The Siren, Page 42Tiffany Reisz
Author: Tiffany Reisz
A wide and vicious grin spread across Thomas’s face.
“Zach, Zach, Zach…you really didn’t know? Nora Sutherlin’s the most famous Dominatrix in this city. I guess she just hasn’t sent you the invoice for her services rendered yet. ”
“I know what she is, what she does in her free time. Her private life is not my concern. ”
“Private life? Easton—it’s not private if you have to pay taxes on it. She does it for money. She is a hooker. Friend of mine shelled out 5K just to watch him tie up and fuck his girlfriend. Do I need to put this in writing for you?”
Zach pushed Thomas out of the way. Finley’s cackle followed him all the way down the hall.
Zach stopped in J. P. ’s office. J. P. looked up at him with wary eyes.
“Give me your car keys, J. P. ”
J. P. dug in his pocket.
“What did he say?”
“Nothing I’ll repeat until I hear it from her. ”
Zach took the keys and headed to the door.
“Easton—you’re my only new critic, remember? It’s not supposed to be about the author, just the book. ”
“It’s never just about the book,” Zach said and slammed J. P. ’s door behind him.
* * *
Nora glanced at her handwritten notes and started typing again. She wanted to quit for the day but knew she had to push through her tiredness. She was getting close to the big crisis in the story and while she looked forward to rewriting the intensely dramatic scene, she also dreaded having to begin the process of ending the book. More than any of her previous books, this one had become her baby, hers and Zach’s, and she loved it more than she ever knew she could love something her own hands had made.
Nora started to flip a page in her notes but stopped when she heard someone knocking on her door. The insistent knock came again.
She smiled as she opened the door and saw Zach standing on her porch.
“You’re making a habit of this, Zach,” she said, quietly thrilled to see him.
But Zach didn’t smile back. He stared at her and raised his chin.
“How much do I owe you?” he asked.
Nora’s heart dropped through her body and into her feet.
“That’s all you have to say?” Zach said, coming through the open door.
“What do you want me to say? I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. I was going to. At the club. Then Søren showed up. I chickened out, I’m sorry. It doesn’t matter. ”
“Doesn’t matter that you’re a prostitute?”
“A prostitute? Is that what you think I am?” she demanded. “Prostitutes would kill to be me. I’m a Dominatrix. People submit to me for money. But they never ever get to fuck me. ”
“I thought you were this sexy, wild writer, a free spirit. But you aren’t a free spirit. You’re just a very expensive cheap trick. ”
“I told you, Zach—my tricks are anything but cheap. ” She heard the iciness in her voice and Zach gave her a dark look.
“You lied to me,” he said with cold, quiet anger.
Nora took a deep breath and forced herself to stay calm.
“Zach, I know you’re upset. I know this is a huge shock to you—”
“Are you sick?”
Nora blinked at him.
“Some might say so. I can’t say I disagree. ”
Zach tore from the living room and came back seconds later with a pill bottle in his hand.
“These,” he said, shoving her beta-blockers nearly in her face. “My father takes these for his heart trouble that could kill him at any moment. And your M. D. appointments in your date book—are you ill?”
“First of all, you had no right to dig through my medicine cabinet or my date book, but considering I broke into your apartment, we’ll let that slide. And no, I’m perfectly healthy. M. D. just means ‘My Dungeon’ which you’ve seen. And these are the same pills that a lot of performers take for stage fright and performance anxiety. They reduce hand tremors. My work isn’t easy sometimes. They help me get through some of the rougher scenes. ”
Zach collapsed into a chair and buried his head in his hands. He sat back and threw the bottle of pills across the room. They hit the wall and clattered to the floor.
“I’ve been quietly terrified for weeks that there was something wrong with you. I thought that was the secret you were keeping from me. I never dreamed you…”
Nora bent down in front of him and reached out to touch his knee. He stood up and brushed past her.
“I can’t believe the first woman I allow near me since Grace…” Zach paused and shook his head in disgust. “I thought you were a writer. ”
“I am a writer,” she said, more hurt and angry than she’d been in years. “You know that better than anyone. ”
“You have sex—”
“I only fuck the women,” she admitted. “The men I just beat the shit out of. ”
“For money,” Zach said.
“No, Zach. Not for money,” she said and stood toe to toe with him. “For a lot of fucking money,” she said, biting down on every word. “You get your paycheck in an envelope. I get mine in a fucking briefcase. ”
Nora grabbed the black briefcase off her couch and grabbed a fistful of one hundred dollar bills and tossed them in Zach’s face. They fluttered to the floor like falling angels.
“I had nothing,” she said. “Nothing when I left Søren. I was twenty-eight years old and living with my mother. I could barely eat or sleep or move for months. She finally got so sick of me she kicked me out. I went to Kingsley Edge—”
“Your pimp,” Zach said.
“Kingsley Edge, my friend,” Nora countered. “And he helped me. I’d been a slave and he turned me into a master. ”
“He turned you into a monster. Søren was right. I should be afraid of you. ”
“You’re afraid of everything, Zach. Afraid to leave your wife. Afraid to go back to her. Afraid to start over. Afraid to have sex with me. Afraid to trust me or yourself or anyone for that matter. And afraid to tell me what happened to you…I was going to tell you my secret. I swear to God I was. I was just waiting until you were brave enough to tell me yours. ”
“I keep my private life private, Nora. I don’t put it up for public auction like you do. ”
Nora crossed her arms and stared at him.
“Now I’m starting to see why Grace left you. You’re a real charmer, Easton. ”
Zach took a step toward her. “You don’t even deserve to say her name, Nora. And all I have left to say is goodbye. ”
“Fine. I get it. We’re done. I said I’m sorry, and you refuse to accept my apology. What about the book?”
“The book?” Zach stepped over several thousand dollars on his way to the front door. “The book’s off. It’s over. ”
“What do you mean it’s over? It’s not finished yet. I still have two weeks. ”
Zach opened the front door and looked over his shoulder.
“It’s over,” he repeated. “Royal House can’t afford you,” he said, kicking a hundred dollar bill out from under his foot. “And neither can I. ”
* * *
The pounding felt amazing. Every hit reverberated through her whole body. It started in her hands and ran though her arms, across her shoulders and down her back and into her feet. She poured herself into every punch, her muscles straining and opening and screaming. She’d almost forgotten how good pain could feel.
She heard Wesley’s voice calling to her from far away and ignored it. She just wanted to keep hitting, keep hurting.
“Nora, stop it!” Wesley yelled, bounding down the basement stairs three at a time. He tried to grab her, but she slipped through his hands and hit her punching bag even harder.
She pulled back, ready for one more punch, but We
sley stood in front of her.
“Get out of my way, Wes,” she ordered, wiping sweat off her forehead. It rained off her, down her bare arms, soaking her hand wraps all the way through.
“Nora,” Wesley said, taking her by the wrists. She struggled a little but he wouldn’t let her go. “You’re out of your mind. You’re going to hurt your hands. ”
“I don’t care. ”
“Yes, you do. You don’t even have gloves on. You’re going to hurt yourself and you’re not going to be able to write for a week. ”
Nora pulled away from him.
“It doesn’t matter anymore,” she said.
“It’s off. The whole thing’s off. Some jackass at Royal knew about me and told Zach before I could,” she said, panting the words. “He was, to say the least, unhappy. ”
“He called off the contract?” Wesley asked, looking shaken to the core.
“Yeah. It’s dead. He’s done with me and the book. ”
Wesley shook his head. “He can’t do that. I’ll call him. I’ll talk to him. ”
Nora laughed coldly. “Not even you could sweet-talk him, kid. He said it’s over. He meant it. ”
“There are other editors. ”
Nora shook her head. “Zach knew my book better than I know it. I can’t finish it without him. ”
“Yes, you can. You’ve gotten five books published already. ”
“Gutter stories from the guttersnipe writer,” she said, untwining her hand wraps. “And now it’s back to the gutter. ”
“They were good stories. You know I don’t like stuff like that and even I enjoyed reading them. You don’t need Zach or me or anyone else to tell you how to write. You’re a good writer, Nora. You’re my favorite writer. ”
“Your favorite writer,” she said and laughed. She took a long, slow breath. “Too bad. I’m now a retired writer. ”
Wesley’s eyes widened in terror.
“I don’t know why I even thought about quitting the game. I make more in a month with King than I did on my first and second books combined. ”
Nora threw her hand wraps on the floor and started up the basement stairs. Wesley followed hard on her heels.
“You don’t have to go back. I balance your bank statements. You’ve got enough money to live on for five years or longer. ”
“I plan on living longer than thirty-eight. Life’s expensive. ”
Nora stood in the kitchen and pulled a cup from the cabinet and filled it with water. She drank it down in a few hard gulps.
She slammed the cup down on the counter and reached for her red hotline phone.
Wesley reached out and put his hand on hers.
“I’ll give you every penny I have. ” His eyes were black with fear.
“That’s sweet, Wes. But you’re an unpaid intern, remember?”
With that she hit the number eight on her speed dial and held it down.
“Enchantée, madame. To what do I owe this pleasure?” Kingsley asked.
“My waiting list…who’s on it?”
“It would take less time to tell you who isn’t, chérie. ”
“Call them. Set it up. ”
“All of them. You’re right. Luxembourg is a small kingdom. Let’s expand the realm, shall we?”
She expected Kingsley to laugh or thank her. Instead, she heard him exhale and speak in a way she very rarely heard—with sincerity.
“Elle, are you sure about this?”
“As you wish, chérie. ”
“Smile, King,” Nora said with a laugh. “Let’s make lots of money. ”