Harrington met her gaze head-on. Then he pressed another button on his desk. “Bring her in.”
Reyna narrowed her eyes at him. What did that mean?
A door behind her swished open. Reyna swiveled in place, careful not to put her back to Harrington. Fear crept into her heart. Whatever Harrington had prepared for her…couldn’t possibly be good.
In walked Jodie.
Held captive by a vampire.
“Now, let’s reconsider your position,” Harrington said.
“Release her!” Reyna cried. She pointed her finger at Harrington threateningly.
He just raised an eyebrow. “It’s your move.”
Reyna’s head whipped back to Jodie. The vampire was about her height, with black hair tucked into a hat so low over her eyes that Reyna couldn’t see her face. She held Jodie with an arm around her neck. Jodie’s skin was ashen with terror. Fangs were only inches from her exposed neck. Reyna’s blood ran cold. Terror was blatant on her face. Reyna itched to do something dramatic. To throw caution to the wind. But she couldn’t. Not if Jodie’s life was in danger.
“I said release her!”
“And you thought I didn’t have you figured out? Will you let her die for you? Will you be able to watch it while I have her cut to pieces in front of your eyes?”
“You’d never stomach it,” she shot back at him.
“The floors are glass. I can have them cleaned.”
Reyna’s own stomach roiled at the thought. He was serious. He would do this to Jodie. All they’d sacrificed and now she was again at his mercy.
“Surrender to me, Reyna. I prefer to have you coming willingly.”
“You think this is willingly? It’s coercion!”
“We both do what we must.”
She looked back and forth between Harrington and Jodie. A tear flowed down one of Jodie’s soft cheeks.
“Don’t even think about it, Reyna,” Jodie said.
The arm on her throat tightened as a warning.
Reyna felt a sense of déjà vu. She was once again standing on that patio on New Year’s Eve, watching Beckham die before her eyes. Harrington was no longer strong enough to do that. He was sick again. But that didn’t mean he wouldn’t have someone else do it. Maybe even Rowland.
“I can’t let him kill you,” Reyna told Jodie. She choked on the words.
“He’ll kill me anyway!” Jodie yelled.
“You won’t kill her,” Reyna snapped at Harrington. “Give me your word.”
“You will let her go and never look for her again.”
Harrington grated his teeth together but then nodded. “As you wish.”
“You have my word.”
“Whatever that’s worth,” Reyna muttered.
Reyna wavered. There was no right choice here. Giving herself up to Harrington meant he would live forever. He would run this planet into the ground and ruin everything she had worked for. But if she didn’t…he’d kill Jodie and take Reyna prisoner anyway.
There had to be a third option.
She couldn’t…no, wouldn’t stand by and let him win again. She could see three steps ahead of her. She could stop this.
“Admit it, my little queen,” Harrington taunted. “I am always and will always be one step ahead of you. You are a worthy opponent, my dear, but I have lived hundreds of years longer than you. I can see the long game. All the things that are a mystery to you.”
“No,” she whispered.
“Oh yes.” He slowly rose to his feet, pushing the chair out of the way. He shifted his weight onto his cane. It was almost painful to watch him shuffle his feet across the floor until he came to the front of his desk. “You could never beat me.”
She had to.
She had to beat him.
This couldn’t all be for nothing.
“There are no moves that I haven’t anticipated. You have nothing left to play. I’ve taken all of your players captive. It is just you and me. And there is nothing that you can do to stop me now.”
Reyna closed her eyes and tried to block out his words. “You’ll…you’ll let them all go? You’ll make the killing stop?”
“If you come willingly, I will stop everything. But you can never run away or plot escape. You will be delighted with your new position at my side. You will do what I say.”
“Reyna, no!” Jodie spat. “Are you fucking kidding me? Let me die! What is my life worth anyway?”
“Nothing! I’m nobody. No one will even miss me.”
“I would!” Reyna yelled back. “I would miss you. I would miss everyone out there. You all came here for me. You believed in me. And in the end, I failed. Again.”
“Reyna, please, please don’t do this.”
“While this is all touching,” Harrington said, “do be quiet. We’re negotiating.”
“Are we negotiating?” Reyna asked, whipping around to face him. Her heart was caught in her throat. “Or are you attempting to steal my freedom?”
“I will give you all the freedom you desire.”
“I think you and I have different definitions of freedom.”
“I weary of your prattle.” He looked up at the vampire holding Jodie. “Cut off her finger.”