The siren, p.22
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       The Siren, p.22
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         Part #1 of The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz
Page 22

  Author: Tiffany Reisz

  “Morning, Zach. How are you feeling?” she asked.

  “Coffee,” he said. “Please. ”

  “Coffee. I know that feeling well. ” Nora poured him a cup of black coffee, which he took with gratitude. “We’re having breakfast for lunch. You should join us. ”

  “You okay, Zach?” Wesley asked. He stood with his back to the stove with a frying pan and a spatula in his hand. “You look like you’ve been rode hard and put up wet. ”

  Nora snorted a laugh.

  “What?” Wesley asked.

  “It’s a horse thing. ”

  “Of course it is. ” She flashed a wicked grin at Zach as soon as Wesley turned his back. Dammit, he hadn’t imagined last night at all.

  “I’m fine,” Zach said, answering Wesley’s question. “Hungover and disgusted Nora isn’t. ”

  “She was puking her guts out when I got home at eight this morning,” Wesley said, and Nora threw a napkin at him. Wesley batted it away with his spatula. “I think you both need a sermon on the wages of sin. ”

  “No sermons, please. Just greasy food,” Nora begged.

  “Can you stomach an omelet, Zach?” Wesley asked.

  Zach forced his eyes to focus on Wesley. He had a dish towel thrown over his shoulder as he stirred his eggs with expertise.

  “I’m not sure I can eat anything…for the next week. The coffee is fine, thank you. ”

  “What were you two doing last night? Trying to be Hemingway or Faulkner?” Wesley asked.

  “I was going more for Oscar Wilde,” Nora said. Zach looked up at her and she winked. “He was…Irish. ”

  Wesley didn’t seem to pick up her double meaning. He merely slid the omelet onto Nora’s plate and sat down to his own.

  “Whatever we were doing was clearly a bad idea and will not happen again,” Zach said.

  The smile fell out of Nora’s eyes. She started toying with her omelet.

  Wesley took a healthy bite of his breakfast.

  “I can make toast or—”

  A blaring ring that seemed to originate from the top of the refrigerator interrupted Wesley’s question.

  “Good God, what is that?” The sound bored a hole into Zach’s head.

  Nora and Wesley exchanged a look. Nora stood and grabbed a red cell phone off the top of her refrigerator and silenced the ringer. Before she answered she checked the number.

  “Shit. It’s not King. ” She looked at Wesley with something like fear in her face, more fear than she’d shown yesterday at the book-signing. Zach saw the same fear mirrored in Wesley’s eyes.

  “Is it—” Wesley asked, and Nora nodded.

  She took a quick, deep breath.

  “Yes, sir?” she said, finally answering the phone.

  Wesley stood up slowly and started to walk to the door.

  “Wes?” Nora said and Zach heard a quaver in her voice.

  “What?” Wesley turned around to face her.

  “It’s Søren. ”

  “Yeah, I know. ”

  Nora looked ghost-pale.

  “I mean, it’s Søren for you. He wants to talk to you. ”

  Wesley’s eyes widened in shock. “Why?”

  “I don’t know. Just talk to him, please. ”

  Wesley took the phone from her with obvious reluctance.

  “Hello,” Wesley said and Zach winced with sympathy at the pain in the boy’s voice.

  Nora stood with her arms crossed and leaned back against the counter. Wesley listened a moment and walked out of the kitchen, out of earshot.

  “What on earth is that about?” Zach asked.

  “I don’t know. ” Nora seemed genuinely concerned.

  “Søren and Wesley chat often?”

  “No, they’ve never met, never spoken. Wes hates Søren. ” Nora sat down at the table again. After what seemed like an eternity but what was probably only a minute or two, Wesley returned to the kitchen. He handed the red phone back to Nora.

  “What did he want, Wes?” Nora asked.

  Zach studied Wesley’s face. The boy looked flushed and fearful.

  “He thanked me. ”

  “Thanked you for what?” she asked.

  “For pulling that guy off you yesterday. He said that as he was no longer in a position to protect you, he was grateful you had someone who was seeing to your safety. ”

  Nora laughed a little.

  “That sounds like him. What did you say?”

  “I said ‘you’re welcome. ’ I didn’t know what else to say. Nora, how did he even know about what happened?”

  “If it involves me, he knows. ”

  “Why did he call me?”

  “Because he’s Søren,” she said. “And he was grateful to you. That simple. ”

  “I didn’t pull that guy away from you for him, Nora. I did it for you. ”

  “I know you did. But Søren—”

  “He still thinks he owns you, doesn’t he?”

  “He still loves me. ”

  Wesley turned away from Nora. He picked up his plate and dumped his uneaten omelet in the trash bin. He looked back at Nora on his way out of the kitchen.

  “I thought he was in your past,” Wesley said, and Zach saw the twin demons of sorrow and jealously in Wesley’s expression.

  “I can’t help it if he doesn’t want to stay there,” Nora said.

  Wesley left, and Nora started playing with her food again. She didn’t take a single bite.

  “Nora, are you all right?”

  Nora stood up and let her breakfast join Wesley’s in the trash.

  “Come on, Zach. I’ll take you home. ” Nora held out her hand.

  Zach looked at her hand but didn’t take it.

  “I’ve called a cab. ”

  14

  William pushed her onto her back and forced her arms over her head. He’d done this so many times he didn’t even have to think about how much strength to exert to keep her down with one arm while his free hand bound her wrists to the bedpost. He pulled the knot taut but not tight enough that it would cut off the circulation to her hands. He would hurt her and hurt her but he would cut off his own arm before he harmed her. Looking down, he saw her face turn to the window. Sunlight poured in and turned her eyes and her pale hair white as the feathers of a dove. A soft gasp across her lips as he pushed slowly into her. Her head tilted back and a sob escaped her throat.

  He pulled out of her and she dragged her knees to her chest and rolled onto her side, her arms still pinned over her head.

  “I don’t know,” she answered the question he hadn’t been able to ask. “I’m sorry, sir. ”

  “Talk to me, Caroline. What is it?”

  “I don’t know,” she said again. She took a deep breath and then another. She slowly rolled onto her back again. “We don’t have to stop. ”

  He leaned forward and untied her wrists and gathered her into his arms. The gesture seemed to release whatever was tied up inside her. Sobbing, she collapsed against his chest.

  Pulling her as close to him as he could without crushing her, he said the three words that most terrified him.

  “Maybe we do…”

  Nora stopped typing and stretched her hands and wrists. She was tempted to delete everything she’d just written. It felt like melodrama to her. But then again most relationships falling apart often genuinely degenerated into melodrama. There was no dignity in grief, a truth she knew all too well. After leaving Søren she’d turned into a ghost for almost a year. It wasn’t until she grew bored and disgusted with her own sorrow, the days spent half-sick on dirty sheets, that she picked up a pen and started jotting down sentences—sentences that turned into paragraphs that turned into pages and pages of demons she exorcised out of her own soul. Still she hadn’t been able to get her life back together. It wasn’t until her mother had laid down the fi
nal ultimatum—get up or get out. For once Nora listened to her mother. She’d done both. She’d humbled herself at the feet of Kingsley Edge, the King of the Underground and Søren’s oldest friend. She’d do anything, she told him, just so she could afford her own place to write and grieve in peace.

  “Anything, chérie?” he’d asked her. “Anything at all?”

  “Just a job, King. I’ll cocktail waitress at the club, I’ll mop floors…I don’t care. ”

  He’d laughed and stared her down. Her years with Søren had taught her to never meet a Dominant’s eyes unless ordered. But that day she had. She looked at him and knew that in her eyes shone all the hurt and desperation that a year of hell had hammered into her like armor.

  “Non,” he’d said, taking her chin in his hands. He’d smiled then, and she knew she was in the biggest trouble of her life. “Not a waitress, not a maid. No more serving for you. I have a much better idea… . ”

  “Nor?”

  Nora turned her head and saw Wesley standing in the doorway to her office.

  “Hey, kiddo. Sorry, I was in another world. What’s up?”

  “Nothing. How’s the book coming?”

  “Okay, I guess. ”

  “Did Zach like the new chapters you sent him?”

  “I don’t know. I haven’t talked to him in a couple of days. ”

  Wesley came into her office and sat down in her armchair. He studied her, and she hated the intelligence behind those brown eyes. She should have hired a stupid intern.

  “Saturday night…something happened between you two, didn’t it?”

  “We didn’t fuck, if that’s what you’re worried about. ”

  “I’m worried about you. ”

  “You worry too much. I’m fine. The book’s coming along fine. ”

  He stood up and looked at her. She met his eyes and smiled. She never had to lie to him as long as she could still smile. Poor kid bought it every time.

  “All right, I’m going to Josh’s. I’ll see you later. ”

  “Study hard. Learn all those quadratics and isotopes and such. ”

  “You really were an English major, weren’t you?”

  “And an English minor,” she reminded him as she shooed him out of the office. Standing up, she paced the floor, grateful for her solitude. She looked at her office phone. It hadn’t rung all day, or yesterday, or the day before. Zach hadn’t spoken to her since Sunday when he’d given her an awkward goodbye and climbed into a cab. She kept emailing him her pages. He’d send them back with comments and suggestions but no personal notes, no encouragements, no insults, nothing. She handed fistfuls of her heart while he circled her comma splices.

  Nora turned away from her black office phone and found her red cell phone. She hit the number eight, the only number she had programmed into her speed dial.

  “Oh là là,” Kingsley said in his usual seductive drawl, “clearly reports of your demise have been greatly exaggerated. Or am I talking to a ghost?”

  “You’re talking to Mistress fucking Nora and I’m bored and pissed off. ”

  “Your usual sunny self then. How can I assist you?”

  “Who’s on my waiting list?”

  “Tout le monde, maîtresse. Absolutely everyone. ”

  “Pick somebody and set it up. ”

  “Mais bien sûr, ma chérie. I’ll call you back in five. ”

  In less than five minutes King called back with a name, a place and a time—one hour from now.

  Nora ran to her bedroom and threw open her closet. She pulled out her client’s favorite costume—her tailored white Marlene Dietrich suit. She adjusted the pale blue suspenders, threw on the jacket and stood in front of the mirror tying her tie.