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       The Saint, p.2

         Part #5 of The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz
 

  “You’re good at that,” Nora said. “Do you have a fireplace at your house?”

  “Two of them,” he said. Two of zem. Nora bit the inside of her mouth to keep from laughing. She’d learned from Nico that he’d spent a year in California and another year in Australia in his teens. Even though he lived in France now, he’d mastered English to the point that his accent was faint. Still there, but certainly not as pronounced as Kingsley’s deliberately exaggerated accent. But every now and then Nico’s accent came out in full force. “You should come to my home. I’d like you to see it.”

  She’d refused all invitations to come to his home and instead met him in neutral locations—Arles, Marseille. She knew once they were alone together in his house or hers this would happen. And so it had.

  “If I come to your house, will you put me to work?” she asked as she came to stand next to him. The fire crackled and a burning ash landed near her foot. Nico brushed it away with his bare hand.

  “Everyone works at Rosanella.”

  “I still can’t believe you are what you are.”

  “Why not?” He smiled up at her.

  “Kingsley does not get his hands dirty. Not in the literal sense anyway.”

  “You think he’s ashamed that I’m a farmer?”

  “You make wine. He drinks wine. He’s proud of you.”

  Whether he’d admit it or not, Kingsley had fallen in love with the idea of being Nico’s father. “My son the vintner,” he said sometimes, and Nora saw the pride in his eyes. It broke her heart that Nico had yet to feel any pride that Kingsley was his father.

  “And you?” Nico looked up at her from where he knelt on the floor. “Are you proud of me?”

  “Does it matter?”

  “It matters more that you’re proud of me than him.”

  She caressed his face with the back of her hand. The slight stubble on his chin chafed her skin. Once she’d asked him what he was looking for every time he went to bed with a woman ten, fifteen, twenty years older than he. A mother figure? A teacher? A trainer? “My Rosanella,” Nico had answered, referring to the name of his vineyard’s bestselling Syrah, “the one woman who is all women.”

  “Yes, my Nico. I’m proud of you.”

  They gazed at each other. The shutters were closed. Fire alone warmed and brightened the room. Outside, the wind and rain poured and howled so wildly she imagined everyone but she and Nico had been wiped off the face of the earth. Only they two remained, sole survivors.

  Nico rose up on his knees, put his hands on her waist and kissed her stomach through the fabric of her gown. Slowly he slid his hands down the backs of her legs and grasped her ankles. Nora buried her fingers in his hair as he kissed her bare thigh where it peeked out of the hip-high slit in her nightgown. He ran his hands back up her legs. Everything he did, every way he touched her, set her nerves tingling and her stomach tightening. Now with his thumbs he parted the slit of her gown. Nora grasped the bedpost behind her as Nico pressed a kiss onto the apex of her thighs. She pushed her hips forward as Nico sought her clitoris with his tongue.

  “What’s this?” he asked, tickling the little metal hoop he’d found.

  “Clit ring.”

  Nico raised an eyebrow.

  “I’m going to play with that later.”

  “You can play with it now.”

  She opened her legs wider, and he slid one finger between her wet seam and inside her. He hooked his finger over her pubic bone and ground his fingertip into the soft indention he found there.

  He teased her with his tongue before sucking on her clitoris in earnest. She leaned against the footboard behind her to steady herself. The room carried the heady scent of smoke. The heat from the fire stoked her own inner heat. She could hear Nico’s ragged breaths as he licked and kissed her. He turned his hand and pushed a second finger inside her. He spread his fingers apart, opening her up for him. Her inner muscles twitched around his hand. It was too much. She couldn’t wait anymore.

  “Stop,” she ordered. Nico obeyed and rested back on his hands. She grasped the fabric of his T-shirt and he raised his arms. He unbuttoned his jeans as she tossed his shirt to the floor. Hard muscles lurked under his clothes—muscles he’d earned working the vineyard and not at a gym. He put those muscles to use as he rose up and pulled her hard against him. She felt his erection pressing against her. She raised one leg and wrapped it around his back, opening herself up to him. The tip went in easily and Nico lifted her and brought her down onto him, impaling her. It was only a few steps to the bed and he carried her there, laying her on her back across the burgundy coverlet.

  Nico covered her body with his and drove into her with a slow sensuous thrust that sent ecstasy radiating from her back to her fingers. He pulled out to the tip and pushed back in again, her wet body giving him no resistance. He showed total mastery of his desire as he moved in her, advancing, retreating, performing the ancient steps of this primal dance with powerful male grace. He seemed in no hurry to come, as if he fully intended to stay inside her all night. She ran her hands down the length of his torso and let them rest at the small of his back. She could feel his taut muscles working as his back bowed every time he entered her and arched with each retreat.

  With every thrust, Nora raised her hips to meet his. The base of his penis grazed her clitoris, and she lifted her head to kiss and bite his shoulders. Fluid ran out of her, glazing her inner thighs. She lifted her knees to open herself even more to him. She breathed in and inhaled his scent—warm and alive, like the new spring that surrounded them in the forest.

  He slipped his hand between their bodies. She shivered beneath him, her head falling back against the bed as he grasped her swollen clitoris between his fingertips and stroked it. He pushed forcefully into her, and Nora gasped as her inner muscles clenched around him.

  The world went still and silent around them. Nora couldn’t even hear the storm anymore, the crackling of the fireplace, the creaking of the bed. All she could hear was the quiet metallic jangling of Nico’s belt, his ragged breaths and the sound of her wetness.

  Every part of her body went tight as Nico bore down on her, and came inside her with a shudder. He pulled out and kissed a path down her chest and stomach. With his head between her thighs he lapped at her clitoris again. Her back tensed, her stomach quivered, and she inhaled and forgot to breathe out. He pushed his fingers into her dripping body and sent her over the edge. Every muscle inside her spasmed violently. She hadn’t had sex in so long that it felt as though a week’s worth of orgasms thundered through her all at once.

  Nico’s semen spilled out of her and onto the bed. Nora wrapped her arms around him as he relaxed on top of her, covering her neck and shoulders in carnal kisses.

  “Thank you,” she said. “I needed that.”

  “So did I. I’ve needed it for months.”

  He kissed her long and deep on the mouth before pulling himself up.

  He crawled off the bed and grabbed his shirt off the floor. She watched him pull himself back together. She’d always loved this part, watching a man dress after sex. She loved the perfunctory way Nico pulled on his shirt as if it never occurred to him she would be watching him and enjoying the view.

  “Where are you going?”

  “You need to drink my wine. Want some?”

  “Nico, if you came in a cup I would drink it.”

  He stared at her. Had she actually made the son of Kingsley Edge blush?

  “We’ll save that vintage for later.” With a wide grin, he left her alone in the bedroom.

  She pulled herself up slowly. She’d come so hard even her arms trembled. Was that from the sex? Possibly. She also hadn’t eaten anything all day. She cleaned herself off in the bathroom and found Nico downstairs in the kitchen uncorking a bottle of red wine. He handed her a glass, and she raised it to her lips. It had a sweet pungent scent, and when she drank it, she could taste its potency. A virile wine, just like its maker.

  “Parfait
.” She sighed as she lowered the glass. “But that will get me drunk in about two more sips if I don’t eat something.”

  “Sit,” he said and pointed at the large battered armchair by the fireplace. “If you please.”

  She laughed at his chivalry.

  “I do please,” she said, sitting and pulling her legs to her chest. She felt relaxed now, loose limbed and spent. She could almost make herself forget the box on the mantel. Almost. But not quite.

  “What is it?” Nico asked.

  “Nothing. Only wondering how much trouble I’m in for sleeping with you.”

  “Trouble with whom?”

  “Kingsley.”

  “Is it his business?” From his tone, Nora could tell Nico had no plans to tell Kingsley anything about tonight.

  “You’re his son. He’ll make it his business.”

  Nico brought her a plate of cheese, crackers and grapes.

  “Don’t worry about it,” he said. “If he’s angry, we’ll tell him I took advantage of you in your grief.”

  “Oh, good idea. He might buy that except for the part where you took advantage of me.” She took the plate from him and balanced it on her knee. “He does know me, after all.”

  “Being with you was my choice,” Nico said. “My choice, my consequences. Not yours.”

  “Oui, monsieur. Merci beaucoup,” she said in her best sultry French.

  “You know I speak English,” he reminded her as he took a grape off her plate.

  “I know,” she said. “But I speak French, too. Thank your father for that skill.”

  “He made you learn it?”

  “He and Søren would speak it all the time around me while I stood there like an idiot not understanding a word. I had to learn it so I knew what they were saying about me.”

  Nico sat on the floor in front of her, his arms clasped around his knees. He looked young sitting there like that, but still undeniably strong and masculine. In the low firelight she could see the veins in his forearms, and the light dusting of dark hair on his skin.

  “How do you know Kingsley?” he asked between sips of wine.

  “How do I know Kingsley? That’s a loaded question. You sure you want to know the answer?”

  “I asked.” He shrugged his shoulders and in that moment, in that shrug, she saw his father in him. So dismissive. So French. So Kingsley.

  “Why do you want to know?”

  “I don’t understand him at all,” Nico confessed, and she saw a flash of grief in his eyes. Grief to match her own. She crooked her finger and Nico moved closer, close enough to kiss her knee and rest his chin on her thigh.

  “He’s a hard man to like and a very easy man to love. But he’s nearly impossible to understand,” she said, caressing the back of his neck.

  “But you understand him.”

  “I do. But he and I, we’re the same in many ways.”

  “I want to know him. I want to know you even more.”

  “Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell you the story of Kingsley and me without telling you the story of Søren and me,” she said. “It’s all one story, the three of us.”

  “Will it hurt to talk about it?”

  “Yes,” she said. “But a little pain never stopped me before.”

  “Will you tell me?” Nico asked. He took her hand in his, twining their fingers together. She looked down at their interlocked hands—his tanned, calloused hand dwarfed her paler, daintier fingers. Moments earlier he’d lain between her thighs, and only now did they hold hands for the first time. The day they’d met she’d told him who he was. Perhaps it was time to tell him who she was.

  “Okay, story time, then. But I’ll charge you. I get paid for my stories.”

  “I’ll pay you in orgasms.”

  “It’s a deal,” Nora said and she and Nico laughed. God, it felt good to laugh like this again. A few days ago she would have bet she’d never laugh again. He turned his hand and sensuously rubbed the center of her palm with his thumb.

  “Since this is the Black Forest, we should make it a fairy tale,” she said.

  “I like fairy tales.”

  “You’ll like this one, too. It begins with a whimper but ends in a bang.”

  “Is it a real fairy tale? Are there witches and fairies in it?” he teased.

  “Sort of.”

  “Kings, yes?” Nico grinned.

  “Definitely,” she said. “One king. One queen.”

  “What else?”

  “Since we’re in Grimm’s territory, we’re going to do this right,” she said. “Ready?”

  Nico kissed Nora’s fingertips.

  “Ready,” he said, gazing up at her with heat in his eyes. She could still scarcely believe Nico was here. She’d idly wished for him earlier and behold—he’d come to her in a storm, begging sanctuary. What other magic might work itself tonight?

  “All Grimm’s fairy tales start and end the same way,” she said.

  She took a deep breath and began.

  “Once there lived …” She paused and let the knife of grief stab her stomach again. She took the pain, breathed through it and let it out. “Once there lived … a priest.”

  3

  Eleanor

  SHE WAS EITHER DYING OR HAVING AN ORGASM. ELLE couldn’t quite tell which.

  “Something funny, Miss Schreiber?” her teacher demanded.

  Elle glanced up and stared at Sister Margaret’s forehead. Safer than looking her in the eyes.

  “Nope. I … That’s a great sculpture,” Elle said, pointing at the image on the projector screen at the front of her Catholic studies class. “Is she getting, you know, murdered there? Or … something else?”

  “Not murdered,” Sister Margaret said with a smile. “Although I can understand why you might think that she was dying.”

  Sister Margaret turned back to the image of St. Teresa of Avila she’d projected onto the screen. Every Friday was Know Your Saints day at St. Xavier High School.

  “This famous sculpture by Gian Lorenzo Bernini is called the Ecstasy of St. Teresa. Teresa of Avila was a mystic. Can anyone tell me what a mystic is? Mr. Keyes?”

  She pointed to Jacob Keyes in the front row.

  “Um …” he said. “People who had mystical experiences?”

  Elle rolled her eyes. Didn’t he know you weren’t supposed to define a word with that same word?

  “Close,” Sister Margaret said. “Throughout our Catholic tradition, our clergy has acted as the intermediary between the faithful and God. Mystics are those rare souls who connect with God in a profound way without an intermediary. In the case of St. Teresa, an angel of the Lord came to her. Let’s read her own words about it. Page three hundred seventy.”

  They all turned to the page and at the top in a box Elle read:

  I saw an angel near me, on the left side in bodily form. In this vision it pleased the Lord that I should see it thus. He was not tall, but short, marvelously beautiful with a face which shone as though he were one of the highest of angels…. One of the highest of angels who seemed to be all of fire. I saw in his hands a long golden spear, and at the point of the iron there seemed to be a little fire. This I thought that he thrust several times into my heart, and that it penetrated to my entrails.

  “As you can see,” Sister Margaret said, “the sculptor was attempting to show the profound and sudden closeness to God St. Teresa experienced when the angel came to her and struck her with the arrow, and, Miss Schreiber, you seem to be laughing again. Would you care to share with the class exactly what you find so funny?”

  Elle sensed all eyes in the class on her. She really wished Sister Margaret would stop calling on her. Maybe if she told her the truth, Sister Margaret might learn her lesson.

 
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