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Beau could imagine the rest. “You don’t have to tell me any more of it, love.”

“It’s not what you think.” She slipped away from him and sat down, staring at her clasped hands. “He told me what happens to little girls who run away—what he was going to do to me. I got out of the car and began walking toward the road. He came after me, but when he grabbed me, he tripped and fell down and he didn’t move again. A few hours later the police found me walking on the road toward the train station. They told me the man was dead.”

“What killed him?”

She met his gaze. “I did.”

Beau’s voice grew gentle. “Alys, you can’t blame yourself for the death of a man who surely would have killed you. You were a child. It was an accident.”

“When the man was saying all those terrible things, I heard another voice. It whispered to me inside my head, and told me to get out of the car.” Alys knew how crazy she sounded but pressed on, determined to tell him all of it. “It showed me the rock sticking up from the ground, and the old root stretched across the road. It told me that if I took three steps to the left when the man reached me, that he would catch his foot on the root and fall, and hit his head. I didn’t know it would kill him, but no one had bothered to explain death to me yet. I thought he was sleeping.”

He came to her, drawing her into his arms and kissing the top of her head. “Perhaps God was looking out for you that day.”

“God, if he even exists, doesn’t tell runaway seven-year-olds how to kill someone. I didn’t know whose voice was inside my head, but I’ve never forgotten it. And I never heard it again, until two weeks ago, in the bar at the Jade Palms.” She looked up at him. “It was your voice, Beaumaris. Twenty years ago, when I ran away from school and was picked up by that monster, you saved me. You were the one I heard in my head. You told me how to kill him.”

Beau scooped her up in his arms and carried her into the master bedroom, where he lowered her onto the bed and sat down beside her.

“I wish I had saved you.” Beau tucked a piece of her hair behind her ear. “I would have gladly put an end to that monster myself. But I cannot speak to the mind of a mortal; no Kyn has such a gift. Nor was I in France twenty years ago. I never knew you as a child. The voice you heard that day did not come from me. I wish I could explain what happened to you, and why you believed it was me, but I cannot.”

Alys put her hand on his. “He sounded exactly like you. Maybe I’ve convinced myself it was you because you’re so good at rescuing me.”

“I will never let anyone harm you again. Rest now.” He leaned over to kiss her.

Alys looped her arms around his neck, holding him close when he would have drawn back. “You’re not jumping out of here this time. I won’t let you.”

“You know what I am now, and what I can do to you.” Beau pushed aside the robe and traced the marks he had left on her shoulder. “We do not kill mortals; we try to live in peace with you. But we need your blood to survive.”

She put her hand over his. “You wanted to feed on me last night. That’s why you left me down in the pit. So you wouldn’t.”

“I cannot bespell you. I would have hurt you.” Beau briefly explained how the Kyn used l’attrait to lure mortals as well as make feeding on them painless. “Some mortals can resist our influence for a time, but only a very few like you are completely immune to it.”

“I’m not that immune.” A sudden rush of self-consciousness made her cover her face with her hand. “I’m in love with you.”

Beau brought her hand away. “You do not know what you say, Alys. What I did tonight…You owe me nothing.”

“You saved my life tonight, and for that I am grateful.” She leaned closer. “But it’s not why I’m in love with you.”

“I am not a mortal,” he reminded her. “Even if I were, I am no one and nothing to be loved. I was born in a brothel to a whore. My very existence was so repulsive to my father that he never claimed me as his son. I have spent my life like a coward, hiding what I truly am from everyone.”

“You aren’t hiding it from me now.” She took a deep breath and linked her arms around his neck. “You trusted me with the truth. Can’t you trust in how I feel about you?”

Beau gave her a desperate look. “You told me that you don’t believe in love, Alys.”

“Five minutes ago I didn’t believe you were one of the dark kyn.” She pressed a shy kiss to the corner of his mouth. “I’m flexible. Would you like to find out how much?”

“If I stay,” he warned, “it will be much more than a little touching and a few scratches.”

“God, I hope so.” She reached for the belt of the robe to untie it, and found his hands had already done it for her.

Beau parted the robe’s edges by running one hand from her navel to the inner curves of her breasts, which he uncovered with two slow sweeps of his palms. “You should never hide these beauties.”

“I sunburn easily, and I’d get arrested for indecent exposure, and oh, my.” All the breath left her lungs as he lowered his head and brushed his mouth over her nipples. “What are you doing?”

“Saying hello to your ladies.” He stretched out over her, cupping her mounds and watching as her flesh pebbled. “Shy things, they are.” He met her gaze. “Like you.”

He kept watching her face as he began using his mouth, sucking and licking at her, making the tingle from his touch spread and sink into a deep, swelling ache. His mouth made her nipples gleam, wet and dark pink, while the friction of his tongue sent shocks of excitement jolting through her abdomen that set off slow, deep flutters between her legs. Alys closed her eyes, unable to watch, and opened them again when she couldn’t bear not to.

“I want to do that to you,” she said, sliding her hands over the wide curves of his shoulders.

“Not yet, love.” He moved up to kiss her mouth, his fingers still exploring her like some delicate treasure, stroking and soothing her breasts, gliding over the curves and hollows of her belly. As Beau put his tongue in her mouth, he moved his hand between her legs, tasting her and penetrating her, and the feel of him at each end of her, pushing in and gliding out, set off a helpless, uncontrollable shaking.

“Not yet,” he repeated, rolling onto his back and bringing her on top of him.

Alys wanted to explore him, but as soon as she caressed his nipples, she felt his power wrapping around her, lifting her up from his body, separating her legs and shifting her pelvis toward his parted lips. “You’re cheating.”

“Yes, I am.” He looked up at her. “Open yourself for me. Show me what I’ve only touched in the dark.”

Alys felt her cheeks redden; she’d never put herself on display for any partner. But this was Beau, and she wanted his mouth on any part of her, every part of her. She reached down, embarrassed and thrilled by her own touch as she parted her mons and felt his breath touch her wetness.

He grazed her with his lips, teasing her with little kisses until she groaned and shivered. “Do you want my tongue on you? Do you want to feel it inside?”

“Yes, please.” She sounded nothing like herself, her voice low and her breath rushed, and when he covered her with his mouth and the first stroke of his tongue laved over the throbbing knot of her clit, she almost shrieked.

Beau worked at her with his mouth, delicately at first and then harder, his tongue lashing her and then pushing inside her, penetrating and curling and tormenting her. Alys felt herself go liquid as she writhed, so close to the pleasure it seemed to scald her from the inside out.

“Not yet,” he said a third time, bringing her down and turning with her again, his big body blotting out the light, his lean hips brushing against the insides of her thighs. He brought her hand down to the thick, rigid length of his penis, wrapping her fingers around him as he rubbed the heavy dome of the head between her folds. She tried to urge him inside, trembling and whimpering, but he still held back.

“Look at me.” When she did, he bent his head and pressed his lips once against hers. “You’ll never sleep alone again, my beauty.”

Alys could feel how much he needed her, his body coiled, his muscles rigid, but when he came into her, it was like being filled with music and laughter and sunlight. He didn’t penetrate her; he poured into her, his shaft forging into her clenching wetness so smoothly and sweetly she felt tears of joy spill over her lashes. It felt so perfect, her arms and legs wrapped around him, his penis deep inside her, his mouth kissing the tears from her face, that Alys thought her heart would shatter.

Beau laced his fingers through hers, his eyes glowing a brilliant gold as he looked into her wet eyes. “Now, love.”

Everything Alys knew about sex dwindled away as Beau made love to her, his body moving over her, inside her, driving into her with deep, steady rhythm. Something primal and wordless rose inside her, meeting each movement, returning each kiss, and Alys let it take her to him, her pleasure radiating from some nowhere inside herself, where now there was Beau, and he was so much a part of her she couldn’t think of herself as Alys anymore. She was with him, surrounding him, caressing him, melting into him.

“Give yourself to me,” he murmured against her lips as he went deeper, harder, driving into her now as she cried out his name and let the agonizing delight envelop her. “Yes, love, yes, come to me. Come all over me.”

Alys saw the glitter of his fangs, and turned her head, urging his mouth to her flesh. When he pressed a kiss, she curled her fingers into his hair. “Take it. Take all of me.”

When his teeth pierced her, she came again, her sex gripping his shaft convulsively, and as he drank from her he filled her, the hard jets of his cool semen flooding her hot sheath.

Beau lifted his mouth from her throat, holding her close and pushing his hand between them. He stroked her softly, playing with her, urging her to another climax before he shifted over onto his side, his hand cupping her bottom so they remained joined.

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