The Siren, Page 52Tiffany Reisz
Author: Tiffany Reisz
“She left you?” Nora seemed unfazed by his anger. “Aren’t you the one who packed up, boarded a plane and moved across an ocean?”
“She left me long before that. ”
“Tell me. ” Nora’s voice was insistent, hypnotic and musical. Unable to see, Zach felt uncoupled from the ground, unmoored. Nothing seemed real. It was easier to make his confession in this kind of darkness.
“Two years ago Grace told me she wanted us to try again. Try again—as if we were trying the first time. ”
“What did you say?”
“I said she nearly died because of my mistake, and I would never let that happen again. After that, she started to fade out on me. First she stopped making our coffee in the morning. Another month passed and she stopped reading with me in the evenings. She didn’t leave all at once. Just room by room. She left the bedroom last. I told her about the job here. She told me to go if that’s what I wanted. But she was already gone. I did leave, but she left me first. ”
“Can I tell you a secret, Zach?” Nora’s voice came from over his shoulder. “I would have left you, too. ”
“Shut up and listen,” she said with such cold, quiet authority that Zach fell silent at once. “You called the first night you spent with her a mistake. It was that night, that mistake that brought you two together. What should have been a one-night stand created a marriage. Can you imagine the guilt she’s been carrying for the past eleven years? Thinking that because of her you had to leave a job you loved, that you had to marry someone you didn’t, that she ruined your career, your life, your world. And you call the night that started it all a mistake? She didn’t leave you, Zach. You threw her out. ”
“She nearly died because of me, Nora,” he said, nearly spitting the words. “You can’t even imagine what that was like. ”
“She was eighteen, an adult. It was her decision as much as yours. She came to your office. You think she came for a cup of tea and a chat? She wanted you. She got you. And I can promise you even waking up in a puddle of her own blood it never once occurred to her that it was all a mistake. Making love to her a mistake? That’s a worse slap in the face than Søren ever laid on me. ”
“Why…why are you saying all this, Nora?”
“Because you need to hear the truth. The truth that your guilt didn’t punish you. It punished her. You were so afraid to hurt Grace that everything you did ended up harming her. No more, Zach. No more fear. You will not be afraid anymore, afraid to hurt a woman with your own passion and desire. Remember that night at the 8th Circle?” Nora asked. “Do you remember what I told you I was?”
“A Switch. ” As long as he lived he’d never forget that night.
“Yes. And that means I can give pain but I can also take it. Aren’t you tired of the pain?”
“Yes,” Zach breathed.
“Good,” Nora said and tore off the blindfold. She yanked his shirt down and freed his arms. “Give it to me then. ”
Zach grabbed Nora, nearly tearing her clothes in his frenzy to get them off. He pushed her back against the wall and unzipped his jeans. She wrapped her legs around him, her arms wound around his shoulders. With a fierce, unforgiving thrust, he pushed inside her. He had never let himself be so brutal with a woman in his life.
“Hurt me, Zach. Better me than you. ” He did as she instructed; he couldn’t do otherwise. He drove into her again and again, thrusting harder each time. He bit her neck and breasts, dug his fingers into the soft flesh of her hips and thighs. She submitted to his every merciless thrust without complaint. The more vicious he was with her, the more she responded with gasps and moans of her own. Nora’s body clenched around him and he came inside her with the ruthless force that only thirteen months of miserable celibacy could deliver.
Zach wasn’t finished with her, though. There seemed to be no end to his need. He pulled out of her and forced her to the floor. He pushed his hand into her body, needing to feel her wetness on his fingers. He knew that she was wet not only from her desire but from his own passion that he’d poured into her. She writhed underneath him. He pulled his hand out and moved to take her again. But Nora lifted her arms to shove him off. He grabbed her by the wrists and pinned her down, her arms by her head. She held her legs together tight and Zach pried them apart with his knees. Shocked by his violence he could only stare down at her.
“Good boy,” she said.
Zach let her hands go. He pushed her over onto her stomach and penetrated her from behind. She arched beneath him, taking him in deeper, goading him on with her hips, her cries. She came so hard that he felt the spasms in her stomach rip through him. He seized her by the wrists again and held her down. Over her, inside her, he pushed in so hard and so far she cried out. Still, he did not relent, could not relent. He was all force and no restraint. Nora had tied him up and set something else free.
With brutal, bruising strength, he impaled himself completely within her and came so hard even Nora flinched from the ferocity of it. He collapsed onto her prone body, resting inside her, not ready to leave her wet warmth. They lay coupled together, swallowing air and saying nothing. Zach brushed her hair over her shoulder and kissed the back of her neck. He closed his eyes and rested his head on her back. Her skin smelled so warm. He could stay here forever if he kept his eyes closed.
Zach pulled out of her slowly and rolled onto his back. He lay on the floor next to her and studied the play of candlelight on the ceiling and willed his thumping heart to settle. Nora moved to his side, leaned up on her elbow and looked at him.
“Did I hurt you?” he asked after a long but strangely comfortable pause. He could see the faint red welts on her arm.
“Yes. A lot. I’m very impressed. ”
Zach laughed but the laugh rang hollow even to his own ears.
“She left me, Nora,” he said, his throat tight as a fist. “God, she left me and it’s all my fault. ”
He rubbed his forehead but Nora took his hand and pulled it away.
“I know she left you. But I’m here. ”
Zach inhaled slowly, exhaled even slower. He turned and cupped Nora’s face in his palm.
“I don’t deserve either of you. ”
Nora gave him a wicked smile.
“Don’t be so hard on yourself, Zach. That’s my job. ” She came up on her hands and knees. “You’re still in charge. Tell me what to do. ”
“Tell you what to do? Where to even begin?”
Nora grinned at him still on her hands and knees over him.
“Use your imagination. ”
His imagination gave him a very good idea.
“Stay,” he ordered.
“Yes, sir. ”
Zach reached for the drawer of his nightstand and pulled out the lubricant that Nora had given him.
“Why, Zachary, you surprise me. ”
Zach nearly groaned aloud as he pressed into her. She was so tight around him he could barely breathe.
He pushed hard and Nora flinched.
“Sorry,” he said, smiling at his own eagerness.
“No, you aren’t. ” He heard the laughter in Nora’s voice.
“No,” he admitted. “Not this time. ”
Shortly before dawn, Nora dragged herself out of Zach’s bed and dressed quietly in the dark. She found her tie that she’d used as a blindfold and hid it away where Zach would find it later. Last night certainly deserved a memento.
Nora gazed down at Zach’s still sleeping form. She could scarcely believe what had passed between them just two hours earlier. Someone, something, the real Zach who had been hiding for the past ten years and six weeks came out the moment she’d ripped off the blindfold. Last night she didn’t spend with Zach, her prim and proper editor. Last night she spent with the Zach who’d been a lady-killer as young as thirteen, had drunken threesomes durin
g his university days and had taken the virginity of his eighteen-year-old student on his Cambridge office desk. Nora’s whole body ached from last night’s brutal sex. Without her toy bag they’d had to make do with just his hands to pin her down, his knees to hold her legs open, his hand over her mouth to gag her cries. It was some of the roughest, dirtiest sex she’d ever had in her life. She couldn’t stop smiling.
On her way out of his apartment she stopped and picked up her contract still lying on the sofa. She glanced through it, making sure all the i’s were dotted, all the t’s were crossed. The advance wasn’t going to make her rich, but it would keep her very comfortable for the next few years while she focused solely on her writing.
Nora drove home and dragged her exhausted body into the house. Although she longed for sleep, something nagged at her, something that told her that in her excitement over finishing her book with Zach, she’d forgotten something very important.
Nora entered the hallway that led to her room but stopped in midstep. Wesley stood outside her bedroom leaning back against the door. In his hands was a small box of Tiffany blue. From his stance it appeared he’d been waiting for hours, maybe all night. At first his eyes shone with relief; but then as he took in her tousled hair, her disheveled clothes, a terrible realization dawned on his face. His arm fell to his side, the box dangling by its ribbon from his slack fingers.
“Zach?” Wesley asked.
“Yes,” Nora said, cold with fear and shame.
Wesley only nodded. The box tumbled from his fingers and fell to the floor. He didn’t seem to notice.
“Wes—” Nora began, desperate to explain. Their date, their celebration, was supposed to have been last night. But she’d stayed with Zach instead, stayed and finished her book. She wanted to explain all this to him, but Wesley only brushed past her and disappeared into his bedroom. Nora tried to follow but found his door locked. She stared unbelieving at the knob for a tortured eternity. In all their time together Wesley had never once locked his door.
In quiet shock, she walked to her room but stopped to pick up the box from the floor. With trembling fingers she opened it. Inside the box she found two silver hair combs, delicate and ornate. Nora’s heart cracked like glass in her chest. Wesley’s innocence, his father’s watch, the only thing he had of value…this was his way of telling her he would sell it all to be with her. He’d been waiting all night to give himself to her, and she’d crawled home bruised and stained from a night with Zach.
Nora entered her bedroom and collapsed on her bed without undressing. She was too tired to sleep, too broken to cry. She curled up into a ball, clutching the combs in her hands so hard the metal prongs bit into her skin. She held them tighter, let them hurt her more. Finally it hurt enough she could sleep.
* * *
Morning’s relentless assault finally defeated Zach’s resolve to sleep Saturday away. He opened his eyes reluctantly, knowing from the silence that Nora had already gone. Everything hurt, but he couldn’t care less. Had there ever been such a woman in all the world like her?
Zach got into the shower with as much reluctance as he’d left his bed. The hot water burned his skin. He couldn’t remember when his body had been this raw from so much sex. He lingered in the shower, needing the heat on his sore and aching muscles. After getting out he toweled off and dressed carefully, cursing himself for behaving like an eighteen-year-old lad in his forty-two-year-old body.
By midmorning he remembered Nora had unplugged his phone last night. He plugged it in and checked his voice mail. One message—most likely from work, he guessed.
“Zachary, it’s me. ” At the sound of Grace’s voice Zach’s hands went numb and his legs turned to stone. “I’m in New York. Not sure why. ” Pause. “That’s a lie. I do know why. You don’t seem to be home. I stopped by and knocked but no one answered. I called Mr. Bonner. I may try what he suggested. Anyway, I’m only in town until tomorrow morning. I wish you’d get a bloody mobile. Never mind. I’m staying—”