Updated: Jan 23
by Tiffany Reisz
Published by MIRA books
Book #8 in the Original Sinners Series
Book #4 in the Original Sinners Series: The White Years
Once upon a time, Nora and Søren made a fateful deal—if he gave her everything, she would give him forever.
The time has finally come to keep their promises.
Out of money and out of options after her year-long exile, Eleanor Schreiber agrees to join forces with Kingsley Edge, the king of kink. After her first taste of power as a Dominant, Eleanor buries her old submissive self and transforms into Mistress Nora, the Red Queen. With the help of a mysterious young man with a job even more illicit than her own, Nora squares off against a cunning rival in her quest to become the most respected, the most feared Dominatrix in the Underground.
While new lovers and the sweet taste of freedom intoxicate Nora, she is tempted time and time again by Søren, her only love and the one man who refuses to bow to her. But when Søren accepts a new church assignment in a dangerous country, she must make an agonizing choice—will the queen keep her throne and let her lover go, or trade in her crown for Søren's collar?
With a shattering final confession, the last link in the chain is forged in The Original Sinners saga. It's the closing chapter in a story of salvation, sacrifice and the multitude of scars we collect in the name of ecstasy—and love.
RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Steamy #Erotica Exciting
The Queen by Tiffany Reisz is the eighth book in the Original Sinners series, and is the first book in the series that is only told from Nora's perspective. The Queen is Nora's story, from the moment The Virgin ended, with Elle asking Kingsley for a job, to the moment she met Wesley. The story is Nora's confession to Søren, about the moments she was going to go back to him, but didn't.
The Queen was good. Really good. We see Eleanor/Elle become the dominatrix she was always meant to be, and become the Nora Sutherlin we love all the way to the first book, The Siren. This book is about a woman becoming who she is, making goals for herself, while still struggling with her love for Søren, he ex-master, and Kingsley, her boss. As always with this series, The Queen is wonderfully unique, and has a story that is easy to get lost in ... which I find unusual for erotica. Unusual, but amazing. The story flow was perfect, and the time jumps didn't hurt the story whatsoever.
The characters have all grown so much from the start of the series, to now, and have learned to accept one another for who they are. Much to their surprise, it only made their bonds with one another stronger. Nora went from a spunky, fierce teenager, to the ultimate submissive (with her attitude still in place, of course), to a lost woman, to the best dominatrix in America, and ultimately, to settling down with two men who give her freedom to be herself: a switch. Outlets for both parts of her. Søren went from terrifying dominant, who wouldn't give an inch, to others or himself, to finally letting go, and learning that in letting go some of the control, he found happiness. (We also get an explanation as to why he was the way he was in the first book, The Siren, which was very different from how he is naturally) Kingsley also gets everything he wanted. Juliette, who he loves and is the mother of the children he always wanted, and Søren, who finally caved in to his desires to be intimate with Kingsley once again. Zach and Grace are happily in love and amazing parents to Fionn. Everyone finds happiness. I wish we could have had an update on Wesley and Laila. Wesley is such a huge part of the first four books, after all.
The Queen was meant to be the final book in the series, but a ninth book, The Priest, was released not too long ago, continuing the story, but in a new format: A mystery. Intriguing. The Queen did end on a beautiful note. Everyone happy. In love. Surrounded by love. Left open-ended though, so the story could continue ... which is does. And I am so happy is does.
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"Love is merely a madness; and, I ell you, deserves as well a dark house and a whip as madmen do; and the reason why they are not so punished'd and cured is that lunacy is so ordinary that the whippers are in love too." - William Shakespeare, As You Like It
God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful: he makes saints out of sinners - Søren Kirkegaard, The Journals of Kierkegaard
Nora: "Stop looking at me like that." Søren:: "Why?" Nora: "You're on duty, Father Stearns." Søren:: "Can I look at you like that after the wedding." Nora: “Today you can do anything you want.” Søren:: “Watch out. I’ll hold you to that promise.”
Søren:: “For heaven’s sake, Griffin, people have places to be. Can’t you save the consummation until later?” Griffin: “Nope.”
Nora: “Remember that story I wrote about Queen Esther when I was in high school?” Søren:: “How could I forget it? I must have read it a thousand times.” Nora: “You did?” Søren:: “An erotic story written by a beautiful sixteen-year-old girl I was desperately and unrepentantly in love with and featuring a hero who looked suspiciously like me? I read it until the ink faded and the pages crumbled.”
Søren:: “Do you forgive me, Little One?” Nora: “What mortal sin have you committed recently?” Søren:: “You know my sins better than I do.” Nora: “Yes. Which is why I tell you there is no need to bed forgiveness for anything.” Søren:: “You have a forgiving heart. I have always admired that about you.” Nora: “I know myself. I know my own weaknesses and failures. Jesus was always so kind to sinners and so cruel to hypocrites.” Søren:: “Am I a hypocrite?” Nora: “You’re human.” Søren:: “You don’t have to be insulting, Eleanor.”
Søren:: “We live each day like it’s our last.But not by running about wildly, attempting to cram every possible experience into one day.Instead … every day we should make our peace with God and each other.Say what needs to be said and not leave it for another time.If I knew I would die tomorrow I’d spend all night telling you and Kingsley how much I love you both, and I wouldn’t let God take me until I was certain you knew I meant every word.I would sing it to you like the angels sing praise to God in heaven – unceasingly.”
Nora:“We know. Kingsley and I, we already know.”
Søren:: “But I would still tell you. Even if you didn’t need to hear it, I would have to tell you.”
Nora: "This could be my last chance to confess to you, after all."
Søren: "I won't leave the priesthood. I promised you I wouldn't."
Nora: "You were in the wedding pictures. You performed a same-sex marriage. You kissed me in front of two hundred wedding guests, half of them we don't know. You can tell me all you want that it's fine, that it won't matter, but we both know those are not the actions of a man who is planning on being a priest for much longer."
Søren: "I have to tell them. Some things shouldn't be secrets."
Nora: "You tell them the truth, and the will kick you out."
Søren: "Possibly. I've made choices, difficult ones, but I did it in full knowledge of the consequences. Nothing stays the same forever, after all."
Nora: "That's not true. My love for you is forever. I made that promise, and I will keep it. But tomorrow or next week or next month you might not be a priest anymore. So please ... hear my confession and absolve me? One last time?"
Kingsley: "You will be offering a service others will not."
Kingsley: "Sex would hardly warrant five thousand an hour. Almost anyone can lie on their back, close their eyes, and think of France."
Elle: "It's England."
Kingsley: "Why would anyone think of England during sex?"
Kingsley: "The first time I saw you, you nearly gave a boy a concussion because he committed the unforgivable sin of annoying you when you weren't in the mood to be annoyed. He was talking back to a priest and stood up. I saw you stretch out your leg and hook your boot under his chair and slide it aside right at the moment he tried to sit back down. He landed on the floor so hard I heard a crack and thought it was either a rib or his skull. And you ..."
Elle: "I put my feet on his chest."
Kingsley: "No, you put your boots on his chest and told him to shut the fuck up. That instant, I know you were wither going to grow up to be a dominatrix ... or a sociopath. I was hard as a rock watching you and you were barely sixteen years old. I could come right now thinking of it."
Kingsley caressed her cheek with the back of his fingers. He narrowed his eyes at her, his expression inscrutable.
Elle: "What? What is it?"
Kingsley: "I missed you. Forgive me. I just realized that."
Elle: "I missed you, too."
Kingsley: "What made your decision? Him?"
Elle: "You. I'm not done beating the shit out of you yet."
Kingsley: "Will you marry me?"
Elle: "No offense, King, but I'd go back to the convent first."
Kingsley: "And I'd join the priesthood before marrying you, as well."
Elle: "How is he?"
Kingsley: "Not the question someone usually asks about someone she hates."
Elle: "I want to know he's hurting."
Kingsley: "Then you'll be happy to hear he is."
Kingsley: "Prove it."
Elle: "Prove it? How?"
Kingsley: "By acting like the domme I know you are. Once you are a domme, I will be your client, and you can do anything you want to me."
Kingsley met her eyes and whispered
Elle: "You're going to regret that."
Kingsley: "I can't wait to regret it."
Kingsley: "You aren't going to call me 'sir'?"
Kingsley: "And why not?"
Elle: "Because I'm not a submissive anymore. I don't call anyone 'sir.'"
Kingsley: "Glad you finally are realizing this. It's about fucking time."
Elle: "Don't lose the weight? Those are the sexiest four words anyone has ever said to me."
Søren: "Look at me. You know that, don't you? You know you could never disappoint me? Yes?"
Griffin: "King said if you saw me, you'd probably jump me, and if we're fucking I won't be able to do my job of keeping an eye on you if we're having sex since I do most of my thinking with my cock."
Elle: "King thinks that although I haven't seen you in over a year, I will jump your bones the first chance I get and then you won't be able to follow me because I'll know you're there? That's the situation? That's why you're stalking me?"
Griffin: "Well ... yeah."
Caught red-handed. Shamefaced. Slightly embarrassed. Utterly adorable. And Griffin looked at her as if Christmas came early this year, and he'd been a very good boy.
Elle: "Well, you want to know something?"
Elle: "King was right?"
Elle: "Please, what?"
Griffin: "I have to fuck you."
Elle: "No one has to fuck me. You want to fuck me. Going without sex never killed anybody."
Griffin: "But why take that chance?"
Elle: "I have to tell you something."
Elle: "I haven't had sex with a man in over a year."
Griffin: "How are you even alive? Over a year without sex? How's that even possible?"
Elle: "I was in a convent, Griffin. No men in convents."
Griffin: "Then order delivery. There are people who will bring the sex to your house."
Elle: "It's okay. I said I hadn't had sex with a man in over a year. I have had sex."
Griffin: "You fucked a girl."
Elle: "Shh ... don't tell."
Griffin fell sideways, collapsing on the bed.
Griffin: "Was she hot?"
Elle: "She was a twenty-one-year-old virgin with small breasts and long legs. And yes, she was hot."
Griffin: "She was a virgin until you?"
Elle: "Yes. I fisted her our first night together."
Griffin gasped and looked down at his crotch
Griffin: "Oh my God."
Elle: "What's wrong?"
Griffin: "My cock twitched. I didn't know it could do that."
Elle: "Can you be serious for two seconds?"
Griffin: "I am serious. It wiggled like one of those plastic flower toys that dance when you play music."
Elle: "I haven't had anyone or anything inside me for a longtime. I might be a little ... tight."
Griffin: "I can handle tight. I buy lube in bulk. Can we fuck now please?"
Elle: "Not yet. You aren't ready."
Griffin looked down at his crotch
Griffin: "He just told me he's ready. Telepathically."
Elle: "You're bi -"
Griffin: "I am? Oh, yeah. I am. Sorry. I'm focused on your pussy right now. Almost forgot."
Griffin: "I came home early."
Elle: "Why? Bored?"
Griffin: "I checked my messages. King said you were back."
Elle: "You came back from your trip early, because you heard I came back?"
Griffin: "Told you. I missed you."
Elle: "I didn't think anyone would miss me. I mean, anyone but him."
Elle: "Yeah, him."
Griffin: "I know this might surprise you, but I'd gotten used to the idea of thinking we were friends. Almost best friends. I wanted us to be that and you acted like that's what you wanted, too. Then you disappeared and you didn't tell me where you went or why you left. So obviously we weren't best friends if you couldn't tell me where you were going, which is fine. That's cool. But knowing you didn't feel the same about me didn't make me feel any differently about you. When King said you were back in the city, I came back the same day. And when he said he wanted me to keep an eye on you since you were, you know, going through a rough adjustment period, I said I would. Because maybe if I keep an eye on you, next time you run off I'll know where you went."
Elle: "Do you want to be my best friend?"
Griffin: "With benefits?"
Griffin: "I'm in. Buddy."
Elle: "Good, old pal."
Elle: "Pick a number between one and ten."
Elle: "You heard me."
Griffin: "What am I picking?"
Elle: "I'm not going to tell you until you've picked your number."
Griffin: "But how to I know what number to pick until I know what I'm picking?"
Griffin narrowed his eyes at her
Griffin: "You're evil."
Elle: "Still waiting on that number, Griff."
Griffin: "Fine. I don't know. Seven?"
Elle: "Seven. Good."
Griffin: "What's good? Why is seven good?"
Elle: "Because seven is the number of orgasms you're going to give me today. An when I've had seven you can fuck me. And you can't fuck me until I've had seven."
Griffin: "Seven orgasms? You want me to get you off seven times? One-for-each-day-of-the-week seven?"
Elle: "Is that a problem?"
Griffin: "Yes, that's a problem. A big problem."
Elle: "Is it? And why so?"
Griffin: "Because I should have picked ten."
Elle: "The clit. The only organ on the human body designed solely for pleasure. Proof God is a woman."
Elle: "I need to fuck you. I'll die if I don't."
Griffin: "No one ever died from not fucking."
Elle: "Whoever said that was an idiot. Get on your back, head by the footboard. I want to tie you up and use your cock for my own selfish needs. Do you have any objection to that?"
Griffin: "I -"
Elle: "Don't care. Just do it."
Elle: "Is there anywhere in the house you don't have condoms?"
Griffin: "The cookie jar. There are actual cookies in there. No. Wait. There are condoms in there, too. I ate all the cookies."
Elle: "You're ridiculous and sexy and ridiculously sexy."
Griffin: "I was afraid."
Elle: "Of what?"
Griffin: "Of never seeing you again."
Kingsley: "You enjoyed it with Griffin?"
Elle: "As much as he did. So ... a lot."
Kingsley: "My office. Now."
Elle: "Now? I'm so tired. I came like eight times today. I need to put an ice pack on my pussy."
Elle: "You told me once what would have happened if you'd seen me first. But I never told you what would have happened if I'd seen you first."
Kingsley: "What would have happened?"
Elle: "I would have fallen in love with you. I still remember that night I first saw you. The night of the wedding at Sacred Heart. I though I'd never meet a man who tempted me like Søren did. And then you waltzed in whistling and wearing those boots and your bad attitude and you threatened to lose your watch in me. The reason I didn't fall in love with you that night was because I'd already given my whole heart to him. But if I'd seen you first ... and wasn't in love with him, I would have loved you."
Kingsley: "Yes. I believe that. And I would have fallen in love with you."
Nora: "If you hurt my priest, I'll drag you by your hair through the club and publicly beat you. This is between us, you, me and Kingsley. He's not a part of this."
Nora: "I'LL KILL HER."
Kingsley: "You can't kill her. You can main her, I suppose. I wouldn't stop you from maiming her."
Nora: "I want to beat her. I want to beat her black-and-blue. No. Actually I don't want to beat her. This is what I want to do. I want to find out who she loves. I want to find a man she owns and adores. Then I want to beat him. I want to fuck him. Then I want to send him back to her with my name carved on his back and my phone number tattooed on his cock. That's what I want."
Kingsley: "I told you she was a sadist."
Juliette: "If I doubted you before, I don't anymore."
Kingsley: "Calm down."
Nora: "I can't."
Kingsley: "I wasn't talking to you. I was talking to my cock."
Nora: "I feel relaxed. I mean, I want to cut that bitch, but I feel relaxed about it."
Søren: "I was under the impression you hated me."
Nora: "I'll hate you again later."
Nora: "I didn't mean to do that."
She touched his chest. In a spot right over his heart she'd left a bite mark, a deep one. Deep enough to leave a bruise, not deep enough to make him bleed.
Søren: "I assumed you were attempted to eat my heart out."
Nora: "The thought had occurred to me."
Nora: "How can such a beautiful man with an otherwise perfect body have such weird feet?"
Søren: "My feet are not 'weird.'"
Nora: "Your big toes are crooked."
Søren: "It happens to runners."
Nora: "Your toes are weird. If that's what happens to runners, it's yet another reason for me never to go running."
Søren: "You ran from me."
Nora: "Kingsley is trying to turn me into the Queen of the Underground."
Søren: "Make it a reign of terror, then. For your sake and theirs."
Nora: "Are you trying to make this more difficult than it already is?"
Søren: "What is 'this' you're referring to?"
Nora: "Us. Us not being an us."
Søren: "Then, yes, I am. I am trying to make it more difficult for you. It couldn't possibly be more difficult for me than it already is."
Nora: "You seem fine to me."
Søren: "Fine? Eleanor, I had to take a leave of absence after you left. I couldn't work. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't eat. I couldn't pray. Everything I've gone through in my life - with my father, my sister, being separated from my mother for thirteen years - in a heartbeat, in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye I would have happily gone through that again before I went through the hell you put me through when you left me. I consoled a parishioner recently whose wife just died and when I told him I was a widower and could sympathize with his agony, I wasn't speaking about Marie-Laure. I meant you."
Nora: "I'm not dead, Søren."
Søren: "You were gone. How was I to know how you were, if you were? It was agony, and I don't use that word lightly. They talk of Christ's agony on the cross. Now I know of agony."
Nora: "I didn't leave you to hurt you."
Søren: "But it did."
Nora: "I spent seven years on the receiving end of pain. I'm ready to be on the giving end."
Søren: "Did you have to start with me?"
Søren: "You go too far. You make choices you later regret and then blame anyone but yourself for what you suffer at your own hand. You don't need me to hurt you. You do that yourself. You can blame me and you can punish me for all my crimes, real and imagined. But you leave Elanor out of this petty plan of yours to get your revenge on me. She is my heart. If anything happens to her because of you, I will castrate you. I know how much you want children. I will take that dream from you with my bare hands and a rusty knife. And you know I know how, because I have done is before. My father survived the procedure. You'll be lucky if you do."
Nora: "Did that hurt as much as it looked like it did?"
Kingsley: "More. Le pretre is in a bad mood. We'll have to get used to it."
Nora: "He usually doesn't go around choking people who piss him off. Or punching them. I've never seen him like this before."
Kingsley: "I have. God, it's like being back in high school again. If he was going to put me in the hospital, he could at least get me off first."
Nora: "You don't have an erection right now, do you?"
Kingsley: "Not a full one."
Søren: "Happy Valentine's Day, Little One."
He kissed her forehead
Eleanor: "You're in a good mood, my sir. Should I be worried?"
Søren: "I would be if I were you."
Eleanor: "My pussy just whimpered."
Søren: "I wondered what that sound was."
He bent his head to kiss her lips and she pulled away.
Nora: "That's not what I came here for. And don't flirt. I'm still furious at you for almost choking Kingsley to death."
Søren: "You call it choking. He's call it foreplay. Kingsley and I aren't your concern."
Nora: "If you do it again, I'm calling the police. You can sit in an interrogation room and explain to the cops why you assaulted your brother-in-law. Maybe if you're lucky, this time I'll come to you and offer to get you out of trouble in exchange for your eternal obedience to me."
Søren: "The police know Kingsley. I wouldn't get arrested for assaulting him. I'd likely get a medal."
Søren: "I have the utmost faith in you."
Nora: "Thank you. I don't know if I'll ever break the habit of telling you everything."
Søren: "I hope you never do. When you start keeping secrets from me, then I'll know something's very wrong."
Søren: "We could celebrate in private. Later tonight ... if you wish."
Nora: "If I wish? That's different. You used to summon me, and I came crawling."
Søren: "You never came while you were crawling. Shortly thereafter, however."
Søren: "We made a deal, remember? You gave me forever and I would give you everything. I fully intend to hold up my end of the deal, no matter what it costs me."
Nora: "It was a bad deal. I made it when I was fifteen. And you haven't given me everything."
Søren: "I have given you my heart, my body and every secret about me you would ever want to know. I have put my priesthood on the line for you, my work, my reputation, my happiness and quite often my own sanity. What more do you want from me?"
Nora: "And apology, for starters."
Søren: "For what? I'll put it in writing."
Nora: "I'm sure it will be quite well crafted, written with lovely penmanship and entirely insincere. For what? You order me to marry you, order me to never see Kingsley again, break my riding crop and you have to ask what for?"
Søren: "You knew what I was. You were warned. I warned you. Kingsley warned you. I will not apologize for who and what I am."
Nora: "Then let's make a new deal. I won't ask you to change what you are, and you don't ask me to change what I am."
Søren: "What are you? Tell me. I'd love to know what you think you are."
Nora: "And she's actually more arrogant than you are. Hard to believe, right?"
Søren: "I can be bought, but not with money."
Nora: "Then what?"
Søren: "If it meant your happiness, Eleanor, if it meant bringing you home to me, I'd sell my own soul."
Nora: "We both know you don't mean that."
Søren: "Only because selling my soul wouldn't work. Not even the devil would dare cross swords with you. If he tried to drag you home to me, he'd end up on your St. Andrew's Cross."
Nora: "I'm make him like it, too."
Søren: "I'm certain you would."
Søren: "I have no intention of breaking my vows with anyone but you, Eleanor. I can't promise I won't fail in this. I've failed before, as you know."
Nora: "Kingsley doesn't count."
Søren: "Kingsley counts most of all."
Nora: "I know. I know he does. You know what I mean. He's one of your three nonnegotiables, right?"
Søren: "Even when I want to string him up by his testicles, yes."
Nora: "It might be good for you if you did see someone else. Might calm those testicle-stringing-up urges a little."
Søren: "You don't want me waiting for you to come back to me, do you?"
Nora: "If you do, you'll be waiting a very long time."
Søren: "I can wait."
Nora: "Out of love for me, or because you're punishing me?"
Søren: "I'm not punishing you."
Nora: "You sure about that?"
Søren: "Trust me, Little One, when I decide to punish you, you'll know it."
Nora: "I can't come back to you, but I know what you need, and I know sometimes I'm the only person who can give it to you. So if you ever do need me, I will come to you."
Søren: "You shouldn't make such a promise, Little One."
Nora: "Why not?"
Søren: "I always need you."
Kingsley: "Maitresse, I am yours."
Nora: "Well ... it's about fucking time."
Kingsley: "I've been looking forward to this."
Nora: "So have I. You want to know how much I've wanted this?"
Kingsley: "How much?"
Nora slapped him. Hard.
Nora: "That much."
He already sounded breathless.
Nora: "Good. Because it's the firs and last time I'm going to hit you tonight."
Kingsley: "If you aren't going to hurt me, then I want my money back."
Nora: "Oh, I'll hurt you. I'll even break you. By the time I'm done with you, you'll be begging to be inside me."
Kingsley: "If you can accomplish that without hitting me, I'll give you a thousand-dollar tip."
Nora: "I'm going to blindfold you now. Do you have a safe word?"
Nora: "Do you want one?"
Nora: "I think, my King, you will regret that."
Nora: "You did so good, King. So good."
Kingsley: You ... You sick, sadistic bitch."
Nora: "No coming. That's an order."
Kingsley: "What if I do?"
Nora: "I'll get out the cock ring and force you to get hard again, and if I do that, one of us is going to have fun with your cock, and it's not going to be you."
Kingsley: "I was wrong about you. I thought you would be almost as bad as the priest to play with."
Kingsley: "You're worse."
Kingsley: "I hate you."
Nora: "That hurts, King. That stings."
Kingsley: "Do you know what hurts? Having an erection and being two seconds from coming and your domme stops sucking you off."
Nora: "That is a very sad story. Tell me more."
Kingsley: "I created a monster."
Nora: "You didn't create a monster. You just let her off her leash."
Kingsley: "How much longer are you going to torture me?"
Nora: "For the rest of your life, most likely. In one way or another."
Kingsley: "You won't leave again?"
Nora: "Of course not. Who would beat the hell out of you if I did?"
Kingsley: "Enjoy that tip. I probably won't ever tip you again. The French don't tip."
Nora: "You know I earned it."
Kingsley: "You earned it by being a sick, twisted mind-fucker. I'd kill anyone else who tried that trick on me, including le pretre."
Eleanor: "Naomi told Ruth to go to the threshing floor where Boaz is sleeping and 'uncover his feet.' Feet are not sexy."
Søren: "It is if you know the word 'feet' is a euphemism in this instance."
Eleanor: "For what?"
Søren: "Use your imagination."
Eleanor: "I'd rather you demonstrate. Again."
Søren gave her a withering glare.
Eleanor: "Don't look at me like that. You're the one who put your fingers in my shoe."
Søren: "Are you planning on mentioned that fact every day?"
Eleanor: "Until it happens again."
Eleanor: "Well, if you're offering..."
Søren: "Many biblical scholars believe the phrase 'uncover his feet' in the Book of Rith is a euphemism for male genitals."
Eleanor: "So Naomi told Ruth to sneak into the threshing room while Boaz was asleep and uncover his dick and wait for him to wake up and bone her?"
Søren: "A fair synopsis."
Eleanor: "And that worked?"
Søren: "When a man wakes up in the middle of the night with an erection and a beautiful woman lying beside him, things of a biblical nature can occur."
Søren: "Yes, Eleanor?"
Eleanor: "Your threshing floor or mine?"
Søren put his mouth at her ear. Eleanor closed her eyes and braced for kiss.
Søren: "Out of my office. Now."
Søren: "What did she do this time?"
Eleanor: "I -"
Søren: "Not you. Anyone but Eleanor, please."
Mrs. Oates: "Father Stearns, we all know that Eleanor's father died recently, and we were disturbed by certain elements in the story. Ruth referring to Boaz as her father during intercourse for one."
Eleanor started to open her mouth to defend herself. Søren raised his hand to silence her.
Søren: "I believe you're referring to the dialogue exchange wherein Boaz says, "Who's your Daddy?' and Ruth responds, 'You are, Bobo'?"
Mrs. Oates: "Well ... yes."
Søren turned to Eleanor. "Sorry," she mouthed at him and resisted the urge to call him "Bobo." Søren sighed.
Søren: "'Who's your Daddy?' That's Eleanor's supposed cry for help?"
Principal: "Writing such a story seems like odd behavior for a young woman whose father was killed last week. Our condolences, of course, but you understand our concern?"
Søren: "My father died recently, and given the chance I might have danced an Irish jig on his grave so I can hardly judge Eleanor for being relieved her criminal of a father has gone to whatever circle of hell is reserved for men who force their children to commit felonies for them. And if Eleanor were sexually abused by her father in any way, she would have told me. Correct, Eleanor?"
Eleanor: "Correct. He never touched me like that. I'd still be puking if he had."
Søren: "There we have it. Are we done?"
Principal: "Not quite. We still -"
Søren: "May I see the other stories the students wrote?"
Søren reads the rest of the students writings
Søren: "You have a problem."
Principal: "What is that?"
Søren: "You have nine students in your AP English class who are murderers."
Søren: "Nine stories written by Eleanor's classmates contain explicit depictions of killing human beings - three crucifixions, two decapitations and various and sundry other brutal deaths. You should call the police right now and have those students arrested."
Søren tossed the stories onto the principal's desk.
Father Jones: "Father Stearns, with all due respect, there's a difference between those stories and Miss Schreiber's."
Søren: "There is, yes. Those stories are written by boys. Interesting that it's a female student being singled out for writing something inappropriate when none of the male students were."
Principal: "Boys like war and violence and that sort of thing. It's natural."
Søren: "It's also natural for teenagers to be curious about sex. Also, consensual sex between two adults - which Ruth and Boaz were - isn't illegal. Killing someone is, however. Now you either give Eleanor a passing grade for her story and let her return to class, or you call the police and have those nine male students arrested."
Principal: We are not having students arrested. The boys wrote Bible stories -"
Søren: "As did Eleanor."
Principal: "If she's having sex, which she clearly is it she's writing this sort of material, that's an honor code violation -"
Søren: "Forgive me for speaking bluntly. I was married and widowed before I joined the Jesuits. I'm well aware of the mechanics of sexual intercourse, and the act that Eleanor describes in her story could only be accomplished if Ruth were double-jointed and Boaz's 'foot' thirteen to fifteen inches long. Writing about sex doesn't necessarily mean one is having it."
Mrs. Oates: "Perhaps if she would submit to a psychological and medical examination, then -"
Søren stood up.
Søren: "If anyone lays a hand on Eleanor or any other underage member of my congregation without my permission, you will have to answer to me and the American Civil Liberties Union. Eleanor, you can go back to class. Later you and I will have a talk about what sort of writing is and is not appropriate for school assignments. Yes?"
Eleanor: "Yes, Father Stearns."
Since no one stopped her, she left the office. She didn't go back to class, however, but waited in the hall. Five minutes later Søren walked out of the principal's office with a look in his eyes that could be described as murderous.
Søren: "They're lucky Jesuits are pacifists. Why aren't you in class?"
Eleanor: "I wanted to thank you."
Søren: "You can thank me by graduating before we have to go through this nonsense again."
Eleanor: "Four more months. Thanks for hauling my ass out of the fire again."
Søren: "Your ass is my ass. If it's going to get burned, I'll do the burning."
Eleanor: "Aww ... you say the sweetest things, Blondie."
Søren: "Are you still comfortable with what happened that night?"
Eleanor: "Comfortable with what? That I fooled around with my priest at his father's funeral a week and a half ago?"
Søren: "I admit I never intended us to be that intimate that soon. I don't regret it. But I'm still reeling a bit."
Eleanor: "I know it's been a long time since you've been with someone ... you know, like that."
Søren: "A very long time."
Eleanor: "I don't know about you, but I can't wait to do it again. I mean, the fooling around part. Not the funeral part."
Søren: "Later. After you graduate."
Eleanor: "Then what?"
Søren reached into his pocket and pulled out something that looked like part of a weed.
Søren: "I intended to give you this later."
Eleanor: "What is it?"
Søren: "The head of a stalk of wheat. When you're ready, we can revisit my threshing floor."
Nora: "You don't get to touch my priest."
Milady: "It's too late for that. You fucked with me and my favorite toy. I fucked with you and your favorite toy. But if it's any consolation I consider us even now. Do you?"
Milady: "Play on, then."
Nora: "She touched Søren."
Kingsley: "It seems to be the case. And what will you do about it, Your Majesty?"
Nora: "Off with her head."
Kingsley: "Mistress Nora, this is Trent, otherwise known as Unbreakable for obvious reasons. Trent, this is -"
Nora: "Mistress Nora. A pleasure to beat you."
Trent barked a laugh
Trent: "Beat me? You, little girl?"
Nora: "Yes, if you like. What's your safe word?"
Nora: "That's cute. You're cute."
Trent: "And you're ... short. You have nice tits, though."
Nora: "Thank you. My mom gave them to me."
Trent: "You talk a very good game, little girl. I wish I believed you. Might be nice to find a woman around here with real balls."
Nora: "Are you giving me permission, then, to break your face and crush your balls? Kingsley says I can't hit anyone without their permission. I mean, unless it's self-defense. That's okay, right?"
Kingsley: "Bien sur. If he tries anything with you, you can kill him for all I care."
Nora: "Oh, goodie. Would you please try something with me, Trent?"
Trent: "If you insist."
He leaned his head back and spit at her.
Nora ducked, brought her fist around, and punches him in the nose.
He screams and Nora kicks him in the testicles with her steel toed boots. She puts her foot on his neck and starts to stand on it with full weight.
Nora: "Well, poo. That didn't take long. And I was just getting warmed up."
Trent: "You broke my fucking nose, you bitch."
Nora: "That's 'You broke my fucking nose, Mistress Bitch,' to you.
Milady: "Brass knuckles? That's cheating."
Nora: "It's my game. My rules."
Nora wipes blood on Milady's white dress.
Nora: "Look at that. The White Queen becomes the Red Queen. And you have something that belongs to me."
Milady: "I do?"
Nora: "You do?"
She pulls off the locket that contains Søren's hairs
Søren: "Eleanor? I assume you're here to see me?"
Nora: "If you have a minute."
Søren: "I don't actually. I have a date with some repentant sinners. But if you'd like to wait in my office, I'll be finished in an hour."
Diane: "He's hearing confessions now. Like he said, you can wait if you want."
Nora: "No. I don't want to wait. Excuse me."
Nora enters the confessional
Søren: "I'm here when you're ready to speak."
Nora: "Oh, I'm ready to speak, Father."
She heard him sigh
Søren: "Far be it from me to stop a sinner from confessing."
Søren: "You promised me forever, Eleanor."
Nora: "You can't give me everything any more than I can give you forever."
Søren: "I can give you everything. Whatever it takes, I will keep my promise to you."
Nora: "Call me Nora just once, and I'll believe that. Then I'll know you won't take from me everything I've worked for and fought for. Jesus, Søren, I broke a man's nose. I made a notorious dominatrix squeal like a little girl. I fucked with Kingsley's head so hard he cried. And I loved every second of it. Every single second. That's me. That's how I am now. And you want to take it from me."
Søren: "If you truly trusted me, you'd know that whatever I took from you, I would give back tenfold."
Nora: "Then you owe me a hundred years of dominance for the ten years of submission I gave you. And ten riding crops to replace the one you broke."
Søren: "Ten crops? I hope I have enough hair to sell."
Nora: "Don't even joke about that."
Søren: "Why not?"
Nora: "Because I love your hair."
Søren: "Eleanor ... Little One ... please ..."
Nora couldn't stand it any longer. She slipped out of her side of the booth and open the door to his.
Nora: "Here. This belongs to you."
She held out the glass locket that contained his lock of hair.
Søren: "So does this."
Søren took her by the wrist and yanked her to him, then shut the door behind them. His kiss traveled to her mouth, and she opened to him. I
Søren: "Come back to me." He said against her lips
Nora: "I can't."
Søren: "Come back to me" He said against her neck
Nora: "I won't"
Søren: "Come back to me." he said, lifting her skirt to her hips
Nora: "I don't ..."
Søren: "You can't say it, can you? You can't say you don't want to come back to me because we both know you do."
Nora: "Not enough to do it."
Søren: "Not yet. But you will."
Nora: "Mistress Nora's House of Ill Repute. How may I direct your cock?"
Kingsley: "You aren't cute."
Nora: "I beg to differ. I'm fucking precious."
Father Mike: "God said 'Love is patient. Love is kind.' He never said 'Love is easy.'"
Nora: "This better be good."
Søren: "Define good."
Nora: "I'm very busy. I'm at St. Luke's helping a priest friend of mine organize his hymnals."
Søren: "If I didn't know Mike O'Dowell, I would assume 'organize his hymnals' was a euphemism."
Nora: "Not a euphemism unless you're calling to ask me to organize your hymnals."
Søren: "I need your assistance with one more injury."
Nora: "You cut up somewhere else?"
Søren: "My back."
Nora: "This better not be a ploy just to get me to undress you."
Søren: "If it were such a ploy I would have said I had a groin injury."
Nora: "As long as you're okay."
Søren: "I haven't been 'okay' since you left me."
Søren: "I'd never survive it if something happened to you."
Nora: "Søren ... I'm here. It was someone else. It wasn't me."
Søren: "Of course not. You only come over when I tell you I need you. It wouldn't have been you on that road."
Nora: "Søren, please. You know I -"
Søren: "It's fine, Eleanor. I'm fine."
Nora: "No, you're not."
Søren: "No. I'm not."
Nora: "Don't feel bad. Neither am I."
Søren: "What, Little One?"
Nora: "You make it very hard for me to hate you sometimes."
Søren: "Why would she put a tie on the door?"
Nora: "You do it in college with your roommates. Tie on the door means 'I'm fucking someone right now so don't come in.'"
Søren: "As you can imagine, this was not a system we employed in seminary."
She held up a fork with a bite of paneer on the end.
Nora: "Open up for the choo-choo train."
He gave her a look of disgust to end all looks of disgust.
Nora: "Fine. More for me then. I'll eat the choo-choo."
Søren: "You're ridiculous. I hope you know that."
Søren: "You are an endlessly unusual woman. Whenever I think I've explored every corner of you, I turn another corner and find a new wing."
Nora: "Says the Danish Catholic polydot sadist priest. My weirdness has nothing on you."
Søren: "I converted to Catholicism at age fourteen because I was sent, against my will, to a Catholic school and had a conversion experience. I learn languages because it helps my work as a priest and a translator of religious documents, and the sadism is, as you know, nothing I asked for."
Nora: "If you could give it back, would you?"
Søren: "Would you choose to be what I am if you had a choice?"
Nora: "A sadist? I did choose it, remember? I beat up more people in one day than you do in one month."
Søren: "It's not the same. I can't even become aroused without inflicting pain or humiliation. You don't need it the way I do. Don't confuse wanting with needing."
Søren: "Don't interrupt me. I'm reading."
Nora: "You can't read this book."
Søren: "Why ever not?"
Nora: "It's pornographic."
Søren: "I'm a grown man. I can read anything I like, and I like this book."
Nora: "You are also a Catholic priest. You fucking priests burned Sappho's poetry in the third century and now we have almost nothing left of it. Catholic priests don't deserve good porn."
Søren: "They're all dedicated to me. 'As Always, Beloved, Your Eleanor.'"
Nora: "It's not dedicated to you. It's an acrostic. Aabye was Søren Kierkegaard's middle name."
Søren: "I'm well aware of this, as are you."
Nora: "Obviously it's dedicated to Søren Kierkegaard."
Søren: "I didn't realize you were such a fan of early nineteenth-century Protestant Danish theologians."
Nora: "Christian existentialism makes me wet."
Nora: "Søren, I swear if you get any more smug you'll turn into Kingsley."
Søren: "A fool's errand, Little One. If you waited until all my wounds were healed, you would be here forever."
Søren: "If only I had a camera. Kingsley's Red Queen hiding in my closet between a cassock and a garment bag."
Nora: "Oh shut up. Is he gone?"
Søren: "He is. He was delivering a plant."
Nora: "A plant? I had a panic attack over a goddamn fern?"
Søren: "It was a ficus."
Nora: "If we're going to destroy your career in the church, I hope it's over something better than a ficus."
Søren: "It's a very nice ficus."
Søren: "I need your help."
Nora: "After that stunt you pulled last night? You're on your own, Blondie."
Søren: "It involves putting a knife to my throat."
Nora: "Now you're talking."
She kissed him. Søren returned the kiss, but only for a moment before pulling back.
Søren: "What was that for?"
Nora: "You're a very handsome and when there's a very handsome man standing between my knees, I kiss him."
Søren: "I should spend more time between your knees then."
Nora: "That is not the sentiment of a priest about to take Final Vows."
Søren: "Not true. Half the priests taking Final Vows with me would say the same to you if they knew you."
Nora: "What about the other half?"
Nora: "Right. Forgot."
Søren: "Do you know the Danish fairy tale Den Lille Havfrue?"
Nora: "In English?"
Søren: "The Little Mermaid."
Nora: "Of course I know it."
Søren: "The real story? Not the sanitized modern version?"
Nora: "I think so. Mermaid falls in love with a prince and gets herself turned into a human being so they can be together, right?"
Søren: "The little mermaid's fins are rent in two as if a sword has passed through her body. But since she was never meant to walk on land, with every step she takes, she feels something like knives cutting into her feet and her body bleeding from the wounds."
Nora: "How cheerful."
Søren: "Danes are known for many virtues - cheerfulness is not chief among them. The little mermaid fails to won her prince's hear and returns to the ocean. When she died she finds she has a soul, a reward for all her suffering."
Nora: "But she doesn't get her prince?"
Søren: "No. Being transformed into something she isn't fails to win the prince. A good moral. Very Danish. Don't try to be something you aren't."
Nora: "And what are you?"
Søren: "I'm a priest. Which I always knew I was. I knew I belonged in the church when I fell in love with you. I knew I was born to be a priest whether I wanted to be one or not. If I'd left the church to marry you, I would have felt the pain of it with every step I took ... Yes, we could have been together on land, but at what price? You didn't let me leave the ocean I belong in and in a way, I'm grateful to you. Especially since you're here now."
Nora: "Of course I'm here. I know how to swim."
Nora: "I love touching you. I didn't get to do this very often when I was in your collar. You always tied me up and touched me while I lay there dying to touch you."
Søren: "You should have begged a little more, and I might have let you."
Nora: "If I stopped touching you now, would you beg?"
Nora: "What would you do?"
Søren: "Finish with my left hand."
She laughed and felt his smile against her skin.
Nora: "I told my contractor I needed two hooks for my plants and that he should make sure they could hold two hundred pounds each."
Thorny: "Those would be some big fucking plants, Mistress."
Nora: "That's what the contractor said."
Thorny: "What did you say?"
Nora: "I said I like my plants the way I like my men - hanging from hooks on my bedroom ceiling. He didn't ask any more questions after that."
Thorny: "Nice. You outsmarted me."
Nora: "Not that hard, Thorny. Good thing you're gorgeous and good in bed because you aren't too bright."
Thorny: "That hurts. But I deserve it."
Thorny: "I didn't plan on falling in love with my own doctor."
Nora: "I never planned on falling in love with my priest, either. Love is a game of Russian roulette. You and I both lost."
Nora: "What is?"
Thorny: "Funny how much losing can feel like winning."
Nora: "Play my song."
Nora: "Please? Please, sir? It's a Swedish song. That's practically Danish, right?"
Søren: "I don't know who would be more insulted by that comparison - the Danes or the Swedes."
Nora: "Oh, just play it. Please?"
Søren sighed heavily
Søren: "One of these days I will learn how to tell you no."
Nora: "But not today."
Søren: "Do you need me?"
Nora: "No. But I want you."
Nora: "If I truly believed you were doing this because you wanted to do it and not for any ulterior motive, I would kiss you right now and give you my blessing. But I can't. I don't."
Søren: "I have to tell you something, Eleanor, and you're not going to like it."
Søren leaned in and whispered in her ear
Søren: "I didn't ask for your blessing."
Søren: "I'd rather not have to explain your presence on my piano bench."
Nora: "Take me to bed."
Søren: "That would be even harder to explain. But if you want to come back tonight, I'd like to give you a proper goodbye."
Nora: "We'll see. I might be in jail by tonight."
Søren: "Again? What did you do this time?"
Nora: "It's nothing I've done. It's something I'm going to do."
Søren: "That sounds foreboding."
Nora: "You remember Milday?"
Søren: "I've never forgotten her."
Nora: "I inadvertently stole her favorite client out from under her This apparently was the last straw. She's blackmailing a friend of mine, stole his phone with pics of him and his doctor girlfriend on it."
Søren: "She's his doctor?"
Nora: "She is. Almost as bad as a priest sleeping with a parishioner, right? Milady's blackmailing him to force him to blackmail me. So I'm going to kill her."
Søren: "We aren't under the seal of the confessional. I can report you for threatening someone's life."
Nora: "I'll kill you too, then. That's one way to keep you from leaving."
Nora: "You let her kiss you so you could steal her driver's license. For me."
Nora came to him and wrapped her arms around him. He kisses the top of her head.
Søren: "For you. You said she wanted to hurt you."
Nora: "That's your job."
Søren: "I'm giving you her license so you can protect yourself, not so you can hurt her. Try to remember we're on the side of the angels."
Nora: "So I can't kill her?"
He shook his head.
Nora: "Fine. I'll talk to her. I might talk to her loudly. But I'll only talk to her."
Søren: "That's my good girl."
Nora: "Am I? You're leaving. Am I still your girl?"
Søren: "Forever. My love for you isn't going anywhere, I promise. Only my body."
Nora: "Your body's my favorite part."
Søren: "I'd be hurt if I actually believed that."
Nora: "You know ... You know I love you, too."
Søren: "I do."
Nora: "So you know I'll find a way to make you stay. I will. I promise you I will."
Søren caressed her cheek, rubbed his thumb over her bottom lips.
Søren: "Little One, you won't succeed, but I will enjoy watching you try."
She turned to leave him but stopped when he called her name.
Søren: "I'll take my keys back now."
With a sigh Nora tossed his keys over her shoulder, the keys she'd stolen from his pocket while they were kissing. She didn't have to look back to know he caught them.
Søren: "And my wallet."
Nora surrendered his wallet. So much for that plan.
Nora: 'That priest. Drives me crazy most of the time and I've thought about killing him a time or two but he's damn pretty and insane in the sheet so what are you going to do?"
Nora: "Have a lovely day. I'd say I'll see you around but you're banned from King's clubs."
Milady: "Your 'king' can go fuck himself."
Nora: "He probably would if he could figure out how. You could try being a little nicer. You know, not blackmailing your clients. I like my clients even when I'm beating them and calling them pathetic little boys. I respect them, and they respect me."
Milady: "I loved my husband. I respected him. Every other man is just a paycheck."
Nora: "Now you know."
Milady: "Now I know what?"
Nora: "Now you know why your clients keep coming to me. They're not paychecks. They're people."
Milady: "I might believe you if you didn't charge two thousand dollars an hour. Go top somebody for free and then lecture me about treating clients like people."
Nora: "I did top somebody for free. Today even."
Nora: "You. Now behave. I wouldn't want to have to punish you. But I will if I have to. Say 'Yes, Mistress' if you understand."
Milady's entire small frame vibrated with barely concealed fury.
Milady: "Yes, Mistress."
Nora: "Good girl."
Nora: "I do love him. I didn't leave him because I stopped loving him."
Claire: "I know. No one could stop loving him once they start."
Nora: "What I want to give you is a Bible verse. I memorized it for you. Is that an acceptable gift?"
Søren: "Always. What's the verse?"
Nora: "The Book of Ruth, chapter one, verses sixteen and seventeen. 'Do not ask me to leave you or forsake you for wherever you go I will go, wherever you stay I will stay, your people shall be my people and your God my God. Wherever you die, there I will be buried. May the Lord do so and more beside if anything but death separates us."
Then she handed him the folded piece of paper from her pocket, the one she's acquired on her very special errand.
Søren: "Eleanor, this is an airplane ticket in your name."
Nora: "Destination Syria. Where you go, I go. If you go to Syria, I go with you. And I won't come home until you come home. I will not leave you. I will not forsake you. Where you die, I will be buried. And those are my Final Vows."
Kingsley: "Why does it always have to hurt so much?"
Nora: "God's a sadist. That's why."
KIngsley: "You think so?"
Nora: "Oh, I know so."
Nora: "So you're really going to try this whole chastity/celibacy thing?"
Søren: "I was celibate for fourteen years before you. I could make it another fourteen years."
Nora: "You'll miss me."
Søren: "I already do."
Nora: "What if I said I'd come to you?"
Søren: "I'd take you back to me."
Nora: "Vows be damned?"
Søren: "Not damned. Merely dented."
Nora: "I could take you to the airport. Or King will. Or we both will."
Søren: "Diane's taking me. If either of you do ..."
Søren: "I might not get on the plane."
Søren: "My love. My Little One..."
Nora: "You weren't really going to leave forever, were you? Leave us forever? You know I love you. You know I'll always love you. Even if I can't ... if we can't make this work, it doesn't mean I don't love you. You're ..."
Nora: "You're my everything."
Søren: "I'll come home. I promise."
Nora: "Please. You take my heart with you."
He kissed her forehead.
Søren: "Little One, you are my heart."
KIngsley: "I told you there were three ways to be a queen. There are four."
Nora: "What's the fourth way?"
Kingsley: "You can be born a queen. That's why you are a queen. Not because I made you one or you stole a throne or a crown. You were born to be the queen and you are."
Nora: "You know, in chess the queen is the strongest piece on the board."
Kingsley: "I know. And the king is the most vulnerable."
Nora: "There is one person stronger than the queen or the king combined."
Nora: "The man who moves the pieces."
Nora: "This better be good."
Kingsley: "I have a little job for you."
Nora: "It's six in the morning. What sick sadistic pervert needs me at six in the morning?"
Kingsley: A sick sadistic pervert doesn't need you. Twelve sick sadistic perverts need you."
Nora: "Twelve? I don't do group sex. Wait. How much does it pay? Forget it. I don't do groups."
Nora: "Hello. My name is Nora Sutherlin, and I'm a New York Times bestselling author of lots of dirty books. I know you were expecting a nature writer to be teaching this class, but I'm afraid he had a medical emergency. I realize I'm not what you signed up for, but in my defense, my books are full of natural behavior. And quite a bit of unnatural behavior so I wouldn't recommend reading them unless you actually want to learn something."
Girl: "Professor Sutherlin?"
Nora: "Ms. Sutherlin. I'm not really a professor, and I would feel weird about being called that. I also answer to Nora or Mistress Nora. I might even answer to Professor Nora, but I'm not sure. Did you have question?"
Girl: "Are you going to take attendance or anything?"
Nora: "Do I look like the sort of woman who takes attendance?"
The girl opened her mouth but nothing came out
Nora: "If you're supposed to be here and you're not, say 'I'm not here.' Anyone? There, attendance taken. What's your name?"
Nora: "Great. Geri. You're in charge of reminding me I have to do something right after class. Before class is over say 'Ms. Sutherlin, go do the think you have to do and don't be a pussy.' Can you do that?"
Geri: "I can do that."
Nora: "Wonderful. Grand. Fabulous."
Nora: "Tell me your favorite story. Of the written fiction variety. I'll start. As I said, I'm Nora Sutherlin. My favorite book is Venus in Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. It's the book from whence we receive the word masochism, which is what me agreeing to teach this class is a prime example of. Now you your turn."
Katie: "I'm Katie from Long Island. I loved The Awakening by Kate Chopin."
Nora: "Ah, yes. The book where a woman forced to choose between a shitty boyfriend and a shitty husband picks suicide by drowning because for adult women there's only three viable paths in life to choose from - be a wife and mother, be a whore, or be dead. Try A Doll's House by Ibsen instead. Much more cheerful. Next?"
Ahmed: "I'm Ahmed from Brooklyn. I loved Lord of the Rings."
Nora: "That's better. Who needs books with fully formed female characters in them? Or, well, any female characters in them, for that matter. Women just drag a book down, don't they? All that talking talking feelings feelings. Boring right? Next."
Raquel: "My name's Raquel, with a Q. I'm from Cambridge, you know, outside of Boston."
Nora: "We know."
Raquel: "Um ... I loved Crime & Punishment by Dostoyevsky."
Nora: "No, you didn't."
Nora: "That's not your favorite book. That's no one's favorite book. Down in his cold Russian grace, Dostoyevsky just rolled what's left of his eyes. Stop trying t o impress us. Tell the truth, Raquel with a Q."
Raquel: "Okay, well ... I really like The Bridges of Madison Country."
Nora: "That I can believe. Next."
Wesley: "I guess if I had to pick it would be 'The Gift of the Magi' by O. Henry."
Nora: "Who said that?"
She saw a tentative hand go up and she looked at the hand. He looked innocent, as if she'd shocked him and he'd just discovered he liked being shocked.
Nora: "Your favorite story is 'The Gift of the Magi'?"
Wesley: "Well ... yeah. It's the most beautiful love story I've ever read."
Nora: "Have you ever been in love?"
Wesley: "Not really."
Nora: "Have you ever had to sacrifice something of great value for someone you love?"
Nora: "Have you ever had someone sell their own hair to buy you your heart's desire?"
Wesley: "I can't say I have."
Nora: "I can tell. Let me tell you something about that story. It's a horror story. The husband gives up his most valuable possession, his gold watch, to buy his wife combs for her beautiful long hair. The wife sells her hair to buy her husband a chain for his watch. At the end of the day they gave up everything they had of value and ended up with nothing. How is that a love story?"
The young man shrugged, looking confused and flustered, and she knew she had him. He'd fold. He's give up. He was cute and she liked looking at him but if he wasn't going to fight back, she'd lose interest in him in five seconds.
Wesley: "They have each other. That's the point of the story. Who needs gold or hair when you have each other? Love isn't about appearances, and it isn't about money. It's not a horror story. Only a cynic would say that, and I don't think you're a cynic."
Nora: "I might be a cynic."
Wesley: "A cynic is someone motivated by self-interest. Teaching a class is an act of an optimist or at least someone motived by the public interest."
Nora: "You talk like a college freshman. Anyone ever told you that?"
Wesley: "It's my first day as a college freshman. You're my first time."
She raised her eyebrow at him and was rewarded by seeing him blush.
Wesley: "I'm just saying. I don't believe you're a cynic. I do believe you're trying to mess with us."
Nora: "Little ole me? Mess with little ole you? Would I do something like that?"
Wesley: "Yes. I think you would. Ma'am."
Nora: "What's your name?"
Wesley: "Wesley Railey. Everyone calls my Wes."
Nora: "Stay after class."
Wesley: "Am I in trouble?"
Nora smiled at him
Nora: "Yes, Wes. Yes, you are."
Søren: "I am a better priest because of you and and because of Kingsley. You both keep me humble."
Nora: "We're miracle workers then."
Søren: "I walked from St. Luke's down your street. It was dark. Kingsley kept tabs on you as well as he could and while we were apart he fed me bits of information to keep me going. You were safe. You were happy. That's all he told me. I sensed he was keeping something from me. When I went to see you and ask you to come back to me, I found out what that was. Who that was."
Søren paused before nodding solemnly.
Søren: "As I walked from St. Luke's to your home, my heart swelled with hope and happiness. I knew you loved me. I knew it like I knew my own name. But there he was. Eighteen years old. Innocent. Untouched. And he was moving into your house. I watched from the shadows under an oak tree and saw you two carrying in boxes and talking. Laughing. Finally you'd brought all the boxes in. You stood by his car and asked him, 'Did we get everything?' And Wesley said -"
Nora: "He said, "Only one more thing.' He made me hop on his back, and he gave me a piggyback ride into the house."
Søren: "You smiled and bit Wesley's neck to make him laugh. I know what you look like when you're in love. You were in love with him. You might not have known it yet, but I knew. I saw it. And I had n ever known such pain. Even the day you left me could not compete with the agony of seeing you so happy as he moved into your house and into your life and into your heart. Standing there watching you two together was pure masochism. Yet I couldn't stop looking at you and him. It was my penance. I'd waited too long. I'd lost my Little One. St. John of the Cross spoke of the 'Dark Night of the Soul.' Then, finally, that moment, I knew what he meant."
Looking up at Søren she took his left hand in hers and slid the band onto his ring finger.
Søren gazed down at his hand as if seeing it for the first time. Then he took the other ring - the one engraved with the word everything - and slipped it over the fourth finger of her left hand.
Søren: "I promised to give you everything. When you left me, I knew I could never keep my promise because I could never give you everything you needed. I couldn't be all the things to you and it hurt because I wanted to be. I wanted to keep my promise."
Nora: "You are my everything."
Søren: "Perhaps we made the wrong promises. I should have promised you forever. And you should have promised me everything. You've given me everything I ever wanted."
Søren: "Eleanor, I will never truly be gone from you. I will never leave you or forsake you."
Nora: "Where you go I will go. Your God will be my God. Where you die, there I will be buried."
Søren: "And we will have each other forever. In this life and the next."
Søren: "Anything for you, Little One. Everything for you."
Søren: "Eleanor, is Nico as arrogant as his father?"
Nora: "No one is as arrogant as his father. Except his father's best friend."
Søren: "That's unfair. It's not arrogance. It's self-awareness."
Nora: "How have I put up with this for twenty-three years? And where do I sign up for twenty-three more?""
Søren: "I believe you did in the chapel."
He reached out and squeezed her left hand.
Nora: "Hi, handsome. How much have you missed me?"
Zach: "I didn't realize how much until right now."
Zach: "I'm sorry we couldn't be here any sooner. Had to work this morning."
Nora: "You could always quit. Kingsley set you all up very nicely, I hear."
Zach: "That's all Fionn's. And I wouldn't know why to do with myself if I didn't work. God knows I couldn't leave you in anyone else's hands."
Nora: "I'm sure he will. He's his father's son - smart, determined, and has a good heart."
Zach: "Took me a while to see it, but I would agree with you about Søren."
Nora: "I meant you. He's your son."
He kissed her forehead
Zach: "Thank you. You always know the right thing to say."
Nora: "You look so hot in your suit I want to drag you out of here and blow you."
Zach: "Case in point."
Zach: "Lovely locket. Where did you get that? Family heirloom?"
Nora: "Actually, I ripped it off the neck of an evil dominatrix who Søren sold a lock of his hair to in order to buy me a computer. I gave it back to him, but then I stole it out of his pocket again after we'd fucked in the confessional at our church."
Zach: "That was my second guess."
Zach: "I promise you, Grace and I have no intention of getting ourselves killed anytime soon. But if we do, Fionn's yours. Please don't raise him Catholic."
Nora: "No promises, Easton."
Nora: "You and I have made some beautiful book babies together, Zach."
Zach: "Book babies? We're talking about your books. More like Rosemary's Babies."
Nora: "You mean that as an insult, and yet I'm taking it as a compliment."
Zach: "This does not surprise me."
Zach: "So you're the one I have to blame for my life being turned upside down?"
Nora: "My doing. I'm the one who sent Grace to Søren. I didn't know Fionn would be the result but well, Grace saved us all. One new life for our three lives sounds like a good deal to me."
Zach: "Then I say thank you. Also ..."
Zach pointed at her nose
Zach: "Don't do it again."
Nora laughed and kissed Zach on the mouth, full tilt with tongue and end everything, She kissed him for two reason, the only two reasons that every mattered to Nora - because she wanted to and because she could.
Zach: "Happy now? My wife just saw you kiss me."
Nora: "Oh, no, are we in trouble?"
Zach: "She's glaring and laughing at the same time. I think we're safe."
Nora: "Good. Now slow dance with me. It's not a wedding reception until I've drunkenly made out with a wedding guest while slow dancing."
Zach: "That's going to be a problem. We're not drunk."
Nora grabbed a glass of wine off a passing tray
Nora: "We can fix that."
Nora: "Oh, that son of a bitch. He did it."
Zach: "Did what?"
Nora: "Søren promised to give me something and he kept his promise."
Zach: "What did he give you?"
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