The queen, p.12
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       The Queen, p.12

         Part #8 of The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz
 

  Milady finished her circuit of the room and stood six feet or so away from the cross and Thorny. Before Søren whipped her or flogged her or hurt her, he’d almost always touched her, held her or spoke a few choice whispered words to her. Sometimes he’d claim her, saying, “You’re mine, Little One. Mine to hurt and mine to heal.” Sometimes he’d confess, “I’ve been dreaming of hurting you all day.” Sometimes he’d touch her inside and tease her: “As wet as you are I think you want this as much as I do.” Sometimes he’d simply say, “I love you, Little One” or “Jeg elsker dig, min lille en” before he brought the pain down.

  Nora watched and Milady didn’t whisper a single word of warning to Thorny. Instead she cracked the first whip and then the second in rapid succession. Everyone in the room jumped, everyone but Nora and Kingsley, who were accustomed to the sound. Thorny flinched although he hadn’t been struck yet. Milady was merely warming up. And what a warm-up it was. She sent the whips, both of them, in graceful tandem flicking high and low and along the floor and toward the ceiling. They snapped and cracked and swirled and twirled like white smoke around her. She drew lines in the air, wrote words and made figure eights. Every turn ended with another sonic crack.

  Then Milady turned her attention to Thorny. First she flicked the whip around the outline of his body, missing him on purpose to show that she could. Many of the cracks were concentrated around his head. Nora watched his face closely. He breathed heavily but his face was set in stone.

  The stone broke at the first strike of the whip on his back. Nora knew that pain, like being stung by a bee. A big fucking vicious demon bee. Thorny gasped, winced, grunted, groaned...but he didn’t say roses or red or stop so she simply stood there, monitoring his breathing, praying it would be over soon.

  Milady made the whip dance and it danced all over Thorny’s body. Up his arms to his wrists and down again. Over his shoulders, across his neck, down his spine and back up again. She avoided the kidneys, which was a good sign that she had a modicum of respect for the rules of safe play. Otherwise she shredded Thorny’s body.

  Søren had never whipped her for this long. Maybe Kingsley could have taken a beating this severe, but not someone who’d never been whipped before. Thorny had had enough. Nora could tell. Finally he uttered a desperate “roses.”

  “Louder,” Nora said. “She didn’t hear you.”

  “Roses!” Thorny called out, loud enough anyone in the room could hear him.

  Milady didn’t stop, and Nora knew she had no intention of stopping. So she did the only thing she could do.

  Nora stepped under the cross and held out her arm, catching the end of one whip around her wrist. She yanked it from Milady’s grasp before she realized what she’d done.

  An audible gasp echoed through the room, the sound of two dozen people in shock.

  Milady didn’t look shocked, however. But she didn’t look happy.

  “What do you think you’re doing?” Milady asked, her voice still light and sweet even as her eyes blazed.

  “I believe your friend said his safe word,” Kingsley said from the top of the stairs. Milady turned and looked up at him. “And you ignored it. Didn’t you?”

  No one spoke but no one contradicted him, either. Nora saw a few nods, a few nervous glances. Behind her Thorny panted loudly. He needed to be taken down immediately and tended to. Blood seeped from the wounds on his back. Shallow cuts that would heal quickly, but there were dozens of them.

  “Take him down,” Kingsley ordered as he descended the stairs.

  “He’s my toy tonight.” Milady coiled her remaining white whip. “I say when he comes down.”

  “No, I believe he says when he wants down. Mister Thorny? Yes? No?”

  “Please,” Thorny said between breaths. “Take me down.”

  Kingsley nodded at Nora, who worked quickly, unbuckling his wrists first and then unchaining his ankles. She yanked the blindfold off him and met him eye to eye. He had startling blue eyes that almost seemed to glow in the dark. But she didn’t attribute that to any supernatural powers. He’d been in so much pain his eyes were rimmed with red, which made the blue that much more vibrant in contrast.

  “God, you’re pretty,” he said. Men. She rolled her eyes as she set him in a chair. “How bad is it?”

  She looked at his back. Every square inch of skin was burning scarlet and blood seeped out from roughly two dozen tiny cuts. She chucked him under the chin and smiled.

  “You’ll live,” she said.

  “I wish.” Thorny laughed at a joke she didn’t get.

  “My apologies, darling,” Milady said. “My lovely assistant was supposed to let me know when he’d had enough.”

  “She did,” Kingsley said. “And so did he. Are you all right?” Kingsley directed the question at Thorny, acting as though Milady were beneath his notice.

  “I could use a drink.”

  “We’ll take him home,” Kingsley said. “We’re leaving anyway. Thank you for an...evening.”

  The lack of an adjective was evidently noted.

  “You didn’t enjoy the show?” Milady asked, wearing a faux pout.

  “I thought the finale was dazzling,” Kingsley said, looking at Nora. “Are you hurt?”

  She shook her head. Søren had taught her how to catch a whip on her arm and around her waist. He’d sometimes wrap her with a whip and reel her in when he was in a playful mood. Catching the whip had stung and she could have been hurt badly, but she’d acted on pure instinct.

  “Of course she’s not hurt,” Milady said, raising her voice so the entire room heard her. “She’s the property of the priest. She can take a whipping with the best of them. Can’t she?”

  Kingsley’s eyebrow lifted a discernible millimeter.

  “Oh, Kingsley,” Milady said, lowering her voice. “You thought I didn’t know who she was? I know everything. I know she’s training to be a dominatrix, which is hilarious. The priest’s little girl? The girl he used to drag through your club by her hair and publicly beat?”

  Nora rolled her eyes. Søren had never dragged her by her hair through The 8th Circle. He’d dragged her by her collar, yes, but not her hair.

  “You ignored a submissive’s safe word,” Kingsley said. “While she put herself between him and a whip. She’s already a better dominatrix than you are.”

  “My clients would say otherwise.”

  “Because your clients haven’t been with her yet.” Kingsley held out his arm and Nora took it. “We’ll be going. Shall we?” he said to Thorny.

  “It’s okay,” he said looking up at Kingsley. “Thank you. I’ve got a ride.”

  “Of course.” Kingsley reached into his breast pocket and produced his business card. He passed it to Thorny. “If you’re looking for a new domme, call me.”

  “No offense,” Thorny said. “I’d rather call her.” He pointed at Nora.

  “None taken,” Kingsley said. “So would I.”

  “I’ll have my whip back, please.” Milady said please to Nora but there was no graciousness in her tone. It wasn’t a request.

  Nora looped it neatly in her hands but before she handed it back, she ripped off the long white cracker at the end, a four-inch nylon string. With a twist and a knot, Nora tied the nylon cord around Thorny’s index finger, a reminder.

  Thorny looked up at her and grinned. “Don’t worry. I won’t forget you. I owe you.”

  “I think we can dispense with the pretense that you’re his silent submissive,” Milady said to Nora. “After all...we all know who she is, don’t we?” Milady addressed the crowd again. Before Milady could do it, Nora pulled off her mask and the wig and ran her hands through her real hair, releasing the waves.

  “She speaks when she has something to say,” Kingsley said.

  “I’m sure she has something to say to me, doesn’t she?” Milady asked.

  “I do,” Nora said.

  “Yes?” Milady batted her eyelashes. “I’m all ears.”

  “If
you hurt my priest, I’ll drag you by your hair through the club and publicly beat you. This is between us, you, me and Kingsley. He’s not a part of this.”

  “I heard you left him,” Milady said. “That makes him fair game.”

  “He’s not a game.”

  “So possessive? Really? How...illuminating. If you’re threatening me over him you must think there is some sort of chance I could get him up on my cross.”

  “He would die before he submitted to you,” Nora said. “Or me. Or anyone but God.”

  “I just want to hurt him a little tiny bit.” Milady wrinkled her nose and smiled an elfin smile. “That arrogant blond Apollo. What a prize that would be. I’d wear a lock of his blond hair around my neck in a locket.”

  “You don’t get to touch a hair on his head,” Nora said, raising one finger and pointing it at Milady’s face. “You don’t get to hurt him.”

  “And why not?” Milady asked, putting on her best and sweetest pout.

  Nora raised her chin and stared Milady down.

  “That’s my job.”

  12

  The Whip Master

  “I’LL KILL HER,” Nora said.

  “You can’t kill her.” Kingsley leaned back in his desk chair and threw his booted feet up on his desk. “You can maim her, I suppose. I wouldn’t stop you from maiming her.”

  “You know you want to maim her, too. Don’t you?” Ever since that farce of a party last night, that was all Nora had been able to think about—maiming Milady. She’d string her up by her own whips and walk around Manhattan wearing Milady’s hair in a locket around her own neck. She’d need a big damn locket because she planned on scalping the woman.

  “Don’t encourage him, Nora, s’il vous plaît.” Those words came from Juliette, who was poring diligently over Kingsley’s files. He’d given his beautiful Haitian submissive her own small secretary’s desk for his private office. Juliette looked up from her work and shook her head. “He’s not allowed to kill or maim anyone unless it’s unavoidable.”

  “The lady has spoken,” Kingsley said to Nora. He put the tips of two fingers to his lips, kissed them and blew the kiss at Juliette, who casually caught it in midair and patted her neck with it. Juliette liked neck kisses, too. Nora appreciated this fact about her.

  “She threatened Søren,” Nora said.

  “She didn’t threaten him. She threatened you.” Kingsley looked at her expectantly. Expecting her to deny it?

  “Søren would never submit to that woman. Or any woman. Or any man.”

  “No, he wouldn’t,” Kingsley said. “Which is why it amuses me so much that you are taking her boasts so seriously.”

  “What I want to know is how she knew,” Nora said, leaning forward in the chair. “How did she know Nora Sutherlin was Eleanor Schreiber?”

  “Calliope,” Kingsley said.

  “No way. Not her. She loves you. She wouldn’t rat us out for all the money in the world,” Nora said.

  “She didn’t. I told her to leak the information.”

  “You what?”

  Kingsley laughed. “I told her to spread a little gossip for me. She told two ‘friends’ of hers who can’t keep their mouths shut and the news spread like wildfire.”

  “You dragged me to that party knowing she would fuck with me?”

  “I knew you’d fuck back,” he said. “As always, I am in control of the flow of information in and out of this house. If a secret gets out, it’s because I want it out. Now that you’ve had your little showdown with Milady, all the Underground will know that you, the former Eleanor Schreiber, are now Mistress Nora Sutherlin. The Midsummer Night’s Fling will be packed. Standing room only. Everyone in the state will be there to see you two face off again.” He swept his hand at the windows behind him to indicate the city at large, before interlacing his fingers behind his head and smiling his arrogant smile.

  “Oh, God, the whole fucking kink world will be there.” Nora collapsed back in the chair, her hands to her forehead. She felt a sudden blinding, stabbing pain behind her eyes. “And it’s your fault.”

  “It’s your fault,” Kingsley said. “You’re the one who made a scene at the party last night.”

  “She was beating Thorny bloody. He safed out. He wanted her to stop. She ignored him on purpose.”

  “Of course she did. She wanted to publicly humiliate you for letting your charge get harmed. Well, you found an unusual solution, didn’t you?”

  “What happened?” Juliette asked.

  “La Maîtresse over here,” Kingsley said, pointing at Nora, “stepped in front of a man being whipped with not one but two stock whips. She caught the whip on her arm like a fucking rodeo clown, and she’s very lucky she didn’t lose an eye.”

  “That’s very dangerous,” Juliette said. “I wish I could have been there to see it.”

  Nora looked at Kingsley and pointed at Juliette. “I love this woman.”

  “So do I,” Kingsley said. “But she’s going to get another beating if she doesn’t stop encouraging you.”

  “You’re my responsibility, mon amour,” Juliette said to Kingsley, sounding sensible as always. “She isn’t.”

  Nora sunk back into the chair, stretched her legs out and let her arms flop to the sides in despair. It wasn’t a terribly ladylike position for a woman wearing an A-line skirt, a silk fitted blouse and high heels. She’d had a fitting early that morning with a tailor and had attempted to dress as one would expect an off-duty dominatrix to dress. Now that the whole fucking Underground knew that she, Eleanor, was also her, Mistress Nora, she had to start dressing the part. At least the heels were spiked stilettos so she could kill someone with them if she needed to. Or just wanted to.

  “Elle?” Kingsley said. Nora raised her head and frowned at him. “Nora.”

  “Better.”

  “Nora, listen. You can do this. You can beat her.”

  “I want to beat her. I want to beat her black-and-blue. No. Actually I don’t want to beat her.” Nora sat up straight and stared down Kingsley. “This is what I want to do. I want to find out who she loves. I want to find a man she owns and adores. Then I want to beat him. I want to fuck him. Then I want to send him back to her with my name carved on his back and my phone number tattooed on his cock. That’s what I want.”

  Kingsley met her eyes across his desk.

  “I told you she was a sadist,” he said to Juliette.

  Juliette smiled. “If I doubted you before, I don’t anymore.”

  He looked at Juliette and nodded slightly. Juliette gathered files and rose from her desk. She bent and kissed Kingsley on both cheeks.

  “I will let you two talk in private.” She gave Nora a curtsy before gracefully walking out of the office and closing the door behind her.

  Once they were alone Kingsley stood up and walked around the desk. He held out his hand and Nora took it. With one tug he pulled her up to stand in front of him.

  “Calm down,” he said.

  “I can’t.”

  “I wasn’t talking to you. I was talking to my cock,” Kingsley said.

  “Should have known.”

  “Listen to me.” Kingsley took her face in his hands. “You know there is no one on earth who appreciates your passion for inflicting cruel and unusual punishments on your enemies more than I do. That is my language and you are speaking it fluently. But we have to be calm and rational if we’re going to win against Milady. Going out and fucking and beating everyone she knows won’t solve anything.”

  “Yeah, but it would be fun.”

  “You are drunk on freedom.”

  “I have to admit, I’m kind of liking not answering to a man. Last night...that guy? Thorny? He’s cute.”

  “Très cute.”

  “Two years ago if I saw him at the club, I’d have to beg Søren’s permission to even talk to him. Now if he wants and I want,
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