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       The Queen, p.5

         Part #8 of The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz

  “A client coming to London wrote a letter to her once requesting a session on her chevelet. These were the conditions he offered. He would pay her ‘a pound sterling for the first blood drawn, two pounds sterling if the blood runs down to my heels, three pounds sterling if my heels are bathed in blood, four pounds sterling if the blood reaches the floor, and five pounds sterling if you succeed in making me lose consciousness.’ His words, chérie.”

  “Lose consciousness? Jesus.”

  “Don’t be vanilla,” he said. He lowered his voice to a whisper. “We masochists love our beatings. But that’s not the moral of this story.”

  “Then what is the moral, King?”

  “The moral is that if you want my pounds sterling or any other sort of pounds, you’ll have to earn it.”

  Kingsley turned his back on her to leave and without thinking she raised the flogger over her head. She threw it across his back hoping to impress him with one hard hit. But Kingsley turned at the last second and caught the tails in his hand. She’d put the handle strap around her wrist thus making it all too easy for him to yank her to him and shove her back against the wall.

  “What the fuck was that?” he demanded, squeezing her wrist to the point of pain. “Don’t put the fucking cord of the fucking flogger on your fucking wrist. That’s how you fucking hang the flogger on the fucking wall. And if you fucking put it on your fucking wrist, someone like me can fucking grab you and fucking fuck you up, you fucking rookie.”

  He ripped the flogger off her wrist and tossed it aside.

  “King, sorry—”

  Kingsley cut off her apology with a hand over her mouth. Elle started, heart racing in pure fear.

  “Shut up,” he said. “You fucked up, and you will be disciplined.”

  He dragged her bodily to the bed and threw her down onto it. No amount of pushing and fighting could force him off her.

  With knees and feet and arms and hands, Kingsley pinned her down to the bed. He had sixty pounds on her at least and was unbelievably strong. Finally she gave up her struggle. She was flat on her back on the bed and going nowhere until Kingsley let her go.

  “This is what is known as a reality check, Elle. Repeat after me,” Kingsley said. “I am a bad dominant.”

  A furious growl rose in the back of her throat.

  “Say it,” Kingsley said.

  “I am a bad dominant.”

  “Good dominants do not hit people without their permission. Say it.”

  “Good dominants do not hit people without their permission.”

  “Are you a good dominant?” he asked.

  “I want to be.”

  “Let’s find out,” Kingsley said, his face a mask of steely resolve. He might be a masochist, he might be a switch, but right now he was all dom and all terrifying.

  Kingsley released one wrist and unzipped her jeans.

  “Safe out right now,” he said. “Right fucking now.”

  “Or what? You’ll fuck me? Go ahead.”

  “You’d like that too much,” he said, pushing his hand into her jeans. “And you haven’t even come close to earning my cock yet.”

  He shoved a finger inside her and Elle cried out, not in pain but in pleasure.

  “Thought so,” he said.

  “What?” She tried squirming away from him but couldn’t move. He had her riveted to the bed.

  “You’re dripping wet. So much for being a domme.”

  “I haven’t gotten fucked in over a year.”

  “That’s your problem, not mine.”

  He pulled his hand out of her pants and pushed her onto her stomach. With his mouth at her ear he whispered a warning.

  “There’s one man in the world who cares about you more than I do,” Kingsley said. “Just imagine what a man who doesn’t give a fuck about you would do if you fucked up during a session as badly as you fucked up with me.”

  “I fucked up,” she said.

  “You did.”

  “I won’t do it again.”

  “We won’t have to have this talk again, will we?”


  “No what?”

  “No, Kingsley.”

  “You aren’t going to call me ‘sir’?” he asked, his voice cold but teasing.

  “No,” she said.

  “And why not?”

  “Because I’m not a submissive anymore. I don’t call anyone ‘sir.’”

  Kingsley leaned in even closer, pressed his lips to the back of her neck and kissed her.

  “Glad you finally are realizing this,” he said. “It’s about fucking time.”


  A Special Delivery

  ALONE IN HER bedroom Elle stripped out of her clothes—her favorite old Pearl Jam concert T-shirt she’d had since 1994 and a ratty pair of cutoff denim shorts. They’d been her comfort clothes, her lazy-day uniform, when she’d lived here at Kingsley’s before she’d gone to the convent. There she’d had to wear black tights and long skirts and buttoned-up blouses. It had been like wearing a costume every day so it should have been nice to wear her own clothes again. Although they didn’t feel like hers. They felt like a different sort of costume. They belonged to Eleanor. His Eleanor. But if she wasn’t his anymore, was she even Eleanor? Kingsley said he would change her name. She almost didn’t care what he changed it to as long as she could be someone who wasn’t Eleanor anymore. Eleanor was tired. Eleanor was scared. Eleanor missed her priest.

  For almost an hour she stood under the scalding water and let the heat seep into her sore muscles but no matter how long she stayed under the water, the pain remained. She dried off on plush white towels she wouldn’t have to wash and dry and fold—Kingsley had a housekeeper. It should have felt like heaven, living in luxury again. And yet...

  “You fucked up today.”

  Elle stepped out of her en suite bathroom to find Kingsley sitting on her bed, boots crossed at the ankle, looking smug and satiated. His collar was open and the vest unbuttoned. While she’d been in the shower he’d been in Juliette. His new lover received the lion’s share of Kingsley’s erotic attentions lately. Elle didn’t blame him. Juliette was easily the most beautiful woman she’d ever seen in her life, and she’d seen her fair share of beautiful women come and go from Kingsley’s bed. Juliette, however, seemed likely to stick around.

  “Yes, you mentioned that earlier. I won’t do it again.”

  “I know. You’ll make me proud. Eventually.”

  Elle smiled at him and then dropped the towel. Kingsley didn’t blink or say a word at her sudden nudity. He’d seen her naked before, but she noted his eyes narrowing as she walked past him. Not a look of ardor at all. He appraised her as she dressed in black panties, a black bra, a denim skirt that hugged her curves and a low-cut shirt.

  “You’ve gained weight¸” he said.

  “Six pounds since coming back from the convent. If you’d had to eat convent food for a year, you’d go a little nuts with New York–style pizza, too. I promise I won’t gain any more.”

  “Don’t lose the weight. We’ll turn it into muscle.”

  “Don’t lose the weight? Those are the sexiest four words anyone has ever said to me.”

  “Money money money money.”

  “Those are the other four sexiest words anyone’s ever said to me.”

  “I didn’t come to seduce you. I came to invite you to a party. Not quite an invitation. Attendance is mandatory.”

  “What sort of party?”

  “The sort of party Milady will attend. We need to see her in action.”

  “You said nobody could know I was back yet.”

  “They won’t know. You’ll be in disguise. I don’t want you leaving the house between now and then, either.”

  “Sure. Of course. Whatever you say, boss.” She added the “boss” at the end more sarcastically than she meant.

  “Don’t get pissy at me because you fucked up,” he said, wagging his finger at her.

  “I’m not pissy
because I fucked up.”

  “What is it?”

  She sighed. “This is harder than I thought it would be.”

  “Being a domme?” he asked.

  “Not being a sub.”

  “Not being his sub, you mean.”

  She nodded. Reluctantly.

  “You need to face him,” he said. “The longer you wait the harder it will be. You’ve been back two weeks. It’s time.”

  “I’ll go talk to him. Soon. I promise.”

  “Not today. I don’t want anyone knowing you’re back yet. No going out. Anywhere.”

  “Fine. I’ll be good. Happy?”

  “Good, chérie, is the last thing I want you to be.”

  He chucked her under the chin and left. A few minutes later Elle heard a soft knock on her bedroom door, which meant it wasn’t Kingsley returning. He never bothered knocking.

  Elle opened the door.

  “Juliette,” was all Elle could say. Beautiful, glorious, magnificent Juliette. Even Elle got a little tongue-tied around Kingsley’s consort.

  “Calliope brought in the mail. There’s something for you.”

  “For me?” She held out her hand and Juliette passed her a thick manila envelope.

  “C’est pour toi.”

  “Thanks.” She tossed it in a drawer.

  “You aren’t going to open it?” Juliette asked, her hands lifting gracefully in a question.

  “I’ll open it later.”

  “It’s from a literary agency,” Juliette said.

  “Yeah, I know who it’s from.”

  “I didn’t tell monsieur you received any mail today.”

  Elle smiled, relieved. “Thank you for that.”

  “For years, I lived with a man who monitored any mail I received. I had no privacy. It was...unpleasant. You should have your privacy. But I think it’s wonderful you’re receiving mail from a literary agency if it means what I think it means.”

  “It means I wrote a book. But please don’t tell.”

  “Something tells me the subject will not come up. I keep monsieur on other topics,” she said with a sly smile.

  Elle liked Juliette. It didn’t take long for her to decide this was the perfect woman for Kingsley. She had a backbone of iron and a love of submission that made her the ideal consort for their king. Since Elle did like her so much she had to say what she said next or she wouldn’t be able to look Juliette in the eyes much longer.

  “Juliette, you do know Kingsley and I used to sleep together, right?”

  “He told me, oui.” Juliette seemed entirely unperturbed by the fact.

  “And we’ll probably be sleeping together again in the near future.”

  “He keeps me abreast of these sorts of things.”

  These sorts of things? Probably the tamest euphemism Elle had yet heard for Kingsley’s sex life.

  “You’re fine with that?”

  She nodded her head regally. Everything Juliette did or said looked or sounded regal. If Elle wanted to be a queen she would do well to emulate Juliette.

  “He told me what he was and what he needs. I would never deny him what he needs.”

  “Some people don’t like the thought of sharing.”

  “It isn’t sharing. Not to me. He is one man when he’s with you. Another man when he’s with me. It’s clear you care for the man who he is with you. I care for the man who he is when he’s with me.”

  “He loves pain when he’s with me. I’ll send him back to you covered in whip marks and bruises, cuts and welts. I left a lot of burns on him last year. You should be prepared for that. I mean that literally. Keep the medicine cabinet well stocked. He hates doctors. You’ll have to handle first aid.”

  “I will be prepared. In truth, I couldn’t watch while he’s being hurt, but I admit I enjoy the thought of tending to his wounds after...”

  “That’s a kink, you know. Comforting someone after a hard scene. Usually it’s the person who did the hurting who handles the cleanup, but I’ve known kinky people whose favorite thing to do was dress the wounds of masochists after a beating. Aftercare can be very intense, very intimate.” Søren had always taken good care of her after the beatings. Washing her wounds, cleaning her cuts, kissing her boo-boos away. Those were her favorite moments, when he put her back together after tearing her apart. “It’s like playing doctor or naughty nurse.”

  “I would look good in a nurse’s costume, wouldn’t I?”

  “You would look good in a brown paper bag.”

  Juliette smiled, a smile so steamy it could have fogged the windows in a parked car.

  “You break him down,” Juliette said, pointing at Elle. “And I—” she pointed at herself “—I will build him up so he’ll be ready when you break him again. Between the two of us he should be a very happy man. It’s a good plan, non?”

  “A very good plan, yes. So you think we can be friends?” Elle asked. “No jealousy? No awkwardness?”

  “Jealousy is a sign of insecurity. He adores me,” Juliette said, sounding almost affronted by the very suggestion Kingsley would ever choose another woman over her. Veritable madness. “And I am never awkward.”

  “I can believe that. Thank you for this.” Elle swallowed hard, suddenly on the verge of tears and not knowing why. A tiny kindness from a woman she barely knew and...tears? This wasn’t like her. Not at all.

  Juliette gave her a long searching look.

  “You miss him,” Juliette said. “Your lover?”

  “I shouldn’t,” Elle said. “I left him.”

  “I miss mine, and I hated him.”

  “I hate my ex, too.”

  Juliette raised a finger, shook her head. “Elle, you do not know hate the way I know hate,” and Elle believed her. “Starting a new life isn’t easy. Not even for me and I have wanted this new life all my life.”

  “I hate crying,” Elle said. “Seems...weak. I’m usually stronger than this.”

  “It’s not weak. I cry, too, and I’m not weak. If I feel weak because I’m crying I remind myself of one true thing.”

  “What’s that?” Elle asked.

  “This is a new life I’m living. I am reborn. And all babies cry when they’re born.”

  Elle smiled and knew she’d remember that one true thing all her life. Being born hurt. So did being reborn.

  Juliette left her alone and the second she was gone, Elle locked her bedroom door and tore open the envelope. A handwritten note lay on top of a rubber-banded bundle of papers. Her book printed out with edit notes.

  “Elle,” the note read, “Loved it, loved it, loved it. I’ve made some notes in the margins. I found a couple scenes to cut but most changes are minor. I’d love to have it back by next Friday.”

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