The Siren by Tiffany Reisz - Fiction
Notorious Nora Sutherlin is famous for her delicious works of erotica, each one more popular with readers than the last. But her latest manuscript is different--more serious, more personal--and she's sure it'll be her breakout book...if it ever sees the light of day.
Zachary Easton holds Nora's fate in his well-manicured hands. The demanding British editor agrees to handle the book on one condition: he wants complete control. Nora must rewrite the entire novel to his exacting standards--in six weeks--or it's no deal.
Nora's grueling writing sessions with Zach are draining...and shockingly arousing. And a dangerous former lover has her wondering which is more torturous--staying away from him...or returning to his bed?
Nora thought she knew everything about being pushed to your limits. But in a world where passion is pain, nothing is ever that simple.
There was no such thing as London fog--never had been. The London Fog of legend was only that. In reality London fog was London smog, and at the height of the Industrial Revolution it had killed thousands, choking the city with its poisonous hands. Zach Easton knew that in the offices of Royal House Publishing, he was known as the London Fog, the disparaging nickname coined by a fellow editor who disapproved of Zach's dour demeanor. Zach had no love of his nickname or the editor who'd coined it. But today he was eager to earn his epithet.
As he knew he would, Zach found John-Paul Bonner, the chief managing editor of Royal House Publishing, still hard at work even after hours. J.P. sat on the floor of his office, piles of manuscripts stacked about him like a paper Stone-henge in miniature.
Zach stopped in J.P.'s doorway and leaned against the frame. He stared his chief editor down and did not speak. He didn't have to tell J.P. why he was here. They both knew.
"Death--she comes to me on an Easton fog," J.P. said from the floor as he sorted through another stack of books. "A poetic enough way to die. You are here to kill me, I presume."
At sixty-four and with his gray beard and spectacles, J.P. was literature personified. Usually Zach enjoyed playing word games with him, but he was in no mood for repartee today.
"'Yes'?" J.P. repeated. "Just 'yes'? Well, brevity is the soul of wit after all. Help an old man off the floor, will you, Easton? If I'm going to die, might as well die on my feet."
Sighing, Zach stepped into the office, reached down and helped J.P. stand. J.P. patted Zach gratefully on the shoulder and collapsed into his chair behind his desk.
"I'm a dead man anyway. Can't find that damn Hamlet galley for John Warren. Should have had it in the mail yesterday. But happiness is good health and a bad memory they say, and I am a happy, happy man."
Zach studied J.P. for a moment and silently cursed him for being so endearing. His affection for his boss made this conversation far less pleasant. Zach walked over to J.P.'s bookshelves and ran his hand along the top of the case. He knew J.P.'s habit of stashing important papers where even he couldn't reach them. Zach found a manuscript and pulled it down. He threw it on J.P.'s desk and watched it kick up a small cloud of dust.
"Bless you," J.P. said, coughing as he put his hand over his heart. "You have saved my life."
"Now I get to be the one who kills you."
J.P. eyed Zach and pointed at the chair across from the desk. Zach reluctantly sat down, pulling his gray coat around him like a suit of armor.
"Easton, look," J.P. began but it was as far as Zach let him get.
"Nora Sutherlin?" Zach infused the name with as much disgust as he could muster, a considerable amount at the moment. "You must be joking."
"Yes, Nora Sutherlin. I've thought about it, looked at the sales projections. I think we should acquire her. I want you to work with her."
"I will do no such thing. It's pornography."
"It's not pornography." J.P. peered at Zach over the top of his glasses. "It's erotica. Very good erotica."
"I had no idea there was such a thing."
"Two words--Anai's Nin," J.P. retorted.
"Two more words--Booker Prize."
J.P. exhaled noisily and leaned back in his chair.
"Easton, I know your track record. You're one of the top talents in the industry by far. I wouldn't have paid to import you here to New York if...