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       The Saint, p.28

         Part #5 of The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz
 

  or go on.

  “He died six weeks later. He never awoke from the coma I put him in.”

  “You killed him.”

  “I did.”

  “Did you get in any trouble?”

  “It was considered self-defense by the law and the school. Everyone knew he was the worst of the offenders at the school. He was also fifteen and I was ten. He was one hundred and sixty pounds and I was one hundred and ten at the time.”

  “You beat to death a kid five years older than you and fifty pounds heavier?”

  “It took six weeks for him to die of infection. But yes, I caused his death. I had no regrets, only shame.”

  “Shame? Why?”

  “Because I had my first orgasm while I was beating him to death.”

  Eleanor stopped breathing. Søren looked away from her as if he couldn’t bear to meet her eyes.

  “What happened next?” She forced the question out.

  “Some students were terrified of me. Some of his victims wanted to canonize me. Instead I was sent back home to America. My punishment of the boy had been so savage, and I so remorseless, no other school would have me.”

  “You came back here?”

  “I turned eleven in England over the Christmas holiday and came home in January. Father said he would find a school in America that would take me. Until then doctors told him it would be best that I was kept away from other children.”

  “What was that like, coming home finally?”

  “Difficult. I hadn’t been here in five years. I’d only seen my father four or five times since being sent to England. I hadn’t seen Elizabeth at all.”

  “Claire said your dad abused Elizabeth.”

  “Abuse is an understatement. He raped her the first time when she was eight years old. Not a week passed without him sneaking in her bedroom at night. My father had threatened to kill her mother if she told anyone. So she stopped speaking altogether.”

  “How did her mom not know all this was happening?”

  Søren turned his head and gazed into a dark corner of the room. He seemed to be remembering something, something bad.

  “The power of self-delusion is one of the greatest forces of the universe. My father’s wife worshipped respectability and status. My father was a respected, even feared, businessman with an impressive pedigree. Divorce was not an option, so instead she convinced herself that the marriage was perfect. Eventually even she couldn’t deny the cracks in the facade.”

  “What happened? Or do I not want to know?” For the first time she realized how right Søren had been. For over two years she’d begged to know the truth about him and he’d put her off. Now she understood why he’d kept his secrets.

  “You don’t want to know. But you need to know. You see, I hadn’t seen Elizabeth in five years. We were strangers to each other. I tried to befriend her and after a few months back in this house, she started to speak to me a little.”

  He paused and closed his eyes. Eleanor feared what he would say next but she knew she had to hear it.

  “My father had to leave the country on an extended business trip. His wife decided to go with him—a second honeymoon. She demanded the children be left behind. I think she sensed his unnatural interest in their daughter. Whatever the reason, it set a series of events in motion that have brought me to this place. And that brings us back to question eight. No, I’m not a virgin.”

  “When was your first time?”

  “I’ll tell you, and I only hope you can stomach the answer. At some point Elizabeth had overheard my father telling her mother about what happened when I was at school—about the boy who’d touched me in my sleep and how I’d killed him. Elizabeth wanted to die. You can’t blame her. I certainly never have blamed her for what she did. Our parents left us alone in the house with only a few servants, and on the first night they were gone, Elizabeth came into my room. I was asleep, sound asleep. I didn’t hear her open the door. I didn’t hear her close it. I didn’t feel her pulling the sheets down. I didn’t even wake up until it was too late. When I did wake up, I was already inside her.”

  Eleanor clapped a hand over her mouth.

  “It happens, you see. Boys get erections in their sleep. I can’t blame her….” he said again. “She wanted me to kill her. She wanted to instigate an attack like what happened at my school. But she wasn’t an older boy I already loathed. She was my own sister, and I loved her.”

  He closed his eyes as if to hide from something.

  “So I didn’t kill her. Sometimes I wonder if she still wishes I had. I don’t remember much from that night. I know she ended up on her back. I know I left bruises on her. And I know …”

  “What?” Eleanor barely heard herself asking the question.

  “I know we liked it. Because the next night and every night after that for two months, we did it again.”

  She didn’t know what to do, what to say, how to react. All she could do was take his hand in hers and twine their fingers together. His past reared up before them like a beast or demon. She wouldn’t turn away from it, wouldn’t run. They would face it and they would face it together.

  “Eleanor, you cannot imagine what I did to my sister, or what she did to me. It’s beyond what even your powers of imagination can conjure. I never want you to imagine. Know only this—there is no act of depravity we did not try at least once that long summer. It’s a miracle we both survived each other. Please never imagine it.”

  “I won’t. I promise.” She made the promise easily and knew she would keep it. She shoved away the images that attempted to enter her mind. Shoved them away, pushed them down and stabbed them through the heart.

  “There is no room in this house we did not defile. But our favorite room to play in was the library.”

  “Why the library?”

  “Sometimes we would read to each other. It made us feel normal, I suppose.” Søren smiled then, a smile so pained it hurt to even see. She closed her eyes and buried her face against his leg. Every muscle in his body had gone tense. “But all horrible things must come to an end. At the end of the summer, we knew our father would be returning again. Elizabeth sometimes shook in my arms from the terror of knowing what would happen to her once Father returned. I told her we had to leave the house. We had to run away. I ordered her to pack, to call her grandparents, to find all the money she could so we could get as far away from this house as possible. She didn’t obey me. She thought he would find us wherever we went. She should have …” Søren’s voice trailed off a moment. “She should have obeyed me.”

  “Why?”

  “Because our father came home early. And he found us together.”

  “Jesus Christ …” Eleanor breathed.

  “We were lost children by then,” Søren said. “We knew what we did was wrong but were powerless to stop ourselves. Despair brought us to depravity and we couldn’t find a way out again.”

  “How did it stop?”

  “Our father stopped it for us.”

  Eleanor pulled back and raised her hand.

  “I need a minute.”

  “I warned you.”

  “I know you did. But I didn’t know.”

  She leaned forward and rested both arms in his lap. He ran his hand over her back as if to comfort her when all she wanted was to comfort him.

  “If God was in the world that day, He wasn’t in that room when my father came home. He saw us together and he threw me against the wall. I remember the blood on the golden wallpaper—red on yellow. And he started to rape Elizabeth, to re-mark his territory. I found the fireplace poker and struck him with it. He moved. I missed his head. But it got him off Elizabeth. He came after me instead. He hit me, breaking my arm. I don’t remember much from that day, but I do remember him tying me to a chair and telling me he would kill me. ‘You’re dead,’ he said, and I knew he meant it. Then he was down, unconscious. Elizabeth had struck him over the head with the poker to save my life. I passed out to the sound of her lau
ghter. I woke up in the hospital.”

  Eleanor tasted copper in her mouth. If she wasn’t careful she would vomit from her horror at what Søren had suffered so young.

  “What happened to Elizabeth?”

  “Her mother heard her laughing and came to investigate. When she saw the scene before her, she could no longer deny the truth of who and what her husband was. She took me to the hospital and took Elizabeth away. She and my father divorced quietly and split all assets equally. Better to pay him off and keep things quiet than go through a messy public court battle.

  “Question six was why does everyone think my name is Marcus Stearns and I told you my name is Søren? Søren is what my mother named me. Magnussen is her last name. I’ve tried for years to reject my father, his money and his world as much as I can. So I reject his name—at least in private. I wanted you to know the real me. To know the story of my name is to know me. There are few people who I want to know me.”

  “I want to know you.”

  “Now you do.”

  “Is what happened between you and your sister why you became Catholic?”

  “Yes. My father came to his senses a few days after the incident. He remembered I was his only son, but he didn’t want me in the house. I think he feared my retribution. I wanted to kill him, so I can’t blame him for sending me away to a Jesuit boarding school in rural Maine. I felt polluted by what had happened between my sister and me. When Father Henry taught us about confession and reconciliation, about forgiveness … I knew I needed that. I converted to Catholicism and started studying to join the Jesuits.”

  “That’s where you met Kingsley, right?”

  “Kingsley … He was a gift from God. I kept away from everyone but the priests at Saint Ignatius. I didn’t want to hurt anyone. I did … but I didn’t. I wanted to but I didn’t want to want to. When I lose control, it’s not a pleasant sight.”

  “I trust you.”

  “You’re in love with me. Of course you trust me. I hope I never betray that trust. I cannot promise you I never will. And now after all that, I can answer your remaining questions quickly. Question five—you asked whose feet should you sit at. I hope the answer is mine. Question four, you asked me why does a priest have his own handcuff key. Eleanor, I’m a sadist and for the sake of my own sanity I must inflict pain on someone every now and then. It’s a powerful need and it grows maddening if I deny myself too long. You saw at Kingsley’s house the sort of parties he has, the company he keeps. I haven’t had sexual intercourse since I was eighteen. I do beat someone at least once a month, sometimes once a week.”

  Eleanor’s eyes widened in shock.

  “That night at Kingsley’s …?”

  Søren nodded.

  “That woman you saw me with is a friend of Kingsley’s. She’s a trained masochist who enjoys receiving pain as much as I enjoy inflicting it. Bondage is part of the sessions. A person tied up is defenseless. I’m less likely to overstep my bounds with a defenseless person. Question three—you asked why my friend would help you. That is a question only Kingsley can answer, and that is all I will say. The answer to your second question—what’s the third reason being with you is problematic—is what I told you. I am a sadist and I can’t get aroused unless I hurt you in some way first. I wish it could be otherwise, of course.”

  “Of course,” she repeated, not even hearing herself. “So you … you can’t—”

  “Eleanor, you joked about us breaking the table during sex. I don’t break furniture during sex. I break people.”

  “I see.”

  “As for question number one—what’s the other reason I helped you the night you were arrested? The answer to question one is the same as the answer to question twelve. Because I’m in love with you and always will be. So there you have it. The whole sordid truth of me.”

  Søren fell silent and Eleanor let his words settle into the room. She knew he waited for her to speak, to pass some judgment, to make some declaration. He’d bared his very soul to her, laid out the humiliations and horrors of his past and confessed how they tormented him even to this day. She had no idea what to say to comfort him, or if she even could. But first she had one question.

  “Is that all?”

  He narrowed his eyes at her.

  “Is what I told you not enough for you?”

  “No, the sadism thing is plenty. I was worried it was something really serious.”

  “You have a different definition of serious than the rest of the English-speaking world.”

  She shrugged. “I don’t know. Like serious serious. Like if you were a criminal on the run or you had terminal cancer. Or worse, you could be impotent. I mean actually impotent. Sounds like you just have a different definition of foreplay.”

  “My definition of foreplay is usually classified as assault.”

  “Obviously you and I are reading different dictionaries.”

  “You don’t seem to understand the gravity of this situation. I am a sadist. I cannot escape that. I’m like my father.”

  “How badly do you hurt the people you play with? Like do they have to go to the hospital after or anything?”

  “As a teenager I lost control once. It was consensual, but I crossed a line. Since then, no. I had a teacher in Rome who taught me ways of inflicting enormous amounts of pain without causing harm. At worst the person will have bruises for a few weeks. Bruises and welts. The masochists I play with are as well trained as I am. They trust me and do as I tell them to do. They put their lives in my hands, and I honor that trust.”

  “Your father hurt people against their will. You don’t do that, right?”

  “Never. I only hurt those who wish to be hurt, who enjoy it.”

  “So you’re the opposite of your father, then. Right?”

  “It’s not that simple.”

  “If you stick your dick in a woman who wants it, it’s sex. If you stick your dick in a woman who doesn’t, it’s rape. It’s the same act but totally different, right? If this is why you’re holding back from me, you can stop that right now.”

  “Something broke in me a long time ago, Eleanor. Or perhaps I was born broken. But yes, when the time comes for us to make love, I will have to hurt you.”

  Eleanor’s hands shook as the words make love escaped Søren’s lips again. She tucked her toes under her and rolled back. She rose up in front of him.

  “Eleanor?”

  She pushed her shorts down and pulled off her T-shirt. Naked and unashamed, she stood before him in the moonlight.

  “Then hurt me.”

  22

  Eleanor

  SØREN GAZED UPON HER NAKED BODY WITH REVERENT eyes. Still, he made no move to touch her. She took his right wrist in her hand and pressed his palm flat against her bare stomach. His hand slid to her back and he pulled her into his lap.

  She straddled his thighs in the chair as he scored her back with his fingers. Her head fell back as he kissed her neck, her throat. His teeth found the tendon where her shoulder met her neck. He bit down hard, hard enough she gasped, and he shuddered in her arms.

  “More,” she whispered.

  The world around her drained of color. Flesh and fire turned to black-and-white. Music thrummed in the back of her mind. For no reason and every reason, she felt like laughing.

  Søren lifted her easily and carried her to the bed, throwing her down onto the sheets. She lay there, still, as he unbuttoned his shirt. With his knees he pushed her thighs apart. When she raised her hands to touch his naked chest, he captured them and pinned them above her head. He put his full weight into holding her down. The muscles in her forearms contracted in agony, and she cried out in real pain.

  “This is how it is,” Søren rasped into her ear. “Do you still want this?”

  “I want more.” She turned her head and kissed his collarbone where it met his shoulder. “Hurt me.”

  He scoured her skin as he dragged his fingers down her body. Pushing his thumbs into the hollow of her hipbon
es, he pressed down hard. She cried out in the back of her throat as she felt a deep wrenching in her legs. Panting through the pain, she looked up at Søren. Søren … her Søren, he was the one inflicting this pain on her. What did she have to fear? Nothing.

  He released her hips and brought his mouth down onto her lips. Panting had left her parched as the desert and his kiss was the only sea that could quench her thirst. He cupped the back of her neck with one hand and held her head, cradling it like a father holding an infant.

 
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