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       The Saint, p.8

         Part #5 of The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz
 

  Eleanor

  FRIDAY NIGHT CAME AND ELEANOR STAKED OUT THE bathroom. Ever since meeting Søren she’d thought about him nonstop. She woke to him, fell asleep to him, wrote his name on scraps of paper and whispered it under her breath when no one was listening. Tonight she had to deal with these feelings. Thankfully her mom had already gone to bed.

  Elle cleaned the bathtub and pulled out two candles from her secret stash. They lived so close to the railroad tracks that the entire house shook when the train rumbled by. Her mother had banned candles after one near miss during Thanksgiving. Thank God turkeys weren’t flammable. Unfortunately, the tablecloth was. At least the firemen had been nice to her. But the next train tonight wasn’t due for an hour, so Elle lit the candles as she filled the bathtub with hot water. Once it was full and steaming, she stripped naked and sank into the bathwater. She needed her alone time in the water tonight. Over the past year her body had turned on her. Almost overnight she had developed breasts that felt huge to her and the spread of her hips made her feel fat most of the time. And she could have lived her entire life very happily without pubic hair. Floating in the bathtub made her feel weightless and buoyant. The water surrounded her body and cradled it like strong arms. Something about sinking into the water always turned her on. Being naked in the bath made her hyperaware of every inch of her body—what it did, what it could feel.

  Elle lay back in the water and let it hold her up. The heat penetrated her skin, tickled her sensitive nipples and lapped between her legs. She let her mind wander to a thousand erotic fantasies. She’d love to take a bath with Søren. Maybe then it wouldn’t be bathwater licking her breasts or slipping through the folds between her legs.

  She opened her eyes and picked up the nearest candle. Sitting up in the water, she lifted her left arm into the flickering light. Holding the candle steady in her hand she tilted it and let the wax drip onto the inside of her wrist. Søren had told her to find a new way to hurt herself. Candle wax seemed to work. It hurt, it stung but it never scarred. The wax hit her flesh and she winced as the heat seared the delicate skin that covered her veins. Another dollop of melted wax fell onto her forearm. She’d be sixteen this month. In honor of her impending birthday she adorned herself with sixteen wax burns from her wrist to her inner elbow. With each burn she felt herself growing more and more aroused. The fire and the light and the heat seemed to come as much from within her as without. She breathed through the pain, conquering it, mastering it. Taking the pain made her feel stronger, powerful even.

  After the final burn, she dipped her arm into the bathtub and rinsed off the solidified candle wax. She stared at her skin, now raw and bright red from the burns. Lying back in the water, she slipped her right hand between her legs and found the tight knot of her clitoris. Clitoris. She loved that word. She’d been reading a magazine in the doctor’s office waiting room the first time she’d discovered it. It wasn’t a word she heard often or ever got to say out loud. Nobody used real words at school when talking about sex except during those embarrassing girls-only lectures in gym class. Even then it was menstruation and uteruses. No one ever talked about the clitoris, which seemed crazy to her. It was the most amazing thing. When hers got swollen like this she could rub it between her fingers and these incredible feelings would wash all over her. She couldn’t believe her own body could make her feel this good. Every time she touched herself she became aware of an emptiness inside her, a hollowness in her hips. That hollowness ached to be opened up, explored and filled.

  Carefully she eased two fingers inside herself. Going inside always made her nervous, which added to the excitement. She felt resistance against her fingers, like something would rip if she pushed in too hard. But she had to go inside. Her body wanted it. The heat inside her vagina surprised her. Was it from the hot water in the bathtub, or did that fire come from within her? Maybe it came from Søren. With her eyes closed she could easily imagine lying on a bed, naked and waiting. And in her mind, Søren crawled over her, kissing her stomach, her hips, her breasts. In her mind she reached for him, wrapping her arms around his shoulders, pulling him to her. Had he had sex before? Or was he a virgin like she was? What would he be like in bed? Gentle? Careful? Rough? Did he talk or stay silent? Would he tell her he loved her or simply show her all night long?

  She felt the pressure building in her lower back and stomach as she rubbed her clitoris again with her thumb. Her body rose in the water as muscles deep in her hips and her bottom started to contract and flutter. She felt like a taut cello string had been plucked inside her. Everything hummed and vibrated. At last the pressure reached its peak. The orgasm sent her clitoris pulsing hard between her fingers as if it had a heartbeat of its own. And within her, her vagina clenched over and over again, pressing against itself. In that final moment of pleasure, Eleanor imagined the moment Søren entered her body and buried himself deep in her, penetrating her like Teresa’s angel had, all the way into her entrails.

  As the climax waned, Eleanor sat up in the water and washed her hands and arms with soap. She’d started sweating in the bath so she turned the tap on and ran cold water now, splashing her face with it.

  Feeling relaxed and clean, Elle got out of the bath and wrapped a towel around herself. She drained the tub and hid the candles away. Friday night. Best night of the week.

  Eleanor padded to her room and curled up in bed. She found her secret notebook she kept hidden behind her headboard. She had to write down all the thoughts she had about Søren. In her mind she could see his pulse throbbing in the hollow of his throat and his unusually dark eyelashes casting shadows on his face. She wanted to capture those images before they were gone. They lived and died quick deaths in her mind. Ink could preserve them long after her mind had moved onto new fantasies.

  Søren thrust into her, she wrote. Thrust? She’d already used the word thrust twice in this scene. She got out her thesaurus and flipped to the entry for thrust.

  “Ram, jab, prod, push, poke, drill,” it read.

  Drill? He drilled into her?

  “He’s fucking me, not installing new kitchen cabinets,” she said to her useless thesaurus. Whatever. Back to writing. She’d fix her thrust issue later.

  Lost as she was in her writing, she at first ignored the tapping on her window. A branch, a bird, a burglar coming to rob them—she couldn’t give a damn about that now. Only when the tapping morphed into knocking did she turn her head toward the sound.

  Eleanor peered through the dirty glass and spied a man’s face. She flung the window open.

  “Dad, what the hell?” she whispered.

  “Long story. I need you to get your things and come with me.” His face wore no smile. She saw fear in his dark green eyes.

  “Dad, what’s—”

  “Get your stuff right now,” he ordered.

  “Okay, okay. I’ll be right back.” She started to pull away but her dad grabbed her hand.

  “Put on your school uniform. I’ll be waiting in the car.”

  He released her hand and stepped back into the darkness.

  In the bathroom Eleanor stripped out of her pajama shorts and T-shirt and pulled on her abandoned school uniform—plaid skirt, white polo shirt, tights and boots. She’d put her hair in pigtails when she’d gotten home from school in a failed effort to tame the black waves. She looked like some kind of cartoon character with the pigtails, the combat boots and the Catholic-schoolgirl getup. But her dad had promised to explain so she grabbed her coat, grabbed her backpack and snuck out the window, shutting it behind her.

  A beige Camry idled across the street. She’d never seen her father in a car so nondescript before. Bad sign.

  “So what’s up?” she asked as she threw herself in the passenger seat and her dad took off at twice the speed limit.

  “I’m in trouble,” he said.

  “How bad?”

  Her dad paused before answering.

  “Bad.”

  “Oh, fuck.”

 
Yeah, I got into some money trouble a few months ago. I had to take out a loan. They called it in early. I either pay by morning or—”

  Eleanor gripped her knees in fear. Her hands shook. Her stomach flip-flopped.

  “Or I don’t.”

  She leaned forward and breathed through her hands. “Or you don’t …”

  Her dad tried to shield her from what really happened at his shop. And when he talked about his business partners, he never used the words mafia or mob—because he didn’t have to. She was young, not stupid. She’d seen enough gangster movies to know the score. If her father didn’t pay back his loan by dawn, he was in trouble. Bad trouble.

  “What do you want from me?” she asked.

  “We need quick money. Manhattan. I have the crew out and working. We need more.”

  “Dad, I can’t—”

  “You can. You’re faster than any of the guys on my crew.”

  “That’s only in the garage. I’ve never done this on the street before.”

  “It’ll be easy. No one will worry about a girl your age in a school uniform. They’ll think you’re some private-school snob wandering around after curfew.”

  “What if I get caught?”

  “You’re not going to get caught. It’ll take two hours. You’ll be in bed by morning.”

  “No way. This is crazy. Take me home.” Eleanor shook her head and fought off a wave of nausea. Yeah, she knew how to steal a car. She’d known as long as she could remember. This way to bend the hanger. This wire to that wire. But that was a game she played in her dad’s garage in Queens, something to do to impress her dad and the guys he worked with. Look at me, I can do it faster than you. They’d pat her on her head, applaud, tell her she needed to work for them instead of wasting her time in school. Those were jokes, funny cracks, playtime.

  “Honey. I need your help here. I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t life and death.”

  Life and death. She closed her eyes and tried to ignore the visions of her father lying in casket that danced through her head. Casket? Probably not. If he didn’t pay off the mob, there wouldn’t be enough left of him for a casket.

  “Don’t call me honey.”

  They drove in silence the rest of the way to the city. Friday night in Manhattan, all the money had come out to play. Up ahead on the left Eleanor spotted a black Jaguar trying to parallel park in front of a bar.

  “Elle—” her father began but she didn’t let him finish.

  “How many?”

  He shrugged. “Five?”

  “Five. Fine. I’ll see you at the shop.” She opened the door and slammed it behind her.

  Five cars. Home by dawn. No one would suspect her.

  Eleanor walked down the sidewalk, not taking her eyes off the Jag. Finally the driver managed to worm the car into the spot. He opened the driver’s side door and Eleanor stood on the passenger side.

  “Sir, I think you hit that car behind you,” she said over the roof.

  “What?” He barely glanced at her. “No way.”

  “Looks like it to me. Check the bumper.”

  The driver, who looked half-drunk already, stumbled to the rear of the car and bent over.

  “Nah, it’s good. You scared me there.” He pointed at her over the trunk and smiled.

  “No problem. My mistake.”

  He walked into the bar, barely giving her a second look. He didn’t seem to notice that while he’d examined the rear bumper, she’d unlatched the passenger side door. When she was certain no one on the street was paying her any attention, she dropped into the car and shut the door behind her.

  Seconds later, she was on her way to Queens.

  She’d snagged the Jag so fast she beat her father back to the garage.

  Sitting on the hood of the car, she watched the shop at work. They’d known her since she was a baby; Jimmie, Jake, Levon and Kev had entertained her with card tricks and jokes and let her watch them working under the hoods of the cars anytime she’d come around. Now they barely glanced at her. In fact, in the past year whenever she’d stopped by they all treated her like a stranger.

  “Nice Jag,” Oz, the oldest guy on her dad’s crew, said as he shuffled past her. He had so much grease and oil on his overalls she couldn’t tell what color they were supposed to be. “Yours?”

  “Mine. I’m keeping it.”

  “You got good taste, kiddo.”

  “In cars only. I suck at picking parents.”

  Oz raised his hands. “You know he wouldn’t have asked if he wasn’t desperate.”

  “How desperate?”

  Oz glanced around. He looked back at her and dropped his voice to a whisper.

  “Told me five hundred.”

  Eleanor couldn’t wrap her mind around the number.

  “Five hundred … thousand?”

  Oz nodded. “Had to borrow to pay off an old debt. Swapped an old debt for a new one.”

  “Jesus H. Christ.” Eleanor sighed. Someone had loaned her dad five hundred thousand dollars? Wonder what he’d spent it on. She’d gotten nothing for Christmas from him.

  Oz patted her knee and started to shuffle away again.

  “Hey, Oz?”

  “Yeah, toots?”

  “Do Kev and Jake hate me for some reason?” Even now Kev and Jake eyed her from their various posts. Both of them were in their mid-twenties, her dad’s two best guys.

  Oz burst into peals of big-bellied laughter.

  “Hate you, toots? Hell, no.”

  “Then what’s their problem?”

  “They don’t wanna piss off your papa by getting caught staring at his baby. You’re getting too pretty for your own good. Stop that, now. And get rid of those pigtails. That only makes it worse.” He slapped the side of her leg in a fatherly sort of way and headed back to work. Eleanor couldn’t believe these guys she’d known since she was a tiny seven-year-old, and they were zit-faced teenagers, now couldn’t even talk to her because she had boobs. She yanked her ponytail holders out of her hair.

  Eleanor glanced around the garage while she waited. Bad night. Everybody working like demons. She’d never seen the garage looking so dismal or so frenzied. A great furnace boiled with flames in one corner casting heat but no light. The whole place smelled of smoke and sulfur. She couldn’t wait to get the hell out of here.

  Finally her father pulled in the back entrance and got out of the Camry.

  “One down,” Eleanor said as he glanced first at the car and then at her. “Four to go.”

  A convertible driven by her dad’s friend Tony pulled up outside the back entrance to the garage. Eleanor threw herself inside.

  “Where to?” Tony asked as he peeled out and onto the street.

  “Find me some rich bitches. They keep their cars cleaner.”

  “Gramercy Park it is then, ma’am.”

  On 23rd Street, she nabbed a Mercedes. Too easy. They hadn’t even locked the fucking thing.

  Canal Street netted them one BMW, silver. It handled like a dream. Such a pretty car it broke Eleanor’s heart to scratch the window with the coat hanger. She didn’t want to think about the thousand different parts it would be chopped up into by tomorrow morning.

  On Union Street she spotted a high-end Acura, bright red, parked outside a restaurant. The owner had probably tipped the hostess to keep an eye on it. The hostess was probably off getting stoned in the kitchen.

  “Four down, one to go,” she said to her dad as she tossed him the Acura’s spare keys. The genius owner had left the set in the visor. She didn’t even have to wire this one.

  “Be careful,” he called out as she headed back to the street.

  She flipped him off on her way out the door.

  One more car and it would be done. One more and she could go home to bed. With all the adrenaline surging through her body, she knew she’d crash hard the second she got home and wouldn’t wake up until noon.

  As Tony drove her into SoHo, Eleanor kept her eye out for a nice American car.
American manufacturers were arrogant, and that made them shit at security. No Ford or Dodge had ever put up much of a fight.

  “Nice …” Tony purred as he spotted a car in tiny ten-space paid-parking lot.

  She saw what he saw the second after he saw it. A Shelby Mustang. Looked like a 1966 to her, not that she’d bet her life on that. She knew make and model on sight, but she wasn’t enough of a nerd to bother with all the years. She’d leave that to her dad.

  “It’s mine,” she said. Tony wolf whistled his agreement.

 
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