The Saint(3)

By: Tiffany Reisz

“Like father, like son.” She sighed. “You’re as sneaky as Kingsley.”

“Are you angry?”

“No, I’m not angry.” She raised her hand to her forehead and rubbed at the tension headache lurking there. Nico pulled her hand down and looked at her with concern.

“Need food? Wine?” she asked before he could ask her how she was—a question she didn’t want to answer. “Or did you bring your own?”

“There might be a bottle or two of Rosanella in the car.”

“I won’t make you bring them in,” she said. Outside the storm still raged wild.

“I will later. First things first.” Nico took her by the wrist and pulled her close.

“Nico …”

“Don’t,” he said. “Don’t fight me. Let me help you.”

Sighing, Nora rested her head against his chest and let him rub the knot of tension in her neck. When they’d met in December she’d had Zach with her, and Nico—only his mother called him Nicholas, he’d said—had shown her editor/friend/occasional lover all due deference. But when she visited again a month later, Nico did nothing to hide his delight at having her to himself. He was barely twenty-five. Handsome and young and French, what reason did he have for wanting her—nearly twelve years his senior and with a long history of sleeping with the man he’d learned was his biological father? She got her answer while they were out walking one day. Two women—a mother and daughter—had stopped them, asking for directions. The mother looked forty years old, the daughter around Nico’s age. Both were well-dressed classic French beauties. Nico barely blinked at the daughter. To the mother he’d flashed a smile so flirtatious even his father would have been impressed. Kingsley’s son had a fetish for older women.

Well … how nice.

“You’re in pain,” he said. “I can feel it all through you.”

“I like pain,” she reminded him.

“No one likes this kind of pain. I would know.”

She lowered her eyes in sympathy. The man who’d raised Nico as his son had died five months ago. A month after that, she’d shown up and told him he had another father, which had torn the stitches on his still-healing grief. If anyone understood the pain she felt right now, it was Nico.

“Let me ease your pain tonight.”

“How?” She looked up at him. “Can you bring people back to life?”

“I can bring you back to life.”

She almost told him he was as arrogant as his father, but before she could speak, he kissed her.

Nervous as a virgin, her lips trembled under his. If it had been anyone but him, she would have wondered at this newfound shyness. She’d never been shy, never been demure, never been innocent. And yet, this was Kingsley’s only son, and by sleeping with him she would lose something far more dear to her than her virginity had ever been.

“You’re shaking,” Nico said against her lips.

“I’m scared.”

“Scared? Why?”

“I don’t know.”

“I’m here,” he whispered. “You don’t have to be afraid.”

He was here. That was why she was afraid. But the fear didn’t stop her from opening her mouth to receive his kiss. He kissed along her jawline to her ear, nipped at her earlobe. Over the pulse point in her neck, he pressed a long, languid kiss. The heat from his mouth seared her all the way to her spine. His kisses were neither tentative nor hurried. As he kissed her, her muscles slackened, her skin flushed with heat and the fear faded. For the first time in days, she felt human. Since meeting back in December, she and Nico had been in weekly contact. Emails, phone calls—he even wrote her letters by hand. Letters she read and reread and answered. Letters she burned before anyone found them.

Her head fell back as Nico kissed the hollow of her throat. He placed his hands on either side of her neck and rubbed his thumbs into the tendons of her shoulders.

“What’s this?” he asked as he lifted the chain of her necklace.

Nora wrapped her hand around the pendant. She couldn’t talk about it yet. It meant too much to her. Especially now.

“A saint medal. It’s a Catholic thing.”

“I know about saints. I am one, remember?”

“Saint Nicholas brought me Christmas early this year,” she said, smiling as he kissed her throat. “Although sleeping with him will put me on the naughty list for eternity.”

“It’s my list. I’ll be the judge of that.” He slipped the strap of her nightgown off her shoulder and traced her bare shoulder with his fingertips. Her body shivered with the pleasure from the touch of his work-roughened skin.

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