A shudder ran through Bronwyn. “Don’t like the…smell.”

She took a step back and snarled. Her head whipped to the side, and she grabbed onto a metal table, and her nails dug points into it as if it were aluminum.


“So wrong,” she spat. “Yellow and purple and the stars are listening.”

She teetered from foot to foot a second before grasping Reyna by the front of her T-shirt. Bronwyn glanced at it and grinned like a cat.

“L. L. L,” she singsonged. “All wrapped in a bow.”

Reyna had momentarily forgotten that they’d spray-painted the Elle logo onto her shirt, a cursive L in yellow with a circle around it. Her jacket had fallen open when she’d been dragged up the stairs and now it was visible.

“Bronwyn, please, I know that you’re in there.”

But she had retreated back into whatever demented place was trapped in her brain. “Up!” she shouted.

“Please,” Reyna begged.

Bronwyn flashed her fangs and then grabbed Reyna roughly by the shoulders. She hoisted her off of her feet and then dropped her back down, jarring Reyna’s teeth. Beckham was cursing violently in her ear, a constant stream of profanity and anger. She prayed that he didn’t react exactly how Harrington wanted him to. That he didn’t come barreling in here and confront Bronwyn.

Bronwyn started humming a nursery rhyme to herself as she patted Reyna down. “Don’t need these,” she said as she discarded two knives strapped to Reyna’s forearms.

She found a third wicked thing down her back, then the two guns attached to her thighs, and a lock pick in her pocket. Bronwyn casually tossed the items into a container. Then continued with her perusal.

“Oh bad toy. Bad, bad toy.” Bronwyn found earpiece, popped it out of its place, and then smashed it under her foot. “No other toys allowed.”

Reyna blew out slowly. It was okay. She hadn’t thought that they’d let her keep the earpiece. It’d been nice while it lasted.

Then Bronwyn ran her hand over the video camera. It met the same fate as the sound piece. Finally she found another smaller knife in Reyna’s boot and a tracker. Reyna winced at the loss of that. Not that she wasn’t a beacon already for Beckham, but they’d hoped that would be of value if they took her too far away.

Too late now.

She hated the loss of Beckham being able to hear and see what was happening to her, but at least they had each other. She tried to broadcast clearly to him that everything was okay. Or…as okay as it could be. She could still sense that he was in the van, but…for how long?

“Any other tricks up your pretty little sleeves?” Bronwyn asked. She made a dangerous predatory circle around Reyna. “I like the way the music sings in battle. It suddenly all makes sense. All the other noise is gone and I can finally hear.”

“War makes sense to you?”

Bronwyn tilted her head to the side. “Battle is what I am built for. Can you hear it?”

Reyna tried to listen to whatever Bronwyn was talking about, but there was nothing different. Just the din in the background of fighting. Fighting that she needed to stop.

Bronwyn’s hands were in fists in front of her and they started to shake. Her head swiveled side to side as if she were listening to a song only she could hear.

“You need help,” Reyna said. “We can…we can get you help.”

Bronwyn hummed louder.

“Beckham would help you.”

Her eyes snapped open. Something like lucidity came back in her black eyes. Her black bob swished around her chin at a haphazard angle. Her spine straightened to her considerable height. For a second—a small second—she almost looked human.

“Nooooo!” Bronwyn screamed. She put her hands on her head and shook back and forth. “No! Not then. Death and death and death. And say hi to mom. Cut and slice and burn. Murder. Turn it around. Show me how. Do it again. And again.”

She mumbled again and again and again until she was crouched in on herself, all sanity forgotten. Reyna swallowed, torn between leaving Bronwyn behind and escaping now that she had the chance, and finding a way to reach her. She knew there was no way to reach her. It was impossible. Not here. But it was hard to see her like this.

Reyna took a breath and then darted for the door. She almost had her hand on the handle when Bronwyn realized what was happening. Suddenly Bronwyn was upon her, dragging her back.

“Bad pet. Not how we act.”

Reyna cried out as pain lanced up her arm from Bronwyn’s grip. Blood seeped out of her veins as Bronwyn’s nails dug deep into her skin. Shit. Her blood. It was going to cause a frenzy to all these vampires if they smelled it. It was so sickly sweet that it attracted them like moths to a flame.

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