Beta, p.14
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       Beta, p.14

         Part #2 of Alpha series by Jasinda Wilder
 
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I was failing her.

  I was still in my underwear, but she pulled me into the shower anyway, and I let her. She adjusted the water so it wasn’t scalding, and then backed under the spray, facing me, letting the hot water stream down her back and onto her hair, plastering the blonde locks to her skull and pasting them to her cheek. She tilted her head back and ran her hands through her hair, scraping it backward, letting the water run over her face and into her mouth. I couldn’t look away. I watched as she spat a mouthful of water out and watched as it merged on her chest with the sluicing rivulets from the showerhead above. I watched as she twisted in place, letting the hot water beat on her perfect skin till it was pink. I watched as she found the shampoo, my eyes following her curves as she bent to take the bottle out from beneath the bench, and I watched as she lathered the shampoo into her hair.

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  I was cold, getting wet from the mist and the steam without being under the hot spray. My boxer-briefs were wet, molded to my skin.

  I watched, but didn’t touch. A thousand thoughts boiled in my mind: Did I deserve to touch her? Had I violated her? Had I raped her despite the fact that she’d been willing? Was that possible? It didn’t make sense, but there it was. I felt as if I’d somehow violated the woman I loved. Broken her trust, hurt her. Broken something between us.

  And yes, I felt the stigma of what Gina had done to me. The shame, the helplessness. Shame, too, at the fact that even now, through the guilt and the confusion and the fear, I knew that the sex we’d had on the boat, when I was in the grip of the drug, had been the most wildly intense sex we’d ever had. And I think Kyrie knew it, too, adding to her internal conflict.

  But there she was, telling me she needed me. Telling me she wanted my touch. By hesitating, by allowing doubt to rule me, I was letting Gina win. I was giving in to weakness by letting my fears and doubts keep me paralyzed.

  Kyrie deserved more from me.

  She rinsed the shampoo from her hair and worked in conditioner, and then began lathering shower gel onto her skin. She started at her shoulders, worked down her arms, her waist. I swallowed hard, watching her.

  Her sensual beauty cut through my fears, her blatant need for me shredded my confusion, and the vulnerability in her eyes slashed away my doubt.

  She swept the soapy washcloth over her breasts, scrubbing at the pink tips, sliding her slippery palms under one breast, and then the other. My throat swelled shut, and my heart began to beat. For the first time in a scrambled frenzy of days, I felt my pulse hammer hard, felt heat in my skin, felt desire hardening me, and I wasn’t afraid of it.

  I had to take back some semblance of myself.

  I am Valentine Roth, I told myself. I am in control. I will not be reduced to a weakling by the likes of Gina Karahalios.

  I forced myself to believe it. I felt it, and clung to the flimsy scrim of determination.

  I met Kyrie’s pale blue eyes with mine, letting her see into me, not hiding the roil of conflict, not hiding the hunger, the need, the fear, the uncertainty.

  It was all there, but I was in control of it.

  I had to be.

  I clenched my fists and released them, letting out a slow breath. I pushed down the sopping-wet boxer-briefs and kicked them aside. The wet fabric hit the marble wall with a slap, hung there for a moment, and then slid to the floor. Kyrie’s eyes widened, and her nostrils flared, and she froze in place, the washcloth hovering at her belly.

  I took a step toward her, finding my voice. “Don’t stop now, Kyrie. ” My voice was low, a growled murmur. “Keep washing yourself for me. ”

  Her lower lip trembled and her mouth slightly parted, her eyes freighted with the same weltering myriad of emotion that boiled in mine. She ran her tongue along her upper lip, not a seductive move, but one of doubt. I stood mere inches from her, the peaks of her breasts a hair’s breadth from my chest. If she took a deep breath, our flesh would meet. But she didn’t. She wasn’t breathing, and neither was I.

  This was, we both knew, a moment that would define us.

  It would either remake us, or it would destroy us.

  She touched the washcloth to her stomach, moved it in small circles, her eyes on me. I could see the hope blooming in the blue pools of her gaze, and it was such a delicate flower, so fragile, such a slight thing, needing a gentle touch to foster it into life. I moved to stand beneath the stream of the water, and her gaze raked over my body, head to toe and back to my crotch. Under her gaze, I felt myself twitch, harden, and burgeon into full erection. She blinked hard and squeezed the washcloth, put a dollop of shower gel onto the white fabric and squeezed and wrung.

  And then she extended her hand toward me. “I think I’m clean,” she said, her voice tremulous.

  I felt the washcloth touch my chest, and if I wasn’t breathing before, all capacity for breath left my body in that instant, feeling the washcloth on my skin, feeling one of her hands on my chest, slathering the soap across my skin. Her other hand slipped up to slide across the ridge of my shoulder, resting with her thumb near my clavicle and her fingers at the base of my neck. The washcloth arced over my chest, down my side to my hip. Her head tilted up again, her eyes fixing on mine, and then she leaned in, slowly, slowly, eyes lifted to mine, watching my reaction. The water rained down hot, scouring away the soap. Her lips touched my skin, and my heart stopped beating. I felt it stutter in its rhythm, and then she kissed me again, sliding her lips over my heart, and it resumed beating with the gentle warm slide of her lips, pounding harder than before. I blinked against the water on my face and watched her kiss my chest over my heart, once, twice, three times. She slid the washcloth around to my back and ran it up and down, up and down, all over my back, leaning in against me and kissing my chest, my shoulder, the hollow of my neck, slow kisses, careful kisses, switching from hand to hand, caressing my back with the soap and her hand and the washcloth.

  My throat was thick, a hard lump lodged there.

  Kyrie let the water rinse away the soap, and she moved around behind me, and I felt her breasts slick and soft and wet and firm against my back. Her hand moved over my chest, over my sternum. I leaned back, pressing my back to her front, and she breathed against my ear, her lips at the shell of my ear, not whispering or kissing, just there, breathing, a presence. The washcloth moved to my hip, across my belly to the other hip.

  God, the touch of her lips, the soft heat of her flesh against mine, her presence, calm and comforting, the love and the hope and the determination exuding from her…I soaked all this up and let it spread like a healing salve over the wounds within me.

  I sat down on the bench, and Kyrie moved around to stand in front of me. My hands rested on my thighs. We spent a long moment in the hot stream of water, my gaze roaming from her face to her breasts and down to her core, to her thighs, hers moving over me in the same way, as if relearning my body, my features, as if seeing me for the first time.

  “I need—” Kyrie began, but couldn’t finish, her voice giving out.

  “What, Kyrie? Tell me. ” I looked up at her.

  “Your hands. On—on me. I need you to—to touch me. Please. Anywhere. Just…hold me—touch me…. ” Her voice shook, cracked. “Please. ”

  As if her plea was a key unlocking invisible shackles around my wrists, my hands lifted and came to rest on her hips. She breathed out, a gasp of relief. Her eyes closed, and I could feel her trembling all over. Nerves? Fear? Need?

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  It was all three, I sensed.

  I slid my palms up from her hips to her waist, and she rested her hands on my shoulders. I ran my palms across her back, smearing the water on her skin, tasting shower spray on my lips. I closed my eyes, and felt myself falling forward. Falling. Falling. My mouth parted, and my lips touched her flesh, hot, silken, wet, the skin of her stomach under my mouth. A kiss. Her voice scraped out in a breathless moan, almost a sob. I
moved my hands back down her spine to hold her hips once more, and my lips slid up her flesh to kiss her ribs, and then between her perfect breasts, and now my hands were holding her to me, cupping her ass. I wasn’t aware of grabbing her there, but I had, at some point, and she was leaning into me, into my kiss. I massaged the muscle and flesh of her ass, kneading, caressing.

  I rested my head on her stomach and let out a breath. “Kyrie. God, my Kyrie. ” It was a prayer of relief.

  “Yes, Valentine. Yours. Your Kyrie. ”

  “Why?” I kissed her again, right between her breasts, and then looked up at her. “Why?”

  She knew what I was asking. “Because you made me yours. Because I want to be yours. I love knowing I belong to you. ” She cradled my head in her hands, fingers curling in the hair at my nape, thumbs grazing my cheekbones, my ears. Tipped my face back, so I was looking up into her tumult-rife blue gaze. “And Valentine…you’re mine. You don’t belong to her. You belong to me. Don’t you?” That last was equal parts plea and demand and declaration.

  “Yes…. ” I breathed. “I do. Completely. ”

  I was gazing up at her from between her breasts, and now she took a deep breath, swelling her chest and letting it out. Her eyes remained on mine as she shifted, twisted her torso just slightly, and now her nipple brushed across my face, slid down, and fit between my lips. I took the taut peak into my mouth and tasted her, and my eyes fell closed, my hands still splayed on the firm, generous bubble of her backside.

  The taste of her skin, the heat of the water, her hands on my face and in my hair…my universe had shrunk to these things.

  I gave in, letting my need take over.

  Letting my love take over.

  I twisted, pulled at Kyrie’s hips to bring her to a seat on the bench, and I moved to my knees in front of her. Our faces were at eye level then, and she spread her knees apart, pulled me into the “V” between her thighs and wrapped her arms around my neck. Crushed me to her, our bodies clasped together, my arms going around her waist, hands on her back, in her wet hair. Water splattered on us, still hot. Time was forgotten. Everything was forgotten as she palmed my cheeks and our eyes met, hers wet with tears, mine wavering and vulnerable.

  She kissed me. Or, I kissed her. Both at once, perhaps.

  It was not a deep, endless kiss. It was a burst of passion, a momentary eruption of need between us. And then I removed my lips from hers, bent, and kissed the slope of her left breast, and then the right, and then took her right nipple into my mouth. I felt rather than saw her head tip back on her neck, and she held tight to my skull with shaking hands, fingers trembling in the wet plaster of my hair. The other nipple then, a reverent kiss, tongue sliding gently over the pebbled peak. And downward, a kiss to her belly.

  “Roth…?”

  I didn’t answer. I couldn’t. My mouth was busy kissing, sliding my lips across her wet skin, kissing her hip, the crease near her thigh. The muscle of her quadriceps, then in and around to the soft inner skin. I knew by taste and by touch the sweetness and silk of her core, knew indelibly each fold, each and every millimeter of flesh. She shivered, sighed, and let her thighs fall apart. Giving in.

  Trusting.

  How could she still trust me? But she did, and I wouldn’t question it.

  But I would earn it.

  My thumbs traveled delicately from the apex of her vagina down the slick warm crevice of her opening, down the seam, parting her ever so gently.

  A kiss, at first. Just a kiss.

  She sighed, a deep frantic breath.

  “I love you, Kyrie. ” It was a murmur, a muttered admission. Barely audible, perhaps drowned by the noise of the shower.

  She knew. But I had to show her.

  Nearly falling backward on the bench, holding on to my head, she flicked her eyes open and craned her neck to look at me, a panicked need on her features. “What did you say, Roth?”

  I looked up at her. “I said, I love you. ”

  She seemed to melt somehow, inside. “Oh, Valentine. Valentine. My love. ” Her eyes spilled tears, and she swallowed hard.

  I kissed her other thigh then, as I had the first, outside to inside, my thumbs caressing her soft, damp skin. She breathed out hard, sucked in a breath, and clung to me. The next time my lips touched Kyrie’s flesh, they pressed against her opening, and my tongue parted her and slid in. She gasped, and I tasted her essence. She clutched my head, my face, and I swept my tongue up and in, lapping at her, parting her further. The marble was hard beneath my knees, but I didn’t care. The water was still hot but beginning to cool off. I didn’t care. I tasted her, my thumbs keeping her spread apart for my tongue. I found the small, hard nub of her clitoris, and I tasted that as well, and this time she whimpered, her fingers curling feverishly into my hair. I flicked my tongue against her clit again, and again, and her hips moved in time with my tongue.

  I slid the middle finger of my left hand down the seam of her pussy, and then in, pushing in, and in, and she leaned back and lifted her hips, expelling a harsh breath. I delved into her slick warmth with one finger, curling up and in, sliding out, then back in. Kyrie’s grip on my head tightened, and she pulled me closer, sucking in a breath and letting it out with a moan.

  “Valentine, oh god. That feels good, baby. Keep doing that. ”

  I glanced up at her as I slid my tongue against her clit, and her eyes met mine. Her gaze was hooded, heated. I held her stare as I slipped my ring finger in beside the middle, and then found the rippled rough patch of skin high inside against the inner ridge, caressed it, suckling her clit between my lips.

  She bucked against me, whimpering. Pulled my face against her core, and I tongued her in a slow rhythm, speeding up with tongue and fingers as her writhing turned frantic, as her gasps turned desperate. When her ragged breathing and bucking hips reached a frenzy, telling me how close she was, I slowed nearly to a stop.

  “No, no, Valentine, don’t stop, please don’t stop. I need to come. I need you to make me come. Let me come, baby, please. ”

  “You’ll come when I’m ready to let you come. ”

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  She moaned in protest. “Now. Please. I’m right there!”

  But I didn’t let her. I stopped entirely, withdrawing and shutting off the water. Unfolding a huge white towel, I wrapped Kyrie in it, lifted her into my arms, and carried her to the bed. I laid her down gently and used the excess fabric to dry her off head to toe. Her skin was flushed, her cheeks reddened, her breasts rising and falling rapidly, her knees pressed together. Her eyes were wide and tender and vulnerable and desperate. She arched her spine off the bed, rubbing her thighs together. She reached for me, sitting up.

  “I need you,” she murmured.

  “I need you, too,” I responded. “More than you could ever know. ”

  Kyrie tugged the towel out from underneath herself and handed it to me, watched as I dried myself and then tossed it aside. I crawled onto the bed, scraping my palms across her tits and down her belly, and then I gripped her thighs. She let out a sigh, spread her thighs apart for me. She reached for me, sliding her fingers into the wet hair above my ear.

  When I moved my face nearer to her core, she shook her head. “No, Valentine. No more of that. Please. Just make love to me. ”

  I paused, hesitated, and she sat forward, taking my face in her hands. She tugged at me gently but insistently until I moved upward, leaning over her. “You don’t want me to—”

  She didn’t let me finish, her palms still on my face. “No. I don’t need that. All I need is you. I just need us. ”

  All I could do was kiss her. It wasn’t just a kiss, though. It was more. It was a plea. An admission of need, a declaration of love.

  When you live with someone, your relationship inevitably moves past the honeymoon, exploratory stage where each touch and kiss is new and thrilling. It becomes more intense in some ways, tho
ugh. The newness fades, replaced by familiarity. You know how she’ll respond. You know, just by the way she looks at you, that she wants you. You don’t need the buildup, the kiss that moves into desperation, the slide of palm over skin that becomes a caress and then a frantic removal of clothes. You don’t always need the foreplay. You look at each other, and you know. You just know. You reach for each other, and you merge. Rhythm is instinctive. You breathe in synch. Your hips meet, hands find flesh, foreheads touch, eyes flutter and flicker and lock. You slide into her. You don’t need to look or guide yourself in, you just fit. You match. She lifts her hips just so, and you’re there, and she lets out a sweet sigh of love as you fill her, and then everything fades and you find your rhythm and your completion together, and you don’t need to say a word.

  Kyrie and I had that. Months of traveling the world together gave us the kind of intimacy and familiarity with each other that usually takes years to develop. I knew her reactions; I knew just by the expression on her face when she needed me. We made love silently much of the time. No words, no frantic cursing. Just bodies moving in perfect synchronicity.

  I think her favorite moments, however, were the times when I took her exactly the way I wanted her, when I didn’t ask her what she wanted, when it wasn’t sweet or tender or thoughtful. When I just took. She loved those moments. She blossomed in those moments—she came alive, responded with fervency. She not only took what I gave—or rather, succumbed to my giving—but she pushed me, demanding more, the flames of fierce sexuality fanning hotter and hotter.

  She needed that now.

  Darkness fallen around us, the sounds of the unsleeping city loud beyond the window. We both needed to know, regardless of the hell we’d endured, regardless of what was still coming, that Kyrie was mine, and I was hers, and we would have each other and be okay.

  So I kissed her. To reclaim us.

  I kissed her and tasted the fear on her lips, tasted the tears, and breathed in the tortured doubt. I kissed her, and it wasn’t a sweet kiss. It wasn’t a slow-burning kiss. It was fiery and demanding. I let the desperate determination saturate me, let my bone-deep need to retake control bleed out of me, and I knew she tasted it on me, felt it, breathed it.

  I was lying on my back, and she was on her side next to me, her breasts crushed against my ribs and her mouth demanding on mine. I gave her all of me in the kiss, let my hands catch in her hair, clutch her skull and press her closer, press her into the kiss, the kiss…. It expanded and deepened and unfolded, fracturing into a million scintillating pieces, neither of us breathing yet not needing to, needing only the kiss, our lips and our mouths and our heartbeats and our hands. Her palm strayed across my chest, arced down my waist, and never ever before had I felt the ache of touch, felt the burden of needing her so fiercely. I could only kiss her and swallow my fears, drown my nightmares in the sweetness of her lips and the influx of her breath in my mouth as we both broke to gasp and blink and clutch at each other.

 
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