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Page 45


No foreplay, no drawing it out. No multiple orgasms. No words exchanged. Just dawn flushing the shadows from the corners and alleys and glass-and-steel canyons, horns blaring and voices shouting and laughing, engines revving, and Roth deep inside me, fingers on me, mouth on me. Just our lazy morning love, his breathing coming in pants and gasps, mine in whimpers.

We came together, hard and fast, less than five minutes after he entered me.

I fell back asleep with him still inside me.

I woke up with the sun high, the sheets rumpled at my hips, Roth’s eyes on me from where he sat on the balcony, dressed in shorts and nothing else, a mug of tea in his hands.

“Hey, baby,” I said, sitting up.

“Good morning, beautiful.” He gestured at the bedside table. “There’s coffee for you there.”

I grabbed the mug and sipped greedily at the still-steaming coffee. “How’d you know when I would wake up?”

He grinned. “If we have dawn sex, you always wake up again around ten, ten-thirty. You think I don’t know your patterns by now?”

I smiled at that and wrapped the flat sheet around my chest, moving to join him on the balcony. He snagged me as I passed in front of him, making me giggle and hold the mug away from us as coffee sloshed over the side. “You’re making me spill!”

“What a tragedy.” He pulled me down onto his lap, and I wiggled my bottom against him to find a comfortable position, and then we settled in to drink, neither of us needing to speak, just enjoying the morning and each other’s presence.

Once I’d finished my coffee, he stood up with me, parting the sheet and patting me on the ass. “Go take a shower, my lovely, sticky girl.”

“You made me sticky,” I said.

“Yes, I did,” he said with a grin.

“Why don’t you join me?” I suggested, looking up at him with an innocent expression.

“Because if I do, we’ll never leave this room. And as much as I would like to spend the next few days fucking you until you can’t walk, we have an enemy looking for us.”

I sobered at that thought. “And this is the first place she’ll look.”

He shook his head. “She already knows we’re here, no doubt.”

“What are we going to do?”

He nudged me toward the bathroom. “Go take a shower. I’ve got some ideas, but I need to run them by Harris.”

Worry had me frozen in place. “I’m scared, Roth.”

His expression darkened, and he held my shoulders in his hands, eyes going hard. “She fucked with the wrong man. Kidnapping me was a mistake. Trying to have you killed? Threatening you?” His voice was razor sharp and ice cold. “That was the wrong thing to do.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Finish this.” The malice in his eyes made me recoil in fear.

I touched his bare chest with my palm. “Valentine…just don’t—please, don’t do anything rash. Be careful. Okay?”

His brows lowered. “I think we’re past that point, my love. Well past it.”

“Just make me one promise, then, please?”

“If I can.”

“Don’t try to hide me, and don’t leave me behind. No matter what.”

He didn’t answer for several moments. Eventually, he backed away, out of my touch. “There will be blood, Kyrie.”

I swallowed hard. “I know.” I refused to let him retreat from me, no matter the circumstances. I circled my arms around his neck and put my cheek to his heartbeat. “Promise me, Valentine.”

Minutes passed. “You have my word.”

14

THE VIPER STRIKES

I stepped out of the shower, dried off, and wrapped the towel around my chest. Roth wasn’t in the bedroom, so I assumed he was in his office. I dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, brushed my hair out and pulled it back in a ponytail, not bothering with makeup.

Still no Roth.

Something in the pit of my stomach churned: something was off.

I padded down the hall in my bare feet to his office, finding it empty. Not in the gym. “Roth?” I called out. “Where are you?”

No answer.

I checked the kitchen, the dining room, the larger industrial kitchen, the foyer and sitting room, and finally, the library. The library was a huge cathedral of a space, shelves lining the walls from floor to ceiling. There were two floors of shelves, nooks and crannies with overstuffed chairs and reading lamps and small tables. I moved through the library, checking each reading nook, and then ascended to the upper floor. My skin tingled, my stomach heavy as lead, blood running ice cold in my veins. Something was very, very wrong. I should go back to the private quarters, remain behind the biometric lock separating the rest of the house from Roth’s rooms.

Wait for Roth, the thought hammered at me.

But I didn’t listen. I moved from stack to stack, hands trembling, barely daring to breathe.

The last nook I checked, in the farthest corner of the upper floor, was one with a huge black leather chair with a matching ottoman. Usually the chair faced toward the library, but as I approached, I saw that it had been turned away to face the corner. A hand was visible, resting on the arm of the chair. The hand was slim and feminine, the nails long and painted cherry red.

“Kyrie.” The voice was low and smooth and sultry, lightly accented. “Do join me.”

I backed away, two steps, three. But then stopped, frozen, as the visible hand retreated and reappeared, this time holding a compact pistol.

“Don’t make me end this too quickly, my dear.” The barrel of the pistol pointed at the other chair, which had been dragged over from another nook. “Now, Kyrie.”

On shaky legs, knowing I’d made a mistake, I circled around and sat in the chair she’d indicated. Facing me was Gina Karahalios. I didn’t need an introduction to know it. She was tall and poised and beautiful. Long black hair pulled in a twist over one shoulder, skin naturally tanned and artificially wrinkle-free, eyes dark as shadows and colder than ice, glinting at me in amusement. She wore a green dress, expensive, cut to cling to her curves, the neckline scooped deep, a string of fat black pearls draping her neck and nestled in her falsely enormous cleavage. A Chanel handbag sat on her lap.

I swallowed my fear and tried to keep the tremble from my voice. “Gina. What do you want?”

She smiled, a predatory curve of artificially plump lips. “A lot of things. But right now, you. And I have you.”

“Where is Roth?”


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