The Prince(10)

By: Tiffany Reisz

The suspense was more than Nora could handle. Fuck it. She’d kiss the kid and see what happened. Rising up on her toes, she gripped Wesley by the back of the neck and brought his mouth to hers. He didn’t protest.

The front door of Wesley’s castle opened and a man’s voice called out to them. “John Wesley! You know you’re allowed to kiss Bridget in the house.”

Wesley took a step back and turned toward the voice. Nora saw a man standing in the front doorway who looked like every handsome rich white Southerner she’d ever seen on television or movies. Salt-and-pepper hair, broad shoulders, a broader smile…or it had been a broad smile until he got a good look at Nora and saw she wasn’t Bridget.

Nora smiled in a manner she hoped appeared friendly and nonthreatening, as opposed to her usual smiles, which tended to be described as “seductive” and “dangerous.”

“Hey, Dad.” Wesley grabbed Nora’s hand and half escorted, half dragged her forward.

Wesley’s father narrowed his eyes at her. “Who’s your friend, J.W.?”

Nora looked at Wesley and mouthed “J.W.?”

Wesley mouthed back “Eleanor.”

“Dad, this is my girlfriend, Nora Sutherlin.”

Nora’s eyes went even wider than they had at the first sight of the house. Girlfriend? Who? Her?

Wiping the look of shock off her face, she purposefully widened her smile at Wesley’s handsome father.

At that smile, Wesley’s handsome father gave her a look of deep, abiding, profound and unremitting disgust.

“Oh, yeah.” She sighed, as her one and only prayer about this trip went unanswered. “He’s heard of me.”


The Past

Kingsley ate dinner with the other boys in silence, keeping his mouth occupied with food so as not to let any smirks and smiles betray his knowledge of English. He wasn’t entirely sure how long he could keep up the ruse, wasn’t entirely sure why he even tried. But as he sat in the dining room at a carved, black oak table, the boys on the left, the priests on the right, Kingsley tried to decide what sin he’d committed that had earned him this ice-cold hell on earth.

He wanted to blame Carol, head cheerleader at his old school. Blonde girls were a weakness of his. Or Janice, who sang the National Anthem at every home game. Sopranos with red hair could do no wrong in his book. Susan…Alice…and his blue-eyed Mandolin, the long-haired daughter of unrepentant hippies...he’d started in August and had fucked three dozen girls at his small Portland high school by Thanksgiving break. But he couldn’t blame a single one of them for sending him to this prison.

He blamed the boyfriends.

Naturally strong and quick, Kingsley knew he could take on any boy in the school who came at him. But seven boys all at once? No one could have walked away from that. And he hadn’t walked away.

He’d crawled.

He’d crawled a few feet before passing out in a puddle of blood that had come from a cut over his heart. The cut had likely saved his life. He remembered little from the beating he’d taken behind the stadium, but he did remember the knife. When the knife came out even the other boys who’d been kicking him, punching him, spitting on him as he fought to get back to his feet, took a step back. The boy with the knife—Troy—hadn’t been a boyfriend. Worse, he’d been a brother—Theresa’s older brother—and he took the protection of his sister very seriously. The knife came out and slashed at Kingsley’s heart. And that’s when the other boys had dragged Troy off and left Kingsley bleeding on the ground, broken and bruised but alive.

And as he looked around the dining hall and saw nothing but other boys—boys aged ten to eighteen, tall and short, fat and thin, handsome and unfortunately not so—he wanted to go back to that moment behind the stadium and step into the knife instead of away from it.

He sighed heavily as he took a sip of his tea, dreadful stuff, really. He missed the days when his parents had given him wine with his dinner.

“I know. Tastes like piss, doesn’t it?” Father Henry’s voice came from over his shoulder.

Kingsley almost nodded in agreement, but remembered that he didn’t understand English. Turning toward the voice, he composed his face into a mask of confusion.

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