Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font  

The Siren, Page 7

Tiffany Reisz

Page 7

  Author: Tiffany Reisz

  He thrust harder. He pushed in deeper, moved faster. She gasped as his grip on her wrists tightened to the point of pain. With one final push he poured into her. When he came at last it was in complete silence.

  Still inside her he reached behind her head and untied the blindfold. She looked to the side and didn’t meet his eyes.

  “Look at me,” he ordered and she did so gratefully. His steel-gray eyes glowed with his love for her.

  “I love you, sir,” she whispered.

  The slap came so sudden and fierce that her whole body shuddered in shock.

  “Did I give you permission to speak?”

  This time she didn’t answer. She shook her head. The movement dislodged a tear that had been lurking at the corner of her eye.

  He smiled at her and dipped his lips to hers. He kissed her again and she relaxed into his mouth. His lips moved to her neck and up to her ear.

  “I love you, too. ”

  Still buried deep inside her, he began to thrust into her once again. She closed her eyes and leaned her head back as he wrapped his hand around her neck. Her collar bit into her throat.

  She swallowed hard against his hand and breathed and breathed.

  He’d only just begun to hurt her tonight.

  “Hey, Nor, I’m home. Want some dinner?”

  Nora blinked and rubbed her eyes, which had gone dry from staring at her computer screen for so long.

  Wesley stood just inside her office and at first she could barely focus on him. She saw him but saw through him and past him at the same time.

  “Sounds good. ” She glanced at the words on her screen. “I’m starving. ”


  “Too many carbs. ”

  Wesley rolled his eyes. “Fine. Salad and fish?”

  “Fish? But it’s not Friday. ”

  “You’re the Catholic. I’m Methodist. We eat fish whenever we want. Give me twenty minutes. ”

  Wesley left her alone again. She printed out the pages she’d been typing and read through them.

  The phone rang at seven and the call itself consisted of only seven words…

  She read to the end and pressed the pages, still warm from the printer, briefly to her chest. Reluctantly, she slid the pages under her desk and fed them one by one through the shredder. She highlighted the text on her computer screen and hit Delete, flinching as the text disappeared. She closed the document and let the words disappear into the ether. She hated to do it. But she knew The Rule. She obeyed the Ruler.

  Nora stood up for the first time in an hour and left her office. When she saw Wesley standing at the kitchen counter she actually could see him now. He smiled at her. She smiled back.

  “So what did you write today?” he asked as he expertly sliced through the skin of a ripe red tomato.

  “A really hot sex scene with a lot of S&M between a girl and her true love,” she said and Wesley rolled his eyes at her, his usual response to her wickeder scenes. “But don’t worry, I deleted it. ”

  “How come?” he asked, popping a chunk of tomato into his mouth.

  Nora leaned against Wesley, taking temporary comfort in his warm, strong chest. He wrapped his arm around her and rested his chin on top of her head.

  “It wasn’t fiction. ”


  My Caroline,

  I didn’t want to write this story any more than you want to read it. It’s us. Of course it’s us. A name changed here, a date changed there…but still us. You have always been my only muse. I cannot paint or sculpt. I have only my words to render your likeness. Sometimes I wish I were both God and Adam so I could tear out my rib and create you from my own flesh. I would say I’d create you from my heart, but I gave that to you when you left me. But that’s a cliché, isn’t it? Sadly, that’s all I have these days. The whole story is a cliché. I desired you. I ate of you. I lost you. That ancient story—older than the Garden, old as the Snake. I would have liked to call this story of ours The Temptation but the word temptation, once the province of pious theologians, has now been co-opted by every third second-rate romance novelist. And although I loved you, my beautiful girl, this is not a romance novel.

  “Like it, Zach?”

  Zach blinked at the interruption, lost as he was in Nora’s new words.

  “It’s quite an improvement. ”

  “An improvement? Oh, I meant the cocoa. ”

  Zach sat in Nora’s bright kitchen, the winter sun turning everything white. Nora’s new draft of the first chapter sat in front of him and a cup of hot chocolate steamed at his elbow. He sipped the cocoa and felt like a lad again in his grandmother’s kitchen.

  “Very good,” he said, inhaling the warm steam. “So is this. ”

  He tapped the pages in front of him. Nora had taken his advice and created a frame story for her book. It would be a letter her narrator, William, was writing to Caroline, the woman he loved and lost. It was working beautifully already—the book and the partnership with Nora. He’d rarely gone to his writers’ homes and certainly never sat with them at their kitchen table and drank cocoa. Nora was proving to be a different breed from any writer he’d ever before known. “‘This is not a romance novel…’” Zach read from her new first chapter. “Excellent line. Evocative and provocative. Ironic, as well. ”

  “Ironic?” Nora sipped at her own mug of hot cocoa. She sat across from him at the table and pulled one leg up to her chest. “It’s true. It isn’t a romance novel. ”

  “Not a traditional one, of course. Your protagonists don’t end up together, but it is a love story. ”

  “A love story is not the same as a romance novel. A romance novel is the story of two people falling in love against their will. This is a story of two people who leave each other against their will. It starts to end the minute they meet. ”

  “Why does it end? You seem like an optimist to me, but the end is heartrending. The last thing she wants to do is leave him, and yet in the end she goes. ”

  Nora left her chair and went to the kitchen cabinet by the refrigerator.

  “I’m no optimist,” she said as she opened the cabinet door. “I’m just a realist who smiles too much. And the reason William and Caroline don’t stay together is that while he really is in the lifestyle, she’s not. She’s only in the relationship for him. It’s their sexuality that’s the problem, not the love. It’s like a gay man being married to a straight woman. No matter how much he loves her, it’s a sacrifice every moment they’re together. The sex is secondary to the sacrifice. ”

  “A very close second, I notice. ”

  Nora laughed. She closed the cabinet door and knelt on the floor. She opened the bottom door and gave a victorious laugh.

  “Found them. ” She pulled out a bag of marshmallows. “I have to hide the sugar from Wes. ”

  “Has a sweet tooth, does he?”

  “He has type 1 diabetes. And a sweet tooth. Bad combination. He’s usually really good about what he eats, but I catch him staring pretty longingly when I have cocoa and marshmallows. ”

  Zach wondered if it was actually the sugar Wesley had been staring at and not Nora. He couldn’t take his own eyes off this woman. She’d been captivating in her signature red Monday night. And now in casual clothes she looked casually stunning. He watched her as she rolled back onto her toes and rose straight up off the floor with the well-trained grace of a geisha. He marveled at her offhand display of almost balletic agility while she leaned over the table and dropped a handful of marshmallows into his cocoa and hers.

  “Zach, don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re even more ridiculously handsome when you look happy,” she said, dropping back into her chair and popping a marshmallow into her mouth. “You aren’t, by any chance, enjoying working with me? The London Fog isn’t lifting, is it?”

  Zach took a sip of his cocoa to cover his embarrassment. He was
used to women hitting on him but never before had any woman been so shamelessly forward with him.

  “As this is the first time we’ve actually sat down and worked on your book together,” Zach said and coughed uncomfortably, “I think a verdict on my meteorological conditions would be premature. ”

  “What’s the verdict on the book then?”

  “The verdict is…you might actually pull this off. But not without some major revisions. Keep the letters at the beginning and end. But I want the body of the book in third, not first, person. ”

  Nora looked down at her notes. She picked up her pen and wrote something on a sheet of paper. She looked at it a moment before sliding it across the table.

  The first time William saw Caroline was on Ash Wednesday. She still had the ashes on her forehead.

  “Like that, Zach?”

  Zach read and nodded his approval. “Perfect. That’s exactly what I want. Now rewrite the entire book like that. ”

  “Yes, sir,” she said and saluted. “What else? Since you’re being nice to me, I have the feeling you’re about to hit me with some more changes, yes?”

  Zach grimaced, unnerved by how well this near stranger could read him.

  “Just some minor ones—have you considered going a more mainstream route with your characters?”

  “I like virgins, perverts and whores,” Nora said without apology. “I couldn’t care less about the people who just fuck for fun on weekends. ”

  “The sex shouldn’t be the story, Nora. ”

  “The sex isn’t the story, Zachary. The sacrifice is. Caroline is actually vanilla, not kink. So she sacrifices who she really is to be with the man she loves—she sacrifices the good for the better. ”

  “But they end it, yes?”

  “That’s the point of the book—sacrifice can only get you so far. William and Caroline are just too different to make it work. And although two people can love each other deeply, sometimes love alone doesn’t cut it. We can only sacrifice so much of ourselves in a relationship before there’s nothing left to love or be loved. ”

  Zach’s stomach clenched. Even now he ached for Grace with an impotent fury. Zach could only raise his cup of cocoa.

  “I’ll drink to that. ”

  He and Nora clinked their tea mugs together in a mock toast. Across the table their eyes met, and Zach could see the ghost of his pain reflected in hers.

  Zach’s next question was cut off by Wesley’s sudden entrance in the kitchen.

  “Hey, you,” Nora said to Wesley. “What’s up?”

  “I’m not here,” Wesley said. “Keep working. I just need my coffee mug. ” Wesley threw open the cabinets and took an aluminum travel mug from a shelf.

  “Where are you going?” Nora asked.

  “Study group at Josh’s. I’m helping him with calculus, and he’s giving me his history notes. ”

  “What are you majoring in, Wesley?” Zach asked politely, trying not to show how unnerving he found Nora’s relationship with her young intern—unnerving and familiar.

  “Biochem. I’m premed. ”

  “That’s wonderful. Your parents must be very pleased. ” Zach winced internally at how old he sounded.

  “Not really. ” Wesley shrugged. “My whole family has worked with horses for generations. They want me to come home and stay in the business. If I have to do medicine, at least it could be equine medicine. ” He poured a mugful of coffee and screwed the lid on tightly. “I have this conversation with them every week. ”

  “I think he should just let me talk to them. ” Nora batted her eyelashes at Wesley.

  “You,” Wesley said, pointing his finger at her, “don’t exist. So don’t even think about it. ”

  Nora responded by wrinkling her nose at him in mock disgust.