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The Siren

Tiffany Reisz

Page 17

  Author: Tiffany Reisz

  * * *

  Nora sat at her kitchen table writing furiously in her notebook. She’d given up on her computer a few hours ago. Her wrists were aching from typing, but she still had another chapter in her head she wanted to get on paper. After her long talk with Zach yesterday at church, she’d come home newly inspired. She had made a terrible mistake with her characters in her first draft. In the original ending of her book, Caroline was no longer able to bear William’s darkness. In the original ending, Caroline left him. But Nora realized she’d done Caroline a great wrong. She was no sexual masochist; she was an emotional masochist and never would she leave the man she loved, the man she was certain needed her help. No, in the new ending William, out of love for her, would send her away. It was beautiful and brutal and how it had to end. William had told her that and she knew better than to cross him.

  Wesley had spent the past two hours with her at the kitchen table catching up on more make-up work while she wrote. She wasn’t worried about his homework. Wesley had a shockingly keen mind under that mess of blond hair and had made Dean’s List all three semesters he’d been at Yorke. She’d made Dean’s List once when she was in college. Søren had ordered her to just to annoy her. Just to annoy him, she’d done it. Wesley was a natural hard worker, however, and didn’t need anyone telling him to do his homework or study. She told him once he could never be a writer like she was. He wasn’t nearly lazy enough.

  Wesley… Nora looked up and around the kitchen. Wesley had left over twenty minutes ago to check his blood sugar and take his insulin—something that usually took less than a minute—before he started cooking dinner. Nora went looking for him and found him leaning over the downstairs’ bathroom sink.

  “You okay, Wes?” she asked, trying to keep the panic out of her voice.

  Wesley laughed and shook his head.

  “You know, I have ridden some of the biggest, meanest, scariest stallions on the planet. You wouldn’t think a little needle in my stomach would bother me this much. ”

  Relieved that he wasn’t sick again, Nora exhaled and entered the bathroom. Wesley stood up straight and she hopped up on the counter next to the sink.

  “Still can’t do it?”

  “Nope. I think I have a mental block. ”

  “I can help with mental blocks. ”

  Wesley shook his head. “I have to do it myself, or I’ll never get over this. ”

  “You will do it yourself. You handle the needle. I’ll handle the mental block. What’s our target?”

  Wesley pointed to a spot on the center of his stomach a hand’s span beneath the bottom of his rib cage.

  “Dr. Singh said I’m supposed to think of my stomach like a clock face when I rotate my injections. I start at noon for the first one and then move an inch for the second one. That way I’m not going to hit the same spot over and over again. ”

  Nora nodded. “Clock face, huh?” She reached out and lifted the bottom of Wesley’s T-shirt. He’d lost weight in the hospital so now his four-pack abdomen was a stark six-pack. He had nothing left on his frame but muscle. She let loose a wolf-whistle. “Sexiest clock I’ve ever seen. ”

  “Nora,” Wesley said and pulled his shirt back down. He was blushing. “Stop it. ”

  “Wesley, you walk around the house without a shirt on all the time. Proof that you’re a secret sadist, I think. ”

  Wesley grimaced and Nora laughed.

  “I am not a sadist. I’m nothing like him. ”

  “You are a lot like him. ” She thought it was cute how Wesley tried to never say Søren’s name. “You both worry about me too much. ”

  “Anyone who’s ever met you worries about you,” Wesley countered.

  “And you’re both blonds. Except you’ve got dark blond hair and his is light blond. ”

  “Well, he’s Swedish or whatever. ”

  “Danish. His mother was Danish and his father was English. Between the two of them, he’s the least American American I’ve ever met. Another thing you two have in common—you’re both musicians. ”

  Wesley eyed her suspiciously. “Does he play guitar, too?”

  “Piano. He could have been a concert pianist, but now he just plays for fun. ”

  “He’s one of those perfect guys, right?” Wesley asked, crossing his arms. “His hair’s never messed up, he never spills anything, never trips. ”

  Nora nodded. “If that’s your definition of perfect, he does qualify. I’ve lost track of the number of languages he speaks. And he can be very witty and charming when he wants to be. And he’s ludicrously handsome. He’s also pretentious and conceited. ”

  Wesley grinned at her. “Keep going. ”

  “And he’s never ridden a horse in his life much less some of the biggest, meanest, scariest stallions on the planet. And,” she said, reaching out for Wesley’s T-shirt again, “he doesn’t make me laugh and smile every single day like a certain someone I know. ”

  Wesley raised his arms and Nora pulled his T-shirt off. Just to make it fair she unbuttoned her blouse and let it join Wesley’s shirt on the floor. Wesley seemed to be trying very hard not to stare at her wearing just her jeans and bra.

  “So we’re shooting for here?” she asked and touched a spot on his stomach a few inches above Wesley’s belly button.

  “Yeah. That’s noon. ”

  “Gotcha. ” She flicked noon with her fingers hard enough Wesley flinched.

  “Ouch!” He laughed. Nora flicked again.

  “What are you doing?”

  “In S&M, if you’re about to give someone a beating, you start off soft to desensitize the skin. A little pain at first can prevent a lot of pain later. ” She kept flicking until their target spot had turned bright red.

  “This might be worse than the needle. ”

  Nora looked at him and raised her eyebrows.

  “Okay, I see what you did there,” Wesley said and Nora finally stopped flicking him. “Now what?”

  “Take this and turn around,” she ordered, handing him his insulin pen. “Lean back against me. ”

  Wesley turned his back to her and Nora wrapped her arms around him. His young skin was smooth and warm, and when the swell of her breasts made contact with his back, she sensed him shiver. She reminded herself she was trying to help him, not seduce him.

  “Okay, look down at my hands. ” Her hands were on his rib cage. “Breathe in so deeply that you inflate your lungs like a balloon and my fingers spread apart. ”

  Wesley took a deep breath as instructed and Nora felt her hands open up.

  “Now exhale slowly for five seconds and then breathe in again. ”

  Wesley obeyed, taking another breath in and then exhaling one more time.

  “This time,” she said, “breathe in just as deeply but when you exhale, pop the air out hard and stick the needle in. I’ll count to five and then you pull it out. ”

  One more time Wesley pulled in air. “Now blow it out hard,” Nora said.

  Wesley pushed the air from his lungs and from the tiny flinch she felt she knew he’d stuck himself.

  She counted to five slowly and dropped a small kiss on his back between each number. At five he pulled the needle out.

  He turned around and beamed at her.

  “That’s my boy,” she said, and Wesley hugged her.

  “That wasn’t as horrible as I thought it would be. ”

  “It’s a good trick,” Nora said as Wesley released her. “Works if you get a body piercing, too. I speak from experience. ” Wesley had never seen where she was pierced.

  “No, thanks. The tattoo was enough for me. ”

  Nora’s eyes widened with shock.

  “What? You have a tattoo?”

  Wesley groaned.

  “Yes, I have a tattoo. A little one. ”

  “Wesley—you’re telling me that you had a mental block over i
njecting insulin in your stomach but you got a tattoo?”

  “I didn’t have to give myself the tattoo. And believe me, I didn’t watch. ”

  Nora pursed her lips and looked him up and down.

  “Well, I’ve seen you shirtless and I’ve seen you in boxers so it’s got be somewhere in this area. ” She pointed at his pelvic region and Wesley blushed again. Caught. “I knew it. Show me, show me. ”

  “I am not going to show you. It’s stupid. ”

  “I’ll show you my piercing. ”

  “How about I show you my tattoo and you don’t show me your piercing. Deal?”

  “My idea was better but whatever. Show me. ”

  Wesley exhaled loudly through his nose and started unbuttoning his jeans. Nora applauded. Rolling his eyes at her, Wesley pulled down his jeans and boxers just enough to reveal a small tattoo on his right hip. Nora leaned over and looked at it.

  “It’s a trumpet,” she said, surprised by the strange image.

  “It’s the bugle from the call to post at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby. One of the horses Dad worked with did really well at the Derby a couple of years ago. He got the horse’s name tattooed on his shoulder. When I turned eighteen, I got the bugle. I only got it on my hip so Mom wouldn’t see it. ”

  “It’s very sexy. ” Nora reached out and traced the tattoo with the tip of her finger. Wesley inhaled as her finger touched the sensitive skin. He was so responsive to everything she did that she couldn’t help but wonder what he’d be like in bed. But she didn’t kid herself. She knew his responsiveness had very little to do with her and a lot to do with his being nineteen and still a virgin.

  “It’s not supposed to be sexy. It’s a tribute to the most important horse race in the world. ”

  Wesley pulled his boxers back up and buttoned his jeans.

  “So the Kentucky Derby’s a big deal?” Nora asked. “Must be if I’ve heard of it. ”

  “It’s the most exciting two minutes in sports. ”

  “Two minutes?” she scoffed. “I better get a dozen roses and a big apology if all I get is two minutes. ”

  “It’s a very long two minutes if you have a horse in the race. It’s not just that race, though. The whole thing lasts all day. There are races before and then all the people watching and the women in their crazy hats and everybody’s drunk on mint juleps, which are disgusting if you ask me, but don’t tell anyone I said that. ” Wesley looked at her and took a quick little breath. “You should come with me this year. ”

  Nora raised her chin and studied Wesley. He didn’t quite meet her gaze.

  “Did you just ask me out on a date, Wes Railey?”

  “Nora, we live together. Asking you on a date would kind of be a step backward. ”

  “Yes, but we’re roommates. We don’t live together. And don’t you think it’ll be a little hard to keep the erotica-writer-roommate thing a secret if I show up with you wearing a sombrero at the Kentucky Derby?”

  Wesley reached down and picked up their shirts off the floor. He pulled his T-shirt on, but Nora was in no hurry to get dressed. She enjoyed watching Wesley trying not to watch her too much.

  “I sort of told Dad about you. ”

  “You’re kidding. Did he freak out?”

  “I didn’t go into detail. I just sort of let him think I had a girlfriend so he’d really back me up about not moving home. He was starting to get worried his son was, you know—”

  “A stallion not interested in mares?”

  Wesley laughed. “Right. He was thrilled. ”

  “I never figured you for a liar. I’m impressed. ”

  “I didn’t lie. You’re a girl who’s a friend ergo—”