Bow Out Gracefully Quotes

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When you're up against a superior enemy, sometimes it's okay to just bow out gracefully
Lurlene McDaniel (Don't Die, My Love)
Zhi yin. Jem had told her once that it meant understanding music, and also a bond that went deeper than friendship. Jem played, and he played the years of Will's life as he had seen them. He played two little boys in the training room, one showing the other how to throw knives, and he played the ritual of parabatai: the fire and the vows and burning runes. He played two young men running through the streets of London in the dark, stopping to lean up against a wall and laugh together. He played the day in the library when he and Will had jested with Tessa about ducks, and he played the train to Yorkshire on which Jem had said that parabatai were meant to love each other as they loved their own souls. He played that love, and he played their love for Tessa, and hers for them, and he played Will saying, In your eyes I have always found grace. He played the too few times he had seen them since he had joined the Brotherhood- the brief meetings at the Institute; the time when Will had been bitten by a Shax demon and nearly died, and Jem had come from the Silent City and sat with him all night, risking discovery and punishment. And he played the birth of their first son, and the protection ceremony that had been carried out on the child in the Silent City. Will would have no other Silent Brother but Jem perform it. And Jem played the way he had covered his scarred face with his hands and turned away when he'd found out the child's name was James. He played of love and loss and years of silence, words unsaid and vows unspoken, and all the spaces between his heart and theirs; and when he was done, and he'd set the violin back in its box, Will's eyes were closed, but Tessa's were full of tears. Jem set down his bow, and came toward the bed, drawing back his hood, so she could see his closed eyes and his scarred face. And he had sat down beside them on the bed, and taken Will's hand, the one that Tessa was not holding, and both Will and Tessa heard Jem's voice in their minds. I take your hand, brother, so that you may go in peace. Will had opened the blue eyes that had never lost their color over all the passing years, and looked at Jem and then Tessa, and smiled, and died, with Tessa's head on his shoulder and his hand in Jem's.
Cassandra Clare (Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices, #3))
When warm weather came, Baby Suggs, holy, followed by every black man, woman, and child who could make it through, took her great heart to the Clearing--a wide-open place cut deep in the woods nobody knew for what at the end of the path known only to deer and whoever cleared the land in the first place. In the heat of every Saturday afternoon, she sat in the clearing while the people waited among the trees. After situating herself on a huge flat-sided rock, Baby Suggs bowed her head and prayed silently. The company watched her from the trees. They knew she was ready when she put her stick down. Then she shouted, 'Let the children come!' and they ran from the trees toward her. Let your mothers hear you laugh,' she told them, and the woods rang. The adults looked on and could not help smiling. Then 'Let the grown men come,' she shouted. They stepped out one by one from among the ringing trees. Let your wives and your children see you dance,' she told them, and groundlife shuddered under their feet. Finally she called the women to her. 'Cry,' she told them. 'For the living and the dead. Just cry.' And without covering their eyes the women let loose. It started that way: laughing children, dancing men, crying women and then it got mixed up. Women stopped crying and danced; men sat down and cried; children danced, women laughed, children cried until, exhausted and riven, all and each lay about the Clearing damp and gasping for breath. In the silence that followed, Baby Suggs, holy, offered up to them her great big heart. She did not tell them to clean up their lives or go and sin no more. She did not tell them they were the blessed of the earth, its inheriting meek or its glorybound pure. She told them that the only grace they could have was the grace they could imagine. That if they could not see it, they would not have it. Here,' she said, 'in this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard...
Toni Morrison (Beloved)
Reluctance Out through the fields and the woods And over the walls I have wended; I have climbed the hills of view And looked at the world, and descended; I have come by the highway home, And lo, it is ended. The leaves are all dead on the ground, Save those that the oak is keeping To ravel them one by one And let them go scraping and creeping Out over the crusted snow, When others are sleeping. And the dead leaves lie huddled and still, No longer blown hither and thither; The last lone aster is gone; The flowers of the witch-hazel wither; The heart is still aching to seek, But the feet question 'Whither?' Ah, when to the heart of man Was it ever less than a treason To go with the drift of things, To yield with a grace to reason, And bow and accept the end Of a love or a season?
Robert Frost (The Poetry of Robert Frost)
As Kingfishers Catch Fire As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; As tumbled over rim in roundy wells Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name; Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; Selves -- goes itself; _myself_ it speaks and spells, Crying _What I do is me: for that I came_. I say more: the just man justices; Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces; Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is -- Christ. For Christ plays in ten thousand places, Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his To the Father through the features of men's faces.
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Your life is not A story But rather an assortment of small ones Some endings are happy Some, sad Others - ironic In some stories you are the hero In others - the villain Still others, a bit player - in someone else's saga We all are but players In story, after story, after story Without being afforded one rehearsal or script But collectively we share the hope To bow out gracefully
Joseph DiFrancesco
Children," Johanna drawled out. "They're such a joy. When you get married and have a family of your own, you'll understand what I'm saying. You are going to get married someday, aren't you, Keith?" "Aye, m'lady," he answered. "Next summer as a matter of fact. Bridgid MacCoy has agreed to become my wife." "Oh." She couldn't quite hide her disappointment. She turned her gaze down the table and settled on Michael as a possibility. He caught her staring at him. He smiled. She nodded. "Children," she began again. "They're wonderful, aren't they, Michael?" "If you say so, m'lady." "Oh, I do say," she replied. "When you get married, you'll understand. You do plan to marry someday, don't you, Michael?" "Eventually," he answered with a shrug. "Have you anyone in mind?" "Are you matchmaking, m'lady?" Keith asked. "Why would you think that?" "I'll marry Helen when I'm ready," Michael interjected. "I've told her I will, and she agreed to wait." Johanna frowned. The possibilities were becoming a bit limited. She turned to Niall. "Children…" she began. "She is matchmaking," Keith announced. It was as though he'd just shouted the alarm that they were under siege. The soldiers literally jumped from their stools. They bowed to Johanna and left the room in the space of a single minute. She didn't even have enough time to order them back into their seats.
Julie Garwood (Saving Grace)
As she was working out the calculations in her head, she forgot to really worry about all the physical things that were getting in the way--the balancing of the bow, the aiming, the fear she wasn't going to get it right--and suddenly it all just clicked. She felt it come into sudden, sharp focus, like a spotlight had suddenly focused on her, and she let go of the arrow. That instant, she knew it would hit the target. She let the bow rock gracefully forward on the balance point, watching the arrow, and it smacked into the exact center of her crudely drawn paper circle. Physics. She loved physics. Shane arrived just as she put the arrow into the center, and slowed down, staring from the target to Claire, standing straight and tall, bow still held loosely in one hand and ready to shoot again. "You look so hot right now," he said.
Rachel Caine (Kiss of Death (The Morganville Vampires, #8))
The He reaches out and lays His cold hand on my head, and His grace and understanding fill me, burning away all vestiges of d'Albret's evil darkness weighing on my soul until the only darkness that remains is that of beauty. The darkness of mystery, and questions, and the endless night sky, and the deep caverns of the earth. I know then that what Beast said was true: I am a survivor, and the taint of the d'Albrets was but a disguise I wore so that I could pass among them. It is no more a true part of me than the cloak on my back or the jewels I wear. And just as love has two sides, so too does Death. While Ismae will serve as His mercy. I will not, for that is not how He fashioned me. Every death I have witnessed, every horror I have endured, has forged me to be who I am - Death's justice. If I had not experienced these things firsthand, then the desire to protect the innocent would not burn so brightly within me. There in the darkness, shielded by my father's grace, I bow my head and weep. I weep for all that I have lost, but also for what I have found, for there are tears of joy mixed in with those of sorrow. I let the light of His great love fill me, burning away all the tendrils and traces of d'Albret's darkness, until I am clean, and whole, and new.
R.L. LaFevers (Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin, #2))
95 percent of the time, the common objections are merely ploys on the part of the prospect, who would rather bow out of the sale gracefully than have to look the salesperson in the eye and confront them about their lack of certainty concerning the Three Tens.
Jordan Belfort (Way of the Wolf: Master the Art of Persuasion and Build Massive Wealth)
When it was just he, Ildiko and Anhuset, his cousin rounded on him.  “Are you trying to worry me into an early death?” she snapped. “Stop henpecking me,” he snapped back.  “I have a wife for that, and even she doesn’t do it.” Muffled laughter sounded next to him.  Ildiko stared at them both with watery eyes and a hand clapped over her mouth.  She lowered her hand and compressed her lips in an obvious effort to contain her mirth.  “Sorry,” she managed to gasp out between giggles. Anhuset didn’t share in her amusement.  Her expression darkened before she bowed a second time.  “I will see you both in the town square.
Grace Draven (Radiance (Wraith Kings, #1))
II Hollywood Flapper Oh, come my love and join with me The oldest infant industry. Come seek the bourne of palm and pearl, The lovely land of boy-meets-girl. Come grace this lotus-laden shore, The isle of Do-What’s-Done-Before. Come curb the new and watch the old win, Out where the streets are paved with Goldwyn. – Dorothy Parker
David Stenn (Clara Bow: Runnin' Wild)
A kind of northing is what I wish to accomplish, a single-minded trek towards that place where any shutter left open to the zenith at night will record the wheeling of all the sky’s stars as a pattern of perfect, concentric circles. I seek a reduction, a shedding, a sloughing off. At the seashore you often see a shell, or fragment of a shell, that sharp sands and surf have thinned to a wisp. There is no way you can tell what kind of shell it had been, what creature it had housed; it could have been a whelk or a scallop, a cowrie, limpet, or conch. The animal is long since dissolved, and its blood spread and thinned in the general sea. All you hold in your hand is a cool shred of shell, an inch long, pared so thin that it passes a faint pink light. It is an essence, a smooth condensation of the air, a curve. I long for the North where unimpeded winds would hone me to such a pure slip of bone. But I’ll not go northing this year. I’ll stalk that floating pole and frigid air by waiting here. I wait on bridges; I wait, struck, on forest paths and meadow’s fringes, hilltops and banksides, day in and day out, and I receive a southing as a gift. The North washes down the mountains like a waterfall, like a tidal wave, and pours across the valley; it comes to me. It sweetens the persimmons and numbs the last of the crickets and hornets; it fans the flames of the forest maples, bows the meadow’s seeded grasses and pokes it chilling fingers under the leaf litter, thrusting the springtails and the earthworms deeper into the earth. The sun heaves to the south by day, and at night wild Orion emerges looming like the Specter over Dead Man Mountain. Something is already here, and more is coming.
Annie Dillard (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek)
I was on the first one when I felt his fingers encircle my wrist. “Sophie, come on. I don’t want to fight with you.” Turning, I opened my mouth to say I didn’t want to fight with him either. But before I could, I saw the telltale flash out of the corner of my eye, and the next thing I knew, my arm was jerking out of his grasp. “If you don’t want to fight with her, maybe you shouldn’t suggest she team up with people who want to kill her,” my voice snarled. Archer backed up so fast he nearly stumbled, and I wasn’t sure I’d ever seen him look so freaked out. But he recovered quickly. “Elodie, if I wanted to talk to you, I’d do a séance or something. Maybe go on an episode of Ghost Hunters. But right now, I want to talk to Sophie. So clear out.” Elodie had no intention of doing that. “You always were a crappy boyfriend,” she said. “Once you left, I chalked that up to you, you know, not actually liking me. But unless I’m blind as well as dead, you really like Sophie. In fact, hard as it is for me to fathom, I think you love her.” Shut up, shut up, shut up! Screw that, she retorted. You two spend all your time making stupid jokes and being all witty. Someone has to get real. “What’s your point?” Archer asked, narrowing his eyes at me. Her. Whatever. God, this was getting confusing. “Cal loves her, too, you know. And the last time I checked, he wasn’t part of a cult of monster killers. I’m just saying that if you’re going have loyalties that divided, maybe it’s time to bow out gracefully.” You couldn’t say Elodie didn’t know how to make a dramatic exit. The next thing I knew, I was pitching forward into Archer’s arms, my head swimming. Archer clutched my waist and then abruptly shoved me at arm’s length. “Sophie?” he asked, looking intently into my eyes. “Yeah,” I said, my voice shaking. “I’m back.” His fingers loosened, becoming more of a caress than a grip. “So you can’t control when she swoops in like that? She can just take you over…whenever?” I tried to laugh, but it came out more of a cough. “You know Elodie. I don’t think anyone has ever controlled her.” Frowning, Archer pulled his hands back and shoved them in his pockets. “Well, that’s awesome.” I grabbed the railing to steady myself. “Archer…that stuff she said. You know it’s not true.” He shrugged and moved past me onto the steps. “Saying the most hateful things possible is like Elodie’s superpower. Don’t worry about it.” He paused and looked over his shoulder. “We should probably go tell Jenna what we found down here.” Oh, right. We’d just unearthed a whole bunch of demons. That probably trumped over relationship issues. Another few seconds passed. “Come on, Mercer,” Archer said, holding his hand out to me. This time, I took it.
Rachel Hawkins (Spell Bound (Hex Hall, #3))
We got out of our car in Agra to be faced with 150 people and instantly knew that we were their target. We were white (we still are) and wealthy (in comparison). And these people are masters at the art of distraction. You’ll spot the one approaching from the left, but not the imminent threat from the right. And if you say no they have ways of making you say yes. We were greeted with, “Give me money” by street urchins, “Give me 20 rupees,” by a man in a ‘locker room’ looking after our camera equipment, and graceful, exquisite and amused smiles by some of the most magnificently beautiful women in the world. Ladies with coconut oil in their hair, eyes the colour of artisan’s gold, and spirituality in their hearts. And everywhere we went we were greeted with the Añjali Mudrā gesture and the word Namaste, indicating 'I bow to the divine in you.
Karl Wiggins (Wrong Planet - Searching for your Tribe)
Obviously, to be in the fear of the Lord is not to be scared of the Lord, even though the Hebrew word has overtones of respect and awe. “Fear” in the Bible means to be overwhelmed, to be controlled by something. To fear the Lord is to be overwhelmed with wonder before the greatness of God and his love. It means that, because of his bright holiness and magnificent love, you find him “fearfully beautiful.” That is why the more we experience God’s grace and forgiveness, the more we experience a trembling awe and wonder before the greatness of all that he is and has done for us. Fearing him means bowing before him out of amazement at his glory and beauty.
Timothy J. Keller (The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God)
In the moonlight David saw that Thoresby had become very peculiar indeed. Figs nestled among the leaves of beech-trees. Elder-trees were bowed down with pomegranates. Ivy was almost torn from walls by the weight of ripe blackberries growing upon it. Anything which had ever possessed any sort of life had sprung fruitfulness. Ancient, dried up frames had become swollen with sap and we putting out twigs, leaves, blossoms and fruit. Door-frames and doors were so distorted that bricks had been pushed out of place and some houses were in danger of collapsing altogether. The cart in the middle of the high street was a grove of silver birches. Its broken wheels put forth briar roses and nightingales sang on it.
Susanna Clarke (The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories)
I been thinkin'," he said. "I been in the hills, thinkin', almost you might say like Jesus went into the wilderness to think His way out of a mess of troubles. Seems like Jesus got all messed up with troubles, and He couldn't figure nothin' out, an' He got to feelin' what the hell good is it all, an' what's the use fightin' an' figurin'. Got tired, got good an' tired, an' His sperit all wore out. Jus' about come to the conclusion, the hell with it. An' so He went off into the wilderness." "I ain't sayin' I'm like Jesus," the preacher went on. "But I got tired like Him, an' I got mixed up like Him, an' I went into the wilderness like Him, without no campin' stuff. Nighttime I'd lay on my back an' look up at the stars; morning I'd set an' watch the sun come up; midday I'd look out from a hill at the rollin' dry country; evenin' I'd foller the sun down. Sometimes I'd pray like I always done. On'y I couldn' figure what I was prayin' to or for. There was the hills, an' there was me, an' we wasn't separate no more. We was one thing. An' that one thing was holy." "An' I got thinkin', on'y it wasn't thinkin, it was deeper down than thinkin'. I got thinkin' how we was holy when we was one thing, an' mankin' was holy when it was one thing. An' it on'y got unholy when one mis'able little fella got the bit in his teeth an' run off his own way, kickin' an' draggin' an' fightin'. Fella like that bust the holiness. But when they're all workin' together, not one fella for another fella, but one fella kind of harnessed to the whole shebang—that's right, that's holy. An' then I got thinkin' I don't even know what I mean by holy." He paused, but the bowed heads stayed down, for they had been trained like dogs to rise at the "amen" signal. "I can't say no grace like I use' ta say. I'm glad of the holiness of breakfast. I'm glad there's love here. That's all." The heads stayed down. The preacher looked around. "I've got your breakfast cold," he said; and then he remembered. "Amen," he said, and all the heads rose up.
John Steinbeck (The Grapes Of Wrath An Opera In 3 Acts)
Ladies and Gentlemen. I should like to inform you on behalf of the nation state of Guyana, that we are going to resign from being a country. We can't make it work. We have tried. We have done our best. It is not possible. The problems are insoluble. From midnight tonight, we shall cease trading. The country is now disbanded. We will voluntarily liquidate ourselves. The nation will disperse quietly, a little shamefaced but so what. We had a go. Different people have suggested different solutions. Do it this way. Try that. Let me have a go. Nothing works. We are at the mercy of the rich countries. A team of management consultants from the United States could not find the answer, and for not finding the answer, we had to pay them an amount that substantially increased our national debt. We give in, gracefully, but we give in." And then he imagined himself, quietly and with dignity, putting his papers in his briefcase, bowing to the hushed assembly, returning to clear out his office and going for a walk with his wife along the sea wall. (The Ventriloquist's Tale
Pauline Melville
You say respect my elders, but what you mean is respecting my betters, is that not right? Are you so full of your own arrogance that you need me to bow and kowtow to you like some throwback fledgling? Or perhaps we should reinstate the role of concubines in our society. Then you may have the pleasure of claiming me and forcing me to fall to my knees, bowing low in respect of your masculine eminence!” Gideon watched as she did just that, her gown billowing around her as she gracefully kneeled before him, so close to him that her knees touched the tips of his boots. She swept her hands to her sides, bowing her head until her forehead brushed the leather, her hair spilling like reams of heavy silk around his ankles. The Ancient found himself unusually speechless, the strangest sensation creeping through him as he looked down at the exposed nape of her neck, the elegant line of her back. Unable to curb the impulse, Gideon lowered himself into a crouch, reaching beneath the cloak of coffee-colored hair to touch her flushed cheek. The heat of her anger radiated against his touch and he recognized it long before she turned her face up to him. “Does this satisfy you, my lord Gideon?” she whispered fiercely, her eyes flashing like flinted steel and hard jade. Gideon found himself searching her face intently, his eyes roaming over the high, aristocratic curves of her cheekbones, the amazingly full sculpture of her lips, the wide, accusing eyes that lay behind extraordinarily thick lashes. He cupped her chin between the thumb and forefinger of his left hand, his fingertips fanning softly over her angrily flushed cheek. “You do enjoy mocking me,” he murmured softly to her, the breath of his words close enough to skim across her face. “No more than you seem to enjoy condescending to me,” she replied, her clipped words coming out on quick, heated breaths. Gideon absorbed this latest venom with a blink of lengthy lashes. They kept their gazes locked, each seemingly waiting for the other to look away. “You have never forgiven me,” he said suddenly, softly. “Forgiven you?” She laughed bitterly. “Gideon, you are not important enough to earn my forgiveness.” “Is your ego so fragile, Legna, that a small slight to it is irreparable?” “Stop talking to me as if I were a temperamental child!” Legna hissed, moving to jerk her head back but finding his grip quite secure. “There was nothing slight about the way you treated me. I will never forget it, and I most certainly will never forget it!
Jacquelyn Frank (Gideon (Nightwalkers, #2))
Wes sat in a cracked vinyl booth picking at his fries and listening to Amanda go on and on about the dress she'd found. '...and it has these little lavender bows. Oh, Wes, I can't wait 'til you see it.' She gesticulated wildly, and her only saving grace right now was her amazing rack that swayed and bounced with each movement. Sometimes he swore that was the only reason he ever looked crosswise at Amanda Price. That, and her daddy's checkbook. 'And I found these shoes--" 'Uh huh, that's nice,' he cut her off and slid free from the booth. He held out his hand. 'Got the card?' He waved the bill in the air at her questioning gaze. Was she a little cross-eyed, maybe? He thought so.
Brandi Salazar (Midnight Masquerade)
Just reason it out. What are the pros and cons with her?” “Reason! Always with your bloody reason. Do you know what I’m going to enjoy? When you meet your demoness and she shakes to tell your unflappable demeanor. I’m going to laugh when you turn enraged, horns flaring ramrod straight every time she saunters by.” “Noted. Now, begin with the pros.” “Verra well. She’s clever, she’s brave, and, by all the gods, she’s graced in form. And I’m no’ going to apologize for being a typical male—I do want the sexiest female I’ve ever laid eyes on to be mine. I’ll admit that I want her on my arm and in my bed. And I want to be smug over having her desire me, too.” “The cons . . .” “Right back to the witchery. Would you no’ be a tad unnerved if your female could unleash the force of an atomic bomb whenever she got nettled with you?” Rydstrom nodded in commiseration, then said, “Take away the fact that she’s a witch—” “I will be taking away that fact,” Bowe interrupted. “Practicing witchcraft is voluntary. I could see to it that she never—” Out of the blue, a bee stung him. “Damn it,” he muttered, slapping it away, then continued, “If I snatched her away from her coven and immersed her with the Lykae—” Another sting. “Son of a bitch!” When the odd breeze blew once more, Bowe narrowed his eyes. “The witch.” He gazed up at the sky and all around him. “Playing with me again! I’ll turn her over my knee for this.
Kresley Cole (Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night (Immortals After Dark, #3))
I pulled at the knot again and heard threads begin to pop. “Allow me, Miss Jones,” said Armand, right at my back. There was no gracious way to refuse him. Not with Mrs. Westcliffe there, too. I exhaled and dropped my arms. I stared at the lotus petals in my painting as the new small twists and tugs of Armand’s hands rocked me back and forth. Jesse’s music began to reverberate somewhat more sharply than before. “There,” Armand said, soft near my ear. “Nearly got it.” “Most kind of you, my lord.” Mrs. Westcliffe’s voice was far more carrying. “Do you not agree, Miss Jones?” Her tone said I’d better. “Most kind,” I repeated. For some reason I felt him as a solid warmth behind me, behind all of me, even though only his knuckles made a gentle bumping against my spine. How blasted long could it take to unravel a knot? “Yes,” said Chloe unexpectedly. “Lord Armand is always a perfect gentleman, no matter who or what demands his attention.” “There,” the gentleman said, and at last his hands fell away. The front of the smock sagged loose. I shrugged out of it as fast as I could, wadding it up into a ball. “Excuse me.” I ducked a curtsy and began my escape to the hamper, but Mrs. Westcliffe cut me short. “A moment, Miss Jones. We require your presence.” I turned to face them. Armand was smiling his faint, cool smile. Mrs. Westcliffe looked as if she wished to fix me in some way. I raised a hand instinctively to my hair, trying to press it properly into place. “You have the honor of being invited to tea at the manor house,” the headmistress said. “To formally meet His Grace.” “Oh,” I said. “How marvelous.” I’d rather have a tooth pulled out. “Indeed. Lord Armand came himself to deliver the invitation.” “Least I could do,” said Armand. “It wasn’t far. This Saturday, if that’s all right.” “Um…” “I am certain Miss Jones will be pleased to cancel any other plans,” said Mrs. Westcliffe. “This Saturday?” Unlike me, Chloe had not concealed an inch of ground. “Why, Mandy! That’s the day you promised we’d play lawn tennis.” He cocked a brow at her, and I knew right then that she was lying and that she knew that he knew. She sent him a melting smile. “Isn’t it, my lord?” “I must have forgotten,” he said. “Well, but we cannot disappoint the duke, can we?” “No, indeed,” interjected Mrs. Westcliffe. “So I suppose you’ll have to come along to the tea instead, Chloe.” “Very well. If you insist.” He didn’t insist. He did, however, sweep her a very deep bow and then another to the headmistress. “And you, too, Mrs. Westcliffe. Naturally. The duke always remarks upon your excellent company.” “Most kind,” she said again, and actually blushed. Armand looked dead at me. There was that challenge behind his gaze, that one I’d first glimpsed at the train station. “We find ourselves in harmony, then. I shall see you in a few days, Miss Jones.” I tightened my fingers into the wad of the smock and forced my lips into an upward curve. He smiled back at me, that cold smile that said plainly he wasn’t duped for a moment. I did not get a bow. Jesse was at the hamper when I went to toss in the smock. Before I could, he took it from me, eyes cast downward, no words. Our fingers brushed beneath the cloth. That fleeting glide of his skin against mine. The sensation of hardened calluses stroking me, tender and rough at once. The sweet, strong pleasure that spiked through me, brief as it was. That had been on purpose. I was sure of it.
Shana Abe (The Sweetest Dark (The Sweetest Dark, #1))
There were cushioned benches on either side of the fire, and directly before it a great carved chair. Shevraeth rose from one of the benches, making a gesture of welcome. Indicating the chair, in which sat a straight-backed old man dressed in black velvet, he said, “Father, I have the honor of introducing Lady Meliara Astiar.” And to me, in the suavest voice, as if I hadn’t flung a candleholder at his head just a little while before, “Lady Meliara, my father, Prince Alaerec.” The old man nodded slowly and with great dignity. He had keen dark eyes, and white hair which he wore loose on his shoulders in the old-fashioned way. “My dear, please forgive me if I do not rise. I am afraid I do not get about with ease or grace anymore.” I felt an impulse to bow, and squashed it. I remembered that Court women sweep curtsys--something my mother had tried once to teach me, when I was six. I also remembered that I was there against my will--a prisoner, despite all the fine surroundings and polite talk--so I just crossed my arms and said, “Don’t think you have to walk about on my behalf.” Bran gave me a slightly bemused look and bobbed an awkward bow to the old man. A servant came forward, silent and skillful, and passed out goblets of wine. The Prince saluted me in silence, followed by Bran and Shevraeth. I looked down at my goblet, then took a big gulp that made my nose sting.
Sherwood Smith (Crown Duel (Crown & Court, #1))
After situating herself on a huge flat-sided rock, Baby Suggs bowed her head and prayed silently. The company watched her from the trees. They knew she was ready when she put her stick down. Then she shouted, 'Let the children come!' and they ran from the trees toward her. 'Let your mothers hear you laugh,' she told them, and the woods rang. The adults looked on and could not help smiling. Then 'Let the grown men come,' she shouted. They stepped out one by one from among the ringing trees. 'Let your wives and your children see you dance,' she told them, and groundlife shuddered under their feet. Finally she called the women to her. 'Cry,' she told them. 'For the living and the dead. Just cry.' And without covering their eyes the women let loose. It started that way: laughing children, dancing men, crying women and then it got mixed up. Women stopped crying and danced; men sat down and cried; children danced, women laughed, children cried until, exhausted and riven, all and each lay about the Clearing damp and gasping for breath. In the silence that followed, Baby Suggs, holy, offered up to them her great big heart. She did not tell them to clean up their lives or to go and sin no more. She did not tell them they were the blessed of the earth, its inheriting meek or its glorybound pure. She told them that the only grace they could have was the grace they could imagine. That if they could not see it, they would not have it. 'Here,' she said, 'in this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it. They don't love your eyes; they'd just as soon pick em out. No more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder they flay it. And O my people they do not love your hands. These they only use, tie, bind, chop off and leave empty. Love your hands! Love them. Raise them up and kiss them. Touch others with them, pat them together, stroke them on your face 'cause they don't love that either. You got to love it, you! And nom they ain't in love with your mouth. Yonder, out there, they will see it broken and break it again. What you say out of it they will not heed. What you scream from it they do not hear. Flesh that needs to be loved. Feet that need to rest and to dance; backs that need support; shoulders that need arms, strong arms I'm telling you. And O my people, out yonder, hear me, they do not love your neck unnoosed and straight. So love your neck; put a hand on it, grace it, stroke it and hold it up. And all your inside parts that they'd just as soon slop for hogs, you got to love them. The dark, dark liver-love it, love it, and the beat and beating heart, love that too. More than eyes or feet. More than lungs that have yet to draw free air. More than your life-holding womb and your life-giving private parts, hear me now, love your heart. For this is the prize.
Toni Morrison (Beloved)
I sat up, fought against dizziness. Somewhere in the distance a single bell rang out the pattern for gold-candles and the beginning of another day. “Drink.” The cup was near to hand. I rose on one elbow and reached for it. Some sips later I felt immeasurably better. My eyesight cleared, and so did my thoughts. I remembered the interlude during the night, and frowned across the fire at my companion. He looked exactly the same as ever--as if he’d sat up for a single time measure and not for an entire night. The plain hat, simply tied hair, ordinary clothing unmarked by any device; I squinted, trying to equate this slight figure with that arrogant plume-helmed commander riding on the ridge above the last battle. But if he is who I think he is, they’re used to being up all night at their stupid Court parties, I thought grimly. “You seem to know who I am,” I said. “Who are you?” “Does it matter?” His use of my own words the night before surprised me a little. Did he expect flattery? Supposedly those so-refined Court aristocrats lived on it as anyone else lives on bread and drink. I considered my answer, wanting to make certain it was not even remotely complimentary. “I’m exactly as unlikely to blab our secrets to an anonymous flunky as I am to a Court decoration with a reputation as a gambler and a fop,” I said finally. “’Court decoration’?” he repeated, with a faint smile. The strengthening light of dawn revealed telltale marks under his eyes. So he was tired. I was obscurely glad. “Yes,” I said, pleased to expand on my insult. “My father’s term.” “You’ve never wished to meet a…Court decoration for yourself?” “No.” Then I added cheerily, “Well, maybe when I was a child.” The Marquis of Shevraeth, Galdran’s commander-in-chief, grinned. It was the first real grin I’d seen on his face, as if he were struggling to hold in laughter. Setting his cup down, he made a graceful half-bow from his seat on the other side of the fire and said, “Delighted to make your acquaintance, Lady Meliara.” I sniffed. “And now that I’ve been thoroughly put in my place,” he said, “let us leave my way of life and proceed to yours.
Sherwood Smith (Crown Duel (Crown & Court, #1))
The cheerful trumpet strains of Purcell’s “Prince of Denmark March” sang out as Prince Charles, flanked by Princes Andrew and Edward, strode confidently up the aisle, smiling and nodding to his friends in the congregation. He seemed very much at ease as he took his place to await his bride. Then . . . we heard the trumpet fanfare that heralded Diana’s entrance. We could not see her arrival from our seats to the side. Very clearly, though, we could hear the murmurs and gasps of approval inside the church along with the cheers and applause outside, as the entire world first glimpsed the bride in her fairy-tale dress. Diana looked an absolute vision in her cloud of tulle, taffeta, and lace, with the Spencer diamond tiara sparkling above her veil. Lovely, innocent, and demure, she more than met her subjects’ expectations that glorious morning. Holding her father’s arm, Diana progressed slowly and beautifully up the aisle to the rustle of silk and the scrutiny of the congregation. I recognized the processional march as Jeremiah Clarke’s “Trumpet Voluntary” from my own wedding. She appeared outwardly composed, almost deadly calm, with an endearing tentative quality to her smile. I felt certain she was trembling inside. I was quaking in sympathy for her. It may have been simply the effect of the artificial light, but I thought Diana looked rather pale and tense under her veil. Even Pat noticed. He turned to me and whispered, “She looks as nervous as you did, almost green around the gills.” I definitely agreed. Diana had looked happier, healthier, fresher the previous year and the night of the ball. The strain of recent events was telling on her. We supposed it to be the excessive prewedding stress—simply too much pressure at one time for so young a bride. I know mine is a minority view, but I would have preferred a simpler wedding gown on Diana. I thought the ruffles, poufs and bows drew too much attention to the dress and not enough to the naturally lovely, graceful bride. Still, the overall effect of the intricate design and sumptuous fabric on Diana was marvelous. Pat and I listened attentively to the ceremony and wiped at our tears when Prince Charles and Diana exchanged the traditional vows. We both sniffle at weddings, probably because we remember our own and we’re still so happy with each other.
Mary Robertson (The Diana I Knew: Loving Memories of the Friendship Between an American Mother and Her Son's Nanny Who Became the Princess of Wales)
The front door swung open and a gust of wind rushed inside. Boots scuffled along the floor, and Camille turned to see what pig had shown up at Daphne’s so early in the day. Her heart thumped as the door slammed. Stuart McGreenery tucked his arched captain’s hat under his arm and pulled off his white gloves. “A charming establishment,” he said. He turned up his nose, and sniffed the air. “Is that desperation I smell?” Oscar threw his fork and knife on the table and kicked back his chair. “Did you decide to join us for breakfast?” McGreenery lunged forward and Oscar rose to his feet. “I came to see what you know about the hole in the hull of my ship, you insolent whelp,” McGreenery said. Oscar’s cheek twitched with pleasure. “Why not just have me escorted down to it with a knife in my back?” Camille stood and inserted herself between the two men. Daphne sat in the corner of the parlor rolling cigars, her wide eyes darting from McGreenery to Oscar. “We heard the explosion,” Camille said. “What makes you think we had anything to do with it?” McGreenery retreated one small step and stared down the slope of his nose at her. This time he kept his icy stare level with her eyes. “Because it was not an accident. The explosion was set in a deliberate attempt to keep me from departing for Port Adelaide.” Camille tried to subdue the shake of her knees. “We certainly didn’t see it. Oscar and I were in our room.” McGreenery cocked his head. “I heard you were sharing a room.” He glanced at Oscar. “I doubt William would be fond of that.” “You don’t have the right to even speak his name,” Oscar said, strangling each word. McGreenery gracefully removed the hat out from under his arm and slipped it back on. “It doesn’t matter. Nothing will stop me from reaching the stone, least of all a little girl and her trained monkey.” Camille rushed forward, ready to smack McGreenery across the cheek. Oscar grabbed her around the waist and held her back. McGreenery bowed slightly, grinning with pleasure, and then whisked out the front door. She shrugged out form Oscar’s grasp and watched through the windows as McGreenery sauntered down the street toward the Stealth, where she could hear the echo of repairs already under way. “One day that prick is going to get what he deserves,” Oscar muttered. “I just hope I’m the one who gets to give it to him.
Angie Frazier (Everlasting (Everlasting, #1))
The sight of the duke taking liberties had made something boil up inside Jackson that he couldn't suppress. He'd uncharacteristically acted on impulse, and already regretted it. Because the duke now pulled back with the languid motion of all such men of high rank to fix him with a contemptuous stare. "I don't believe we've met, sir." Jackson fought to rein in the wild emotions careening through him. Lady Celia was glaring at him, and the duke was clearly irritated. But now that Jackson had stuck his nose in this, he would see it out. "I'm Jackson Pinter of the Bow Street Office. This lady's brother has hired me to...to..." If he said he'd been hired to investigate suitors, Lady Celia would probably murder him on the spot. "Mr. Pinter is investigating our parents' deaths," she explained in a silky voice that didn't fool Jackson. She was furious. "And apparently he thinks that such a position allows him the right to interfere in more personal matters." When Jackson met her hot gaze, he couldn't resist baiting her. "Your brother also hired me to protect you from fortune hunters. I'm doing my job." Outrage filled the duke's face. "Do you know who I am?" An imminently eligible suitor for her ladyship, damn your eyes. "A man kissing a young, innocent lady without the knowledge or permission of her family." Lady Celia looked fit to be tied. "Mr. Pinter, this is His Grace, the Duke of Lyons. He is no fortune hunter. And this is none of your concern. I'll thank you to keep your opinions to yourself." Jackson stared her down. "As I said the other day, madam, there isn't enough money in all the world for that." The duke cast him a considering glance. "So what do you plan to do about what you saw, sir?" Jackson tore his gaze from Lady Celia. "That depends upon you, Your Grace, if you both return to the ballroom right now, I don't plan to do anything." Was the relief or chagrin he saw on the duke's face? It was hard to tell in this bad light. "As long as you behave yourself with propriety around Lady Celia in the future," Jackson went on, "I see no reason for any of this to pass beyond this room." "That's good of you." The duke offered Lady Celia his arm. "Shall we, my lady?" "You go on," she said coolly. "I need to speak to Mr. Pinter alone." Glancing from her to Jackson, the duke nodded. "I'll expect a dance from you later, my dear," he said with a smile that rubbed Jackson raw. "Of course." Her gaze locked with Jackson's. "I'd be delighted.
Sabrina Jeffries (A Lady Never Surrenders (Hellions of Halstead Hall, #5))
When we were finished, the Prince said, “Have you any further questions concerning the matter we discussed last night?” “One.” While I felt no qualms about being rude to his son, I was reluctant to treat the elderly man the same. “You really have been planning this for a long time?” “For most of my life.” “Then why didn’t you respond? Offer to help us--at least offer a place in your alliance--when Bran and I sent our letter to the King at the start of winter?” The Prince paused to take a sip of his coffee. I noted idly that he had long, slim hands like his son’s. Had the Prince ever wielded a sword? Oh yes--wasn’t he wounded in the Pirate Wars? “There was much to admire in your letter,” he said with a faint smile. “Your forthright attitude, the scrupulous care with which you documented each grievance, bespoke an earnestness, shall we say, of intent. What your letter lacked, however, was an equally lucid plan for what to do after Galdran’s government was torn down.” “But we did include one,” I protested. He inclined his head. “In a sense. Your description of what the government ought to be was truly enlightened. Yet…as the military would say, you set out a fine strategy, but failed to supplement it with any kind of tactical carry-through.” His eyes narrowed slightly, and he added, “It is always easiest to judge where one is ignorant--a mistake we made about you, and that we have striven to correct--but it seemed that you and your adherents were idealistic and courageous, yet essentially foolhardy, folk. We were very much afraid you would not last long against the sheer weight of Galdran’s army, its poor leadership notwithstanding.” I thought this over, looking for hidden barbs--and for hidden meanings. He said, “If you should change your mind, or if you simply need to communicate with us, please be assured you shall be welcome.” It seemed that, after all, I was about to go free. “I confess I’ll feel a lot more grateful for your kindness after I get home.” He set his cup down and steepled his fingers. “I understand,” he murmured. “Had I lived through your recent experiences, I expect I might have a similar reaction. Suffice it to say that we wish you well, my child, whatever transpires.” “Thank you for that,” I said awkwardly, getting to my feet. He also rose. “I wish you a safe, swift journey.” He bowed over my hand with graceful deliberation. I left then, but for the first time in days I didn’t feel quite so bad about recent events.
Sherwood Smith (Crown Duel (Crown & Court, #1))
God has not given us the spirit of fear. He has given us the spirit of Love and a competent mind. Love conquers fear, because Love has Power, that creates a competent mind, that allows a person to make rational decisions and use righteous judgment to resolve or solve problems. Through this God-given process, we are able to endure and persevere in times of hardships, and when facing a crisis. When our spirit is broken by hate, and heavy loads are placed upon us, we turn to God for strength in our storms of life. And we seek his Love to restore us to wholeness. He restores us with Hope. From within him we receive Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance as it is noted in Galatians 5:22. Because of God's Love for us, we are able to have the patience to wait for his Power to restore us so that we are in control of our mind to over-power fear and to lead a successful life to meet our goals and create a greater opportunity filled with his blessings. He has created us to be a victorious people. Therefore, we are able to create far greater opportunities through Love. God gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increases strength. (Isaiah 40:29) When we are broken by the storms of life, God's Love restore us. We bow before him, in a humble spirit at his throne of grace, and ask in prayer for mercy and renewed strength. It is here that we find the needed strength to forgive those who have wronged us and the Power to Love. Those who wait upon the Lord, shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31) Fear is powerless. It torments the mind and paralyzes the thought process. It causes panic. Thereby, leaving the person, feeling a sense of hopelessness and unwilling to trust others. It closes possibilities to allow for change. The prophet Isaiah noted; Even the youth shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall. (Isaiah 40:30) And when Jesus disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, "It is a spirit," and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I, be not afraid. (Matthew 14:26, 27) Fear is a person's worst enemy; it causes panic, that results in making irrational decisions. Such behavior is based on poor judgment, that was made due to a lack of patience, to make an adequate investigation of the situation before proceeding. The outcome will create serious problems that can cause serious harm. LOVE is the chain that binds us together. Do not allow hate to separate us. There is One God One family One faith One world We are not defined by belief or by faith nor religion. We are the family of God. Written by: Ellen J. Barrier Source of Scriptures: King James Version Bible
Ellen J. Barrier
I’m exactly as unlikely to blab our secrets to an anonymous flunky as I am to a Court decoration with a reputation as a gambler and a fop,” I said finally. “’Court decoration’?” he repeated, with a faint smile. The strengthening light of dawn revealed telltale marks under his eyes. So he was tired. I was obscurely glad. “Yes,” I said, pleased to expand on my insult. “My father’s term.” “You’ve never wished to meet a…Court decoration for yourself?” “No.” Then I added cheerily, “Well, maybe when I was a child.” The Marquis of Shevraeth, Galdran’s commander-in-chief, grinned. It was the first real grin I’d seen on his face, as if he were struggling to hold in laughter. Setting his cup down, he made a graceful half-bow from his seat on the other side of the fire and said, “Delighted to make your acquaintance, Lady Meliara.” I sniffed. “And now that I’ve been thoroughly put in my place,” he said, “let us leave my way of life and proceed to yours. I take it your revolt is not engineered for the benefit of your fellow-nobles, or as an attempt to reestablish your mother’s blood claim through the Calahanras family. Wherefore is it, then?” I looked up in surprise. “There ought to be no mystery obscuring our reasons. Did you not trouble to read the letter we sent to Galdran Merindar before he sent Debegri against us? It was addressed to the entire Court, and our reasons were stated as plainly as we could write them--and all our names signed to it.” “Assume that the letter was somehow suppressed,” he said dryly. “Can you summarize its message?” “Easy,” I said promptly. “We went to war on behalf of the Hill Folk, whose Covenant Galdran wants to break. But not just for them. We also want to better the lives of the people of Remalna: the ordinary folk who’ve been taxed into poverty, or driven from their farms, or sent into hastily constructed mines, all for Galdran’s personal glory. And I guess for the rest of yours as well, for whose money are you spending on those fabulous Court clothes you never wear twice? Your father still holds the Renselaeus principality--or has he ceded it to Galdran at last? Isn’t it, too, taxed and farmed to the bone so that you can outshine all the rest of those fools at Court?” All the humor had gone out of his face, leaving it impossible to read. He said, “Since the kind of rumor about Court life that you seem to regard as truth also depicts us as inveterate liars, I will not waste time attempting to defend or deny. Let us instead discuss your eventual goal. Supposing,” he said, reaching to pour more tea into my cup--as if we were in a drawing room, and not sitting outside in the chill dawn, in grimy clothes, on either side of a fire just as we were on either side of a war--“Supposing you were to defeat the King. What then? Kill all the nobles in Athanarel and set yourselves up as rustic King and Queen?” I remembered father’s whisper as he lay dying: You can take Remalna, and you will be better rulers than any Merindar ever was. It had sounded fine then, but the thought of giving any hint of that to this blank-faced Court idler made me uncomfortable. I shook my head. “We didn’t want to kill anyone. Not even Galdran, until he sent Debegri to break the Covenant and take our lands. As for ruling, yes we would, if no one else better came along. We were doing it not for ourselves but for the kingdom. Disbelieve it all you want, but there’s the truth of it.
Sherwood Smith (Crown Duel (Crown & Court, #1))
Branaric came in. “Ready?” “Nearly,” I said, my fingers quickly starting the braid. I suppose you don’t have extra gloves, or another hat?” I eyed the battered object he held in his hand. “No, obviously not. Well, I can ride bareheaded. Who’s to see me that I care about?” He smiled briefly, then gave me a serious look. “Are you certain you don’t want to join the alliance?” “Yes.” He sank down heavily onto the bed and pulled from his tunic a flat-woven wallet. “I don’t know, Mel. What’s toward? You wouldn’t even listen yesterday, or hardly. Isn’t like you, burn it!” “I don’t trust these cream-voiced courtiers as far as I can spit into a wind,” I said as I watched him pull from the wallet a folded paper. “And I don’t see why we should risk any of our people, or our scarce supplies, to put one of them on the throne. If he wants to be king, let him get it on his own.” Bran sighed, his fingers working at the shapeless brim of his hat. “I think you’re wrong.” “You’re the one who was willed the title,” I reminded him. “I’m not legally a countess--I haven’t sworn anything at Court. Which means it’s just a courtesy title until you marry. You can do whatever you want, and you have a legal right to it.” “I know all that. Why are you telling me again? I remember we both promised when Papa died that we’d be equals in war and in peace. You think I’ll renege, just because we disagree for the first time? If so, you must think me as dishonest as you paint them.” He jerked his thumb back at the rest of the Renselaeus palace. I could see that he was upset. “I don’t question you, Bran. Not at all. What’s that paper?” Instead of answering, he tossed it to me. I unfolded it carefully, for it was so creased and battered it was obvious it had seen a great deal of travel. Slowly and painstakingly I puzzled out the words--then looked up in surprise. “This is Debegri’s letter about the colorwoods!” “Shevraeth asked about proof that the Merindar’s were going to break the Covenant. I brought this along, thinking that--if we were to join them--they could use it to convince the rest of Court of Galdran’s treachery.” “You’d give it to them?” I demanded. Bran sighed. “I thought it a good notion, but obviously you don’t. Here. You do whatever you think best. I’ll bide by it.” He dropped the wallet onto my lap. “But I wish you’d give them a fair listen.” I folded the letter up, slid it inside the waterproof wallet, and then put it inside my tunic. “I guess I’ll have to listen to the father, at any rate, over breakfast.” As I wrapped my braid around my head and tucked the end under, I added, “Which we’d better get to as soon as possible, so we have a full day of light on the road.” “You go ahead--it was you the Prince invited. I’ll chow with Shevraeth. And be ready whenever you are.” It was with a great sense of relief that I went to the meal, knowing that I’d only have to face one of them. And for the last time ever, I vowed as the ubiquitous servants bowed me into a small dining room. The Prince was already seated in a great chair. With a graceful gesture he indicated the place opposite him, and when I was seated, he said, “My wife will regret not having had a chance to meet you, Lady Meliara.” Wondering what this was supposed to mean, I opened my hands. I hoped it looked polite--I was not going to lie and say I wished I might have met her, for I didn’t, even if it was true that she had aided my palace escape.
Sherwood Smith (Crown Duel (Crown & Court, #1))
If you make disciples, you always get the church. But if you make a church, you rarely get disciples. A gifted discipler is someone who invites people into a covenantal relationship with him or her, but challenges that person to live into his or her true identity in very direct yet graceful ways. Without both dynamics working together, you will not see people grow into the people God has created them to be. Challenge may be given from the pulpit or stage on Sunday mornings, but challenge is always given best in the context of personal relationships. No one accidentally creates disciples. Discipleship is an intentional pursuit. In life, when we want to learn how to do something, we find someone with real flesh and blood and have that person teach us how to do what they do. The truth of Scripture is meant to be worked out in us, not something that we hold as an abstract reality. If there’s anything any of us should become great at, it’s making disciples who can make disciples. Every disciple disciples. You can’t be a disciple if you aren’t willing to invest in and disciple others. That’s simply the call of the Great Commission. From the beginning, members know that one day they will start a group of their own. Leaders tell members from the beginning that the expectation is that in 6-12 months they will start one of their own. People often become stunted in their spiritual development if they assume it is only affecting them (though this is never really the case), but knowing that other people are depending on them changes the game in their minds and makes them take their own spiritual development more seriously. When the bar is raised, people either bow out or step up. Most of the time people step up. It is our experience that people want to grow but are unable to will themselves to transformation. They need relationships and structures that keep them accountable and moving toward Jesus. They also know the only way this can happen is with high commitment.
Mike Breen (Building a Discipling Culture)
She was just passing through when a long male arm emerged seemingly from out of nowhere, coiling like steel around her waist. She squealed, the sound reverberating in the air, as she twisted for a moment in Lord Jack's grasp. "Got you!" he exclaimed, triumph plain in his voice. "Oh, you scared me!" she said, breathless as she met his gaze. "You're as silent as a breeze." "And you are as lithe as a gazelle, slipping from row to row as though you were made of fog. For a few moments, I thought I'd lost track of you." "This is a tricky maze. The center is nearby, though. Shall we both dash to find it?" A gleam came into his eyes, along with an expression she'd never seen him wear before. He shook his head, his gaze roaming over her face before lowering to her lips. "No," he murmured in a tone as rough as gravel. "I have what I came to find." She trembled, abruptly aware that he was still holding her against him. Her heart leapt when he reached up and began untying the bow that anchored her bonnet in place. "What are you doing, my lord?" He smiled. "Claiming a forfeit. I caught you. I believe I deserve a reward." "B-but the game isn't finished." "You're right about that," he mused aloud, lifting her hat from her head. "The game has only just begun.
Tracy Anne Warren (Seduced by His Touch (The Byrons of Braebourne, #2))
You know, my queen,” Lutian said thoughtfully, “there is another solution that I see.” She turned to look at Lutian, who was riding just behind them. “And that is?” “All you truly need for proof is Prince Christian’s heraldic emblem. Return home pregnant, with it, and they will have no choice except to accept your word for the baby’s father.” Christian was even more aghast at that proposition than he’d been at Adara’s. “And just who would be the father of her unborn child that she would pass off as mine?” Lutian straightened up in the saddle. “I humbly submit myself to Her Grace’s will to use my meek and virile body in any manner she sees fit.” Adara squelched a laugh at his kind offer. Leave it to Lutian to come up with such a solution. But if looks could kill, Lutian would be severed in twain by Christian’s heated glare. “I beg your pardon, fool?” Adara was almost amused by the anger in Christian’s tone. It would be nice if she could attribute it to jealousy, but she knew better. “Aye,” she said, wanting to nettle her husband even more. “It just might work.” Christian gaped at her. “You would bed the village idiot?” Lutian snorted at that. “Pray tell who is the greater idiot? The man who would see his son king or the one who is holding a beautiful woman in his lap, with full matrimonial rites to her, who refuses her, a throne, and a wealthy kingdom full of people to do his every bidding? I think, in the grand scheme of this, I am by far the wisest man here.” Lutian kicked his horse abreast of theirs and bowed low in his saddle to Adara. “Take me, my queen, and I will give you your heir. I will gladly lay myself down for your pleasure.” Christian’s nostrils flared in warning. “You lay yourself down for her pleasure, fool, and you won’t be getting back up. Ever.” Lutian went pale as he reined his horse away from them…out of Christian’s direct reach. “Very good, then, my prince.” He shifted his gaze to Adara. “My apologies, my queen, but you’re on your own.” “Lutian,” she cried in feigned outrage. “What about my problem?” Her fool took it good-naturedly. “Well, my lady, ’tis your problem. Sorry. I…um…I intend to live a long and fruitful life.” “Fruitful?” Christian asked with a gimlet stare. Lutian twisted up his face as he contemplated his choice of words. “Did I say fruitful? Methinks I spoke too soon. Suddenly I fear I may be impotent. Truly, I can no longer rise to any occasion. I shall be old and fruitless. My fruit is shriveling even as we speak.” -Lutian, Adara, & Christian
Kinley MacGregor (Return of the Warrior (Brotherhood of the Sword #6))
Then the Duke of Savona appeared before me. He bowed, smiled, and held out his arm--and there was no time for thought. It was my very first dance in Court, and I would have liked to try it with someone I knew. But at Court one didn’t dance with one’s brother. With the Hill Folk, dance was a celebration of life, sometimes of death, and of the changing of the seasons. Here dances were a form of courtship--one that was all the more subtle, Nee had said once, because the one you danced with might not be the one you were courting. Savona did not speak until the very end, and then it was not the usual sort of compliment that Nee had led me to expect. Instead, he clasped my hand in his, leaned close so that I could smell his clean scent, and murmured, “Your favorite color, Meliara. What is it?” No titles, just that soft, intimate tone. I felt slightly dizzy and almost said Blue, but I had just enough presence of mind to stop myself. Blue being the primary Renselaeus color, this might be misleading. “Lavender,” I said. My voice sounded to my ears like a bat squeak. The music ended then, and he bowed over my hand and kissed it. Then he smiled into my eyes. “Will you wear it tomorrow?” he asked. “Certainly. Your grace,” I managed. “Call me Russav.” Another bow, and he turned away.
Sherwood Smith (Court Duel (Crown & Court, #2))
My dear Countess,” a fluting voice said at my right ear, and Lady Tamara’s soft hand slid along my arm, guiding me toward the lowest tier near the fireplace. Several people moved away, and we sank down onto the cushions there. Tamara gestured to one of the hovering foot-servants, and two glasses of wine were instantly brought. “Did I not predict that you would show us the way at the races as well?” “I won only once,” I said, fighting against embarrassment. Deric was grinning. “Beat me,” he said. “Nearly beat Renna.” “I had the best horse,” I countered. For a moment the conversation turned from me to the races the week before. It had been a sudden thing, arranged on the first really nice day we’d had, and though the course was purported to be rough, I had found it much easier than riding mountain trails. As Deric described the last obstacles of the race in which I had beaten him, I saw the shy red-haired Lord Geral listening with a kind of ardent expression in his eyes. He was another who often sought me out for dances but rarely spoke otherwise. Might my rose and ring have come from him? Tamara’s voice recalled my attention “…the way with swords as well, dear Countess?” I glanced at her, sipping at my wine as I mentally reached for the subject. “It transpires,” Tamara said with a glinting smile, “that our sharpest wits are also experts at the duel. Almost am I willing to rise at dawn, just to observe you at the cut and the thrust.” I opened my mouth to disclaim any great prowess with the sword, then realized that I’d walk right into her little verbal trap if I did so. Now, maybe I’m not any kind of a sharp wit, but I wasn’t going to hand myself over for trimming so easily. So I just smiled and sipped at my wine. Fialma’s faint, die-away voice was just audible on Tamara’s other side. “Tamara, my love, that is not dueling, but mere swordplay.” Tamara’s blue eyes rounded with perplexity. “True, true, I had forgotten.” She smiled suddenly, her fan waving slowly in query mode. “An academic question: Is it a real duel when one is favored by the opponent?” Fialma said, “Is it a real contest, say, in a race when the better rider does not ride?” She turned her thin smile to Shevraeth. “Your grace?” The Marquis bowed slightly, his hands at an oblique angle. “If a stake is won,” he said, “it is a race. If the point draws blood, it is a duel.” A murmur of appreciative laughter met this, and Fialma sighed ever so slightly. “You honor us,” she murmured, sweeping her fan gracefully in the half circle of Intimate Confidence, “with your liberality…” She seated herself at the other side of the fireplace and began a low-voiced conversation with Lady Dara, the heir to a northern duchy. Just beyond Fialma’s waving fan, Lord Flauvic’s metal-gold eyes lifted from my face to Shevraeth’s to Tamara’s, then back to me. What had I missed? Nee’s cheeks were glowing, but that could have been her proximity to the fire. Branaric spoke then, saluting Shevraeth with his wineglass. “Duel or dabble, I’d hie me to those practices, except I just can’t stomach rough work at dawn. Now, make them at noon, and I’m your man!” More laughter greeted this, and Bran turned to Flauvic. “How about you? Join me in agitating for a decent time?” Lord Flauvic also had a fan, but he had not opened it. Holding it horizontally between his fingers in the mode of the neutral observer, he said, “Not at any time, Tlanth. You will forgive me if I am forced to admit that I am much too lazy?
Sherwood Smith (Court Duel (Crown & Court, #2))
My spirits were high as I joined Nee and Bran. But instead of walking down the stairs to go into the ballroom with the rest of the guests, Nee and Bran led the way across the hall, to the gallery that overlooked the ballroom, and stopped at the landing at the top of the grand stairway. And there we found Shevraeth waiting for us, looking formidable and remote in his usual dark colors. Remembering with dismaying intensity that the last time we had talked with one another I had managed--again--to instigate a quarrel, I felt embarrassment chase away my anticipation. Shevraeth greeted us in his customary calm manner. When he turned at last to Bran, I muttered out of the side of my mouth to Nee, “You mean we have to go down these stairs--with him--and everyone looking at us?” “We’re the guests of honor,” she whispered back, obviously trying not to laugh. She looked fabulous in her dark brown velvet gown, embroidered all over with tiny gold leaves dotted with little rubies. “We’re supposed to be looked at! We’ll open the ball. You remember? I know I told you.” Bran flicked my shoulder. “Brace up, Mel. You’ll like it. I promise.” My attempt at a bland face obviously wasn’t convincing. I studied the toes of my dancing slippers, wishing with all my strength that I was back in Tlanth, riding the mountain trails with no humans in sight. “Savona’s waiting,” Nee whispered to me. Some invisible servant must have given a signal, for the music started: an entire orchestra filling the vaulted room with the strains of an ancient promenade. Had I been downstairs among the glittering throng, I would have loved it, but I now had Shevraeth standing right beside me, holding out his arm. I just knew I would manage to do something embarrassing. I took a deep breath, straightened my shoulders, and tried my best to smooth my face into a polite smile as I put my hand on his sleeve. Just before we started down, he murmured, “Think of this as a battle.” “A battle?” I repeated, so surprised I actually looked up at his face. He didn’t look angry, or disgusted, or sarcastic. But there was suppressed laughter in the way his gray eyes were narrowed. He replied so softly I could just barely hear it. “You’ve a sword in your hand, and vast numbers of ravening minions of some dreaded evil sorcerer await below. The moment you step among them, you’ll leap into battle, mowing them down in droves…” The absolute unlikelihood of it made me grin, on the verge of laughter. And I realized that while he’d spoken we had come safely down the stairs and were halfway along the huge room to the Duke of Savona, who waited alone. On either side people bowed and curtsied, as graceful as flowers in the wind. I’d almost made it, and my smile was real--until I lost the image and remembered where I was, and who I was with, and I muttered defensively, “I don’t really like battles, you know.” “Of course I know,” he returned, still in that soft voice. “But you’re used to them.” And then we were before Savona, who was resplendent in black and crimson and gold; and as the Duke bowed, fanfare after fanfare washed over me like waves of brilliant light. Because Shevraeth was also a guest of honor, and had the highest rank, it was his choice for the first dance, and he held out his hand to me. Savona went to Nee, and Bran went to Nee’s cousin Tamara. We danced. I moved through the complicated steps with sureness, my whole body in harmony with the singing strings, my eyes dazzled by the swirl of color all around me. Above our dancing figures, and around us, flowers and ribbons and hangings of every shade of violet and lavender made the room seem almost impossibly elegant. When the dance ended, Shevraeth bowed and handed me to Savona, and once again I danced, relieved that I had somehow managed to get through the first one without any awkwardness at all. It’s the music, I thought happily as I spun and stepped; music is truly like magic.
Sherwood Smith (Court Duel (Crown & Court, #2))
Had I been downstairs among the glittering throng, I would have loved it, but I now had Shevraeth standing right beside me, holding out his arm. I just knew I would manage to do something embarrassing. I took a deep breath, straightened my shoulders, and tried my best to smooth my face into a polite smile as I put my hand on his sleeve. Just before we started down, he murmured, “Think of this as a battle.” “A battle?” I repeated, so surprised I actually looked up at his face. He didn’t look angry, or disgusted, or sarcastic. But there was suppressed laughter in the way his gray eyes were narrowed. He replied so softly I could just barely hear it. “You’ve a sword in your hand, and vast numbers of ravening minions of some dreaded evil sorcerer await below. The moment you step among them, you’ll leap into battle, mowing them down in droves…” The absolute unlikelihood of it made me grin, on the verge of laughter. And I realized that while he’d spoken we had come safely down the stairs and were halfway along the huge room to the Duke of Savona, who waited alone. On either side people bowed and curtsied, as graceful as flowers in the wind. I’d almost made it, and my smile was real--until I lost the image and remembered where I was, and who I was with, and I muttered defensively, “I don’t really like battles, you know.” “Of course I know,” he returned, still in that soft voice. “But you’re used to them.” And then we were before Savona, who was resplendent in black and crimson and gold; and as the Duke bowed, fanfare after fanfare washed over me like waves of brilliant light. Because Shevraeth was also a guest of honor, and had the highest rank, it was his choice for the first dance, and he held out his hand to me.
Sherwood Smith (Court Duel (Crown & Court, #2))
For dinner that night we found Bran and Shevraeth waiting in the parlor next to the dining room. Nee had probably prepared them, I realized. This was new for me, but it was according to the rules of etiquette; and if I looked at it as rehearsal--more of the playacting--I found it easy to walk in beside her, minding my steps so that my skirt flowed gracefully and my floor-length sleeves draped properly without twisting or tripping me up. Nee walked straight to my brother, who performed a bow, and grinning widely, offered his arm. This left me with the Marquis, who looked tall and imposing in dark blue embroidered with pale gold, which--I realized as I glanced just once at him--was the exact same shade as his hair. He said nothing, just bowed, but there was mild question in his gray eyes as he held out his arm. I grimaced, thinking: You’ll have to learn this some time. May’s well get it over quickly. Putting my fingertips so lightly on his sleeve I scarcely felt the fabric, I fell into step beside him as we followed the other two into the dining room. Though this was my home, I didn’t plop down cross-legged onto my cushion, but knelt in the approved style.
Sherwood Smith (Court Duel (Crown & Court, #2))
I was still brooding over this question when I heard a polite tap outside the tapestry, and a moment later, there was the equally quiet impact of a boot heel on the new tile floor, then another. A weird feeling prickled down my spine, and I twisted around to face the Marquis of Shevraeth, who stood just inside the room. He raised his hands and said, “I am unarmed.” I realized I was glaring. “I hate people creeping up behind me,” I muttered. He glanced at the twenty paces or so of floor between us, then up at the shelves, the map, the new books. Was he comparing this library with the famed Athanarel one--or the equally (no doubt!) impressive one at his home in Renselaeus? I folded my arms and waited for either satire or condescension. When he spoke, the subject took me by surprise. “You said once that your father burned the Astiar library. Did you ever find out why?” “It was the night we found out that my mother had been killed,” I said reluctantly. The old grief oppressed me, and I fought to keep my thoughts clear. “By the order of Galdran Merindar.” “Do you know why he ordered her murder?” he asked over his shoulder, as he went on perusing the books. I shook my head. “No. There’s no way to find out that I can think of. Even if we discovered those who carried out the deed, they might not know the real reasons.” I added sourly, “Well do I remember how Galdran issued lies to cover his misdeeds: Last year, when he commenced the attack against us, he dared to say that it was we who were breaking the Covenant!” I couldn’t help adding somewhat accusingly, “Did you believe that? Not later, but when the war first started.” “No.” I couldn’t see his face. Only his back, and the long pale hair, and his lightly clasped hands were in view as he surveyed my shelves. This was the first time the two of us had conversed alone, for I had been careful to avoid such meetings during his visit. Not wanting to prolong it, I still felt compelled to amplify. I said, “My mother was the last of the royal Calahanras family. Galdran must have thought her a threat, even though she retired from Court life when she adopted into the Astiar family.” Shevraeth was walking along the shelves now, his hands still behind his back. “Yet Galdran had taken no action against your mother previously.” “No. But she’d never left Tlanth before, not since her marriage. She was on her way to Remalna-city. We only know that it was his own household guards, disguised as brigands, that did the job, because they didn’t quite kill the stablegirl who was riding on the luggage coach and she recognized the horses as Merindar horses.” I tightened my grip on my elbows. “You don’t believe it?” Again he glanced back at me. “Do you know your mother’s errand in the capital?” His voice was calm, quiet, always with that faint drawl as if he chose his words with care. Suddenly my voice sounded too loud, and much too combative, to my ears. Of course that made my face go crimson with heat. “Visiting.” This effectively ended the subject, and I waited for him to leave. He turned around then, studying me reflectively. The length of the room still lay between us. “I had hoped,” he said, “that you would honor me with a few moments’ further discourse.” “About what?” I demanded. “I came here at your brother’s invitation.” He spoke in a conversational tone, as though I’d been pleasant and encouraging. “My reasons for accepting were partly because I wanted an interlude of relative tranquility, and partly for diplomatic reasons.” “Yes, Nimiar told me about your wanting to present a solid front with the infamous Astiars. I understand, and I said I’d go along.” “Please permit me to express my profound gratitude.” He bowed gracefully.
Sherwood Smith (Court Duel (Crown & Court, #2))
I had hoped,” he said, “that you would honor me with a few moments’ further discourse.” “About what?” I demanded. “I came here at your brother’s invitation.” He spoke in a conversational tone, as though I’d been pleasant and encouraging. “My reasons for accepting were partly because I wanted an interlude of relative tranquility, and partly for diplomatic reasons.” “Yes, Nimiar told me about your wanting to present a solid front with the infamous Astiars. I understand, and I said I’d go along.” “Please permit me to express my profound gratitude.” He bowed gracefully. I eyed him askance, looking for any hint of mockery. All I sensed was humor as he added, “I feel obliged to point out that…an obvious constraint…every time we are in one another’s company will not go unnoticed.” “I promise you I’ve no intention of trying again for a crown.” “Thank you. What concerns me are the individuals who seem to wish to taste the ambrosia of power--” “--without the bitter herb of responsibility. I read that one, too,” I said, grinning despite myself. He smiled faintly in response, and said, “These individuals might seek you out--” My humor vanished. I realized then that he knew about the letter. He had to. Coincidence his arrival might be, but this conversation on our last day in Tlanth was not. It could only mean that he’d had someone up in our mountains spying on me, for how else could he know? My temper flared brightly, like a summer fire. “So you think I’m stupid enough to lend myself to the schemes of troublemakers just for the sake of making trouble, is that what you think?” I demanded. “I don’t believe you’d swallow their blandishments, but you’ll still be approached if you seem even passively my enemy. There are those who will exert themselves to inspire you to a more active role.” I struggled to get control of my emotions. “I know,” I said stiffly. “I don’t want to be involved in any more wars. All I want is the good of Remalna. Bran and I promised Papa when he died. “ Even if my brother has forgotten, I almost added, but I knew it wasn’t true. In Bran’s view, he had kept his promise. Galdran was gone, and Tlanth was enjoying peace and prosperity. Bran had never pretended he wanted to get involved in the affairs of kings beyond that. As if his thoughts had paralleled mine, Shevraeth said, “And do you agree that your brother--estimable as he is--would not have made a successful replacement for Galdran Merindar?” The parallel was unsettling. I said with less concealed hostility, “What’s your point?” “No…point,” he said, his tone making the word curiously ambiguous. “Only a question.” He paused, and I realized he was waiting for my answer to his. “Yes,” I said. “Bran would make a terrible king. So what’s your next question?” “Can you tell me,” he said slowly, “why you seem still to harbor your original resentment against me?” Several images--spies, lying courtiers--flowed into my mind, to be instantly dismissed. I had no proof of any of it. So I looked out the window as I struggled for an answer. After the silence grew protracted, I glanced back to see if he was still there. He hadn’t moved. His attitude was not impatient, and his gaze was on my hands, which were tightly laced in my lap. His expression was again reflective. “I don’t know,” I said finally. “I don’t know.” There was a pause, then he said, “I appreciate your honesty.” He gave me a polite bow, a brief smile, and left.
Sherwood Smith (Court Duel (Crown & Court, #2))
I had no conscious plan in mind, but it turned out I did not need one; when I reached the other side of the house, I glimpsed through a wall of vines a splendid terrace, and seated at a table on it was Lord Flauvic. Exquisitely dressed in pale shades of peach and gray, he was all alone, absorbed in reading and writing. I stooped, picked up some small gravel, and tossed it in his direction. He went very still. Just for a moment. Then his head turned deliberately. When he saw me he smiled slightly. Moving with swift grace, he swung to his feet and crossed the terrace. “Serenades,” he said, “are customarily performed under moonslight, or have fashions here changed?” “I don’t know,” I said. “No one’s serenaded me, and as for my serenading anyone else, even if I wanted to, which I don’t, my singing voice sounds like a sick crow.” “Then to what do I owe the honor of this delightful--but admittedly unorthodox--visit?” “That.” I demonstrated his gesture with my hands. “You did that when your mother took me away last night. I want to know what you meant by it.” His fine brows lifted just slightly, and with leisurely grace he stepped over the low terrace wall and joined me among the ferns. “You do favor the blunt, don’t you?” It was phrased as a question, but his lack of surprise hinted fairly broadly that he’d heard gossip to this effect. My chin came up; I said, “I favor truth over style.” He retorted in the mildest voice, “Having endured the blunt style favored by my late Uncle Galdran, which had little to do with truth as anyone else saw it, I beg you to forgive me when I admit that I am more dismayed than impressed.” “All right,” I said. “So there can be truth with style, as well as the opposite. It’s just that I haven’t been raised to think that I’d find much truth in Court, though there’s plenty of style to spare there.” “Will I seem unnecessarily contentious if I admit that my own life experience has engendered in me a preference for style, which at least has the virtue of being diverting?” It seemed impossible that Flauvic was exactly my age. “Not so diverting is the regrettable conviction that truth doesn’t exist.” His golden eyes were wide and curiously blank. “Doesn’t exist? Of course it does,” I exclaimed. “Is your truth the same as mine? I wonder.” He was smiling just slightly, and his gaze was still as limpid as the stream rilling at our feet, but I sensed a challenge. I said gloomily, “All right, then, you’ve neatly sidestepped my question--if you even intended to answer it.” He laughed, so softly I just barely heard it, and bowed, his hands moving in a quick airy gesture. I gasped when I saw the bouquet of flowers in his hands. As I reached, they poofed into glowing cinders of every color, which then swirled around and reformed into butterflies. Then he clapped his hands, and they vanished. “Magic!” I exclaimed. “You know magic?” “This is merely illusion,” he said. “It’s a kind of fad in Erev-li-Erval. Or was. No one is permitted to study true magic unless invited by the Council of Mages, which is overseen by the Empress.” “I’d love to learn it,” I exclaimed. “Real magic or not.” We were walking, randomly I thought; in the distance I heard the sweet chiming bells announcing second-gold. Flauvic shrugged slightly. “I could show you a few tricks, but I’ve forgotten most of them. You’d have to ask a play magician to show you--that’s how we learned.” “Play magician?” I repeated. “Ah,” he said. “Plays here in Remalna are still performed on a bare stage, without illusion to dress it.” “Well, some players now have painted screens and costumes, as in two plays here during recent days. I take it you haven’t seen them?” “I rarely leave the house,” he said apologetically. We reached a path just as the beat of horse hooves sounded from not far ahead. I stepped back; Flauvic looked up as two riders trotted into view. My first reaction was blank dismay when I saw Savona and Shevraeth riding side by side.
Sherwood Smith (Court Duel (Crown & Court, #2))
Just then the tall man glanced over at us, and he straightened up, his dark eyes enigmatic, though he still smiled. He did not turn away, but waited for us to approach. The lady looked up again, and I think I saw a faint impatience narrow those beautiful eyes; but then she gave us a breathtaking smile as she rose to her feet and laid aside her basket. “Nimiar? Welcome back, dear cousin,” she said in a melodious voice. “We are returned indeed, Tamara,” Nee said. “Your grace, may I present to you Lady Meliara Astiar?” And to me, “The Duke of Savona.” The dark eyes were direct, and interested, and very much amused. The famous Duke responded to my curtsy with an elaborate bow, then he took my hand and kissed it. I scarcely heard the names of the other people; I was too busy trying not to stare at Savona or blush at his lingering kiss. “My dear Countess,” Lady Tamara exclaimed. “Why were we not told we would have the felicity of meeting you?” I didn’t know how to answer that, so I just shook my head. “Though, in truth, perhaps it is better this way,” Lady Tamara went on. “I should have been afraid to meet so formidable a personage. You must realize we have been hearing a great deal about your valiant efforts against our former king.” “Well,” I said, “if the stories were complimentary, they weren’t true.” The fellows laughed. Lady Tamara’s smile did not change at all. “Surely you are overly modest, dear Countess.” Savona propped an elegantly booted foot on an edge of the bench and leaned an arm across his knee as he smiled at me. “What is your version of the story, Lady Meliara?” Instinct made me wary; there were undercurrents here that needed thinking out. “If I start on that we’ll be here all night, and I don’t want to miss my dinner,” I said, striving for a light tone. Again the lords all laughed. Nee slid her hand in my arm. “Shall we continue on to find your brother?” she addressed me. “He is probably looking for us.” “Let’s,” I said. They bowed, Lady Tamara the deepest of all, and she said, “I trust you’ll tell us all about it someday, dear Countess.” We bowed and started to move on. One fellow, a young red-haired lord, seemed inclined to follow; but Lady Tamara placed her fingertips on his arm and said, “Now, do not desert me, Geral! Not until I have a chance to win back my losses…” Nee and I walked on in silence for a time, then she said in a guarded voice, “What think you of my cousin?” “So that is the famous Lady Tamara Chamadis! Well, she really is as pretty as I’d heard,” I said. “But…I don’t know. Somehow she embodies everything I’d thought a courtier would be.” “Fair enough.” Nee nodded. “Then I guess it’s safe for me to say--at risk of appearing a detestable gossip--watch out.
Sherwood Smith (Court Duel (Crown & Court, #2))
We talked more about what had happened, and Nee maintained that Savona’s picking me up and walking out was the signal that had finished Tamara. This made me wonder, as I dressed alone in my room, if there had been an unspoken struggle going on all along between the two of them. If so, he’d won. If she’d been the more influential person, his walking out with me would not have mattered; her followers would have stayed and dissected my manners, morals, and background with delicacy and finesse and oh-so-sad waves of their fans. And another thing Nee maintained was that it was my forthright admission that I was drunk that had captivated Savona. Such honesty was considered risky, if not outright madness. This inspired some furious thinking while I dressed, which produced two resolutions. Before I could lose my courage, I stopped while my hair was half done, and dashed off a note to my Unknown: I’ll tell you what conclusion I’ve reached after a morning’s thought, and it’s this: that people are not diamonds and ought not to be imitating them. I’ve been working hard at assuming Court polish, but the more I learn about what really goes on behind the pretty voices and waving fans and graceful bows, the more I comprehend that what is really said matters little, so long as the manner in which it is said pleases. I understand it, but I don’t like it. Were I truly influential, then I would halt this foolishness that decrees that in Court one cannot be sick; that to admit you are sick is really to admit to political or social or romantic defeat; that to admit to any emotions usually means one really feels the opposite. It is a terrible kind of falsehood that people can only claim feelings as a kind of social weapon. Apparently some people thought it took amazing courage to admit that I was drunk, when it was mere unthinking truth. This is sad. But I’m not about to pride myself on telling the truth. Reacting without thinking--even if I spoke what I thought was true--has gotten me into some nasty situations during the recent year. This requires more thought. In the meantime, what think you? I signed it and got it sent before I could change my mind, then hastily finished dressing. At least, I thought as I slipped out the door, I won’t have to see his face when he reads it, if he thinks it excessively foolish.
Sherwood Smith (Court Duel (Crown & Court, #2))
Ah, my dear,” Princess Elestra said to me in her fluting voice--that very same voice I remembered so well from my escape from Athanarel the year before. “How delighted we are to have you join us here. Delighted! I understand there will be a ball in your honor tomorrow, hosted by my nephew Russav.” She nodded toward the other side of the room, where the newly arrived Duke of Savona stood in the center of a small group. “He seldom bestirs himself this way, so you must take it as a compliment to you!” “Thank you,” I murmured, my heart now drumming. I was glad to move aside and let Branaric take my place. I didn’t hear what he said, but he made them both laugh; then he too moved aside, and the Prince and Princess presented us to the red-haired woman, who was indeed the Marquise of Merindar. She nodded politely but did not speak, nor did she betray the slightest sign of interest in us. We were then introduced to the ambassadors from Denlieff, Hundruith, and Charas al Kherval. This last one, of course, drew my interest, though I did my best to observe her covertly. A tall woman of middle age, her manner was polite, gracious, and utterly opaque. “Family party, you say?” Branaric’s voice caught at my attention. He rubbed his hands. “Well, you’re related one way or another to half the Court, Danric, so if we’ve enough people to hand, how about some music?” “If you like,” said Shevraeth. He’d appeared quietly, without causing any stir. “It can be arranged.” The Marquis was dressed in sober colors, his hair braided and gemmed for a formal occasion; though as tall as the flamboyantly dressed Duke of Savona, he was slender next to his cousin. He remained very much in the background, talking quietly with this or that person. The focus of the reception was on the Prince and Princess, and on Bran and me, and, in a strange way, on the ambassador from Charas al Kherval. I sensed that something important was going on below the surface of the polite chitchat, but I couldn’t discern what--and then suddenly it was time to go in to dinner. With a graceful bow, the Prince held out his arm to me, moving with slow deliberation. If it hurt him to walk, he showed no sign, and his back was straight and his manner attentive. The Princess went in with Branaric, Shevraeth with the Marquise, Savona with the Empress’s ambassador, and Nimiar with the southern ambassador. The others trailed in order of rank. I managed all right with the chairs and the high table. After we were served, I stole a few glances at Shevraeth and the Marquise of Merindar. They conversed in what appeared to be amity. It was equally true of all the others. Perfectly controlled, from their fingertips to their serene brows, none of them betrayed any emotion but polite attentiveness. Only my brother stood out, his face changing as he talked, his laugh real when he dropped his fork, his shrug careless. It seemed to me that the others found him a relief, for the smiles he caused were quicker, the glances brighter--not that he noticed.
Sherwood Smith (Court Duel (Crown & Court, #2))
Chapter 15 Grace One morning, after an uneventful sojourn at the bath house. The ward received a rare visit from the Physician Superintendent. He walked into the day room accompanied by the charge nurse just as me and Art were preparing the patients for lunch. “Do you say Grace before meals?” inquired the Superintendent of the charge. “Yes Sir.” The charge was well aware of the hospital rules and snapped almost to attention in reply. His response was true. Our charge, being a stickler for the rule book of the institution, always insisted on saying grace. The order was; “Stand behind your chairs.” Usually bellowed by the deputy although Art and I occasionally got the chance. The seventy odd patients milling round in the dining gallery would stand behind their chairs in absolute silence. Years of institutional living had taught them that meals would only be served after a period of absolute silence, followed by grace. The charge, not leaving his chair, would open his office door and poking his head out would call. “For whayouare aboutorecieve maythelor mayoutruly thankful.” To which the patients would dutifully chorus “Amen” and sit down to eat. On this day the “Big Chief” was present and Art and I could tell things were going to be different. “Stand behind your chairs.” Was said. Nothing happened.—Louder, “Stand behind your chairs.” Nothing.—Art bellowed “Stand behind your chairs.” The effect was electric and the mass moved into its lunchtime position of silence standing behind their chairs in the dining room. The charge had slipped into his long white nursing coat. He was going to assist with lunch. He moved away from the side of the Physician Superintendent and stood in the centre of the dining room. There he adopted a posture which he adjudged spiritually appropriate. Hands clasped in front of him, eyes lowered, he bowed his head. Not wishing to get on the wrong side of our boss. Art and I stood one either side of him and followed suit. Absolute silence reigned. Before the charge could proceed any further with this charade the ward kitchen door opened to reveal Benny and Jimmy. They were two long standing ward worker patients who’s job it was to prepare the plates on the servery ready for the meal. Patients assisting with serving meals was against the “rules” and Benny realising that the Superintendent was present blurted out. “For Christ’s sake shut that bloody door.” Seventy nine patients solemnly responded with “Amen.” and promptly sat down in eager anticipation of their dinner. “I see.” said the Physician Superintendent and walked poker faced from the dining room with the red faced charge trailing in his wake. We never said Grace again after that.
Gordon M. Kerkham (Random Reflections of a Looney Bin)
His eyes never leave me. He’s tall enough to see over the heads of most of the other guys in the room, and as we twist and twirl and bob and bow, he never stops watching me. And instead of feeling gawky and clumsy, it gives me the strangest boost of confidence. I am flooded with adrenaline and energy. It runs up and down my arms and legs, and I want to grab his hand, gather my skirts in my free hand, and run away from the crowds so I can be with him. But I know it wouldn’t be proper, and so we simply dance. With every twist and dip, my smile grows. This must have been how Emily felt at the last dance. The reason she was glowing. And yet my brain keeps battling with my emotions, willing me to tell him who I am, to unload the truth. I know the clock is ticking. I know at any moment I can have everything yanked from me--yet another way I’m like Cinderella. Every time we stand closely, every time he’s looking at me, I try to tell him. I try to say I’m not Rebecca, try to say that I need to talk to him in private, but I can’t get the words out of my mouth. The song changes. The dance changes. But we don’t leave the floor. We dance through three songs. It must be at least an hour’s worth of dancing. I give up on the idea of telling him anything tonight. It can wait. It has waited thirty days; it can wait another. I’ll find him in the morning, before Rebecca arrives. I’ll explain it all. It’s not until I’m entirely too short of breath and dizzy--I blame it on the corset--that I have to bow out. Alex tries to follow me, but he is quickly swarmed by girls in fancy dresses and thick gemstones, and I can’t help but smirk at the look on his face. I’m starting to think he doesn’t want to be a duke at all, even if he doesn’t say it out loud. There are whispers as I leave the floor. All eyes are on me. I need fresh air, so I leave the room and find the courtyard, where several ladies are milling about. Emily is one of them. “I was beginning to think you’d simply keep dancing until the guests had all gone home.” I laugh. “I was a bit short of breath.” “I’m sure the young ladies in attendance thank you.” “Was it that obvious?” “His Grace would not have noticed if the ceiling had fallen in.” I know I should be embarrassed, but I just keep grinning. “I’m sure he was just being polite.” “A single dance would have sufficed. Three means he’s taken an interest. Tongues will wag. You, my dear, have just become the belle of the ball.” “Oh, I didn’t mean to steal your--” Emily laughs. “Not at all. I owe my engagement to you. You may take all the attention you want.” I smile at her and try not to notice that what she’s saying is true. People are watching us. She’s so sweet not to care that I’m stealing her limelight. She’s just that kind of person.
Mandy Hubbard (Prada & Prejudice)
Be yourself, and if that's not to anyone's liking, bow out gracefully and find new people.
Randolph Lalonde (Spinward Fringe Broadcast 4: Frontline)
was a short hunting bow – the kind a lady uses, but made of ivory, not wood, and amazingly carved and decorated with gold and jewels. The Queen loves hunting and this was a beautiful bow. It came with a red leather quiver and in the quiver were the arrows. One of them was larger than the others and glittered in the sun. The Queen drew it out and we saw that the arrow was made of silver, with a gold barb and diamonds all along the fletching.
Grace Cavendish (Conspiracy (Lady Grace Mysteries, #3))
Ah well, Mulholland decided. Better out than in. ‘How did the golf proceed at the weekend, sir?’ The floodgates of grievance burst asunder and spilled out a veritable deluge. ‘I had a five-foot putt on the last green to win the match for myself and partner. Just as I was about to strike the ball, just at that moment, mind you, just then, not at any other moment, Sandy Grant, my own chief constable and a fellow mason to boot, jingled the coin in his pocket. A deliberate jingle!’ Mulholland bowed his head in sorrow and spoke. ‘My Aunt Katie always says, “There’s no limit to the darkness in man. To win the prize, he’d murder the world.
David Ashton (Fall From Grace: An Inspector McLevy Mystery 2)
Tinker Bell, meanwhile, was drifting with purpose up to the highest leafy branches of the jungle. Her light glowed warmly off the leaves below, the droplets seeping off their thick veins, the sweet sap running down the trunks of the trees. It made the whole clearing look... Well, like it was touched by fairies, Wendy thought with a smile. All her life she had looked for fairies in more mundane places, experiencing a rush of hope and warmth whenever a scene even palely imitated the one before here now. Candles at Christmas, fireflies in the park, flickering lamps in teahouses. The sparkling leaded glass windows of a sweets shop on winter afternoons when dusk came at four. A febrile, glowing crisscross of threads on a rotten log her cousin had once shown her out in the country: fox fire, magical mushrooms. And here it was, for real! Tinker Bell was performing what appeared to be a slow and majestic dance. First, she moved to specific points in the air around her, perhaps north, south, east, and west, twirling a little at each stop. Then she flew back to the center and made a strange bowing motion, keeping her tiny feet daintily together and putting her arms out gracefully like a swan. As she completed each movement, fairy dust fell from her wings in glittering, languorous trails, hanging in the air just long enough to form shapes. She started the dance over again, faster this time. And again even faster. Her trail of sparkles almost resolved into a picture, crisscrossed lines constantly flowing slowly down like drips of luminous paint. Wendy felt a bit like John, overwhelmed with a desire to try to reduce and explain and thereby translate the magic. But she also felt a lot like Michael, with an almost overwhelming urge to break free from her hiding place and see it up close, to feel the sparkles on her nose, to run a hand through the sigils not for the purpose of destruction but form a hapless, joyful desire to be part of it all.
Liz Braswell (Straight On Till Morning (Twisted Tale #8))
So what are we asking when we say “your kingdom come”? We are asking for something wonderful and something dangerous all at the same time. •We are praying that history would be brought toa close. •We are praying to see all the nations rejoice in the glory of God. •We are praying to see Christ honored as king in every human heart. •We are praying to see Satan bound, evil vanquished, death no more. •We are praying to see the mercy of God demonstrated in the full justification and acquittal of sinners through the shed blood of the crucified and resurrected Christ. •We are praying to see the wrath of God poured out upon sin. •We are praying to see every knee bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. •We are praying to see a New Jerusalem, a new heaven, and a new earth, a new creation. This is indeed a radical prayer. We must not take this petition lightly. But, as we have seen, this petition also carries great hope. Our God will come to save us and bring us to know the fullness of his grace in the final revelation of his kingdom. To that end, we pray.
Mohler Jr, R Albert
You dismiss the idea that the death of Jesus—the “torture and death of a single individual in a backward part of the Middle East” — could possibly be the solution to the sorrows of our brutish existence. When I said that Jesus is good for the world because he is the life of the world, you just tossed this away. You said, “You cannot possibly ‘know’ this. Nor can you present any evidence for it.” Actually, I believe I can present evidence for what I know. But evidence comes to us like food, and that is why we say grace over it. And we are supposed to eat it, not push it around on the plate—and if we don’t give thanks, it never tastes right. But here is some evidence for you, in no particular order. The engineering that went into ankles. The taste of beer. That Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, just like he said. A woman’s neck. Bees fooling around in the flower bed. The ability of acorns to manufacture enormous oaks out of stuff they find in the air and dirt. Forgiveness of sin. Storms out of the North, the kind with lightning. Joyous laughter (diaphragm spasms to the atheistic materialist). The ocean at night with a full moon. Delta blues. The peacock that lives in my yard. Sunrise, in color. Baptizing babies. The pleasure of sneezing. Eye contact. Having your feet removed from the miry clay, and established forever on the rock. You may say none of this tastes right to you. But suppose you were to bow your head and say grace over all of it. Try it that way. You say that you cannot believe that Christ’s death on the Cross was salvation for the world because the idea is absurd. I have shown in various ways that absurdity has not been a disqualifier for any number of your current beliefs. You praise reason to the heights, yet will not give reasons for your strident and inflexible moral judgments, or why you have arbitrarily dubbed certain chemical processes “rational argument.” That’s absurd right now, and yet there you are, holding it. So for you to refuse to accept Christ because it is absurd is like a man at one end of the pool refusing to move to the other end because he might get wet. Given your premises, you will have to come up with a different reason for rejecting Christ as you do. But for you to make this move would reveal the two fundamental tenets of true atheism. One: There is no God. Two: I hate Him.
Anonymous
Drawing on God’s Guidance ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ —2 Corinthians 12:9 Someone once wisely remarked, “God’s will for your life is what you would choose for yourself…if only you had sense enough to choose it.” Admitting that we don’t have sense enough to choose what’s right for our lives is a good place to start. We must come to a place where we are comfortable with our own inadequacies and begin viewing them as helps, not hindrances, to our spiritual walk. What a relief to bow before a loving, all-powerful God and confess, “i don’t know what I’m doing.” That puts us in the perfect position to receive God’s power. Some may find it excruciating to admit that they are helpless. They don’t want anyone to know they’re struggling. Yet we can freely confess our weaknesses to God and admit our need for mercy and grace. How strange that knowing one is a fool before God is the least foolish feeling in the world! It’s actually empowering to know you have emptied yourself of any human wisdom and are drawing entirely upon God’s guidance for each next step. Confession is more than merely keeping a short list of accounts with God, though it is important to confess specific sins daily. We want to be forgiven and clean so we can pursue what God has for us—unrestrained by the sin that Hebrews says so easily entangles us (12:1). However, confessing is also linked to professing our inadequacy, pronouncing our dependency. We announce joyfully that we depend on him for our next breath. Understanding God’s will for our lives does not depend upon our ability to figure it out. Like a parent holding a child’s hand through the woods, God must show us the way or we’ll be lost! Developing this attitude takes time, trial and error, personal exhaustion, and ever-mounting frustration. Even so, growing more comfortable with our weakness is a vital part of what it means to depend and rely upon God’s guidance for our lives.
The writers of Encouraging.com (God Moments: A Year in the Word)
February 5 On the Thin Ice When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death the righteous have a refuge.—Proverbs 14:32 My husband had an harrowing experience a few weeks ago. As he was driving over a low overpass, a patch of “black ice” caught him by surprise. His truck spun around and headed for the concrete guardrail. All he could do was wait for the impact. As he told me about the incident, I thought about how often it seems that situations in our lives are just as far out of our control as a truck sliding around on ice. One moment things seem to be going smoothly; then all of a sudden there is a death, a diagnosis, a crisis, or something else that knocks the wind out of us. There is very rarely anything we can do to prevent these sorts of catastrophes; they seem to fall out of the sky. However, mental and spiritual preparation can keep us from being crushed. Remembering that nothing is impossible with God, and meditating on his faithfulness to me in the past, reminds me that there is good reason to trust him with the future (Luke 1:37; Psalm. 89:8). With this in mind, our first reaction to calamity can be to turn toward God, knowing that He will give us His peace (Philippians 4:6-7). We can calmly steer into the skid that life has thrown us, knowing that He is always there (Joshua 1:9). We may be bowed low by trouble and heartache but, by the grace of God, we will not be defeated (2 Corinthians 4:8)! By the way, I am thrilled to say that my husband arrived home without a scratch on him or his truck, thanks to the mighty hand of God that delivered him! Truly, nothing is too hard for the Lord (Jeremiah 32:27). Thank You, Lord, that You are my refuge in times of trouble (Psalm. 9:9). What a comfort to know that Your strong arms are there when the very ground I’m standing on seems to crumble beneath my feet!
The writers of Encouraging.com (God Moments: A Year in the Word)
We remained there some time, then went back into the other galleries of the museum. In the interval more people had arrived, and it was now obvious that they did not really belong here. With pale faces and threadbare clothes, they wandered, hands behind their backs, rather diffidently through the rooms, with eyes that were seeing something far other than the Renaissance pictures and the still, marble antique figures. Many were sitting on the red upholstered seats that were placed around. They sat wearily there, as if prepared to stand up at once, should anyone come to move them on. You could see in their attitudes that upholstered seats were something which it was quite incredible it should cost nothing to sit on. They were used to receiving nothing for nothing. It was very quiet in all the rooms, and despite all the visitors one hardly heard a word; and yet it seemed to me as if I were looking on at an enormous struggle—the soundless struggle of men who were stricken down, but did not mean to give in yet. They had been thrown out from the fields of their work, their striving, their callings; now they had come into the quiet rooms of Art, in order not to fall into paralysis and despair. They were thinking of bread, always and only of bread and occupation; but they came here to escape from their thoughts for a few hours—and amongst the clean-cut Roman heads and the imperishable grace of white, Greek female figures they wandered around with the dragging gait, the bowed shoulders of men who have no purpose—a shocking contrast, a cheerless picture of what humanity had been able, and unable, to achieve in a thousand years—the summit of eternal works of art, but not even bread enough for each of their brothers.
Erich Maria Remarque (Three Comrades)
Thomas glanced back at the stairs, excited nerves leaping in his stomach. “Is Eliza coming?” After the words escaped his mouth he realized how comical he sounded. Of course she was coming. “I mean to say, is Eliza ready?” A wide grin washed over Kitty’s face, as if she were hiding something. “She’ll be down shortly.” Thomas nodded and rested his fidgety hands on the back of the embroidered chair. Nathaniel led Kitty to the other seat and helped her to sit. At that moment, the dainty tap of Eliza’s shoes on the stairs forced Thomas to whirl around. Nathaniel came up behind him. “Steady, boy.” Thomas clenched his jaw to keep it from gaping and dropped his hands to his sides. His eyes traced Eliza’s dainty form. She was even more radiant in that gown than he’d imagined and her face glittered with the most magnificent smile he’d ever seen. The fitted gown accentuated her perfect curves and impossibly tiny waist. The white lace around the neckline tickled her creamy skin, while the dusty-pink color drew out the rosy nature of her cheeks and lips. He tried, but he couldn’t stop staring. Her hair was curled like Kitty’s and wrapped with a delicate ribbon that matched the color of her gown. Her creamy complexion and the velvety look of her long neck were so enticing he had to fight the sudden urge to taste it. Eliza curtsied low and dipped her head. Upon rising she lifted her lashes and spoke to him in a tantalizing timbre. “Good evening, Thomas.” Thomas’s heart beat with such profound strength, it ripped every word from his mind. He wanted to say how beautiful she was. He wanted to tell her he was sorry for keeping his distance when she needed him. Even more than that, he wanted to move his face near hers, and inhale her graceful rose scent deep into his lungs before tasting her lips once again. Every appropriate response fled his mind as his blood raced around his body. He bowed. “Good evening, Eliza.” “Do my eyes deceive me?” Nathaniel, back to his charismatic self, pushed Thomas aside and kissed Eliza’s hand as he bowed with dramatic flare. “You are even more alluring than Aphrodite herself, my dear.” Eliza smiled again and giggled low in her throat. “You are too generous, Doctor.” “I am too enamored. You and your sister shine like the stars themselves.” A hearty grin flashed across his proud face. “Shall we go in to dinner?” He took his place beside Kitty and sent a flashing glance to Thomas, no doubt intended to instruct him to make the most of the moment. Thomas could kill himself. Good evening? That’s all he could say? Eliza’s body faced away from him, but she turned in his direction and the rest of her followed, her gown sweeping across the floor. Thomas closed the space between them, offering his arm. “Shall we go in?” Her slender hand grasped his arm. “You look very nice this evening, Thomas.” Thomas’s tongue dried up in his mouth, shriveling his ability to speak. He could never compete with Nathaniel’s theatrical praises. He’d have to just say what he thought. “You’re a vision, Eliza.” Her
Amber Lynn Perry (So Fair a Lady (Daughters of His Kingdom, #1))
The door to the little dining parlor banged open, the apologetic footman rushing in behind a young woman St. Just had not seen before. She was trussed up in a shapeless black bombazine dress covering her from ankles to wrist to neck, an equally hideous black bonnet on her head. “That is not my tart,” the earl observed to no one in particular. “Bronwyn!” The woman leapt across the room and wrapped her arms around Winnie, the bonnet tumbling off in her haste. “Oh, Winnie, you naughty, naughty child, I’ve been searching all over for you.” “Hullo, Miss Emmie.” Winnie beamed a grin, hugging the lady back. “Rosecroft says we’re going to have apple tarts.” “Madam?” The earl rose and bowed. “Rosecroft, at your service.” “My lord.” She bobbed a nervous curtsy then swiveled back to the child. “Winnie, are you all right?” “I had to take a bath.” Winnie frowned at the memory. “But I ate and ate and ate. I am not a gentleman, though.” “You took a bath?” Miss Farnum’s eyes went round. “My lord? Did I hear her aright?” “With lavender bubbles,” the earl replied gravely. “And you would be?” “Miss Emmaline Farnum,” she said, eyes narrowing. “Just how did you get her to take a bath?” The earl narrowed his eyes, as well. “Perhaps that is a discussion we adults might reserve for later. And as I wouldn’t want to be guilty of breaking my word to a child, may I invite you to join us for apple tarts, Miss Farnum?” The footman withdrew at the earl’s lifted eyebrow while the child’s gaze bounced back and forth between the adults. Winnie sat, all innocence in an old nightshirt somebody had dragged out of a trunk. Her golden curls gleamed, and on her feet were wool socks many sizes too big. “Apple tarts sound delicious,” Miss Farnum said.
Grace Burrowes (The Soldier (Duke's Obsession, #2; Windham, #2))
There is a vast difference in being weak before men and weak before the throne of Grace. Apostles will not be weak before humanity, but will bow before the throne of grace. The strength they exhibit before humanity is born out of the weakness they exhibit before the Lord.
Laura Henry Harris
I beg your pardon, my ladies, Mr. Trottenham. I did not realize I’d be intruding unannounced.” “Deene, good day.” Trottenham rose and bowed, smacking his heels together audibly. “The more the merrier, I say, what? Saw your colt beat Islington’s by two lengths. Well done, jolly good and all that. Islington’s made a bit too much blunt off that animal in my opinion.” Trottenham apparently had a nervous affliction of the eyebrows, for they bounced up and down as he spoke, suggesting either a severe tic or an attempt to indicate some sort of shared confidence. “Perhaps the ladies would rather we save the race talk for the clubs?” “The ladies would indeed,” Louisa said. “Sit you down, Deene, and do the pretty. Mr. Trottenham was just leaving.” She gave a pointed look at the clock, while Eve, who had said nothing, busied herself pouring tea, which Deene most assuredly did not want. “Leaving?” Trottenham’s eyebrows jiggled around. “Suppose I ought, but first I must ask Lady Eve to join me at the fashionable hour for a drive around The Ring. It’s a beautiful day, and I’ve a spanking pair of bays to show off.” Deene accepted his cup of tea with good grace. “Afraid she’s not in a position to oblige, Trottenham, at least not today.” He smiled over at Eve, who blinked once then smiled back. Looking just a bit like Louisa when she did. “Sorry, Mr. Trottenham.” She did not sound sorry to Deene. “His lordship has spoken for my time today.” Trottenham’s smile dimmed then regained its strength. “Tomorrow, then?” Jenny spoke up. “We’re supposed to attend that Venetian breakfast with Her Grace tomorrow.” “And the next day is His Grace’s birthday. Couldn’t possibly wander off on such an occasion as that,” Louisa volunteered. “Why don’t I see you out, Mr. Trottenham, and you can tell me where you found these bays.” She rose and took him by the arm, leaving a small silence after her departure, in which Deene spared a moment to pity poor Trottenham. “I have an appointment at the modiste,” Lady Jenny said, getting to her feet. “Lucas, I’m sure you’ll excuse me.” She swanned off, leaving Eve sitting before the tea tray and Deene wondering what had just happened. “Did you tell them I’ve a preference for leeks?” “I did not, but I cannot vouch for the queer starts my sisters take.
Grace Burrowes (Lady Eve's Indiscretion (The Duke's Daughters, #4; Windham, #7))
She marched up to the door, banged it open with a satisfying crash, brandished her scythe, and announced herself to any and all therein. “Get your heathen, trespassing backsides out of this carriage house immediately, lest I inform your papas of your criminal conduct—and your mamas.” “Good lord,” a cultured and ominously adult male voice said softly from Ellen’s right, “we’re about to be taken prisoner. Prepare to defend your borders, my friend. Sleeping Beauty has awakened in a state.” Ellen’s gaze flew to the shadows, where a tall, dark-haired man was regarding her with patient humor. The calm amusement in his eyes suggested he posed no threat to her, while his dress confirmed he was a person of some means. Ellen had no time to further inventory that stranger, because the sound of a pair of boots slowly descending the steps drew her gaze across the room. Whoever was coming down those stairs was in no hurry and was certainly no boy. Long, long legs became visible, then muscles that looked as if they’d been made lean and elegant from hours in the saddle showed off custom riding boots and excellent tailoring. A trim, flat torso came next, then a wide muscular chest and impressive shoulders. Good lord, he was taller than the fellow in the corner, and that one was a good half a foot taller than she. Ellen swallowed nervously and tightened her grip on the scythe. “Careful,” the man in the shadows said softly, “she’s armed and ready to engage the enemy.” Those dusty boots descended the last two steps, and Ellen forced herself to meet the second man’s face. She’d been prepared for the kind of teasing censorship coming from the one in the corner, a polite hauteur, or outright anger, but not a slow, gentle smile that melted her from the inside out. “Mrs. FitzEngle.” Valentine Windham bowed very correctly from the waist. “It has been too long, and you must forgive us for startling you. Lindsey, I’ve had the pleasure, so dredge up your manners.” “Mr. Windham?” Ellen lowered her scythe, feeling foolish and ambushed, and worst of all—happy. So
Grace Burrowes (The Virtuoso (Duke's Obsession, #3; Windham, #3))
Forgive me, Mother.” He bowed. “My argument is with my father.” “Well,” the duke announced himself and paused for dramatic effect in the doorway of the private parlor. “No need to look further. You can have at me now.” “You are having Anna Seaton investigated,” the earl said, “and it could well cost her her safety.” “Then marry her,” the duke shot back. “A husband can protect a wife, particularly if he’s wealthy, titled, smart, and well connected. Your mother has assured me she does not object to the match.” “You don’t deny this? Do you have any idea the damage you do with your dirty tricks, sly maneuvers, and stupid manipulations? That woman is terrified, nigh paralyzed with fear for herself and her younger relation, and you go stomping about in her life as if you are God Almighty come to earth for the purpose of directing everybody else’s personal life.” The duke paced into the room, color rising in his face. “That is mighty brave talk for a man who can’t see fit to take a damned wife after almost ten years of looking. What in God’s name is wrong with you, Westhaven? I know you cater to women, and I know you are carrying on with this Seaton woman. She’s comely, convenient, and of child-bearing age. I should have thought to have her investigated, I tell you, so I might find some way to coerce her to the altar.” “You already tried coercion,” Westhaven shot back, “and it’s only because Gwen Allen is a decent human being her relations haven’t ruined us completely in retaliation for your failed schemes. I am ashamed to be your son and worse than ashamed to be your heir. You embarrass me, and I wish to hell I could disinherit you, because if I don’t find you a damned broodmare, I’ve every expectation you will disinherit me.” “Gayle!” His mother was on her feet, her expression horror-stricken. “Please, for the love of God, apologize. His Grace did not have Mrs. Seaton investigated.” “Esther…” His Grace tried to get words out, but his wife had eyes only for her enraged son. “He most certainly did,” Westhaven bit out. “Up to his old tricks, just as he was with Gwen and with Elise and with God knows how many hapless debutantes and scheming widows. I am sick to death of it, Mother, and this is the last straw.” “Esther,” His Grace tried again. “Hush, Percy,” the duchess said miserably, still staring at her son. “His Grace did not have your Mrs. Seaton investigated.” She paused and dropped Westhaven’s gaze. “I did.” “Esther,” the duke gasped as he dropped like a stone onto a sofa. “For the love of God, help me.
Grace Burrowes (The Heir (Duke's Obsession, #1; Windham, #1))
Joseph.” He turned to see Louisa silhouetted in a doorway. She was attired in a plain green velvet day dress, her dark hair in a simple bun at her nape. Her expression went from surprised to smiling—brilliantly, magnificently smiling. “My lady, good morning.” He could not help but smile back. He was calculating how much of a bow his hip and knee could tolerate, when she launched herself at him. “Please tell me you are unharmed. Please tell me all is resolved and you sustained no injury.” Footman be damned. Joseph brought his arms around his intended. “I am unharmed.” He was at risk for being suffocated and knocked on his backside, but that did not matter. It did not matter in the least. “And all is well?” She was asking something more, something he’d figure out just as soon as he let himself enjoy for a moment the warmth and feminine abundance of Louisa Windham in his embrace, her clove scent winding into his brain and her smile scattering his wits. “All is—” “You won’t have to hare off to the Continent? We won’t have to?” “Grattingly stoved a finger, I’m told, and the demands of honor are met. There will be no hasty departure for France.
Grace Burrowes (Lady Louisa's Christmas Knight (The Duke's Daughters, #3; Windham, #6))
When warm weather came, Baby Suggs, holy, followed by every black man, woman, and child who could make it through, took her great heart to the Clearing--a wide-open place cut deep in the woods nobody knew for what at the end of the path known only to deer and whoever cleared the land in the first place. In the heat of every Saturday afternoon, she sat in the clearing while the people waited among the trees. After situating herself on a huge flat-sided rock, Baby Suggs bowed her head and prayed silently. The company watched her from the trees. They knew she was ready when she put her stick down. Then she shouted, "Let the children come!" and they ran from the trees toward her. "Let your mothers hear you laugh,"she told them, and the woods rang. The adults looked on and could not help smiling. Then "Let the grown men come," she shouted. They stepped out one by one from among the ringing trees. "Let your wives and your children see you dance," she told them, and groundlife shuddered under their feet. Finally she called the women to her. “Cry,” she told them. “For the living and the dead. Just cry.” And without covering their eyes the women let loose. It started that way: laughing children, dancing men, crying women and then it got mixed up. Women stopped crying and danced; men sat down and cried; children danced, women laughed, children cried until, exhausted and riven, all and each lay about the Clearing damp and gasping for breath. In the silence that followed, Baby Suggs, holy, offered up to them her great big heart…“Here,” she said, “in this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it… No more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder they flay it. And O my people they do not love your hands. Those they only use, tie, bind, chop off and leave empty. Love your hands! Love them! Raise them up and kiss them. Touch others with them, pat them together, stroke them on your face ‘cause they don’t love that either. You got to love it - you! And no, they ain’t in love with your mouth. Yonder, out there, they will see it broken and break it again. What you say out of it they will not heed…What you put into it to nourish your body they will snatch away and give leavins instead. No they don’t love your mouth. You got to love it." "This is flesh I’m talking about here. Flesh that needs to be loved. Feet that need to rest and to dance; backs that need support; shoulders that need arms, strong arms I’m telling you. And oh my people, out yonder, hear me, they do not love your neck unnoosed and straight. So love your neck; put a hand on it, grace it, stroke it, and hold it up. And all your inside parts that they’d just as soon slop for hogs, you got to love them. The dark, dark liver - love it, love it, and the beat and beating heart, love that too. More than eyes or feet…More than your life-holding womb and your live-giving private parts, hear me now, love your heart. For this is the prize."" -Baby Suggs
Toni Morrison (Beloved)
Do you regret what we did last night?” When he thought of her eagerness, her ardor in the night, and then compared it with her behavior with him today… She blew out a breath, and beneath his arm, he felt her shoulders drop. “I do not regret it the way you might think. I will always treasure the memory and…” “And what?” His fingers began to circle on her nape, and he felt all manner of tension and anxiety flowing out of her. “And that’s all.” She sighed, bowing her head. “I made a mistake with you. It isn’t my first mistake, but I hope it will be my last. I can’t survive another such mistake.” He was silent, not asking her why it was a mistake. He could guess that. “I think I’m getting better,” he said quietly. “I go for as much as a week between nightmares, and the last time it rained, I was able to stay away from the brandy. I haven’t had to build a wall now for a few weeks, Emmie.” “Oh, St. Just.” She rested her forehead on his shoulder. “It isn’t you. You must not think it’s you. You’re lovely, perfect, dear… And you are getting better, I know you are, and I know some lady will be deliriously happy to be your countess one day.” He listened, trying to separate the part of him that craved her words—lovely, perfect, dear—from the part of him that heard only her rejection. “Is there someone else?” he asked as neutrally as he could. Emmie shook her head. “Again, not in the sense you mean. I am not in love with anybody else, and I don’t plan to be. But I am leaving, St. Just. I have thought this through until my mind is made up. My leaving will be for the best as far as Winnie is concerned, and she comes first.” “I don’t understand,” he said on an exasperated sigh. “You love that child, and she loves you. She needs you, and if you marry me, she can have you not just as a cousin or governess or neighbor, but as a mother, for God’s sake. You simply aren’t making sense, Em, and if it puzzles me, it’s likely going to drive Winnie to Bedlam.” He glanced over at her, and wasn’t that just lovely, she was in tears now. “Ah, Emmie.” He pulled her against him in a one-armed hug. “I am sorry, sweetheart.” She stayed in his embrace for three shuddery breaths then pulled back. “You cannot call me that.” “When do you think you’re leaving?” he said, dodging that one for now. “Sooner is better than later.
Grace Burrowes (The Soldier (Duke's Obsession, #2; Windham, #2))
Val began draping silk stockings over the open lid of a cedar chest. “She is not my mother. Valentine, those are my unmentionables.” He shrugged. “I like unmentionables. I like pretty things and pretty ladies. Come dancing with me tonight, Mags. I won’t go without you.” “Very well, but you come by for me after you’ve made your bow at the mansion.” “Fair enough.” He smiled at her, wrapping a stocking around his neck and holding it up like a noose. “If I tell Her Grace you’re to come out socializing with me, she’ll hardly let me finish my tea.” “Stop disrespecting your sister’s personal effects.” She snatched the stocking from around his silly neck.
Grace Burrowes (Lady Maggie's Secret Scandal (The Duke's Daughters, #2; Windham, #5))
I’m ready to go.” She smiled at St. Just. “Nice to see you, Vicar, and these”—she held out a package of buns—“are for you.” “My thanks.” He took the package then bowed over her hand, pressing a lingering kiss to her bare knuckles. St. Just silently ground his teeth at that shameless display and even let Bothwell hand Emmie up into the gig. As St. Just took the reins, the Kissing Vicar patted Emmie’s hand where it rested in her lap. Except it was more of a stroking pat, St. Just noted, a caress, the filthy bugger. “You’re quiet,” Emmie remarked, lifting her face to the sun. The relief in her expression suggested she hadn’t been interested in lingering in Bothwell’s company. “Is Bothwell pestering you, Emmie?” She glanced over at him, a furtive, assessing glance that he unfortunately caught and comprehended too well: It isn’t bothering if the lady welcomes it. “He is a friend,” she said, lapsing into silence when St. Just said nothing more. He reached over with one hand and gently peeled Emmie’s index finger from her teeth. “No biting your nails. Whatever it is, you have only to ask, and I will help.” “Is it possible to love someone and hate them at the same time?” “It is. I love my father, in a complicated, resentful, admiring sort of way, but when he gets to tormenting my brothers, which he used to do brilliantly, I would rather Bonaparte himself had sired me than that scheming, selfish old man.” Emmie grimaced and looked like she wanted desperately to bite her nail. “That is quite an indictment, especially coming from you.” “He’s
Grace Burrowes (The Soldier (Duke's Obsession, #2; Windham, #2))
Amy was mentally packing for a midnight flight to the mail coach to Dover (plan C), when Jane’s gentle voice cut through the listing of ovine pedigrees. "Such a pity about the tapestries," was all she said. Her voice was pitched low but somehow it carried over both the shouting men. Amy glanced sharply at Jane, and was rewarded by a swift kick to the ankle. Had that been a ‘say something now!’ kick, or a ‘be quiet and sit still’ kick? Amy kicked back in inquiry. Jane put her foot down hard over Amy’s. Amy decided that could be interpreted as either ‘be quiet and sit still’ or ‘please stop kicking me now!' Aunt Prudence had snapped out of her reverie with what was nearly an audible click. "Tapestries?" she inquired eagerly. "Why, yes, Mama," Jane replied demurely. "I had hoped that while Amy and I were in France we might be granted access to the tapestries at the Tuilleries." Jane’s quiet words sent the table into a state of electric expectancy. Forks hovered over plates in mid-air; wineglasses tilted halfway to open mouths; little Ned paused in the act of slipping a pea down the back of Agnes’s dress. Even Miss Gwen stopped glaring long enough to eye Jane with what looked more like speculation than rancour. "Not the Gobelins series of Daphne and Apollo!" cried Aunt Prudence. "But, of course, Aunt Prudence," Amy plunged in. Amy just barely restrained herself from turning and flinging her arms around her cousin. Aunt Prudence had spent long hours lamenting that she had never taken the time before the war to copy the pattern of the tapestries that hung in the Tuilleries Palace. "Jane and I had hoped to sketch them for you, hadn’t we, Jane?" "We had," Jane affirmed, her graceful neck dipping in assent. "Yet if Papa feels that France remains unsafe, we shall bow to his greater wisdom." At the other end of the table, Aunt Prudence was wavering. Literally. Torn between her trust in her husband and her burning desire for needlepoint patterns, she swayed a bit in her chair, the feather in her small silk turban quivering with her agitation. "It surely can’t be as unsafe as that, can it, Bertrand?" She leant across the table to peer at her husband through eyes gone nearsighted from long hours over her embroidery frame. "After all, if dear Edouard is willing to take responsibility for the girls…" "Edouard will take very good care of us, I’m sure, Aunt Prudence! If you’ll just read his letter, you’ll see – ouch!" Jane had kicked her again.
Lauren Willig (The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (Pink Carnation, #1))
Sometimes, feeling that his own eloquence is inadequate to the task at hand, the author bows out gracefully and lets his character come across a poem, an Ayn Rand novel, or a quote from Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech to spell out the message for him. But the reader is not buying your book to find out what Ani DiFranco has to say about life. She expects you to have something to say about life, and to say it, because that is what we pay writers to do. There are instances when quotes can work very well. These include plots that are in some way about music, poetry, etc., and where there is an interweaving between these and the characters’ lives. Quotes can also work where the quoted material isn’t stating the message but expanding or commenting on it obliquely, so the reader doesn’t feel as if she’s hearing a public service announcement
Howard Mittelmark (How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them--A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide)
Having a fair idea of how well Gentry received Sir Ross's attempts to reform him, Lottie bit the inside of her lower lip to suppress a sudden smile. Seeing the twitch of her lips, Gentry gave her a glance of mock warning. "That amuses you, does it?" "Yes," she admitted, and yelped in surprise as he nudged a sensitive spot beneath her ribs. "Oh, don't! I'm ticklish there. Please." He moved over her with easy grace, his thighs straddling her hips, his hands catching at her wrists to pull them over her head. Lottie's amusement disappeared at once. She felt a pang of fear, as well as a confusing rush of excitement, as she stared at the large male above her. She was stretched beneath him in a primal position of submission, helpless to prevent him from doing whatever he wanted. Despite her anxiety, however, she did not ask him to release her, only waited tensely with her gaze locked on his dark face. His grip on her wrists loosened, and his thumbs dipped gently into the humid cups of her palms. "Shall I come to you tonight?" he whispered. Lottie had to lick her dry lips before she could answer. "Are you posing a question to me or yourself?" A smile flickered in his eyes. "You, of course. I already know what I want." "I'd rather you stayed away, then." "Why prolong the inevitable? One more night isn't going to make a difference." "I would prefer to wait until after we are married." "Principle?" he mocked, his thumbs tracing slowly along her inner arms. "Practicality," Lottie countered, unable to prevent a gasp as he touched the delicate creases inside her elbows. How was it that he could elicit sensation from such ordinary parts of her body? "If you think I might change my mind about marrying you after one night of lovemaking... you're wrong. My appetite isn't satisfied nearly that easily. In fact, having you once is only going to make me want you more. It's a pity that you're a virgin. That will limit the number of things I can do with you... for a while, at least." Lottie scowled. "I'm so sorry for the inconvenience." Gentry grinned at her annoyance. "That's all right. We'll do the best we can, in light of the circumstances. Perhaps it will be less of a hindrance than I expect. Never having had a virgin before, I won't know until I try one." "Well, you will have to wait until tomorrow night," she said firmly, wriggling beneath him in an effort to free herself. For some reason he froze and caught his breath at the movement of her hips beneath his. Lottie frowned. "What is it? Did I hurt you?" Shaking his head, Gentry rolled away from her. He dragged a hand through his gleaming brown hair as he sat up. "No," he muttered, sounding a bit strained. "Although I may be permanently debilitated if I don't get some relief soon." "Relief from what?" she asked, while he left the bed and fumbled with the front of his trousers. "You'll find out." He glanced over his shoulder, his blue eyes containing both a threat and a delicious promise.
Lisa Kleypas (Worth Any Price (Bow Street Runners, #3))
Remember, dear Friends, that this day, as truly as on that early morning, a division must be made among us. Either you must this day accept Christ as your King, or else His blood will be on you. I bring my Master out before your eyes and say to you, “Behold your King.” Are you willing to yield obedience to Him? He claims, first, your implicit faith in His merit—will you yield to that? He claims, next, that you will take Him to be Lord of your heart and that, as He shall be Lord within, so He shall be Lord without. Which shall it be? Will you choose Him now? Does the Holy Spirit in your soul—for without Him you never will—does the Holy Spirit say, “Bow the knee and take Him as your king?” Thank God, then. But if not, His blood is on you, to condemn you. You crucified Him. Pilate, Caiaphas, Herod, the Jews and Romans, all meet in you. You scourged Him. You said, “Let Him be crucified.” Do not say it was not so. In effect you join their clamors when you refuse Him. When you go your way to your farm and to your merchandise, and despise His love and His blood—you do spiritually what they did literally—you despise the King of kings. Come to the fountain of His blood and wash and be clean, by His Grace.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 9: 1863)
Careful What You Ask For Protection and Prayer A girl asked her boyfriend over to dinner and to meet her parents, and told him that after that she’d like to go out and have sex with him for the first time. The boy is excited by the prospect, but he’s a virgin and so he goes to his father for advice. His father gives him some pointers on how to do it right, and then tells him he’d better go down to the pharmacist and get some protection. So the boy went to the pharmacist and explained the situation. The pharmacist told him about condoms and showed the boy the selection the drug store carried, and the boy selected a brand and a quantity that he thought would be good. That evening he went to his girlfriend’s house to have dinner and meet her parents. He goes inside and finds her parents already seated at the table. He offers to say grace, so everyone bows their heads. The boy takes an amazingly long time to say the prayer. After twenty minutes have gone by, the girl leans over and whispers to her boyfriend, “I didn’t know you were so religious.” The boy whispered back to her, “I didn’t know your dad was a pharmacist.
Ronald T. Boggs (The Funniest Joke Book! Best Collection Of Jokes In The Kindle Library!)
In utter humility, bow to What Is. And in time, crying one's guts out, howling, bowing to IT, "knowing" comes. As a gift of the Divine.
Fakeer Ishavardas
The thought turned him topsy-turvy. It seemed to summarize the whole worthless way of the world--if there was one. And versions of it began to flutter wildly through his head. You have to look round to see straight. Good enough. Useful. And the rough places plain. But all that's geometry. But it measures the earth. You have to go slow to catch up. Eat to get thin? no, but fast to grow fat, that was a fine one. Then lose to win? fail to succeed? Risky. Stop to begin. The form made noiseless music--lumly lum lum or lum-lee-lee lum--like fill to empty, every physical extreme. Die to live was a bit old hat. But default to repay. And lie to be honest. He liked the ring of that. Flack! I'm white in order to be black. Sin first and saint later. Cruel to be kind, of course, and the hurts in the hurter--that's what they say--a lot of blap. That's my name, my nomination: Saint Later. Now then: humble to be proud; poor to be rich. Enslave to make free? That moved naturally. Also multiply to subtract. Dee dee dee. Young Saint Later. A list of them, as old as Pythagoras had. Even engenders odd. How would that be? Eight is five and three. There were no middle-aged saints--they were all old men or babies. Ah, god--the wise fool. The simpleton sublime. Babe in the woods, roach in the pudding, prince in the pauper, enchanted beauty in the toad. This was the wisdom of the folk and the philosopher alike--the disorder of the lyre, or the drawn-out bow of that sane madman, the holy Heraclitus. The poet Zeno. The logician Keats. Discovery after discovery: the more the mice eat, the fatter the cats. There were tears and laughter, for instance--how they shook and ran together into one gay grief. Dumb eloquence, swift still waters, shallow deeps. Let's see: impenitent remorse, careless anxiety, heedless worry, tense repose. So true of tigers. Then there was the friendly enmity of sun and snow, and the sweet disharmony of every union, the greasy mate of cock and cunt, the cosmic poles, war that's peace, the stumble that's an everlasting poise and balance, spring and fall, love, strife, health, disease, and the cold duplicity of Number One and all its warm divisions. The sameness that's in difference. The limit that's limitless. The permanence that's change. The distance of the near at home. So--to roam, stay home. Then pursue to be caught, submit to conquer. Method--ancient--of Chinese. To pacify, inflame. Love, hate. Kiss, kill. In, out, up, down, start, stop. Ah . . . from pleasure, pain. Like circumcision of the heart. Judgement and mercy. Sin and grace. It little mattered; everything seemed to Furber to be magically right, and his heart grew fat with satisfaction. Therefore there is good in every evil; one must lower away to raise; seek what's found to mourn its loss; conceive in stone and execute in water; turn profound and obvious, miraculous and commonplace, around; sin to save; destroy in order to create; live in the sun, though underground. Yes. Doubt in order to believe--that was an old one--for this the square IS in the circle. O Phaedo, Phaedo. O endless ending. Soul is immortal after all--at last it's proved. Between dead and living there's no difference but the one has whiter bones. Furber rose, the mosquitoes swarming around him, and ran inside.
William H. Gass (Omensetter's Luck)
Now, there are some exceptions to this, which I’ll get to a bit later, but my point is that, more than 95 percent of the time, the common objections are merely ploys on the part of the prospect, who would rather bow out of the sale gracefully than have to look the salesperson in the eye and confront them about their lack of certainty concerning the Three Tens.
Jordan Belfort (Way of the Wolf: Straight line selling: Master the art of persuasion, influence, and success)
He kept digging, kept scratching — every finger, both hands, until he could feel the wood scraping on raw flesh. His wrists throbbed, the plastic cutting into them. He called out as one of his nails peeled back off the bed, screaming with a voice barely his own. But he couldn’t give up. And after who knows how long, he could get his fingers around the tip. Now he needed to get it out. He didn’t really wear man-jewellery, but he had a ring he wore around his index finger. A ring she’d given him — stolen for him. For them. Grace. He had to get back to her. Tell her he was okay. He got the flat side against the point and pushed, wedging himself under it.  Whether it took an hour or five, he didn’t know. He could feel blood in his palms as the steel stabbed at his skin with every slip.  But slowly he made progress, a millimetre at a time, forcing it upwards. And then it landed softly in the dirt next to the box. He managed to fold himself up under the new hole and shove his heel against it.  With what little strength he had left he pushed upwards, feeling the wood bow in the absence of the nail. He kicked at it, then kicked at it again. And again. And again. Until the pain in his foot was unbearable. And then he kept kicking, not feeling it moving, but knowing that staying inside meant death. People didn’t get nailed into boxes if they were going to survive.  The fuzz of whatever was in his system was still lingering. He didn’t seem to be able to concentrate on more than one thing at a time — but Grace was always there. Thin, brown hair, pretty in all the right ways. She was all he had now. He had to get back to her. The lid came loose, nails creaking in the wood, and in a blur he was out. Sweat-soaked, filthy, crying, he flopped out and into the dirt.  The room smelled like a swimming pool and polythene sheets hung from the ceiling. He didn’t wait to see what else there was. At the far side of the room, he could make out a door, outlined in the dim red glow of a tiny bulb above the frame. Next to it there was a crowbar, rusted and rough, silhouetted in the half-light. He limped over, his legs numb from the box and the drugs, and pulled it open, grabbing the bar. The light blinked off, the little plastic control unit next to it clicking, but he didn’t care. He had to get out.  The stairs beyond creaked under his weight as he dragged himself up on bloody fingers, the crowbar clanging against the mouldy stonework walls.
Morgan Greene (Bare Skin (DS Jamie Johansson #1))
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; As tumbled over rim in roundy wells Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name; Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells, Crying What I do is me: for that I came. I say more: the just man justices; Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces; Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is— Christ—for Christ plays in ten thousand places, Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his To the Father through the features of men’s faces.
Rudolph Amsel (The Best of Poetry: Thoughts that Breathe and Words that Burn (In Two Hundred Poems))
When you choose to bow out, always do it quietly with grace and dignity leaving merely retreating footsteps, echoing in the silence.
Virginia Alison