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       The Saint, p.34

         Part #5 of The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz
 

  other for twenty years the way only two people who are like family to each other can. But even if Kingsley would want me again, I couldn’t do that to you—be with you and then go back to him. This night means too much to me. You mean too much to me.”

  Nico raised her hand and held it to his chest.

  “You’re grieving,” Nico said. “So I won’t ask you to make any decisions. I will only say that if it were my decision, you would stay with me.”

  “And what? Marry you? Have your babies? That’s not who I am. I’m selfish like that.”

  Nico scoffed. “Selfish is the name the jealous give to the free. I’m free, too.”

  “You are, aren’t you?”

  “I am. And if I wanted marriage, children, why would I chase women with children my age? I have a little sister now. Why would I need any other heirs?”

  Nora leaned forward and rested her head on the center of his chest. He kissed her hair.

  “Don’t make any decisions yet,” Nico said, caressing her back. “But know this—you will always be welcome in my home and in my bed. And I won’t make you pay any price.”

  Tucking her head into the crook of his shoulder and neck, she breathed his scent, quieted her heart.

  “But you aren’t the one who sends the bills.”

  Reluctantly Nora pulled away from Nico’s embrace. She’d rarely, if ever, felt this weak around a man. Grief had brought her to this point. She’d rarely known such deep sadness. Her loss had left her lost. Loss? Such a misnomer. Nothing was lost. Something was taken. She felt robbed, like someone had broken into her life and stolen her valuables. It wasn’t a loss. It was a theft. And she knew she would never get it back.

  Nico crawled out of bed and walked to the fireplace. He threw a log onto the ebbing flames and stoked the fire back to life. He worked quickly and efficiently, wasting neither time nor effort. Since he was a child, he’d told her once, he’d worked in the vineyards. School all day. Work all evening. Sleep all night. The result of such a life—intelligence, strength and a clear conscience.

  He came back to the bed and slid in next to her. Gathering her in his arms, he pulled her to him, pressing her back to his chest and dragging the covers over both of them.

  “What happened after your father died?” Nico asked, perhaps sensing she couldn’t and wouldn’t talk about their future anymore.

  “Like I said, I got into NYU. I had a future and the money to pay for it. And then the moment I’d been waiting for happened.”

  “What was that?”

  “I turned eighteen. I got my driver’s license finally. And Søren and Kingsley started training me. Kingsley took me to my first BDSM club—a little one a friend of his ran. It wasn’t like coming home. It was better than that—like when you go to a new city and feel like ‘yes, I could live here the rest of my life,’ and you mentally start packing your bags.”

  “I know that feeling,” he said and she saw something flicker in his eyes. Was he packing her bags for her so she could stay with him?

  “Good feeling,” she said, trying not to fall under Nico’s spell. “I was so eager to join that world. And yet, there I was, still a virgin.”

  “Tell me. I want to know what you were like when you were a virginal teenager.”

  “I was a teenager but never virginal. Even when I was a virgin.”

  “When did you lose your virginity?”

  “I was twenty. Barely twenty. And you?”

  “Fifteen. She was thirty-six.”

  Nora pursed her lips. “That sounds familiar.”

  “Hard to believe someone with your passion waiting for so long. Was it worth the wait?”

  “It was,” she said, her mind falling far back into the past. “But he was right to make me wait that long, as much as I wanted him sooner. I understand that now.”

  “What do you understand?”

  “I was ready for sex long before my first time. But I wasn’t ready for him, for what he would want from me.”

  “And that was?”

  “Everything. I had a lot to learn before we became lovers. And Søren had some interesting teaching methods.”

  Nico raised an eyebrow, arched it high. She wished she had a ruler with her. Wonder who could do that eyebrow arch better—Kingsley or Nico?

  “Case in point—my first training dinner with Søren the night I got my collar.”

  “What happened?”

  “Well, we were at Kingsley’s.”

  “A good start.”

  “Dinner was served.”

  “Keep going.”

  “And I was bare-ass naked.”

  26

  Eleanor

  A DATE.

  A real date.

  A normal date.

  Dinner. Dressing up. Making out. Finally at age eighteen, Eleanor was going on the first real date of her life.

  With her priest.

  Okay, maybe it wasn’t a normal date, after all. But she had a new dress—a short white strappy number—and they would have Kingsley’s town house all to themselves since the king was not in residence this week. Close enough to a real date. Søren even promised he wouldn’t wear his collar tonight, but the suit she loved on him so much. After he’d made the promise he said something cryptic that had her pondering his words all day long. Only one of us will be in a collar tonight. I promise it won’t be me.

  Kingsley’s dining room was illuminated by dozens of candles and the flickering light from the fireplace. Søren was there. Food was there. And yet all she could see was the white box that sat by her plate.

  As she stared at the box, Søren came up behind her, kissed the back of her neck, and pulled down the zipper on her dress.

  “Whoa, what’s going on? We’re not eating?”

  “You are.”

  “And you’re taking my dress off because …?”

  “I want you naked,” he said, as if that was the most obvious answer in the world, so obvious she shouldn’t have even asked the question.

  “This is a naked dinner?”

  “For you, Little One. I’ll keep my clothes on.”

  Søren started to pull the straps of her dress down and Eleanor stiffened. He paused.

  “Something wrong?”

  “No. Nothing. Except you’re making me eat dinner completely naked.”

  “Does that make you uncomfortable?”

  “Incredibly uncomfortable.”

  “Understandable,” he said and started sliding the straps of her dress down again.

  “But we’re doing it anyway?”

  “Eleanor,” Søren said, turning her to face him. “Tonight is a special night for us. You’re old enough now to begin learning what I expect from you if we’re going to be together. This is how it will be if you belong to me. I will own you. It’s not a metaphor or romantic hyperbole. It’s a statement of fact. I should be able to take your clothes off you at any time and whenever I please. Taking off your clothes should require as little explanation or planning as taking off my own collar. I do it when it pleases me to do it and for no other reason.”

  “Yes, sir.” She clenched her hands into nervous fists as she stood in the center of the candlelit dining room and let Søren undress her. She felt ridiculous standing completely naked with her hair piled on her head in a fancy updo and high heels on her feet. Søren didn’t touch her other than to slide her panties down her legs. He laid her dress and underwear over the back of the fainting couch that sat near the fireplace.

  He pulled her chair out for her and she sat down, wincing as her bare skin connected with the cool wood.

  Søren picked up the white box and put it in her hands.

  “What is it?” she asked, eyeing the elegant black-and-white wrapping.

  “Open it.”

  She carefully removed the black ribbon and tore off the white paper. She lifted the lid and stared at the object in the box. So Kingsley hadn’t been kidding, hadn’t been exaggerating, hadn’t been trying to piss her off last
year during their first Rolls-Royce ride together.

  “Like it?” Søren asked.

  Eleanor answered with only one word.

  “Woof.”

  Søren laughed and picked up the white leather collar and unbuckled it.

  “A dog collar?”

  “A slave collar. You belong to me always, no matter where we are or what we are doing. But when I put the collar on you, you’ll know that you must give me your complete obedience and your undivided attention. You will call me ‘sir’ while in your collar and nothing else.”

  “It’s white.” She looked up at him.

  “I wonder why.”

  “You know, wearing a dog collar … slave collar,” she corrected, “is a little humiliating.”

  “And that is why I want you to wear it.”

  She gazed at the collar in his hands.

  “Is your collar humiliating, sir?”

  “Yes,” he said simply. That hadn’t been the answer she expected, but she understood it. He wrapped the collar around her neck and fastened it into place with a small silver lock.

  “Don’t worry, I have the key,” he said. “The only key.”

  “Good.”

  “Too tight?”

  She swallowed easily, breathed easily.

  “No.”

  Søren took a seat in the chair at her side. “You’re smiling, Little One.”

  “I’m totally naked and wearing a dog collar, sir. It was either laugh or cry.”

  “Both would have been acceptable. How does it make you feel?”

  “I don’t know.” She looked up at him. She smiled, yes, but it was through tears. “I can’t tell if I’m happy or miserable.”

  “An appropriate reaction,” he said, lightly tapping her under the chin.

  Turning to her meal, she reached for her fork, but Søren snapped his fingers. She stopped and slowly placed her hand back in her lap.

  “You do nothing without my permission.”

  “Yes, sir.”

  He picked up a strawberry, red and wet, and brought it to her lips.

  “Eat,” he ordered.

  She parted her lips and let him lay the strawberry on her tongue. Her cheeks ached from its sweetness. She swallowed it because she knew he wanted her to.

  “Are you comfortable?” he asked, now serving her a spoonful of the soup, some sort of miracle in a bowl. And yet it might have been ashes on her tongue for as much as she enjoyed it.

  “Not uncomfortable. Weird. I feel weird.”

  “You’ll have to elaborate.”

  “I feel …” She paused and looked at her own naked body. She had her legs firmly pressed together, her stomach pulled in tight. She’d positioned her arms to cover her breasts as much as she could. “Very aware of my own body.”

  “Exposed?”

  “That.”

  “I have seen you naked before,” he reminded her.

  “That was different. We were on a bed in the dark and doing stuff.”

  “Doing stuff? You can do better than that. What were we doing?”

  “We were.” She exhaled, feeling strangely tongue-tied. “We were kissing and touching and you used your fingers to make me come twice and you came on me and it was amazing.”

  “Where did I touch you?” Søren gave her another spoonful of soup. She couldn’t believe he was feeding her.

  Eleanor’s feet went numb and her hands trembled.

  “You’re seriously trying to embarrass the hell out of me, aren’t you, sir?” She added the sir quickly at the end.

  “I am. But also you need to be comfortable talking to me about anything. If you believe you’re mature enough to do the acts, you need to be mature enough to talk about them. So tell me, where did I touch you?”

  She closed her eyes to remember that night with him in his childhood bedroom. But also so she wouldn’t have to look at him while she answered his humiliating questions.

  “You kissed me on the mouth and on my neck and shoulders. You kissed my breasts and my nipples. Um …”

  “I have to say it amuses me that a young woman with your notoriously foul mouth is struggling so much to say words like breasts.”

  “You’re laughing at me.”

  “I am. And you’re blushing and beautiful, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the show. Continue.”

  “Am I allowed to use slang terms, sir?”

  “Not tonight. You have to be clinical and precise. You called Kingsley a cocksucker to his face the night he beat you at blackjack. But tonight I have to wonder if you can use the word penis in a sentence without fainting.”

  “Next time I play blackjack with King I’m calling him a penis. There. Happy, sir?”

  “Of course I’m happy. You’re here, naked and obeying my every order despite the fact you’re nervous and mortified. It’s intoxicating to see you so uncomfortable.”

  “You are totally getting off on making me miserable, aren’t you, sir?”

  “Yes.”

  “I hate feeling like this.”

  “Like what?”

  “Awkward. Scared. No, that’s not it.”

  “Vulnerable.”

  “I hate it,” she repeated.

  “I’ve noticed. You rarely let yourself be vulnerable. Your brashness and boldness, your brutal honesty, keeps people at bay. But now here you are, stripped of your defenses. It’s quite becoming. So please continue. Where else did I touch you? And do open your eyes.”

  Eleanor reluctantly obeyed. She took two seconds to mentally drown Søren in the soup bowl before answering.

  “You touched my shoulders, chest, breasts, back, ass, I mean bottom, derriere, whatever the official term is. And my hips and thighs. You put a finger inside me.”

  Søren coughed.

  “You touched my clitoris and put a finger inside my vagina,” she said, enunciating each word as nervous sweat beaded under her arms. “And I loved it.”

 
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