Martin de Porres stood before the mirror, inspecting with his unfailing eye the cut of his suit. In the image’s background, the tailor’s assistant trembled; Martin frowned. The movement was distracting.
The problem with being Martin de Porres was that he was easily bored. There was really only one thing that kept Martin de Porres from being bored, but Emma wouldn’t like it. It pained him, but Martin liked Emma more than he disliked boredom. And it was important to Simon, besides, so Martin refrained from romancing and bedding anyone but Emma. It was a difficult change, but damned if he wasn’t getting used to it. And Emma was right; it was changing him in other ways. It made him hungry for her; it made him treasure their time together more.
He was a little afraid—God forbid—that he was becoming domesticated. Being with Emma—even if intermittently, even if the media attention on her and the law enforcement attention on him kept them from having one location to come back to at the end of every day—was like coming home.
It was a difficult change, but damned if he wasn’t getting used to it.
Emma was in her third day of lectures at the University of Rome. She enjoyed what she was doing, but the Italians were keeping her busy. Add in her travel schedule, and the nights spent wining and dining with scientists, academics, and politicians, and she was bushed.
“Mi scusa, Professoressa?”
Emma turned to find one of the doctoral students behind her with an armful of red roses.
“Oh,” she said, more gasp than conscious thought.
“These came for you,” the girl said, and piled the flowers into Emma’s arms.
“I—uh, wow! Thank you. Um, do you have any idea where they came from?”
The girl produced a hotel key and a business card-sized slip of exquisite ivory stationary. Upon it, in beautiful cursive, were the name of the hotel, the room number, and the letters MDP.
Emma smiled. She brought the roses to her face, and for a moment lost herself in the sweet smell and the silky feel of the flowers against her skin.
Emma liked Martin de Porres, despite herself. He was vain and finicky and pompous, but he was also funny and stylish and lovely. And he was definitely the most passionate in bed, and a better lover than any of them except maybe Thomas More—and Simon himself, of course. The more time she spent with Martin, the more Emma liked him. It had taken her a while to learn how to communicate on his wavelength. But once she had, she found he was bright, charming, and eloquent, even when his aim was not—as ninety percent of his conversations were—wooing some pretty young thing into bed.
Martin liked to be in charge, especially when sex was concerned, and Emma realized it as a concession when he started leaving her keys and locations instead of ferreting her out. Something all the saints had in common was an aversion to giving away information, and a pathological fear of leaving clues to where they could be found. Martin was cocky enough to be flexible with this most of the time, but he had bedded enough women to like an escape route, and this advantage had been the last to give.
Martin was waiting for her when she arrived. There were roses in the suite, too; Martin sat on the hotel’s enormous bed, twirling a flower between his hands. The room was exquisite; Martin had excellent taste and knew the value of everything.
“New suit?” Emma asked.
She shut the door behind her, and tossed her purse and keys to the nearest available flat surface. The roses she sat beside the others.
Martin looked up, and smiled a little. The expression did not belong to him, and Emma’s heart buoyed; it was likely that she would get to see Simon soon.
“Yes,” he said. “Do you like it?”
“You look very handsome.”
Martin stood, and closed the distance between them. His hands curled around her, the familiar feel of his touch and the foreign tickle of the rose bringing her body to life.
“You look like a promise fulfilled,” he whispered, and then brought his mouth to hers.
It turned out that it was not as simple as turning the saints off. Simon had spent his life as other people. Emma had given him the occasion, the impetus, to be himself, but a lifetime’s worth of anything is hard to undo. Harder still when there are people to be put to rest.
Simon could control the saints, sometimes. He could start them, for sure. Turning them off was another matter, and sometimes they popped up without invitation. At first, Emma found it concerning, off-putting; she had put up with it because she loved Simon, and then for a time had considered not putting up with it at all.
But they were growing on her.
Emma was sure that she was the only woman ever to wake up with Martin de Porres, and it had only happened twice. The first time, he had been injured, too injured to consider sex in the first place, and when he had woken up, she had taken care of him until he was well enough to leave. The second time he had been charming and lovely as ever, but she sensed that he was angry and confused—with himself, for the affection he held for her. When he had gone back to being Simon again, it was sudden; like all of the saints, he was master of the escape.
This time Emma woke to an empty bed. She stretched her hand across the cool sheets, loss settling across her chest like a lead vest. She closed her eyes.
But then she felt the mattress move beneath her. A smile curled her lips; of course, she wouldn’t hear him; all the saints moved silently. The saint’s body looming above hers, a gentle kiss.
Emma opened her eyes. She grinned.
“Simon,” she whispered.
She threaded her fingers through his hair; he was still damp from the shower.
Simon smiled. “I’ve missed you.”