Beta, p.22
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       Beta, p.22

         Part #2 of Alpha series by Jasinda Wilder
 
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* * *

  Every inch of my body was pressed against Valentine’s, even my feet resting on his ankles, my calves on his shins, balanced, held in place by the relentless grip of his hands on my hips—not my ass, not my thighs, but my hips, pulling me down and holding me in place. He moved slowly, each thrust a full range of motion, all the way out, nearly falling free of my body, and then he pushed all the way into me, forcing me to stillness so I could do nothing but feel every inch of the slide of him, the thick heat of him, the rock-hard fullness of him stretching me to a sweet, slow burn.

  When he started a rhythm, gliding in slow but hard, withdrawing like the relentless inevitable outrushing of the tides, I wanted to scream and wanted to move with him, but I couldn’t. I could only shake above him and gasp.

  Could only take him, and take him, and take him.

  All of him.

  I could only welcome his body inside mine, penetrating me, piercing me.

  Could do nothing but

  Love

  Every

  Inch.

  And then I came.

  It was an earthquake. A typhoon. A volcano. My fingertips buzzed and hummed and dug into his skin, my toes curled and scraped against his shins, my thighs quaked, my stomach tensed…my soul shook.

  * * *

  VALENTINE

  When she came, I released her hips. I grabbed the swell of her ass and moved her, thrust into her, pulled her down against me and lifted her away. She whimpered in utter relief, wrapped her arms around my neck, pressed her face to my throat, and ground her hips against mine, moving on me with such uninhibited bliss that I could only groan with her even though my own climax was still several minutes away. I sighed when she sighed, moved when she moved, let her be free, let her move.

  And my Kyrie, she surprised me.

  Instead of grinding every last drop of orgasm out of herself on top of me, she rolled us over so I was above her. Wrapping her legs high around my waist, she rocked against me. Her mouth fell open as I was pulled deeper inside her, and her eyes widened as I pushed in, then stilled. Held back, forced myself away from the edge of orgasm. I stared down at her, taking in the carved perfection of her face. I marveled at her beauty. With her hair gone, the loveliness of her facial features was accentuated, highlighted. The angles of her cheekbones, the fullness of her red lips, the delicacy of her jawline and chin, the wide sapphirine glitter of her eyes, and now the curved smoothness of her scalp and the fragile pulse of her temple and the column of her throat….

  “You…are so…beautiful. ” The words were pulled from me, involuntary, raw truth brought to my lips by her goddess perfection.

  Her eyes moistened, and she blinked and lifted her hips against mine, and I was lost to her. She moved. Beneath me, her good leg folded and pinned between us, stretching herself open for me.

  I palmed the inner thigh of her outstretched leg and held on, curled my other hand around her bent leg, and matched her rhythm. But then I couldn’t even do that, I could only push my hips against her and let her move for both of us, let her draw the release from me, let her take control then.

  Our eyes were locked, a laser-hot cord binding our gazes, and she moved, thrust, thrust. Her hips flexed with relentless speed now, her taut stomach tensing, her tits bouncing, and I saw only her blue gaze. Saw only the incredible soul of the woman beneath me shining through her eyes, a beautiful, flawed, immensely powerful soul shining bare and vulnerable, shining just for me.

  The physical release was nothing in comparison to the emotional climax we shared in that moment, and god…the physical release I experienced then was like no other, wrenching and twisting every muscle and tendon within me. She drew it all out of me, bucked against me, writhing furiously to milk it all out of me, dragging it from me.

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  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,

  One.

  Merged.

  Enmeshed.

  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.

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  I came with a scream, and he continued devouring me, riding out my climax until I was limp and begging him to stop, to let me catch my breath.

  He leaned back on his heels as I gasped for breath.

  “Jesus, Valentine…. ” I wiped my hand across my forehead.

  He stood slowly, passing his wrist across his lips. “You just had to tease me, didn’t you?” He rumbled, adjusting himself with one hand. “Now I’m going to be hard all through dinner, and it’s your fault. ”

  “Sorry?”

  He grabbed my heel and pulled me to the edge of the bed. “No, you’re not. ” He stood over me, so tall I had to crane my neck to look straight up at him, and then his lips were on mine, and I tasted my essence on him.

  I wiped at his mouth and beard with my palm. “You taste like me now. ”

  “Good,” he murmured, and then backed away. “You’re distracting me, Kyrie. ”

  He plucked a scrap of black lace off the bed, a slinky, tiny pair of lingerie panties. Taking one of my feet in his hands, Valentine slipped my leg through one side and eased my other foot through, and then lifted me to my feet so he could draw them up the rest of the way. I kept my eyes on his as I adjusted them slightly, and then he was helping my arm through the strap of a matching bra. I couldn’t help but laugh when he tried to hook the bra on behind my back, and couldn’t quite manage it.

  “Never put one on before,” he mumbled. “Harder than taking it off, it seems. ”

  “That’s not how I put them on anyway,” I said. “I hook it first, get myself adjusted in the cups, and then put the straps on. ” I showed him what I meant, and he watched, rapt, as I tucked my boobs into the soft, cool silk and lace of the bra.

  By the time I was finished with that, he was unzipping the back of the dress and holding it out for me. I stepped into it and pulled it up, and then he was spinning me in place, pulling the zipper up. He took several steps backward, away from me, passing a hand across his mouth as if overcome.

  “You…Kyrie, you’re so beautiful. You take my breath away. You know that?”

  I scraped my hand across my stubbled scalp self-consciously. “Roth, I don’t feel—”

  He was there in front of me, one hand on my waist, the other cupping my cheek, then moving over my head. “I like it, rather. ”

  I laughed, disbelieving. “Okay, sure,” I said, my voice dripping sarcasm.

  He shook his head. “I’m serious, Kyrie. ” His lips touched my forehead, then my temple, and then he tucked me against his chest and kissed the top of my head. “It accentuates how perfect your face is. It makes your eyes so huge, and so, so blue. ”

  I laughed. “You just say that because you love me. ”

  He shrugged. “True. I do love you. More than I could ever say, or ever hope to make you understand. ” His fingers touched my chin, lifting my face so I was looking up into his intense, vulnerable gaze. “But Kyrie, you are beautiful. More than beautiful. You are lovely. Perfect. Gorgeous. I don’t think I can find all the words to describe how breathtaking you are. ”

  “You really think so? Even like this?” I couldn’t help but run my hand where my hair used to be.

  “You think I could possibly find you any less incredible merely because of your hair?” He frowned at me, cupped my cheeks with both huge hands. “You haven’t seen yourself in the mirror, have you?”

  He pulled me toward the stairs and descended backward behind me, holding my hands in his. I made it down the steps on my own this time, and he brought me past the bathroom to a pair of double doors, which opened into a massive walk-in closet. He guided me to the center of the room and pivoted me in place so I faced a full-length mirror.

  I hadn’t seen myself in a mirror yet, I realized.

  Maybe it was because I had Valentine behind me, or maybe it was because I had his words ringing in my ears. Or maybe it was because I really was beautiful. All I knew was that, looking at myself in the mirror, that I felt beautiful. He was right. My eyes were huge, vividly blue, standing out in my face even more now than when I had a full head of hair. My head was a smooth round curve, my cheekbones high and sharp, my jawline strong but still feminine and delicate.

  I looked strong. Striking.

  “See?” His voice rumbled at my ear. “You could never be anything less than perfect. ”

  He reached into his suit coat pocket and pulled out the jewelry box, holding it in front of me with one hand, reaching around my body with the other arm. When he lifted the lid, my breath left me. It was the same set of emerald earrings and necklace I’d worn to the Met, so many months ago. A lifetime ago, it felt like. He set the box in my hands and lifted the necklace free, draped it across my neck, and fastened it.

  “I don’t think I can manage the earrings,” he said, grinning in embarrassment.

  I slipped one hook in, and then the other.

  He pressed his cheek next to mine. “Do you see yourself, Kyrie? Do you see how lovely you are?”

  I held in my breath, fighting to speak evenly. “All I see is your love, Valentine. ”

  He kissed my cheek. “That works, too. ” He took my hand and pulled me away from the mirror. “Come on. There’s more. ”

  There was an elevator, thankfully. It was glass-faced in front and back, the cables whirring on either side. The sun had sunk below the horizon, bathing the rolling waves in fading orange and purple and crimson, darkness lowering quickly. The elevator slid to a gentle stop, the polished metal doors opened, and Roth was leading me across the deck of the boat. The cabins rose up beh
ind us, a sleek expanse of tinted black glass and white walls between each level. The deck was a long spearhead, the prow some eighty feet ahead of us.

  In the very bow of the boat was a single round table, draped with black cloth, several thick white candles clustered in the center, lit, flickering flames dancing. A stand with a silver bucket stood to one side, containing a chilling bottle of champagne. Valentine tangled our fingers together and led me across the deck, turning back to look at me every few steps, his eyes glittering with happiness and excitement and love. My heart thudded in my chest even as I was melting for him. He stood behind one of the chairs, pulled it out, and slid it in as I sat down.

  Once he was seated, a door opened somewhere, and an attractive young man approached, dressed in black with a server’s black apron tied around his waist. He plucked the bottle of champagne from the bucket and deftly opened it without a word, pouring a measure into my glass and then Roth’s. He bowed at the waist, and retreated, even as another, nearly identical man appeared, carrying a tray piled high with covered plates. He arranged them on the table, pulled off the covers, and identified the dishes in thickly accented English. I wasn’t paying attention to anything he said, though; I was too busy staring at Roth and at the ship and at the incredible beauty of the sea. We were anchored within sight of shore, although I had no idea where we were. The deck rolled gently with the waves. The sun had fully set, and darkness was thick around us already, stars pricking the sky one by one.

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  I heard someone strum a guitar, and twisted around to see Alexei standing on a balcony overlooking the deck, a guitar in his hands. He smiled at us, dark eyes glinting in the rising moonlight, and strummed again, then began singing. His words were in Russian, the melody slow and mournful, his voice strong and rich, a powerful baritone.

  “This is incredible, Valentine,” I said.

  “What is?”

  I took a sip of the champagne, and then answered, gesturing broadly around us. “Everything. The yacht. You. This date. ”

  He took my hand. “You deserve romance, Kyrie. ”

  I had no response for that.

  We chatted idly as we ate, sipping champagne and discussing where we might go next, reminiscing about places we’d already been. On the balcony above us, Alexei was leaning against the railing, playing his guitar with masterful effortlessness, singing still, the lyrics unintelligible to me, but still full of romance and meaning. When we were finished eating, one of the young men appeared and cleared everything from the table except the candles and the champagne flutes.

  Roth twisted the stem of his flute between his fingers, his other hand in the pocket of his pants. He seemed lost in thought.

  “What are you thinking about?” I asked.

  His gaze flicked away from the candle flames up to my eyes. “You. ”

  “Me?”

  He nodded. “After all that’s happened, I just find it amazing that you can sit there and look at me the way you are right now. ”

 
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