The siren, p.56
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       The Siren, p.56

         Part #1 of The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz
 
Page 56

  Author: Tiffany Reisz

  “What about Wesley?”

  “He’ll be fine, too. We’ll be fine. And we finished the book. Your job is done. ”

  Zach looked up and met her eyes. “You must hate me. ”

  “I understand. Trust me. ”

  Zach felt a terrible tightening in his chest. “I couldn’t have gone back to her, wouldn’t have known how if it wasn’t for you. I’m sure that makes no bloody sense whatsoever. ”

  “Oh, it makes perfect sense. ” Nora laughed. “I taught you how to leave me. ”

  “I’m so sorry. ”

  “I’m not. Søren told me you were still in love with Grace. I should have listened. ”

  “Søren…why?” Zach shook his head.

  “Why?” Nora scooted back on her pillow and briefly closed her eyes. “Why? Søren has loved me since the day we met. He’s loved me since I was fifteen years old. He’s loved me without fear, without guilt, without failing and without flinching every day of my life. ” She opened her eyes again and looked at him. “He’s the only man who never hurt me. ”

  Zach searched for words, any words, but couldn’t find them.

  “Nora, I—”

  “It’s okay. Really. You have to go. You’re wasting time. You’ve had your bags packed since the day I met you. But it was never to L. A. you were going. We both know that. Go home. ”

  Zach stood up and walked on shell-shocked feet toward the door.

  “Zach?”

  Zach turned around. Nora was looking at him.

  “It meant something to you, didn’t it? Me? My book? Last night wasn’t just—”

  It took less than a second to get from the door to Nora’s bedside. Zach took her face in his hands and, careful of her bruises, kissed her with the passion of a man who knew the next woman he kissed would be the only woman he’d kiss for the rest of his life.

  “Yes,” he said, breathlessly. “It meant something. ”

  Nora nodded. “You’re still my editor, right?”

  “Always. ”

  “I have an idea for a new book. But I’ll need your help. ”

  Zach touched the unbruised side of her face.

  “Just remember, show, don’t tell. ” He winked at her.

  Nora laughed again, her wicked, dirty, perfect laugh.

  “How much are they paying you for this?”

  * * *

  The drive home from the hospital felt interminable. Wesley didn’t speak and Nora was afraid to shatter the silence. He pulled into their driveway. She got out of the car and felt a sudden wave of dizziness as the painkiller the nurse gave her kicked in when she stood up too fast. She thought she was about to go down, but then Wesley had her in his arms and carried her into the house.

  “You shouldn’t have left the hospital. ” Wesley set her on the couch.

  “I’ve left AMA before. You have to or they’ll start calling in for psych evaluations and other shit you don’t need. ”

  “You sure you don’t need one?”

  “I had a feeling that deep down you thought I was actually crazy,” Nora said.

  Wesley sat in the chair next to the couch. He leaned back and covered his face with his hands.

  “I’d like to think you weren’t in your right mind when you did this to me. ”

  Nora leaned back into the couch cushions. Every breath she took hurt, but not from the pain in her ribs.

  “I didn’t do it to you,” she said. “I did it for you. ”

  “That makes no sense, Nora. ”

  “You promised me you’d leave me if I went back to Søren. Leaving me is the best thing for you to do. ”

  “You want me go?” he asked, his voice soft with shock.

  “No. Never. ” She hated the look of relief on his face. “But I need you to. I can’t keep you anymore. ”

  Wesley ran his hands through his hair. His face was red, his eyes rimmed with unshed tears. “Let me keep you then. ”

  “No, sweetheart, I can’t. I—”

  “Do you love me?”

  “Wesley, it’s not morning until you’re awake. And it’s not night until you’re asleep in your bed under my roof. And I could go on and on but hope is a horrible thing, and I love you too much to give you any. I need you to do something for me. ”

  “Anything,” Wesley said. “Everything. ”

  “Please,” she begged. “Keep your promise. ”

  Wesley opened his mouth to speak, to protest, but he turned his head at the sound of a car honking discreetly outside.

  Nora met his eyes.

  “That’s for me,” she said, standing up.

  “You’re really going back to him?”

  Nora faced Wesley. All she wanted to do was take him in her arms and hold him until all their pain was gone. But there was no time for that anymore. And his pain and hers weren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

  “Wes, I don’t think I ever actually left him. ”

  Nora grabbed her purse by the door and dug inside it. She pulled out her wallet and wrote a check to Wesley.

  “Here. ” She handed him the check. “Back pay. Should cover your tuition and anything else you need for the rest of the semester. ”

  Wesley took the check and methodically ripped it into pieces.

  “I never needed or wanted your money. All I ever wanted was you. Nora, please—”

  Nora looked back at Wesley and wished she hadn’t. She knew this would be the last time she saw him, maybe forever. She wanted her last memory of him to be happy… The day they’d danced around her living room when her fifth book hit the bestseller list… The night they’d stayed up until 3:00 a. m. to catch the meteor shower… That Saturday last summer he took her horseback riding for the first time… Last Sunday when he wanted to give her his virginity and there was nothing more in the world she wanted than to take it. But she knew she’d never forget the look he wore on his face, the desperation, the broken eyes.

  “Don’t go,” he begged. “I love you. I’ve always—”

  Nora stopped his words with a hand on his chest over his heart. He covered her small hand with his much larger one. She took a shallow breath.

  “I was wrong, Wes. About the watch chain and the combs… You’re the only thing I have of value. ”

  “Nora—”

  “Don’t forget to check your numbers. And stay away from carbs, okay? And do your homework and—”

  Nora closed her eyes and tears poured down her face. She inhaled hard and met his eyes.

  “I will,” he promised with a hollow voice. His eyes were wide with shock.

  She pulled away from him and left the house carrying nothing but her bag. A gray Rolls-Royce was waiting on the street.

  “Bonjour, maîtresse,” Kingsley said from the backseat.

  “No, it isn’t a bon jour, monsieur. ” She collapsed against him, her head on his knee.

  “I know, Elle. ” Kingsley put his hand on her flushed forehead. She winced at the pity in his voice, the pity in his touch. “Where to? You said you needed to hide out for a few days. My town house? The Circle?”

  “Take me anywhere,” she said.

  “Anywhere?” he asked.

  Nora closed her eyes as the painkillers finally bested her desire to stay awake. Sleep came for her and she let it take her, not falling into it, but flying.

  “King…just take me home. ”

  35

  There was no such thing as London fog—never had been.

  Zach laughed to himself as he recalled his Royal House nickname. He thought he was the only London Fog anyone would ever see. But tonight it was a real London fog—clean, pure, swept in from the southern seas that wrapped its gray arms around the never quite sleeping city and around Zach as he stood outside the house he and Grace had shared during their marriage.

  Almost eight months had passed since he’d cro
ssed the threshold of his own home. He stood in the shadow of a streetlamp and imagined Grace inside. She was most likely reading, her knees tucked up under her chin in that battered but comfortable armchair they used to play-fight over. Zach slipped his hand into his pocket and felt a rush of silk against his fingers. He pulled out the black tie Nora had used to blindfold him. He stared at it. How had it gotten into his pocket? Who knew with Nora? Magic most likely. Zach considered throwing it into the nearest rubbish bin, but thought better of it.

  Perhaps…maybe…one never knew…

  Zach shoved the tie back into his pocket and strode forward up the three steps to his front door. He raised his hand to knock, but the door flew open before his knuckles touched the wood.

  And there stood Grace wearing one of his shirts and not much else, and no woman in the history of the world had ever looked so beautiful standing in a doorway.

  “Hi, Gracie. ”

  Grace grinned at him.

  “Hi, George. ”

  * * *

  Nora awoke and knew neither the time nor the place. She knew only that she had slept for a long time and that wherever she was, she wasn’t afraid.

  “Where am I?” she asked, trying to orient herself. She only knew this was not her bed, not her usual darkness.

  But it was a familiar darkness. She remembered this darkness and knew it remembered her. She inhaled the scent of hardwood so clean and comforting, savored the soft sheets wrapped around her naked body. The bed that held her now had held her before.

  She saw a square of white break through the blackness, felt the bed shift with a familiar weight.

  “I’m here, little one,” came a voice made for coaxing secrets from the heart. “Sleep now. We’ll talk when it’s time. ”

  “Yes, sir,” she said, now knowing where she was. She surrendered to sleep again.

  The most familiar darkness…her darkness…she was home.

 
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