Alpha, p.5
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       Alpha, p.5

         Part #1 of Alpha series by Jasinda Wilder
slower 1  faster
I felt sick then. “They…how—what stopped them?”

  Harris didn’t answer right away. When he did, his voice was arctic and dark. “Me. Once I realized their intentions, I…confronted them. ” He hesitated again.

  “By ‘confront’ I assume you mean you…fought them?” I wasn’t sure I wanted to know, but I couldn’t help asking.

  He answered. “Harris doesn’t ‘fight. ’”

  “Then what?” I asked.

  Harris cleared his throat. “They were scum. I do not take lives lightly, but I enjoyed ending those three. I did the human race a favor when I slit their filthy f**king throats. ”

  A wave of dizziness washed over me. “You—you killed them?”

  “Quickly, and easily. Don’t feel any guilt for their lives, Miss St. Claire. They intended to take turns raping you two for hours. They were evil, sadistic creatures with not even a speck of humanity in them. I showed them the mercy of quick deaths. ”

  “But you…you killed them. For me. ”

  “Yes. I did. And I would do so again. ”

  “Then there was also the matter of a potential mugger, just this past month,” he said. “Harris made sure the mugger never reached his intended point of ambush. That particular individual was merely…persuaded, shall we say, to give up a life of crime. ”

  “Indeed,” Harris said. “I can be rather persuasive. ”

  I had a hard time breathing suddenly. “What—what else did you do on my behalf?”

  He answered. “Only one other matter required intervention. The last gentleman you dated. Steven Higgins. ”

  “Steven? What did you do to Steven?”

  “The Steven you knew, and the real Steven…they were not the same person. ” He paused, and I heard the tone of his voice shift to address Harris. “You may go. Thank you. ”

  “Good night, sir. Miss. St. Claire. ” I heard Harris’s footsteps recede, and the front door close.

  “What do you mean?” I asked. “I dated Steven for six months. He was really great. ”

  “Steven Higgins is a vile, vulgar, abusive animal with disgusting predilections. ” His voice was thick with contempt.

  “Wh—what do you mean?”

  “He is a predator, and the worst kind of abuser. He hides his true self well, hides it until he’s sure his prey is too deeply ensnared and too weak to get away. ”

  “I—I don’t understand. Steven never laid a finger on me. Not—not that way, at least. He was never anything less than a perfect gentleman. ”

  “As I said, he is predator. A hunter. He spent six months with you, assessing you, drawing you in, making you think he was kind and innocent and…vanilla. He was a BDSM dominant, Kyrie. Although those who practice BDSM would take great offense to labeling a monster like Steven as a dom. What Steven enjoyed was not BDSM, but merely torture. I have photographic evidence, police reports. I’ve put the file in your bedroom for you to look over later, as I realize my word won’t be enough to convince you of the veracity of my claims. ” He sighed. “I couldn’t let Steven get his hands on you, Kyrie. He breaks women. Ruins them. Destroys them. I suspect he’s responsible for at least one death, and I further suspect his taste for blood and inflicting pain will only grow. ”

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  “Taste for blood? He’s…killed people?”

  “Yes. I don’t have hard proof as to the latter claim, but considering the way his victims are left when he’s done with them, I find it hard to believe he’s never gone as far as killing someone, if only by accident. ”

  I swallow hard. “I don’t—I don’t understand. What is it he likes?”

  “It starts innocently enough. Rough sex. A few slaps here and there, under the guise of spanking. But it grows worse as time goes on. It is much like the way a lobster is boiled, really. The water grows hotter and hotter, and the poor creature never even realizes what’s happening until it’s too late. The girls he chooses as prey grow fond of Steven, of his nice-guy act. They enjoy sex with him, initially. They don’t mind his propensity for a few rough moments. They tolerate the increasing violence of his attentions. And then he moves to bondage. Ties them up. Binds them to the bed. Has his way with them. Again, it seems innocent enough, if you like such things. He establishes a safe-word, follows all the correct protocols for those who engage in the world of rough sex. But eventually the safe-word has no effect. He won’t stop. His slaps turn to punches. His gentle whipping loses its gentility. His rough sex turns to violence. It becomes rape. Torture. Beatings that last for hours, leaving his victim bloody and helpless, and then he rapes them to his satisfaction, which is its own torture. I have firsthand reports from his victims for you to read. ”

  I feel myself shaking all over. “I—are you for real?”

  “Yes, I am. As I said, I know you won’t trust my word, so when I take you to your room, you will have an opportunity to peruse the file I had Harris put together. ”

  “What did you do to Steven?”

  “I merely had Harris convince him that it would be in his best interests to vanish from your life. Permanently. ”

  “You didn’t have him killed?”

  “No. He hadn’t done anything to you, so I couldn’t justify it. I would have liked to, however. He is a filthy, vile creature. I did report him to the authorities, however, so hopefully he will be stopped before he hurts anyone else. ”

  I thought back to my time dating Steven. I wasn’t one to jump right into the sack with a guy I was dating, so we didn’t sleep together until we’d been dating for nearly two months. He’d never pushed, simply waited patiently until I indicated I was ready. He was unfailingly polite, always a gentleman, paying for meals and opening doors, buying me flowers, taking me on some of the most romantic dates I’d ever been on. When we finally did sleep together, it was…nice. Fairly plain, actually. Not spectacular, but not bad. Just average. He seemed to like missionary sex, at the beginning. And then, after a month of sleeping together, we started trying other positions. And…yes, he did spank me a few times. Not hard, but it startled me, coming out of nowhere. I hadn’t minded it, actually. I’d felt weird about not minding it, and had spent a drunken night talking with Layla and wondering if I was a freak and just didn’t know it. She’d assured me that not losing my shit over one little smack on the ass didn’t make me a freak. From then on, things with Steven heated up a bit. It had seemed at the time as if he was merely turning up the heat, as if we were discovering things together. That’s how it had felt to me.

  But now, with what I was being told, I wasn’t so sure. Innocent, plain vanilla missionary sex…a little smack on the ass…and then the sex got rougher, more inventive…and I’d gone along with it all. Nothing untoward had happened. He’d never hit me on the face, never tried to choke me or tie me up, but I could easily see how that could have happened. If Steven had suggested tying my hands up, just to try it, I would have gone along. I knew that for a fact. And then I would have been totally at his mercy, because I’d started trusting him.

  “You’re not lying, are you?” I asked, my voice shaky.

  “I never lie. Never. And, furthermore, I have no reason to exaggerate or invent such things. I can see that you’re beginning to believe me. ”

  I shrugged. “It makes a scary kind of sense. The slow progression of things, it was exactly as you said. ” I thought back to the way things had ended and that, too, fit with what I’d been told. “He just vanished. I was really hurt, actually. Between one date and the next, he just…vanished. No call, not even a text. Like, I thought he’d just…left, without even dumping me. ”

  “It was the safest thing, Kyrie. I’m sorry that his disappearance caused you pain, but it was that or allow you to suffer at his hands, and that was simply not an option. I will not allow you to come to harm, Kyrie. Not ever. I may not be able to prevent you from suffering emotional pain, but believe me when I say that I would if such was within my power. ”

  The sincerity in his voice surprised me. It sounded for all the world as if he really did care, as if he felt deep and powerful emotions toward me. But yet he wouldn’t even tell me his name, or let me see him. It didn’t make any sense, and it scared me. Was he unstable? There was no way to know, and I’d put myself right his hands.

  “If you’re willing to believe me, I’d rather not let you see the file,” he said. “It’s…very graphic, and very disturbing. ”

  “I still want to see it,” I said.

  “Are you sure?” He sounded closer, but I hadn’t heard or felt him move. “It’s not pretty, what he does to women. And the most awful part is that he gets away with it. If a girl were to report him, he’d just say it was consensual, because…it was. At the beginning. But by the time they realized what was happening, it was too late. But it becomes their word against his, and the girls are often too traumatized, too frightened of him to say anything. ”

  “I want to see it. I also want to see the information you have on me. ”

  “I’m not sure that’s wise. It wouldn’t do you any good. It’s nothing but basic information. Photographs of you going about your day. Financial information, medical information, university records. ”

  “Why do you need all that information on me?”

  “Because I wish to know who you are. ”

  “And who am I?”

  “Hmm…” He sighed, the sound of someone gathering his thoughts. “You are Kyrie Abigail St. Claire. Twenty-six years old. Daughter of Katharine Eileen Tilson St. Claire and Nicholas Calvin St. Claire. Your mother suffers from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and is currently residing at the Ravenwood Care Home in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Your father is deceased. You have one brother, Calvin Matthew St. Claire, who is currently attending Columbia College in Chicago. Your best friend is Layla Irene Campari. You have one living set of grandparents, maternal, living in Fort Lauderdale. No other immediate family. You have a bachelor’s degree in social work from Wayne State University, and are currently pursuing your master’s. You are five foot seven, and your weight fluctuates between one-thirty and one-forty. Blonde hair, blue eyes. No medical conditions. You had your appendix out when you were sixteen. You have been supporting your mother and brother on your own since your father’s passing seven years ago. Your favorite color is lavender. You have a slight addiction to black cherry Chobani yogurt, and you have a tendency to overindulge in alcohol when stressed. You have a second-degree black belt in tae kwon do, which you began pursuing at the age of eleven. You have had five sexual partners. No pregnancies, abortions, or miscarriages. You have been on birth control since you were eighteen. You hate broccoli, and your favorite dish is chicken Parmesan. ” A pause, and then he cleared his throat. “What else? Oh, yes. You were arrested for shoplifting when you were fourteen, convicted, and served one hundred hours of community service. I believe that’s everything. ”

  Page 14


  I couldn’t breathe. Literally. My chest seized, my lungs froze. My heart stopped. I coughed and tried to suck air into my lungs, and failed. The glass of Scotch tumbled from my hand and fell to the floor with a crash. I clawed at my throat, at the blindfold, at my chest.

  I felt a big warm hand on the nape of my neck, strong and implacable, forcing my head down between my knees. “Breathe, Kyrie. Breathe in. ” His voice, his honey-thick, well-deep voice was at my ear, murmuring, comforting. Soothing. I opened my throat and forced air into my lungs, dragging in huge gulps of air, breathing out, in, out. His hand remained on the nape of my neck, a gentle touch. “That’s good. Keep breathing. It’s all right. It’s all right. ”

  “You—you know f**king everything about me. ” I jerked away from him, stumbled to my feet, and lurched away. I felt his hand catch my waist and pull me forward, just as I felt my heels and the backs of my knees hit a table. “You know—fuck—you know everything. Every goddamned thing there is to know. How many sexual partners I’ve had? Jesus. Jesus. I’m gonna be sick…. ”

  Glass crunched underfoot. I heard a door open, and then the tinkling of the broken glass being swept up.

  “Thank you, Eliza,” he said, his voice soft.

  “Of course, sir. Will there be anything else, sir?” Eliza’s voice sounded on the older side, a touch of an accent, Hispanic, possibly.

  “No, that will be all for now. Dinner is ready, yes?”

  “Not just yet, sir. About half an hour. ”

  “Very good, Eliza. Thank you. ” Footsteps receded, a door closed, and I sensed we were alone once more. “Are you all right, Kyrie?”

  I stepped out of his touch, straightened my spine, forcing my breathing to even out. “I suppose. I could use a few minutes alone. ”

  “Of course. This way, please. ” His hand on the small of my back pulled me into a walk, guiding me forward. “I’ll show you to your rooms. You will have a moment to refresh yourself, and then we will dine. ”

  “And I’m supposed to do all this blindfolded?” I asked.

  “In your own quarters you will be allowed to remove the blindfold. And if we are not together, while I am working, for instance, you will have the freedom to roam my home at will. My private apartments are inaccessible to you, so you need not fear running into me by accident. ” He nudged me around a corner, and I heard our footsteps echoing in what sounded like a huge hallway. “As I have stated, you are not a prisoner. The front door is unlocked. The elevator will take you to the garage, and from there to the street, where you will find a taxi readily available. I will even arrange a flight back to Detroit, if you wish. If you choose to leave, your belongings will be brought to you, along with the nondisclosure contract. You are free to go at any time. You are free to remove the blindfold at any time. But if you do, our agreement is voided, and my financial support will cease immediately. You would have, at most, three months before your various debts caught up with you and your situation became untenable. I urge you to consider wisely, Kyrie. I give you my word of honor that you will not be in any way mistreated, harmed, or forced to do anything to compromise your morals, values, or physical safety. ”

  I wobbled on my three-inch heels, unnerved, still shaky with fear and confusion and disorientation. “This is such a f**ked-up situation. You know that, right?”

  “Yes, I suppose this is a rather unusual situation. ” His voice was rife with amusement. His hand curled around my waist, halting me. “We’ve reached your quarters. I will send you in, and then you may remove the blindfold. Please leave the dress on, however. You look incredible in it. Eliza will bring you to the dining room in thirty minutes. ”

  A door handle opened, and I was nudged forward. His hand rested on my lower back, his palm against my spine and his fingers splayed possessively on my side. As soon as I realized how bizarrely comforting and familiar his touch felt, he withdrew his hand, and I was left in an even greater state of emotional confusion.

  “I’ll see you soon, Kyrie. ” Warm lips brushed my cheek, his breath Scotch-laced and hot. I shivered at the feel of his lips on my cheek, not even an inch from my mouth.

  “Yeah,” I said, letting every last shred of sarcasm I possessed paint my voice. “You’ll see me. ”

  He only laughed, a rumbling chuckle. “It won’t be for long, Kyrie. I promise. Just try to trust me, and the blindfold will come off. ”

  “Trust you? How the hell am I supposed to trust you? I don’t know even know your name! I’m blindfolded!”

  “You have to give yourself over to me. It will be frightening, I know. It goes against nature, especially for one who has been through what you have. I know this. I know the enormity of what I ask. But I wouldn’t ask it of you if I didn’t think you capable of it. And I wouldn’t ask it of you if it wasn’t necessary, for me. ” His finger trailed along my cheek. “Hear this, Kyrie: As you learn to trust me, as you give yourself to me, so will I learn to trust you, and give you myself. ”

  That sh
ook me to the core. I searched for something to say, for some way to react, but I had nothing. No words, no knowledge of what to say, what to feel, what I even thought of his statement.

  “Enough of this for now. Refresh yourself, and join me for dinner. There is an intercom on the wall just to your left. Press the green button and ask for Eliza if you find you’re ready before thirty minutes have passed. ”

  “Can I call Layla?”

  A brief hesitation. “Yes, I don’t see why not. Be discreet, please. ”

  “Okay. ”

  “Goodbye, for now. ” I heard the door close and latch, and his footsteps recede.

  I stood in place for a moment, and then reached up and removed the blindfold. I turned in place, examining my surroundings. And, once again, my breath was stolen. The room itself was mammoth, big enough to fit my entire apartment in, with room to spare. And one entire wall, from floor to ceiling, was glass. I drifted over to the windows, blinking, gasping in awe. Manhattan lay spread out before me in unrivaled beauty, a myriad of towers and lights and cross-hatched streets, yellow headlights and red taillights, cycling stoplights…never had I seen anything like it. For several minutes I could only stand with my nose to the glass, staring out at the city. How many floors up was I? Very many, clearly. I couldn’t recall the inside of the elevator, except for a memory of polished chrome and dark wood. I thought hard, and realized there had only been two buttons, one for the top, and one for the garage level. But, judging by the view beneath me, we were at least fifty stories up. There were several skyscrapers nearby, and I could see the tops of all of them.

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  Finally I tore myself from the view and examined the rest of the room. Thick, plush, cream carpeting, a twelve-foot ceiling. On one side of the room was an accent wall, painted a dark maroon and decorated with a very high-end reproduction of Vermeer’s The Girl With the Pearl Earring. There was a waist-high pedestal beneath the painting that held a vase, which looked to be some kind of priceless work of art. The other walls were a neutral tan color with dark wood-paneled wainscoting. There was a dark brown leather couch, love seat, and chair in the center of the room, with a glass-topped coffee table. Opposite the accent wall was a wet bar and a small table with two high chairs, and an enormous bookshelf containing all of my own personal books, DVDs, and CDs, plus a vast selection of fiction from all genres. Beside the bookshelf was an elaborate music system, the kind of high-end technology that was custom-made for each client.

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