyna rubbed her eyes and then swished her legs off the table. She jumped down and stretched out her sore limbs. She felt none of the pain from the explosion. Her hand went to the back of her head. No goose egg. They’d put her into sweatpants and a black T-shirt. Her old clothes were probably long gone. Destroyed in the blast.
“Oh! The cure!”
Meghan winced and sat back. Beckham gestured to the cooler sitting on the floor. Inside all of the tiny vials of liquid were shattered. Glass lay at the bottom with a few dribbles of the gold liquid mixed with some kind of ice to keep it cold.
“No,” she whispered. “All of it’s gone?”
“It must have shattered and drained before I got to it.”
Reyna put her head between her knees. All of that work. Everything Washington had done to get them a cure, possibly even a weapon to use against Visage, and now it was gone.
Beckham shook his head. “He never left the mansion.”
“We’re so fucked,” Meghan said.
“All that research. Everything he’d been working on just gone. No cure. None of the research on our blood match or on Jodie’s blood. We may never know what he would have been capable of with more time.” Reyna closed her eyes for a minute, took a deep breath, and then straightened. “But we can’t change what happened. I think we knew all along what we needed to do. We were just trying to find an edge to use against our opponent. Well, we found one.” She turned to face Beckham. “We’re blood matched. If that doesn’t throw his chess game out of whack, nothing will.”
“What are you suggesting?” Meghan asked.
“I go in and face Harrington alone. I’m the only one who can get close enough.”
“Are you crazy? That’s suicide.”
“It’s not. He might have an antidote, but nothing can substitute for the real thing. And it’ll be a point of pride for him that he has me after I’ve evaded him for so long. I can do this.”
Reyna braced herself, expecting the worst from Beckham. His silence was weighted. It typically held more power than most people’s words. She knew his first priority was her safety, but if there was only one way to save the world, she’d take it. One more life for millions.
“You’re right,” Beckham said, staring down at the floor. Then he finally met her gaze and she felt calm resolve resonate from him.
She blinked twice. “Come again?”
One side of his lips upturned as if he found her surprise humorous. But he just nodded at her as if they were on the same page. As if he understood where she was coming from and what this would cost them both.
“You really think I can do this?” It was different hearing it from him. She’d been expecting a fight. He’d always fought her on anything that could harm her. This acceptance was new. It was…powerful.
“You can get close to Harrington,” he said, taking her hand. “That much we know for a fact. No one else is going to get that close. And we’ll need that advantage if we want to end this.”
Her heart stuttered at his words. His confidence.
He opened himself up to her and their connection bloomed into life. She felt his fear. It was there of course. But also his deep love, his careful calculation, and his determination to succeed. He believed in her. He really did.
“Plus,” he continued, “I’ll be there with you every step of the way. I trust you.”
A slow smile stretched across Reyna’s face. Trust. What a magical word.
And with that he leveled the playing field.
Soul mates and blood matched and finally equals in every way.
“All right. All right,” Gabe called from her left. They’d managed to get a lot done in the week since the explosion. And it was finally time to put that plan into action. “Shut up and let Reyna speak.”
She turned her eyes to Beckham and swallowed. “Speak?”
“You’re taking them into war. You have to rally them,” Beckham said.
Reyna’s eyes darted to her friends. Meghan and Jodie gave her an encouraging nod. Gabe winked. Tye smiled. They were all counting on her.
“Public speaking?” she hissed.
“Want my advice?”
“I hate you.”
He grinned. “Knock them dead.”
Reyna hooked her foot up on the stool and climbed onto Beckham’s sleek kitchen table. Her knees felt wobbly as she turned to face the crowd of people before her.
Her two fears: needles and public speaking.
She’d had to face one repeatedly. Seemed as if it were time to face the other.
“Hey…hey,” Reyna cried.
She crossed her arms over her chest and waited for the room to finally quiet down. It took a while, considering how many different groups of people were congregated into one space.