The siren, p.44
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       The Siren, p.44
 

         Part #1 of The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz
Page 44

  Author: Tiffany Reisz

  Wesley paused and seemed to steel himself. He started to unbutton her shirt as it was quickly getting soaked. She lifted her arms when he tugged to let him pull it off her. The water and bubbles were up to her chest now. Wesley pulled off his flannel overshirt and in his short-sleeved T-shirt he reached into the water and unzipped the back of her short plaid skirt. She raised her hips so he could pull it out from underneath her. He reached back into the water and found her panties. She tried to meet his eyes, but he looked only at the black-and-white tile as he slid her underwear down her legs and discarded the wet cotton onto the pile with the rest of her clothes. She laughed as he struggled with the clasp of her bra.

  “You men,” she said. “The bra clasp defeats you every time. ”

  “I think a demonic engineer must have designed these things. I may have to get the bolt cutters. ” Wesley finally got the clasp undone.

  “Watch out. Bras are often booby-trapped,” Nora warned.

  “You’re out of your mind,” Wesley said as she slid the straps of her bra slowly down her shoulders. The bubbles were up to her neck now. She tried to let the heat seep in and relax her, but the tension remained.

  “You keep saying that. Do you really think I’m crazy?”

  Wesley turned the water off.

  “I’m the virgin living with an erotica writer. I think it’s pretty safe to say we both need our heads examined. ”

  Nora reached out a wet hand and laid it on top of his halo of blond hair.

  “You have a good head. ”

  Wesley took her hand and kissed the back of it.

  “So do you. And a wet head. ” He grabbed her by the shoulders and dunked her under the water. She came up spitting and laughing.

  “That,” she said, dragging wet hair off her face, “was uncalled for. ”

  “It was totally called for. ” Wesley took a bottle of shampoo off the tub ledge and poured some out in his hands. He began massaging it into her soaking hair.

  Nora sighed with pleasure as his fingers ran through her hair and rubbed her scalp. Wesley really did have amazing hands. The combination of strength and gentleness threatened to undo her. If she wasn’t careful, she was going to start crying.

  “You’re pretty good at this, kid. You’ve given a lot of grown women baths?”

  “Nope. But I have groomed many a filly in my day. This isn’t that different. ”

  “Thank you for comparing me to a horse. ”

  “You compared me to one,” he reminded her with a faint blush.

  “That was a compliment. A big one. ”

  Wesley didn’t say anything to that. He leaned her back into the water to rinse the shampoo out of her hair. His fingertips brushed her cheek and forehead.

  “Wes, are you okay with what happened the other night with us?”

  He gave her a little half smile as he pulled her back up out of the water.

  “Of course I am. Is any guy on the planet going to complain about that?”

  “I was just worried that maybe, I don’t know, you thought I took advantage of you in your weakened condition. ”

  “I had a hard-on, not cancer. I don’t think we should make a habit of it, but I don’t know. ” He wiped the soap off her face with a dry towel. “I liked it. Nothing more to it. ”

  “Is there more to this?” She nodded at her naked body hidden under the bubbles.

  “Sometimes a bath’s just a bath,” he said and flicked water at her.

  She laughed as Wesley took the bottle of conditioner off the shelf and began running it through her hair. Before she realized it, tears were mingling with the water and running down her face. She knew Wesley saw but he said nothing, just kept scrubbing her down.

  “Søren used to give me baths. ” She grabbed the towel and swiped at the tears. “It’s a very dominant thing to be completely clothed while your lover is naked. ”

  “I gotta tell you, I don’t feel a bit dominant right now. ”

  “What do you feel?”

  He looked at her, looked like he was going to say something to her.

  “I’m just glad you’re home. Wet and naked isn’t bad, either. ”

  Nora leaned back into the water and did her best to rinse the conditioner out of her hair while Wesley stood up and unfurled a clean towel.

  “Don’t look,” she said.

  Wesley laughed but didn’t object. Closing his eyes he turned his head away. Nora rose out of the water and stepped into the towel. With his eyes still closed, he wrapped it around her. She burst into surprised laughter when he lifted her off her feet and hoisted her over his shoulder. He threw her wet body, towel and all, down on the bed.

  “Are you going to ravish me now?” she asked even though she already knew the answer.

  “I’m going to dress you. Where are your pj’s?”

  “The dirty laundry I think. I’ve been gone a few days. Sort of let the laundry go. ”

  “How about this?” Wesley left her for less than a minute while he ran back to his room. He returned with a clean pair of his boxer shorts and one of his T-shirts. “Good enough?”

  “Perfect. ” She slid the shorts on under the towel. Wesley turned his head again when she dropped the towel and pulled his T-shirt on. Sliding into his clothes felt like being in his arms—they were warm and clean and smelled like a summer morning.

  She toweled her hair and squeezed as much water out of it as she could while Wesley pulled the covers back. She crawled into her bed and was relieved by the familiar scent of her sheets, the familiar fabric and Wesley so close by.

  “What time is it?” The past few days time had poured through her hands like water. She only knew it was Wednesday because that was the day that came before Thursday.

  “Almost midnight. ” Wesley dragged the covers over her. She sighed with pleasure, feeling human for the first time since last Friday.

  “Almost Thursday. ” Nora saw a veil fall over Wesley’s eyes. He knew exactly what tomorrow was.

  “You’re gonna go see him?” Wesley sat next to her.

  She scooted closer and looked up at him with tired eyes.

  “I have to. ”

  He nodded. He usually argued with her whenever she said she “had” to do something he knew she didn’t have to do. This time he seemed to understand.

  “You still love him, don’t you?”

  Nora smiled sadly up at him.

  “Many waters. ” She ran a hand through her wet hair and let water drop from her fingertips to the floor.

  “‘Many waters cannot quench love,’” Wesley finished the quote. “‘Rivers cannot wash it away. ’”

  “‘Nor will rivers overflow it,’” she corrected. “Catholics use the New American. ”

  “N. I. V. —it’s what we use in youth group. ”

  “I won’t let him hurt me. I promised you I wouldn’t. I just have to see him. That’s all. ”

  “Okay,” he said. “But you’ll come home tomorrow night?”

  “Yeah, I’ll come home. ”

  Wesley nodded and slid off the side of the bed. He started unbuttoning his jeans.

  “What are you doing?” she asked as he took off his pants and threw them on a nearby chair.

  “Told you. It’s almost midnight. Scoot over. ”

  He stripped out of his T-shirt and Nora moved over to let him slide in next to her. Turning off the bedside lamp, Wesley gathered her to him. She breathed slowly, relaxed onto his chest and melted into his arms. She didn’t deserve him, didn’t deserve this. He knew she would see Søren tomorrow, and he didn’t hate her for it. She might hate herself, but Wesley would never hate her.

  Nora traced his collarbone with her fingertips while Wesley slipped his hand under her shirt and slowly kneaded her lower back. She almost laughed at this foreign sensation—for once in her life she lay in bed with a gorgeous young
man, and she had absolutely no desire to seduce him.

  “We’re both wearing your underwear,” Nora said after a long silence.

  “Could be worse. We both could be wearing your underwear. ”

  She smiled, knowing that even more than the bath, just having Wesley so close to her made her feel clean and sane again. When Søren touched her she became his. When Wesley touched her, she became herself.

  Nora’s hand slid from his chest to his arm. Wesley had twice the muscle she did. He could hurt someone so much more easily than she could, and yet she knew he would never hurt anyone unless he was trying to protect someone else. She’d seen that with her own eyes.

  “Wes,” she said as she felt sleep coming for her.

  “What, Nor?”

  I love you, she thought but didn’t say the words out loud.

  “Thanks for the bath. ”

  28

  Wesley had already gone by the time Nora rolled out of bed the next morning. Morning? she thought and then looked at the clock. It was already after noon. She dragged herself from the tangle of her sheets.

  She went to her closet and dug through it. Today she would do something she did only once a year—dress conservatively. She found her only skirt that went past her knees, her only black shoes with a low heel, her only blouse that wasn’t designed to show every inch of cleavage. She even found a strand of pearls she’d received as a gift from her grandmother years ago and put them on. She pulled her hair back and up, taming the wavy mane as best she could and applied half her usual amount of makeup.

  Today she was going to church.

  As Nora drove she fought off the twin demons of eagerness and fear that this day always visited upon her. Shortly after three she pulled into the parking lot at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. She’d been christened here as an infant, made her First Communion here, and this was where she first saw Søren over eighteen years ago.

  Sacred Heart had thrived under Søren’s watch. From barely over a hundred members, the church had trebled in size during his time here. A handsome polyglot only twenty-nine years old when first he arrived, he was everything priests were not usually known for being—erudite, witty and charming. Two other priests in nearby diocese had been removed from their posts for allegations of sexual offenses in the past two decades. Catholic parents brought their children to Sacred Heart in droves. They knew Father S. could be trusted. And although Nora knew who he was with her behind closed bedroom doors, those parents were right to trust him.

  It was funny, she thought as she entered through the front doors of Sacred Heart, how little she remembered of her childhood here. Even Father Greg, Søren’s predecessor, wavered in her mind as little more than a memory of elderly kindness. Then one Sunday when she was fifteen years old, Søren had come like an Annunciation; it was as if God Himself had hailed her by name.

  She paused in the foyer and glanced around. Foyer…Søren always corrected her when she called it that. “It’s the narthex, Eleanor,” he’d said, hiding his smile. “Not the foyer. ” Next time she referred to it in his presence she’d called it the “lobby. ”

  Glancing around, Nora tried to sift through the thousands of memories that descended on her. She saw the little shrine to the Virgin Mary in the corner of the entryway and the burning candles beneath her. Nora stood before the shrine, closed her eyes and remembered…

  She’d been sixteen years old, almost seventeen, and her best and only friend was a girl named Jordan. Introverted and shy, Jordan had no idea she was also quietly beautiful. They’d gone to the same Catholic high school, had most of the same classes—all the same but for English her junior year. Nora had been in the highest-level class and Jordan, never the writer Nora was, had an easier teacher. Nora would never forget the ashen look on Jordan’s face one day after school. It took three days for Nora to drag it out of her—Jordan’s English teacher, a married man in his forties, had kept her after class and put his hand up her shirt. He’d offered her an easy A in the class in exchange for the obvious. Nora had been livid and threatened to beat the teacher to death with her bare hands. Jordan had sobbed, terrified that no one would believe her, that no one would help her. After all, this English teacher was also the basketball coach, and the team was having the best season in years. Jordan made Nora promise not to tell the school, and in return Nora made Jordan promise to tell Father S. To this day Nora still didn’t know what Søren had done or said to the teacher. She only knew Søren had gone to her school on a Friday and by Monday the teacher was gone.
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