When she stood, her head was still spinning. The day really was starting to feel like some horrible dream that she could not wake from. She took a deep, shaky breath and went over everything that had happened since she’d first heard the music. It had been nightmare upon nightmare and the worst of all was that the music wanted her to side with Beckham.
She lay back on her bed and dug the hands of the heels into her eyes until her own nebulae started appearing.
Go see Beckham, the voice started again.
“Shut-up,” she muttered to the voice in her head.
It didn’t listen, but it started whispering in a soft, soothing voice. As she lay there, she was suddenly very, very tired. She closed her eyes and hoped with all her might that when she woke up, things would be normal again.
When she awoke, the music was still there. Without knowing why, she made her way to the door. It was a nice feeling, as if something else was directing her and she could just forget all that had happened. Somewhere in a deep corner of her mind, the voice sniggered triumphantly.
“No!” she said firmly, the haze she’d been in since she awoke vanishing.
The music swelled. She gritted her teeth and waited for the inevitable.
FIND BECKHAM. The Voice screamed but she ignored it. After a while, it stopped yelling, but continued to mutter mutinously in the back of her mind.
Head clearer than it had been since the music had started, Taryn composed a plan. She was going to get to the bottom of this and stop the music, and possibly Beckham, once and for all.
The logical thing to do would be to talk to Captain Aaron, but she hesitated. If Beckham found out what she was up to, there would be consequences and she wasn’t going to drag him into it. This was her problem and she would be the one to find a way to fix it. With a soft laugh, she realized what the only other option was. She would have to go see Beckham himself.
The walk to Beckham’s court was shorter than she would have liked. When she arrived at his door, she took a great shuddering breath, made herself stand as tall as she could and addressed Richmond, the ever silent sentry, outside the door.
“I need to talk to Beckham,” she said in a voice that was stronger than she felt.
Richmond nodded and opened the doors.
The room seemed darker than before, as if there were glowing embers in the lamps instead of bulbs. Beckham appeared completely unsurprised to see her. His faced had returned to its calm, mask like appearance and not a hair was out of place. Two pretty girls sat on the couch. Contrary to Beckham, they were surprised to see her and started whispering to each other furiously like two little pigeons.
“Good evening, Taryn. Or perhaps good morning. It’s hard to tell out here, isn’t it?” he said lazily.
Taryn cast a glance at the girls. She wasn’t sure she wanted them to hear this and she definitely didn’t want to involve anyone else in her incredibly reckless plan.
“Don’t worry about them. They may have half a brain between the two of them, but they know when to keep their mouths shut,” Beckham sneered. “Say what you have to say.”
“The Voice talked to me and we have to work together,” Taryn said.
“We thought you’d say so. We were expecting it, actually.”
“Yeah, so, what’s the plan? I mean, if you have one.”
“Girls, you may go.”
The girls made their exit, but he barely seemed to notice them. His pale eyes were entirely focused on Taryn and she did not like the light that had appeared in them. She wished she could go with the two, chattering girls, but it was too late. Whatever happened, she would have to live with it.
Cassidy waited impatiently for Ellis. She hated spending so much time with Beckham. He was creepy. But Ellis was her best friend and she wasn’t going to abandon her. Ellis had dreams of being queen. She always had. And Cassidy wasn’t going to stand in her way. But she was starting to have her doubts.
“What were that girl and Beckham talking about?” Cassidy asked, trying to sound casual.
“No idea,” Ellis replied sulkily.
“You’re not worried they’re…hearing voices?”
“I mean, yeah, but…we always knew Beckham was a little crazy, right?”
Cassidy didn’t answer. She’d been saying that for weeks now.
The girls walked in, a rarity for them. When Pearce, Cassidy was extremely relieved to see him. He was crazy about Ellis and she was tired of walking in silence.
“Hi, Pearce!” she called out.
Pearce stopped in his tracks.
“Hey. Um. What’s…what’re you guys doing?” Pearce stumbled.
“Beckham just kicked us out,” Ellis replied.
“Oh yeah? Why?” Pearce asked, hope in his eyes.
“Some girl came in. They started talking and we had to leave.”
“What were they talking about?”
“Can’t say,” Ellis replied flirtatiously.
A shadow passed over Pearce’s face.
“This girl, was she older than you? With short dark hair?”
“Yeah. Why?” Cassidy replied.
“We’re going to dinner. Want to join?” Ellis said with an inviting smile that made his heart leap.
A day ago, Pearce would have given anything for the invitation. But right now, he was pretty sure he had bigger problems.
“I…I can’t. Next time,” Pearce muttered.
Cassidy and Ellis watched him leave with nearly identical expressions of confusion.
Pearce’s mind raced as he tried to figure out what to do once he got to Beckham’s room. The first step, the hardest part, would be getting past Richmond. With a groan, Pearce stopped. If he was going to save Taryn, he was going to be smart about it.
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