The siren, p.9
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       The Siren, p.9

         Part #1 of The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz
Page 9

  Author: Tiffany Reisz

  Nora, he wrote and stopped. Why was he writing her? They’d discussed her book for hours today. There was no more to talk about for now. And considering they already had a reputation for working too closely together, he knew he didn’t need to be writing her about anything but the book. What would he say if he did write her? He had those words, those sentences. But they had tumbled about in his head so much since meeting her that they had crashed against each other, against him, and broken into fragments.

  Nora, I don’t want to I won’t it’s been so bloody long I can’t I think of you of her too much I still love but I I hurt her Grace Now it’s hell worse Limbo I hurt too young too much…

  Zach deleted it all, even Nora’s address. He knew better than this, knew better than to get involved. He would not make this mistake again. She would not pull him off course.

  It didn’t matter, he told himself. He was gone in five weeks. Off to L. A. where he could start over again and perhaps get it right this time. But did he want to start over? At forty-two a new life seemed a far more terrifying prospect than it had at thirty-two when he and Grace married and moved to London.

  The blank email sat waiting before him. He looked down at his fingers poised above the keyboard. Was it the words that failed him or his hands? They felt too heavy now. It made no sense. Without the weight of his wedding ring they should have been lighter.

  The screen still waited, the cursor winking at him like an eye.

  Zach typed in another address.

  Gracie, he wrote, using the nickname that never failed to make her smile. Please talk to me.

  * * *

  Nora stood at the kitchen window peering into the dark. Sunset came so early in the winter that whole days seemed to pass in darkness. Zach had left her several hours ago, left her with a thousand ideas and admonitions. But now she could only wait and think and gaze at the light falling in from the lamppost outside the kitchen window. It illuminated the tremulous flakes of snow and cast white shadows that gathered round but did not touch her.

  She turned toward a sound and saw Wesley standing in the doorway watching her with the same intensity as she watched the snow-lit play between the light and the shadows.

  “How long have you been hanging out here in the dark?” Wesley asked, stepping into the lone pool of light.

  She sighed at a shadow. “For as long as it’s been dark. ”

  Wesley reached out to flip the light switch.

  “Leave them off. ”

  Wesley dropped his hand back to his side.

  “I didn’t know you could write in the dark. ”

  Nora gave him only the barest hint of a smile.

  “You’d be surprised what I can do in the dark, Wes. ”

  Wesley grimaced. “Zach know what you do in the dark?”

  Nora shook her head.

  “No. He thinks I’m just a writer. Let’s keep it that way, shall we?”

  “It’s not anything I’ll ever brag about. ”

  “Wes, you knew what I was when you signed up for this job. ”

  “And you knew how I felt about it when you asked me to move in. ”

  Nora took a slow deep breath.

  “And yet you moved in anyway. Why is that?” Wesley lifted his chin and only looked at her. “His silence says it all. ”

  Nora stepped away from the window and took a wineglass from the cabinet.

  “What are you doing?” he asked as he came deeper into the dark kitchen.

  “If you’re going to pout, I’m going to drink,” she said, pouring herself a steep glass of red wine. “I read somewhere that red wine is good for diabetics. Want one?”

  “I’m not pouting. And I don’t drink. ”

  “There’s a lot you don’t do. ”

  Nora sat on top of the kitchen table across from him. She watched him, daring him with her eyes to either speak or leave.

  “I’ve got homework,” he said.

  “Then go. ” Nora gestured to the door.

  Wesley moved to walk past her. But Nora reached out and stopped him with a hand on his chest.

  “Or stay,” she said as she took a deliberate sip of her wine before setting the glass down on the table next to her. “Staying is better. ” She grabbed a fistful of his shirt and pulled Wesley to her, positioning him between her knees. His face was a blank mask and his eyes would not meet hers.

  Nora laid her hand on his stomach, smiling as the taut muscle quivered through his T-shirt.

  “Nora, don’t—”

  “Søren and I used to play a game on his kitchen table,” Nora said, ignoring the plea in Wesley’s voice. “Did I ever tell you about that?”

  “No,” Wesley said, visibly tensing as Nora raised his shirt and slid her hands underneath, pressing her palms into his warm skin. She saw his fingers curl into fists.

  “Simple game—he’d fill a wineglass with one of his expensive reds and set it on the edge of the table. Then he would fuck me. Hard. ” Nora grinned as Wesley flinched. “If I thrashed too much, or fought him and knocked the glass off…then the wine wasn’t the only red that we spilled that night. ”

  Wesley closed his eyes as if trying to block out the image.

  “The secret is,” Nora said as she raked her fingernails up Wesley’s chest and back down his stomach, “sometimes I’d knock it off on purpose. ”

  “I won’t play that game with you,” he said as Nora continued relentlessly caressing the delicate skin of his chest and sides. “I won’t play this game with you, either. ”

  “But it doesn’t have to be a game, Wesley. ” She narrowed her eyes like a cat’s. “It can be very real. ”

  “Don’t do this. ” His voice was a plea. His breathing was getting harder, everything was getting harder now. “Not to me. ”

  “Your heart is racing. ” She let her hand rest on the left side of his chest.

  From his chest she traced a languid path down his stomach, his breath catching as she deftly unbuttoned the top button of his jeans.


  “I’m not holding you here. You can go if you want to. Do you?”

  She grabbed his belt loops and pulled him even closer until his hips pressed against her inner thighs. She knew she shouldn’t be doing this. But Wesley was a constant source of frustration. Sometimes she had to retaliate. And she knew that every now and then he forgot what she really was. It didn’t hurt to remind him.

  “I don’t know,” he finally answered.

  “Now that is a refreshing bit of candor on your part. Since we’re being so honest now, tell me, why are you being so pissy about Zach?”

  Wesley’s eyes widened. Nora bit her bottom lip as she waited for his answer.

  “You like him. ”

  “I do like him. ” She took another deep drink of the wine and set the glass down again. “But we’ve just met and we’re not fucking. Not even I work that fast. ”

  At that Wesley gave a grim chuckle and looked up at the ceiling.

  “I couldn’t care less if you were fucking him. ”

  “My God, did you just say ‘fuck’? You’re a good, clean Methodist. You don’t swear. ”

  “You have no idea what I do. ”

  “I do know what you do. I know you sleep with your bedroom door unlocked,” Nora retorted. “Expecting company?”

  “I know you stand in my door at night and watch me sleep. Expecting an invitation?”

  Now it was Nora’s eyes that widened. But she recovered herself quickly.

  “You’re pretty good at this game,” she said, nodding her approval. “For a beginner. ”

  “I told you. I’m not gonna play with you. ”

  “Too bad. I think you’d like the prize. ” Nora went for the next button on his jeans, but Wesley grabbed her by the wrist to stop her.

  “Harder,” she instructed. Wesley let her
go as if her skin had burned him.

  “I thought so. Go,” she said, dropping her hands to her sides. Wesley took a step back, his palm pressed into his stomach. “Go do your homework, kid. ”

  She picked up her nearly forgotten wineglass and lifted it to her lips. But before she could drink, Wesley took the glass from her.

  He held the glass in his subtly shaking hand before raising it and drinking. Finished, he lowered the glass and set it next to her on the table. He left the kitchen without another word.

  Nora picked up the glass and stared inside.

  He’d drained it to the dregs.

  Nora set the glass back down and turned to follow Wesley. She hated when they fought even though it was almost always her fault.

  Wesley would be fine, she told herself. He needed a little toughening up anyway. She’d never forget the first day she saw him. She walked into his classroom at Yorke, and the first thing she’d noticed was a pair of big brown eyes looking at her like he’d never seen anything like her before. And the minute he opened his mouth and those soft Southern syllables came out, she knew this kid was going to be no end of trouble. She’d made all her students talk about their favorite story. Wesley had said his favorite was O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi—the story of the wife who sold her hair to buy her husband a watch chain and the husband who sold his watch to buy his wife combs for her hair. Nora had called it a horror story. Wesley had objected and called it a love story. The debate had continued even after the class ended. Two people who give up their most precious possessions for love and end up with nothing—that’s a love story? she’d demanded. Wesley had argued that they still had each other. She’d laughed and told him he might see things a little differently when he was her age.

  She knew she’d been too rough with him tonight, but she couldn’t stop herself sometimes. After all, Søren had put her through ten kinds of hell when she was Wesley’s age. And now she was grateful for the discipline he’d taught her, the fortitude he’d instilled in her. Now a guy like Zach could look her in the eyes and tell her she wasn’t worth his time and energy, and she could look back and smile and ask him if that was the best he could do. Søren had made her strong and for that she’d be forever grateful. And Zach was making her a real writer, which was the one fantasy Søren could never make come true for her. And Wesley…she looked down at the empty wineglass and quickly refilled it in his honor—Wesley was just making her crazy.

  Nora turned and saw her book and Zach’s notes lying on top of the kitchen table.

  “Goddammit, Zach,” she said to herself and poured the wine down the drain. “Why did you have to tell me it was going to work?”


  Five weeks left…

  A tear formed in the corner of Nora’s eye and fled down her cheek before she could stop it. She rubbed it off with her sleeve and made herself blink. She’d been staring at her computer screen for so long her eyes were watering. Stretching while she backed up her work, Nora decided to check her private email account before taking a bathroom break. She breezed through a note from her agent and deleted a few bits of spam. Just before logging out a new message popped into her in-box. From Zach, it bore the subject line “Regarding Sex. ”

  “Why, Zachary,” she said, chuckling to herself, “yes, I think I will regard sex. ”

  The email dragged on for two pages and detailed every reason why she needed to cut out the majority of her sex scenes. She stopped reading after the fifth use of the word gratuitous.

  You’re no fun, she wrote Zach back. Can’t I just keep three of my scenes?

  Zach was obviously still at his computer. He quickly replied with one word.


  Two? she wrote back.


  Nora was about to fall out of her chair laughing. She could imagine his stern but strikingly handsome visage right now, his brow furrowing deeper with each annoying little email from her.