Beta, p.7
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       Beta, p.7

         Part #2 of Alpha series by Jasinda Wilder
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Harris had us weaving in an erratic pattern, left here, right at this corner, down this alley and backtracking, and then we were on a bus and smashed between a crushing crowd of sweating locals. I was still nauseous and seeing holes in torsos and staring, unseeing eyes.

  Harris’s voice filled my ear in a barely audible whisper. “I know you’re in shock, Kyrie, but you need to pull it together. It was us or them. ”

  I answered in a harsh rasp. “I know. I just—god…I keep seeing them. ”

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  “I understand, believe me. ” The bus turned, and we swayed to one side. He used the commotion to pull my shirt down lower to cover my gun. “Next time you pull that out, you shoot, okay? Don’t think—don’t even really try to aim. Just point at center mass and pull the trigger. If you draw it, you shoot it. Got me?”

  I nodded. “Got it. I’m sorry. I just…froze. ”

  “And that’s how you get killed in those situations. You can’t freeze. ” His voice was totally calm, as if we were discussing sports or the weather.

  “I was scared, Harris. They had fucking machine guns. I was about to die. ”

  He let out a breath. “I know. I know. ” He touched my shoulder in a gesture that was part friendly affection and part apology. “I’m sorry we’re in this. I’m sorry you’re in this. ”

  “I just—I just want Valentine back. ”

  “Me, too. ” He patted my shoulder again. “And we’ll get him back. ”


  Harris was a long time responding. “No. I can’t promise that. ”




  Curtains of distortion swept across my brain, the ceiling and floor wavering and twisting. Heat billowed through me. I was on fire. I was burning alive, skin crackling. I was so hot my skin must surely be blistering, but I didn’t dare look. Nausea rocketed through me in a sudden burst.

  I felt vomit in my throat, at the back of my teeth. I could only crane my neck and hope I didn’t choke as I spewed all over the bed and the floor and myself.

  Once my stomach was empty, I felt a sweat break out over my skin, cooling me to shivers.

  My penis ached. My skin crawled. Eyes closed, eyes open, I saw over and over the repulsive vision of Gina writhing on top of me, clawing me, leaving bloody gashes gouged down my chest. I heard her voice, calling out as if in the grip of ecstasy. I felt her on me, and I wished I could vomit again.

  When the door swung silently open, I saw her in triplicate. She wore a green miniskirt, tight as a second skin, molded to her thighs and ass, barely long enough to cover the bottom of her buttocks. Long tanned legs, four-inch ivory heels, sleeveless ivory blouse cut low between her breasts. I clenched my eyes, opened them, saw a single image, which blurred and multiplied.

  “Val. My, my, my. Such a mess. The medication has side effects, it seems. ” She rounded the foot of the bed and sat at my side—the side I hadn’t vomited all over. The back of her hand touched my forehead. “You’re burning up. ”

  I twisted away from her touch, and her eyes narrowed. “Get away from me. ”

  She stood up, tugged at her blouse. “I thought we were past this, Valentine. ” I didn’t bother responding, and she snapped her fingers. The same two thugs as before appeared in the doorway. “He needs to be cleaned up. ” She wrinkled her nose and gestured at me.

  This was my chance. I knew it, felt it coming. One of the men produced a key from his pants pocket and unlocked the end of the handcuffs on my right hand. My wrist was still shackled, but free from the bed. Then he freed my foot on the same side. The thug passed the key to his brother, who unlocked my left hand and foot .

  One of the thugs backed away and drew a huge silver pistol from a shoulder holster. “Up. Stand up,” he growled. “Nothing funny. ”

  I slowly slid my legs to one side of the bed and attempted to sit up. My entire body protested, dizziness sweeping through me as I levered myself to a sitting position. My stomach roiled, heaved, but I shoved it down, gritting my teeth and forcing myself to my feet. I had to brace myself with a hand on the headboard as the world spun and dipped beneath me. Gina was watching from beside the doorway, her purse over her shoulder. She dug in her purse, rifling through it for god knows what.

  A meaty, clammy hand clapped around my forearm, jerked me forward, off balance. I stumbled, wobbled, dizziness and riotous nausea rollercoastering through me. I could see four of everything, then three, one, and two, and then it was all a myriad of shapes and colors and bodies and blue sky, blue water, white roofs and walls and blue doors and a black-suited thug in front of me, catching me, something cold and silver and hard between us.

  My stomach heaved, bile streaming between my teeth and down my chin as I tried to contain it, and then an idea hit me and I let it go, let it pour out of me and all over Tobias or Stefanos or whoever this fuckhole in front of me was. Vomit hit his suit coat, shirt front, face, and he cursed in Greek, but I was already grabbing his hand, fumbling half-blindly, taking his sudden distraction as an opportunity to twist his hand so the barrel of his gun pointed at himself, and my finger found the trigger and jerked it.

  BANG! The pistol went off with a deafening crash. It kicked back and into my chest, the recoil of the absurdly massive handgun knocking me backward. I snatched the gun, still dizzy, seeing too many of everything, still heaving, stumbling. I fell backward three, four, five steps, hit the wall, pointing the pistol with one hand at the other black-suited thug, who advanced slowly, his own gun drawn.

  “You kill my brother. ” He was inches from me, his silver gun with a wide black mouth pointed in front of one of my eyes.

  “Tobias. ” Gina’s voice was a low, threatening razor. “Take the gun from him and get him cleaned up. ”

  “But Stefanos—”

  “Is dead. ” She pulled a tube of lipstick from her purse, applied it slowly, pursed her lips, and put the tube away. “Do I look like I give a fuck?”

  Tobias muttered something in Greek under his breath, but he holstered his pistol. I had no chance of resisting as his fist flashed out and connected with my cheekbone. I fell sideways, and the pistol was stripped from my hand. I was dragged by my wrists out of the room and into a bathroom, huge and echoing, all marble and glass.

  He let me go, and my head smacked painfully against the marble floor. I heard water running, and then I was dragged across the bathroom, the grooves between the tiles plucking at my hair and scraping my scalp, and then icy water sluiced down onto my face and chest, and I was trying to roll away, but the stream came from a handheld wand and I was sprayed down head to toe, and no matter which way I turned or rolled or how I curled up, the frigid water beat against my skin like knives of ice.

  I heard a footstep on the tile somewhere near my feet, and I felt a presence over me, the stream of water battering against my chest, so cold now I was numb. A fist clenched my hair, jerked my head backward, and the spray was moved to slice into my eyes and my nose and my mouth, and I was drowning, drowning, unable to breathe or even keep from inhaling the water. Coughing, I couldn’t turn away, could only pull brutally against the hand gripping my hair, ripping hunks out by the roots in an attempt to get away.

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  And then the water was off and rancid breath huffed against my face, and a voice grumbled in my ear, “I’ll fucking kill you. I do not care what the crazy bitch says, I will kill you. Slowly. You will suffer. Suffer much. Anyone you love, I will kill. ”

  I slammed forward with my head, felt my forehead connect with flesh and bone, felt a tooth cut open my forehead. Tobias stumbled backward, and then lashed out with his foot into my gut. I curled inward, gasping for breath, gagging as the world went white.

  “Enough, Tobias. Your silly revenge can wait. Bring him back to the room. ”

  I was dragged back across the bathroom, down a short hallway, and into the too-
bright bedroom, which now smelled of antiseptic. I still couldn’t breathe, coughing up water and seeing stars. I felt myself lifted under the armpits, and—at the end of my strength—willingly crawled onto the bed, curling into myself and fighting for breath past the weight of water in my throat and lungs and the ache of the blow to my stomach.

  The door closed, and I felt the bed dip near my bent knees. “Well. I hope that was worth it, Val. You got yourself hurt on top of being sick, and you made an enemy. Tobias is a psychopath, you know. And coming from me, that’s saying something. ”

  Her hand touched my shoulder and stroked my arm, brushed my wet hair out of my eye. I was soaking wet, shivering, head pounding furiously, skin tight and tingling with the ache of a fever.

  I jerked away from her. “Don’t—” I devolved into hacking, spat up a mouthful of phlegm and water. “Don’t touch me!” My voice was a hoarse rasp. “Don’t you fucking touch me. ”

  “A little late for that,” she said, sounding amused. “You should rest now. I’ve got plans for you for later. ”

  “You might as well kill me,” I grated through my teeth.

  “Ha. No. I don’t think so. Not yet at least. I haven’t had my fill of you. ” She reached for my wrist, clicked the handcuff to the bed, did the same for my other wrist, securing both wrists before I knew what she was doing.

  I fought her with my feet as she reached for my ankles, kicked at her, connecting with her hip and then her stomach, knocking her backward. She stumbled, righted herself, smoothed her skirt and blouse, combed her fingers through her hair, and stood panting just out of reach.

  “You know, I suppose I should mention that your little slut has eluded me so far. And the more you fight me, the more trouble you cause, the worse things will be for her when I finally catch her. ” Gina examined her fingernails, and then grinned at me evilly. “I’m sure Tobias would have a fun time with her. I might bring another bed in here and cuff her to it, too. And then you can watch as my men and Daddy’s run a train on her. How about that? Dozens of men fucking her, right in front of you? You’d have to watch. And then she’d watch while I fuck you. I could get some of my girlfriends in here, and they’ll fuck you too. And then, when we’re all sick of you two, I’ll kill you. Her, then you? Hmmm. Maybe. Or you, then her? I don’t know. I’ll have to think about it some more. ”

  She rummaged in her purse and came up with a compact pistol. A Walther PPK, by the look of it. She rounded the end of the bed, staying out of reach of my feet, touched the barrel to my temple. “Now. I’m going to cuff your feet. And if you fight me, I’ll shoot you. But I won’t kill, not yet. I’ll bring your little whore in here and let everyone I know fuck her in front of you. Or you can cooperate. If you do, I’ll spare her. Meaning I’ll just put a bullet in her skull. Easy choice, no?”

  I went still, let her cuff my ankles to the bed once more.

  “Good. You’re learning. ” Gina patted my thigh, then turned and sauntered out of the room. “I’ll be back after you’ve had a chance to rest. ”

  * * *

  Kyrie sat astride me, blonde hair loose around her shoulders, naked and gleaming and perfect. We moved together, her ass gliding across my thighs, her breasts swaying, her cerulean eyes locked on mine, tender and wavering with emotion. I reached for her, needing to touch her, feel her, caress her, but something stopped me. She grinned. “Not yet,” she whispered, her words out of synch with the motion of her lips.

  Her palms on my chest, Kyrie leaned over me, hair draping like a curtain around my face so the sun glinted through her blonde locks. She slid forward, and I felt her core drag along my cock, wet and hot and slick, and I only knew that I needed her. She smiled, a gentle curve of her lips, and the taut pink tip of her nipple touched my forehead, soft and warm. I reveled in the feel of her skin, the touch of her flesh. The peak of her perfect breast drifting softly down my face, over my nose and lips, and I took the nipple between my teeth—

  “Oh…Val…yes—” she whimpered.

  And then everything distorted. I looked up, blinking, and blonde hair became black and blue eyes became dark, and I screamed, a guttural roar in my throat, my body arching and bucking, throwing a startled Gina off me.

  I clenched my teeth and screamed again until my throat went hoarse and gave out, eyes squeezed shut, the agony of being ripped from the dream too much to take, the horror of knowing I’d touched her, had her repulsive skin against mine, and I’d mistaken it for Kyrie’s, thought it was Kyrie loving me when, in reality, it had been Gina assaulting me.

  Gina stood up, naked. “Why do you keep fighting me?” She swayed over to the side of the bed, leaned over me, cupped her breast in one hand and traced idle patterns on my face with her nipple. She moved it to touch my cheek, my chin. Dragged her breast across my lips, quickly. I thought about biting her, but didn’t. I showed no emotion, no reaction. She pressed the inside of her opposite breast to my face, suffocating me between her tits. I held my breath and closed my eyes and waited. She slid astride me, bottom lip between her teeth in what was meant to be a seductive, erotic pose. She crushed her core against my cock, with no response. Now I was totally repulsed, furious, disgusted, and no force on earth could bring me to arousal.

  “Come on, Val. Play with me. ” She lifted my limp member in her hand, toying with me.

  “I’d rather die. ”

  “Oh, that’ll happen soon enough. ” She let go of me, leaned forward, and pulled open the drawer of the nightstand. The bottle of pills rattled, and she opened the top, shook one out into her palm. I pressed my lips together, clenched my teeth. “You can make this easy, or you can make this hard. ”

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  I just glared at her, lips compressed into a thin line.

  “The hard way, then. ” She shook her head and tisked as if scolding me.

  She moved off me and put on a purple silk dressing robe that was hanging over the back of a chair. For the first time, I noticed two large black plastic buckets, a silver pitcher, and a stack of white towels on the floor near the door. Gina placed the pill on the nightstand, glancing at me meaningfully. She then unfolded a towel and placed it beneath my head. Next, she carefully dragged both buckets across the floor, the effort needed to do so making it clear they were both full to the brim with water. Finally, she took the pitcher and scooped it full of water, then set it on the nightstand beside the pill.

  “I will ask you again, Valentine Roth. Will you take the pill, or no?” I lifted my chin, wrapped my fists around the chains of the handcuffs. “Very well, then. The hard way it is. ” She laughed, a merry little giggle. “Hard for you, I should say. Fun for me. I’ve always rather enjoyed this particular little game. ”

  She lifted the pitcher in one hand, slid her other palm over my forehead, and buried it in my hair, a brief caress, and then she took a fistful of hair and jerked viciously. Holding my head tipped backward, she tilted the pitcher so a few drops of water pattered on my nose, mouth, and eyes. I tried to turn my head to the side, but her grip on my hair was immoveable. She was strong. I felt roots give way, and then she was pouring a little more water onto my face. This time, some went up my nose, and I gasped, snorted. While I was coughing, she poured more water onto me, this time directly into my mouth. And she kept pouring. Panic surged through me. I shook my head, not even feeling the hair being ripped out of my scalp, and she kept pouring, hitting my eyes and nose, jerking my face back into place so the slow and steady gush of water hit the back of my throat. I was drowning, drowning. Just when I thought I would surely succumb and die, she righted the pitcher and ended the stream of water.

  I coughed, gasped, arched my back, and tried to breathe. My mouth was open wide as I choked, fighting for breath. And that was when she placed the pill on my tongue, poured a tiny measure of water into my mouth, and then pinched my nose shut. I had no choice but to swallow or die, and my body wouldn’t allow me to die. I tried, seeing Kyrie’s face, tried to
keep my esophagus closed as darkness weighed down, panic a raw and bone-deep horror inside me, the need to breathe, to live, to keep fighting winning out.

  I swallowed, and gagged as the pill went down, and resumed coughing the water from my lungs.

  For the next hour, Gina tortured me with the pitcher of water. She would refill, sit beside me, and pour water onto my face. A little, just enough to make me sputter, and then she’d wait, let me catch my breath, and when I had, she would slowly empty the pitcher into my eyes and throat and nose, always stopping when I was moments from drowning.

  I’d already swallowed her pill, so this was just for fun.

  I felt the chemicals begin to burn inside me, a slow, distant warming of banked coals deep in my blood and bones.

  A fist pounded on the door, and Gina barked a question in Greek. A young man burst through the door, spitting out rapid-fire Greek, clearly panicked.

  Gina, still holding a full pitcher of water, swore softly in English: “Shit. ” She sighed, hesitated, and then upended the pitcher onto my face. “It appears as if your little whore is coming for you. She’s caused me no end of trouble, you know. I’m going to have fun peeling the skin from her bones once I’ve caught her. ”

  I shook the water from my face, spat, coughed, and watched as Gina waved the young man away. When he was gone, she tossed the now-wet purple robe aside and dressed in a pair of white linen slacks and matching shirt, then slid her feet into a pair of red sandals.

  “I’m going to kill her slowly, Valentine. I’m going to have her raped, and I’m going to kill her. ” She pulled her pistol out of her purse, checked the load of the clip, and then glanced at me. “She killed Alec. Or someone did. Shot him in the head. I had a lot of fun with him. It will be hard to replace someone as eager to please as him. He liked to give me cunnilingus, and he was rather skilled at it. Now I’ll have to train someone else. ” Despite the icy calm with which she said these words, there was a gleam of maddened rage in her glittering black eyes.

  She left the room, the lock clicking behind her. A silence descended then, which stretched out for a time I couldn’t measure, and then hell broke loose.



  I ran behind Harris, my lungs burning and my legs aching.

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