Beckham had the decency to let her march out to the cabin rather than carry her. She wanted to be back at the house watching over Brian and waiting to hear the reaction from the public to the video that Zoya had uploaded. Instead, she was in the cabin, practicing Beckham throwing her his vampire skills.
Healing they had figured out. Speed he’d been able to give her at Penelope’s. Hearing was what he worked on next. Opening her up to their connection and pushing out the ability. It took a few tries before it worked, but she could only listen to the outside world for a minute before dropping the connection.
“Oh God,” she gasped, falling to one knee. Beckham rushed to her side.
“My ears. They hurt like a bitch. Ugh! Ringing and pain.” Reyna put her hand to her ear. Blood ran out of one of them.
“Did you have symptoms for healing or speed?”
Reyna closed her eyes as the pain receded, and thought back. “Nothing for healing except some pain as I healed. When you gave me the speed, I was disoriented and dizzy. Some ringing in my ears and it took a second to stand steady again.”
“Of course what?”
“You’re getting my enhancements but without the virus changing your composition to be able to accommodate them. So your body is exhibiting physical side effects.”
“What…what can we do about it?”
“Not do it anymore.”
“Building up to it could take weeks, months…even years. We can’t just force this onto you. You could die,” he told her.
Reyna groaned. “Then fucking turn me! Let’s just make it easier. If as a human I can’t handle it, maybe I could as a vampire.”
“That’s not part of this discussion.”
“Make it part of the discussion. There’s a cure now. I could always turn back.”
Beckham turned away from her. “I understand why you want this, but no. It’s risky.”
“Do you not want me to live forever with you?” she whispered.
“Do we have to decide about eternity in the midst of war?”
“When else will we decide?”
“Reyna, I don’t know how many ways I can tell you that I love you. That I love you so much that I would never want this to happen to you. Look at what it did to your brother. Yes, he was tortured and starved, but you are a kind soul. What would the virus do to your heart? Would you still be my Reyna afterward?”
“Of course I would. We’re blood matched. You’re my soul mate.”
Beckham shook his head. She could see the resignation in him. The sheer horror and discomfort that had settled onto him. “If it’s the only way, Reyna, then I’ll do it.”
“You will?” she whispered.
“You can make your own choices. You trust me not to be a monster. Perhaps I could trust you not to be your own.”
Reyna stared at him in shock. Not that he would allow her to make her own choice, but that he’d agree to this choice.
That was the moment she realized she could never do this to him.
It would break him.
For the man who had spent so long hating himself for his deeds, she could destroy him by doing this. He would see it as his greatest failure. Another chink in his armor that finally hit hard enough to shatter. He’d survived his parents and Bronwyn and hundreds of other deaths. But she could see in his onyx eyes that he would not be the same if she was remade.
She placed her hand on one of his. “We’ll find another way, okay?”
He tilted his head in surprise, but said nothing. Just drew her close and kissed her hard.
A promise, a recognition, an understanding.
They linked hands and began their trek back to the house. She’d try again tomorrow. Maybe she could figure out a way to take the abilities for shorter periods of times. Guard herself against the side effects. Be better at it now that she knew what she was up against. There had to be a way.
A hundred yards from the front door, Beckham abruptly stopped. “Do you hear that?”
She raised an eyebrow. “No.”
He held his hand up. “Two seconds. No more. Don’t hold on too long.”
Then he opened himself up to her. She reached for the ability to hear and suddenly she could. She gasped when she heard it and then dropped the connection. Her breathing was rough and her ears hurt a bit, but nothing as bad as before.
“On its way here.”
Beckham took off, leaving her in the dust. Reyna cursed under her breath and then dashed for the house. She couldn’t leave everyone in there. She was leading Elle. These were her people. She needed to get everyone out.
“Gabe!” she gasped, nearly running into him in the entrance. “Get to the cars as fast as possible. A helicopter is coming. We need to get out.”