The Saint(4)

By: Tiffany Reisz

“You’re so beautiful in white.” Nico whispered the words into her ear as he ran his hand down her back, caressing the silk of her gown.

Nora said nothing. She’d bought the white gown to wear for Søren on their anniversary, a celebration that wouldn’t happen now.

She released the medal and it fell once more against her skin. She wrapped her arms around Nico’s broad shoulders and pressed her breasts to his chest. He wore a basic black cotton T-shirt and work jeans. She wore a silk nightgown. He’d been working all day and had come to her with mud on his boots. She’d been mourning all week and came to him with sorrow in her heart.

“I want to spend all night inside you,” Nico breathed against her neck.

She pulled away from his embrace, but only to take him by the hand.

“Come upstairs,” she said. “We can sleep when we’re dead.”

She led him up to the bedroom. He released her hand to tend to the fading fire. He fed it with paper first, then kindling, then threw a log on top of the smoldering flames. The room warmed and glowed red from the heat and firelight.

“You’re good at that,” Nora said. “Do you have a fireplace at your house?”

“Two of them,” he said. Two of zem. Nora bit the inside of her mouth to keep from laughing. She’d learned from Nico that he’d spent a year in California and another year in Australia in his teens. Even though he lived in France now, he’d mastered English to the point that his accent was faint. Still there, but certainly not as pronounced as Kingsley’s deliberately exaggerated accent. But every now and then Nico’s accent came out in full force. “You should come to my home. I’d like you to see it.”

She’d refused all invitations to come to his home and instead met him in neutral locations—Arles, Marseille. She knew once they were alone together in his house or hers this would happen. And so it had.

“If I come to your house, will you put me to work?” she asked as she came to stand next to him. The fire crackled and a burning ash landed near her foot. Nico brushed it away with his bare hand.

“Everyone works at Rosanella.”

“I still can’t believe you are what you are.”

“Why not?” He smiled up at her.

“Kingsley does not get his hands dirty. Not in the literal sense anyway.”

“You think he’s ashamed that I’m a farmer?”

“You make wine. He drinks wine. He’s proud of you.”

Whether he’d admit it or not, Kingsley had fallen in love with the idea of being Nico’s father. “My son the vintner,” he said sometimes, and Nora saw the pride in his eyes. It broke her heart that Nico had yet to feel any pride that Kingsley was his father.

“And you?” Nico looked up at her from where he knelt on the floor. “Are you proud of me?”

“Does it matter?”

“It matters more that you’re proud of me than him.”

She caressed his face with the back of her hand. The slight stubble on his chin chafed her skin. Once she’d asked him what he was looking for every time he went to bed with a woman ten, fifteen, twenty years older than he. A mother figure? A teacher? A trainer? “My Rosanella,” Nico had answered, referring to the name of his vineyard’s bestselling Syrah, “the one woman who is all women.”

“Yes, my Nico. I’m proud of you.”

They gazed at each other. The shutters were closed. Fire alone warmed and brightened the room. Outside, the wind and rain poured and howled so wildly she imagined everyone but she and Nico had been wiped off the face of the earth. Only they two remained, sole survivors.

Nico rose up on his knees, put his hands on her waist and kissed her stomach through the fabric of her gown. Slowly he slid his hands down the backs of her legs and grasped her ankles. Nora buried her fingers in his hair as he kissed her bare thigh where it peeked out of the hip-high slit in her nightgown. He ran his hands back up her legs. Everything he did, every way he touched her, set her nerves tingling and her stomach tightening. Now with his thumbs he parted the slit of her gown. Nora grasped the bedpost behind her as Nico pressed a kiss onto the apex of her thighs. She pushed her hips forward as Nico sought her clitoris with his tongue.

“What’s this?” he asked, tickling the little metal hoop he’d found.

“Clit ring.”

Nico raised an eyebrow.

“I’m going to play with that later.”

“You can play with it now.”

She opened her legs wider, and he slid one finger between her wet seam and inside her. He hooked his finger over her pubic bone and ground his fingertip into the soft indention he found there.

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