Harrington smiled. It split his severe features. Almost made him look…human. Fuck, he was human again. It was hard to wrap her mind around that fact.
“I’m glad it was you,” Harrington said. “Glad that you were the queen I always knew you could be. That I was defeated by a competent opponent. I’m proud of you.”
Reyna’s eyes widened at his words. He was…proud of her? This monster?
“Both of you.” Harrington looked between Beckham and Reyna. “But this is a fate worse than death.”
Then he pulled a knife from his jacket pocket and stabbed himself in the heart.
“No!” Reyna screamed.
She launched herself across the room toward him. Her hand moved to the knife sticking out of his chest and fluttered around anxiously as if she could stop this somehow. Blood gushed from the wound, coating his crisp white button-up. Then sticking to her hands as she attempted to stop it.
She needed him. She needed him alive.
She had chosen justice. She had chosen good. Done exactly what Washington would have wanted of her. Had used the cure when anyone else would have just ended his worthless life for the horrors he’d inflicted on her.
And he had done this anyway!
He was supposed to pay for his crimes. This was all supposed to happen a different way.
Her hands were red with blood as she put pressure on the wound. But it was no use.
“Why?” she gasped.
Harrington gurgled incoherently…and then the light went out of those intelligent eyes. They went blank and empty. Gone was the visionary man. The ruthless monster. The sick lonely broken boy. A nightmare and a genius.
“Reyna, he’s gone,” Beckham said gently. He put his hands under her arms and lifted her off of the ground. He pulled her tight against his chest. “He’s gone.”
“I know he deserved it,” she said, leaning her head into Beckham’s shoulder. “But I wanted more.”
“We all play the hand we’re dealt.”
She sighed against him and nodded. This wasn’t over. Harrington was the first step in a long game. His death wasn’t a tragedy. It was a mercy. One he didn’t deserve. But they would end this without him all the same.
“Let’s go save the world.”
* * *
“William Harrington is dead,” Beckham bellowed to the remaining fighters, from the front of the observation deck. “Rowland Batiste has fled the building. And Bronwyn…” He gestured to his sister, tied up and unconscious. “She no longer leads your army.”
All fighting stilled at the news. At the commanding presence Beckham issued.
“I am the new leader of Visage and I command you to stop. Or I will hunt you all down and rip out your bloody throats myself,” he roared. “Get down on your knees and surrender.”
A few snarled their disapproval, but the look on Beckham’s face silenced them. Along with much of his inner circle walking down the stairs to stop any further protests. They might have been Harrington’s army, but they knew power when they saw it.
Beckham gestured for Reyna to come forward. She squeezed Jodie’s hand before stepping toward him. He clasped her hand and she was surprised to find that his was shaking. He was still so weak from what they’d gone through together. But none of the vampires who were getting on their knees before him knew that. They saw what he projected, not what was underneath.
“I am Beckham Anderson and this is Reyna Carpenter. Together we have brought you into a new age where vampires and humans are equal,” Beckham announced gallantly.
Then he lifted their hands into the air. A cheer rose up from the remaining members of Elle, who had fought for this cause. Who had done everything that they could to make this a reality. Reyna felt something like relief flood her system for the first time in so long.
Katarina rushed in at that moment. Her eyes found Beckham’s and she shook her head. “He got away.”
Beckham sighed. “Let’s finish this up and then we’ll go after him again. We can’t let Rowland remain loose.”
“I can’t believe he got away,” Reyna grumbled.
“He would have killed you otherwise. It’s a trade.”
She nodded, though she would have preferred to get all the bad guys in one go.
Katarina joined the rest of Beckham’s circle, the friends they’d called in for a favor, and the anti-vamps who were now rounding up the remaining vampires and cordoning them off into separate rooms. The rest of Elle was trying to release any of the people who were still locked up. Vampires and humans working together to walk forward into a new world.
Reyna’s friends were standing around a body at the base of the stairs and she glanced at Jodie, who followed her down.
What they saw there turned her stomach. Reyna had seen so much death and destruction, but…Tye. He’d been so good. He’d deserved better than what had happened to him. To any of the fallen.