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       The Queen, p.22

         Part #8 of The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz

  Nora looked up and saw Griffin at the ledge of the VIP bar’s balcony, staring down at her, watching her every move. He blew her a kiss. Mistress Irina, Kingsley’s Russian dominatrix, quietly walked away from a man at a kneeling bench and fell into step behind her and Kingsley. A sign of allegiance no one would miss. The trio walked on, their destination the elevator that would take them to the VIP bar. Anything that would happen would happen in those one hundred steps between the stairs and the elevator. She sensed everyone around her knew this. They were waiting, all of them. Waiting for whatever was to happen. She recognized every face in the crowd, which meant every face in the crowd recognized her. Kingsley had made it known far and wide that the girl called Eleanor Schreiber no longer existed and a woman name Mistress Nora had taken her place. The faces watching her smirked and rolled their eyes. But no one spoke to them. No one stopped them. Kingsley pressed on and the crowd parted for him as they always did. No one would dare defy the king. He could have anyone banished from the city’s kink community with a word. They’d be personae non gratae, denied play at any club in the city. And that was the punishment for a first strike. If someone did dare to piss off Kingsley Edge, they never did it twice.

  So there was a chance, a slim chance, they would make it to the elevator without anyone stopping her. They were halfway there already. Fifty steps away. She’d made this journey countless times, Søren leading her through the crowd, her head bowed in quiet submission. Now she walked it with her head high, next to Kingsley, not behind him. Equals. Forty steps. Thirty five. Almost there.

  Nora saw Milady in the crowd standing next to a mountain of a man. His head bent to her ear as she whispered to him. No one else seemed to see what was happening. No one but Nora. She knew what it meant, what the whispers signified. There was no way in hell Nora would make it from here to the elevator that easily.

  The man stood up straight and stepped into their path, blocking the way between the trio and the elevator. The three of them stopped because the three of them had to. The crowd pressed in around them, watching. Milady stood off to the side, smiling.

  The music stopped.

  “Bonsoir,” Kingsley said, looking up at the mountain. He was six foot six if he was an inch, taller than both Kingsley and Søren. He had the build of a professional weightlifter, a night club bouncer, a linebacker, all shoulders, no neck. Nora guessed his weight at three-fifty—pure muscle and no mercy.

  “Who’s the new girl?” the man nicknamed Unbreakable asked.

  “Show a little respect, Trent.” Mistress Irina had never lost her Russian accent and it made every word she said sound twice as intimidating. That she called him by his real name, Trent, instead of his nickname meant she’d either tried and failed to break him herself or she was jonesing for her turn.

  “For who? Her?” Trent pointed at Nora.

  “Yes, her and King,” Mistress Irina said. “You want to get out of our way?”

  “I want to know who the new girl is, is what I want,” Trent said. He crossed his arms over his chest, one slab of meat over another slab of meat.

  Kingsley sighed. “Mistress Nora, this is Trent, otherwise known as Unbreakable for obvious reasons. Trent, this is—”

  “Mistress Nora,” she said, smiling because it was in her nature to smile at dumb animals. “A pleasure to beat you.”

  Trent barked a laugh.

  “Beat me? You, little girl?”

  “Yes, if you like. What’s your safe word?”

  “Mommy,” he said, grinning like a rabid dog.

  “That’s cute. You’re cute.”

  “And you’re...short,” Trent said. “You have nice tits, though.”

  “Thank you.” Nora pushed her breasts up in her bustier. “My mom gave them to me.”

  “You kind of look familiar.” Trent bent over and pretended to examine her face. Of course he knew who she was. Who didn’t?

  “I have one of those faces,” Nora said.

  “No... I know who you are. Aren’t you the priest’s little slut?”

  “No, but I used to be the priest’s big slut.”

  That got a laugh out of the crowd. Good.

  “I think I saw him drag you on a leash through this club once on your hands and knees, didn’t I?”


  “That didn’t happen?”

  “Oh, it happened. But it happened more than once. He did that to me a lot.”

  Another laugh. If she kept the crowd laughing she’d own them all with or without a collar.

  “So where is he? Where’s your master?”

  “He’s probably at church right now alphabetizing his altar boys.”

  “Is that like sodomizing?” Trent asked.

  “This is a different thing. It involves words and reading. You wouldn’t understand.”

  “I’ve never heard you talk before. I liked it better when your master wouldn’t let you speak.”

  “Too bad I don’t have a master anymore, then. But you’ll like me if you get to know me. I’m a very nice dominatrix.”

  “You’re not a dominatrix. You’re a dumb little slut playing dress-up. Nobody here is afraid of you. Nobody here is impressed by you. And nobody here wants you.”

  “That hurts. It really does. I could have sworn somebody here wanted me. Did anybody here want me?” she shouted to the crowd.

  “Up here,” Griffin called from the balcony. “I want you, Mistress Nora.”

  “Thank you, Master Griffin,” Nora called back. “You want to tag team someone later?”

  “Sure. Girl or guy?”

  “Griffin’s choice.”

  “Both then. Hurry up. I have a boner, and I want to use it before I lose it.”

  “On my way,” Nora called back and gave Griffin a salute. She saw uncertainty on the faces around her. Kingsley saw her as a dominatrix. Mistress Irina did. And now Master Griffin, too? But Trent remained unmoved and unimpressed. “Could you excuse us? We need to get to the elevator now so Griffin and I can fuck some people up.”

  “Say please,” Trent said, glaring down at her.

  “Well, I suppose I could fuck some people up down here. But Griffin’s up there. So you should move. Right now. If you don’t move, I’ll break your face, smash your balls and make you cry in front of this entire assembly of perverts.”

  She stood up straight and tall—as tall as a woman who was five foot three and wearing four-inch heels could stand—and put her hands behind her back. From under the waistband of her tight skirt she pulled out a cold piece of metal and slipped it over her hand.

  “You talk a very good game, little girl,” Trent said. “I wish I believed you. Might be nice to find a woman around here with real balls.”

  “Are you giving me permission, then, to break your face and crush your balls? Kingsley says I can’t hit anyone without their permission. I mean, unless it’s self-defense. That’s okay, right?” She looked at Kingsley.

  “Bien sûr,” he said. “If he tries anything with you, you can kill him for all I care.”

  “Oh, goodie. Would you please try something with me, Trent?” Nora asked.

  “If you insist,” Trent said. He leaned his head back and spit at her.

  Nora ducked the spit and used Trent’s moment of distraction to bring her fist around, knuckles first like Kingsley had taught her. He’d told her to aim for the cheekbone but she slightly miscalculated and instead struck Trent in the nose. She felt it go soft under her hand, like a cracker turning to crumbs. She heard a scream and saw a spurt of blood like Mount Vesuvius erupting and Trent was Pompeii. Party over. Her boots were steel-tipped and as Trent raised his hands to cup his bloody nose, Nora kicked him in the testicles. In an instant he was on his side on the floor in the fetal position. The crowd gasped and moved away. Kingsley stood watching as she put her foot on Trent’s neck and started to stand on it with her full weight.

  “Mommy,” he said. Except he didn’t say it, he screamed it.

  “Well, poo,
” Nora said, dramatically lifting her foot off his neck. “That didn’t take long. And I was just getting warmed up.”

  “You broke my fucking nose, you bitch.” He wailed the words.

  “That’s ‘You broke my fucking nose, Mistress Bitch,’ to you.”

  Trent tried to get up on his hands and knees. He reached for Kingsley’s foot.

  “Don’t scuff my leather,” Kingsley said, kicking Trent’s hand away.

  “King, she broke my nose.”

  “She told you she was going to, silly boy,” Kingsley said. “Did you think she was joking?”

  “I think he thought I was joking,” Nora said. She did a little turn and looked around, the assembly watching in stony silence. “Do you all think I’m joking?”

  No one dared speak.

  Nora continued. “Does that look like I’m joking?” She pointed down at Trent, who was still cradling his bloody nose on the floor. one spoke.

  “Look,” Nora said, smiling at the crowd. “I know. I know. You’re all saying, ‘That’s Eleanor, Søren’s submissive.’ I know a lot of you respect him and fear him. I know a lot of you know what sort of sadist he is. No one knows that better than I do. I respect him, too, of course. I learned a lot from him. And the most important thing I learned was this—if someone fucks with you, you show them the wrath of God. This is what the wrath of God looks like.” Nora pointed to Trent in the fetal position at her feet. Unbreakable was thoroughly broken. “Does anyone else want to piss me off tonight? Anyone?”

  No answer at all. No volunteers.

  “I’m asking very little of you all,” Nora said. “I’m not asking for your respect or your loyalty or your understanding. If I deserve that, then I’ll earn it in time. I don’t want much. All I want is to walk from here to that elevator without touching the ground. Is that too much to ask? I’d say about twenty male bodies flat on their stomachs should do it. Leave about a foot between each.”

  Everyone stared in silence, wide-eyed and uncertain.

  “Am I speaking Greek?” Nora asked. “Human red carpet. On the floor. Right now or Kingsley and I will start choosing people at random to ban from the club for a solid year. Everyone obeys or everyone is punished. You all decide.” She snapped her fingers and pointed. A young man stepped forward and lay on the ground halfway between Trent and the elevator. Another man, quite a bit older but still handsome, took his shirt off and lay down a foot away from the younger man. One by one by one, a bridge of sorts built itself between her and the elevator.

  Nora stepped on Trent, who grunted under her weight on his back. From Trent she stepped onto the young man’s back, careful not to hurt him. Not too much anyway. Kingsley followed behind her and so did Mistress Irina. They, too, used the human bridge Nora had built. The eleventh step on the bridge wasn’t lying on his stomach but on his back. Nora recognized him as the very first person who had jumped to follow her order.

  “You were very quick to obey,” Nora said, looking down at the man. He had a black handkerchief tied over his hair like a pirate and he wore a black mask over his eyes and a black pirate’s shirt. He lifted the shirt to his chest to offer her his stomach to stand on. “This pleases me.”

  “Don’t forget,” he said, grinning up at her. “Money up front.”

  Nora rolled her eyes before playfully kicking Thorny’s side.

  “On your stomach, whore. That’s an order.”

  He flipped over onto his stomach as ordered, wiggling his ass for her as he moved. She would deal with Thorny later—probably by fucking his brains out. But now she had to get to the elevator without anyone else stopping her. As she strolled along her human promenade, she heard grunts and gasps from beneath and behind her. Kingsley and Irina were using her walkway, as well. A much-needed reminder to the denizens of The 8th Circle where everyone stood. Kingsley, Nora and Irina stood on the denizens of The 8th Circle when they felt like it. That’s where everyone stood.

  They made it to the elevator and Kingsley and Irina stepped inside. But Nora stopped.

  “Maîtresse?” Kingsley asked.

  “One second. I forgot something.”

  Nora turned on her heel and walked back on her human body sidewalk to where Trent still lay on the floor.

  “Let me see your face,” Nora said. Groaning, Trent came up on his knees. She knew masochists like him, dangerous as wild horses until you broke them. But once broken, they were meek as lambs. Blood dripped from his nose. He wouldn’t bleed to death. Probably.

  She put her hand under his chin and smiled at him.

  “Call me if you want to play again,” she said. “I cost a thousand an hour.”

  Then, using the back of her hand, she wiped the blood off his face. She turned and saw Milady standing far off to the side, almost as if she were trying to hide.

  Nora walked toward Milady and the crowd parted for her.

  “Brass knuckles?” Milady asked. “That’s cheating.”

  “It’s my game. My rules.” Nora wiped her bloody brass knuckles off on Milady’s pristine white dress. “Look at that. The White Queen becomes the Red Queen,” Nora said to her with a grin she hoped looked as maniacal as it felt. “And you have something that belongs to me.”

  “I do?”

  “You do.” Nora reached out, wrapped her fingers around the locket that contained Søren’s hair and yanked it off.

  “I want her removed,” Kingsley said from inside the open iron elevator. “I watched her ignore a submissive’s safe word during a whipping. She’s henceforth banned from any of my clubs. Au revoir, Milady.”

  Two of Kingsley’s bouncers, nearly the size of Trent, came forward.

  “I can tell the world about your priest,” Milady said. “And I will.”

  “You think Søren’s stupid enough to come down here using his real name? What are you going to tell them anyway? That you paid two thousand dollars for a lock of his hair? Unless you fucked him, he didn’t break any vows.”

  “He’s fucked you.”

  “I’ve been gone for over a year. You’ve been here a year. You haven’t seen him break any vows, have you?”

  “Everyone here has seen you two together.”

  “I’m not afraid of you and neither is he,” Nora said. “But you’re afraid of me.”

  “I’m not afraid of you. You’re a nobody.” Milady laughed. Nora moved as if to punch her in the nose, brass knuckles bloody and shining. Milady squealed, turned and covered her face. Instinct, of course. Anyone would have done it, even Nora. But Nora hadn’t done it. Milady had.

  “Kidding,” Nora said. “See? It pays to be an ex-submissive. We know how to take a hit without flinching.”

  Now the crowd around them laughed and laughed and laughed as the once-formidable dominatrix was reduced to squealing and hiding her face from Nora. From Mistress Nora.

  Nora smiled. Milady looked afraid. Leaning in, Nora whispered a final farewell.

  “Now we’re even.”


  A Confession

  DEFEATING MILADY HAD been a breeze compared to what Nora had to do the next day. She borrowed a car from Kingsley, drove to Wakefield, Connecticut, and walked through the heavy wooden front doors of Sacred Heart Catholic Church. She passed through the lobby—narthex, Eleanor, it’s called the narthex—and headed to his office.


  Nora froze at the sound of a familiar voice. She turned and found Diane, Søren’s secretary, striding down the hall toward her.

  “Diane,” Nora said, bracing for a hug. Diane could hug the life out of someone.

  But Diane stopped three feet from her. No hugs were forthcoming.


  “How are you, Elle? Haven’t seen you in a while.” Diane put her hands in her pockets. As if the lack of a hug wasn’t tell enough...

  “I went away for a year. Traveling.”

  “I see. And you’re back now?”

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