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       The Saint, p.10

         Part #5 of The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz
 

  “I already offered to help you out of your mess. What else do you want?”

  Eleanor considered her demands. He sounded open to suggestion, which was good because she had a suggestion.

  “Everything.”

  “Everything?” he repeated. “As in …?”

  “Every. Thing.” She stared at him across the desk, and this time it was her turn not to blink. “I give you forever, the least you can give me is everything.”

  “I believe I know what you’re asking, and you should know that’s problematic where I’m concerned.”

  “Because you’re a Catholic priest, and you’re older than I am?”

  “That would be two of the three reasons.”

  “What’s the third?”

  “I will tell you the third reason at the same time I tell you the second reason I’m offering to help you.”

  “Jesus H. Christ, so many questions. Do I need to write this shit down?”

  Søren reached into his coat pocket and pulled out his battered leather-bound Bible, the one that had his real name in it.

  He flipped through the pages and glanced at the scraps of paper inside. They all appeared to have writing on them but not in English. Finally he flipped to the very back, ripped out a blank end page and slid it across the table to her. From inside his coat he produced a pen, a heavy black one.

  “Write.”

  Eleanor eyed the pen and paper. She looked at Søren.

  “I will answer your questions,” he said. “Eventually. In the meantime I wouldn’t want either of us to forget any of them.”

  On the end page she wrote What’s the third reason that being with me is problemmatic? and What’s the second reason you’re helping me? She furrowed her brow as she studied the paper.

  “Something wrong?” Søren asked.

  “I think I misspelled problematic.” She held up the note and Søren narrowed his eyes at it.

  “One m.”

  “Can I answer your two objections?” she asked, rewriting the word problematic with only one m this time. “I don’t care if you’re a Catholic priest. Forcing priests to be celibate is the stupidest rule ever. Why would God invent sex and then tell people not to have it? And second, so what? You’re older than I am. I’ll be sixteen in a couple days.”

  “I can’t believe I’m even discussing this with you, Eleanor,” Søren said.

  She smiled at him.

  “I can.”

  Søren turned his head and stared at nothing for a moment. He smiled a little and turned back to her.

  “Very well, then.”

  “Very well what?”

  He held out his hand, waiting for her to shake it.

  She stared at his hand, his perfect hand.

  “You’re kidding, right?”

  “I want you to obey me forever. It is a high price, and I realize that. If we have to negotiate, then we have to negotiate. I accept your terms. Can you accept mine?”

  Eleanor slowly raised her hand off the desk and put her fingers into his.

  “Okay,” she said. “You got me. I’m yours.”

  He wrapped his much larger hand around hers. She expected his hand to be cold for some reason. He had such cold eyes, such an icy demeanor, but no, his skin was warm and she couldn’t help but imagine him touching her in far more intimate places than her hand.

  “Forever,” she said.

  And he said, “Everything.”

  The deal was done. They released each other’s hands and Søren stood up.

  “I’ll leave you now. Do not answer any questions until you speak to an attorney. The church will pay your legal fees. Rest assured you will pay us back for them in time.”

  “Okay.” The fear had returned. She didn’t want him to leave her. Not now. Not ever.

  “When your lawyer arrives, tell her the entire truth and leave nothing out. Your father was involved, no doubt. You need to tell the lawyer the level of his involvement.”

  “Rat out my dad? No way.”

  “Eleanor, less than one minute ago you promised to obey me forever. These are your orders. Your father is the reason you are here in this police station in the middle of the night with your entire future hanging in the balance. You are here. He isn’t. You will tell the lawyer and the court everything you know about your father and his illegal enterprises. You should be able to parlay that into a plea agreement or a very reduced sentence. In the meantime, I’ll meet with my friend who has useful connections. I will leave nothing to chance where you are concerned.”

  He took two steps toward the door.

  “Eleanor?”

  “Yeah?”

  He gave her a smile, this one showing his kindness and concern.

  “I will take care of you. Forever.”

  She returned his smile as best she could.

  “This friend of yours, he’ll really help me?”

  “He will.”

  “How come?”

  “Add that question to your list.”

  Eleanor rolled her eyes and exhaled heavily as she wrote Why will your friend help me?

  “I’m gonna need legal-size paper for this freaking list. Anything else?”

  “Yes. You’re missing a question on your list.”

  “I got them all. What am I missing?”

  Søren returned to the table, took the pen and paper from her and wrote nine words. And without a word, he slapped the cuffs back on her wrists and left her alone in the room.

  Eleanor looked down at the paper and read the question he’d written in his elegant, masculine handwriting.

  Why would a priest have his own handcuff key?

  9

  Nora

  NICO DROPPED HIS HEAD AND LAUGHED, RUBBING the back of his neck in consternation and amusement. Nora put her toe under his chin and lifted it.

  Nora put on her best dominant face.

  “Young man, do you think it’s hilarious that I stole cars for my father and got arrested? I promise you I didn’t find it funny.”

  “That’s not funny. You at fifteen forcing your priest to agree to sleep with you is funny.”

  “I admit I was pretty damn proud of myself for my negotiating skills.”

  “More like hostage taking. If you hadn’t obeyed him …”

  “Bye, bye, Catholic high school. Hello, juvie.”

  “Didn’t he scare you? You were fifteen. He was twenty-nine.”

  “Had it been any other man it probably would have scared me. But with Søren, everything felt like destiny. When we met he said, ‘It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.’ We’d both been waiting for each other, like it was meant to be that we would find and love each other. We belonged together—me, Søren, Kingsley. Getting arrested brought all three of us together.”

  “So it was Kingsley your priest was talking about?” Nico held out his hand to her and helped her out of the chair. She could have done it herself. But she wasn’t about to turn down a chance to let Nico touch her any way he wanted.

  “It was. The friend Søren said had connections and could help get my ass out of the hot seat? That was your father.”

  Nico grabbed their glasses and the wine bottle and led her up the stairs. Despite the fire, the downstairs had grown colder as midnight neared, and it was hard to think and speak of the past with the silver box on the fireplace mantel in front of her, its contents so precious and so terrifying.

  “Kingsley has interesting friends,” Nico said as they entered the bedroom. He set the wine and glasses down on the bedside table and went to work building the fire back up.

  “And even more interesting enemies. Kingsley and I share something in common—we’re both fascinated by other people,” Nora said, pulling the covers back. “Where we differ is that when I’m fascinated by someone, I fuck him. When Kingsley is fascinated by someone, he fucks with him.”

  Nico laughed and walked back to the bed. He kissed her neck and nipped lightly at her shoulder.

  “Is that why you let me insi
de you?” he whispered in her ear. “You’re fascinated by me?”

  “That’s part of it, yes. You’re my first farmer.” She pulled away and smiled up at him.

  “You’re my first dominatrix.”

  “But not your first shamefully older woman?” she asked as she slid into bed and propped herself up on the pillows. Nico pulled off his shirt. Such an exquisite male form. Where was her camera when she needed it?

  “My last girlfriend was forty-three,” he said.

  “Forty-three? Jesus, you do have a Mrs. Robinson complex, don’t you?”

  “It’s a choice, not a complex,” he said. “Life is short. I don’t want to spend it with someone my age who doesn’t know anything more about life than I do. I have a friend, she’s my age. She’s funny, beautiful, smart. Everyone thinks we should be together. But she always has money trouble, always has a crisis. She’s forever calling her father for help. She doesn’t know what to do with her life. I love her, but I couldn’t be with someone like that. I own a successful vineyard. I have employees, people who depend on me. My last girlfriend owned a château and had a staff of ten people working for her. Even with the age difference we had more in common than my friend who’s my age who changes jobs and boyfriends every six months.”

  “I don’t have a château, only a house. A big damn house, but no one works for me. I did have an intern once, though. Unpaid.” She conjured one little memory and held it in the palm of her hand. She smiled at it, loved it a moment and then let it go.

  “Women and wine always get better with age,” Nico said.

  “I want to think that. I get richer with age anyway. I’m at the point where I have more money than I know what to do with.”

  “Buy more time to spend with me, maybe?”

  Nora narrowed her eyes at him.

  “Did an older woman teach you how to talk like that? Because, if so, I need her name and address to send her a thank-you note.”

  Nico grinned down at her.

  “Every woman I’ve been with has taught me something about women. How to kiss, how to fuck, how to dress. My first lover told me women are always watching. If you’re rude to the waiter, she sees and files that away.” Nico tapped his temple.

  “You had a good education.”

  “I want to learn everything from you, too. And everything about you.”

  “Everything?”

  “Everything.” He straddled her thighs and wrapped his hand around the back of her neck. “How you like being touched. How you like being fucked. How you like your eggs in the morning. How you like your tea at night. How you love to be kissed.”

  She raised her mouth to his, eager for more of his drugging kisses. When he kissed her and touched her, she could almost make herself believe he was the reason she’d run away to Europe and hidden herself in the middle of the Black Forest, where no one but Nico could find her.

  “I like being touched the way you touch me,” she said. “I like being fucked the way you fuck me. I like my eggs scrambled and covered in cheese. I like my tea like I like my men—hot, ready and in my hand. And I love the way you kiss me because it helps me forget why I’m here.” Her voice broke at the final words and Nico took her by the shoulders.

  “Can you forget?”

  “No,” she said, shivering. “I want to. I’m so angry it happened that I can’t even … I can’t breathe when I think about it.”

  “I was angry, too. Angry at everyone. Especially my mother. She moved to Paris five days after Papa’s funeral. Then I realized she was grieving, too. Being near his vines, his life’s work, reminded her too much of him. I never thought she really loved him. But then I knew. She couldn’t breathe, either.”

  “Help me breathe,” she said, feeling the anger like a vise around her lungs.

  He pulled her close and put her head on his shoulder.

  “Breathe with me,” he said. “Do what I do.”

  He inhaled deeply and pushed on her back with both hands. She forced air into her nose and held the breath.

  “Now push it out,” Nico said. Nora forced herself to exhale. “Good. Again.”

  With his hands on her back, he guided her breathing. In and out. Deep and long. A push against her back meant “breathe in.” A gentle slide of his fingers down her spine meant “breathe out.” After a few minutes she felt the fury and the panic subsiding.

  She felt dizzy with gratitude for Nico’s presence. She clung to his arms as he held her and kissed his neck.

  “Do you want me to make you come again?” he asked softly in her ear.

  “Yes,” she said without shame. “It will distract me, and that’s as much as I can ask for now.”

  Nico pulled the straps of gown down again, lowered his head and took a nipple into his mouth. Nora sighed and relaxed into the pillow. His tongue circled her areola while his hands held and warmed both breasts. She reached down to stroke him but he grabbed her hand by the wrist and pressed her hand over her head into the pillow.

  “My kind of game,” she teased as he pressed her down into the bed.

  “No games. I’m taking care of you tonight.” Nico kissed along the edge of her collarbone. “All night if you’ll let me.”

  “I’ll let you.” She sighed, surrendering to him. It felt good to let go, to relax a little, to let him pleasure her without needing to give him anything in return. He resumed kissing her breasts and she did nothing but lie there underneath him. He pinched her nipples and bit them gently until they were swollen and sore—the way she liked them.

  Nico slipped his hand between her legs and found the ring that pierced her clitoral hood.

  “Decoration?” Nico asked.

  “Mostly,” she admitted. “But it can be useful if you know what you’re doing.”

  “I don’t know what I’m doing, but you can teach me.” Nico gave her a roguish grin.

  With everything that had happened to her, with everything she’d been through and with everything she’d lost, she shouldn’t even be in bed with Nico, much less loving every second of his company. Had what she’d lost created such a vacuum that she needed to fill it with Kingsley’s son in her bed? Apparently so.

  “There’s a bag in the bathroom,” she said. “Black silk.”

  Nico raised his eyebrow.

  “Trust me,” she said.

  Nora straightened her gown and adjusted her pillows as Nico went into the bathroom to retrieve her bag. She gave him a wink before untying the cord and opening it. It contained nothing but a few pieces of jewelry she always traveled with—two pairs of earrings, a bracelet and the rings Søren had given her for Christmas. She’d taken the rings off two weeks ago, but she didn’t leave them behind. She could never leave them behind.

  From the bag she selected an eighteen-inch silver beaded chain. She removed the camphor glass fleur-de-lis pendant, a birthday gift from Kingsley, and laid the bag aside.

  “Are you getting the idea?” she asked, holding up the chain and running it through her fingers.

 
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