Page 2 of Beta (Alpha 2)

“Grab the bow,” Roth whispered in my ear. I took hold of the bow with both hands, then turned my head to watch him, but he made a negative sound. “Act like you’re just staring out at the city. And try to keep your voice down.”

I took the edges of the blanket and held on to it for him, keeping it pulled around us as Roth’s hands slid around my belly and descended between my thighs.

Oh, shit. Staying quiet was not one of my strong suits.

He had me writhing and moaning within seconds, pressing into his touch and biting my lip to keep from screaming. It didn’t take long before I was coming for the first time, and then he was bending at the knees, fingers of one hand on my pussy, the other around his cock, feeding it into me. I bent forward over the bow, spread my legs wide, and took him.

The fishing scow was getting closer, floating downstream, angled slightly so they’d slide right by us.

“Oh god, Roth. Hurry. I’m so close.”

“Don’t come yet. Not yet.”

“I can’t help it. I’m about to—”

He slowed his pace immediately. “Not yet, Kyrie. Not yet.”

The scow neared. Faces turned to regard us, eyes narrowed, suspicious. Roth just waved, and I heard the fishermen exchange comments, laughing. At that exact moment, Roth flexed his hips and drove into me. I wasn’t expecting it, and I let out a loud whimper, and all the fishermen guffawed. But at a glare from Roth, the helmsman gunned the engine, and they were soon past. Then Roth was moving again, and I was coming apart despite his exhortations to wait…wait.

“Come with me, Valentine!”

He came. Oh, dear god, did he come. So, so hard. He filled me with his come, and then kept driving, coming and coming, and I could only clench around him and bend over farther and keep taking him, gasping in the morning air.

* * *

Two weeks later, we were in a chateau in the hills of southern France. I was waking up, playing my game. Taking stock and guessing at our location.

But this time, something was wrong.

I sat up suddenly, totally awake. Roth wasn’t in bed. He never, ever left me alone in the mornings. He never got out of bed before me. I glanced at the bathroom, but it was dark and silent.

My heart was pounding, sweat beading on my forehead.

“Roth?” My voice was tentative, quiet, echoing in the expansive bedroom.


The bed beside me was rumpled, still warm from his body heat. The pillow was indented where his head had been. There was a note. A white scrap of torn paper was pinned to the pillow with a long, thin silver knife. The message was written in red ink in neat, feminine, looping handwriting:

He belongs to me.



“No. Nonono.” I reached out for the knife and the paper, but stopped short of touching either.

He belongs to me. The ink was crimson, the color of fresh blood. Was it blood? Roth’s blood? No, it couldn’t be. It was too neat, too clean, each pen stroke precise. Blood would smear, right? Oh god. Oh god. Who would do this? Who could do this? We went to bed drunk last night…I knew that much. But not that drunk. Not so drunk that someone could have kidnapped a man like Valentine Roth right out of the bed beside me while I slept.

But he was gone.

I scrambled out of bed; the six hundred year-old oak floors were cool under my bare feet. The four-poster bed was even older than that, Roth had told me. This chateau was one of two he owned in France. This one, in the Languedoc-Rousillon region, sat nestled between an old cathedral and a sprawling vineyard. There wasn’t much land attached to this chateau, just enough for the house and a small yard, but it was quaint, ancient, and beautiful. Peaceful. His other chateau was part of a winery in the Alsace-Lorraine area, and that was to be our next stop.

Maybe Roth was in the kitchen? Maybe this was something new. Some ridiculous game. I hurried downstairs to the galley kitchen, which was dark and quiet, three empty bottles of merlot clustered together on the counter, a corkscrew beside them with a cork still in it. The den was empty as well, the fireplace dark now except for a few embers glowing a dull orange. A cashmere throw blanket lay rumpled on the floor in front of the fireplace, and I remembered lying on my back right there last night, the blanket on Roth’s shoulders as he moved above me, his arms thick pillars beside my face, firelight glinting off his skin, shimmering in his arresting blue eyes. He’d finished inside me, leaving me shaking and breathless from the force of my orgasm, and then he’d lifted me in his arms and carried me, still trembling from the aftershocks, to our bed. He’d nestled behind me, his hand a warm, reassuring presence on my stomach, his chest at my back, his lips kissing my shoulder as he murmured, “I love you, I love you, I love you,” in my ear. I fell asleep like that, cradled by him, his warmth cocooning me, his strength sheltering me.

I was worried and frightened now, and I choked back a sob and tried the wine cellar, cool and dry and temperature-controlled to preserve the hundreds of bottles of wine, each worth hundreds and thousands of dollars. All worthless to me if Roth was gone. He wasn’t there. Of course he wasn’t. I knew he wouldn’t be, but I had to look anyway.

Still naked, I threw open the door to the garage and flicked on a light. The Range Rover, black and gleaming and silent. The Aston Martin, red and sleek, also empty. The keys to each were on hooks just inside the house.

I stumbled back to the bedroom, shaking all over now, hands trembling, panting in short, panicked breaths.

What do I do? What do I do? The answer came immediately: Harris. Call Harris.

My cell phone was on the nightstand, plugged in to charge. There were only four contacts in my phonebook: Valentine, Harris, Layla, and Cal. Valentine’s phone was on his nightstand, still connected to the charger. His clothes were on the floor, where we’d shed them the previous evening before taking a shower. God, the shower. It was small, a typical European shower. But somehow Roth had still managed to pin me up against the wall and ravish me until I couldn’t breathe.

Everywhere I looked, there were memories of Roth. The bed, the shower, the kitchen—my bare ass on the counter, cabinet handle in my back, Roth lifting up on his toes to drive into me—the den, even the garage. I’d sucked him off in the garage, and he’d returned the favor, lifting me onto the hood of the Rover and performing his uniquely talented brand of cunnilingus on me until I begged him to let me stop coming.

And everywhere I looked, there he was. Telling me he loved me. Him, Valentine Roth, gorgeous, ripped, talented, gazillionaire businessman. He loved me. And he never got tired of telling me, showing me, making sure I knew I belonged to him.