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       The Queen, p.41

         Part #8 of The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz

  “There’s a problem,” she said. “I thought Søren was leaving us—forever. Turns out it’s just a few months. And the relief I felt when he said he would come back by New Year’s...” Nora paused and searched her mind for just the right word to describe the sensation. She was a writer. The right word was everything. Finally, she found it.


  “Humiliating? How is that humiliating?” Griffin asked.

  “I left him. I shouldn’t care if he leaves for four months or forty years. I’m supposed to his ex-lover, his ex-submissive, his ex-everything, and I swear to God, Griffin, most days I feel like I’m his wife and not his ex-anything. We’re not even divorced. Just separated. This isn’t how I want to live my life, in this constant struggle to get free. It’s not fair to me, and it’s not fair to him, either.”

  “Don’t give up, Mistress,” Griffin said, cupping the side of her neck. “Please?”

  “King interferes every time I try to get involved with someone else.”

  “Find someone to be with that he can’t fuck with then. Someone with money and power of his own. Someone he can’t blackmail.”

  “Good idea. I’ll just run out and find someone with money, power and no dirty secrets. Dime a dozen, right?” Nora rolled her eyes. Griffin laughed and kissed her. Nora let it happen. Whenever her heart was in turmoil, she let her body take over. Griffin’s kisses were familiar, comfortable, warm and getting warmer, hot and getting hotter.

  “My days of freedom may be numbered,” she said. “Want to help me go out with a bang?”

  “I’ll give you all the bangs you want...”

  Nora pushed Griffin onto his back, and he surrendered control to her. He surrendered and let her put the condom on him. He surrendered and let her guide him in. She felt the penetration of his cock inside her like a puncture wound. In her bitterness and defeat, she’d closed herself off and it hurt to let someone inside her. Despite the pain she let him sink into her depths, and she grew more aroused, more herself as she moved on top of him.

  “Mistress Nora...” he whispered into her ear as he brushed her hair back and kissed her throat. “Queen Nora...”

  “You’re trying to seduce me,” she said.

  “You’re on top of me, and I’m inside you.” He yanked her shirt off her and threw it on the floor. “I think I succeeded.”

  Nora leaned over him, put her hands on his shoulders and arched her back, offering him her breasts to suck. His tongue swirled around her nipples, his fingers pinched and teased them. He lifted his head and latched on to her nipple, drawing it deep into his hot mouth. Nora sighed as she felt the pleasurable sensation of pulling, of tugging, of heat on her breast. All the while she rocked her hips into him, grinding her swollen clitoris against the base of his penis.

  “You’re trying to seduce me into not going back to him.”

  “I am, Mistress,” he admitted shamelessly, which was how Griffin did everything. He took her breasts in his hands and massaged them. “He won’t let you play with me anymore if you go back to him.”

  “I admit, it’s a compelling argument.”

  “You know you’d miss me, Mistress.”

  “I would miss you...”

  She’d miss Griffin. She’d miss freedom. She’d miss her house and her life.

  And she’d miss being Mistress Nora. She’d grown so accustomed to being called Mistress or Mistress Nora it felt like her real name and Eleanor had become the name of an old friend she’d lost touch with.

  She lay on top of Griffin, pressed her breasts to his chest, and he whispered her name in her ear over and over again—Nora... Mistress Nora...

  On top of Griffin, Nora came with a cry. Griffin kept pushing up and into her even as she lay immobile and panting on top of his chest. It felt wonderful; sex with Griffin always did. But it wasn’t enough. With Søren she had the opposite problem. He was more than enough, almost too much for her. Between not enough and too much, she’d choose too much any day.

  “See?” Griffin asked as he wrapped his arms around her. “Won’t you miss that?”

  “I would,” she said. Because she loved Griffin as a friend and a lover she didn’t tell him the whole truth. Yes, she would miss him.

  But she missed Søren so much more.

  Thus it was decided. She would go back to Søren today. She would give him her collar today. She would tell him she would be his again today and forever, without conditions or constants and if he told her to quit her job she would and she would be his property again as soon as he came home. And she would never look back.

  Nora was at peace.

  Eleanor was at peace.

  The phone rang.

  She answered it, hoping for nothing from the call except that it would put an end to her conversation with Griffin.

  “This better be good,” she said as she answered the phone.

  “I have a little job for you,” Kingsley said.

  “It’s six in the morning.” Nora groaned, rolled off Griffin and onto her back. “What sick sadistic pervert needs me at six in the morning?”

  “A sick sadistic pervert doesn’t need you. Twelve sick sadistic perverts need you.”

  “Twelve?” Nora sat up in bed. “I don’t do group sex. Wait. How much does it pay? Forget it. I don’t do groups.”

  “Do you want to hear this or not?” Kingsley asked. He sounded as sleepy and irritated as she felt.

  “Will I like it?” she asked.

  “I think you will. It’s a job uniquely suited to your particular talents.”

  Without any hope whatsoever that she would like what Kingsley had to say to her, she told him two words. Two words she’d said before the night her life changed. She said those two words again not realizing it was about to change one more time.

  “Tell me.”


  Professor Nora

  ONE HOUR LATER, Nora kissed Griffin goodbye and told him to sleep as late as he wanted. She had on a black pencil skirt, a white blouse, and her black hair was wrapped in a loose bun. She wore her favorite high heels, not the stilettos but the retro pumps with the strap around the ankle. The woman looking back at her from the mirror looked like every man’s exaggerated fantasy of a sexy librarian or schoolteacher.

  Fitting as today she would be a schoolteacher.

  Twenty minutes from her house, thirty minutes in traffic, was a small liberal arts school called Yorke College. She knew of it through Noah. He was about to start his sophomore year there. Today. Noah started school today and so did she.

  But not as a student.

  She’d had to apologize to Kingsley for being so rude to him on the phone. Instead of calling and asking her to go meet a very special client at his hotel room or to fly to another state or another country to woo a rich and infamous pervert into Kingsley’s coterie, he’d asked her if she’d be willing to teach a writing class for a few weeks.

  “A what?” she’d asked him.

  “Our friend Dean Howell, who is, as you know, related to the Newport Howells, has a little problem,” Kingsley had explained when Nora finally started listening. “Every semester they hire a professional writer to teach a freshman creative writing course. The teacher they hired is an older man, and he’s had a heart attack. Our friend the dean knows you live near the school and was wondering if you’d step in until they can find a permanent replacement.”

  “King, I write erotica.”

  “It’s a college, not a high school. They’ll find you eccentric. Liberal arts colleges love eccentrics.”

  “I’ve never taught a class before.”

  “They’re students. You’re a teacher. They’ll do what you tell them to do.”

  “So you mean I should top them?”

  “Young people respond well to authority. Either they submit to it or rebel against it. Sounds like a win-win, non?”

  “You realize this is the worst idea you’ve ever had,” Nora had said. “Me teaching college freshmen how
to write. You understand this is insane.”

  “It’s only a writing class,” he said. “Not even you could get yourself in trouble teaching grammar to terrified teenagers.”

  “Have you met me?”

  “Don’t fuck any of them.”

  “You forget who you’re talking to.”

  “Fine. Don’t fuck all of them.”

  She’d agreed to teach the class and save Dean Howell’s ass on the one condition—no new clients. She hadn’t told Kingsley she was quitting yet. She’d talk to Søren first and let him know that while he was in Syria, she’d be slowly dismantling her new life so she could go back to her old one. Going back to Søren was something Kingsley would understand. He’d be happy for them. Happy for himself, too. She knew he missed the old days of their friendship and their threesomes and their late-night drinking binges as much as she missed the old days of their romance. It was all up to her. She could do it. She should do it.

  And she would do it.

  Today. Right after she finished up this class she’d agreed to teach.

  Right after.

  The second after.

  She wouldn’t dally one minute. She would go to the rectory and hand Søren her collar, the collar that she’d put in her handbag that very morning before she’d left. Then she’d call Kingsley and put in her four months’ notice. The day Søren came back from Syria would be the day Mistress Nora died once and for all.

  Story over.

  The end.

  Nora parked her car in the faculty lot and with help from a student, she found her building. Five minutes late—her students would have to get used to that—she walked into the classroom.

  “Hello,” she said as she strode through the door. “My name is Nora Sutherlin, and I’m a New York Times bestselling author of lots of dirty books. I know you were expecting a nature writer to be teaching this class, but I’m afraid he’s had a medical emergency. I realize I’m not what you signed up for, but in my defense, my books are full of natural behavior. And quite a bit of unnatural behavior so I wouldn’t recommend reading them unless you actually want to learn something. If you have a problem with me teaching your class, there’s the door. I’m sure you can find an Add/Drop form in the registrar’s office. Also, I’m hungover so if I behave oddly, please forgive me. Why does this class meet so fucking early in the day?”

  She rubbed her forehead.

  “It’s one in the afternoon,” an intrepid student said.

  “What’s your point?” Nora asked. No one answered. “You’re all college students so if at least half of you aren’t hungover by our next class, I’ll be very disappointed in today’s new breed of college freshmen. Bad behavior is not only allowed in this class, it is encouraged. Your final grade may depend on it.”

  She ignored the stares of her students as she walked to the marker board, picked up a black marker and wrote on the board, “Did Oedipus overreact?”

  “Professor Sutherlin?” came a girl’s tentative voice.

  Nora spun around with the marker in her hand.

  “Ms. Sutherlin,” Nora said. “I’m not really a professor, and I would feel weird about being called that. I also answer to Nora or Mistress Nora. I might even answer to Professor Nora, but I’m not sure. Did you have a question?”

  “Are you going to take attendance or anything?”

  “Do I look like the sort of woman who takes attendance?”

  The girl opened her mouth but nothing came out.

  “If you’re supposed to be here and you’re not, say ‘I’m not here.’ Anyone?” Nora asked.

  No one said anything.

  “There,” Nora said. “Attendance taken. What’s your name?”


  “Great. Geri. You’re in charge of reminding me I have to do something right after class. Before class is over say ‘Ms. Sutherlin, go do the thing you have to do and don’t be a pussy.’ Can you do that?”

  “I can do that.”

  “Wonderful. Grand. Fabulous. Now, I suppose you all should introduce yourselves. I don’t really care about your names, however. As hungover as I am, I probably won’t remember them. So instead go around the circle,” she said, waving her marker to draw a circle in the air. “Tell me your favorite story. Of the written fiction variety. I’ll start. As I said, I’m Nora Sutherlin. My favorite book is Venus in Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. It’s the book from whence we receive the word masochism, which is what me agreeing to teach this class is a prime example of. Now your turn.”

  Nora rested her head on the podium. Her head pounded. Her eyes ached. The bright fluorescent lighting wasn’t doing her any favors.

  And her students were so...fucking...boring...

  “I’m Katie from Long Island. I loved The Awakening by Kate Chopin.”

  “Ah, yes,” Nora said, not raising her head from the podium. “The book where a woman forced to choose between a shitty boyfriend and a shitty husband picks suicide by drowning because for adult women there’s only three viable paths in life to chose from—be a wife and mother, be a whore, or be dead. Try A Doll’s House by Ibsen instead. Much more cheerful. Next?”

  “I’m Ahmed from Brooklyn. I loved Lord of the Rings.”

  “That’s better,” Nora said. “Who needs books with fully formed female characters in them? Or, well, any female characters in them, for that matter. Women just drag a book down, don’t they? All that talking talking feelings feelings. Boring, right? Next.”

  “My name’s Raquel, with a Q. I’m from Cambridge, you know, outside of Boston.”

  “We know,” Nora said.

  “Um... I loved Crime & Punishment by Dostoyevsky.”

  “No, you didn’t.”


  “That’s not your favorite book. That’s no one’s favorite book. Down in his cold Russian grave, Dostoyevsky just rolled what’s left of his eyes. Stop trying to impress us. Tell the truth, Raquel with a Q.”

  “Okay, well... I really like The Bridges of Madison Country.”

  “That I can believe. Next.”

  The next student spoke.

  “I guess if I had to pick it would be ‘The Gift of the Magi’ by O. Henry.”

  Nora looked up from her podium and scanned the faces of her students.

  “Who said that?”

  She saw a tentative hand go up and she looked at the hand. Then she looked at whom the hand belonged to and found herself unable to stop looking at the face that belonged to the hand that belonged to the student who had said ‘The Gift of the Magi’ was his favorite story.

  Mister Magi had the proverbial big brown eyes, but as she looked into them she saw tiny flecks of warm yellow surrounding the irises. Looking into his eyes was a treasure hunt and she’d struck gold. His hair gleamed a warm blond in the morning summer sunlight. The kid needed a haircut. Yet she felt this nearly irrepressible urge to put her nose to his hair and smell it. He looked like summer with his bright face and bright smile and tan skin. Did he smell like it, too?

  His was a handsome face, sweetly handsome, the sort of handsome that drew people in instead of scaring people off. A strong jaw, strong nose, strong neck, broad shoulders in his royal blue T-shirt that said Kentucky across the front in white letters. Around his neck he wore a cluster of hemp necklaces, a little silver cross hanging off one and lying in the hollow of this throat. He looked innocent, as if she’d shocked him and he’d just discovered he liked being shocked.

  “Your favorite story is ‘The Gift of the Magi’?” she asked once she’d recovered her powers of speech.

  “Well...yeah,” he said with a touch of Southern drawl. “It’s the most beautiful love story I’ve ever read.”

  “Have you ever been in love?” she asked him.

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