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       The Saint, p.38

         Part #5 of The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz
 

  “I know you, Elle,” Kingsley said, his voice so low it lulled her in closer to him, so close they could have kissed if one of them dared to do it. “I know what you are. You will never be content with a boy like that. He will be a game and you will play him and you will tire of the game and him. You need so much more than such a boy can give you. I know this because I’m the same way.”

  He looked into her eyes and Eleanor looked into his. She could almost imagine their lips meeting … She could rip off his shirt, yank his pants open. He’d look beautiful on his back underneath her, her hands on his wrists, his cock buried inside her as she rode him into the couch.

  Wait. What the fuck was she thinking?

  Eleanor pulled back and sat on the opposite end of the couch from Kingsley. He continued to stare at her, a smug smile on his lips as if he’d read her thoughts. He didn’t bother buttoning his shirt.

  Kingsley took another swig of his Scotch, then handed it to her. She stared into the murky liquid before taking a deep drink of it. She coughed only once as the liquor burned its way down her throat.

  “I’m fucked, King.”

  “Not yet. But the night is still young.”

  “What should I do?”

  “What do you want to do?”

  “Fuck them both.” She laughed mirthlessly. “I know what I don’t want to do. I don’t want to hurt Wyatt. I don’t want to hurt Søren.”

  “A nice dream, but this is life, the real world. You will hurt them. They will hurt you.”

  “Wyatt … he’s my age, you know?” She stared down into the Scotch at the bottom of Kingsley’s glass in her hand. “He’s an NYU student. We can go places together, be seen together. We’re both writers. We make sense. Søren and I? We don’t make sense. At least to no one but us.”

  Kingsley traced the wet rim of his glass with his fingertip.

  “Elle … I wish you could have known him back when he was a teenager.”

  “What was he like?”

  “Old. He was older then than he is now. An old soul, as they say.” Kingsley chuckled at what must have been a good memory. “Mon Dieu, you’d never met anyone more arrogant, haughty, pompous and condescending. Everyone at the school hated that blond shit. Everyone but the priests.”

  Eleanor burst into laughter.

  “I can totally picture that. Why was he such a prick back then?”

  “We’re all shits when we’re teenagers. God knows I was, but for him, I think it was this fear of his. He thought he’d been tainted by his father, his past. Better to be hated than loved. Love lets people in. He wanted no one near him. He’s better now. Being a priest … he’s more open with his affections. Being with you …” Kingsley paused as if the next words didn’t want to come. “Being with you makes him better. Happy. Less troubled. My God, he’s almost …” Kingsley shook his head. “Almost fun.”

  Kingsley said the word with exaggerated horror.

  Eleanor laughed. “He wasn’t fun as a teenager?” She gave Kingsley his Scotch back. If she kept it she might drink it all and then some.

  “In a different way,” he answered, and Kingsley smiled his secret sort of smile before the smile died. “No, he was not fun then. He was cold and closed off, dangerous and nearly impossible to get close to. It nearly killed me getting close to him, but in the end the reward was worth the price.”

  “If I left him …” She faced Kingsley and stared into his dark eyes. “What would happen?”

  Kingsley twirled the remaining Scotch and ice around the bottom of his glass.

  “You have only seen him by day, and by day we see only light and shadow. But if you left him, the night would come. And then we would all see the darkness.”

  “What’s the darkness like?”

  “I will say only this—when le prêtre is in the right mood, he can make even the devil afraid to turn his back.”

  Kingsley downed the last of his drink. Eleanor buried her face in her hands again.

  “I hate my life tonight,” Eleanor said as his words slipped in through the hairline fractures in her heart and widened them.

  “Elle, I once stood at the same crossroads you stand at now. I have never regretted walking the darker path. The view is better down here. And I am many things, but I am never bored.”

  “I don’t want Søren to ever leave the priesthood, but if we get caught, if he gets in trouble … I wish I could I see the future.”

  “What’s his last name, this young man of yours?”

  “Why? You gonna make a file on him?” She knew all about Kingsley’s files he kept on anyone who interested him.

  “Peut-être,” he admitted without shame. Maybe.

  “It’s Sutherlin. Wyatt James Sutherlin. Want his birth date and blood type, too?”

  Kingsley chuckled. “I can find that out myself. Wyatt Sutherlin … Eleanor Sutherlin … It has a nice ring to it, no?”

  She sighed heavily. Absurd to think of someone like her getting married, having kids, doing the wife-and-mother thing. She sat in the music room of the most notorious house in the city talking to the most notorious kinkster in the city about the priest she loved.

  “My high school best friend, well, my only friend, Jordan, is getting married next summer. She’s a sophomore at Anna Maria and she’s already engaged. She can’t wait to have babies. She called me last week. I couldn’t even talk to her. How do I talk to someone like that? I thought …” She stopped and laughed sheepishly. “I thought about asking you to pay her a visit. Seduce her, I mean. She saw you once and it was the only time she ever made a sex joke. She’s going down the marriage-and-kids path at eighteen, and I want to stop her.”

  “I could stop her,” he said without any arrogance in his tone. He simply stated a fact. “Would you like me to?”

  She shook her head.

  “Husband, kids—that’s what Jordan wants.”

  “And you?”

  “I want more than that.”

  “Then you have your answer, Eleanor Sutherlin.”

  “You call me that again and I’ll slap you into the next century.”

  “Now, ma belle Elle, you are speaking my language.”

  Eleanor kissed Kingsley good-night on both cheeks and threw on her coat.

  The temperature had dropped, so she decided to spring for a cab. While scanning the street in search of a yellow, she heard someone calling her name.

  “Wyatt?” She turned around and faced Wyatt with shock. “What the hell are you doing here?”

  He clutched a bouquet of flowers in his hand, half-dead from the cold.

  “You said you had to work tonight,” he said without a smile on his face. She couldn’t remember seeing him without a smile on his face. “I wanted to surprise you at work with flowers. I didn’t know which bookstore you worked at so I followed you. I know that’s creepy, but I thought you’d forgive me since all I wanted to do was bring you flowers.”

  “You’ve been waiting out here for two hours?”

  “The things we do for love, right?” He raised his hands and laughed at himself. “I kind of liked the mystery-girl vibe you have. You don’t talk about your past, your parents. I don’t even know the name of this guy you’re supposedly in love with. It’s kind of hot, this whole secrecy thing you’ve got going. But secrets are one thing. You lied to me.”

  “I did lie,” she admitted. “I’m not at work, obviously. I was visiting a friend.”

  “A fucking rich friend from the looks of it.”

  “He’s also his friend. I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.”

  “Well, they’re hurt. No big deal. They’ll get unhurt. Eventually. Same way as I’ll get unfrozen.”

  “Eventually?”

  “Right. Can we maybe go somewhere and talk—”

  “Wyatt, I can’t see you anymore.” Eleanor let the words rip fast and hard, like tearing off a bandage.

  “Am I suddenly invisible?”

  She rubbed her forehead.

  “You
have to stop being so cute and funny, okay?” she said. “He comes back in three days. I can’t do this anymore, play this game with you.”

  “It’s not a game. I’m in love with you.”

  “And I’m in love with him.”

  “You can’t be. He’s in his thirties. You’re nineteen. I mean, what could you have in common with someone that old? What could you two even talk about?”

  “He’s brilliant and funny and fascinating, and I’ll never reach the end of the mystery of him.”

  “Guys that age love younger girls. You’re easy prey for them. They can impress you by just being older.”

  “I am not easy prey, okay? I’m not some sheep being eaten by a big bad wolf. He speaks eighteen languages. He’s six foot four. He’s stunningly beautiful and yes, I’m using the word beautiful. He rides a motorcycle and he lives this life like you can’t believe and he brought me into it. These parties I’ve seen, you can’t imagine it. And the people? Rich and powerful people like you wouldn’t believe. And, Wyatt, none of that matters. What matters is that he loves me and there is nothing he wouldn’t do for me. He loves me so much that if I wanted to be with you more than him, he’d let me be with you. He loves me and he knows me, and I am a more interesting person when I’m with him than when I am without him. Without him I’m just an NYU English major with a part-time job and too much homework.”

  “That’s all I am, too.”

  “Yeah. Exactly.”

  The words hung in the air between them, hovering like a poison cloud. She knew she’d crossed a line, pushed the knife in too deep. As much as she adored Wyatt, he could never compete with a man like Søren. First of all, Søren was a man and Wyatt was only a nineteen-year-old boy.

  “You know what you’re doing, Elle?” Wyatt said. “You’re living in Wonderland. This guy is older and speaks all these languages and lives this crazy life. It’s different, it’s weird, it’s the Mad Kingdom down the rabbit hole. It’s fun for a while, but you still have to go home eventually. You can’t live there forever, Alice.”

  “I’m not Alice.” She didn’t know what she was—White Rabbit, White Queen or Jabberwocky—but she knew one thing perfectly well. She was no stranger to Wonderland. She was born there.

  “This is crazy, you and him.”

  “What can I say? We’re all mad here.”

  “Elle …” Wyatt ran his hands through his red hair. She did love his punk red dye job. Be brutal, Kingsley had said. Make it clean. She threw a lock on her heart and put a bullet through her compassion.

  “Let me ask you a question, Wyatt. You ever flog a woman?” She took a step forward.

  “What? Flog? No way.”

  “Cane her?”

  “No.”

  “You know how to use a single-tail?”

  “I don’t even know what that is.”

  “Got a St. Andrew’s Cross in your bedroom?”

  “A what?”

  “I am not what you think I am,” she said. “You are in love with someone who doesn’t exist.”

  “You’re kind of freaking me out here,” Wyatt said, his eyes wide and scared.

  “I haven’t even begun to freak you out yet.”

  “Elle?” Wyatt’s voice went quiet and solemn. “What can he give you that I can’t? Seriously. I want to know the answer.”

  She turned her back on him and walked toward the waiting taxi.

  “Everything.”

  Alone in the back of the darkened cab, she let the tears fall. No more. She’d never let herself care about anyone else other than Søren again for the rest of her life. It hurt too much. In the privacy of her mind and in the midst of her sadness, she made herself a promise she knew she would keep. No more vanilla guys ever. She couldn’t do this, couldn’t straddle the line between two worlds anymore. It hurt too much. Hurt Wyatt, hurt her. It could hurt Søren, would have hurt Søren had he known. And he would know. She’d have to tell him.

  She paid the driver and trudged through the sooty snow back to her dorm. She pulled one of her roommate’s wine coolers out of their little fridge and drank it faster than she should have. She heard noises from across the hall—the unmistakable sound of a party.

  Eleanor sat on her bed with another drink in her hand. Was there anything in the world more pathetic than a lovesick girl sitting in her dorm room getting drunk by herself? No was the answer to that question. She shouldn’t be drinking alone while thinking about how much she’d miss being Wyatt’s girlfriend, how much she’d miss sitting with him at lunch and dinner, talking about books and poetry and the profs they loved and hated. She shouldn’t be drinking alone and thinking about how good it felt to lie underneath him last night naked from the waist up as he kissed her breasts and nipples. She shouldn’t be drinking alone while thinking about how erotic it felt simply to sleep in his bed with his arm around her all night long. He made her want things, Wyatt did. Things completely different from the things Søren made her want. She wanted to strip Wyatt naked, tie him up, bite him, kiss him, suck him, make him beg her for more. Maybe she’d give him more. Maybe she wouldn’t. Maybe she’d get an ice cube and torture him with it. God dammit, where did these fantasies come from? She was a submissive, Søren’s property. She couldn’t imagine topping Søren. It was ludicrous to even think about it. So why did she want to do it so much? Why was that all she could think about when she and Wyatt were alone together? Didn’t matter. A fantasy. She’d forget about it by morning.

  She set her wine cooler bottle on the bedside table and stared at it.

  Drinking alone was definitely the worst idea ever. She decided to pour the bottle down the drain.

  Before she reached the sink, what sounded like a dozen fists pounded on the door.

  “Party in the corner suite!” came a cacophony of voices both male and female. They moved onto the next door, banged again and repeated the call.

  Typical Friday-night invitation.

  Eleanor stared at the bottle in her hand. This morning as she’d tried to leave Wyatt’s bed, he’d woken up, pulled her against him and whispered, “I’ll wait as long as you want, but you have to know I’m dying to be inside you.”

  His words and the feel of his erection against her back had left her aching with need all day.

  Friday night. A terrible idea to drink alone.

  She took a drink and headed to the corner suite.

  Why not drink with everybody else?

  29

  Eleanor

  BLEACH. SHE SMELLED BLEACH. THAT’S WHAT THAT was. The acrid scent wrinkled Eleanor’s nose as she struggled to open her eyes. Why bleach? And … disinfectant?

  “Eleanor? Are you awake?”

  “No,” she answered.

  “Eleanor, I’m Lisa. Can you open your eyes for me?”

  “No. But I can open them for me.”

  She opened her eyes. Bright lights everywhere. Bright lights, white tile, white sheets and lab coats. She closed them immediately.

  “Do you know where you are?” the woman, Lisa, asked.

  “Hell?”

  “You’re in the hospital, Eleanor. Your friend thought you had alcohol poisoning.”

  “Did I?”

  “Yes.”

  “Bummer.”

  At some point last night she’d decided not to drink alone, but to drink with everybody else. Drinking had been her first mistake. The company she’d chosen had been her second.

 
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