The queen, p.10
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       The Queen, p.10

         Part #8 of The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz
 

  “You can’t even flog a towel off the wall. Now go to bed. There’s a naughty Haitian submissive in my bed who will be wondering where my cock has gone to. Sleep well.”

  “I plan to.” She stood up. When she’d sat down she’d still been Elle. When she stood up she was Nora. Mistress Nora.

  She headed to Kingsley’s office door.

  “You really topped Griffin?” he asked.

  “I did. Like a boss,” she said, laughing. “But don’t be too impressed. Like I said, he’s a puppy.”

  “You were gone for a year. So was I. Tessa told me that while we were gone, Griffin became one of the most sought-after doms in the club. He’s brutal when he wants to be. When we were gone, he wanted to be. Tessa had bruises for two weeks after a session with him—inside and out. He’s made grown men bleed, and he’s not even a sadist. He says he does it for ‘shits and giggles.’ If Griffin seems like a puppy to you, it’s because you’re a tiger.”

  Nora narrowed her eyes at him and raised her hand in a claw. “Rawr.”

  Kingsley laughed. “Go to bed.”

  “Yes, Master.”

  “Goodnight, Mistress.”

  “Mistress... I could get used to that.”

  Truth was, she was already used to it.

  She walked out of his office intending to go straight to her bedroom. She’d take a long bath, sleep for twelve hours, eat all the food for breakfast...

  But she didn’t make it to her bedroom. She stopped at Kingsley’s playroom first. Inside she turned on the light and walked around gazing at the array of BDSM toys hanging on the wall. He had ten floggers of various sizes and materials hanging on evenly spaced hooks—red floggers, blue floggers, black, brown, elk-hide, cowhide, deer-hide, vinyl and vicious rubber floggers. He had canes, too, over a dozen of them. Tiny little white ones that burned like a bee sting on sensitive skin. Large rattan canes that could put a full-grown man in the hospital if wielded with too much force.

  When she came to the crops, she smiled. Oh, yes, these were her favorite. Something about a riding crop. The feel of it, the balance, the elegance. Riding crops were designed for humans to use on horses, for striking thick skin and driving a ton of pure muscle. Perhaps that’s why she loved the crop so much. Kingsley had told her a dominatrix would never be physically stronger than the men she topped. It wasn’t about physical strength. It was about control, about taking command over a beast bigger and stronger but with a will that could be bent, a drive that could be directed, power that could be restrained, channeled, dominated.

  Nora reached out and took a particular riding crop off a brass hook. It was red, bloodred, and about two feet long. A shorter crop had less give to it. It hurt more than one with more swish in its swing. She knew this instinctively, not from her few weeks as a dominant, but her years as a submissive. She’d long been on the receiving end of a riding crop. How good and right it felt to wield it by the handle.

  She spun it in her hand like a baton. She hadn’t twirled a baton since she was a little girl pretending to be a majorette, but it all came back to her. Pure muscle memory. It danced lightly over her fingers as she turned it. Testing out the old skills she walked the perimeter of the room, twirling it in her hand as she walked. A few times she almost lost it, but she caught it and soon the rhythm was hers again.

  Her own dungeon. She would have a room like this soon enough. All the toys she could ever want. A dream come true. A dark and decadent dream. A secret dream like playing Daddy’s girl with Søren. She’d had the dream of being a domme all her life. She remembered sexual fantasies from long before she’d met Søren. When she was fourteen, she’d snuck into an R-rated movie and saw her first sex scene with a woman on top. That fantasy had given her some of her earliest orgasms.

  Wasn’t it strange that Søren had never picked up on those domination fantasies of hers? He could read her so well that he could sense from her fascination with the couple at the club that she had a Daddy’s-girl fantasy. Why hadn’t he known she’d had this side to her? He was a smart man, a brilliant man, an insightful man. There’s no reason he shouldn’t have known. Kingsley had known.

  “Oh, you son of a bitch,” she said out loud. “You knew.”

  “Who knew?” Kingsley asked from the doorway.

  She turned and faced him.

  “I came for a flogger,” he said. “I thought you were going to bed. Tell me...who knew?”

  “He did. He knew everything about me. The more private it was, the more personal, the more humiliating... He knew it. He could read me like a book. He knew I wanted to be a domme. He had to know.”

  “Of course he knew. I told him when you were sixteen that you were a dominant or a switch.”

  “Why didn’t he tell me?”

  “Did he have to?”

  “It would have been nice if we could have talked about it,” she said.

  Kingsley gave a little scoffing laugh as he plucked a large black flogger off the wall.

  “If you’re looking for someone ‘nice’ you picked the wrong priest.”

  “I can’t believe he knew all this time, and he never said a word.”

  “I can,” Kingsley said. “He loved you. He didn’t want to lose you. He’s a dominant and a sadist. If you were a dominant, too, he couldn’t switch for you. He knew he’d lose you if you let your domme side out to play. I suppose we proved him right.”

  “That’s why you didn’t want me to tell him I topped you.”

  Kingsley nodded.

  “I didn’t leave him because I have a domme side,” she said. “I left him because he tried to leave the church for me, and because he ordered me to marry him like my feelings didn’t matter one fucking bit to him. Oh, and he did this.” She threw her riding crop against the wall. “That’s what he thinks of me.”

  “I warned you he had this side.”

  “I know you did.” She looked at Kingsley and shook her head. “He made me promise him forever. Did you know that? I had to obey him forever just because he got me out of going to jail when I was fifteen. Did he really think I owed him the rest of my natural life because of that? I would have gotten out of juvie at twenty-one. Maybe I shouldn’t have made the deal.”

  “You don’t believe that.”

  “No,” she admitted. “But sometimes, I do wonder...”

  “What do you wonder?” Kingsley asked, coming to stand in front of her.

  “When I was with my mom at the convent, we talked one day about my dad. She told me something I didn’t know, and it’s been bugging me ever since she told me. Now I know why.” She paused, gathered her words. She wasn’t sure why Kingsley needed to know what she was going to tell him, but he did. He had to know.

  “Go on,” Kingsley said gently. She had his complete attention.

  “I was still a baby when my parents divorced,” she began. “My mom asked for full custody of me, but the judge said my dad could have me on the weekends. But then Dad got caught stealing some car parts. Spent three months in jail. But there were about four weekends I stayed with him at his place before he got arrested and my mom got full custody. Do you know where he lived back then?”

  “No.”

  “A shitty apartment at the edge of West Harlem. Barely two miles from Riverside Drive. Two miles from this house. King.” She smiled, shook her head, laughed at the mad world they lived in. “It’s funny... If he hadn’t gotten arrested, I would have grown up two miles from this house. Dad started jacking cars and running a chop shop full-time when I was about ten. When I was fifteen he made me help him. Remember that?”

  “I do. It’s what brought him to my doorstep to save you after you were arrested.”

  “If I lived with my dad and wanted to steal cars, my first stop would have been Riverside Drive. A Rolls-Royce two miles from my place? Very tempting target. I would have stolen your Rolls if I’d grown up with my dad instead of my mom. I know it. I know it for a fact. I don’t know how I know it so don’t ask. But when I go back in ti
me in my mind I can see where that one little event changed the course of my life. I would have stolen your Rolls that night I helped my dad jack cars, and I would have gotten arrested. And what would you have done when you found out a fifteen-year-old girl had been the one who stole your Rolls?”

  “I would have gone to the police station to get a look at this girl. Like I did with Mistress Irina when she was arrested for trying to poison her husband. I wouldn’t have been able to resist seeing the little girl car thief.”

  “So you, not Søren, would have met me first. If I’d lived with my dad on the weekends, then I wouldn’t ever have gone to church with my mom on Sundays, right? No Sacred Heart for me,” she said. “It was like God flipped a coin and it landed on heads instead of tails, on Søren instead of you. It could have landed on tails.”

  “And you would have landed on me.”

  She nodded, not laughing. It wasn’t a joke. She saw it all happening. Kingsley would have walked into the police station interrogation room and it would have been him sitting across from her when she opened her eyes. She would have said, Who the fuck are you? and he would have answered, That’s for you to decide, chérie. I’m either your best friend or your worst enemy. He would have wanted her. Kingsley was no saint. He would have had far fewer qualms about fucking her as a teenager than Søren had. Kingsley wasn’t a priest, didn’t care what happened to him. Instead of at age twenty and with Søren, she would have lost her virginity at age fifteen or sixteen to Kingsley. Although it hadn’t happened that way, it was as if she had the memories of her other life on that other path. Her first time with Kingsley would have been nothing like her first time with Søren. She would have been scared with Kingsley, and he wouldn’t have hurt her first. No flogging, no caning. She would have been on top to minimize the pain and to remind them both what she was—a switch. Because he would have recognized her as the switch she was from day one and would have trained her accordingly—to hurt and be hurt, to dominate and to submit, to rule and to serve. And where would Søren have been in all this? At Sacred Heart, praying, working, without realizing the girl he could have owned was tied to the bed of the boy he’d once loved.

  “You told me once what would have happened if you’d seen me first. But I never told you what would have happened if I’d seen you first,” she said.

  “What would have happened?”

  She met his eyes. “I would have fallen in love with you. I still remember that night I first saw you. The night of the wedding at Sacred Heart. I thought I’d never meet a man who tempted me like Søren did. And then you waltzed in whistling and wearing those boots and your bad attitude and you threatened to lose your watch in me. The reason I didn’t fall in love with you that night was because I’d already given my whole heart to him. But if I’d seen you first...and wasn’t in love with him, I would have loved you.”

  “Yes,” he said. “I believe that. And I would have fallen in love with you.”

  “Do you think that’s what was meant to happen? You and me in love?” Nora asked. “Søren came to see you because he needed your help to get me out of jail. But if I’d stolen your car...”

  “I might never have seen Søren again,” Kingsley said. “I was in a bad place when he showed up here in my music room asking me to help him help you. And he helped me pull myself together. But if I’d seen you first in that police station, fifteen, scared, alone...I would have pulled myself together to take care of you.”

  She’d seen the way Kingsley treated his assistant, Calliope. He protected her, adored her, watched over her... He would have done the same for her had she moved in with him at age sixteen. She would have, too. A father in jail, a mother who was a religious fanatic...easy enough to get her legally emancipated. By age eighteen she would have been Kingsley’s second-in-command. His second, his partner in crime, his dominant, his submissive, his lover, his everything. Kingsley had never fallen in love with her because she was always Søren’s. But with Søren out of the picture...

  “And it all happened because my piece-of-shit father got caught stealing a hundred bucks’ worth of spare parts from a junkyard. Something he’d done a thousand times before. One choice, one mistake, one tiny twist of fate...”

  “Chills the blood to think of it, doesn’t it?” Kingsley asked, and she could see it did trouble him to realize how tangled was the thread that tied their three lives together.

  “If he’d never met me, he would never have broken his vows. What if that’s how it should have been?”

  “Is that what you wish had happened?” Kingsley asked. “Do you wish we’d seen each other first?”

  “All I know is that looking back I can see where the road forks. But I also see that if I’d ended up on the other path, with you...I still would have found my way to this moment. I’m saying this feels like destiny, like both paths would have brought me here, like every path would have brought me here. But I could have been here so much sooner if he...”

  Her voice trailed off. Anger choked her throat, strangling her words. Her hands clenched and unclenched. She wanted to hit someone, something. Set fires, burn the old world down and rise up from the ashes. If Søren were here right now she would teach him a new pain...

  Nora saw the flogger in Kingsley’s hand. She took it from him and walked to the towel still pinned on the wall.

  “Søren knew I was a switch the whole time, and he never said a fucking thing to me about it. If I’d never met him, I would have been doing this since I was sixteen.”

  With all her anger and sorrow and bitterness, she threw the flogger with a fearsome snap.

  The towel went sailing to the floor. It sat limp and defeated at her feet. She wished it was Søren’s heart.

  Nora turned to face him.

  “Well, look at that,” Nora said, smiling at Kingsley.

  “By George, I think she’s got it.”

  10

  Milady

  KINGSLEY TOOK NORA’S hand and helped her step over a naked body on the floor. The man didn’t appear to be dead, merely spent. Merely very spent considering he didn’t seem to notice the woman in the blue-and-black silk cancan dress and the man in the Regency suit and Hessian boots stepping over his panting, sweating torso to reach a set of steps behind him.

  Nora didn’t thank Kingsley for his gallantry. She couldn’t if she wanted to. In addition to the cancan dress, seamed stockings and her black button-up ankle boots, she also wore a blue leather collar and a blue leather leash. The leash Nora clenched between her teeth. When they made it to the landing at the top of the stairs and saw no one else near, Kingsley took the leash from between her teeth.

  “What is this place?” she asked. They were in a big fancy Westchester County mansion that looked like every other Westchester County mansion on the street.

  “It’s called the Body House,” Kingsley said.

  “Why haven’t we ever been here before?”

  Kingsley had taken her to every kink club in the city, but she’d never even heard of the Body House.

  “It’s not our sort of place,” Kingsley said. “Now shh...” Kingsley lifted a finger to his lips to shush her, and she rolled her eyes behind her feathered masquerade mask. “Your voice is recognizable. If you have to speak, do so very quietly.”

  “I could speak in a French accent,” Nora said, putting on her very best French accent, which she’d picked up from Kingsley. He winced at it. “That bad?”

  “You sound like a drunk Brigette Bardot.”

  “Oh, I do not. Søren said my fake French accent is very good.”

  “It is,” he said. Kingsley paused and it was a meaningful pause. “Too good.”

  “Too good?”

  Kingsley didn’t answer for a moment. Nora waited. When he spoke again he said, “It’s not personal. But when you speak like that with the accent, you sound just like Marie-Laure.”

  “I sound like your sister?”

  He nodded. “When she spoke English she had a strong accent. She use
d it to flirt with the boys at school. It’s how I remember her, playing up her accent to throw herself at Søren. Your voice and the accent together... It’s uncanny. Like she’s back from the dead.”

  He gave her a look of apology, a look that asked for mercy.

  “I didn’t know. I’m sorry.”

  Kingsley had never forgiven his sister for marrying Søren, had never forgiven himself what happened after. There was no spot more raw on Kingsley’s soul than the one left by his sister, Marie-Laure.

  “It’s not your fault. Anything can bring her back to me. The scent of Chanel No. 5. The music of Swan Lake. I smell it, I hear it, and it’s like she’s standing behind me or in the next room. And when you speak in that accent, I can hear her.”

  “I’ll keep my mouth shut, then, and you can tell everyone I’m not allowed to talk.”

  “Merci.” He put the leash back between her teeth which was a sign to all and sundry that she was off-limits to playing with anyone but Kingsley. If he hung the leash down where anyone could take it, anyone could play with her.

  Nora was not here to play.

  “That’s Mistress Vee,” Kingsley said, nodding toward a corner of the living room where a woman in a black leather catsuit was painstakingly tying up a middle-aged man in a corset made entirely of silk rope. “She does masterful shibari. I’m hoping she’ll be
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