Now that Harrington was officially going through the transformation, she turned and tipped her head at Jodie. “Katarina, you can release Jodie now.”
Rowland scoffed in shock as the pair pulled apart, moving into a defensive stance. Katarina tugged off her hat, revealing her freshly dyed black hair. The disguise had been good enough to fool the guard Katarina had traded places with in the hallway when she had brought Jodie upstairs. And clearly neither Harrington nor Rowland had recognized her, as she kept her hat low and hid her face.
“That hurt!” Jodie accused, holding her hand to her mouth.
Katarina laughed. She smacked Jodie’s butt. “Good acting though, babe.”
“Acting,” Rowland said in monotone.
A choked sob came from Harrington, still rolling around on the floor. Reyna knew it would take a couple more minutes before the entire cure went through him. Though it was a guess. They hadn’t tested it on someone as old as Harrington. The virus had its claws in him. It could take longer presumably.
She felt a little twisted that she was enjoying his pain. But the bastard deserved it.
“Rowland, why don’t you move away from the desk?” Katarina said in a low dangerous tone.
“Ah Katarina, don’t use that tone with me.” His eyes flicked to Jodie and back. “I see you’re slumming now.”
Katarina bared her fangs in anger. “Watch what you say and step back against the wall.”
Rowland laughed. “You are no match for me.”
Then he was gone. His movements so blurred, so quick, that Reyna had no time to react. She couldn’t even reach for Beckham’s powers to try to get away from him. And having seen Beckham and Rowland fight, she knew she would need his powers for a lot longer than she could hold on to them. She’d need them as a surprise…and she’d used that surprise on Harrington.
In a blink, Rowland had his arm around her neck with her back pressed against his chest. His mouth dangerously close to her ear.
“You double-crossing bastard,” Reyna spat at him.
Rowland laughed in her ear. “Tell me, Reyna, how did you move that fast?”
“Trick of the trade.”
“You’ve turned?” Rowland guessed.
“Do I look like I’ve turned?”
He pressed himself further against her and then sniffed his way from her neck up into her hair. She shuddered at the forced touch.
“I can still smell you. I can still hear your pattering heartbeat. I…don’t understand.”
“Good. I like when you admit you’re an idiot.”
“No matter.” Rowland’s grip on her tightened. “I acquired Beckham’s trust and led you here. I was waiting for you to make your move and expose yourself.”
“Reyna,” Katarina said from the corner. “Stay very still.”
“Keep out of this!” Rowland spat at her.
Jodie slowly eased out the door. It was clear she was going to get help, but who could help Reyna out of this? Even Beckham couldn’t move fast enough to stop Rowland from snapping her neck. She had to do it. She had to make him stop.
“Why are you doing this?” Reyna asked. “You helped us. You gave us the information to stop Harrington. You were on our side.”
“You’re the key, Reyna. If I control you, then I control Beckham. I can take Visage. I can put him in his place. I can rule.”
She sighed in exasperation. “God, get an original idea. Harrington already tried that one. Look how well that went for him.”
Rowland snarled low and then did the unthinkable. He reared back and sank his fangs into her neck.
Reyna screamed as he pierced the tender skin. His venom flooded her system. It felt like black sludge in her veins in comparison to Beckham’s sweet euphoria. But it rocked through her nonetheless. Adrenaline raced through her. Flight or fight started and all she wanted to do was flee. She struggled against him, attempting anything to dislodge him, but he had her in his grasp.
She was the sheep.
He was the wolf.
Nothing she could do would stop him.
Then he pulled back, gasping in pleasure. “Sweet nectar of the gods,” he groaned. “No wonder he has held you to himself.”
Reyna reached out, dizzy and disoriented, for Beckham. But she felt nothing. She felt like ice. Rowland couldn’t have drunk that much from her. It wasn’t possible.
She tried again, grasping for Beckham to heal her. She felt a flicker of his location. The sense of where he was somewhere below her in this enormous compound. But that was it. Either he was too weak to heal her…or she was too weak to reach him.
She slumped forward in Rowland’s arms.
“Let her go,” Katarina snarled. “You are killing her. What is wrong with you?”
“Many things, sweet Kat. Many many things.”
“No fucking shit.”
“I wanted to taste her, as I have wanted to for too long.”
Reyna coughed and tried to hang on to coherent thought. She straightened and opened her dark eyes. She could do this. “Do you know what happens if you kill me?”