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Page 23


We were racing around a curve on the hillside, the sea far, far below. A bus rushed past us, too close, our mirror almost scraping the side of the bus. In the back seat, Roth was rocking and growling, his hand going to his crotch and grinding himself as if the pain of his engorged penis was just too much. And then he jerked his hand away and grabbed the back of Harris’s seat, and his fingers went white with the force of his grip.

He glanced up at me, saw me watching. “Don’t look at me, Kyrie. Don’t you fucking dare look at me. You see the state I’m in? I’m crazy right now, baby. Crazy.” He grinned, a feral leer. “You wanna help me out, love?” He’d never sounded so English as then, the way his words twisted, the way his voice deepened and his lips curled.

He’s not himself. I repeated that in my mind, hating the words coming from his mouth and the way he said them.

“You want my cock, don’t you, Kyrie? You see it? I’m fucking crazy right now. I can’t stand it. I need you.” He reached for me, eyes hot and leering and ravenous. With a spear of pain in my heart as I did so, I backed out of his reach.

“Roth. It’s not you. That’s not you.” I fought the tears. “It’s not you.”

His face twisted, and he hunched over. “Fuck. Fuck.” He rubbed his face with both hands, spoke through his fingers. “Don’t come near me. Don’t touch me. Don’t look at me.” The hate, the disgust, the raw vitriol in his voice made me flinch, shudder, and made the tears stream down my face.

Harris stopped the SUV on a side street, beckoning for me to follow him. I slid out of the car and shouldered my backpack, waiting until Roth was in front of me before following Harris. We made our way through the sleepy village by the sea, fishing boats plying the waters in the distance, guitar music playing somewhere, water lapping at boat hulls and chucking at dock pylons. Our yacht stood out among the old fishing boats and small skiffs. We boarded, and Harris had us untied and was backing out before Roth and I had even sat down. Roth headed for the stairs leading below, and I followed him, dropping the backpack to the deck.

He pushed through the doorway of the stateroom I’d slept in, perhaps by accident, or perhaps because he could smell me on the blankets. I followed, hesitant but determined. Locked the door behind us. This was Valentine. My Valentine. I couldn’t leave him alone, not now, not like this.

He whirled, chest heaving, sweat gleaming on his skin, on his bulging muscles. His blond hair was long and damp, curling at his neck, his pale blue eyes crazed and wild. His hands shook. The handcuffs dangled, silver streaked with blood.

“Why are you here?” he demanded, his voice low and threatening.

“I—I can’t leave you alone. I just got you back. I can’t leave you. I won’t.” I stood straight and unflinching as he took a slow, prowling step toward me. “It’s me, Valentine. It’s Kyrie. I’m here. I love you. I love you.”

His fingers twitched and curled. I trusted him. I knew him. Even in the hold of some drug, I knew he wouldn’t hurt me. He loved me. I trusted in that.

His trembling fingers lifted and touched my cheek. I felt a tear there, though I hadn’t realized I was crying. He smeared it away. His breathing was erratic and panting, his chest rising and falling, his jaw working, every muscle taut and tensed. His finger slid across my cheek, down my neck, stopping at my clavicle and dropping away. I stood still, letting him touch me, denying the fear I felt in my gut. He leaned in, put his nose to the side of my neck, inhaling deeply. For some reason, my gaze locked on the bed, a low frame bolted to the wall. The bars of the frame were narrow enough that I could cuff him to it, if I had to.

Why did I think that? Why? I’d just rescued him—why would I need to restrain him?

His inhalation turned to a kiss, lips sliding across my skin. I went stone still, hands at my sides, fear churning in my gut. Was this my Roth kissing me? Or was it the leering beast from the car that’d looked at me like he wanted to eat me? I wanted to kiss him, to remind him who I was, who we were. I touched his jaw, lifted his face.

“Roth?” I searched his eyes.

The next few seconds happened in a blur too fast to comprehend. Somehow, I was on the bed and Roth was ripping my shirt apart, baring my bra, which he tugged down, bending and kissing my breasts as his hands jerked at my pants, the button fly and the zipper.

“Roth, wait—”

He didn’t wait. My pants were off, the pistol thumping to the floor beside the bed, and he was above me, handcuff bracelets cold against my forearms. His hands were on my wrists, pinning me. He’d shed the borrowed pants at some point, was naked now.

“Kyrie…goddamn, Kyrie. It’s you. I can smell you. I can taste you. You’re you. You’re really you. I dreamed you once, but it was her,” he growled in my ear, and I whimpered at the mad hunger in his voice.

“Roth, baby, let me up, okay?”

I was lost in the terrifying juxtaposition of sensations. I loved being beneath Roth, I loved the feel of his body hot and hard and huge over mine, I loved the smell of his skin and the strength in his hands and the press of his cock against my core just before he pushed in. I loved all that, cherished it, and needed it.

But this?

This wasn’t that. This was madness. Drug-induced insanity. A crazed need he couldn’t control, and he wasn’t listening to me as I whimpered, as I struggled against his crushing grip on my wrists, fighting panic as I struggled against him.

“Let go, Valentine,” I whispered. I lifted up and put my mouth to his ear. “Let me go. Please.”

He pulled back and looked down at me, his eyes wide and mad and dark and alien. “I need—I need this.”

I shook my head, managed to get a wrist free. I touched his cheek, fighting tears. “Not like this, Valentine. Please.” I pushed at his chest, gently, delicately, pleadingly.

He was shaking all over. Warring within himself. I felt him at my entrance, and in this moment, with this Roth, I wanted to press my thighs closed to him, and that made tears leak out. His hips flexed, his eyes narrowing, jaw clenching, and I felt him slide in a little, his broad head parting me just slightly.

My breath came in gasps. “Roth, no. No. Not like this. This isn’t you. Please, Roth.”

He growled, his lips curling into a rictus, his eyes squeezing shut. I felt him shaking all over, felt him tensed tighter than a guitar string, every sinew and muscle rock hard. With what seemed to be a physically painful effort, a supreme exertion of will over his body, he moved just enough that I could scramble out from beneath him. He flopped to the mattress and twisted onto his back.


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