Page 15 of Beta (Alpha 2)

My entire body writhed on the bed, seeking flesh, seeking heat, seeking release. Gina halted just out of reach, her tongue sliding along her lips, eyeing me. My thrashing had dislodged the sheet long ago, leaving me bared to her gaze. Her hand drifted out, clasped around my cock, and slid down.

I growled, thrashed, pushed my hips up into her touch.

“Ah, yes. Much better,” she murmured.

Despite the hold of the drug on my body and my mind, there was a seed, a tiny speck of myself, somewhere deep within the recesses of my soul, untouched, untainted. And that minuscule, fading spark knew this was wrong, this was not what I wanted. It knew this primal need that had been artificially catalyzed within me was a sexual assault of the worst kind. My will, my desire, the truth and fidelity of my soul and my being, had been stripped from me. I’d been reduced to an animal, all higher functions ripped away, leaving me chained to a bed for the use of a soulless demon-bitch of a woman.

And there was not a fucking thing I could do about it. I wasn’t even left with the will to resist the need inside me. All I had was the spark of knowing how wrong, how shameful, how evil this was.

Gina slid astride me, nails digging into my chest, and slid me inside her body.

The spark of my soul screamed in protest, unheard beyond the walls of my prison.



“Good. Now push the slide into place. Right, just like that. Perfect. Now pull it back. Good job, Kyrie.” Harris took the pistol from me and set it on the table between us. “Now do it again, and this time I’m not going to coach you.”

I picked up the heavy black gun and began the process of stripping it down, removing each piece and laying it on the table in the order Harris had shown me. When the weapon was down to components¸ I put it back together again, faster than the last time. I’d been doing this for the past two hours, disassembling and reassembling the pistol Henri had given me. The first time, it had seemed foreign and impossible, like putting together a puzzle without any guidelines or edge pieces or a picture for reference. But with Harris’s patient instruction, it got easier. Now I could do it on my own, without him showing me which piece went where.

It was bizarre, me, a middle-class white girl from Metro Detroit, erstwhile college student and starving bachelorette, learning to strip a Glock.

Harris stood up and went below deck, returning with three empty soda cans. Jerking his head to indicate that I should follow him, Harris went to the stern of the boat and tossed a can into the water. “Shoot it.” He pointed at the can.

“But…the boat is moving, and the water is moving. How can I possibly—”

“I don’t expect you to hit it from here. It’s a tough shot even for a skilled marksman. The point is just to give you something to shoot at. Just try.”

The red can was bobbing in the wake, now a good thirty feet astern. I held the pistol in both hands, arms extended out in front of me. Harris moved my left hand so my fingers were overlapping my right hand, nudged my feet shoulder-width apart, putting me in the stance he’d shown me before we started disassembling.

I took a deep breath, let it out slowly, and squeezed the trigger. Except the safety was still on. I thumbed the button, and then took aim once more at the can, which was now a tiny red dot fifty feet away and bobbing on the waves.

BANG! The gun jerked upward, the noise and the violence startling me. I knew I hadn’t hit the can, obviously, but I was curious to know how close I’d gotten. I glanced at Harris, who nodded.

“Good.” He tossed another can in. “Try again.”

I aimed at the second can, let out my breath, and squeezed. This time, I saw the water spray up where the bullet struck, a good two feet to the left of and well below the can at which I was aiming. I watched the motion of the soda can, waited until it was at the bottom of a wave trough, and squeezed off a round. This time, the can plinked and disappeared under the water. It was only fifteen feet away, but still, I’d hit it, and that was something.

“Excellent, Kyrie. Excellent.” He tossed the third can in. “Once more.”

I tracked the bobbing of the can, waited, then fired. Missed. I let out a breath, fired, missed again. The can was now barely visible in the blue of the Aegean.

I lowered the pistol and flicked the safety on. “It’s too far away.”

Harris just grinned, reached behind his back for his gun, lifted it, and assumed what I thought of as the military stance, his body sideways, both arms crooked, right hand holding the butt of the pistol, left hand cupped under his right. He paused for a split second, and then squeezed off three rounds in such fast succession that it sounded like a single loud roar. I had my eye on the can and watched it rupture, water geysering as the rounds plowed into the waves.

“I’ve spent hundreds of hours at the range,” he explained, placing his pistol in the back of his jeans. “But you did really good for your first time. I mainly just wanted you to have a feel for how loud it is, for the kick. And again, it’s just for last-resort emergencies. If you aim it at someone, you’d better be prepared to shoot them.”

“I don’t know if I’m capable of that,” I admitted, following Harris into the pilot’s cabin.

Harris settled into the pilot’s seat, disengaged the autopilot, and nudged the throttle lever forward. “Of course you’re not. You can’t be sure what you’re capable of until you’re forced to find out.”

“Is it hard? Shooting someone?”

Harris let out long breath. “Yes. It is. The first time, it’s…awful. Not sure what else I can say. I threw up the first time I killed a man. And you know, if it ever becomes easy, it’s time to find another line of work. It’s hard every time.”

Hours passed, and I watched the horizon in silence, the evening sky deepening to darkness as the waves churned beneath the hull.

“Will we reach Greece tonight?” I asked.

Harris shook his head, seeming amused at my question. “Oh, no. It’s over a thousand nautical miles from Marseilles to Athens. It’ll take us a few days to make the trip. I’m heading for Palermo first, to restock and refuel, and then will make for Athens.”

“Oh.” Apparently my understanding of Mediterranean geography was somewhat lacking.

“We’ll find him.”

“When? And how?” My voice was soft and quiet and hesitant, betraying my doubt.

Harris didn’t answer right away. “I’m working on the how. As for when? As soon as we can, I suppose. If Gina Karahalios has him, getting him back could be tricky. The other question is whether Vitaly is involved. There are a lot of variables to deal with, and…it’s just me. I can’t risk bringing anyone else in. I shouldn’t have involved Henri, but I did.”