The siren, p.35
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       The Siren, p.35

         Part #1 of The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz
 
Page 35

  Author: Tiffany Reisz

  “I’m afraid I’ve reached my two drink maximum. ”

  Søren gave him a slight smile. “I do have some sway here. ”

  “Another G&T. ”

  “Of course. ” Søren leaned forward and the young woman rose up on her knees. He cupped his hand around her face and whispered something in her ear. She blushed, smiled and whispered something in reply. Søren paused and seemed to consider her words. He turned his head, whispered again and the girl rose and hurried to the bar.

  “May I ask what that was about?”

  “Simply giving her our drink order. ” Søren snapped his fingers at Griffin and pointed to the floor. Immediately Griffin went down on his hands and knees at Søren’s feet displaying for them a perfectly flat back.

  “Giving her our drink order required hushed whispering?” Zach asked.

  “Not at all,” Søren said with dark amusement glimmering in his steel-colored eyes. “But even a drink order can be an intimate act when done properly. ” He raised his legs, resting his feet on Griffin’s back. The girl returned with Zach’s gin and tonic and a glass of red wine for the priest. Søren took the glass from her hand and pressed a kiss inside her palm. After another brief exchange of whispers, the girl floated off. Zach raised an eyebrow at him.

  “Just saying a simple thank-you,” Søren explained.

  Zach glanced down as Griffin looked up at him and winked. He started to argue with Søren—nothing about him seemed remotely simple—but at that moment Nora entered the bar through the side door and strode toward their table.

  Rarely in his life had Zach been so glad to see someone. He ran his eyes up and down her—she seemed completely unharmed by whatever activity had distracted her for the past hour. She gave Søren the most perfunctory of curtsies and stepped onto the platform, ignoring Griffin’s attempts to bite her ankles. She collapsed dramatically onto Zach’s lap and Zach wrapped an arm around her waist. Such possessive alpha male maneuvers were never his style, but he couldn’t resist showing Søren that he and Nora weren’t completely in his thrall.

  “Where have you been, my dear?” Zach wanted to see how Søren would react to outright flirtation. He dropped a kiss on her bare shoulder.

  “Sorry that took so long. ” Nora took a quick drink of Zach’s gin and tonic. “Had to do a favor for a friend. ”

  Zach breathed in and recognized a sweet and heady scent on her skin—a familiar scent that Grace’s skin had carried after they’d made love. She hadn’t been with Søren, he knew. Or Griffin…Zach remembered the lingerie in his pocket and wondered if she’d run off with another woman.

  “Quite all right, Eleanor. ” Søren dipped his middle finger into his wine and delicately ran the wet tip slowly around the rim of the glass. “I kept your guest entertained in your absence. ”

  Nora shot Griffin a dirty look, but Griffin only shrugged a helpless apology from the floor.

  “Well, Zach and I both had a long night then,” she said to Søren. Leaning back against Zach’s chest, she asked, “You ready to go?”

  “Absolutely,” Zach said and stared at Søren. Zach saw no jealousy in Søren’s eyes, but no mercy, either. Zach realized he could never win in a game with this man, especially not on his territory.

  “With your permission, sir,” she said to Søren.

  “Of course. I will show you out. ”

  “That won’t be necessary. ” Zach stood by Nora and took her hand. She moved her fingers in his grip, wrapping them tightly around his thumb.

  “I insist,” Søren said. Nora squeezed Zach’s hand in a warning. Apparently Søren was not to be denied.

  Søren stepped to the floor and set his glass of wine on Griffin’s back, balancing it on the flat plane between his shoulder blades. “Stay,” Søren ordered Griffin who stayed stiff and motionless on the floor. Søren offered Nora his arm and Zach was pleased to feel her reluctance to let him go.

  Søren and Nora led as Zach followed closely behind. They went back down the elevator and across the pit where the play had grown louder as more Circle denizens had joined in. Zach expected Søren to leave them at the elevator, but the priest entered it with them, taking a key and inserting it under the down button. The doors closed and the elevator ascended. The door opened onto the first entry hallway and Zach stepped out.

  “Excuse us, Zachary,” Søren said, still inside the elevator. “I need another word with Eleanor. ”

  Søren flicked his wrist and the doors closed once more leaving Zach alone in the empty hall.

  * * *

  “Søren, let me out,” Nora demanded. “Zach and I want to get home. ”

  “He can wait. We have things to discuss. ”

  “We have nothing to discuss. ”

  “Not even Michael?”

  Nora sighed. There was no point in fighting Søren.

  “Yes, of course. Michael was lovely. Thank you very much. ”

  “You are certainly welcome. I take it Michael is no longer a virgin?”

  “No, of course not. ”

  Søren nodded. “How funny. ”

  “What is?” Nora said, exasperated.

  “Tonight you took the virginity of a boy you’ve never met…and yet you still think you can keep Wesley safe from you. ”

  “It’s different. Michael’s obviously one of us. Wes is vanilla. Michael’s a sub. Michael was born—”

  “Michael was born fifteen years ago. ”

  Nora could only gape at him.

  “You gave me an underage boy for our anniversary?” she breathed in shock.

  Søren smiled and moved closer to her. She backed into the farthest corner of the elevator.

  “Yes, I did. ” He stroked her face with the back of his hand. “Which you would have known had you asked. But I knew you wouldn’t ask. And so tell me again how safe Wesley is with you. ”

  “You bastard. ” She tried to turn her face away from his hand but she had nowhere to go. “God, you’ll do anything to make a point, won’t you?”

  “Yes, but it wasn’t for that reason alone. I had to give him some incentive to stay alive. ”

  “And I was the incentive?”

  Søren brushed her hair with the back of his hand. “You have kept me alive all these years. ”

  Nora shook her head, moved away from his hand.

  “I will do whatever I can to protect you even if I’m only protecting you from yourself. You are a creature of appetite. You take what you desire without thought or remorse. And that is how God created you and it is much of why I love you. But do not stand there and claim to be otherwise. Not with me. I know you. You must make a choice, little one—bring Wesley into this world with you or let him go. ”

  “I won’t do either. And he stays with me for as long as he wants to. ”

  Søren stared her down with a look of pure skepticism.

  “Fine,” she said. “I admit it. I can’t be trusted with him. But it doesn’t matter because he can be trusted with me. ”

  “Wesley…you don’t even know him. The things he has kept from you—”

  “Wes is perfect the way he is. I don’t care if he has secrets. He’ll tell me when he’s ready. I won’t ask him to change. ”

  Søren turned away from her.

  “Of course you won’t. God forbid you allow anyone to make any kind of sacrifice for you. Because if Wesley changed for you, then you would be indebted to him. And you won’t allow that. You are so in love with your own profligate freedom that you refuse to even be grateful to another person lest you be weighed down by the smallest shred of guilt or obligation. ” Søren faced her again. “Your obsession with your own liberty is why Wesley is still a virgin and I am still a priest. ”

  Nora raised her hands to her face. “Don’t bring that up. Please. ”

  “I offered to leave the priesthood for you and instead you left me. ”

/>   “You never wanted to leave,” Nora said, facing him angrily. “You just wanted to keep me any way you could. I couldn’t let you give up your life for me. ”

  Nora tried to pull away as Søren reached out for her hands. But his grip proved too strong. He moved her hands away from her face and looked at her.

  “You are now and always my life. ” His voice was so soft and true that she couldn’t even look back at him.

  “You love being a priest. The priesthood is a sacrament. You can’t quit it. It’s who you are. ”

  “Yes, I love it. Yes, it’s who I am. And yes, I was willing to give it up so we could be together. But you couldn’t allow that. ”

  “I still won’t. And I won’t turn Wes into something he doesn’t want to be, either. You say it’s because I refuse to be indebted to anyone. I say it’s because I won’t let you two fuck up your lives for me. ”

  “And we have no say in this?”

  Nora finally found the courage to meet his eyes. Even after five years, no, eighteen years, she still couldn’t look at his face without falling in love with him even more. Time sharpened the edge of her love for him. It cut into her more and more with each passing year.

  “No,” she said. “You don’t. And neither does Wes. Whatever he wants to do or be, that’s his decision. I don’t own him. And you don’t own me. ”

  Søren rose to his full height. What charity had been in his eyes was now gone. He put his hand on the elevator key but did not turn it.

  “I have seen both hell and purgatory. I assure you, purgatory is the more fearsome punishment. ”

  “I can be me and be with Wes, too. I don’t have to choose. ”

  “You will eventually. You will have to choose between this life or the one Wesley promises. You think because you’re a Switch in the bedroom, you can be a Switch in all aspects of your life. You will have to decide one day if you’re a professional writer, or just a professional who writes. And whatever you decide, you must tell Zachary who you really are. If you care about him at all, he must know. ”

  Nora growled. Søren was merciless tonight.

  “I’m surprised you didn’t tell him. I know you were trying to scare him off. ”

  “Only testing his courage to see if he was worthy of you. He impressed me, but still he’s quite in love with his wife. I’ll allow him to hurt you, Eleanor, but if he dares harm you, I will not be happy with him. ”

  Nora repressed a shiver of fear. She’d seen Søren not happy with someone who’d hurt her before.

  “I appreciate the chivalry. I think I can handle Zach on my own. ”

  Søren cupped the side of her face and forced her to meet his eyes.

  “Marriage is a sacrament, too, Eleanor. If Zachary offers to finally leave his wife for you, will you run from him as you ran from me?”

  “I told you—I didn’t run from you. ”

  “You can’t have him and Wesley. Neither of them will allow that. ”

  “I don’t have Wesley. The kid’s been with me for over a year and he’s still a virgin. Obviously I don’t have him. ”

  “You have him as much as I had you even when you were still a virgin. You believe he remains celibate because of his faith?”

  “Of course he does. ”

  “Wesley is celibate now for the same reason I was celibate eighteen years ago. ”

  Nora scoffed. “What? Because he’s a priest?”

  “No,” Søren said, leaning in to meet her eye to eye. “Because he’s waiting for you to grow up. ”
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