Page 61 of Beta (Alpha 2)

Finally, when I was spent, she stilled.

She wrapped her arms around me, lowered her leg to the mattress, and clung to my neck, cradled my face to her breast.

I love you, my being cried out, shuddering.

I love you more, her hands tangling in my hair responded.

We had no need of voices to say the truth in that moment, for we were linked mind and body and soul, attuned, attached,




A tree growing from one root, split into two trunks, entwined and woven one around the other, reaching together heavenward.

* * *

I woke to evening light like liquid gold spread across the world. I was alone in the bed of our yacht, but there was evidence of Roth, the pillow beside mine, warm still, the sheets rumpled and recently lain in. I sat up, blinking, and there he was, standing at the window, one hand on the glass, the other tucked with idle grace into the pocket of his pants. He was dressed to kill. A black tuxedo, custom tailored to his powerful physique, the suit coat buttoned once, tails draping past his hips. He turned at the sound of my waking, and my heart stilled.

He was glorious. His hair was slicked back, long enough now to be held behind his ears and brush the pristine white of his collar. His beard was still thick, but he’d trimmed it to neat perfection. And his eyes? The color of the sky an hour past dawn. I’ve watched sunrises and sunsets and stared at the noon blue, and I’ve realized now that Roth’s eyes are a very specific shade of blue, the palest shade that can still be called blue. When he saw me, a smile spread across his lips, starting deep within his soul and shining out with the brilliance of the sun, fraught with love and exquisite tenderness.

“God, you’re gorgeous,” I said. “Why so fancy?” I asked, rubbing my eye with the heel of my palm.

He strolled leisurely toward me, his grin turning mysterious, a thumb scratching at his beard. “A surprise.” He held up a finger. “I wanted to be here when you woke, but I’ve got something for you. Hold on, love.”

I wiggled my legs, testing the motion of my knee. It was stiff, but not painful. My head whirled with curiosity. What could he be planning? Why would he be wearing a tuxedo? I knew with Roth that there was no way to conjecture. He was back up the stairs within seconds of his descent, carrying a sheaf of plastic-wrapped fabric over one arm, carrying a wide black crushed-velvet box in his other hand.

He set the box on the edge of the bed and pulled the plastic off the gown, then held it up so I could admire it. “It was one I had made for you back in New York. I had it delivered to us.”

It was black silk with a halter, open in the back with see-through cutouts at my hips, the hem long enough that it would brush my toes. “It’s beautiful, Valentine.”

He shook his head. “It’s just a dress. You’re beautiful. You will be beautiful in it.”

“Where are we going?” I looked out the windows and saw nothing but ocean, the setting sun a massive crimson ball resting on the horizon to our left.

He just grinned. “I’ll never tell. Why don’t you shower and get ready, okay? I’ll be in the lounge if you need help.”

I wanted to ask a thousand questions, but I didn’t. Instead, I decided to trust him and go with it. “I might need help getting down the stairs,” I admitted as I stood up and felt my knee wobble. He took my hand and wrapped his other arm around my waist, letting me move on my own, holding tightly to me so I wouldn’t fall. “I hope there won’t be a lot of walking, because you’ll end up carrying me.”

His only response was to descend several steps below me, wrap his huge hands around my waist, and lift me, spinning with me and setting me on the landing of the stairs. His lips touched my shoulder, my neck, and then he was behind me, his hands sliding around my ribs and across my stomach, pulling me back against his chest. “Shower, Kyrie. Before I decide I can’t wait any longer.”

I twisted out of his grip and backed away into the bathroom, grinning. “If you think I’m going to discourage you on that score, then you’ve got the wrong girl.” I ran my hands up my torso, lifting my tits and letting them fall with a heavy bounce, teasing him.

He growled at me, grabbing the frame of the door and leaning toward me. “Kyrie….” My name was a feral rumble on his lips. “Get…in…the shower.”

Stealing a glance away from Valentine, I twisted the knob to get the spray going. I waited until the water was hot, steam rolling between us. I palmed the wall for balance and stepped in, hissing as the scalding water pattered on my skin. I adjusted the temperature so I could move under the spray, and then let the stream douse my head, keeping my eyes on Valentine. “Sure you don’t want to come in with me?”

He hung his head between his shoulders, gripping the frame of the door as if physically and literally holding himself back. “More than you know.”

I lathered myself up, most of my weight on my good leg, leaning against the wall of the shower as my soapy hands scrubbed across my skin. Roth leaned forward farther as if straining toward me. I made a show of it, lathering slowly across my breasts and between my thighs. Roth growled as I met his eyes, slipping two fingers inside myself, more to tease and torture him than for anything else. I heard the frame of the door crackle under his grip. He held out, though, until I was rinsed off and stepping out. I grabbed a huge, thick black towel from a rack just outside the shower stall and unfolded it, covering my face with it. Momentarily blinded, I didn’t see him move, only felt myself lifted, the towel between us. I batted at the fabric as Roth carried me upstairs, taking them two at a time. I found his eyes as we reached the bed, just in time to feel myself thrown to the mattress.

He didn’t say a word, only rumbled in his throat as he swept the towel across my body, drying the water from my skin, and then tossed it aside. I stared at him and tried to scoot backward on the bed, but he fell to his knees, caught my thighs in his hands, and pushed my legs apart.

“Roth? What are you—?” His thumbs spread me apart and his tongue found me, and my words were stolen. “Oh. Ohhhh….”

Two fingers slipped inside me, and his tongue circled my sensitive flesh, and I was rising up off the bed, writhing and moaning in an instant, his lips sucking at me, his tongue moving in tantalizing circles. He didn’t draw it out, didn’t tease me. No, he devoured me as if he was ravenous, growling low in his throat as I rocked my hips against him, grinding my core against his face.