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       The Queen, p.24

         Part #8 of The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz
 

  lowered Nora to her feet. She adjusted her clothes, buttoned her blouse, felt his warm fluid on her inner thighs but didn’t wipe it off. Right now, this second, she needed to leave, but she stayed because he kissed her again, she stayed because they’d just made love in the confessional, which was something she’d never dreamed they’d do because Søren was usually so careful, and if he wasn’t careful today it was because, as Kingsley had warned, he was losing control of himself out of his grief over losing her. He would take every chance he could to be with her and would regret the chances he missed. She knew this because she knew him, and it was how she felt, too.

  Nora pulled away from his kisses and looked into his eyes, the color of steel but not as hard. His guard was down, his eyes soft, his face open and waiting for her words. He looked young for a second, younger than she’d ever seen him. Hope made him young. Fear made him vulnerable.

  “I can’t be in your debt. I refuse to be in your debt,” she said. “Even your gifts aren’t gifts. They always come with a price.” He’d sold his own hair and let a woman he didn’t know, didn’t desire, kiss him and all to give her a gift. The debt she owed him was so high she’d pay any price to be back in the black.

  “Everything has a price,” he said, his hands caressing her neck, her throat. She looked down and discovered he’d put the locket on her without her even realizing it.

  “I can’t wear this,” she said, clutching the locket in her hand. She pulled to yank it off. This time she didn’t just bend the clasp, she broke it. “I won’t wear your collar. I won’t be in your debt.”

  “Too late,” he said.

  “Give me an order. Order me to do anything, and I’ll do it. Then we’ll be even, you and I. Whatever you want. One order. I’ll obey it.”

  She knew what he would order her to do. She knew he would order her to come back to him. Standing there with her hands on his chest and his heart beating wildly under her palm, she knew she’d do it. She would go back to him when he gave the order. Oh, she would hate herself for it and Kingsley would hate her for it...but she would be at peace again at least. The peace of the runaway convict recaptured by the guards and hauled back to prison where she belonged.

  She braced herself for the order, the inevitable order to return to him and be his again and wear his collar. For she had no doubt in her mind, none at all, that he would order her back to him.

  “Write another book,” Søren said.

  Nora’s eyes flashed at him in shock. That was his order. She knew that tone. She knew that look.

  “Yes, sir.”

  She wrote another book.

  22

  A Houseguest

  Two Years Later

  NORA’S FIRST THOUGHT upon waking was, There is a teenage boy in my house.

  She lay in bed and thought about that thought, thought about what to do with it and him. He appeared to be sound asleep and dreaming. No reason to disturb him yet, so Nora let him be.

  In her kitchen she brewed a pot of coffee. While she waited she checked her hotline phone. No missed calls. No messages. So the silent treatment would continue. Fine. If that’s what Kingsley wanted, who was she to argue? Without him calling her all the time and pouting until she took on this rich new client and that important new client, she’d actually gotten to spend a little time in her house.

  Her house. All hers. Although she’d lived in the house for over a year, she still couldn’t believe it was hers. Kingsley hated her house as much as she loved it. He’d pitched a full-blown French fit when she’d told him she was moving out the day after she paid the down payment in cash and signed the contract. Having both his submissive and his dominant under the same roof was convenient for Kingsley but confining for her. She wanted her privacy, she’d told Kingsley. Needed it to save her sanity. And it was his own fault she’d bought the house anyway. He’d sent her all the way to Westport, Connecticut, for a session with a client, the dean of a small liberal arts college right outside of town. After her session with him, she’d taken a wrong turn and found herself in a residential neighborhood. When she saw a Catholic church on the corner, she’d stopped to ask directions. She’d done it instinctively, sought advice and help inside the church. The secretary had drawn her a map to the interstate on the back of a pamphlet with the title “You Can Go Home Again—A Roadmap for Lapsed Catholics.” When she asked the secretary how she’d guessed Nora was a lapsed Catholic, the older woman had smiled and said, “You started to dip your fingers in the holy water when you walked in and you stopped yourself.”

  “An old habit,” Nora had said, guilty as charged.

  “He misses you, you know,” the woman said as Nora started out of the office with her roadmap.

  Nora froze, the words chilling her to the bone.

  “He’s better off without me,” Nora told her. “Whether he knows that or not, he is.”

  “God isn’t better off without any of His children in His life and His church. He wants them all home, even His prodigals. Especially His prodigals.”

  Nora had given her a smile, a sad smile although she hadn’t planned on being sad that day.

  “I wasn’t talking about God.”

  The neighborhood St. Luke’s belonged to was a quaint and lovely one, the day around her bright and shining, so Nora went for a walk. She lived most of her life at night and indoors. Sunlight had become a rare luxury, and she needed more of it. Griffin wanted her to go to Miami with him soon, and she considered the offer as she walked.

  Then she’d seen the house.

  A Tudor home, two-story, black beams and off-white stucco. An old New England cottage with beautiful bones and a price tag in her budget. It even had an oak tree—the biggest, greenest, oldest, most beautiful gnarled old oak tree she’d ever seen and right in the corner of the yard. An oak tree. She could have her own oak tree. So what if a Catholic church stood on the corner of the street, and if she lived here she’d be an easy forty-minute drive from Wakefield, Sacred Heart and Søren? That had nothing to do with her love for this house. It looked like a writer’s house, she told herself. That was why she wanted it. She was a writer. A writer needed a writer’s house.

  But...there was one catch. She didn’t pay a cent to live at Kingsley’s. If she bought this house, this dream house of hers, she would never be able to quit working for Kingsley. Not unless a miracle happened, and she was suddenly making six or seven figures a year from her books. Buying a house meant making a commitment—not to the house as much as to the job that paid for it. Was she ready to accept she would be working as a professional domme for the next fifteen to thirty years of her life? If so, that meant she could never ever go back to Søren because he would make her quit working for Kingsley, which meant she couldn’t afford the house.

  She bought the house.

  Therefore Mistress Nora she would remain until the house was paid off. Unless Kingsley fired her, of course. So far the silent treatment seemed to be the extent of her punishment, but that could change with the very next phone call from Kingsley—if it ever came.

  She poured a cup of coffee and carried it into her office. She sat down at her computer and tried to work on her new book. When the words didn’t come she gave up and tried writing something completely different.

  She was going back to Him.

  Nora stared at the words. Where had that come from?

  She kept writing just to see where this was going.

  * * *

  She drove to His house and found Him at His piano. He was playing Beethoven—a good sign. It meant He’d been thinking of her.

  “Why did you come here, Little One?” He asked, closing the fallboard over the keys.

  “I came to give you a gift,” she said. “Sir.”

  “Did you?”

  “Hold out your hand. Close your eyes.”

  “I don’t play this game,” He said.

  “Trust me, please. You can’t win this game if you don’t play it.”

  He smiled. “J
ust once, then. For you.”

  He closed His eyes and held out His hand. She laid her white collar on His palm.

  “Open your eyes,” she said.

  He opened them and saw the collar in His hand.

  “I give up. I surrender.”

  At first He did nothing but gaze upon her as if He’d never seen her before. Then a smile spread across a face so handsome it was hard to believe it belonged to a mortal human. He unbuckled the collar with dexterous fingers and raised it to her neck. Instinctively she pulled back, skittish as an unbroken horse afraid of the bridle.

  “Trust me,” He whispered. “Please.”

  She closed her eyes and let Him place the collar onto her neck. He locked it at the back. There it was. She was His again. That hadn’t hurt too much, had it?

  “Tell me I own you,” He whispered in her ear.

  “You own me, sir.”

  “Tell me your heart and your body are mine to do with whatever I please.”

  “I am yours, heart and body. Do with me whatever you please, sir.”

  “Tell me you love me.”

  “I love you, sir.”

  “I love you, too...Nora.”

  Her eyes flew open. He had called her Nora.

  “Sir?”

  “I know how much it hurt me to lose you. I wouldn’t ask you to lose you, either. You can be Nora with everyone else as long as you are Eleanor, my Little One, with me.”

  “I can still...”

  “Yes.”

  “Even Kingsley?”

  “Yes.”

  “Simone? Sheridan?”

  “If I can watch sometime,” He said with a wink.

  “Every time.” She threw herself into His arms, and He gathered her to Him. “I didn’t think... I thought you’d make me give it all up.”

  “I promised you everything, didn’t I?”

  “Yes, you did.” She looked at up Him.

  “Now you know, Little One...when I make a promise, I keep it.”

  * * *

  Nora stared at the scene she’d just written. She highlighted it and was about to hit Delete when her hotline phone rang.

  “Mistress Nora’s House of Ill Repute. How may I direct your cock?”

  “You aren’t cute,” Kingsley said.

  “I beg to differ. I’m fucking precious. Are you finally speaking to me again?”

  “I am, but not because I want to.”

  “Juliette finally wore you down, did she?” Nora asked, her hands shaking despite her jocular tone.

  “She’s not happy with me when I’m not happy with you.”

  “I knew I liked that woman for a reason.”

  “Are you alone?” he asked.

  “Sort of. Alone in my office.”

  “You have company? Is it Talel?” Kingsley asked.

  “I have company. It’s not Talel. Did you call to yell at me again?” she asked.

  “Are you done sleeping with clients?” Kingsley asked.

  “I didn’t sleep with a client,” Nora said for possibly the one hundredth time since their fight began. “Let’s review the facts of the case. Talel had a domme. He didn’t like her. He went looking for a new domme. He came to you. You booked him with me. I’d never met him until I walked into his hotel suite. Since he’d had a falling-out with his last domme he wanted to talk before we played. He’s handsome, he’s interesting, he’s a sheikh, which I didn’t even know actually existed outside romance novels...so of course I fucked him. But he didn’t pay me for it.”

  “He paid me. He paid me two thousand dollars for one hour of your time. Paid up front.”

  “I paid him back. Therefore net zero money was exchanged.”

  “You could have at least charged him for the sex,” Kingsley said in a chiding tone. Was his anger finally starting to thaw?

  “Don’t worry. I might not have charged him for kink or sex, but he did leave me a very good tip,” she said, peeking out the window blinds and looking at the car in her driveway, an inferno-red Aston Martin. “Do you forgive me?”

  “I’m considering it.”

  “I work all the time,” Nora said. “I needed a vacation.”

  “And it had to be a vacation with the son of a billionaire who owns Middle Eastern oil fields—plural?”

  “I liked him,” Nora said, smiling at the memories of her nights with Talel.

  Three weeks ago he’d come to New York and made discreet inquiries with Kingsley about hiring a dominatrix to see to his personal submissive needs. Kingsley had sent her to his hotel suite, a suite that cost more a night than her entire monthly mortgage payment. She’d taken one look at him and known she couldn’t take his money. She hadn’t wanted Talel’s money. She’d wanted him. She’d beaten him and they had sex in his hotel suite afterward. The next day they were on his private plane to Jordan where they holed up in an even more luxurious hotel suite, more luxurious than anything America had to offer. She’d used him, abused him, beaten him, fucked him and let him cater to all her sexual needs and desires. They’d spent almost seven straight days in bed, coming up for air only to eat enough food to give them the energy to fuck again. Kingsley had been livid. She’d had sex with a client, a very wealthy client who stood to inherit billions as long as his father never learned about his sexual proclivities. When Nora came back to the city, Kingsley refused to see her or speak to her. When she thought of everything she’d done to Talel and everything he’d done to her, she considered it a small price to pay.

  “I liked him, too,” Kingsley said. “I especially liked his bank balance.”

  “You saw dollar signs when you looked at him. I saw a man. I wanted him. I took him. Now he’s gone home and he won’t be visiting again for a good long while. So either forgive me or you fire me. I’m done being punished by you for doing something you would have done in my boots.”

  Kingsley didn’t say anything at first. She waited, not speaking, letting him mull it over.

  “You left and I didn’t know where you’d gone,” Kingsley finally said.

  “Is that why you were so angry at me?”

  “It was part of it. I don’t like having to say ‘I don’t know’ when le prêtre asks me where you are.”

  “I’m allowed to have a personal life, aren’t I? Or do I need you to sign a permission slip for me every time I want to have sex?”

  “I would prefer to sign a permission slip,” Kingsley said.

  Nora laughed softly. “So you forgive me?”

  “If I must. And I must. Juliette’s furious at me for not talking to you. I had to sleep in the guest room with the dogs last night. She locked me out of my own bedroom.”

  “Tell Juliette I owe her lunch. So are we good? You and me? King and queen back together?”

  “Yes,” he said. “But don’t do it again. If your priest finds out I sent you to have sex with a client, I’m a dead man. I’m not a pimp. You fuck on your own time. Not company time. You do it one more time, and I will find a new queen.”

  “Speaking of fucking on my own time...”

  “Yes?”

  “I have a guest in the house, and I’d like to go check on him.”

  “Make it a quickie.”

  “Why?”

  “You have an appointment in two hours.”

  “Oh, yeah, I forgot about that. Rabbi Friedman. Today’s whipping day.”

  “Don’t forget Judge B. and Sheridan.”

 
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