The siren, p.40
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       The Siren, p.40
 

         Part #1 of The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz
Page 40

  Author: Tiffany Reisz

  “I’m sure I’ll survive the night. ” He heard the smile in her voice. “If I need more help, I’ll ring you again. ”

  “Please do. ” Zach rubbed his face. “Did you need me? Need anything else?”

  Zach heard that pause again. He needed her. He needed her to say she loved him, or that she hated him, or that she wanted a divorce or wanted him back or wanted him dead or wanted him home right now rescuing her from the dark like any good husband would. He needed something from her because he could not and would not go on like this anymore.

  “No,” Grace finally said. “I have the torch now. Thanks again. ”

  “Sure. Right then,” Zach said, his stomach falling and taking his heart with it. “Of course. ”

  Zach didn’t hang up the phone. He held his breath and listened, waiting for that awful little click. When it came he flinched as if he’d heard a gunshot. He held the buzzing receiver until the line died and then finally hung it up.

  25

  Nora woke up on Thursday morning with a smile on her face. She dressed in her favorite suit—her business kink black skirt, her knee-high black boots and a white blouse with a black tie. She heard a whistle as she walked past Wesley’s door.

  “Did you just whistle at me, young man?” Nora asked, pausing in Wesley’s doorway.

  “I did,” he said as he stuffed his laptop into his backpack. “Where are you going today looking so nice?”

  Nora came close to blushing. She knew Wesley was attracted to her. He was nineteen, after all, and she wasn’t hideous. But he always tried to treat her as just a friend and roommate. But since their intimate encounter Monday night, he’d been more playful with her, more flirtatious. She was starting to like it.

  “I’m going to Kingsley’s. ” Wesley’s smile faded. “To tell him I’m quitting. ”

  The smile came back.

  “Zach signed the contract?” Wesley looked so happy and hopeful it broke her heart.

  “Not yet. But he will. ”

  Wesley came over to her with his backpack slung over his shoulder. He looked so cute and young right now with his baseball cap on his shaggy hair that she wanted to throw him down on his bed and put her tie to better use.

  “I’ve gotta get to class. But maybe we can hang out later today. We should celebrate you quitting your job. ”

  “What did you have in mind?” Nora stepped closer to him. In her heels she was tall enough to kiss him.

  Wesley leaned close and put his mouth to her ear. “I was thinking…we could…”

  Nora held her breath.

  “…rent a movie. ” Wesley slapped her playfully on her bottom and brushed past her.

  “Sadist!” she yelled out and took a breath, her heart racing. The door opened and closed and Wesley’s car started. She tried to remember what she was doing. Kingsley—that was it.

  Nora drove the Aston Martin to one of Manhattan’s oldest and most elegant town houses. It wasn’t just a private home but the headquarters of New York’s most thriving underground business. She handed the keys to the doorman and climbed the front staircase to the third floor. Striding down the hallway, she went through the double doors at the end without knocking.

  Four huge black Rottweilers charged at her.

  “Down, kids. ” She laughed as she petted the massive beasts.

  “Brutus, Dominic, Sadie, Max, down,” the man behind the desk ordered tiredly and snapped his fingers. All four dogs sat and stared up at Nora as if waiting for her to countermand the order.

  Nora left the whimpering dogs by the door and headed to the ebony desk. Behind it reclined a man she knew no one would believe owned such a posh establishment. He’d pulled his long dark hair into a low ponytail tied with a black silk ribbon. He wore a stylishly rumpled black Victorian-era suit with a long tail and a black vest with silver buttons. His cravat was carelessly tied but that was nothing unusual. On his feet he wore his signature black riding boots. He looked like a handsomely roguish pirate someone forced into a suit and acted liked one, too—the one and only Kingsley Edge in person.

  “I was at the window when you pulled up. ” He paused and sipped his cocktail. “You drove the Martin, maîtresse. You really are a tease. ” He didn’t so much speak as he allowed words to saunter out of his mouth.

  “I only tease the ones who pay me to tease. ” Nora came around the desk and sat on the top. Not even Kingsley had an Aston Martin. She liked to remind him of that. “Miss me?”

  “I miss you. My bank account misses you. ”

  “Your bank account is bigger than the GDP of Luxembourg, King. ”

  “Oui, maîtresse. ” He took a bigger swig of his drink. “But Luxembourg is such a small kingdom. ”

  “Cough it up,” she said. “I’ve got news. ”

  Sighing, Kingsley slowly rose out of his chair and strolled across the room. He picked up a small black briefcase and handed it to her. Nora tossed it aside and wrapped her arms around his broad shoulders.

  “None of that,” Kingsley said as Nora nibbled delicately on his ear. She wanted him in a good mood for the bad news. Her hand wandered down his taut stomach. Damn beautiful Frenchman, she hated to see him pout. “And none of that, either. What’s this news of yours?”

  “I quit,” she whispered.

  Kingsley pulled back and raised his eyebrow at her.

  “Quit?”

  “Oui,” Nora said. “I adore you, Kingsley. You are annoying and frustrating, and I don’t know what I would have done without you. But my editor’s going to sign my contract. It’s time I started behaving like a real writer. Comprende?”

  Kingsley sighed and kissed both of her cheeks.

  “Notre prêtre will be thrilled to hear that. And God knows I’ll be happy to go a day without him threatening my life and manhood on your behalf. It wouldn’t be so troubling except—”

  “Søren means it. ”

  “Bien sûr, ma chérie,” Kingsley said and kissed her on the lips. Nora tried not to enjoy it but it was Kingsley after all. The man was half-French but his tongue was all-French. “Now that you’re a free woman, care to spend a little free time avec moi? I’ll tip you for old time’s sake, oui?”

  “Je suis désolée. But I’m seducing my editor this week. And besides, we both know you’re a terrible tipper. ”

  Nora pulled away and headed to the door.

  “Elle?” Nora turned around to face him. Kingsley had changed her name to Nora Sutherlin four years ago. If he ever called her Elle anymore, it was because he wanted her complete attention. He sat on top of his desk with his cocktail again. “I tease you but your books… You make us all proud, chérie. La communauté. Bonne chance avec le roman, ma belle dame sans merci. ”

  Good luck with the novel, my beautiful lady without mercy. Nora smiled.

  “La belle dame avec merci,” she replied with a curtsy, touched by his kind words. Usually Kingsley had nothing but disgust for the other job that often kept her from her clients. “Merci, monsieur. ”

  He was still laughing when she left him.

  * * *

  Nora drove to Zach’s building, parked in the garage and tipped the attendant a hundred dollars to keep an eye on her car. Tipping generously came easily with the ten thousand dollars in cash Kingsley had just given her.

  She tipped Zach’s doorman with equal generosity and claimed she had something to drop off at his apartment. Good thing Zach had a male doorman or sweet-talking her way inside might not have worked.

  Nora found number 1312 and knocked lightly, praying Zach wasn’t working from home today. She waited and heard nothing. Opening her bag, she pulled out her small lock pick set.

  The lock took less than a minute to jimmy open. With a deft hand she turned the tumblers and felt it give way. She slipped inside the apartment and looked around.

  The impressive neatness didn’t surpri
se her. Zach was quite fastidious when he wanted to be. The apartment was austerely furnished, everything dark wood, dark leather and sparse. On the side table next to the black sofa she found a stack of manuscripts and on top of them sat Zach’s silver-rimmed glasses that he wore only when line editing. She’d seen them on him only a couple of times and it was good for both of them he didn’t wear them more often. He looked so intellectual in them that it was all she could do not to bite him. Only Zachary Easton could make proofreading that sexy.

  She glanced at his one bookshelf and saw his private reading was of astonishingly high quality—Stanley Fish and Noam Chomsky. The man read literary theory for fun.

  “What a nerd,” she said to herself, grinning.

  Nora poked her head in the bathroom, inhaling with pleasure the warm scent of his soap and shaving cream. Men simply had no idea how profound an effect their masculine scent could have on a woman. She already felt her pulse beginning to surge with every invasion of his privacy.

  Back in the living room Nora glanced at the stack of manuscripts again. Hers wasn’t among them. She picked up a small box lying next to his glasses on the stack of manuscripts. It still had some of the brown paper wrapping around it. It must be his latest gift from the office prankster who was anonymously torturing him for working with her. She opened the box and grinned—nipple clamps, she nodded her head appreciatively. She looked at them more closely and made a nervous discovery—they were handmade Eris brand, a kind not for sale anywhere. A local dungeon master gave them to his guests as party favors. They were two-ways—nipple clamps that doubled as clip-on earrings. She even had a pair somewhere. Whoever Zach’s office prankster was, he or she was an insider. Nora put the nipple clamps back in the box and set them on the top manuscript where she’d found them. Surely if the prankster knew she was on the underground payroll he would have already told Zach, she comforted herself.

  A closed door beckoned and Nora passed from the living room into his bedroom.

  There was nothing in his bedroom but the bed itself and a small table with his alarm clock. She appreciated his priorities—a bed was all they’d need. The bed was made, she noted. That wife of his had him so well-trained. She opened the closet and found a white shirt with French cuffs that Zach wore on occasion. She never told him how insanely attractive she found him when he wore it. Knowing him, he’d stop wearing it around her just out of spite.

  Nora pulled it off the hanger and laid it on the bed. She tapped something with her foot, and bent and pulled the mysterious object from underneath Zach’s bed. It was a copy of her manuscript. Zach had apparently reserved her book for bedtime reading. She took that as a compliment.

  Nora pulled off her boots and undressed quickly. It felt delicious standing naked and alone in Zach’s bedroom. She put the dress shirt on and buttoned only the two middle buttons. With a flourish she pulled the covers back from his bed and slid between the sheets. She reached for a pillow and placed it underneath her hips. As her legs fell open her mind found its way to Zach.

  Zach…Zach knew her books and because of that she sometimes felt he might know her better than anyone. His body was long and lean and his lower back had the most exquisite arch and his fingers and hands were strong and it wouldn’t be long before they were on her and in her and he was inside her completely with nothing—not the book, not his wife, not his fears and his secrets—between them. What would it be like to look up into those ice-blue eyes and see them on fire?

  Nora came hard on her hand and wiped her fingers on his pillowcase. She looked at the clock and saw it was still early. Zach wouldn’t be home for hours. She slipped her hands between her legs again. Time for at least one more.

  Or maybe two.

  * * *

  Long after seven had passed, Zach trudged his way home, exhausted from a day at work. He’d felt miserable ever since Grace called. He’d snapped at Mary for no reason and hung up on J. P. in the middle of a call. He’d apologized to both of them and then wished he hadn’t. They were so damn sympathetic he felt he was wearing a scarlet D for dumped. As soon as he turned the key in his lock and opened his door, Zach perked up a bit. He inhaled Nora’s perfume, that unmistakable scent of hothouse flowers, and knew she’d been here.
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