It made her nervous to consider that he might never lose. That she might lose…again. After all of this.

“I won’t lose,” Reyna told him, lifting her chin. “I won’t surrender.”

Harrington tsked. “Such a disappointment.”

“I think I finally understand you,” Reyna said. She dropped her hands at her sides and took a step forward. “I think all this time I spent trying to anticipate your next move, all I did was learn your board. I see past the big bad monster to the man beyond the mask.”

“Go on,” Harrington said. He waved his hand in front of him and then leaned forward earnestly. He was actually interested in what she was saying. As if he were placating a child.

“You were Washington’s best friend. You nurtured your friendship until you could use him. He created your blood type cure and asked for nothing in return. You rewarded him with a bomb on his house. You had his Elisa murdered in cold blood for being a visionary and then stole her ideas for your own aims. You were a thoughtful, intelligent, and courteous houseguest to Genevieve. Yet you discarded her and everyone else you deemed unimportant. You treated Beckham like a prodigal son and yet you had his sister chained up for more than a decade to use against him. You held me against my will. I bet you even have someone that Rowland cares about locked away somewhere.”

Rowland narrowed his eyes at the insinuation but didn’t press the issue. It was good enough that she had him thinking.

“Brava,” Harrington said. “You have a warped view of my history.”

“I’m not finished,” she spat. He arched an eyebrow. “You are manipulative, destructive, highly intelligent, and most of all, single-minded.”

“Single-minded?” Harrington laughed. “Shall I bring out my chessboard for you, my little queen? I can assure you I have many aims.”

Reyna shook her head. “No. This is where you are different. This is where you fail time and time again. The only thing you have ever cared about in all of your days as a vampire is your own blood.”

Reyna held up the cut that Bronwyn had given her and dug in until it flowed freely again. “My blood.”

“Hardly.”

Rowland hissed behind Harrington as he drew in a deep breath. But it was Harrington whose eyes were glued to her arm. To the blood he so craved.

“Which makes it a weakness. One you have attempted to cover the severity of for centuries.”

Harrington’s feathers ruffled and he scoffed as if what she said had no merit. But it was his reaction that proved it did.

“Your very rare blood type coupled with a blood disease that has turned you insane with the need for cleanliness…is a weakness.” Reyna took a step to the side, slowly circling him in the way she had witnessed Beckham do to unnerve others. She’d had long conversations with Genevieve about Harrington, listening carefully to everything she knew about the man. Taking it in and absorbing it for this moment. “You were a sickly child.”

“You know nothing of my childhood,” Harrington quipped.

Reyna smiled darkly. “Your family assumed you’d die young. They cared nothing for you. Kept you in a bubble away from the other children. Your only saving grace was that you weren’t poor. So you were given free rein to read.” Harrington narrowed his eyes. “You gathered enough information to free yourself. And in doing so, you became a vampire. Irony of all ironies, you’re still a sick, twisted, worthless bastard.”

“Are you finished? I’ve had enough of your babble.”

“You treated Washington like the brother you never had. Beckham the son you couldn’t have. Me…the daughter you always wanted. Except you can’t let anyone close to you. Not for real. And when they get close, when they start to figure you out, you revolt, which only sends you further into insanity. Because the truth is, William,” she said coolly, “you’re just a sick, lost boy who’s hoping no one will see it.”

“Enough!” Harrington roared, jumping to his feet.

“Hit a nerve?”

“You are grasping at straws. You know nothing of my childhood or the life I’ve lived.”

“I don’t have to know. I know you.”

Harrington’s eyes blazed with fire. He was furious that she was using his past against him. She could see on his face that he despised her for it.

“It changes nothing,” Harrington said, slowly sinking back into his seat. “You’ve left me no other choice.”

“There are always choices! Why do you have to do this? We can make the world a better place together.”

“I see you believe that. But what you don’t realize is that I am already creating the utopia I so desire. And with you feeding me, I will rule everything.”

“All you want is someone to love you. To see you for who you are and not be afraid. Can’t you just consider another route?”

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