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       The Saint, p.20

         Part #5 of The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz

  “What did he give you?”

  “A St. Louise medal,” Nora said, smiling at the memory. “My middle name is Louise. And her Feast Day is March 15th—my birthday.”

  “A good gift.”

  “He let me cry on his shoulder a little. That was an even better gift. After that it was March before we spoke again.”

  “What happened in March?”

  “Nothing,” Nora said. “And everything. I skipped school and went for a walk. For some reason my wandering feet led me right to Sacred Heart. I didn’t think I’d see Søren that day, but there he was at the rectory … in his backyard … planting trees … and wearing jeans and a white T-shirt.”

  “You remember his clothes from that day?”

  “I remember everything. I’d never seen Søren in anything but his clerics and collar before. I had convinced myself he even slept in his clerics. But damn …” She smiled down at Nico. “He had dirt under his nails. Like you did the day we met.”

  “I’d been working that day. I work every day.”

  “I liked it. I like a man who’s not afraid to get his hands dirty.”

  “Was he angry at you for coming to his house?”

  Nora shook her head. “I can count on one hand the number of times Søren’s been actually angry at me. And then it’s usually because I’ve done something dangerously stupid or stupidly dangerous. No, that day he was … Well, he wasn’t angry. By March it had been four months since he told me to back off, go away, grow up. Everything that had happened the year before already felt like a dream, like I couldn’t be sure it had happened.”

  She remembered standing outside the fence and Søren on the inside. They talked for a few minutes, and from the way he spoke, the way he looked at her, she knew she wasn’t the only one who remembered the dream.

  “After that day, however …” Nora’s chest heaved slightly. “Nothing. Nothing for months and months and months. No talking, no touching, no nothing. Søren and I became strangers to each other again. It wasn’t awful. I didn’t sit in my room and stare out the window for a year or anything. I went to school, got good grades, worked my ass off to finish my community service. I wasn’t allowed to get a driver’s license until I turned eighteen, but Søren’s secretary, Diane, gave me rides places. I did okay. It wasn’t fun, but I survived it.”

  Nico rolled up and moved closer to her. He took her knees in his hands and pulled her legs around his waist to bring them face-to-face. She relaxed into the circle of his strong arms and rested her chin on his shoulder.

  “I’m glad you survived it,” he said. “Otherwise you wouldn’t be here.”

  “Oh, I survived it. And what’s funny is that later on, after I became a novelist, I understood what Søren had done and why.”

  “And what was that?”

  “It’s a trick of the fiction writer,” she explained. “You figure out what your main character is most afraid of, and then you make her face that fear.”

  “Is that what he made you do?”

  “Losing him, losing his love, was my greatest fear. And he made me face it. I faced it, I survived it. And ultimately …”

  Nora paused to kiss Nico’s neck for no other reason than it wanted kissing.

  “Ultimately, that time on my own turned me into what Søren said I was all along.”

  “What was that?”

  Nora pulled back and gave Nico her wickedest grin. She raised one finger to indicate he should wait. Nico arched an eyebrow. She slipped out of his arms, out of bed and took something from her suitcase.

  Her red riding crop.

  She held it in front of her, the tip pointed at the center of Nico’s chest.

  “Dangerous,” she said.

  Nico smiled, his lips slightly parted, his breath quickening.

  “You see,” she said, letting the tip of the crop rest at the hollow of his throat, “when you face your greatest fear and you survive, what’s left to be afraid of?”

  Nico licked his lips. His chest rose and fell.

  “Answer me.” Nora slid the crop under his chin and forced him to raise his head an inch.

  “Nothing,” Nico said.

  “My greatest fear was to live without Søren and I did. I wasn’t afraid of that anymore, and I didn’t need anyone anymore. I wanted him, but I didn’t need him. But he needed me.”

  “I believe it,” he said.

  Nora looked down at him.

  “Now, Nicholas Delacroix, tell me your fear.”

  “My fear is that this will be our only night together, and I will live the rest of my life never meeting another woman like you.”

  “I can’t promise we’ll have another night together, but I can guarantee this—you’ll never meet another woman like me.”

  She didn’t add that never meeting another woman like her was most likely a good thing.

  He didn’t seem to think so, however. A smile, sexy and suggestive, crossed his lips.

  “Prove it.”

  Prove it?

  Well, if he insisted …

  Nora grabbed the back of Nico’s neck and turned his face up to hers.

  “Are you going to hurt me?” he asked, his voice equal parts fear and anticipation.

  “Not tonight,” she said, remembering the night she’d asked almost the same question of Søren and he’d given her that exact answer. “Tonight is only for pleasure.”

  She kissed Nico then with all the fierce passion only someone wounded and desperate to heal possessed. She kissed him like the meaning of life lay in his mouth and if she kissed him hard enough, sweet enough and long enough, it would brush her lips and she could catch it in her teeth and swallow it whole.

  Nora pressed Nico onto his back, not once breaking the kiss. He moved to put his arms around her, but she grabbed his wrists and pushed them into the bed over his head.

  “Lie there,” she ordered. “Don’t move. I want to make you come.”

  “I’m all yours, Nora.”

  She loved the way he said her name.

  “I should make you call me mistress.”

  “Do you want to be my mistress?”

  “Would you like that?”

  “It would be a dream come true to belong to you, to be your property. But since I don’t belong to you, Nora it is.”

  It embarrassed her how much Nico’s words affected her.

  “Nora it is, then,” she repeated. “Now be good and don’t come until I tell you that you can.”

  He nodded and fixed his eyes on the ceiling as Nora pressed his knees apart and settled between them. She licked her fingertip and slowly pushed it inside him. She went in deep but not too deep. She stopped when Nico gasped in pleasure.


  “Parfait.” He kept his eyes on the ceiling as if too embarrassed to look at her while she touched him so intimately.

  “Good.” She pulled her finger out of his tight passage and grabbed her riding crop. She twirled it once before catching it in the middle. Carefully she eased the narrow shaft of the handle a few inches inside him.

  “See?” she said as she massaged a spot inside him. “Crops aren’t made only for pain.”

  Nico said nothing. He had apparently lost all powers of speech. Nora took him in her hand and stroked his incredible hardness. Then she dipped her head and licked him from base to tip and then back down the full length of the shaft again.

  Nico groaned and grasped at the sheets. She loved nothing more than making a beautiful man writhe.

  “Have you ever been with a woman who fucked your ass and sucked your cock at the same time?” she paused to ask.

  “Yes, if you count fingers.”

  “I do. But don’t worry. I’m not done proving myself yet.”

  She sucked him deep into her mouth again. Hard, harder, so hard he gasped.

  “Are you ready to come for me?” she asked in French. It had been one of the first sentences Kingsley had taught her.


  “Not y
et,” she said, purring the words. “Not … quite … yet….”

  She licked him a few more times for her own pleasure, relishing the velvet skin, the earthy taste, the fullness of him in her mouth. Gently she pulled the riding crop handle out of him.

  Rising up, she clasped him in her hand and massaged him with long, thorough strokes.

  “Get there for me,” she ordered. “Get right to the edge of your orgasm and stay there. Are you there?”

  Nico nodded and closed his eyes tight.

  “Stay there at the edge, feel how sharp that edge is, Nico.”

  “It hurts,” he gasped through clenched teeth.

  “I know. Pleasure can hurt worse than pain sometimes. In three seconds, I’ll let you come.”

  She reached out and took the empty wineglass off the bedside table.

  “Un … deux … trois,” she said, and brought the wineglass over the tip. He spurted into it, coating the sides with his semen as he winced from the intensity of his release.

  After she’d collected every drop of him, Nora held the glass up in the light of the fireplace.

  Nico opened his eyes and propped himself on his elbows, watching her.

  She took the uncorked bottle of Rosanella Syrah and poured an inch of wine into the glass. She swirled the wine, letting it lap the sides.

  “The two fruits of your labors in one glass,” she said. “Santé.”

  She raised the glass to her lips.

  “Nora …” Nico panted her name.

  In three deep swallows she drank the wine down.

  “My favorite vintage,” she said.

  Nico sat up and looked at her as his chest rose and fell rapidly.

  “You win,” he said.

  “Thought so,” she said and sat the glass aside. “I also have a fun trick with whiskey, but I don’t drink hard liquor anymore. Zach won’t let me.”

  Without a word, Nico pushed her onto her back and kissed her with shocking, breathtaking passion. His tongue delved into her mouth as if seeking the taste of himself on her tongue.

  “You are dangerous,” Nico whispered against her lips. “You can make a man want things he can’t have.”

  Nico took a shuddering breath as if trying to calm himself. He eased away from her and stretched out once more on his side in bed.

  “Talk to me before I tie you to the bed and never let either of us leave it,” Nico said.

  Nora laughed and lay on her side to face him.

  “I should tell you about the first time I met your father,” she said. “Really met him.”

  “What was he like?”

  “Nothing like you,” she said.

  “Is that bad?”

  “Not at all. That house I wandered into with the wild orgy going on—that was your father’s house.”

  “I can truthfully say I’ve never been to an orgy. Although the days we harvest and stomp the grapes come close.”

  Nora grinned. She’d love to be with Nico at the grape harvest. Maybe she could sneak back for it. If her conscience would let her.

  “You’ll be glad to hear that a bottle or two or possibly even three of Syrah was involved when I met your father finally.”

  “He has good taste in wine and women.” Nico grinned at her. “Where were you?”

  “You’ll never guess, considering your father was there. But the first time Kingsley and I talked, it was, of all places, at church.”



  ELEANOR ADJUSTED HER DRESS ONE FINAL TIME, straightened the baby’s breath the stylist had woven through her hair and picked up her bouquet of bloodred roses. Bach’s Minuet in G Major began and after one steadying breath, she stepped onto the red carpet and headed down the aisle toward Søren.

  She’d practiced her walk last night at the rehearsal. Right foot forward, step together, stop. Left foot forward, step together¸ stop. She repeated those instructions in her mind over and over. The words forced her to walk slowly when all she wanted to do was run down the aisle and fly into Søren’s arms.

  At the altar she met Søren’s eyes only briefly before taking her place at the far left facing the congregation. The other four bridesmaids joined her in a line.

  The entire church rose when Diane appeared in the doorway resplendent in her white dress and veil. Eleanor stared over Diane’s shoulder at the back wall of Sacred Heart. She didn’t want to look at Diane, the bride, and didn’t want to look at James, the groom. She wanted to look at Søren, the priest, but if she were to make it through the entire ceremony without turning into a basket case, she had to keep her eyes anywhere but on him. Since she couldn’t will herself to disappear, she ignored the wedding happening around her entirely.

  She felt like the butt of a joke today. Nearly one year ago Søren had dismissed her from his life, erected a wall around himself and ordered her to stay behind it. Go be a normal teenager, he’d said. So she’d left him. They hadn’t spoken one word to each other in months. And now she stood at the altar as he performed a wedding ceremony for someone else.

  She had no one to blame but herself for this pain she felt watching Søren perform his secretary’s wedding. Diane needed a fifth bridesmaid to even out the numbers with the groomsmen. Eleanor had told her no at first, knowing how painful it would be, but Diane had begged and cajoled and since she’d given Eleanor rides for the past year, Eleanor felt like she owed her something. She couldn’t give her gas money so she put on the damn dress, pasted on a fake smile and walked down a church aisle toward the man she loved more than life itself, knowing with every step that she would never have her own wedding with him.

  Walking on broken glass would hurt less than walking down that aisle.

  As Søren began the ceremony, quoting Bible verses of love and devotion that caused everyone in the church to sigh and weep, Eleanor tuned him out. She’d gotten good at that in the past year.

  During the reception, Eleanor sat with the youngest two groomsmen, drank champagne and pretended to flirt. Søren stayed for an hour and talked to people. He ignored her, of course. Ignored her as much as she ignored him. She knew he ignored her because she watched him ignore her for the entire hour he ignored her.

  “I need another drink,” Eleanor said, and the bride’s younger brother, who had apparently fallen in love with her cleavage, hurried to fetch her another glass of champagne.

  Søren left the reception and Eleanor danced with the groomsman. She wanted to go home and sleep, but she promised to stay to the bitter end.

  The party finally broke up at one in the morning. Diane and James ran through a hail of birdseed on their way to the waiting limousine. Ten minutes later the fellowship hall had turned into a ghost town. About goddamn time.

  Eleanor went into the pantry of the food bank she’d set up last year and dug through the bag of clothes she’d stashed there. She yanked the flowers out of her hair and tossed them in the trash before shimmying out of the skirt of her two-piece bridesmaid’s dress. She pulled on her jeans and slammed her feet into tennis shoes, sighing with relief at getting rid of her high heels. The bodice of her sleeveless dress proved a bit trickier. She couldn’t get the zipper unstuck. Damn Diane and her “two-piece A-line dress with Empire waist—oh, my God, it’ll look so good on you, Elle” bullshit. They should have all worn jeans and T-shirts.

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