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       The Saint, p.30

         Part #5 of The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz
 

  “That’s a relief.”

  Søren raised a hand to her hair and brushed it off her face.

  “You are too young for what I’ll ask of you. The pain is one thing, but the time, the intense commitment to me I’ll ask of you, is another. I love you too much to steal your youth from you no matter how much I want it for myself. You need to focus on your life. You need to go to college. You need to have a life outside of the church and away from me. You need to meet people….”

  He paused then and let those words hover in the air between them. Meet people? What people? Before she could ask, he continued.

  “The stronger and smarter and more independent the person, the better he or she is at submitting without losing themselves. I was with someone once a long time ago who would have died at my command. It terrified me to be loved that much. I’ll need you to help me stay in control.”

  “I can do that. Order me to die for you.”

  “Eleanor.”

  “Try me,” she said, digging her fingers into the back of his hair. She had no idea when she’d get the chance to be alone with him like this again, to touch him so intimately again. She wanted to drink in every precious second of him.

  “Die for me,” he ordered, his face a mask of seriousness.

  “Go fuck yourself,” she replied, and kissed the tip of his nose.

  He laughed and pulled her close to him.

  “Was that the right answer?”

  “It was.”

  Eleanor relaxed into the embrace, tears ready to fall from her eyes. “I’m so sorry,” she began. “I mean, I’m sorry about what happened to you when you were a kid.”

  “Don’t be sorry. I’m not. I’m sorry for what happened to Elizabeth but not sorry for me. It took years to come to a sense of peace about it, but that I am here with you in my arms means I can repent of nothing in my past that brought me to this moment.”

  “Thank you. I guess I should say the same. We might not be here if I hadn’t stolen those cars.”

  “Don’t let that be an excuse to ever do it again.”

  “I promise. I’m a saint from now on.”

  “I don’t believe a word of that.”

  She laughed softly and held him even closer.

  “I’m glad you finally told me what you are,” she said. “I like knowing I’m not the only one with a fucked-up family and some embarrassing stuff in my past.”

  Søren tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and kissed her forehead.

  “When I was eighteen,” Søren began, “I left the Jesuit school that had been my home for eight years. I was leaving for Europe, to seminary in the fall. Before I left, I came here one more time.”

  “Here? This house?”

  “This house. I knew I would be gone for ten years. I didn’t want my father beguiling another young woman into marrying him. I …”

  “What? Tell me. You can tell me anything.”

  “I came here at night. I knocked my father unconscious and castrated him. I couldn’t bring myself to kill him, but I could prevent him from remarrying and having more children that he would damage. He never knew it was me. I was on my way to Europe by the time he woke up.”

  “Why are you telling me this?” she asked.

  “You wanted to know who I was. That I have the capacity to cause that sort of harm is part of who I am. To my everlasting shame, I don’t regret it.”

  She laid both hands on each side of his face and looked him in the eyes.

  “I’m proud of you,” she said. “If I were you, I would have done the same thing.”

  “Thank you for loving me, Little One. You restore my faith.”

  She pushed close to him again but she could sense him pulling back from her, and she wasn’t ready to let him go yet.

  “Go to bed, Eleanor. You need sleep. So do I.”

  “Can I sleep with you? Just sleep, I mean?”

  “Not tonight. Not in this house.”

  “But someday?”

  He slapped her hard on the bottom, hard enough she yelped. The yelp turned into a laugh. He pulled her even tighter to him.

  “If you choose, Little One, I can own you. You would be my property, mine alone.”

  “Of course you can own me. You always have. You always will.” She made the pledge without thinking. She no more needed to think about her words than she did about breathing. Yes, he could own her. Breathe in. Breathe out. He always had.

  “But not yet,” she said.

  “I’ll leave first.” Søren released her from his arms. “Wait a few minutes and then go straight to bed.”

  He kissed her quick on the lips and walked to the door.

  At the door he paused with his hand on the knob.

  “Little One, you should know something else.”

  She sat back on the bed and pulled her knees to her chest.

  “What is it?”

  “What you know of me, what you’ve seen, this is only one small part of me. There are far less likable aspects to my character than what I’ve allowed you to see. If you don’t believe me, you can ask Kingsley.”

  “What should I ask him?”

  “Ask him to tell you why you should be afraid of me.”

  “What will he tell me?”

  “Nothing. But ask him anyway.”

  She nodded although she didn’t understand.

  “Try to sleep. I’d like you to come to the funeral tomorrow. You’ll meet Elizabeth, so prepare yourself.”

  “Is she okay? I mean, after all that happened to her.”

  Søren crossed his arms over his chest.

  “She wants to have children,” he said. “More than anything. I doubt she’ll ever date or marry, but she does want to be a mother desperately. She was doing well until recently. Medical tests revealed she can’t have children. What our father did to her, it had consequences.”

  “She can’t have kids?”

  Søren shook his head.

  “She did not take the news well,” he said and she heard a deeper meaning in his words. “But I have faith in her. Try to have compassion for her.”

  “I do. I will.”

  “Good girl. Go to sleep.”

  “Yes, sir. Sir?”

  “Yes, Little One?”

  “Will you say it again? Please?”

  He smiled at her. “In Danish or English?”

  “You already said it in English. Let’s go for Danish.”

  Søren walked back to where she sat on the bed. He took her face in his hands and kissed her long and deep.

  “Jeg elsker dig, min lille en.”

  He kissed her again, told her good-night and slipped into the hallway.

  Eleanor collapsed back onto the bed. Staring up at the ceiling she ran her hands over her upper thighs, feeling the new tenderness in them. Touching the bruises left on her by Søren and lying in the bed where he’d penetrated her with his finger was like lying in a bed of fire. She slid her hand into her shorts and started to tease her clitoris again. Søren told her to wait a few minutes before returning to bed. Getting herself off while imagining Søren fucking her would certainly take a minute or two. She came again quickly, quietly, trying not to moan aloud as her cervix bucked inside her and her vaginal muscles contracted onto themselves.

  She dragged herself off the bed and left the room as quietly as she could. In the doorway she glanced back at the bed and had a vision of it burning. That was what she’d felt lying on it—fire. She shut the door behind her and crept down the hallway.

  Careful of the darkness, she headed toward her room. As she passed into the main hallway, she heard voices. Next to a window, she made out the outline of two people. Hiding in the shadows she moved in closer. She saw Søren and a woman speaking softly, their heads bowed as if in prayer.

  “I’m not sorry,” the woman whispered. “I know that isn’t much of a confession, but I’m not. At most I’m sorry I’m not sorry.”

  Søren crossed his arms over his chest as if wanting to hid
e behind them like a shield. He looked up into the woman’s eyes.

  “I’m not sorry, either.”

  Eleanor didn’t know what she heard, only that she shouldn’t have heard it. She turned back and retreated into her room. She slid into bed, where Claire lay sound asleep. Her entire body trembled as visceral memories of her time with Søren in his bedroom flashed across her mind’s eye.

  He’d ordered her to go to bed and she had. But she didn’t sleep, not until dawn.

  Groggy and sore, she reluctantly threw the covers off her when Claire nudged her awake.

  “I’m up, I’m up,” she said and started to stand up.

  “Holy crap, what happened to your legs?” Claire asked, staring wide-eyed at her. Eleanor glanced down and saw the bruises Søren had left on her were already turning purple.

  “Um … I was walking in the hall last night and ran into something. Some table or something. It was dark,” she lied and disappeared into the bathroom.

  Once in the bathroom she splashed water on her face and stripped naked. Before stepping into the shower, she gazed at herself in the mirror.

  “Oh, my God …”

  With his bare hands and nothing else, Søren had turned her upper thighs black. She turned around and lifted her hair. On her back were four black bruises about the size of her palm. She had bruises on her right breast and one on her shoulder. She counted two more on her upper arms, one on her forearms and four finger-mark bruises on the side of each hip and a black thumbprint on the top. If she had seen a naked woman with the identical bruises, she would have assumed she’d been raped.

  Eleanor leaned back into the wall and put one leg up on the bathroom counter. While looking at her bruises, she brought herself to orgasm. She couldn’t help herself. She’d never seen anything more erotic in her life than the marks Søren had left on her.

  Luckily she’d packed a long-sleeved wrap dress for the funeral that covered both her back and her legs down to her knees. She and Claire ate a quick breakfast before the guests started to arrive at the home. They entered some sort of dining room—Claire called it the morning room. About forty people were packed into the room, drinking tea and coffee and whispering to each other. Still, the effect of forty people whispering all in one room sounded almost deafening to Eleanor’s ringing head. She’d slept only two hours the night before. She’d never felt better about feeling shitty her entire life. Funeral, she reminded herself. No shit-eating grins allowed.

  She spotted Søren across the room in a black suit, white shirt and black tie. A woman—young and lovely—stood next to him. Claire took her hand and dragged her over to them.

  “Who is this?” the woman asked, giving Søren a fragile smile.

  “This is Eleanor. She’s a friend of Claire’s.”

  “Hi.” Eleanor sat her cup on a table and shook the woman’s hand.

  “Eleanor, this is my sister, Elizabeth,” Søren said.

  It was a good thing she had sat her coffee cup down, otherwise she would have dropped it. It took all her willpower not to gasp or gape as she looked at her. A beautiful woman with auburn hair and violet eyes, she could have been anyone’s lovely older sister. She and Søren, despite having the same father, looked nothing alike. She must have taken after her mother. As much as Eleanor wanted to see Elizabeth with eyes of compassion only, she couldn’t help but recall that this woman had done terrible things to Søren when they were children. But he didn’t blame her, only their father, so Eleanor tried not to blame her, either. Eleanor looked in her eyes, trying to find the human being behind the mask of good daughter in mourning, but Eleanor saw nothing—only a blank, as if she stared into a body without a soul.

  “The cars are here,” Elizabeth said to Søren with no emotion in her voice. “Time to go.”

  Søren put an arm around Claire, who looked up at him and smiled.

  “Good,” Søren said, dropping a quick kiss onto Claire’s forehead. “Let’s go and bury the bastard.”

  23

  Eleanor

  IF ELEANOR HAD BELIEVED ALL THE LIES TOLD TO HER in her Catholic high school’s sex-ed classes, she would have thought her life would enter a terrible and tragic downward spiral after daring to spread her legs for a man before marriage. Her Ursuline teacher had stressed that any sort of sexual behavior would lead to pregnancy, poverty, raging venereal diseases and death. Poor Jordan had bought into the lies hook, line and sinker. She’d not only decided she wouldn’t have sex until she was married, but she also wouldn’t even kiss a man until they were engaged. Better safe than sorry. But when Eleanor walked out the front steps of her school two days after Søren’s father’s funeral and saw a silver Rolls-Royce waiting for her, she decided that stripping naked for a priest was about the best idea she’d ever had.

  “Holy crap,” Jordan said, noticing the Rolls-Royce at the same time Eleanor did. “What is that?”

  Eleanor tried not to burst into laughter at the sight of the Rolls-Royce idling in the car pickup lane with the minivans and the beige Camrys.

  “That would be my ride.”

  “Holy crap,” Jordan said again. The Rolls inched up until it waited at the bottom of the front stairs. The driver door opened and a man in a chauffeur’s uniform stepped out. He opened the passenger door, and none other than Kingsley Edge himself stepped out. He walked around the car, leaned back on the door, raised his hand and crooked his finger at her.

  He wore riding boots, some sort of long frock coat and sleek modern sunglasses. He looked positively punk with his long dark hair loose down to his shoulders and a little smile on his lips.

  “Holy …” Jordan breathed, apparently forgetting the “crap.” “Who is that?”

  “Told you. He’s my ride.”

  “Can he be my ride?”

  Eleanor wrapped an arm around Jordan and patted her on the back.

  “Jordan, there might be hope for you yet.”

  Eleanor skipped down the steps to the Rolls and Kingsley opened the door for her.

  “You’re picking me up from school?” she asked before getting into the car.

  “You’re a member of the tribe now. Membership has its privileges. Allons-y.”

  She had no idea what allons-y meant, but the hand on her lower back guiding her into the backseat gave her a good idea it meant something like “get in the damn car already.” She happily obliged.

  Kingsley got in after her and sat on the bench seat opposite her. The car headed away from the school at a brisk clip.

  “So I’m a member now?” Eleanor asked as she settled into the luxurious dark gray leather seats.

  He smiled at her as he pushed his sunglasses on top of his head and looked at her with his darkly twinkling eyes.

  “You’re his, aren’t you? He’s told you all?”

  “Does this answer your question?” She pulled the collar down on her shirt to display the purple bruise on her neck. Kingsley raised an eyebrow. “How do you do that?”

  “What?” he asked.

  “Arch your eyebrow that high.”

  “It’s a French thing.”

  “Are you really French or are you doing it for attention?”

  “Both.”

  “Thought so. I love your accent.”

  “Do you love this one more?” he asked, the French accent completely disappearing from his voice. He sounded entirely 100
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