The queen, p.46
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       The Queen, p.46

         Part #8 of The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz
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  Søren sighed and walked over to Kingsley, who cupped his face and whispered something. Nora strained to hear what Kingsley said to Søren, but his voice was too low and his French too rapid. But whatever he said must have been good. Søren’s eyes widened.

  Søren met her eyes. “He can stay.”

  “Merci, mon amant.” Kingsley took Søren’s face in his hands and kissed him first on each cheek and then on the mouth. Nora rolled her eyes. “You have saved me. Bless you.”

  Kingsley released Søren, walked to the fireplace and warmed his feet and hands. It was spring in Scotland and the castle was drafty. She almost felt sorry for all the men running around in kilts. Their pain. Her gain.

  “It’s good you’re here anyway,” Nora said as she returned to her suitcase. “I have something from Nico for you.”

  She pulled a bottle of wine out of her suitcase and a small envelope.

  “‘Rosanella Petite Syrah, 2004,’” Kingsley read the label aloud. “I have such a good son.”

  “He says it’s the best vintage so far. He sent six bottles with me.”

  “We’ll save it for the reception tomorrow then.” Kingsley opened the envelope and pulled out a sheet of paper. Nora peeked over Kingsley’s shoulder. Reading French wasn’t her strong suit but even she knew enough to recognize the words With love from your son, Nico. Kingsley grinned at the note before folding it again and slipping it into his sporran. “He’s inviting us all to the vineyard’s one-hundred-year anniversary fête this fall. He says it wouldn’t be a real celebration without me, Juliette and Céleste there.”

  “You better go then,” Nora said. “You wouldn’t want to ruin his party.” Her relationship with Nico hadn’t been easy for Kingsley to accept at first. He’d never been angry with her, not really, but he’d struggled as they all had, herself included. But after some time, some talking, Kingsley had given them his blessing. While Kingsley had loved his son from the moment he knew of his existence, Nico rebelled at the idea of accepting any man but the man who’d raised him as his father. But Nora had served as a bridge between father and son, and step by step, story by story she’d led Nico by the hand to Kingsley’s side. Kingsley had Juliette as his submissive, Søren as his Dominant. He didn’t need Nora in his bed anymore for either purpose. What Kingsley needed far more was his son’s love, and that Nora had given him.

  “Thank you for this,” Kingsley said, folding up the invitation and tucking it back in the envelope. She knew he wasn’t thanking her simply for delivering the mail.

  “My pleasure,” Nora said, and kissed him on the cheek.

  “So what will we do tonight?” Kingsley asked as he left the heat of the fireplace and walked to the window. Outside the storm continued its assault on the castle. “Tell ghost stories? It’s a good night for it.”

  “Perhaps Eleanor would be willing to tell us about the time she, and I quote, ‘fucked a nun’ at her mother’s convent,” Søren said, sitting on the bed and stacking a large red pillow behind his back.

  “You fucked a nun at your mother’s convent?” Kingsley asked, turning back to stare at her askance. “When did that happen?”

  “That year,” Nora said, and Kingsley winced. He knew what she meant, as well.

  “And you never told me?” Kingsley asked.

  “How is me sleeping with a nun any of your business?”

  “Because it’s you sleeping with a nun,” Kingsley said with dramatic emphasis. “That is the very definition of my business. I need to know what she looked like, her name, if she had small breasts or large. Do you have pictures of her and you together? And can you tell me exactly what you did with her in detail while I take notes?”

  “I could,” Nora said. “I’m not going to.”

  “I could order you to,” Søren said, and Nora groaned.

  “You’re as bad as he is,” she said, pointing a finger at Kingsley. “You’re perverts, the both of you. J’accuse.”

  Kingsley nodded. “J’accepte.”

  “That was a really hard year for all of us,” Nora said. “And it was twelve years ago. Can you give me one good reason why we should dredge all of that up tonight?”

  “I can,” Kingsley said. “Because you fucked a nun. C’est la raison.”

  Nora put a hand to her forehead. “Dear Lord, save me from these men tonight.”

  “I would like to know,” Søren said, and the room went still and solemn with the tenor of his words. “Neither of you ever told me what happened that year you both were gone.”

  “Maybe because you don’t want to know,” Nora said as she walked to the bed and crawled into it on the side opposite Søren. She pulled a pillow to her stomach and sat cross-legged. “You weren’t our favorite person that year, after all.”

  “I wasn’t my favorite person that year, either,” Søren said, bending his leg to rest his arm on his knee. Kingsley came to the bed and stretched out at the foot, lying on his side to face them. “You both had disappeared on me and when you came back, everything had changed.”

  “I met Juliette,” Kingsley said. “That’s what I did that year.”

  “You’ve never told me how,” Søren said. “And you—” he looked at Nora “—never told me why you came back.”

  “Do you really want to know?” she asked, meeting his eyes. “We’re happy now, all of us.” She glanced at Kingsley and back at Søren.

  “Ignorance is a poor excuse for bliss,” Søren said, looking pointedly at her. “Tell me what happened.”

  Nora turned her head and looked into Kingsley’s dark brown eyes. They stared at each other for a long quiet moment. She’d never told Kingsley what had happened when she’d left Søren. And Kingsley had never told her. In her more honest moments she’d admit she was curious what Kingsley did in that time and why he’d left when she had.

  “That sounded like an order,” Nora said to Kingsley.

  “It was,” Kingsley said, as accustomed to following Søren’s orders now as she.

  “Who starts?” she asked him.

  “You left first,” Kingsley said to Nora. The playfulness had left his demeanor. She saw the dark light of secrets in his eyes.

  “You left after me, though. Why?”

  “You don’t know?” Kingsley said.

  “No. I was afraid to ask,” Nora confessed. “I thought...I thought all kinds of things that year. I think I went a little crazy for a while. But I guess you would too if you were trapped in a convent surrounded by nuns with nothing but your thoughts to keep you company.”

  “And a nun in your bed,” Kingsley reminded her.

  “And yes, there was a nun in my bed,” Nora said with a sigh.

  “This is my favorite story already,” Kingsley said. “Go on.”

  Nora took a breath, got comfortable with the sheets and pillow.

  “Well...” she began. “It was a dark and stormy night...”

  “Eleanor,” Søren said.

  “It was,” she said. “I’m not making that up. That night we fought, it was dark and stormy, remember?”

  Søren nodded. “I remember. Go on.”

  Nora closed her eyes, let herself drift back to that night, that terrible night and that year, that dark and stormy year.

  She was twenty-six years old.

  Søren had just returned home from Rome.

  And she was in the worst pain of her life.

  “It was a dark and stormy night,” Nora began again, opening her eyes to look at Søren. He returned her gaze with placid, waiting curiosity. “And I was leaving you. Forever.”

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