The siren, p.32
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       The Siren, p.32
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         Part #1 of The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz
Page 32

  Author: Tiffany Reisz

  Nora stood before the door and took slow, deep breaths. She couldn’t even imagine who or what waited behind the door. The White Room was reserved only for the highest-level Dominants—not even Griffin had earned White Room privileges yet.

  Slowly, she opened the door and hung her riding crop on the knob outside to show it was occupied. The White Room door had a lock, one of the few at the Circle that did, but Nora knew better than to lock herself in with a stranger. She’d learned that the hard way.

  Nora took a cautious step inside. At the center of the room stood an iron four-poster bed heaped with luxurious white linens and pillows and surrounded by a semitranslucent white bed-curtain. For all its pretensions of purity and innocence, Nora knew for a fact that some of the most lurid sex acts in the history of the world had been performed in this room.

  She crept to the bed and pushed the bed-curtain back. In the center of the bed lay a young man sleeping on his side. Nora studied him for a moment as her heart beat ferociously in her chest. He appeared to be about seventeen years old. He had straight black hair that fell past his shoulders and the longest, darkest eyelashes she’d even seen on a boy. They rested on his pale cheeks and fluttered in his sleep. Her eyes roamed down his body. He wore a frayed T-shirt, jeans with tears in the knees and white socks, one with a hole in the toe. He’d taken off his shoes but not his watch. It was leather and as wide as a bondage cuff. He’d covered his other wrist with a black wristband. He appeared tall but his hands and feet seemed disproportionately large. He hadn’t finished growing yet. Nora sighed and cursed Søren with everything within her. The boy—her gift—was inexpressibly lovely.

  Nora leaned forward and brushed an errant strand of hair off the boy’s cheek and tucked it behind his ear.

  “Oh, Søren,” she said as she sighed to herself. “You shouldn’t have. ”

  * * *

  Zach searched for a suitable reply. He found himself strangely speechless in Søren’s presence. The priest seemed to find Zach’s discomfort amusing.

  “Where’s Nora, sir?” Griffin asked for him.

  “She will be occupied for some time with Circle business. While she’s off, I thought I should entertain her guest for her,” Søren said with a magnanimous air.

  “But Nora told me I had to stay—”

  Søren’s hand snaked out with the subtle speed of a cobra and grabbed Griffin by the throat. Zach stepped forward but Griffin shot him a warning look. At least it appeared Griffin could still breathe.

  “Mr. Easton, may I call you Zachary?”

  Zach attempted to tamp down his nervousness before answering.

  “Do I call you Father Søren? Or sir?”

  “I understand you aren’t Catholic. And you aren’t part of this community. You may call me Søren, of course. Would you care for a tour?”

  Zach sensed that Nora’s priest desired his company for a reason or reasons he didn’t care to find out. But he decided to use it as a bargaining chip.

  “Will you let Griffin go?” Zach asked.

  Søren seemed to find this amusing.

  “I’d hardly be a sufficient tour guide with a corpse in my hand, would I?”

  Zach glanced worriedly at Griffin who thankfully still seemed calm even as the priest continued to hold him in his vicious grip.

  “I suppose not. A tour would be fine. ”

  Søren let Griffin go. Zach noted that on Griffin’s neck right under his jawline were distinct red impressions of the priest’s fingers. “Shall we then?”

  Reluctantly, Zach left Griffin at the balcony. As flirtatious as the young man was, Zach far preferred his genial company to Nora’s priest.

  “What’s Nora doing?” Zach asked as Søren guided him from the balcony to an unmarked exit at the opposite end of the bar.

  “Eleanor is doing what she is always doing, Zachary—anything she wants to. ”

  * * *

  At Nora’s touch the sleeping boy’s eyelashes fluttered open. She bit her bottom lip to stifle a laugh as the boy scrambled into a sitting position.

  “It’s all right. Don’t be scared,” she said as if talking to a frightened animal. “It’s only a dream. ”

  He looked at her with silver eyes moon-wide. His face flushed and he pulled his knees tight to his chest.

  “Do you talk?” she asked.

  “Not usually. ” He raked his hands through his long hair and shoved it behind his ears.

  “You can talk me to me. You can say anything you want to me. I want you to. Do you understand?”

  The boy nodded and Nora nodded back. She was gratified to hear a small, nervous laugh.

  “Okay, I understand. ”

  “Good boy. Do you know who I am?”

  He nodded again and Nora raised her eyebrow.

  “Yes. Father S. , he told me about you, that he knew you. ”

  “What did he tell you?” Nora asked.

  “He said you were an old friend of his. I mean, not old—”

  “We’ve known each other a long time,” she said, coming to his rescue.

  “Right. And he said you were the most beautiful woman who ever lived. ”

  Nora blushed slightly. “What else did he tell you?”

  The boy inhaled sharply and met her eyes.

  “He said you’d help me. ”

  Nora cocked her head slightly. She reached out and touched the top of his foot.

  “Do you need help?”

  The young man didn’t answer at first.

  Slowly, the boy relaxed his arms from around his legs. He started to take off his watch but his fingers fumbled too much and he exhaled in exasperation.

  “Sorry,” he said.

  “Here. Let me. ”

  The boy tenuously stretched out his arm. Nora unbuckled his watch and nearly gasped when she discovered why he wore a watch with such a wide band.

  Down the center of his wrist stretched a white scar and the crosshatch outline of stitches. He held out his other arm and slid off his wristband and showed her the matching scar and stitches. The wounds appeared fully healed. With her knowledge of scars she guessed his suicide attempt had been around a year ago.

  “Why?” she asked.

  “My dad, he caught me…” He took a hard breath. “I had stuff in my room he found. He saw the bruises and burns. He said he refused to have a sicko for a son. He left a couple of months later. Mom—she’s not okay anymore. ”

  “That isn’t your fault,” Nora said. “Your father’s the sicko, not you. And he left for his own reasons. My family’s fucked up, too. ”

  “I know. Father S. told me that, too. He said we had a lot in common. I couldn’t believe it when he told me he knew you. ”

  “You knew who I was before he told you?”

  “Yeah,” he said, blushing. “I’ve read your books. ”

  Nora ran her hands up and down the boy’s forearms. She traced the scars with her fingertips.

  “He said if I went a whole year without hurting myself, then he would let me meet you,” the boy said in a whisper. “Sometimes it was the only thing that kept me from trying again. ”

  Nora’s heart dropped. She hated how much Søren’s unusual mercies made her feel in one breath all eighteen years of her love for him. She looked up and met the boy’s eyes. They shone like polished silver; his pupils dilated.

  “What’s your name?” she asked.

  “Michael. ”

  “Michael…Michael was God’s chief archangel. Michael, has anyone ever told you that you’re beautiful?”

  He blushed and shook his head. “No. ”

  “You are, angel. ” Nora reached out and ran her hand through his long black hair. Michael sighed with pleasure and closed his eyes. He opened them again when Nora pulled her hand away.

  At the back of her mind Nora knew Zach was out there alone with Søren,
but she wouldn’t rush this moment or this scared boy, not for the world. She knew she shouldn’t be here, knew she shouldn’t have left Zach at Søren’s mercy. But she remembered how Søren had saved her a lifetime of misery when he’d told her what she was, what she could be. She understood why Michael had tried to kill himself. She’d never been tempted to kill herself but she couldn’t deny Søren had saved her life a time or two. As Nora studied Michael she told herself it was her duty to stay, to help him any way she could.

  “Michael, I’m going to take your virginity tonight. ”

  If she had any doubts that the boy was too young, too fragile, they evaporated when he looked back at her and met her eyes without blinking and for the first time without fear.

  “Father S. said that’s what you would do. ”

  * * *

  Nora’s priest proved to be a somewhat taciturn tour guide. Zach sensed Søren was waiting for him to speak, testing to see how long he’d remain silent. Nora must have learned that trick from him. Zach followed him through the bar exit and down several long hallways and corridors. Although Søren said little, Zach was not left in silence. Many of the doors hung open and Zach could see what was happening inside the rooms. They passed another door, this one closed, and Zach heard a woman scream. He stopped, unsure what to do, but Søren, who had surely heard the scream, as well, continued as if such a sound was commonplace and beneath his notice. Which it probably was.

  They turned another corner.

  “I know what you’re trying to do,” Zach finally said. “Trying to intimidate me with the personal tour of hell. Nora’s already told me she’s a Dominant. She’s told me everything. I know you’re just trying to scare me away from her. It won’t work. ”

  Søren smiled coldly and Zach realized that the man was untouchable.

  “Eleanor does seem very forthcoming, doesn’t she? She’s always followed the philosophy that the best place to hide is in plain sight. But I take offense at your insinuation. I would never try to dissuade you from being with the woman you most desire. Eleanor is the woman you most desire, isn’t she?”

  Zach didn’t answer. He tried to stare Søren down but the priest only smiled and kept walking.

  “We have more to see. Come along. ”

  Reluctantly Zach followed.

  “You may ask any questions you like, Zachary. ”

  “Your voice,” Zach said, wondering if the priest would answer questions about himself. “You have an English accent. A very faint one, but it’s there. ”

  “Very good,” Søren said with approval. “You would notice. Most Americans don’t. They simply assume I’m overeducated. I was born in America, but I attended school as a child in England. My father was English. And he was evil. I pray daily that it is only the trace of his accent I’ve inherited. ”

  “You seduced a young woman in your congregation. You don’t think that’s at all evil?”

  “Since I became a priest, Eleanor is the only woman with whom I’ve been sexually intimate. No children, either, I assure you. But you are welcome to ask Eleanor if she ever once felt taken advantage of or abused. I believe you’ll find her answer enlightening. ”

  “Why do you keep calling her that?” Zach couldn’t reconcile his Nora with the priest’s Eleanor. “She changed her name to Nora years ago. ”

  “She was born Eleanor and it was Eleanor with whom I fell in love. She has made decisions in her life that I do not approve of these past five years. I prefer to remember her for who she was, not for what she’s become. She can forsake her name and her past. I never will. ”

  Søren’s words stirred another memory. “She hasn’t forsaken it,” Zach told him, wanting to prove he knew something about Nora the priest didn’t. “Not entirely. I went to one of her book-signings not long ago. She was reading to some children. They called her Ellie. ” Zach glanced at Søren’s face, but other than a glint of a smile, the revelation seemed to have no impact on him.