Page 54 of Beta (Alpha 2)

“Kyr—Kyrie.” His voice broke. “What did they do to you, my love?”

I blinked slowly, feeling darkness threading through me. “Should see—you should see the other guy.” I even managed a smile.

He smiled back at me. “My girl. You’re safe now, love. You’re safe. I’ve got you.” His lips trembled as he pressed a kiss to my forehead. “I’ll never let anything happen to you again, I promise. I promise.”

That was all I needed. I let go of consciousness, let darkness pull me under.

* * *


I felt something hot and wet under my hands as I cradled Kyrie’s head in my palm. I felt tears slide down my cheeks at the sight of her battered face.

She was alive, though.

Her hair had been shaved off, leaving her head covered with nicks and cuts. Blood trickled past her ear, down her forehead and along her nose. Her face was bruised, her cheeks swelling, black eyes forming. Her nose was broken, blood oozing from her mouth, chin, and throat. She was wearing a man’s trousers with a belt tied around her waist, and a blood-stained jacket. She was naked beneath the blazer. She stank of urine. She had a .45 Smith and Wesson in one hand, which I gently pried from her grip.

She was limp in my arms, head lolling.

Alexei was stealing down the stairs, rifle swiveling. I let him go. He could take care of things down there.

“Valentine.” Alexei, from the bottom of the stairs. “You must see this.”

I refused to let her out of my arms, so I descended the stairs with Kyrie, carefully angling her head through the doorway at the end of the hall.

Tobias was on the ground, two bullet holes in his chest, and the back of his head blown off. And then there was Gina, her torso riddled with bullets and a hole between her eyes.

“She did this.” Alexei gestured at Kyrie with his chin. He crouched, sniffed, wrinkled his nose. “Clever girl. Brave. Very, very tough.”

I could only nod in agreement, my throat too thick to speak.

I could read the scene as well as Alexei: Tobias’s underwear pulled down around his knees, the stench of urine, his soaked shirt and hair, his broken face, the blood on Kyrie’s feet. I could see the respect in Alexei’s eyes as he glanced at her, unconscious in my arms.

He moved past us, rifle at his shoulder. I heard scattered pops of gunfire here and there. Harris and Henri were undoubtedly mopping up above. Alexei popped his head into a few doors here and there as we ascended, making sure they were all empty. He paused in one, stopping in shock, and then backed out, anger on his face.

“It is good for that pig down there that your girl kill him first.” He gestured into the room. “He was a monster, I tell you.”

I glanced in, and saw what had, at one point, been a girl. My stomach heaved, and I had to turn away.

We made slow progress back up through the dark labyrinth, up and up and up to daylight. There we found the helicopter waiting on the landing pad on the far east side of the island. Andrei lay prone in the open door of the chopper, MSR at the ready, scanning for threats. Henri’s friend, the helo pilot, was refueling the chopper, courtesy of the Karahalios family.

Henri emerged from the smashed window, stepping over bodies. “All is clear.”

Harris wasn’t far behind him, trotting over to me. “Kyrie? Is she—?”

“Alive. Roughed up, but alive.”

“And the bitch?” Henri asked.

“Dead,” Alexei answered.

“You?” Harris asked.

I shook my head. “Nope.” I lifted Kyrie slightly. “Her.”

Harris frowned, looking her over. “Did they…?”

I knew what he was asking. “I don’t know. I don’t think so, but I’m not sure.” I moved toward the helicopter, shielding her from the downdraft as the rotors began to whirl and whine. “Let’s get her out of here.”

Andrei had his rifle cradled in his arms with casual familiarity. “Matteo?”

Alexei shook his head and then twisted in place, gesturing with a thumb at Sasha, who emerged from the house with Matteo’s limp form over one shoulder. Alexei provided a brief explanation in Russian, gesturing sharply at his throat with a middle finger. Andrei dropped his rifle and cursed viciously in Russian, pacing back and forth in front of the helicopter, and then slid to a crouch, shoulders shaking.

Alexei glanced at me as if in apology. “His brother.” He pointed to Sasha. “My brother.” Then he gestured at all four of them, his finger moving in a circle. “Cousins.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, not knowing what else to say.

He only shrugged. “You go. Take Matteo with you.” Alexei motioned for Sasha to follow him. “Fishing man will return us to Athens. We meet you there for payment of the rest.”

Andrei laid Matteo in the back of the chopper, and then shrugged out of his shirt, leaving his arms bare with just the Kevlar vest over his chest. He covered his brother’s face with the shirt.

He scooped the rifle back up, glancing at Harris. “Rifle is mine.”

Harris nodded easily. “Sure.”

I held Kyrie on my lap, her head resting on my shoulder, lolling with the motion of our takeoff.

A few minutes into the flight, Harris leaned over to me. “You know Vitaly will find out what happened,” he said, shouting into my ear over the noise of the rotors. “He had to have had video surveillance on a place like that.”

I nodded. “I know.”

“This isn’t over, Roth.”

“It is for now.”

“Where do we go from Athens?” Harris asked.

I spent a few minutes thinking. “Buy me the biggest yacht you can find. I don’t care how much it costs. Staff it and get me security. I want the fucking best, Harris. Men whose loyalty cannot be bought or questioned.” I glanced down at Kyrie, wiped at the blood on her face with my thumb. “Tell Robert to streamline everything. Sell off the subsidiaries, everything that’s not vital. Make it so I can run it all remotely—so I’m not needed in the day-to-day operations.”

Harris already had his encrypted satellite phone out and was dialing.

I planned on vanishing, going off the grid for a long, long time. Vitaly would be looking for us, I knew that. Let him look.

By the time he found us, I’d be ready for him.



I woke up slowly, taking stock. The last thing I remembered was Valentine’s face peering down at me.

Gina. Tobias. Lisa.