The queen, p.43
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       The Queen, p.43

         Part #8 of The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz
 

  wedding night.

  His hands sought out the soft naked flesh of her thighs where her stockings and garters met her skin. Søren dug his fingers hard into her hips, hard enough that she gasped. His teeth found her earlobe and bit down. Pain. Blessed pain. The dead feel no pain, and Nora had never felt more alive than she did at this moment with her heart in her throat and her eyes shedding tears. Nora pushed his kilt up and he positioned himself at the entrance of her body. He brought her down onto him, joining them into one. Union. Communion. Love incarnate.

  Nora wrapped her arms around his neck and rested her cheek against his shoulder. His strong hand cupped the back of her head like a father holding a child to his chest.

  “I promised to give you everything,” Søren whispered into her ear. “When you left me, I knew I could never keep my promise because I could never give you everything you needed. I couldn’t be all things to you and it hurt because I wanted to be. I wanted to keep my promise.”

  “You are my everything.”

  “Perhaps we made the wrong promises. I should have promised you forever. And you should have promised me everything. You’ve given me everything I ever wanted. You didn’t let me leave the church. You were right in that I would have regretted it. You gave me Kingsley back,” he said. “When I almost lost you to Marie-Laure I found him again. And you sent Grace to me and gave me—”

  “I did that for me,” she said. “I’m not that selfless. I wanted...”

  “What did you want?”

  “I couldn’t do it myself. But I thought...maybe...with her...” She stopped and smiled. “Was that wrong of me?”

  “No,” Søren said. “I would never have betrayed you if I thought you would have counted it as a betrayal.”

  “I wanted a part of you to live on after you were gone.”

  “Eleanor, I will never truly be gone from you. I will never leave you or forsake you.”

  “Where you go I will go. Your God will be my God,” Nora continued the verse. “Where you die, there I will be buried.”

  “And we will have each other forever. In this life and the next.”

  “Promise?” she asked.

  “Anything for you, Little One,” he said. “Everything for you.”

  Søren kissed her hair as she tilted her hips against him, taking him deeper into her, holding him there, pulsing around him with her inner muscles even as her fingertips lightly played with his hair and her lips feathered soft kisses along his collar. She closed her eyes tight and gasped when he came into her, filling her depths and breathing her name.

  When it was over and done with she stayed on his lap with her arms around him, holding him and being held. She heard footsteps approaching and felt Søren’s body tense. She didn’t let him go.

  “I’m here,” she whispered. “I’m always here.”

  She looked up and saw Kingsley standing in the doorway to the chapel. She met his eyes and he nodded.

  Søren turned back and looked at Kingsley, who said the words they’d been waiting three hours to hear.

  “Søren, your son is here.”

  38

  Everything

  NORA GAVE SØREN one last kiss on the forehead.

  “It’s time,” she whispered. “I’ll wait for you in the hallway with Kingsley if you need a minute to pray.”

  “Thank you.”

  Nora rose from his lap and straightened her skirts. Kingsley held out his hand, and she took it in hers. Together they stood in the darkened hallway, her head against his chest, his arms around her.

  “How are you?” he asked.

  “Scared. Happy,” she said. “Scared by how happy I am.”

  “I know that feeling. I felt the same way the day you introduced me to my son. Now you can introduce him to his.”

  Nora looked into Kingsley’s eyes. “You do it.”

  Kingsley narrowed his eyes at her.

  “Elle... I speak from experience when I say this moment will be the most important moment of his life,” Kingsley said. “The first time I held Céleste? The first time I met Nico? Those were the two best days of my life. Nothing will ever be the same for him again after today.”

  “That’s why you should do it. Because you’ve been through this before. And because if it’s the most important moment in his life, he should share it with the most important person in the world to him. That’s you.”

  Kingsley’s eyes filled with tears and he smiled. In a hoarse voice and with a hand over his heart he answered, “It would be my honor.”

  “Merci,” she said, smiling and shaking all at once. She stepped into Kingsley’s arms again and relaxed against him. Now there was nothing between them, no secrets, no shame, no bitterness, no sorrow. She loved Kingsley and Kingsley loved her and nothing would ever tear the three of them apart again. Because God had joined them together, all three of them, and what God has joined together no one would tear asunder.

  Søren emerged from the chapel.

  “Would you like to meet your son now, mon ami?” Kingsley asked.

  “Yes,” Søren said. “I would like that very much.”

  “I’ll introduce you to him. Don’t be upset if he likes me better than he likes you,” Kingsley said. “I’ve already met him. And everyone likes me better.”

  “Eleanor, is Nico as arrogant as his father?”

  “No one is as arrogant as his father. Except his father’s best friend.”

  “That’s unfair,” Søren said as the three of them, side by side by side, walked down the hall and toward the castle’s vestibule. “It’s not arrogance. It’s self-awareness.”

  “How have I put up with this for twenty-three years?” Nora sighed. “And where do I sign up for twenty-three years more?”

  “I believe you did in the chapel,” Søren said, reaching out to squeeze her left hand.

  The way brightened as they reached the end of the hallway. Nora stopped and stayed in the shadows. She let go of Søren’s hand.

  “Give my godson a kiss for me,” Nora said, kissing Søren on the lips.

  Søren didn’t speak. He simply touched her cheek and looked into her eyes.

  “Go,” she said. “It’s an order.”

  “Yes, Mistress,” Søren said with a wink.

  “Shall we?” Kingsley said. With a gallant bow he ushered Søren from the hallway into the vestibule. Nora looked across the room filled to bursting with blue and gold tapestries and knights in armor and gray stone walls and mullioned windows and saw none of it. A scene far more arresting captured her gaze. A red-haired woman in a blue dress and a dark-haired man in a black suit holding the hands of a blond-haired three-year-old boy dressed in a jacket, tiny tie and short pants.

  Søren took a few steps forward and stopped. Kingsley continued toward the trio and shook hands with the man, kissed the woman and knelt on the floor to greet the boy. Words were exchanged but Nora couldn’t hear them. But she did see the little boy grin. Kingsley had that effect on children. He laughed when Kingsley stood up and swept him off his small feet and dropped him onto his broad shoulders. Kingsley carried the boy on his shoulders across the room. When he reached Søren, Kingsley went down onto his knees, a knight before a king, a king before his god. And the little boy, Fionn Easton, was now at eye level with Søren. Nora could barely breathe as she watched them, as she saw them looking at each other, trying to figure each other out. Fionn had intelligent eyes that were forever watching, seeking, taking the measure of everyone and everything he saw. But he had a smiling face, too, and an infectious giggle. He was a good boy and Nora loved him. How could she not? She’d dreamed of him and there he was with his father at last. Today was an embarrassment of miracles.

  Søren said something to Fionn and held out his hand. Fionn took the large hand in his and shook it. Søren lifted Fionn off Kingsley’s shoulders and Kingsley came to his feet again. The three of them—Kingsley, Søren and Søren’s son—walked over to his mother, to Grace Easton. Zach Easton, Grace’s husba
nd and Nora’s editor, walked over to her.

  Nora held out her arms and Zach stepped into her embrace, lifting her off her feet.

  “Hi, handsome,” she said, kissing his cheek. “How much have you missed me?”

  “I didn’t realize how much until right now,” he said. She squeezed him harder, held him closer.

  “How are you handling all of this?” she asked into her ear.

  “Better now that it’s over with,” Zach said. “I’m sorry we couldn’t be here any sooner. Had to work this morning.”

  “You could always quit,” she said. “Kingsley set you all up very nicely, I hear.”

  “That’s all Fionn’s. And I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t work. God knows I couldn’t leave you in anyone else’s hands.”

  “I can’t take charity, either. Kingsley would have given me a fortune if I’d asked for it. But then I wouldn’t have had much incentive to write the books that have been driving you insane for the past five years, right?”

  “Quite so. I hope Fionn finds something that makes him as happy as my work has made me.”

  “I’m sure he will. He’s his father’s son—smart, determined, and has a good heart.”

  “Took me a while to see it, but I would agree with you about Søren.”

  “I meant you,” she said. “He’s your son.”

  He kissed her forehead. “Thank you. You always know the right thing to say.”

  “You look so hot in your suit I want to drag you out of here and blow you.”

  “Case in point.”

  Nora laughed and playfully attempted to pull him back into the hallway.

  “None of that,” Zach said. “No blowing. Grace and I have sown all the wild oats we intend to ever sow. Back to monogamy.”

  “Ugh,” Nora said, shuddering. “Don’t say the M-word around me.”

  “Forgive me. When he’s old enough, you can explain the facts of life to Fionn then. I’ll sit in the back with popcorn and watch you attempt to explain to a twelve-year-old boy why his godmother is romantically involved with a Catholic priest and a French vintner. Any why she doesn’t own any horses and yet always has a riding crop with her...”

  “I’ll start preparing the Venn diagrams and flow charts for when that blessed day comes. And speaking of my beautiful blond godson...do you have the item I requested?”

  “I do. He had his haircut Thursday last. Saved a scrap for you,” he said, pulling an envelope from his pocket to pass to her.

  “Perfect.” She took a glass locket from the pocket of her dress and opened it.

  “Lovely locket. Where did you get that? Family heirloom?”

  “Actually, I ripped it off the neck of an evil dominatrix who Søren sold a lock of his hair to in order to buy me a computer. I gave it back to him, but then I stole it out of his pocket again after we’d fucked in the confessional at our church.”

  “That was my second guess.”

  The glass locket still contained the lock of Søren’s hair. She added a few strands of Fionn’s to it, shut it and slipped it on her necklace. Now that she and Søren wore their wedding bands, the necklace needed something new on it to go with the pendant from her Nico.

  Zach pulled her in front of him and helped her clasp the necklace.

  “Now it’s your turn. I gave you something. You give me something. Your autograph please.”

  Nora sighed. She’d been waiting for this moment. From the inside pocket of his suit jacket, Zach pulled out a tri-folded bundle of legal documents.

  “You sure about this?” she asked, her hands slightly shaking. “You’ve met me, right?”

  Zach handed her the documents and an ink pen.

  “If something happens to us, Grace and I want you to raise our son. And yes, I’ve met you. That’s why we chose you.” He turned his back to her so she could use him as a desk.

  “Last time I signed a piece of paper on your back, it changed my life,” she said. “Let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself.”

  “Last time you signed a piece of paper on my back, we had sex all night long right afterward,” Zach reminded her.

  “Okay, maybe history can repeat itself.”

  Nora had to wait for Zach to stop laughing so she could properly sign her name without smearing the ink.

  “I promise you, Grace and I have no intention of getting ourselves killed anytime soon. But if we do, Fionn’s yours. Please don’t raise him Catholic.”

  “No promises, Easton.”

  Nora flipped to the last page and signed her name on the line—Eleanor Schreiber. She folded up the papers that made her guardian of Fionn Easton and his trust fund in the event of his parents’ death and gave them back to Zach. He tucked them back in his pocket and kissed her forehead.

  “Thank you,” he whispered.

  It was done.

  The comforting weight of Zach’s arms settled around her stomach. The two of them, the outsiders in this little play, held each other tight and watched as Søren, Kingsley, Grace and Fionn chatted about everything and nothing.

  “You and I have made some beautiful book babies together, Zach,” Nora said, her throat contracting as Søren brushed his hand over Fionn’s head, smoothing down a wayward strand of baby-soft hair.

  Zach snorted. “Book babies? We’re talking about your books. More like Rosemary’s Babies.”

  “You mean that as an insult, and yet I’m taking it as a compliment.”

  “This does not surprise me.” Zach pulled her closer to him and she relaxed into his arms. “What’s going to happen?” he asked her as they both watched Grace, Kingsley, Søren and Fionn talking.

  “I don’t know,” she said. “But you have nothing to worry about. He’d never do anything to hurt you or Grace or Fionn. He’s a good sadist.”

  “Will he be all right?”

  “He will be. He has me and Kingsley no matter what.”

  “You all are a strange little coven, aren’t you?” Zach asked, shaking his head in amusement.

  “We prefer the term family. And guess what? You’re in it, too.” She playfully slapped her hand on the center of his chest. He covered it with his own hand before lifting it to his lips for a kiss. “For life.”

  Nora leaned against him, took comfort in his warmth, his solidity and their friendship, which had meant so much to her. Søren had Fionn’s tiny hand in his and seemed to be examining his fingers. Long strong fingers. A future pianist’s fingers perhaps? Søren kissed Fionn’s fingers and Nora knew she had never been this happy in her life.

  “Will he leave the priesthood?” Zach asked.

  “No. But he’s expecting them to kick him out once he tells his provincial about Fionn. He doesn’t feel right keeping Fionn a secret. Me? Kingsley? We knew what we were getting into. A child shouldn’t worry his biological father considered him a dirty little secret.”

  “Are you scared? There might be a scandal.”

  “My whole life’s a scandal. But no, I’m not scared. He’s been in the Jesuits thirty-four years. I think he’s earned his retirement. What about you? Are you scared?”

  “I worry about Fionn, that’s all. He’s my son. And his.”

  “And he’s my godson. He has me to thank for his existence, after all. I won’t let anything happen to him.”

  “So you’re the one I have to blame for my life being turned upside down?”

  “My doing,” she said. “I’m the one who sent Grace to Søren. I didn’t know Fionn would be the result but well, Grace saved us all. One new life for our three lives sounds like a good deal to me.” Grace had run her guts out to get to Kingsley in time. If she hadn’t, Nora and Søren would have died and she knew Kingsley was joking when he said he’d last three days in a world without Søren. Giving Grace the child her heart longed for seemed like the least they could do in repayment.

 
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