How could he convey to someone who'd never even met her the way she always smelled like rain, or how his stomach knotted up every time he saw her shake loose her hair from its braid? How could he describe how it felt when she finished his sentences, turnec the mug they were sharing so that her mouth landed where his had been? How did he explain the way they could be in a locker room, or underwater, or in the piney woods of Maine, bus as long as Em was with him, he was at home?
Jodi Picoult (The Pact)
Before reaching the final line, however, he had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment
when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.
Gabriel García Márquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude)
No matter how old you are now. You are never too young or too old for success or going after what you want. Here’s a short list of people who accomplished great things at different ages
1) Helen Keller, at the age of 19 months, became deaf and blind. But that didn’t stop her. She was the first deaf and blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.
2) Mozart was already competent on keyboard and violin; he composed from the age of 5.
3) Shirley Temple was 6 when she became a movie star on “Bright Eyes.”
4) Anne Frank was 12 when she wrote the diary of Anne Frank.
5) Magnus Carlsen became a chess Grandmaster at the age of 13.
6) Nadia Comăneci was a gymnast from Romania that scored seven perfect 10.0 and won three gold medals at the Olympics at age 14.
7) Tenzin Gyatso was formally recognized as the 14th Dalai Lama in November 1950, at the age of 15.
8) Pele, a soccer superstar, was 17 years old when he won the world cup in 1958 with Brazil.
9) Elvis was a superstar by age 19.
10) John Lennon was 20 years and Paul Mcartney was 18 when the Beatles had their first concert in 1961.
11) Jesse Owens was 22 when he won 4 gold medals in Berlin 1936.
12) Beethoven was a piano virtuoso by age 23
13) Issac Newton wrote Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica at age 24
14) Roger Bannister was 25 when he broke the 4 minute mile record
15) Albert Einstein was 26 when he wrote the theory of relativity
16) Lance E. Armstrong was 27 when he won the tour de France
17) Michelangelo created two of the greatest sculptures “David” and “Pieta” by age 28
18) Alexander the Great, by age 29, had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world
19) J.K. Rowling was 30 years old when she finished the first manuscript of Harry Potter
20) Amelia Earhart was 31 years old when she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean
21) Oprah was 32 when she started her talk show, which has become the highest-rated program of its kind
22) Edmund Hillary was 33 when he became the first man to reach Mount Everest
23) Martin Luther King Jr. was 34 when he wrote the speech “I Have a Dream."
24) Marie Curie was 35 years old when she got nominated for a Nobel Prize in Physics
25) The Wright brothers, Orville (32) and Wilbur (36) invented and built the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight
26) Vincent Van Gogh was 37 when he died virtually unknown, yet his paintings today are worth millions.
27) Neil Armstrong was 38 when he became the first man to set foot on the moon.
28) Mark Twain was 40 when he wrote "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer", and 49 years old when he wrote "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"
29) Christopher Columbus was 41 when he discovered the Americas
30) Rosa Parks was 42 when she refused to obey the bus driver’s order to give up her seat to make room for a white passenger
31) John F. Kennedy was 43 years old when he became President of the United States
32) Henry Ford Was 45 when the Ford T came out.
33) Suzanne Collins was 46 when she wrote "The Hunger Games"
34) Charles Darwin was 50 years old when his book On the Origin of Species came out.
35) Leonardo Da Vinci was 51 years old when he painted the Mona Lisa.
36) Abraham Lincoln was 52 when he became president.
37) Ray Kroc Was 53 when he bought the McDonalds Franchise and took it to unprecedented levels.
38) Dr. Seuss was 54 when he wrote "The Cat in the Hat".
40) Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger III was 57 years old when he successfully ditched US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River in 2009. All of the 155 passengers aboard the aircraft survived
41) Colonel Harland Sanders was 61 when he started the KFC Franchise
42) J.R.R Tolkien was 62 when the Lord of the Ring books came out
43) Ronald Reagan was 69 when he became President of the US
44) Jack Lalane at age 70 handcuffed, shackled, towed 70 rowboats
45) Nelson Mandela was 76 when he became President
I know you, I know you. You're the only serious person in the room, aren't you, the only one who understands, and you can prove it by the fact that you've never finished a single thing in your life. You're the only well-educated person, because you never went to college, and you resent education, you resent social ease, you resent good manners, you resent success, you resent any kind of success, you resent God, you resent Christ, you resent thousand-dollar bills, you resent Christmas, by God, you resent happiness, you resent happiness itself, because none of that's real. What is real, then? Nothing's real to you that isn't part of your own past, real life, a swamp of failures, of social, sexual, financial, personal...spiritual failure. Real life. You poor bastard. You don't know what real life is, you've never been near it. All you have is a thousand intellectualized ideas about life. But life? Have you ever measured yourself against anything but your own lousy past? Have you ever faced anything outside yourself? Life! You poor bastard.
William Gaddis (The Recognitions)
Closing The Cycle
One always has to know when a stage comes to an end. If we insist on staying longer than the necessary time, we lose the happiness and the meaning of the other stages we have to go through. Closing cycles, shutting doors, ending chapters - whatever name we give it, what matters is to leave in the past the moments of life that have finished.
Did you lose your job? Has a loving relationship come to an end? Did you leave your parents' house? Gone to live abroad? Has a long-lasting friendship ended all of a sudden?
You can spend a long time wondering why this has happened. You can tell yourself you won't take another step until you find out why certain things that were so important and so solid in your life have turned into dust, just like that. But such an attitude will be awfully stressing for everyone involved: your parents, your husband or wife, your friends, your children, your sister, everyone will be finishing chapters, turning over new leaves, getting on with life, and they will all feel bad seeing you at a standstill.
None of us can be in the present and the past at the same time, not even when we try to understand the things that happen to us. What has passed will not return: we cannot for ever be children, late adolescents, sons that feel guilt or rancor towards our parents, lovers who day and night relive an affair with someone who has gone away and has not the least intention of coming back.
Things pass, and the best we can do is to let them really go away. That is why it is so important (however painful it may be!) to destroy souvenirs, move, give lots of things away to orphanages, sell or donate the books you have at home. Everything in this visible world is a manifestation of the invisible world, of what is going on in our hearts - and getting rid of certain memories also means making some room for other memories to take their place.
Let things go. Release them. Detach yourself from them. Nobody plays this life with marked cards, so sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Do not expect anything in return, do not expect your efforts to be appreciated, your genius to be discovered, your love to be understood. Stop turning on your emotional television to watch the same program over and over again, the one that shows how much you suffered from a certain loss: that is only poisoning you, nothing else.
Nothing is more dangerous than not accepting love relationships that are broken off, work that is promised but there is no starting date, decisions that are always put off waiting for the "ideal moment." Before a new chapter is begun, the old one has to be finished: tell yourself that what has passed will never come back. Remember that there was a time when you could live without that thing or that person - nothing is irreplaceable, a habit is not a need. This may sound so obvious, it may even be difficult, but it is very important.
Closing cycles. Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because that no longer fits your life. Shut the door, change the record, clean the house, shake off the dust. Stop being who you were, and change into who you are.
Modern man is full of platitudes about living life to its fullest, with catchy keychain phrases and little plaques for kitchen walls. But if you've never retreated to the solitude of a dark room and listened to Beethoven's Ninth from start to finish, you know nothing. For music is a transcendental exploration of human emotion and experience, the very fabric of life in its purest form. And the Ninth our greatest musical achievement.
I am glad you are no relation of mine. I will never call you aunt again as long as I live. I will never come to visit you when I am grown up; and if any one asks me how I liked you, and how you treated me, I will say the very thought of you makes me sick, and that you treated me with miserable cruelty. . . . You think I have no feelings, and that I can do without one bit of love or kindness; but I cannot live so: and you have no pity. I shall remember how you thrust me back . . . into the red-room. . . . And that punishment you made me suffer because your wicked boy struck me—knocked me down for nothing. I will tell anybody who asks me questions this exact tale. ’Ere I had finished this reply, my soul began to expand, to exult, with the strangest sense of freedom, of triumph, I ever felt. It seemed as if an invisible bond had burst, and that I had struggled out into unhoped-for liberty. . . .
Charlotte Brontë (Jane Eyre)
The notion of ambiguity must not be confused with that of absurdity. To declare that existence is absurd is to deny that it can ever be given a meaning; so to say it is ambiguous is to assert that it's meaning is never fixed, that it must be constantly won. Absurdity challenges every ethics; but also the finished rationalization of the real would leave no room for ethics; it is because man's condition is ambiguous that he seeks, through failure & outrageousness, to save his existence.
Simone de Beauvoir (The Ethics of Ambiguity)
A good book is never exhausted. It goes on whispering to you from the wall. Books perfume and give weight to a room. A bookcase is as good as a view, as the sight of a city or a river. There are dawns and sunsets in books - storms, fogs, zephyrs.
I read about a family whose apartment consists of a series of spaces so strictly planned that they are obliged to give away their books as soon as they've read them. I think they have misunderstood the way books work.
Reading a book is only the first step in the relationship. After you've finished it, the book enters on its real career. It stand there as a badge, a blackmailer, a monument, a scar. It's both a flaw in the room, like a crack in the plaster, and a decoration. The contents of someone's bookcase are part of his history, like an ancestral portrait.
- in "About books; recoiling, rereading, retelling", The New York Times, February 22, 1987
When I got home I mixed a stiff one and stood by the open window in the living room and sipped it and listened to the groundswell of traffic on Laurel Canyon Boulevard and looked at the glare of the big angry city hanging over the shoulder of the hills through which the boulevard had been cut. Far off the banshee wail of police or fire sirens rose and fell, never for very long completely silent. Twenty four hours a day somebody is running, somebody else is trying to catch him. Out there in the night of a thousand crimes, people were dying, being maimed, cut by flying glass, crushed against steering wheels or under heavy tires. People were being beaten, robbed, strangled, raped, and murdered. People were hungry, sick; bored, desperate with loneliness or remorse or fear, angry, cruel, feverish, shaken by sobs. A city no worse than others, a city rich and vigorous and full of pride, a city lost and beaten and full of emptiness. It all depends on where you sit and what your own private score is. I didn't have one. I didn't care. I finished the drink and went to bed.
Raymond Chandler (The Long Goodbye (Philip Marlowe, #6))
On her way to the sink, she says, "Where's Toraf and Rayna? Oh!" She gasps. "Did they find an island?"
Galen shakes his head and pours himself some water from a pitcher on the table, grateful for a topic change. "Nope. They're upstairs. He snuck into her bed. I've never seen anyone risk his life like that."
Rachel makes a tsking sound as she rinses some dishes.
"Why does everyone keep talking about finding an island?" Emma asks, finishing the rest of her juice.
"Who else is talking about it?" Galen frowns.
"In the living room, I hear Toraf give her a choice between going to the kitchen or finding an island."
Galen laughs. "And she picked the kitchen, right?"
Emma nods. "What? What's so funny?"
"Rayna and Toraf are mated. I guess humans call it married," he says. "Syrena find an island when they're ready to...mate in a physical sense. We can only do that in human form."
"Oh. Oh. Um, okay," she says, blushing anew. "I wondered about that. The physical part, I mean. So they're married? Seems like she hates him.
Anna Banks (Of Poseidon (The Syrena Legacy, #1))
One day when no one else was around, I went into the craft room at the back of the ground floor. I touched Gran's collection of fabrics, the shiny bright buttons, the coloured threads. My head and shoulders melted first, followed by my hips and knees. Before long I was a puddle, soaking into the pretty cotton prints. I drenched the quilt she never finished, rusted the metal parts of her sewing machine. I was pure liquid loss...
E. Lockhart (We Were Liars)
It was a tale well known to children all over Africa: Abu Kassem, a miserly Baghdad merchant, had held on to his battered, much repaired pair of slippers even though they were objects of derision. At last, even he couldn't stomach the sight of them. But his every attempt to get rid of his slippers ended in disaster: when he tossed them out of his window they landed on the head of a pregnant woman who miscarried, and Abu Kassem was thrown in jail; when he dropped them in the canal, the slippers choked off the main drain and caused flooding, and off Abu Kassem went to jail...
'One night when Tawfiq finished, another prisoner, a quiet dignified old man, said, 'Abu Kassem might as well build a special room for his slippers. Why try to lose them? He'll never escape.' The old man laughed, and he seemed happy when he said that. That night the old man died in his sleep.
We all saw it the same way. the old man was right. The slippers in the story mean that everything you see and do and touch, every seed you sow, or don't sow, becomes part of your destiny...
In order to start to get rid of your slippers, you have to admit they are yours, and if you do, then they will get rid of themselves.
Ghosh sighed. 'I hope one day you see this as clearly as I did in Kerchele. The key to your happiness is to own your slippers, own who you are, own how you look, own your family, own the talents you have, and own the ones you don't. If you keep saying your slippers aren't yours, then you'll die searching, you'll die bitter, always feeling you were promised more. Not only our actions, but also our omissions, become our destiny.
Abraham Verghese (Cutting for Stone)
I feel like I’m waiting here. Waiting for something that hasn’t happened yet. Something that isn’t yet. But that’s all I feel and nothing else. I don’t know if I even exist. And then someone flips a switch and the light is gone, the room is gone, the weightlessness is gone. I want to ask to wait, because I wasn’t finished yet, but I don’t have a chance. There is no gentle pulling. No coaxing. No choice. I’m wrenched out. Yanked, as if my head is being snapped back. I’m in the dark and everything is pain. There are too many sensations at once. Every nerve ending is on fire. Like the shock of being born. And then, there are flashes of everything. Color, voices, machines, harsh words. The pain doesn’t flash. The pain is constant, steady, never-ending. It’s the only thing I know. I don’t want to be awake anymore.
Katja Millay (The Sea of Tranquility)
ALTERNATE UNIVERSE IN WHICH I AM UNFAZED BY THE MEN WHO DO NOT LOVE ME when the businessman shoulder checks me in the airport, i do not apologize. instead, i write him an elegy on the back of a receipt and tuck it in his hand as i pass through the first class cabin. like a bee, he will die after stinging me. i am twenty-four and have never cried. once, a boy told me he doesn’t “believe in labels” so i embroidered the word chauvinist on the back of his favorite coat. a boy said he liked my hair the other way so i shaved my head instead of my pussy. while the boy isn’t calling back, i learn carpentry, build a desk, write a book at the desk. i taught myself to cum from counting ceiling tiles. the boy says he prefers blondes and i steam clean his clothes with bleach. the boy says i am not marriage material and i put gravel in his pepper grinder. the boy says period sex is disgusting and i slaughter a goat in his living room. the boy does not ask if he can choke me, so i pretend to die while he’s doing it. my mother says this is not the meaning of unfazed. when the boy says i curse too much to be pretty and i tattoo “cunt” on my inner lip, my mother calls this “being very fazed.” but left over from the other universe are hours and hours of waiting for him to kiss me and here, they are just hours. here, they are a bike ride across long island in june. here, they are a novel read in one sitting. here, they are arguments about god or a full night’s sleep. here, i hand an hour to the woman crying outside of the bar. i leave one on my best friend’s front porch, send my mother two in the mail. i do not slice his tires. i do not burn the photos. i do not write the letter. i do not beg. i do not ask for forgiveness. i do not hold my breath while he finishes. the man tells me he does not love me, and he does not love me. the man tells me who he is, and i listen. i have so much beautiful time.
Olivia Gatwood (New American Best Friend)
Such are the visions which ceaselessly float up, pace beside, put their faces in front of, the actual thing; often overpowering the solitary traveller and taking away from him the sense of the earth, the wish to return, and giving him for substitute a general peace, as if (so he thinks as he advances down the forest ride) all this fever of living were simplicity itself; and myriads of things merged in one thing; and this figure, made of sky and branches as it is, had risen from the troubled sea (he is elderly, past fifty now) as a shape might be sucked up out of the waves to shower down from her magnificent hands, compassion, comprehension, absolution. So, he thinks, may I never go back to the lamplight; to the sitting-room; never finish my book; never knock out my pipe; never ring for Mrs. Turner to clear away; rather let me walk on to this great figure, who will, with a toss of her head, mount me on her streamers and let me blow to nothingness with the rest.
Virginia Woolf (Mrs. Dalloway)
I thought that if I couldn’t make a living as an artist, at least I shouldn’t starve.
By the time I had finished these studies, I had realized that I simply did not draw well enough to be the kind of artist and illustrator that I wanted to be, and so for two days a week over two years I drew — and drew and drew — from the models in the life classes at Chelsea School of Art. I really found out how people looked and moved and balanced, and though nowadays I almost never use a sketchbook and just make everything up as I go along, it’s those days in the life room that are the back of it all.
5:15 I have never put makeup on. It's hard. "You assholes are crowding my mirror space. Gimme some room, I keep smearing my blush." Everyone's glares at me. I feel like a gay homosexual.
Tucker Max (Assholes Finish First (Tucker Max, #2))
Her eyes narrowed, and her lips parted around a knowing laugh. "Oh. It's you."
"Pardon?" He was taken aback. "Do we know each other, lass?" He was quite certain they didn't; he could never have
forgotten this woman. The enticing manner in which her lips were currently pursed would have been seared into his
"The answer is no. I don't know you. But every other woman in this room does. Duncan Douglas, isn't it?" she said dryly.
Duncan studied her face. Although she was young-perhaps no more than twenty-she had a regal bearing beyond her years. "I do have some reputation with the lasses," he conceded, downplaying his prowess, confident of her impending maidenly swoon.
The look she gave him was far from admiring. He did a double take when he realized her gaze was downright disparaging.
"Not something I care for in a man," she said coolly. "Thank you for your offer, but I'd sooner dance with last week's rushes. They would be less used. Who wants what everyone else has already had?" The words were delivered
in a cool, modulated tone, shaped by an odd accent he couldn't place. Quite finished with him, she presented her
back and resumed talking to her companion.
Duncan was immobilized by shock.
Karen Marie Moning (The Highlander's Touch (Highlander, #3))
You have the lovers,
they are nameless, their histories only for each other,
and you have the room, the bed, and the windows.
Pretend it is a ritual.
Unfurl the bed, bury the lovers, blacken the windows,
let them live in that house for a generation or two.
No one dares disturb them.
Visitors in the corridor tip-toe past the long closed door,
they listen for sounds, for a moan, for a song:
nothing is heard, not even breathing.
You know they are not dead,
you can feel the presence of their intense love.
Your children grow up, they leave you,
they have become soldiers and riders.
Your mate dies after a life of service.
Who knows you? Who remembers you?
But in your house a ritual is in progress:
It is not finished: it needs more people.
One day the door is opened to the lover's chamber.
The room has become a dense garden,
full of colours, smells, sounds you have never known.
The bed is smooth as a wafer of sunlight,
in the midst of the garden it stands alone.
In the bed the lovers, slowly and deliberately and silently,
perform the act of love.
Their eyes are closed,
as tightly as if heavy coins of flesh lay on them.
Their lips are bruised with new and old bruises.
Her hair and his beard are hopelessly tangled.
When he puts his mouth against her shoulder
she is uncertain whether her shoulder
has given or received the kiss.
All her flesh is like a mouth.
He carries his fingers along her waist
and feels his own waist caressed.
She holds him closer and his own arms tighten around her.
She kisses the hand besider her mouth.
It is his hand or her hand, it hardly matters,
there are so many more kisses.
You stand beside the bed, weeping with happiness,
you carefully peel away the sheets
from the slow-moving bodies.
Your eyes filled with tears, you barely make out the lovers,
As you undress you sing out, and your voice is magnificent
because now you believe it is the first human voice
heard in that room.
The garments you let fall grow into vines.
You climb into bed and recover the flesh.
You close your eyes and allow them to be sewn shut.
You create an embrace and fall into it.
There is only one moment of pain or doubt
as you wonder how many multitudes are lying beside your body,
but a mouth kisses and a hand soothes the moment away.
Is Etienene okay?"
"Haven't seen him.He went to Ellie's last night."
Just when I thought I couldn't feel any worse.I twist the corners of my pillow. "Did I,uh,say anything weird to him last night?"
"Apart from acting like a jealous girlfriend and saying you never wanted to speak to him again? No. Nothing weird at all." I moan as she recounts the night for me blow by blow. "Listen," she says when she finishes, "what's the deal with you two?""
"What do you mean?"
"You know what I mean.You two are inseparable."
"Except when he's with his girlfriend."
"Right.So what's the deal?"
I groan again. "I don't know."
"Have you guys...you know...done anything?"
"But you like him.And he likes you, too."
I stop choking my pillow. "You think?"
"Please.The boy gets a boner every time you walk in the room."
My eyes pop back open. Does she mean that figuratively or has she actually seen something? No. Focus, Anna. "So why-"
"Why is he still with Ellie? He told you last night. He's lonely, or at least he's scared of being lonely. Josh says with all of this stuff with his mom, he's been too freaked out to change anything else in his life."
So Meredith was right. Etienne is afraid of change. Why haven't I talked about this with Rashmi before? It seems obvious now.Of course she has inside information,because Etienne talks to Josh,and Josh talks to Rashmi.
"You really think he likes me?" I can't help it.
She sighs. "Anna.He teases you all the time. It's classic boy-pulling-girl's-pigtai-syndrome.And whenever anyone else even remotely does it,he always takes your side and tells them to shove it."
She pauses. "You really like him, don't you?"
I'm struggling not to cry. "No.It's not like that."
"Liar.So are you getting up today or what? You need sustenance.
Stephanie Perkins (Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1))
The autopsy took place in the morning and was the best argument for the buddy systemI had ever seen. Never live alone, I told myself. Before you chane a lightbulb, call someone from the other room and have him watch until you are finished.
Filling a room with the things you think you should because you’ve seen someone else do it that way or because you just want it to feel finished will never yield a home you truly love. You can make a room feel both beautiful and complete without filling every corner and surface with a bunch of random stuff.
Joanna Gaines (Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave)
I am in my mother's room. It's I who live there now. I don't know how I got there. Perhaps in an ambulance, certainly a vehicle of some kind. I was helped. I'd never have got there alone. There's this man who comes every week. Perhaps I got there thanks to him. He says not. He gives me money and takes away the pages. So many pages,so much money. Yes, I work now, a little like I used to, except that I don't know how to work any more. That doesn't matter apparently. What I'd like now is to speak of the things that are left, say my good-byes, finish dying. They don't want that. Yes, there is more than one, apparently. But it's always the same one that comes. You'll do that later, he says. Good. The truth is I haven't much will left. When he comes for the fresh pages he brings back the previous week's. They are marked with signs I don't understand ... Here's my beginning. It must mean something, or they wouldn't keep it. Here it is.
Samuel Beckett (Molloy)
I found myself one evening in the dreams of the night, in that sacred building, the Temple. After a
season of prayer and rejoicing, I was informed that I should have the privilege of entering into one of
those rooms, to meet a glorious personage, and as I entered the door, I saw, seated on a raised
platform, the most glorious Being my eyes have ever beheld, or that I ever conceived existed in all the
eternal worlds. As I approached to be introduced, he arose and stepped towards me with extended
arms, and he smiled as he softly spoke my name. If I shall live to be a million years old, I shall never
forget that smile. He took me into his arms and kissed me, pressed me to His bosom, and blessed me,
until the marrow of my bones seemed to melt! When He had finished, I fell at His feet, and as I bathed
them with my tears and kisses, I saw the prints of the nails in the feet of the Redeemer of the world.
The feeling that I had in the presence of Him who hath all things in His hands, to have His love, His
affection, and His blessings was such that if I ever can receive that of which I had but a foretaste, I
would give all that I am, all that I ever hope to be, to feel what I then felt (as cited in Bryant S.
Hinckley, The Faith of Our Pioneer Fathers, pp. 226-27.)
Melvin J. Ballard
To: Anna Oliphant
From: Etienne St. Clair
Subject: Uncommon Prostitues
I have nothing to say about prostitues (other than you'd make a terrible prostitute,the profession is much too unclean), I only wanted to type that. Isn't it odd we both have to spend Christmas with our fathers? Speaking of unpleasant matters,have you spoken with Bridge yet? I'm taking the bus to the hospital now.I expect a full breakdown of your Christmas dinner when I return. So far today,I've had a bowl of muesli. How does Mum eat that rubbish? I feel as if I've been gnawing on lumber.
To: Etienne St. Clair
From: Anna Oliphant
Subject: Christmas Dinner
MUESLY? It's Christmas,and you're eating CEREAL?? I'm mentally sending you a plate from my house. The turkey is in the oven,the gravy's on the stovetop,and the mashed potatoes and casseroles are being prepared as I type this. Wait. I bet you eat bread pudding and mince pies or something,don't you? Well, I'm mentally sending you bread pudding. Whatever that is. No, I haven't talked to Bridgette.Mom keeps bugging me to answer her calls,but winter break sucks enough already. (WHY is my dad here? SERIOUSLY. MAKE HIM LEAVE. He's wearing this giant white cable-knit sweater,and he looks like a pompous snowman,and he keeps rearranging the stuff on our kitchen cabinets. Mom is about to kill him. WHICH IS WHY SHE SHOULDN'T INVITE HIM OVER FOR HOLIDAYS). Anyway.I'd rather not add to the drama.
P.S. I hope your mom is doing better. I'm so sorry you have to spend today in a hospital. I really do wish I could send you both a plate of turkey.
To: Anna Oliphant
From: Etienne St. Clair
Subject: Re: Christmas Dinner
YOU feel sorry for ME? I am not the one who has never tasted bread pudding. The hospital was the same. I won't bore you with the details. Though I had to wait an hour to catch the bus back,and it started raining.Now that I'm at the flat, my father has left for the hospital. We're each making stellar work of pretending the other doesn't exist.
P.S. Mum says to tell you "Merry Christmas." So Merry Christmas from my mum, but Happy Christmas from me.
To: Etienne St. Clair
From: Anna Oliphant
Subject: SAVE ME
Worst.Dinner.Ever.It took less than five minutes for things to explode. My dad tried to force Seany to eat the green bean casserole, and when he wouldn't, Dad accused Mom of not feeding my brother enough vegetables. So she threw down her fork,and said that Dad had no right to tell her how to raise her children. And then he brought out the "I'm their father" crap, and she brought out the "You abandoned them" crap,and meanwhile, the WHOLE TIME my half-dead Nanna is shouting, "WHERE'S THE SALT! I CAN'T TASTE THE CASSEROLE! PASS THE SALT!" And then Granddad complained that Mom's turkey was "a wee dry," and she lost it. I mean,Mom just started screaming.
And it freaked Seany out,and he ran to his room crying, and when I checked on him, he was UNWRAPPING A CANDY CANE!! I have no idea where it came from. He knows he can't eat Red Dye #40! So I grabbed it from him,and he cried harder, and Mom ran in and yelled at ME, like I'd given him the stupid thing. Not, "Thank you for saving my only son's life,Anna." And then Dad came in and the fighting resumed,and they didn't even notice that Seany was still sobbing. So I took him outside and fed him cookies,and now he's running aruond in circles,and my grandparents are still at the table, as if we're all going to sit back down and finish our meal.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY FAMILY? And now Dad is knocking on my door. Great. Can this stupid holiday get any worse??
Stephanie Perkins (Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1))
What do we leave behind but things not done, not said, not finished? Empty clothes, empty rooms, empty spaces in the ones who knew us? Mistakes never made right and hopes rotted down to nothing?
Joe Abercrombie (Best Served Cold)
Oh, Kathleen!" sighed Nancy as the two went into the kitchen together. "Isn't mother the most interesting 'scolder' you ever listened to? I love to hear her do it, especially when somebody else is getting it. When it's I, I grow smaller and smaller, curling myself up like a little worm. Then when she has finished I squirm to the door and wriggle out. Other mothers say: 'If you don't, I shall tell your father!' 'Do as I tell you, and ask no questions.' 'I never heard of such behavior in my life!' 'Haven't you any sense of propriety?' 'If this happens again I shall have to do something desperate.' 'Leave the room at once,' and so on; but mother sets you to thinking."
"Mother doesn't really scold," Kathleen objected.
"No, but she shows you how wrong you are, just the same...
Kate Douglas Wiggin (Mother Carey's Chickens)
My old man
16 years old
during the depression
I’d come home drunk
and all my clothing–
shorts, shirts, stockings–
suitcase, and pages of
would be thrown out on the
front lawn and about the
my mother would be
waiting behind a tree:
“Henry, Henry, don’t
go in . . .he’ll
kill you, he’s read
your stories . . .”
“I can whip his
ass . . .”
“Henry, please take
this . . .and
find yourself a room.”
but it worried him
that I might not
finish high school
so I’d be back
one evening he walked in
with the pages of
one of my short stories
(which I had never submitted
and he said, “this is
a great short story.”
I said, “o.k.,”
and he handed it to me
and I read it.
it was a story about
a rich man
who had a fight with
his wife and had
gone out into the night
for a cup of coffee
and had observed
the waitress and the spoons
and forks and the
salt and pepper shakers
and the neon sign
in the window
and then had gone back
to his stable
to see and touch his
kicked him in the head
and killed him.
the story held
meaning for him
when I had written it
I had no idea
of what I was
so I told him,
“o.k., old man, you can
and he took it
and walked out
and closed the door.
I guess that’s
as we ever got.
Charles Bukowski (Love Is a Dog from Hell)
When [an abusive man] tells me that he became abusive because he lost control of himself, I ask him why he didn’t do something even worse. For example, I might say, “You called her a fucking whore, you grabbed the phone out of her hand and whipped it across the room, and then you gave her a shove and she fell down. There she was at your feet where it would have been easy to kick her in the head. Now, you have just finished telling me that you were ‘totally out of control’ at that time, but you didn’t kick her. What stopped you?” And the client can always give me a reason. Here are some common explanations:
“I wouldn’t want to cause her a serious injury.”
“I realized one of the children was watching.”
“I was afraid someone would call the police.”
“I could kill her if I did that.”
“The fight was getting loud, and I was afraid the neighbors would hear.”
And the most frequent response of all:
“Jesus, I wouldn’t do that. I would never do something like that to her.”
The response that I almost never heard – I remember hearing it twice in the fifteen years – was: “I don’t know.”
These ready answers strip the cover off of my clients’ loss of control excuse.
Lundy Bancroft (Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men)
Nana and Pops were waiting in the living room. They had their recliners pushed in front of the couch, the only place available for Cole and me to sit. The moment we were in position, the interrogation began.
Pops: Plans for the future?
Groaning, I dropped my head in my hands. He'd kicked things off with Justin the exact same way. Guaranteed, he'd end the same way.
Cole: College, law enforcement.
Nana: Oh, I like him better than that other boy already.
Pops: Good, that's good. Now finish this sentence for me. When a girl says no, she means...
Yep. Exactly the same.
Cole: No. And that's that. I don't push for more.
Nana: Another excellent answer. But here's an even tougher sentence for you to finish. Premarital sex is...
I should have let the zombies have me.
Cole: Up to the couple. What happens between them is no one else's business. Sorry, but not even yours.
Both Pops ans Nana blustered over that for a minute, but they soon calmed down. I, of course, blushed the most horrifying shade of lobster. (That was just a guess.) However, I found Cole's answer exceptional.
Pops: That's fair enough, I guess. So how do you feel about drinking and driving?
Cole: I think it's stupid, that's one thing you'll never have to worry about with me and Ali. I never drink, and if she does, I won't take advantage of her. I'd bring her home. I'll always look out for her safety, you have my word.
"I won't be drinking, either," I said. "Ever."
Nana: Aren't you just a breath of fresh air?
Pops: He is. He is indeed.
I think I was as impressed with him as my grandparents were. Underneath the muscles, scars and tattoos (which my grandparents couldn't see, since he wore a long-sleeved shirt) he was a really good guy. And because they were so impressed, they let us go with no more fuss!
* You should read the book that you hear two booksellers arguing about at the registers while you’re browsing in a bookstore.
* You should read the book that you see someone on the train reading and trying to hide that they’re laughing.
* You should read the book that you see someone on the train reading and trying to hide that they’re crying.
* You should read the book that you find left behind in the airplane seat pocket, on a park bench, on the bus, at a restaurant, or in a hotel room.
* You should read the book that you see someone reading for hours in a coffee shop — there when you got there and still there when you left — that made you envious because you were working instead of absorbed in a book.
* You should read the book you find in your grandparents’ house that’s inscribed “To Ray, all my love, Christmas 1949.”
* You should read the book that you didn’t read when it was assigned in your high school English class. You’d probably like it better now anyway.
* You should read the book whose author happened to mention on Charlie Rose that their favorite band is your favorite band.
* You should read the book that your favorite band references in their lyrics.
* You should read the book that your history professor mentions and then says, “which, by the way, is a great book,” offhandedly.
* You should read the book that you loved in high school. Read it again.
* You should read the book that you find on the library’s free cart whose cover makes you laugh.
* You should read the book whose main character has your first name.
* You should read the book whose author gets into funny Twitter exchanges with Colson Whitehead.
* You should read the book about your hometown’s history that was published by someone who grew up there.
* You should read the book your parents give you for your high school graduation.
* You should read the book you’ve started a few times and keep meaning to finish once and for all.
* You should read books with characters you don’t like.
* You should read books about countries you’re about to visit.
* You should read books about historical events you don’t know anything about.
* You should read books about things you already know a little about.
* You should read books you can’t stop hearing about and books you’ve never heard of.
* You should read books mentioned in other books.
* You should read prize-winners, bestsellers, beach reads, book club picks, and classics, when you want to.
You should just keep reading."
[28 Books You Should Read If You Want To (The Millions, February 18, 2014)]
Goodbye,Nick," she said, starting to close the door. "And thank you for stopping by."
He accepted her decision with a slight inclination of his head, and Lauren made herself finish closing the door. She forced herself to walk away on legs that felt like lead, reminding herself at the same time how insane it would be to let him near her. But halfway across the living room she lost the internal battle. Pivoting on her heel, she raced for the door, yanked it open and hurtled straight into Nick's chest. He was lounging with one hand braced high against the doorframe, gazing down at her flushed face with a knowing, satisfied grin.
"Hello,Lauren.I happened to be in the neighborhood and decided to drop by."
"What do you want,Nick?" she sighed, her blue eyes searching his.
Resolutely she started to close the door again, but his hand shot out to stop her. "Do you really want me to go?"
"I told you on Wednesday that what I want has nothing to do with it. What matters is what's best for me, and-"
He interrupted her with a boyish grin. "I promise I'll never wear your clothes,and I won't steal your allowances or your boyfriends either." Lauren couldn't help starting to smile as he finished, "And if you swear never to call me Nicky again, I won't bite you."
She stepped aside and let him in, then took his jacket and hung it in the closet. When she turned, Nick was leaning against the closed front door, his arms crossed over his chest. "On second thought," he grinned, "I take part of that back.I'd love to bite you."
"Pervert!" she returned teasingly, her heart thumping so much with excitement that she hardly knew what she was saying.
"Come here and I'll show you just how perverted I can be," he invited smoothly.
Lauren took a cautious step backward. "Absolutely not.
Judith McNaught (Double Standards)
Dear Jessa, I’ve started this letter so many times and I’ve never been able to finish it. So here goes again . . . I’m sorry. I’m sorry that Riley is dead. I’m sorry for ignoring your emails and for not being there for you. I’m sorry I’ve hurt you. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wish it had been me that died and not Riley. If I could go back in time and change everything I would. I’m sorry I left without a word. There’s no excuse for my behaviour but please know that it had nothing to do with you. I was a mess. I haven’t been able to talk to anyone for months. And I felt too guilty and didn’t know how to tell you the truth about what happened. I couldn’t bear the thought of you knowing. I got all your emails but I didn’t read them until last week. I couldn’t face it and I guess that makes me the biggest coward you’ll ever meet. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I never replied. You needed me and I wasn’t there for you. I don’t even know how to ask your forgiveness because I don’t deserve it. I’m just glad you’re doing better. I’m better too. I’ve started seeing a therapist – twice a week – you’d like her. She reminds me of Didi. I never thought I’d be the kind of guy who needed therapy, but they made it a condition of me keeping my job. She’s helped me a lot with getting the panic attacks under control. Working in a room the size of a janitor’s closet helps too – there aren’t too many surprises, only the occasional rogue paperclip. I asked for the posting. I have to thank your dad ironically. The demotion worked out. Kind of funny that I totally get where your father was coming from all those years. Looks like I’ll be spending the remainder of my marine career behind a desk, but I’m OK with that. I don’t know what else to say, Jessa. My therapist says I should just write down whatever comes into my head. So here goes. Here’s what’s in my head . . . I miss you. I love you. Even though I long ago gave up the right to any sort of claim over you, I can’t stop loving you. I won’t ever stop. You’re in my blood. You’re the only thing that got me through this, Jessa. Because even during the bad times, the worst times, the times I’d wake up in a cold sweat, my heart thumping, the times I’d think the only way out was by killing myself and just having it all go away, I’d think of you and it would pull me back out of whatever dark place I’d fallen into. You’re my light, Jessa. My north star. You asked me once to come back to you and I told you I always would. I’m working on it. It might take me a little while, and I know I have no right to ask you to wait for me after everything I’ve done, but I’m going to anyway because the truth is I don’t know how to live without you. I’ve tried and I can’t do it. So please, I’m asking you to wait for me. I’m going to come back to you. I promise. And I’m going to make things right. I’ll do whatever it takes. I’ll never stop trying for the rest of my life to make things right between us. I love you. Always. Kit
Mila Gray (Come Back to Me (Come Back to Me, #1))
I got a book deal, I told Neil grumpily. I’m going to write a book about the TED talk. And all the…other stuff I couldn’t fit into twelve minutes. He was writing at the kitchen table and looked up with delight. Of course you did. They’re paying me an actual advance, I said. I can pay you back now. That’s wonderful, my clever wife. I told you it would all work out. But I’ve never written a book. How could they pay me to write a book? I don’t know how to write a book. You’re the writer. You’re hopeless, my darling, he said. I glared at him. Just write the book, Amanda. Do what I do: finish your tour, go away somewhere, and write it all down in one sitting. They’ll get you an editor. You’re a songwriter. You blog. A book is just…longer. You’ll have fun. Fine, I’ll write it, I said, crossing my arms. And I’m putting EVERYTHING in it. And then everyone will know what an asshole I truly am for having a best-selling novelist husband who covered my ass while I waited for the check to clear while writing the ridiculous self-absorbed nonfiction book about how you should be able to take help from everybody. You realize you’re a walking contradiction, right? he asked. So? I contain multitudes. Can’t you just let me cling to my own misery? He looked at me. Sure, darling. If that’s what you want. I stood there, fuming. He sighed. I love you, miserable wife. Would you like to go out to dinner to maybe celebrate your book deal? NO! I DON’T WANT TO CELEBRATE. IT’S ALL MEANINGLESS! DON’T YOU SEE? I give up, he said, and walked out of the room. GOOD! I shouted after him. YOU SHOULD GIVE UP! THIS IS A HOPELESS FUCKING SITUATION! I AM A TOTALLY WORTHLESS FRAUD AND THIS BOOK DEAL PROVES IT. Darling, he called from the other room, are you maybe expecting your period? NO. MAYBE. I DON’T KNOW! DON’T EVEN FUCKING ASK ME THAT. GOD. Just checking, he said. I got my period a few days later. I really hate him sometimes.
Amanda Palmer (The Art of Asking; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help)
So, he thinks, may I never go back to the lamplight; to the sitting-room; never finish my book; never knock out my pipe; never ring for Mrs. Turner to clear away; rather let me walk straight on to this great figure, who will, with a toss of her head, mount me on her streamers and let me blow to nothingness with the rest.
Virginia Woolf (Mrs. Dalloway)
I never said I didn’t identify with Lily,” she went on, her voice clear and her own. “I think in some way she’s the heart of the book. And her transformation at the end, when she’s finally able to finish her painting, after she doesn’t have anything holding her back…it’s one of the most important scenes in the novel. It’s when she finally realises who she is.”
Mr Whitley nodded vaguely, pacing the length of a square-paned window overlooking the courtyard below.
“And what was it?” he asked deliberately. “What do you think was holding her back all that time?”
Olivia looked down at her feet, feeling every pair of eyes in the class burning holes into the top of her head. Miles’s mushroom loafers were fidgeting under the chair beside her, and she felt him holding his breathe. Her heart was pounding, but this time it was different. Everybody in the room was waiting for her, and that was okay. This time she had things to say.
“The past,” Olivia answered finally. “The past was holding her back.
Alexandra Bullen (Wish (Wish, #1))
You should read the book that you hear two booksellers arguing about at the registers while you’re browsing in a bookstore.
You should read the book that you see someone on the train reading and trying to hide that they’re laughing.
You should read the book that you see someone on the train reading and trying to hide that they’re crying.
You should read the book that you find left behind in the airplane seat pocket, on a park bench, on the bus, at a restaurant, or in a hotel room.
You should read the book that you see someone reading for hours in a coffee shop — there when you got there and still there when you left — that made you envious because you were working instead of absorbed in a book.
You should read the book you find in your grandparents’ house that’s inscribed “To Ray, all my love, Christmas 1949.”
You should read the book that you didn’t read when it was assigned in your high school English class. You’d probably like it better now anyway.
You should read the book whose author happened to mention on Charlie Rose that their favorite band is your favorite band.
You should read the book that your favorite band references in their lyrics.
You should read the book that your history professor mentions and then says, “which, by the way, is a great book,” offhandedly.
You should read the book that you loved in high school. Read it again.
You should read the book that you find on the library’s free cart whose cover makes you laugh.
You should read the book whose main character has your first name.
You should read the book whose author gets into funny Twitter exchanges with Colson Whitehead.
You should read the book about your hometown’s history that was published by someone who grew up there.
You should read the book your parents give you for your high school graduation.
You should read the book you’ve started a few times and keep meaning to finish once and for all.
You should read books with characters you don’t like.
You should read books about countries you’re about to visit.
You should read books about historical events you don’t know anything about.
You should read books about things you already know a little about.
You should read books you can’t stop hearing about and books you’ve never heard of.
You should read books mentioned in other books.
You should read prize-winners, bestsellers, beach reads, book club picks, and classics, when you want to.
You should just keep reading.
What did she say to you?"
"Oh, great. I have to try to get you out of this mess after you hit a girl for nothing," he whispered angrily. "Josephine, don't waste my time. You don't seem like a violent type. She had to have said something to rile you.
"I just don't like her. She's vain. She puts her hair all over my books when she sits in front of me in class."
"So you hit her?"
"No ... yes."
"A girl puts her hair all over your books, so you break her nose?"
"Well, I don't think it's broken, personally."
"Doctor Kildare, we are not here to give a medical opinion. I want to know what she said to you."
"God," I yelled exasperated. "She said something to upset me, okay?"
"What? That you were ugly? That you smell? What?"
I looked horrified.
"I'm not ugly. I don't smell."
He sighed and took off his glasses, sitting down in front of me and pulling my chair towards him. "I was just asking for a reason."
"Never mind," I said.
"That creep out there wants -you to pay for his daughter's nose-job. Because of that nose-job she will be a famous model one day and you'll be working in a fast-food chain because you couldn't finish your Higher School Certificate due to expulsion. Now tell me what she said."
"There's nothing wrong with a fast-food chain," I said, thinking of my McDonald's job.
"I'm really getting pissed off now, Josephine. You called me out of work for this and you won't tell me why."
"Just go," I said, as he stood up and paced the room.
"I'll defend myself in court."
He groaned and looked up to the ceiling pulling his hair. "God save me from days like this," he begged.
"Go," I yelled.
"Okay. Let him win. He's a creep. Creeps always win," he said walking to the door. "But don't think you're going to make it in a court room, young lady. If you can't be honest, don't expect to stand up in a court room and defend honesty."
"She called me a wog, amongst other things," I said, finally. "I haven't been called one for so long. It offended me. It made me feel pathetic."
"Did you provoke her?"
"Yes. I called her a racist pig due to some things she was saying."
"Is she one?"
"God, yes. The biggest.
Melina Marchetta (Looking for Alibrandi)
Here's how I feel: People take one another for granted. Like, I'd hang out with Ingrid in all of these random places-in her room or at school or just on some sidewalk somewhere. And the whole time we'd tell each other things, just say all our thoughts out loud. Maybe that would've been boring to some people, but it was never boring to us. I never realized what a big deal that was. How amazing it is to find someone who wants to hear about all the things that go on in your head. You just think that things will stay the way they are. You never look up, in a moment that feels like every other moment of your life, and think, soon this will be over. But I understand more now. About the way life works. I know that when I finish reading Ingrid's journal, there won't be anything new between us ever again.
So when I get back to my house, I lock my room door even though I'm the only one home, take Ingrid's journal out, and just hold it for a little while. I look at the drawing on the first page again. And then I put the journal back. I'm going to try to make her last.
Nina LaCour (Hold Still)
Then I saw the keyboard of an organ which filled one whole side of the walls. On the desk was a music-book covered with red notes. I asked leave to look at it and read, ‘Don Juan Triumphant.’ ‘Yes,’ he said, 'I compose sometimes.’ I began that work twenty years ago. When I have finished, I shall take it away with me in that coffin and never wake up again.’ 'You must work at it as seldom as you can,’ I said. He replied, 'I sometimes work at it for fourteen days and nights together, during which I live on music only, and then I rest for years at a time.’ 'Will you play me something out of your Don Juan Triumphant?’ I asked, thinking to please him. 'You must never ask me that,’ he said, in a gloomy voice. 'I will play you Mozart, if you like, which will only make you weep; but my Don Juan, Christine, burns; and yet he is not struck by fire from Heaven.’ Thereupon we returned to the drawing-room. I noticed that there was no mirror in the whole apartment. I was going to remark upon this, but Erik had already sat down to the piano. He said, 'You see, Christine, there is some music that is so terrible that it consumes all those who approach it. Fortunately, you have not come to that music yet, for you would lose all your pretty coloring and nobody would know you when you returned to Paris. Let us sing something from the Opera, Christine Daae.’ He spoke these last words as though he were flinging an insult at me.”
“What did you do?”
“I had no time to think about the meaning he put into his words. We at once began the duet in Othello and already the catastrophe was upon us. I sang Desdemona with a despair, a terror which I had never displayed before. As for him, his voice thundered forth his revengeful soul at every note. Love, jealousy, hatred, burst out around us in harrowing cries. Erik’s black mask made me think of the natural mask of the Moor of Venice. He was Othello himself. Suddenly, I felt a need to see beneath the mask. I wanted to know the FACE of the voice, and, with a movement which I was utterly unable to control, swiftly my fingers tore away the mask. Oh, horror, horror, horror!”
Christine stopped, at the thought of the vision that had scared her, while the echoes of the night, which had repeated the name of Erik, now thrice moaned the cry:
“Horror! … Horror! … Horror!
Gaston Leroux (The Phantom of the Opera)
They were striking the set of a play, humble, one-handed domestic drama, without permission from the cast. They started in what she called her sewing room—his old room. She was never coming back, she no longer knew what knitting was, but wrapping up her scores of needles, her thousand patterns, a baby’s half-finished yellow shawl, to give them all away to strangers was to banish her from the living. They worked quickly, almost in a frenzy. She’s not dead, Henry kept telling himself. But her life, all lives, seemed tenuous when he saw how quickly, with what ease, all the trappings, all the fine details of a lifetime could be packed and scattered, or junked. Objects became junk as soon as they were separated from their owner and their pasts—without her, her old tea cosy was repellent, with its faded farmhouse motif and pale brown stains on cheap fabric, and stuffing that was pathetically thin. As the shelves and drawers emptied, and the boxes and bags filled, he saw that no one owned anything really. It’s all rented, or borrowed. Our possessions will outlast us, we’ll desert them in the end. They worked all day, and put out twenty-three bags for the dustmen.
Ian McEwan (Saturday)
Do you get it now,Becks?" Jack wrapped a finger around a long strand of my hair, and we were quiet as it slipped through his grip.
"You haven't moved on?"
He chuckled. "I have a lifetime of memories made up of chestnut wars and poker games and midnight excursions and Christmas Dances...It's all you. It's only ever been you.I love you." The last part seemed to escape his lips unintentionally, and afterward he closed his eyes and put his head in his hands,as if he had a sudden headache. "I've gotta not say that out loud."
The sight of how messed up he was made me want to wrap my arms around him and fold him into me and cushion him from everything that lay ahead.
Instead,I reached for his hand. Brought it to my lips. Kissed it.
He raised his head and winced. "You shouldn't do that," he said, even though he didn't pull his hand away.
"Because...it'll make everything worse...If you don't feel-"
His voice cut off as I kissed his hand again, pausing with his fingers at my lips. He let out a shaky sigh and his hair flopped forward. Then he looked at my lips for a long moment. "What if...?"
I bit my lower lip. "What?"
"What if we could be like this again?" He leaned in closer with a smile, and as he did,he said, "Are you going to steal my soul?"
"Um...it's not technically your soul that..."
I couldn't finish my sentence. His lips brushed mine, and I felt the whoosh of transferring emotions,but it wasn't as strong as the last time. The space inside me was practically full again. The Shades were right. Six months was just long enough to recover.
He kept his lips touching mine when he asked, "Is it okay?"
Okay in that I wasn't going to suck him dry anymore. Not okay in that my own emotions were in hyperdrive. Only our lips touched.Thankfully there was space between us everywhere else.
He took my silence to mean it was safe. We held our lips together, tentative and still.
But he didn't let it stay that casual for long.He pressed his lips closer, parting his mouth against mine. I shivered,and he put his arms around me and pulled me closer so that our bodies were touching in so many places.
He pulled back a little.His breath was on my lips.
"What is it?" I asked.
"I dreamed of you every night." He briefly touched his lips to mine again. "It felt so real.And when I'd wake up the next morning,it was like your disappearance was fresh. Like you'd left me all over again."
I lowered my chin and tucked my head into his chest. "I'm sorry."
He sighed and tightened his grip around me. "It never got easier.But the dreams themselves." I felt him shake his head. "It's like I had a physical connection to you. They were so real. Every night,you were in my room with me. It was so real."
I tilted my head back so I could face him again, realizing for the first time how difficult it must've been for Jack. I kissed his chin, his cheek, and then his lips. "I'm sorry," I said again.
He shook his head. "It's not your fault I dreamed of you, Becks.I just want to know if it was as real as it felt."
"I don't know," I said. But I told him about the book I'd read on Orpheus and Eurydice, and my theory that it was her connection to Orpheus that saved her.
Brodi Ashton (Everneath (Everneath, #1))
A pandemic paradoxically becomes an opportunity to finally be able to deal with ourselves, in a long interval where the world has stopped and everything around us starts to function at a slow pace. Shopping becomes a long and slow business, and if before we hated getting stuck in the traffic or queuing at the post office, today we can do nothing but adapt to this new world of expectations and shifts, and discover the faces of our fellow men, finally looking them in the face (or rather, in the eyes).
We have rediscovered the pleasure of cooking and eating, a world that before the quarantine stopped only on TV with masterchef. If before we considered it a waste of time to cook a plate of pasta, now we have had all the time to devote to cakes, pizzas, biscuits and homemade bread as our grandmothers once did. Rediscovering genuine flavors that have little of "fast" and much of "slow".
And so we also found time to read the book that we are not never managed to finish, or we pulled our favorite board game off the shelf. These small gestures, sometimes even insignificant in appearance, are rich in meaning, since they are imbued with our time, our dedication, our passion and our love. Characteristics of the human being that have been forgotten for too long. Thus we find ourselves reflecting on our time, on the past and on the future, observing a precipitous past that makes room for a rich and decidedly slower present.
We have resumed the taste of walking slowly, to escape and symbolically get closer to its initiatory role ... the road teaches you that you fall, you get up, you go back, you make miraculous encounters and sometimes you are helped by Samaritans or, in cases worst, deceived by demons. But is always a discovery, going towards something new, a unique experience in which the mind is regenerated. Walking is rediscovered today as an existential alternative, as an opposition to speed, to displacement technologies, it is essentially a criticism of the dominant competitive spirit.
We have given importance to windows and balconies, from where you can observe small corners of the world. Terraces from which to peer into the universe, to observe the rising sun, setting, to discover that in the sky there is a wonderful creature called the Moon, accompanied by billions of stars. We finally had a chat with our neighbors who are no longer perfect strangers, we made friends with boredom and, let's face it, we found that time, in general, is not just that marked by watches.
Suddenly we found ourselves in the present time, immersed in the much-talked about Here and Now, but little frequented. This small temporal space that marks our life, which contains our ugliest and most beautiful experiences, which brings our youth with us and will bring our old age, becomes the protagonist of this pandemic, which if on the one hand has stuck, on the other it gave us the opportunity to look at our life with different eyes, which seemed to really need to stop for a moment to breathe. Because let's put it on our heads, slowness is not a waste of time, but awareness of one's life time!
Corina Abdulahm Negura
You say you know these streets pretty well? The city knows you better than any living person because it has seen you when you are alone. It saw you steeling yourself for the job interview, slowly walking home after the late date, tripping over nonexistent impediments on the sidewalk. It saw you wince when the single frigid drop fell from the air-conditioner 12 stories up and zapped you. It saw the bewilderment on your face as you stepped out of the stolen matinee, incredulous that there was still daylight after such a long movie. It saw you half-running up the street after you got the keys to your first apartment. It saw all that. Remembers too.
Consider what all your old apartments would say if they got together to swap stories. They could piece together the starts and finishes of your relationships, complain about your wardrobe and musical tastes, gossip about who you are after midnight. 7J says, ''So that's what happened to Lucy; I knew it would never work out.'' You picked up yoga, you put down yoga, you tried various cures. You tried on selves and got rid of them, and this makes your old rooms wistful: why must things change? 3R says: ''Saxophone, you say? I knew him when he played guitar.'' Cherish your old apartments and pause for a moment when you pass them. Pay tribute, for they are the caretakers of your reinventions.
How lovely the months, the years with him had been. At the moment I hadn’t understood their importance, and now here I was, growing sad. The rain the cold the snow the scents of Spring along the Arno and on the flowering streets of the city, the warmth we gave each other. Choosing a dress, glasses. His pleasure in changing me. And Paris, the exciting trip to a foreign country, the cafes, the politics, the literature, the revolution that would soon arrive, even though the working class was becoming integrated. And him. His room at night. His body. All finished. I tossed nervously in my bed unable to sleep. I’m lying to myself , I thought. Had it really been so wonderful ? I knew very well that at that time, too, there had been shame. And uneasiness, and humiliation, and disgust: accept, submit force yourself. Is it possible that even happy moments of pleasure never stand up to rigorous examination
Elena Ferrante (The Story of a New Name (The Neapolitan Novels, #2))
I’d seen what evil could do. Evil never gave itself for anyone. It takes what it doesn’t own. Holds your head under the water. Rips your head off your neck and dangles it from the city wall. Evil dominates. Controls. Eradicates. Evil is a sniveling punk, and if you let it inside you then you spew hatred, which is just another name for the poison we drink hoping it’ll hurt someone else.” I glanced around the courtroom at Allie, Catalina, Gabby, Suzy, and finally at the cameras. “But not love. Love rushes in where others won’t. Where the bullets are flying. It stands between. Pours out. Empties itself. It scours the wasteland, returns the pieces that were lost, and it never counts the cost.” Despite a packed house, the room was silent. After a minute, I continued, “Love walks into hell, where I sit in chains, where the verdict is guilty, grabs you by the heart, and says to the warden, ‘Me for him.’” I turned and glanced at my brother. “Sir, we live in an angry, evil world. Where stuff doesn’t always make sense. Where hope seems like something we did when we were kids and the love we cling to slips through our fingers like cold water, but”—I tapped my chest—“nothing that happens here today changes the fact that love heals the shattered places.” I shook my head once. “It’s the only thing that can—” The faces in the courtroom held steady on mine. “It’s the only thing worth fighting for,” I finished, then turned to Bobby. I’d like to think my eyes smiled. “So, no, sir, I don’t hate my brother.
Charles Martin (Send Down the Rain)
Anna? Anna,are you there? I've been waiting in the lobby for fifteen minutes." A scrambling noise,and St. Clair curses from the floorboards. "And I see your light's off.Brilliant. Could've mentioned you'd decided to go on without me."
I explode out of bed. I overslept! I can't believe I overslept! How could this happen?
St. Clair's boots clomp away,and his suitcase drags heavily behind him. I throw open my door. Even though they're dimmed this time of night,the crystal sconces in the hall make me blink and shade my eyes.
St. Clair twists into focus.He's stunned. "Anna?"
"Help," I gasp. "Help me."
He drops his suitcase and runs to me. "Are you all right? What happened?"
I pull him in and flick on my light. The room is illuminated in its disheveled entirety. My luggage with its zippers open and clothes piled on top like acrobats. Toiletries scattered around my sink. Bedsheets twined into ropes. And me. Belatedly, I remember that not only is my hair crazy and my face smeared with zit cream,but I'm also wearing matching flannel Batman pajamas.
"No way." He's gleeful. "You slept in? I woke you up?"
I fall to the floor and frantically squish clothes into my suitcase.
"You haven't packed yet?"
"I was gonna finish this morning! WOULD YOU FREAKING HELP ALREADY?" I tug on a zipper.It catches a yellow Bat symbol, and I scream in frustration.
We're going to miss our flight. We're going to iss it,and it's my fault. And who knows when the next plane will leave, and we'll be stuck here all day, and I'll never make it in time for Bridge and Toph's show. And St. Clair's mom will cry when she has to go to the hospital without him for her first round of internal radiation, because he'll be stuck iin an airport on the other side of the world,and its ALL. MY FAULT.
"Okay,okay." He takes the zipper and wiggles it from my pajama bottoms. I make a strange sound between a moan and a squeal. The suitcase finally lets go, and St. Clair rests his arms on my shoulders to steady them. "Get dressed. Wipe your face off.I'll takecare of the rest."
Yes,one thing at a time.I can do this. I can do this.
He packs my clothes. Don't think about him touching your underwear. Do NOT think about him touching your underwear. I grab my travel outfit-thankfully laid out the night before-and freeze. "Um."
St. Clair looks up and sees me holding my jeans. He sputters. "I'll, I'll step out-"
"Turn around.Just turn around, there's not time!"
He quickly turns,and his shoulders hunch low over my suitcase to prove by posture how hard he is Not Looking.
Stephanie Perkins (Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1))
He took up another long strip of towel in his right hand. He had to lean in to loop it behind her. He was so close now. His mind took in the shell of her ear, the hair tucked behind it, that rapid pulse fluttering in her throat. Alive, alive, alive.
It isn’t easy for me either.
He looped the bandage around again. The barest touches. Unavoidable. Shoulder, clavicle, once her knee. The water rose around him.
He secured the knot. Step back. He did not step back. He stood there, hearing his own breath, hers, the rhythm of them alone in this room.
The sickness was there, the need to run, the need for something else too. Kaz thought he knew the language of pain intimately, but this ache was new. It hurt to stand here like this, so close to the circle of her arms. It isn’t easy for me either. After all she’d endured, he was the weak one. But she would never know what it was like for him to see Nina pull her close, watch Jesper loop his arm through hers, what it was to stand in doorways and against walls and know he could never draw nearer. But I’m here now, he thought wildly. He had carried her, fought beside her, spent whole nights next to her, both of them on their bellies, peering through a long glass, watching some warehouse or merch’s mansion. This was nothing like that. He was sick and frightened, his body slick with sweat, but he was here. He watched that pulse, the evidence of her heart, matching his own beat for anxious beat. He saw the damp curve of her neck, the gleam of her brown skin. He wanted to … He wanted.
Before he even knew what he intended, he lowered his head. She drew in a sharp breath. His lips hovered just above the warm juncture between her shoulder and the column of her neck. He waited. Tell me to stop. Push me away.
She exhaled. “Go on,” she repeated. Finish the story.
The barest movement and his lips brushed her skin—warm, smooth, beaded with moisture. Desire coursed through him, a thousand images he’d hoarded, barely let himself imagine—the fall of her dark hair freed from its braid, his hand fitted to the lithe curve of her waist, her lips parted, whispering his name.
Leigh Bardugo (Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2))
A woman's ability to achieve depends on childlessness or childcare. In America, where we don't believe in an underclass to do 'women's work', women themselves become the underclass. For love. Nobody doubts the love is real. It's for our children. But we are supposed to do it invisibly and never mention it. Alfred North Whitehead, who wasn't a woman after all, said that the truth of a society is what cannot be said. And women's work still cannot be said. It's called whining -- even by other women. It's called self-indulgence -- even by other women. Perhaps women writer are hated because abstraction makes oppression possible and we refuse to be abstract. How can we be? Our struggles are concrete: food, fire, babies, a room of one's own. These basics are rare -- even for the privileged. It is nothing short of a miracle every time a woman with a child finishes a book.
Our lives -- from the baby to the writing desk -- are the lives of the majority of humanity: never enough time to think, eternal exhaustion. The cared-for male elite, with female slaves to tend their bodily needs, can hardly credit our difficulties as 'real'. 'Real' is the deficit, oil wars in the Middle East, or how much of our children's milk the Pentagon shall get.
This is the true division in the world today: between those who carelessly say 'Third World' believing themselves part of the '¨First', and those who know they are the Third World -- wherever they live.
Women everywhere are the 'Third World', In my country, where most women do not feel part of what matters, they are thirdly third, trapped in the myth of being 'first'.
Erica Jong (Fear of Fifty: A Midlife Memoir)
Worse, the long, sleepless night in a room stored with mementoes of Alton's life confronted Rusty with the tracks of a ghost. Like a mattress sagging under the weight of an unseen body and a fluffed pillow impressed with the indentation of its head, the room seemed to mold itself around Alton's absence. The shirts that hung over creased pants in the small armoire remembered the boy's shoulders. Toy soldiers, headless and one-legged after a childhood of tabletop battles, did not desert the formation Alton had last ordered. A half-finished model airplane on his desk did not complete itself. As Rusty pitched from side to side in the narrow bed, his eyes fell upon object after object, which each in its own voice seemed to utter Alton's name as a kind of question--a question, he well knew, that would never be answered.
THe chorus of Alton's things, silently protesting their perplexed abandonment, disturbed Rusty's sleep like crickets chirping in the dark. It felt to him as if everything is the room was hardening around Alton's absence And what was a ghost, anyway, he began to understand while lying in a dead man's bed, but a felt absence, a keen unpresence?
John Biguenet (Oyster)
I will have you for husband tonight,” she said in fierce, low tones, “or I will not go until I do!” “If there was any way, I would,” he protested. “Daise Congar would crack my head if I wanted to go against custom. For the love of the Light, Faile, just carry the message, and I’ll wed you the very first day I can.” He would. If that day ever came. Suddenly she was very intent on his beard, smoothing it and not meeting his eyes. She started speaking slowly but picked up speed like a runaway horse. “I … just happened to mention … in passing … I just mentioned to Mistress al’Vere how we had been traveling together—I don’t know how it came up—and she said—and Mistress Congar agreed with her—not that I talked to everybody!—she said that we probably—certainly—could be considered betrothed already under your customs, and the year is just to make sure you really do get on well together—which we do, as anyone can see—and here I am being as forward as some Domani hussy or one of those Tairen galls—if you ever even think of Berelain—oh, Light, I’m babbling, and you won’t even—” He cut her off by kissing her as thoroughly as he knew how. “Will you marry me?” he said breathlessly when he was done. “Tonight?” He must have done ever better with the kiss than he thought; he had to repeat himself six times, with her giggling against his throat and demanding he say it again, before she seemed to understand. Which was how he found himself not half an hour later kneeling opposite her in the common room, in front of Daise Congar and Marin al’Vere, Alsbet Luhhan and Neysa Ayellin and all the Women’s Circle. Loial had been roused to stand for him with Aram, and Bain and Chiad stood for Faile. There were no flowers to put in her hair or his, but Bain, guided by Marin, tucked a long red wedding ribbon around his neck, and Loial threaded another through Faile’s dark hair, his thick fingers surprisingly deft and gentle. Perrin’s hands trembled as he cupped hers. “I, Perrin Aybara, do pledge you my love, Faile Bashere, for as long as I live.” For as long as I live and after. “What I possess in this world I give to you.” A horse, an axe, a bow. A hammer. Not much to gift a bride. I give you life, my love. It’s all I have. “I will keep and hold you, succor and tend you, protect and shelter you, for all the days of my life.” I can’t keep you; the only way I can protect you is to send you away. “I am yours, always and forever.” By the time he finished, his hands were shaking visibly. Faile moved her hands to hold his. “I, Zarine Bashere …” That was a surprise; she hated that name. “ … do pledge you my love, Perrin Aybara … .” Her hands never trembled at all.
Robert Jordan (The Shadow Rising (The Wheel of Time, #4))
It is an inherent property of intelligence that it can jump out of the task
which it is performing, and survey what it has done; it is always looking for,
and often finding, patterns. Now I said that an intelligence canjump out of
its task, but that does not mean that it always will. However, a little prompt-
ing will often suffice. For example, a human being who is reading a book
may grow sleepy. Instead of continuing to read until the book is finished,
he is just as likely to put the book aside and turn off the light. He has
stepped "out of the system" and yet it seems the most natural thing in the
world to us. Or, suppose person A is watching television when person B
comes in the room, and shows evident displeasure with the situation.
Person A may think he understands the problem, and try to remedy it by
exiting the present system (that television program), and flipping the chan-
nel knob, looking for a better show. Person B may have a more radical
concept of what it is to "exit the system"-namely to turn the television off!
Of course, there are cases where only a rare individual will have the vision
to perceive a system which governs many peoples' lives, a system which had
never before even been recognized as a system; then such people often
devote their lives to convincing other people that the system really is there,
and that it ought to be exited from!
Douglas R. Hofstadter (Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid)
Crossing my arms over my chest, I said, a little too heartily, “So this is the library.” There certainly couldn’t be any doubt on that score; never had a room so resembled popular preconception. The walls were paneled in rich, dark wood, although the finish had worn off the edges in spots, where books had scraped against the wood in passing one too many times. A whimsical iron staircase curved to the balcony, the steps narrowing into pie-shaped wedges that promised a broken neck to the unwary. I tilted my head back, dizzied by the sheer number of books, row upon row, more than the most devoted bibliophile could hope to consume in a lifetime of reading.
In one corner, a pile of crumbling paperbacks—James Bond, I noticed, squinting sideways, in splashy seventies covers—struck a slightly incongruous note. I spotted a moldering pile of Country Life cheek by jowl with a complete set of Trevelyan’s History of England in the original Victorian bindings. The air was rich with the smell of decaying paper and old leather bindings. Downstairs, where I stood with Colin, the shelves made way for four tall windows, two to the east and two to the north, all hung with rich red draperies checked with blue, in the obverse of the red-flecked blue carpet. On the west wall, the bookshelves surrendered pride of place to a massive fireplace, topped with a carved hood to make Ivanhoe proud, and large enough to roast a serf. In short, the library was a Gothic fantasy.
Lauren Willig (The Masque of the Black Tulip (Pink Carnation, #2))
As a girl, it had been firmly set down that one ought never speak until one was spoken to, and when one did, one ought not speak of anything that might provoke or worry. One referred to the limb of the table, not the leg, the white meat on the chicken, not the breast. Good manners were the foundations of civilization. One knew precisely with whom one sat in a room based entirely on how well they behaved, and in what manner. Forks and knives were placed at the ten-twenty on one's plate when one was finished eating, One ought to walk straight and keep one's hands to oneself when one s poke, least one be taken for an Italian or Jew. A woman was meant to tend a child, a garden, or a conversation. A woman ought to know how to mind the temperature in a room, adding a little heat in a well-timed question, or cool a warm temper with the suggestion of another drink, a bowl of nuts, and a smile.
What Kitty had learned at Miss Porter's School---handed down from Sarah Porter through the spinsters teaching there, themselves the sisters of Yale men who handed down the great words, Truth. Verity. Honor--was that your brothers and your husbands and your sons will lead, and you will tend., You will watch and suggest, guide and protect. You will carry the torch forward, and all to the good.
There was the world. And one fixed an eye keenly on it. One learned its history; one understood the causes of its wars. One debated and, gradually, a picture emerged of mankind over the centuries; on understood the difference between what was good and what was right. On understood that men could be led to evil, against the judgment of their better selves. Debauchery. Poverty of spirit. This was the explanation for so many unfortunate ills--slavery, for instance. The was the reason. Men, individual men, were not at fault. They had to be taught. Led. Shown by example what was best. Unfairness, unkindness could be addressed. Queitly. Patiently.. Without a lot of noisy attention.
Noise was for the poorly bred.
If one worried, if one were afraid, if one doubted--one kept it to oneself. One looked for the good, and one found it. The woman found it, the woman pointed it out, and the man tucked it in his pocket, heartened. These were the rules.
Sarah Blake (The Guest Book)
We’ve got the guest room all set up.” He gives me a fond look before saying, “Lara Jean put in a new pair of slippers and a robe for you, Ravi.”
Before Ravi can reply, Margot says, “Oh, that’s so nice. But actually, I think Ravi’s just going to stay with me in my room.”
It’s as if Margot has dropped a stink bomb in the middle of our living room. Kitty and I are looking at each other with huge OMG eyes; Daddy just looks stunned and at a complete loss for words. When I made up the guest room for Ravi, folded a set of towels for him on the side of the bed, and put out the robe and slippers, it never occurred to me that he’d be staying in Margot’s room. Clearly, the thought never occurred to Daddy either.
Daddy’s face is growing redder by the second. “Oh, um…I don’t know if…”
Margot purses her lips nervously as she waits for Daddy to finish his sentence. We’re all waiting, but he can’t seem to figure out what to say next. His eyes dart over to Ms. Rothschild for help, and she puts her hand on the small of his back in support.
Poor Ravi looks supremely uncomfortable. My first thought was that he was a Ravenclaw like Margot; now I’m thinking he’s a Hufflepuff like me. In a soft voice he says, “I truly don’t mind staying in the guest room. I’d hate to make things awkward.”
Daddy starts to answer him, but Margot gets there first. “No, it’s totally fine,” she assures Ravi. “Let’s go get the rest of our stuff out of the car.”
The second they leave, Kitty and I turn to each other. At the same time we say, “Oh my God.
Jenny Han (Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #3))
I wiped the blade against my jeans and walked into the bar. It was mid-afternoon, very
hot and still. The bar was deserted. I ordered a whisky. The barman looked at the blood
‘S’pose it’s time someone finished that hypocritical little punk, always bragging about
his old man’s power…’
He smiled crookedly, insinuatingly, a slight nausea shuddered through me. I replied
‘It was kind of sick, he didn’t fight back or anything, just kept trying to touch me and
shit, like one of those dogs that try to fuck your leg. Something in me snapped, the
whingeing had ground me down too low. I really hated that sanctimonious little creep.’
‘So you snuffed him?’
‘Yeah, I’ve killed him, knifed the life out of him, once I started I got frenzied, it was
an ecstasy, I never knew I could hate so much.’
I felt very calm, slightly light-headed. The whisky tasted good, vaporizing in my
throat. We were silent for a few moments. The barman looked at me levelly, the edge of
his eyes twitching slightly with anxiety:
There’ll be trouble though, don’tcha think?’
‘I don’t give a shit, the threats are all used up, I just don’t give a shit.’
‘You know what they say about his old man? Ruthless bastard they say. Cruel…’
‘I just hope I’ve hurt him, if he even exists.’
‘Woulden wanna cross him merself,’ he muttered.
I wanted to say ‘yeah, well that’s where we differ’, but the energy for it wasn’t there.
The fan rotated languidly, casting spidery shadows across the room. We sat in silence a
little longer. The barman broke first:
‘So God’s dead?’
‘If that’s who he was. That fucking kid lied all the time. I just hope it’s true this time.’
The barman worked at one of his teeth with his tongue, uneasily:
‘It’s kindova big crime though, isn’t it? You know how it is, when one of the cops
goes down and everything’s dropped ’til they find the guy who did it. I mean, you’re not
just breaking a law, your breaking LAW.’
I scraped my finger along my jeans, and suspended it over the bar, so that a thick clot
of blood fell down into my whisky, and dissolved. I smiled:
‘Maybe it’s a big crime,’ I mused vaguely ‘but maybe it’s nothing at all…’ ‘…and we
have killed him’ writes Nietzsche, but—destituted of community—I crave a little time
with him on my own.
In perfect communion I lick the dagger foamed with God’s blood.
Nick Land (The Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism (An Essay in Atheistic Religion))
Rigor Mortis.” I say, almost as an apology. But he won’t have any of it. He locks onto my gaze. He doesn’t lean forward, but he doesn’t need to, suddenly the room feels like it’s filled with him. His presence floats in the air like a noxious gas, and I’m breathing it in.
“Ike, you don’t get it. That’s why I wanted to talk to you. Do you think I have the right to talk to anyone? Do you think its fun to have a ‘human’ brain in a pet’s body? Sure, I have Kamu. And that’s fugging great, but guess what? Kamu is queen to be, and emotionally unstable.” I've never heard Rig talk this powerfully before, but he doesn’t seem scary, just sad. “And then I get someone else I can actually talk to, Ike, I get you. And you don’t treat me like I’m a pet and you talk about Kamu like she needs to be protected and you are there. You are there, and you keep being there, and the only one who’s ever there is Kamu, but now there is Ike. And Ike is perfect, albeit a bit dense, but perfect.”
“Rig, I’m really sorry bu-“ I start, I don’t know how much more of this I can take. With each sentence Rig loses some of his force, he sounds more pathetic and lost.
“I’m not done.” He pronounces the words in such a voice that it makes me shut up more than the context of the sentence does. “And all I want is to be with this boy who is there, this boy who is my friend, this boy who isn’t always caught up in politics. All I want is to have my one good break.” He finishes. I keep holding his eye contact, and his eyes, they already reflect hurt and rejectment. I don’t know if from me…or from life.
She huffed at me, “That I knew you were here. It’s a coincidence. I mean, of course you would follow me, right? I ran out of the room in a fit! What are you, a boy scout?”
She laughed, “Am I your next badge? The ‘Save Skye Martin from herself’ badge?” she finished in a disgusted voice, as she came to stand in front of me.
I watched the myriad of expressions roll across her face: worry, confusion, fear - they were all there, as she stood toe-to-toe with me. When I didn’t answer her fast enough, she turned to walk away.
“Hey, Skye,” I called after her. “I’m not a boy scout.”
She turned, but kept on walking; shrugging her shoulders. “Yeah, so?”
I took a deep breath, and then I let her in on one of the many secrets I had.
“I’m not a boy scout, but I am here to save you…I’m a Guardian.
Michele G. Miller (Never Let You Fall (The Prophecy of Tyalbrook, #1))
John Isidore said, “I found a spider.”
The three androids glanced up, momentarily moving their attention from the TV screen to him.
“Let’s see it,” Pris said. She held out her hand.
Roy Baty said, “Don’t talk while Buster is on.”
“I’ve never seen a spider,” Pris said. She cupped the medicine bottle in her palms, surveying the creature within. “All those legs. Why’s it need so many legs, J. R.?”
“That’s the way spiders are,” Isidore said, his heart pounding; he had difficulty breathing. “Eight legs.”
Rising to her feet, Pris said, “You know what I think, J. R.? I think it doesn’t need all those legs.”
“Eight?” Irmgard Baty said. “Why couldn’t it get by on four? Cut four off and see.” Impulsively opening her purse, she produced a pair of clean, sharp cuticle scissors, which she passed to Pris.
A weird terror struck at J. R. Isidore.
Carrying the medicine bottle into the kitchen, Pris seated herself at J. R. Isidore’s breakfast table. She removed the lid from the bottle and dumped the spider out. “It probably won’t be able to run as fast,” she said, “but there’s nothing for it to catch around here anyhow. It’ll die anyway.” She reached for the scissors.
“Please,” Isidore said.
Pris glanced up inquiringly. “Is it worth something?”
“Don’t mutilate it,” he said wheezingly. Imploringly.
With the scissors, Pris snipped off one of the spider’s legs.
In the living room Buster Friendly on the TV screen said, “Take a look at this enlargement of a section of background. This is the sky you usually see. Wait, I’ll have Earl Parameter, head of my research staff, explain their virtually world-shaking discovery to you.”
Pris clipped off another leg, restraining the spider with the edge of her hand. She was smiling.
“Blowups of the video pictures,” a new voice from the TV said, “when subjected to rigorous laboratory scrutiny, reveal that the gray backdrop of sky and daytime moon against which Mercer moves is not only not Terran—it is artificial.”
“You’re missing it!” Irmgard called anxiously to Pris; she rushed to the kitchen door, saw what Pris had begun doing. “Oh, do that afterward,” she said coaxingly. “This is so important, what they’re saying; it proves that everything we believed—”
“Be quiet,” Roy Baty said.
“—is true,” Irmgard finished.
The TV set continued, “The ‘moon’ is painted; in the enlargements, one of which you see now on your screen, brush strokes show. And there is even some evidence that the scraggly weeds and dismal, sterile soil—perhaps even the stones hurled at Mercer by unseen alleged parties—are equally faked. It is quite possible in fact that the ‘stones’ are made of soft plastic, causing no authentic wounds.”
“In other words,” Buster Friendly broke in, “Wilbur Mercer is not suffering at all.”
The research chief said, “We at last managed, Mr. Friendly, to track down a former Hollywood special-effects man, a Mr. Wade Cortot, who flatly states, from his years of experience, that the figure of ‘Mercer’ could well be merely some bit player marching across a sound stage. Cortot has gone so far as to declare that he recognizes the stage as one used by a now out-of-business minor moviemaker with whom Cortot had various dealings several decades ago.”
“So according to Cortot,” Buster Friendly said, “there can be virtually no doubt.”
Pris had now cut three legs from the spider, which crept about miserably on the kitchen table, seeking a way out, a path to freedom. It found none.
Philip K. Dick (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?)
Jack coughed slightly and offered his hand. “Hi, uh. I’m Jack.”
Kim took it. “Jack what?”
“Your last name, silly.”
She blinked at him. “Your name is Jack Jackson?”
He blushed. “No, uh, my first name’s Rhett, but I hate it, so…”
He gestured to the chair and she sat. Her dress rode up several inches, exposing pleasing long lines of creamy skin. “Well, Jack, what’s your field of study?”
“Biological Engineering, Genetics, and Microbiology. Post-doc. I’m working on a research project at the institute.”
“Really? Oh, uh, my apple martini’s getting a little low.”
“I’ve got that, one second.” He scurried to the bar and bought her a fresh one. She sipped and managed to make it look not only seductive but graceful as well.
“What do you want to do after you’re done with the project?” Kim continued.
“Depends on what I find.”
She sent him a simmering smile. “What are you looking for?”
Immediately, Jack’s eyes lit up and his posture straightened. “I started the project with the intention of learning how to increase the reproduction of certain endangered species. I had interest in the idea of cloning, but it proved too difficult based on the research I compiled, so I went into animal genetics and cellular biology. It turns out the animals with the best potential to combine genes were reptiles because their ability to lay eggs was a smoother transition into combining the cells to create a new species, or one with a similar ancestry that could hopefully lead to rebuilding extinct animals via surrogate birth or in-vitro fertilization. We’re on the edge of breaking that code, and if we do, it would mean that we could engineer all kinds of life and reverse what damage we’ve done to the planet’s ecosystem.”
Kim stared. “Right. Would you excuse me for a second?”
She wiggled off back to her pack of friends by the bar. Judging by the sniggering and the disgusted glances he was getting, she wasn’t coming back.
Jack sighed and finished off his beer, massaging his forehead. “Yes, brilliant move. You blinded her with science. Genius, Jack.”
He ordered a second one and finished it before he felt smallish hands on his shoulders and a pair of soft lips on his cheek. He turned to find Kamala had returned, her smile unnaturally bright in the black lights glowing over the room. “So…how did it go with Kim?”
He shot her a flat look. “You notice the chair is empty.”
Kamala groaned. “You talked about the research project, didn’t you?”
“No!” She glared at him.
“You’re so useless, Jack.” She paused and then tousled his hair a bit. “Cheer up. The night’s still young. I’m not giving up on you.”
He smiled in spite of himself. “Yet.”
Her brown eyes flashed. “Never.
Kyoko M. (Of Cinder and Bone)
She closed in and sat down. Combing road-dust out of her hair. Thinking. The day of the gun, and the bloody body, and the courthouse came and commenced to sing a sobbing sigh out of every corner in the room; out of each and every chair and thing. Commenced to sing, commenced to sob and sigh, singing and sobbing. Then Tea Cake came prancing around her where she was and the song of the sigh flew out of the window and lit in the top of the pine trees. Tea Cake, with the sun for a shawl. Of course he wasn’t dead. He could never be dead until she herself had finished feeling and thinking. The kiss of his memory made pictures of love and light against the wall. Here was peace. She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see. Afterword Zora Neale Hurston: “A Negro Way of Saying
Zora Neale Hurston (Their Eyes Were Watching God)
It's just that when a woman is kidnapped and forced into agreeing to marriage, she hopes for a bit more... excitement. Than this."
He rolled slowly- maddeningly- to face her, the air between them thickened, and Penelope was instantly aware of their position, scant inches apart, on a warm pallet in a small room in an empty house, beneath the same blanket- which happened to be his greatcoat. And she realized that perhaps she should not have implied that the evening was unexciting.
Because she was not at all certain that she was prepared for it to become any more exciting. "I didn't mean-" She rushed to correct herself.
"Oh, I think you did an excellent job of meaning." The words were low and dark, and suddenly she was not so very sure that she wasn't afraid after all. "I am not stimulating enough for you?"
"Not you..." she was quick to reply. "The whole..." She waved one hand, lifting the greatcoat as she thought better of finishing. "Never mind."
His gaze was on her, intent and unmoving and, while he had not moved, it seemed as though he had grown larger, more looming. As though he had sucked a great deal of air from the room. "How can I make this night more satisfying for you, my lady?"
The soft question sent a thrum of feeling through her... the way the word- satisfying- rolled languid from his tongue set her heart racing and her stomach turning.
It seemed the night was becoming very exciting very quickly.
And everything was moving much too quickly for Penelope's tastes. "No need," she said, at an alarmingly high pitch. "It's fine."
"Fine?" The word rolled lazily from his tongue.
"Quite thrilling." She nodded, bringing one hand to her mouth to feign a yawn. "So thrilling, in fact, that I find myself unbearably exhausted." She made to turn her back to him. "I shall bid you good night."
"I don't think so," he said, the soft words as loud as a gunshot in the tiny space between them.
Sarah MacLean (A Rogue by Any Other Name (The Rules of Scoundrels, #1))
Or when you keep a sex-addiction meeting under surveillance because they’re the best places to pick up chicks.” Serge looked around the room at suspicious eyes. “Okay, maybe that last one’s just me. But you should try it. They keep the men’s and women’s meetings separate for obvious reasons. And there are so many more opportunities today because the whole country’s wallowing in this whiny new sex-rehab craze after some golfer diddled every pancake waitress on the seaboard. That’s not a disease; that’s cheating. He should have been sent to confession or marriage counseling after his wife finished chasing him around Orlando with a pitching wedge. But today, the nation is into humiliation, tearing down a lifetime of achievement by labeling some guy a damaged little dick weasel. The upside is the meetings. So what you do is wait on the sidewalk for the women to get out, pretending like you’re loitering. And because of the nature of the sessions they just left, there’s no need for idle chatter or lame pickup lines. You get right to business: ‘What’s your hang-up?’ And she answers, and you say, ‘What a coincidence. Me, too.’ Then, hang on to your hat! It’s like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. Most people are aware of the obvious, like foot fetish or leather. But there are more than five hundred lesser-known but clinically documented paraphilia that make no sexual sense. Those are my favorites . . .” Serge began counting off on his fingers. “This one woman had Ursusagalmatophilia, which meant she got off on teddy bears—that was easily my weirdest three-way. And nasophilia, which meant she was completely into my nose, and she phoned a friend with mucophilia, which is mucus. The details on that one are a little disgusting. And formicophilia, which is being crawled on by insects, so the babe bought an ant farm. And symphorophilia—that’s staging car accidents, which means you have to time the air bags perfectly
Tim Dorsey (Pineapple Grenade (Serge Storms #15))
On the third day after all hell broke loose, I come upstairs to the apartment, finished with my shift and so looking forward to a hot shower. Well, lukewarm—but I’ll pretend it’s hot.
But when I pass Ellie’s room, I hear cursing—Linda Blair-Exorcist-head-spinning-around kind of cursing. I push open her door and spot my sister at her little desk, yelling at her laptop.
Even Bosco barks from the bed.
“What’s going on?” I ask. “I just came up but Marty’s down there on his own—he won’t last longer than ten minutes.”
“I know, I know.” She waves her hand. “I’m in a flame war with a toxic bitch on Twitter. Let me just huff and puff and burn her motherfucking house down…and then I’ll go sell some coffee.”
“What happened?” I ask sarcastically. “Did she insult your makeup video?”
Ellie sighs, long and tortured. “That’s Instagram, Liv—I seriously think you were born in the wrong century. And anyway, she didn’t insult me—she insulted you.”
Her words pour over me like the ice-bucket challenge.
“Me? I have like two followers on Twitter.”
Ellie finishes typing. “Boo-ya. Take that, skank-a-licious!” Then she turns slowly my way. “You haven’t been online lately, have you?”
This isn’t going to end well, I know it. My stomach knows it too—it whines and grumbles.
Ellie nods and stands, gesturing to her computer. “You might want to check it out. Or not—ignorance is bliss, after all. If you do decide to take a peek, you might want to have some grain alcohol nearby.”
Then she pats my shoulder and heads downstairs, her blond ponytail swaying behind her.
I glance at the screen and my breath comes in quick, semi-panicked bursts and my blood rushes like a runaway train in my veins. I’ve never been in a fight, not in my whole life. The closest I came was sophomore year in high school, when Kimberly Willis told everyone she was going to kick the crap out of me. So I told my gym teacher, Coach Brewster—a giant lumberjack of a man—that I got my period unexpectedly and had to go home. He spent the rest of the school year avoiding eye contact with me. But it worked—by the next day, Kimberly found out Tara Hoffman was the one talking shit about her and kicked the crap out of her instead
Emma Chase (Royally Screwed (Royally, #1))
How did you find me?"
"I've followed you for a long time." He must have mistaken the look on my face for alarm or fear, and said, "Not literally. I just mean I never lost track."
But it wasn't fear, or anything like that. It was an instant of realization I'd have a lot in the coming days: I'd been thinking of him as coming back from the dead, but the fact was he'd been there all along. He'd been alive when I cried in my room over him being gone. He'd been alive when I started a new school without him, the day I made my first friend a Jones Hall, the time I ran into Ethan at the library. Cameron Quick and I had existed simultaneously on the planet during all of those moments. It didn't seem possible that we could have been leading separate lives, not after everything we'd been through together.
"...then I looked you up online," he was saying, "and found your mom's wedding announcement from before you changed your name. I didn't even need to do that. It's easy to find someone you never lost."
I struggled to understand what he was saying. "You mean...you could have written to me, or seen me, sooner?"
"I wanted to. Almost did, a bunch of times."
"Why didn't you? I wish you had." And I did, I wished it so much, imagined how it would have been to know all those years that he was there, thinking of me.
"Things seemed different for you," he said, matter-of-fact. "Better. I could tell that from the bits of information I found...like an interview with the parents who were putting their kids in your school when it first started. Or an article about that essay contest you won a couple years ago."
"You knew about that?"
He nodded. "That one had a picture. I could see just from looking at you that you had a good thing going. Didn't need me coming along and messing it up."
"Don't say that," I said quickly. Then: "You were never part of what I wanted to forget."
"Nice of you to say, but I know it's not true."
I knew what he was thinking, could see that he'd been carrying around the same burden all those years as me.
"You didn't do anything wrong." It was getting cold on the porch, and late, and the looming topic scared me. I got up. "Let's go in. I can make coffee or hot chocolate or something?"
"I have to go."
"No! Already?" I didn't want to let him out of my sight.
"Don't worry," he said. "Just have to go to work. I'll be around."
"Give me your number. I'll call you."
"I don't have a phone right now."
"Find me at school," I said, "or anytime. Eat lunch with us tomorrow." He didn't answer. "Really," I continued, "you should meet my friends and stuff."
"You have a boyfriend," he finally said. "I saw you guys holding hands."
I nodded. "Ethan."
"For how long?"
"Three months, almost." I couldn't picture Cameron Quick dating anyone, though he must have at some point. If I'd found Ethan, I was sure Cameron had some Ashley or Becca or Caitlin along the way. I didn't ask. "He's nice," I added. "He's..." I don't know what I'd planned to say, but whatever it was it seemed insignificant so I finished that sentence with a shrug.
"You lost your lisp."
And about twenty-five pounds, I thought. "I guess speech therapy worked for both of us."
He smiled. "I always liked that, you know. Your lisp. It was...you." He started down the porch steps. "See you tomorrow, okay?"
"Yeah," I said, unable to take my eyes off of him. "Tomorrow.
Sara Zarr (Sweethearts)
Rachel came carefully downstairs one morning, in a dressing gown that wasn't quite clean, and stood at the brink of the living room as though preparing to make an announcement. She looked around at each member of the double household - at Evan, who was soberly opening the morning paper, at Phil, who'd been home from Costello's for hours but hadn't felt like sleeping yet, and at her mother, who was setting the table for breakfast - and then she came out with it.
"I love everybody," she said, stepping into the room with an uncertain smile. And her declaration might have had the generally soothing effect she'd intended if her mother hadn't picked it up and exploited it for all the sentimental weight it would bear.
"Oh Rachel," she cried, "What a sweet, lovely thing to say!" and she turned to address Evan and Phil as if both of them might be too crass or numbskulled to appreciate it by themselves. "Isn't that a wonderful thing for this girl to say, on a perfectly ordinary Friday morning? Rachel, I think you've put us all to shame for our petty bickering and our selfish little silences, and it's something I'll never forget. You really do have a marvelous wife, Evan, and I have a marvelous daughter. Oh, and Rachel, you can be sure that everybody in this house loves you, too, and we're all tremendously glad to have you feeling so well."
Rachel's embarrassment was now so intense that it seemed almost to prevent her from taking her place at the table; she tried two quick, apologetic looks at her husband and her brother, but they both missed the message in her eyes.
And Gloria wasn't yet quite finished. "I honestly believe that was a moment we'll remember all our lives," she said. "Little Rachel coming downstairs - or little big Rachel, rather - and saying 'I love everybody.' You know what I wish though Evan? I only wish your father could've been here this morning to share it with us."
But by then even Gloria seemed to sense that the thing had been carried far enough. As soon as she'd stopped talking the four of them took their breakfast in a hunched and businesslike silence, until Phil mumbled "Excuse me" and shoved back his chair.
"Where do you think you're going, young man?" Gloria inquired. "I don't think you'd better go anywhere until you finish up all of that egg.
Richard Yates (Cold Spring Harbor)
Normally, Bentner would have beamed approvingly at the pretty portrait the girls made, but this morning, as he put out butter and jam, he had grim news to impart and a confession to make. As he swept the cover off the scones he gave his news and made his confession.
“We had a guest last night,” he told Elizabeth. “I slammed the door on him.”
“Who was it?”
“A Mr. Ian Thornton.”
Elizabeth stifled a horrified chuckle at the image that called to mind, but before she could comment Bentner said fiercely, “I regretted my actions afterward! I should have invited him inside, offered him refreshment, and slipped some of that purgative powder into his drink. He’d have had a bellyache that lasted a month!”
“Bentner,” Alex sputtered, “you are a treasure!”
“Do not encourage him in these fantasies,” Elizabeth warned wryly. “Bentner is so addicted to mystery novels that he occasionally forgets that what one does in a novel cannot always be done in real life. He actually did a similar thing to my uncle last year.”
“Yes, and he didn’t return for six months,” Bentner told Alex proudly.
“And when he does come,” Elizabeth reminded him with a frown to sound severe, “he refuses to eat or drink anything.”
“Which is why he never stays long,” Bentner countered, undaunted. As was his habit whenever his mistress’s future was being discussed, as it was now, Bentner hung about to make suggestions as they occurred to him. Since Elizabeth had always seemed to appreciate his advice and assistance, he found nothing odd about a butler sitting down at the table and contributing to the conversation when the only guest was someone he’d known since she was a girl.
“It’s that odious Belhaven we have to rid you of first,” Alexandra said, returning to their earlier conversation. “He hung about last night, glowering at anyone who might have approached you.” She shuddered. “And the way he ogles you. It’s revolting. It’s worse than that; he’s almost frightening.”
Bentner heard that, and his elderly eyes grew thoughtful as he recalled something he’d read about in one of his novels. “As a solution it is a trifle extreme,” he said, “but as a last resort it could work.”
Two pairs of eyes turned to him with interest, and he continued, “I read it in The Nefarious Gentleman. We would have Aaron abduct this Belhaven in our carriage and bring him straightaway to the docks, where we’ll sell him to the press gangs.”
Shaking her head in amused affection, Elizabeth said, “I daresay he wouldn’t just meekly go along with Aaron.”
“And I don’t think,” Alex added, her smiling gaze meeting Elizabeth’s, “a press gang would take him. They’re not that desperate.”
“There’s always black magic,” Bentner continued. “In Deathly Endeavors there was a perpetrator of ancient rites who cast an evil spell. We would require some rats’ tails, as I recall, and tongues of-“
“No,” Elizabeth said with finality.
“-lizards,” Bentner finished determinedly.
“Absolutely not,” his mistress returned.
“And fresh toad old, but procuring that might be tricky. The novel didn’t say how to tell fresh from-“
“Bentner!” Elizabeth exclaimed, laughing. “You’ll cast us all into a swoon if you don’t desist at once.”
When Bentner had padded away to seek privacy for further contemplation of solutions, Elizabeth looked at Alex. “Rats’ tails and lizards’ tongues,” she said, chuckling. “No wonder Bentner insists on having a lighted candle in his room all night.”
“He must be afraid to close his eyes after reading such things,” Alex agreed.
Judith McNaught (Almost Heaven (Sequels, #3))
I have made it an observation since our absence, that we are much fonder of the pictures of those we love when they are at a great distance than when they are near us. It seems to me as if the farther they are removed their pictures grow the more finished, and acquire a greater resemblance; or at least our imagination, which perpetually figures them to us by the desire we have of seeing them again, makes us think so. By a peculiar power, love can make that seem life itself which, as soon as the loved object returns, is nothing but a little canvas and flat color. I have your picture in my room; I never pass it without stopping to look at it; and yet when you are present with me I scarce ever cast my eyes on it. If a picture, which is but a mute representation of an object, can give such pleasure, what cannot letters inspire? They have souls; they can speak; they have in them all that force which expresses the transports of the heart; they have all the fire of our passions, they can raise them as much as if the persons themselves were present; they have all the tenderness and the delicacy of speech, and sometimes even a boldness of expression beyond it.
Héloïse d'Argenteuil (The Letters of Abélard and Héloïse)
He couldn’t have known it, but among the original run of The History of Love, at least one copy was destined to change a life.
This particular book was one of the last of the two thousand to be printed, and sat for longer than the rest in a warehouse in the outskirts of Santiago, absorbing the humidity. From there it was finally sent to a bookstore in Buenos Aires. The careless owner hardly noticed it, and for some years it languished on the shelves, acquiring a pattern of mildew across the cover. It was a slim volume, and its position on the shelf wasn’t exactly prime: crowded on the left by an overweight biography of a minor actress, and on the right by the once-bestselling novel of an author that everyone had since forgotten, it hardly left its spine visible to even the most rigorous browser. When the store changed owners it fell victim to a massive clearance, and was trucked off to another warehouse, foul, dingy, crawling with daddy longlegs, where it remained in the dark and damp before finally being sent to a small secondhand bookstore not far from the home of the writer Jorge Luis Borges.
The owner took her time unpacking the books she’d bought cheaply and in bulk from the warehouse. One morning, going through the boxes, she discovered the mildewed copy of The History of Love. She’d never heard of it, but the title caught her eye. She put it aside, and during a slow hour in the shop she read the opening chapter, called 'The Age of Silence.'
The owner of the secondhand bookstore lowered the volume of the radio. She flipped to the back flap of the book to find out more about the author, but all it said was that Zvi Litvinoff had been born in Poland and moved to Chile in 1941, where he still lived today. There was no photograph. That day, in between helping customers, she finished the book. Before locking up the shop that evening, she placed it in the window, a little wistful about having to part with it.
The next morning, the first rays of the rising sun fell across the cover of The History of Love. The first of many flies alighted on its jacket. Its mildewed pages began to dry out in the heat as the blue-gray Persian cat who lorded over the shop brushed past it to lay claim to a pool of sunlight. A few hours later, the first of many passersby gave it a cursory glance as they went by the window.
The shop owner did not try to push the book on any of her customers. She knew that in the wrong hands such a book could easily be dismissed or, worse, go unread. Instead she let it sit where it was in the hope that the right reader might discover it.
And that’s what happened. One afternoon a tall young man saw the book in the window. He came into the shop, picked it up, read a few pages, and brought it to the register. When he spoke to the owner, she couldn’t place his accent. She asked where he was from, curious about the person who was taking the book away. Israel, he told her, explaining that he’d recently finished his time in the army and was traveling around South America for a few months. The owner was about to put the book in a bag, but the young man said he didn’t need one, and slipped it into his backpack. The door chimes were still tinkling as she watched him disappear, his sandals slapping against the hot, bright street.
That night, shirtless in his rented room, under a fan lazily pushing around the hot air, the young man opened the book and, in a flourish he had been fine-tuning for years, signed his name: David Singer.
Filled with restlessness and longing, he began to read.
She knew how to play him so very well.
He slipped his hand around hers. "Friends," he repeated roughly.
Her smile was bright enough to light up the room-and make him see stars. "Excellent! I'm so pleased. And now I really should go. I don't want to keep your family waiting."
His family. She was going out with his family. His mother and sister, who would no doubt think her absolutely perfect.
Perfect for Archer, who his mother was determined to see married, now that she had given up all hopes for Grey. Or perhaps they'd want her for Trystan, although he was still living the life of an adventurous young man.
"Have fun," he encouraged with all the false enthusiasm he could muster.
She flashed a quick grin at him over her shoulder as she made for the door. "I'm sure I will. Your brother will see to that."
As far as parting shots went, it wasn't bad. By no means mortal, but deep enough to wound never the less.
Alone once more, Grey returned to his chair and pulled the copy of Voluptuous out from underneath the cushion of the other. He stared at it for a moment, contemplating finishing the article on pleasing a woman orally.
And then, with a snarl, he flung the pages into the fire, watching ash and embers fly up in the assault. The paper caught quickly, giving off a sudden bloom of heat.
Women, he thought as he watched the magazine's mocking text blacken and char.
He would be much happier in his misery without them.
Kathryn Smith (When Seducing a Duke (Victorian Soap Opera, #1))
- You listen to me. I've just taken a lot from you. I've taken a lot from people just like you. Just like you. That's tough, isn't it, just like you, that this town is loaded with people just like you, the world is loaded with people just like you. The honest men who are too good to fit anywhere. You're one of the people, aren't you. Look at your hands, have you ever had a callus? You don't get them lifting glasses. Who are you, to be so bitter? Have you ever done one day of work?
And you talk to me about life, about real life, about human misery.
-I know you, I know you. You're the only serious person in the room aren't you, the only one who understands, and you can prove it by the fact that you've never finished a single thing in your life. You're the only well-educated person. You resent good manners, you resent success, you resent any kind of success, you resent God, you resent thousand-dollar bills, you resent happiness, you resent happiness itself, because none of that's real. What is real, then? Nothing's real to you that isn't part of your own past, real life, a swamp of failures, of social, sexual, financial, personal, . . . spiritual failure. Real life. You poor bastard. You don't know what real life is, you've never been near it. All you have a thousand intellectualized ideas about life. But life? Have you ever measured yourself against anything but your own lousy past? Have you ever faced anything outside yourself? Life! You poor bastard.
William Gaddis (The Recognitions)
more than anything.” He turned to Jean Louise. “Seven-thirty tonight and no Landing. We’ll go to the show.” “Okay. Where’re you all going?” “Courthouse. Meeting.” “On Sunday?” “Yep.” “That’s right, I keep forgetting all the politicking’s done on Sunday in these parts.” Atticus called for Henry to come on. “Bye, baby,” he said. Jean Louise followed him into the livingroom. When the front door slammed behind her father and Henry, she went to her father’s chair to tidy up the papers he had left on the floor beside it. She picked them up, arranged them in sectional order, and put them on the sofa in a neat pile. She crossed the room again to straighten the stack of books on his lamp table, and was doing so when a pamphlet the size of a business envelope caught her eye. On its cover was a drawing of an anthropophagous Negro; above the drawing was printed The Black Plague. Its author was somebody with several academic degrees after his name. She opened the pamphlet, sat down in her father’s chair, and began reading. When she had finished, she took the pamphlet by one of its corners, held it like she would hold a dead rat by the tail, and walked into the kitchen. She held the pamphlet in front of her aunt. “What is this thing?” she said. Alexandra looked over her glasses at it. “Something of your father’s.” Jean Louise stepped on the garbage can trigger and threw the pamphlet in. “Don’t do that,” said Alexandra. “They’re hard to come by these days.” Jean Louise opened her mouth, shut it, and opened it again. “Aunty, have you read that thing? Do you know what’s in it?” “Certainly.” If Alexandra had uttered an obscenity in her face, Jean Louise would have been less surprised. “You—Aunty, do you know the stuff in that thing makes Dr. Goebbels look like a naive little country boy?” “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Jean Louise. There are a lot of truths in that book.” “Yes indeedy,” said Jean Louise wryly. “I especially liked the part where the Negroes, bless their hearts, couldn’t help being inferior to the white race because their skulls are thicker and their brain-pans shallower—whatever that means—so we must all be very kind to them and not let them do anything to hurt themselves and keep them in their places. Good God, Aunty—” Alexandra was ramrod straight. “Well?” she said. Jean Louise said, “It’s just that I never knew you went in for salacious reading material, Aunty.” Her aunt was silent, and Jean Louise continued: “I was real impressed with the parable where since the dawn of history the rulers of the world have always been white, except Genghis Khan or somebody—the author was real fair about that—and he made a killin’ point about even the Pharaohs were white and their subjects were either black or Jews—” “That’s true, isn’t it?” “Sure, but what’s that got to do with the case?” When Jean Louise felt apprehensive, expectant, or on edge, especially when confronting her aunt, her brain clicked to the meter of Gilbertian tomfoolery. Three sprightly figures
Harper Lee (Go Set a Watchman)
What does it take to make you stop?”
Elizabeth flinched from the hatred in the voice she loved and drew a shaking breath, praying she could finish without starting to cry. “I’ve hurt you terribly, my love, and I’ll hurt you again during the next fifty years. And you are going to hurt me, Ian-never, I hope, as much as you are hurting me now. But if that’s the way it has to be, then I’ll endure it, because the only alternative is to live without you, and that is no life at all. The difference is that I know it, and you don’t-not yet.”
“Are you finished now?”
“Not quite,” she said, straightening at the sound of footsteps in the hall. “There’s one more thing,” she informed him, lifting her quivering chin. “I am not a Labrador retriever! You cannot put me out of your life, because I won’t stay.”
When she left, Ian stared at the empty room that had been alive with her presence but moments before, wondering what in hell she meant by her last comment. He glanced toward the door as Larimore walked in, then he nodded curtly toward the chairs in front of his desk, silently ordering the solicitor to sit down.
“I gathered from your message,” Larimore said quietly, opening his legal case, “that you now wish to proceed with the divorce?”
Ian hesitated a moment while Elizabeth’s heartbroken words whirled through his mind, juxtaposed with the lies and omissions that had begun on the night they met and continued right up to their last night together. He recalled the torment of the first weeks after she’d left him and compared it to the cold, blessed numbness that had now taken its place. He looked at the solicitor, who was waiting for his answer.
And he nodded.
Judith McNaught (Almost Heaven (Sequels, #3))
Bruno, this is my friend Pippa. Pippa, my cousin Bruno.”
Bruno. The in-with-the-wrong-crowd Bruno. Divinely and supernaturally gorgeous Bruno.
And he just winked at me. Not good.
He closes the distance between us in two long strides of his tight white pants and says “Piacere!”--which I remember from my phrase book means “pleased to meet you”--before taking ahold of my shoulders and kissing each of my cheeks. His lips are on my cheeks.
I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and want to die. It’s physically impossible for a face to be any redder.
I try to say “Piacere!” back but only a squeaky noise escapes my lips. I raise my shirt just enough to hide behind and fake a coughing fit, waving with the other hand for him to leave the room. He laughs and mutters something in Italian as he walks off. Chiara closes the door.
Way to make a great first impression on the sexy Italian.
“What did you say to him?” I ask when I’ve recovered the ability to speak.
“I told him that he should knock on doors that are closed. That you are American and do not lie on the beach with le tette out. You are private.”
“Le tette? What’s that?” My face pinks again. “My boobs?”
“Si.” She sprawls across the bottom bunk. “I think it is sweet. Leaves room for the imagination.”
“Um…thanks.” I finish getting dressed. “What did he say?”
She laughs. “He said, ‘She will one day.’”
My nose scrunches at the thought of baring it all on a beach towel in a foreign country, with Bruno and other guys who look like Bruno watching. I shudder. “Doubtful. There are some parts of me the sun just wasn’t meant to see.”
Chiara rolls to her side and looks at me. “So you have never been swimming without clothes on?”
“Skinny-dipping?” I smile as I stow my dirty clothes into my suitcase. “Well, the moon can handle those parts of me just fine.
Kristin Rae (Wish You Were Italian (If Only . . ., #2))
what I knew that morning in March 1977 as we settled around the conference table. I wasn’t even sure how these guys reached us, or how they’d arranged this meeting. “Okay, fellas,” I said, “what’ve you got?” It was a beautiful day, I remember. The light outside the room was a buttery pale yellow, and the sky was blue for the first time in months, so I was distracted, a little spring feverish, as Rudy leaned his weight on the edge of the conference table and smiled. “Mr. Knight, we’ve come up with a way to inject . . . air . . . into a running shoe.” I frowned and dropped my pencil. “Why?” I said. “For greater cushioning,” he said. “For greater support. For the ride of a lifetime.” I stared. “You’re kidding me, right?” I’d heard a lot of silliness from a lot of different people in the shoe business, but this. Oh. Brother. Rudy handed me a pair of soles that looked as if they’d been teleported from the twenty-second century. Big, clunky, they were clear thick plastic and inside were—bubbles? I turned them over. “Bubbles?” I said. “Pressurized air bags,” he said. I set down the soles and gave Rudy a closer look, a full head-to-toe. Six-three, lanky, with unruly dark hair, bottle-bottom glasses, a lopsided grin, and a severe vitamin D deficiency, I thought. Not enough sunshine. Or else a long-lost member of the Addams Family. He saw me appraising him, saw my skepticism, and wasn’t the least fazed. He walked to the blackboard, picked up a piece of chalk, and began writing numbers, symbols, equations. He explained at some length why an air shoe would work, why it would never go flat, why it was the Next Big Thing. When he finished I stared at the blackboard. As a trained accountant I’d spent a good part of my life looking at blackboards, but this Rudy fella’s scribbles were something else. Indecipherable.
Phil Knight (Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE)
So that is how we came to be standing in a sparse room, in a nondescript building in the barracks at SAS HQ--just a handful out of all those who had started out so many months earlier.
We shuffled around impatiently. We were ready.
Ready, finally, to get badged as SAS soldiers.
The colonel of the regiment walked in, dressed casually in lightweight camo trousers, shirt, beret, and blue SAS belt.
He smiled at us.
“Well done, lads. Hard work, isn’t it?”
We smiled back.
“You should be proud today. But remember: this is only the beginning. The real hard work starts now, when you return to your squadron. Many are called, few are chosen. Live up to that.” He paused.
“And from now on for the rest of your life remember this: you are part of the SAS family. You’ve earned that. And it is the finest family in the world. But what makes our work here extraordinary is that everyone here goes that little bit extra. When everyone else gives up, we give more. That is what sets us apart.”
It is a speech I have never forgotten.
I stood there, my boots worn, cracked, and muddy, my trousers ripped, and wearing a sweaty black T-shirt.
I felt prouder than I had ever felt in my life.
We all came to attention--no pomp and ceremony. We each shook the colonel’s hand and were handed the coveted SAS sandy beret.
Along the way, I had come to learn that it was never about the beret--it was about what it stood for: camaraderie, sweat, skill, humility, endurance, and character.
I molded the beret carefully onto my head as he finished down the line. Then he turned and said: “Welcome to the SAS. My door is always open if you need anything--that’s how things work around here. Now go and have a beer or two on me.”
Trucker and I had done it, together, against all the odds.
So that was SAS Selection. And as the colonel had said, really it was just the beginning.
Bear Grylls (Mud, Sweat and Tears)
Just what do you think you’re doing, Arin?”
He looked up at Sarsine, blearily rubbing his eyes. He had fallen asleep in a chair. It was full morning. “I couldn’t sleep in my old rooms. At least here, in Etta’s suite--”
“I’m not talking about your choice of bedchamber, though I can’t help but notice how conveniently close it is to the east wing.”
Arin winced. There was usually only one reason why a man kept a conquered woman prisoner after a battle. “This isn’t what it seems.”
“Oh, no? Too many people heard you call her a spoil of war.”
“It’s not true.”
Sarsine threw her hands up in the air. “Then why did you say it?”
“Because I couldn’t think of any other way to save her!”
Sarsine stood still. Then she leaned over him and shook his shoulder as if waking him from a nightmare. “You? Save a Valorian?”
Arin captured her hand. “Please listen to me.”
“I will when you say something I can understand.”
“I did your lessons for you, when we were children.”
“I told Anireh to shut up when she made fun of your nose. Do you remember? She pushed me down.”
“Your sister was too beautiful for her own good. But all this was long ago. What’s your point?”
Arin held both her hands now. “We share something, and probably not for very long. The Valorians will come. There will be a siege.” He groped for what to say. “By the gods, just listen.”
“Oh, Arin. Haven’t you learned? The gods won’t hear you.” She sighed. “But I will.”
He told her about the day he had been sold to Kestrel, and every day since. He held nothing back.
When he finished, Sarsine’s expression had changed. “You’re still a fool,” she said, but gently.
“I am,” he whispered.
“What do you plan to do with her?”
Arin tilted his head helplessly against the carved back of his father’s chair. “I don’t know.”
“She demanded to see a sick friend. Said you made her a promise.”
“Yes, but I can’t do it.”
“Kestrel hates me, but she still speaks to me. Once she sees Jess…she’ll never do that again.
Marie Rutkoski (The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1))
We do eventually get dressed and look for food, although we only make it to the dining room in time for lunch. Egeria accepts her ousting as Alpha Sinta without a hint of anger or regret. Clearly, it’s what she was expecting all along. Piers is away on a recruitment trip, but the rest of the family is here and overjoyed by our wedding announcement. Jocasta decrees that we have to go shopping, now, and Kaia bounces in her seat, beyond excited about any outing that will actually get her on the other side of the castle gate.
Shopping requires money, so I dig around in Griffin’s pocket under the table, letting my fingers wander enough for him to nearly choke on his stew. I find four gold coins and hold on to them. “You never pay me.”
He looks aghast. “I can’t pay you anymore.”
“We’re about to get married. No one’s going to confuse me with a prostitute.”
Kaia spits out a grape. It bounces across the table and then lands in her mother’s lap. Kaia slaps her hand over her mouth, her blue-gray eyes huge, and Nerissa gives her a quelling look. The look finishes on me, and I might have felt a little quelled myself if Carver hadn’t suddenly made a noise like a donkey, finally belting out the laugh he’d been holding back.
Anatole bangs his hand down on the table and bursts out laughing. He sounds like a donkey, too. It’s contagious, and the whole table erupts, snorting and braying until most of us are wiping tears from our eyes. I shake my head, grinning. I haven’t laughed like this in…well, ever.
Nerissa eventually gets up, comes over to me, and then kisses my cheek, something that would usually make me squirm. Today, it somehow feels normal. “I always wanted to have four daughters.” She squeezes my shoulder. “Now I do.”
I keep smiling like a loon even though my throat suddenly feels thick, and heat stings the backs of my eyes. I have a family that loves me. I would protect them with my life.
Well, maybe not Piers, but I have a feeling he would return the sentiment
Amanda Bouchet (Breath of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles, #2))
Dom, are you out here?” called a voice from somewhere beyond the stables.
Damn it all. It was Tristan.
Swiftly Dom donned his shirt. “Be quiet,” he whispered to Jane, “and he’ll go away.”
Tristan’s voice sounded again, even nearer now. “I swear to God, Dom, if you ride off to London in the dark and make a liar out of me before Ravenswood, I will kick you from here to France!”
“He won’t go away,” Jane whispered back, a hint of desperation in her voice. “He promised Ravenswood that you wouldn’t head for London with broken carriage lamps, and now he’ll want to make sure that you don’t.”
Which meant his arse of a brother wasn’t going to stop looking for him. Any minute now, he’d be striding into the harness room.
Then Jane would have to marry Dom.
As soon as the thought entered Dom’s head, it apparently occurred to her, too, for she paled and stepped near enough to whisper, “Please. Not like this.”
He stared at her ashen face, and his stomach sank. He couldn’t force her to wed him. After what had happened between them years ago, she would never forgive him for taking her choice away from her yet again.
Besides, he didn’t want to force her into anything. The only way he could prove that he didn’t intend to run roughshod over her for the rest of their lives was to walk away now. Even if it killed him.
Bloody hell. “I’ll draw Tristan away from the stables,” Dom said tersely as he shoved his stocking feet into his boots. “That will give you a chance to finish dressing and sneak back into the house.”
Relief spreading over her face, she bobbed her head.
He buttoned up his shirt. “It will also give you a chance to decide what you want.” Gathering up his coat, waistcoat, and cravat, he added in a low murmur, “But know this, Jane. I am not, nor ever intend to be, a man like your father. Somewhere inside of you, you must…” He winced. “You surely do know it.”
He waited long enough to see uncertainty flicker in her eyes. Then he strode out of the harness room and closed the door behind him.
Sabrina Jeffries (If the Viscount Falls (The Duke's Men, #4))
As I sat down to dinner in the dining room in my accustomed place, with Maxim at the head of the table, I pictured Rebecca sitting in where I sat now, picking up her fork for the fish, and then the telephone ringing and Frith coming into the room and saying “Mr. Favell on the phone, Madam, wishing to speak to you,” and Rebecca would get up from her chair with a quick glance at Maxim, who would not say anything, who would go on eating his fish. And when she came back, having finished her conversation, and sat down in her place again, Rebecca would begin talking about something different, in a gay, careless way, to cover up the little cloud between them. At first Maxim would be glum, answering in monosyllables, but little by little she would win his humor back again, telling him some story of her day, about someone she had seen in Kerrith, and when they had finished the next course he would be laughing again, looking at her and smiling, putting out his hand to her across the table. “What the devil are you thinking about?” said Maxim. I started, the color flooding my face, for in that brief moment, sixty seconds in time perhaps, I had so identified myself with Rebecca that my own dull self did not exist, had never come to Manderley. I had gone back in thought and in person to the days that were gone. “Do you know you were going through the most extraordinary antics instead of eating your fish?” said Maxim. “First you listened, as though you heard the telephone, and then your lips moved, and you threw half a glance at me. And you shook your head, and smiled, and shrugged your shoulders. All in about a second. Are you practicing your appearance for the fancy dress ball?” He looked across at me, laughing, and I wondered what he would say if he really knew my thoughts, my heart, and my mind, and that for one second he had been the Maxim of another year, and I had been Rebecca. “You look like a little criminal,” he said, “what is it?” “Nothing,” I said quickly, “I wasn’t doing anything.” “Tell me what you were thinking?
Daphne du Maurier (Rebecca)
Although thrilled that the era of the personal computer had arrived, he was afraid that he was going to miss the party. Slapping down seventy-five cents, he grabbed the issue and trotted through the slushy snow to the Harvard dorm room of Bill Gates, his high school buddy and fellow computer fanatic from Seattle, who had convinced him to drop out of college and move to Cambridge. “Hey, this thing is happening without us,” Allen declared. Gates began to rock back and forth, as he often did during moments of intensity. When he finished the article, he realized that Allen was right. For the next eight weeks, the two of them embarked on a frenzy of code writing that would change the nature of the computer business.1 Unlike the computer pioneers before him, Gates, who was born in 1955, had not grown up caring much about the hardware. He had never gotten his thrills by building Heathkit radios or soldering circuit boards. A high school physics teacher, annoyed by the arrogance Gates sometimes displayed while jockeying at the school’s timesharing terminal, had once assigned him the project of assembling a Radio Shack electronics kit. When Gates finally turned it in, the teacher recalled, “solder was dripping all over the back” and it didn’t work.2 For Gates, the magic of computers was not in their hardware circuits but in their software code. “We’re not hardware gurus, Paul,” he repeatedly pronounced whenever Allen proposed building a machine. “What we know is software.” Even his slightly older friend Allen, who had built shortwave radios, knew that the future belonged to the coders. “Hardware,” he admitted, “was not our area of expertise.”3 What Gates and Allen set out to do on that December day in 1974 when they first saw the Popular Electronics cover was to create the software for personal computers. More than that, they wanted to shift the balance in the emerging industry so that the hardware would become an interchangeable commodity, while those who created the operating system and application software would capture most of the profits.
Walter Isaacson (The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution)
Rather, I found through this experience that there is significant similarity between meditating under a waterfall and tidying. When you stand under a waterfall, the only audible sound is the roar of water. As the cascade pummels your body, the sensation of pain soon disappears and numbness spreads. Then a sensation of heat warms you from the inside out, and you enter a meditative trance. Although I had never tried this form of meditation before, the sensation it generated seemed extremely familiar. It closely resembled what I experience when I am tidying. While not exactly a meditative state, there are times when I am cleaning that I can quietly commune with myself. The work of carefully considering each object I own to see whether it sparks joy inside me is like conversing with myself through the medium of my possessions. For this reason, it is essential to create a quiet space in which to evaluate the things in your life. Ideally, you should not even be listening to music. Sometimes I hear of methods that recommend tidying in time to a catchy song, but personally, I don’t encourage this. I feel that noise makes it harder to hear the internal dialogue between the owner and his or her belongings. Listening to the TV is, of course, out of the question. If you need some background noise to relax, choose environmental or ambient music with no lyrics or well-defined melodies. If you want to add momentum to your tidying work, tap the power of the atmosphere in your room rather than relying on music. The best time to start is early morning. The fresh morning air keeps your mind clear and your power of discernment sharp. For this reason, most of my lessons commence in the morning. The earliest lesson I ever conducted began at six thirty, and we were able to clean at twice the usual speed. The clear, refreshed feeling gained after standing under a waterfall can be addictive. Similarly, when you finish putting your space in order, you will be overcome with the urge to do it again. And, unlike waterfall meditation, you don’t have to travel long distances over hard terrain to get there. You can enjoy the same effect in your own home. That’s pretty special, don’t you think?
Marie Kondō (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (Magic Cleaning #1))
I missed my workout this morning, so I vault up the stairs to my flat. Breakfast has taken longer than intended, and I'm expecting Oliver at any minute. Part of me also hopes that Alessia will still be there. As I approach my front door, I hear music coming from the flat.
Music? What's going on?
I slide my key into the lock and cautiously open the door. It's Bach, one of his preludes in G Major. Perhaps Alessia is playing music through my computer. But how can she? She doesn't know the password. Does she? Maybe she's playing her phone through the sound system, though from the look of her tatty anorak she doesn't strike me as someone who has a smartphone. I've never seen her with one. The music rings through my flat, lighting up its darkest corners. Who knew that my daily likes classical?
This is a tiny piece of the Alessia Demachi puzzle. Quickly I close the door, but as I stand in the hallway, it becomes apparent that the music is not coming from the sound system. It's from my piano. Bach. Fluid and light, played with a deftness and understanding I've only heard from concert-standard performers.
I've never managed to make my piano sing like this. Taking off my shoes, I creep down the hallway and peer around the door into the drawing room. She is seated at the piano in her housecoat and scarf, swaying a little, completely lost in the music, her eyes closed in concentration as her hands move with graceful dexterity across the keys. The music flows through her, echoing off the walls and ceiling in a flawless performance worthy of any concert pianist. I watch her in awe as she plays, her head bowed.
She is brilliant.
In every way.
And I'm completely spellbound.
She finishes the prelude, and I step back into the hall, flattening myself against the wall in case she looks up, not daring to breath. However, without missing a beat she goes straight into the fugue. I lean against the wall and close my eyes, marveling at her artistry and the feeling that she puts into each phrase. I'm carried away by the music, and as I listen, I realize that she wasn't reading the music. She's playing from memory.
Good God. She's a fucking virtuoso.
And I remember her intense focus when she examined my score while she was dusting the piano. Clearly she was reading the music.
Shit. She plays at this standard and she was reading my composition? The fugue ends, and seamlessly she launches into another piece. Again Bach, Prelude in C-sharp Major, I think.
Tom carried with him a glass full of wine, which clearly hadn’t been his first of the evening. He swaggered and swayed as he started to speak, and his eyes, while not quite at half mast, were certainly well on their way.
“In my mind,” Tom began, “this is what love is all about.”
Sounded good. A little slurred, but it was nice and simple.
“And…and…and in my mind,” Tom continued, “in my mind, I know this is all about…this is all love here.”
Oh dear. Oh no.
“And all I can say is that in my mind,” he went on, “it’s just so great to know that true love is possible right now in this time.”
Crickets. Tap-tap. Is this thing on?
“I’ve known this guy for a long, long time,” he resumed, pointing to Marlboro Man, who was sitting and listening respectfully. “And…in my mind, all I have to say is that’s a long…long time.”
Tom was dead serious. This was not a joke toast. This was not a ribbing toast. This was what was “in his mind.” He made that clear over and over.
“I just want to finish by saying…that in my mind, love is…love is…everything,” he continued.
People around the room began to snicker. At the large table where Marlboro Man and I sat with our friends, people began to crack up.
Everyone except Marlboro Man. Instead of snickering and laughing at his friend--whom he’d known since they were boys and who, he knew, had recently gone through a rough couple of years--Marlboro Man quietly motioned to everyone at our table with a tactful “Shhhh,” followed by a quietly whispered “Don’t laugh at him.”
Then Marlboro Man did what I should have known he’d do. He stood up, walked up to his friend, who was rapidly entering into embarrassing territory…and gave him a friendly handshake, patting him on the shoulder. And the dinner crowd, rather than bursting into the uproarious laughter that had been imminent moments before, clapped instead.
I watched the man I was about to marry, who’d always demonstrated a tenderness and compassion for people--whether in movies or in real life--who were subject to being teased or ridiculed. He’d never shown a spot of discomfort in front of my handicapped brother Mike, for all the times Mike had sat on his lap or begged him for rides to the mall. He’d never mocked or ridiculed another person as long as I’d known him. And while his good friend Tom wasn’t exactly developmentally disabled, he’d just gotten perilously close to being voted Class Clown by a room full of people at our rehearsal dinner. But Marlboro Man had swept in and ensured that didn’t happen. My heart swelled with emotion.
Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels)
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.”
“Finish your tea,” he said. “Before we find our way to a more comfortable conveyance, I am very much afraid we’re both in for a distasteful interlude.
Sherwood Smith (Crown Duel (Crown & Court, #1))
The name is somewhat familiar, but I can’t recall a face to go with it.”
Obviously disappointed in her reaction, her uncle said irritably, “You apparently have a poor memory. If you can’t recall a knight or an earl,” he added sarcastically, “I doubt you’ll remember a mere mister.”
Stung by his unprovoked remark, she said stiffly, “Who is the third?”
“Mr. Ian Thornton. He’s-“
That name sent Elizabeth jolting to her feet while a blaze of animosity and a sock of terror erupted through her entire body. “Ian Thornton!” she cried, leaning her palms on the desk to steady herself. “Ian Thornton!” she repeated, her voice rising with a mixture of anger and hysterical laughter. “Uncle, if Ian Thornton discussed marrying me, it was at the point of Robert’s gun! His interest in me was never marriage, and Robert dueled with him over his behavior. In fact, Robert shot him!”
Instead of relenting or being upset, her uncle merely regarded her with blank indifference, and Elizabeth said fiercely, “Don’t you understand?”
“What I understand,” he said, glowering, “is that he replied to my message in the affirmative and was very cordial. Perhaps he regrets his earlier behavior and wishes to make amends.”
“Amends!” she cried. “I’ve no idea whether he feels loathing for me or merely contempt, but I can assure you he does not and has never wished to wed me! He’s the reason I can’t show my face in society!”
“In my opinion, you’re better off away from that decadent London influence; however, that’s not to the point. He has accepted my terms.”
Inured to Elizabeth’s quaking alarm, Julius stated matter-of-factly, “Each of the three candidates has agreed that you will come to visit him briefly in order to allow you to decide if you suit. Lucinda will accompany you as chaperon. You’re to leave in five days. Belhaven is first, then Marchman, then Thornton.”
The room swam before Elizabeth’s eyes. “I can’t believe this!” she burst out, and in her misery she seized on the least of her problems. “Lucinda has taken her first holiday in years! She’s in Devon visiting her sister.”
“Then take Berta instead and have Lucinda join you later when you go to visit Thornton in Scotland.”
“Berta! Berta is a maid. My reputation will be in shreds if I spend a week in the home of a man with no one but a maid for a chaperon.”
“Then don’t say she’s a maid,” he snapped. “Since I already referred to Lucinda Throckmorton-Jones as your chaperon in my letters, you can say that Berta is your aunt No more objections, miss,” he finished, “the matter is settled. That will be all for now. You may go.”
“It’s not settled! There’s been some sort of horrible mistake, I tell you. Ian Thornton would never want to see me, any more than I wish to see him!”
“There’s no mistake,” Julius said with completely finality. “Ian Thornton received my letter and accepted our offer. He even sent directions to his place in Scotland.”
“Your offer,” Elizabeth cried, “not mine!”
“I’ll not debate technicalities any further with you, Elizabeth. This discussion is at an end.
Judith McNaught (Almost Heaven (Sequels, #3))
I stopped struggling, going limp in his arms. He reached around us and shoved the door closed, spinning around and facing us toward the kitchen.
“I was trying to make you breakfast.”
It took a moment for his words and their meaning to sink in. I stared dumbfounded across the room and past the island. There was smoke billowing up from the stove and the window above the sink was wide open.
Bowls and spoons littered the island and there was a carton of eggs sitting out.
He was trying to cook.
He was really bad at it.
I started to laugh.
The kind of laugh that shook my shoulders and bubbled up hysterically. My heart rate was still out of control, and I took in a few breaths between laughs to try and calm it down.
He said something, but I couldn’t hear him because the fire alarm was still going off. I had no doubt half the neighborhood was now awake from the sound. He didn’t bother to put me down, instead hauling me along with him, where he finally set me down, dragged a chair over near the alarm, and climbed up to remove the battery.
The noise cut off and the kitchen fell silent.
“Well, shit,” he said, staring at the battery in his hand.
A giggle escaped me. “Does this always happen when you cook?”
He shrugged. “The only time I ever cook is when it’s my turn at the station.” His forehead creased and a thoughtful look came over his face. “The guys are never around when it’s my night to cook. Now I know why.” He snagged a towel off the counter and began waving away the rest of the lingering smoke.
I clicked on the vent fan above the stove. There was a pan with half a melted spatula, something that may or may not have once been eggs, and a muffin tin with half-burned, half-raw muffins (how was that even possible?).
“Well, this looks…” My words faltered, trying to come up with something positive to say.
“Completely inedible?” he finished.
I grinned. “You did all this for me?”
“I figured after a week of hospital food, you might like something good. Apparently you aren’t going to find that here.”
I had the urge to hug him. I kept my feet planted where they were. “Thank you. No one’s ever ruined a pan for me before.”
He grinned. “I have cereal. Even I can’t mess that up.”
I watched as he pulled down a bowl and poured me some, adding milk. He looked so cute when he handed me the bowl that I lifted the spoon and took a bite. “Best cereal I ever had.”
I carried it over to the counter and sat down. “After we eat, would you mind taking me to my car? I hope it’s still drivable.”
“What about the keys?”
“I have a security deposit box at the bank. I keep my spare there in case I ever need them.”
“I have a few good ideas now and then.”
“Contrary to the way it looks, I do too.”
“Thank you for trying to make me breakfast. And for the cereal.”
He walked over to the stove and picked up the ruined pan. “You died with honor,” he said, giving it a mock salute. And then he threw the entire thing into the trashcan.
I laughed. “You could have washed it, you know.”
He made a face. “No. Then I might be tempted to use it again.
Cambria Hebert (Torch (Take It Off, #1))
In a physician's office in Kearny Street three men sat about a table, drinking punch and smoking. It was late in the evening, almost midnight, indeed, and there had been no lack of punch. The gravest of the three, Dr. Helberson, was the host—it was in his rooms they sat. He was about thirty years of age; the others were even younger; all were physicians. "The superstitious awe with which the living regard the dead," said Dr. Helberson, "is hereditary and incurable. One needs no more be ashamed of it than of the fact that he inherits, for example, an incapacity for mathematics, or a tendency to lie." The others laughed. "Oughtn't a man to be ashamed to lie?" asked the youngest of the three, who was in fact a medical student not yet graduated. "My dear Harper, I said nothing about that. The tendency to lie is one thing; lying is another." "But do you think," said the third man, "that this superstitious feeling, this fear of the dead, reasonless as we know it to be, is universal? I am myself not conscious of it." "Oh, but it is 'in your system' for all that," replied Helberson; "it needs only the right conditions—what Shakespeare calls the 'confederate season'—to manifest itself in some very disagreeable way that will open your eyes. Physicians and soldiers are of course more nearly free from it than others." "Physicians and soldiers!—why don't you add hangmen and headsmen? Let us have in all the assassin classes." "No, my dear Mancher; the juries will not let the public executioners acquire sufficient familiarity with death to be altogether unmoved by it." Young Harper, who had been helping himself to a fresh cigar at the sideboard, resumed his seat. "What would you consider conditions under which any man of woman born would become insupportably conscious of his share of our common weakness in this regard?" he asked, rather verbosely. "Well, I should say that if a man were locked up all night with a corpse—alone—in a dark room—of a vacant house—with no bed covers to pull over his head—and lived through it without going altogether mad, he might justly boast himself not of woman born, nor yet, like Macduff, a product of Cæsarean section." "I thought you never would finish piling up conditions," said Harper, "but I know a man who is neither a physician nor a soldier who will accept them all, for any stake you like to name." "Who is he?" "His name is Jarette—a stranger here; comes from my town in New York. I have no money to back him, but he will back himself with loads of it." "How do you know that?" "He would rather bet than eat. As for fear—I dare say he thinks it some cutaneous disorder, or possibly a particular kind of religious heresy." "What does he look like?" Helberson was evidently becoming interested. "Like Mancher, here—might be his twin brother." "I accept the challenge," said Helberson, promptly. "Awfully obliged to you for the compliment, I'm sure," drawled Mancher, who was growing sleepy. "Can't I get into this?" "Not against me," Helberson said. "I don't want your money." "All right," said Mancher; "I'll be the corpse." The others laughed. The outcome of this crazy conversation we have seen.
Ambrose Bierce (The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce Volume 2: In the Midst of Life: Tales of Soldiers and Civilians)
I have an-odd ability-to read very quickly.”
“Oh,” Elizabeth replied, “how lucky you are. I never heard of a talent like that.”
A lazy glamorous smile swept across his face, and he squeezed her hand. “It’s not nearly as uncommon as your eyes,” he said.
Elizabeth thought it must be a great deal more uncommon, but she wasn’t completely certain and she let it pass. The following day, that discovery was completely eclipsed by another one. At Ian’s insistence, she’d spread the books from Havenhurst across his desk in order to go over the quarter’s accounts, and as the morning wore on, the long columns of figures she’d been adding and multiplying began to blur together and transpose themselves in her mind-due in part, she thought with a weary smile, to the fact that her husband had kept her awake half the night making love to her. For the third time, she added the same long columns of expenditures, and for the third time, she came up with a different sum. So frustrated was she that she didn’t realize Ian had come into the room, until he leaned over her from behind and put his hands on the desk on either side of her own. “Problems?” he asked, kissing the top of her head.
“Yes,” she said, glancing at the clock and realizing that the business acquaintances he was expecting would be there momentarily. As she explained her problem to him, she started shoving loose papers into the books, hurriedly trying to reassemble everything and clear his desk. “For the last forty-five minutes, I’ve been adding the same four columns, so that I could divide them by eighteen servants, multiply that by forty servants which we now have there, times four quarters. Once I know that, I can forecast the real cost of food and supplies with the increased staff. I’ve gotten three different answers to those miserable columns, and I haven’t even tried the rest of the calculations. Tomorrow I’ll have to start all over again,” she finished irritably, “and it takes forever just to get all this laid out and organized.” She reached out to close the book and shove her calculations into it, but Ian stopped her.
“Which columns are they?” he asked calmly, his surprised gaze studying the genuine ire on her face.
“Those long ones down the left-hand side. It doesn’t matter, I’ll fight it out tomorrow,” she said. She shoved the chair back, dropped two sheets of paper, and bent over to pick them up. They’d slid beneath the kneehole of the desk, and in growing disgust Elizabeth crawled underneath to get them. Above her, Ian said, “$364.”
“Pardon?” she asked when she reemerged, clutching the errant sheets of paper.
He was writing it down on a scrap of paper. “$364.”
“Do not make light of my wanting to know the figures,” she warned him with an exasperated smile. “Besides,” she continued, leaning up and pressing an apologetic kiss on his cheek, loving the tangy scent of his cologne, “I usually enjoy the bookwork. I’m simply a little short of sleep today, because,” she whispered, “my husband kept me awake half the night.”
“Elizabeth,” he began hesitantly, “there’s something I-“ Then he shook his head and changed his mind, and since Shipley was already standing in the doorway to announce the arrival of his business acquaintances, Elizabeth thought no more of it.
Until the next morning.
Judith McNaught (Almost Heaven (Sequels, #3))
Are you Hilary Westfield?” She sounded like she hoped it wasn’t the case. Hilary nodded. “Oh. Well, I’m Philomena. I have to show you to your room.” Hilary looked wildly at Miss Greyson. “I’m Miss Westfield’s governess,” Miss Greyson said, to Hilary’s relief. Maybe talking politely to people like Philomena was something you learned at Miss Pimm’s, or maybe getting past Philomena was a sort of entrance exam. “Is there any chance we could see Miss Pimm? We’re old acquaintances. I used to go to school here, you see.” Miss Greyson smiled for the second time that day—the world was getting stranger and stranger by the minute—but Philomena didn’t smile back. “I’m terribly sorry,” said Philomena, “but Miss Pimm doesn’t receive visitors. You can leave Miss Westfield with me, and the porter will collect Miss Westfield’s bags.” She raised her eyebrows as the carriage driver deposited the golden traveling trunk on the doorstep. “I hope you have another pair of stockings in there.” “I do.” Hilary met Philomena’s stare. “I have nineteen pairs, in fact. And a sword.” Miss Greyson groaned and put her hand to her forehead. “Excuse me?” said Philomena. “I’m afraid Miss Westfield is prone to fits of imagination,” Miss Greyson said quickly. Philomena’s eyebrows retreated. “I understand completely,” she said. “Well, you have nothing to worry about. Miss Pimm’s will cure her of that nasty habit soon enough. Now, Miss Westfield, please come along with me.” Hilary and Miss Greyson started to follow Philomena inside. “Only students and instructors are permitted inside the school building,” said Philomena to Miss Greyson. “With all the thefts breaking out in the kingdom these days, one really can’t be too careful. But you’re perfectly welcome to say your good-byes outside.” Miss Greyson agreed and knelt down in front of Hilary. “A sword?” she whispered. “I’m sorry, Miss Greyson.” “All I ask is that you take care not to carve up your classmates. If I were not a governess, however, I might mention that the lovely Philomena is in need of a haircut.” Hilary nearly laughed, but she suspected it might be against the rules to laugh on the grounds of Miss Pimm’s, so she gave Miss Greyson her most solemn nod instead. “Now,” said Miss Greyson, “you must promise to write. You must keep up with the news of the day and tell me all about it in your letters. And you’ll come and visit me in my bookshop at the end of the term, won’t you?” “Of course.” Hilary’s stomach was starting to feel very strange, and she didn’t trust herself to say more than a few words at a time. This couldn’t be right; pirates were hardly ever sentimental. Then again, neither was Miss Greyson. Yet here she was, leaning forward to hug Hilary, and Hilary found herself hugging Miss Greyson back. “Please don’t tell me to be a good little girl,” she said. Miss Greyson sniffed and stood up. “My dear,” she said, “I would never dream of it.” She gave Hilary’s canvas bag an affectionate pat, nodded politely to Philomena, and walked down the steps and through the gate, back to the waiting carriage. “Come along,” said Philomena, picking up the lightest of Hilary’s bags. “And please don’t dawdle. I have lessons to finish.” HILARY FOLLOWED PHILOMENA through a maze of dark stone walls and high archways. From the inside, the building seemed more like a fortress
Caroline Carlson (Magic Marks the Spot (The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates, #1))
At that moment Elizabeth would have said or done anything to reach him. She could not believe, actually could not comprehend that the tender, passionate man who had loved and teased her could be doing this to her-without listening to reason, without even giving her a chance to explain. Her eyes filled with tears of love and terror as she tried brokenly to tease him. “You’re going to look extremely silly, darling, if you claim desertion in court, because I’ll be standing right behind you claiming I’m more than willing to keep my vows.”
Ian tore his gaze from the love in her eyes. “If you aren’t out of this house in three minutes,” he warned icily, “I’ll change the grounds to adultery.”
“I have not committed adultery.”
“Maybe not, but you’ll have a hell of a time proving you haven’t done something. I’ve had some experience in that area. Now, for the last time, get out of my life. It’s over.” To prove it, he walked over and sat down at his desk, reaching behind him to pull the bell cord. “Bring Larimore in,” he instructed Dolton, who appeared almost instantly.
Elizabeth stiffened, thinking wildly for some way to reach him before he took irrevocable steps to banish her. Every fiber of her being believed he loved her. Surely, if one loved another deeply enough to be hurt like this…It hit her then, what he was doing and why, and she turned on him while the vicar’s story about Ian’s actions after his parents’ death seared her mind. She, however, was not a Labrador retriever who could be shoved away and out of his life.
Turning, she walked over to his desk, leaning her damp palms on it, waiting until he was forced to meet her gaze. Looking like a courageous, heartbroken angel, Elizabeth faced her adversary across his desk, her voice shaking with love. “Listen carefully to me, darling, because I’m giving you fair warning that I won’t let you do this to us. You gave me your love, and I will not let you take it away. The harder you try, the harder I’ll fight you. I’ll haunt your dreams at night, exactly the way you’ve haunted mine every night I was away from you. You’ll lie awake in bed at night, wanting me, and you’ll know I’m lying awake, wanting you. And when you cannot stand it anymore,” she promised achingly, “you’ll come back to me, and I’ll be there, waiting for you. I’ll cry in your arms, and I’ll tell you I’m sorry for everything I’ve done, and you’ll help me find a way to forgive myself-“
“Damn you!” he bit out, his face white with fury. “What does it take to make you stop?”
Elizabeth flinched from the hatred in the voice she loved and drew a shaking breath, praying she could finish without starting to cry. “I’ve hurt you terribly, my love, and I’ll hurt you again during the next fifty years. And you are going to hurt me, Ian-never, I hope, as much as you are hurting me now. But if that’s the way it has to be, then I’ll endure it, because the only alternative is to live without you, and that is no life at all. The difference is that I know it, and you don’t-not yet.”
“Are you finished now?”
“Not quite,” she said, straightening at the sound of footsteps in the hall. “There’s one more thing,” she informed him, lifting her quivering chin. “I am not a Labrador retriever! You cannot put me out of your life, because I won’t stay.”
When she left, Ian stared at the empty room that had been alive with her presence but moments before, wondering what in hell she meant by her last comment.
Judith McNaught (Almost Heaven (Sequels, #3))
Anything Bunny wrote was bound to be alarmingly original, since he began with such odd working materials and managed to alter them further by his befuddled scrutiny, but the John Donne paper must have been the worst of all the bad papers he ever wrote (ironic, given that it was the only thing he ever wrote that saw print. After he disappeared, a journalist asked for an excerpt from the missing young scholar's work and Marion gave him a copy of it, a laboriously edited paragraph of which eventually found its way into People magazine).
Somewhere, Bunny had heard that John Donne had been acquainted with Izaak Walton, and in some dim corridor of his mind this friendship grew larger and larger, until in his mind the two men were practically interchangeable. We never understood how this fatal connection had established itself: Henry blamed it on Men of Thought and Deed, but no one knew for sure. A week or two before the paper was due, he had started showing up in my room about two or three in the morning, looking as if he had just narrowly escaped some natural disaster, his tie askew and his eyes wild and rolling. 'Hello, hello,' he would say, stepping in, running both hands through his disordered hair. 'Hope I didn't wake you, don't mind if I cut on the lights, do you, ah, here we go, yes, yes…' He would turn on the lights and then pace back and forth for a while without taking off his coat, hands clasped behind his back, shaking his head. Finally he would stop dead in his tracks and say, with a desperate look in his eye: 'Metahemeralism.
Tell me about it. Everything you know. I gotta know something about metahemeralism.'
'I'm sorry. I don't know what that is.'
'I don't either,' Bunny would say brokenly. 'Got to do with art or pastoralism or something. That's how I gotta tie together John Donne and Izaak Walton, see.' He would resume pacing.
'Donne. Walton. Metahemeralism. That's the problem as I see it.'
'Bunny, I don't think "metahemeralism" is even a word.'
'Sure it is. Comes from the Latin. Has to do with irony and the pastoral. Yeah. That's it. Painting or sculpture or something, maybe.'
'Is it in the dictionary?'
'Dunno. Don't know how to spell it. I mean' – he made a picture frame with his hands – 'the poet and the fisherman. Parfait. Boon companions. Out in the open spaces. Living the good life. Metahemeralism's gotta be the glue here, see?'
And so it would go, for sometimes half an hour or more, with Bunny raving about fishing, and sonnets, and heaven knew what, until in the middle of his monologue he would be struck by a brilliant thought and bluster off as suddenly as he had descended.
He finished the paper four days before the deadline and ran around showing it to everyone before he turned it in.
'This is a nice paper, Bun -,' Charles said cautiously.
'But don't you think you ought to mention John Donne more often? Wasn't that your assignment?'
'Oh, Donne,' Bunny had said scoffingly. 'I don't want to drag him into this.'
Henry refused to read it. 'I'm sure it's over my head, Bunny, really,' he said, glancing over the first page. 'Say, what's wrong with this type?'
'Triple-spaced it,' said Bunny proudly.
'These lines are about an inch apart.'
'Looks kind of like free verse, doesn't it?'
Henry made a funny little snorting noise through his nose.
'Looks kind of like a menu,' he said.
All I remember about the paper was that it ended with the sentence 'And as we leave Donne and Walton on the shores of Metahemeralism, we wave a fond farewell to those famous chums of yore.' We wondered if he would fail.
Donna Tartt (The Secret History)
Before their chaise drew to a complete halt in front of the house a door was already being flung open, and a tall, stocky man was bouncing down the steps.
“It would appear that our greeting here is going to be far more enthusiastic than the one we received at our last stop,” Elizabeth said in a resolute voice that still shook with nerves as she drew on her gloves, bravely preparing to meet and defy the next obstacle to her happiness and independence.
The door of their chaise was wrenched open with enough force to pull it from its hinges, and a masculine face poked inside. “Lady Elizabeth!” boomed Lord Marchman, his face flushed with eagerness-or drink; Elizabeth wasn’t certain. “This is indeed a long-awaited surprise,” and then, as if dumbstruck by his inane remark, he shook his large head and hastily said, “A long-awaited pleasure, that is! The surprise is that you’ve arrived early.”
Elizabeth firmly repressed a surge of compassion for his obvious embarrassment, along with the thought that he might be rather likeable. “I hope we haven’t inconvenienced you overmuch,” she said.
“Not overmuch. That is,” he corrected, gazing into her wide eyes and feeling himself drowning, “not at all.”
Elizabeth smiled and introduced “Aunt Berta,” then allowed their exuberant host to escort them up the steps. Beside her Berta whispered with some satisfaction, “I think he’s as nervous as I am.”
The interior of the house seemed drab and rather gloomy after the sunny splendor outside. As their host led her forward Elizabeth glimpsed the furnishings in the salon and drawing room-all of which were upholstered in dark leathers that appeared to have once been maroon and brown. Lord Marchman, who was watching her closely and hopefully, glanced about and suddenly saw his home as she must be seeing it. Trying to explain away the inadequacies of his furnishings, he said hastily, “This home is in need of a woman’s touch. I’m an old bachelor, you see, as was my father.”
Berta’s eyes snapped to his face. “Well, I never!” she exclaimed in outraged reaction to his apparent admission of being a bastard.”
“I didn’t mean,” Lord Marchman hastily assured, “that my father was never married. I meant”-he paused to nervously tug on his neckcloth, as if trying to loosen it-“that my mother died when I was very young, and my father never remarried. We lived here together.”
At the juncture of two hallways and the stairs Lord Marchman turned and looked at Berta and Elizabeth. “Would you care for refreshment, or would you rather go straight to bed?”
Elizabeth wanted a rest, and she particularly wanted to spend as little time in his company as was possible. “The latter, if you please.”
“In that case,” he said with a sweeping gesture of his arm toward the staircase, “let’s go.”
Berta let out a gasp of indignant outrage at what she perceived to be a clear indication that he was no better than Sir Francis. “Now see here, milord! I’ve been putting her in bed for nigh onto two score, and I don’t need help from the likes of you!” And then, as if she realized her true station, she ruined the whole magnificent effect by curtsying and adding in a servile whisper, “if you don’t mind, sir.”
“Mind? No, I-“ It finally occurred to John Marchmen what she thought, and he colored up clear to the roots of his hair. “I-I only meant to show you how,” he began, and then he leaned his head back and briefly closed his eyes as if praying for deliverance from his own tongue. “How to find the way,” he finished with a gusty sigh of relief.
Elizabeth was secretly touched by his sincerity and his awkwardness, and were the situation less threatening, she would have gone out of her way to put him at his ease.
Judith McNaught (Almost Heaven (Sequels, #3))
Mike continued to walk unhurriedly toward the crowd until he loomed up in the stereo tank in life size, as if he were in the room with his water brothers. He stopped on the grass verge in front of the hotel, a few feet from the crowd. "You called me?"
He was answered with a growl.
The sky held scattered clouds; at that instant the sun came out from behind one and a shaft of golden light hit him.
His clothes vanished. He stood before them, a golden youth, clothed only in his own beauty, beauty that made Jubal's heart ache, thinking that Michelangelo in his ancient years would have climbed down from his high scaffolding to record it for generations unborn. Mike said gently, "Look at me. I am a son of man." . . . .
"God damn you!" A half brick caught Mike in the ribs. He turned his face slightly toward his assailant. "But you yourself are God. You can damn only yourself and you can never escape yourself."
"Blasphemer!" A rock caught him just over his left eye and blood welled forth.
Mike said calmly, "In fighting me, you fight yourself... for Thou art God and I am God * . . and all that groks is God-there is no other."
More rocks hit him, from various directions; he began to bleed in several places. "Hear the Truth. You need not hate, you need not fight, you need not fear. I offer you the water of life-" Suddenly his hand held a tumbler of water, sparkling in the sunlight. "-and you may share it whenever you so will . . . and walk in peace and love and happiness together."
A rock caught the glass and shattered it. Another struck him in the mouth.
Through bruised and bleeding lips he smiled at them, looking straight into the camera with an expression of yearning tenderness on his face. Some trick of sunlight and stereo formed a golden halo back of his head. "Oh my brothers, I love you so! Drink deep. Share and grow closer without end. Thou art God."
Jubal whispered it back to him. . . .
"Lynch him! Give the bastard a nigger necktie!" A heavy-gauge shotgun blasted at close range and Mike's right arm was struck off at the elbow and fell. It floated gently down, then came to rest on the cool grasses, its hand curved open in invitation.
"Give him the other barrel, Shortie-and aim closer!" The crowd laughed and applauded. A brick smashed Mike's nose and more rocks gave him a crown of blood. "The Truth is simple but the Way of Man is hard. First you must learn to control yourself. The rest follows. Blessed is he who knows himself and commands himself, for the world is his and love and happiness and peace walk with him wherever he goes." Another shotgun blast was followed by two more shots. One shot, a forty-five slug, hit
Mike over the heart, shattering the sixth rib near the sternum and making a large wound; the buckshot and the other slug sheered through his left tibia five inches below the patella and left the fibula sticking out at an angle, broken and white against the yellow and red of the wound. Mike staggered slightly and laughed, went on talking, his words clear and unhurried. "Thou art God. Know that and the Way is opened."
"God damn it-let's stop this taking the Name of the Lord in vain!"- "Come on, men! Let's finish him!" The mob surged forward, led by one bold with a club; they were on him with rocks and fists, and then with feet as he went down. He went on talking while they kicked his ribs in and smashed his golden body, broke his bones and tore an ear loose. At last someone called out, "Back away a little so we can get the gasoline on him!"
The mob opened up a little at that waning and the camera zoomed to pick up his face and shoulders. The Man from Mars smiled at his brothers, said once more, softly and clearly, "I love you." An incautious grasshopper came whirring to a landing on the grass a few inches from his face; Mike turned his head, looked at it as it stared back at him. "Thou art God," he said happily and discorporated.
Robert A. Heinlein
What I have been doing lately from my WIP "In Hiding" is available on my website. *Strong language warning*
Wayne sat in the hygienic emergency room trying to ignore the bitch of a headache that began radiating at the back of his skull. His worn jeans, a blood-stained t-shirt, and his makeshift bandage sat on a nearby chair. The hysteria created by his appearance in the small hospital ward had died down. A local cop greeted him as soon as he was escorted to the examination room. The conversation was brief, once he revealed he was a bail enforcer the topic changed from investigation to shooting the bull. The experienced officer shook his hand before leaving then joked he hoped this would be their only encounter.
The ER doc was a woman about his age. Already the years of long hours, rotating shifts and the rarity of a personal life showed on her face. Her eyelids were pink-rimmed, her complexion sallow; all were earmarks of the effect of long-term exhaustion. Wayne knew it all too well as he rubbed his knuckle against his own grainy eyes. Despite this, she attended to him with an upbeat demeanor and even slid in some ribbing at his expense. He was defenseless, once the adrenaline dropped off Wayne felt drained. He accepted her volleys without a response. All he mustered was a smile and occasional nod as she stitched him up.
Across the room, his cell toned, after the brief display of the number a woman’s image filled the screen.
Under his breath, he mumbled, “Shit.”
He intends for his exclamation to remain ignored, having caught it the doctor glanced his direction with a smile. Without invitation, she retrieved his phone handing it to him without comment. Wayne noted the raised eyebrow she failed to hide. The phone toned again as he glanced at the flat image on the device. The woman’s likeness was smiling brightly, her blue eyes dancing. Just looking at her eased the pain in his head.
He swiped the screen and connected the call as the doctor finished taping his injury. Using his free uninjured arm, he held the phone away from him slightly, utilizing the speaker option.
“What the hell, Wayne!”
Her voice filled the small area, in his peripheral vision he saw the doc smirk. Turning his head, he addressed the caller.
“Babe, I was getting ready to call.” The excuse sounded lame, even to him.
“Why the hell do I have to hear about this secondhand?”
Wayne placed the phone to his chest, loudly he exclaimed; “F***!”
The ER doc touched his arm, “I will give you privacy.”
Wayne gave her a grateful nod. With a snatch, she grabbed the corner of the thin curtain suspended from the ceiling and pulled it close. Alone again, he refocused on the call. The woman on the other end had continued in her tirade without him. When he rejoined the call mid-rant, she was issuing him a heartfelt ass-chewing.
“...bullshit Wayne that I have to hear about this from my cousin. We’ve talked about this!”
She interrupts him before he can explain himself. “So what the hell happened?”
Wisely he waited for silence to indicate it was his turn to speak.
“Lou, Honey first I am sorry. You know I never meant to upset you. I am alright; it is just a flesh wound.” As he speaks, a sharp pain radiates across his side. Gritting his teeth, Wayne vows to continue without having the radiating pain affect his voice. “I didn’t want you to worry Honey; you know calling Cooper first is just business.”
The woman miles away grits her teeth as she angrily brushes away her tears. Seated at the simple dining table, she takes a napkin from the center and dabs at her eyes. Mentally she reminds herself of her promise that she was done crying over this man. She takes an unsteady breath as she returns her attention to the call.
“Lou, you still there?”
There is something in his voice, the tender desperation he allows only her to see. Furrowing her brow she closes her eyes, an errant tear coursed down her cheek.
So how do you think scripts should be read? How can they be read? When I was trying to write the stage directions for publication—in those final few weeks of scramble before we opened—I got really worried about all this. I remember in rehearsals we’d delete chunks of the script because the actors were communicating something effortlessly with a look, so didn’t need the lines I’d written. This script was created for a particular group of actors, but others need to inhabit the roles too. The reader needs to visualize the characters, as does the director. When you’re reading a script for the first time, what are you looking for? JOHN: As a director, the first time you read a new script is very precious. It’s the closest you’re ever going to be to an audience watching a production of this script for the first time. Reading a finished script should allow us access to the story, its characters, and the themes the playwright is exploring. A script can make us laugh and cry. It can take us through the joy of its story and also make us feel deep despair for the suffering of its characters. A script builds towards a fully realized production and an experience that can be shared with the audience. As a playwright, how much of this full experience do you imagine when you are writing a script? Do you speak the characters’ lines out loud as you type them? JACK: I do worse than that, I move like them. Which, when you’re working in well-known coffee shops and sandwich retailers, can lead to you attracting some strange looks. I find myself twisting into the character and gesticulating like them. It’s all very embarrassing. The thing that was perhaps most interesting about the process of writing this particular script is that I have never spent more time with actors—ever. Through the weeks of workshops and then weeks of rehearsals we were all in those rooms together for so long, all of us, from the design team to the sound team to the lights. I don’t think any of us have experienced anything like that—I think it probably works out at eight months or so, all in all. What effect would you say that had on what was created? I’m sure it made it all a lot better, but more than that do you think it somehow changed the tone of what we did?
John Tiffany (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two: The Official Playscript of the Original West End Production)
Pilon and Pablo staggered off to bed, and Jesus Maria lay comfortably on the floor, beside the stove. The fire died down. The house was filled with the deep sounds of slumber. In the front room only one thing moved. The blessed candle darted its little spear-pointed flame up and down with incredible rapidity. Later, this little candle gave Pilon and Pablo and Jesus Maria some ethical things to think about. Simple small rod of wax with a string through it. Such a thing, you would say, is answerable to certain physical laws, and to none other. Its conduct, you would think, was guaranteed by certain principles of heat and combustion. You light the wick; the wax is caught and drawn up the wick; the candle burns a number of hours, goes out, and that is all. The incident is finished. In a little while the candle is forgotten, and then, of course, it has never existed. Have you forgotten that this candle was blessed? That in a moment of conscience or perhaps pure religious exaltation, it was designed by Pablo for San Francisco? Here is the principle which takes the waxen rod outside the jurisdiction of physics. The candle aimed its spear of light at Heaven, like an artist who consumes himself to become divine. The candle grew shorter and shorter. A wind sprang up outside and sifted through the cracks in the wall. The candle sagged sideways. A silken calendar, bearing the face of a lovely girl looking out of the heart of an American Beauty rose,
John Steinbeck (The Short Novels of John Steinbeck)
Mark and Shane, the team leads, were very conscious of not burning everyone out because of their experience on StarCraft. They had both been associate producers on the project and vowed to avoid pushing Team 2 as hard as the StarCraft devs were pushed. StarCraft’s dev cycle was nightmarish in that the goal posts were always moving. Whenever they crossed the finish line, Allen Adham found room for improvement, saying the game wasn’t polished enough, and asked everyone if they could hunker down for a few weeks longer. Whenever the next deadline was reached, another issue would arise and it was extended again, prolonging the crunch of late hours. The light at the end of the StarCraft tunnel always turned out to be a mirage. Each “final” sprint collided directly into another. And then another. Fans camped out in Blizzard’s parking lot and counted the cars, reporting on websites how many people were working at night. StarCraft’s drop-dead due dates were missed again and again until it was over a year later. Shane reminisced how people slept in sleeping bags on the floor. Showers and meals were skipped. To this day, few people who served on the StarCraft team play the game. Both Shane and Mark agreed that people weren’t as productive when exhausted and it just wasn’t worth it. Allen Adham’s nerves had been so worn out he left the company he founded until Blizzard convinced him to help out on WoW years later. In the wake of StarCraft’s quality-of-life costs, Shane and Mark vowed they’d never push a team like that, and their solution was to start the late nights early.
John Staats (The World of Warcraft Diary: A Journal of Computer Game Development)
I think they secretly like each other,” Beatrix had said mildly.
Poppy had been so astonished by the idea, she had laughed. “They war with each other whenever they’re in the same room, which, thank heavens, isn’t often. Why would you suggest such a thing?”
“Well, if you consider the mating habits of certain animals—ferrets, for example—it can be quite a rough-and-tumble business—”
“Bea, please don’t talk about mating habits,” Poppy said, trying to suppress a grin. Her nineteen-year-old sister had a perpetual and cheerful disregard for propriety. “I’m sure it’s vulgar, and . . . how do you know about mating habits?”
“Veterinary books, mostly. But also from occasional glimpses. Animals aren’t very discreet, are they?”
“I suppose not. But do keep such thoughts to yourself, Bea. If Miss Marks heard you, she would write another poem for us to memorize.”
Bea looked at her for a moment, her blue eyes innocent. “Young ladies never contemplate . . . the ways that creatures procreate . . .”
“Or their companion will be irate,” Poppy finished for her.
Lisa Kleypas (Tempt Me at Twilight (The Hathaways, #3))
He had lived so many years in this room that he still could not quite grasp the idea that now it was finished. He would never again see this place which had been the very center of his life. Others would come into it, destroy the order of things that existed now, transform these four walls into something he would not even recognize, and kill off forever any lingering assumption that a certain Monsieur Trelkovsky had lived here before. Unceremoniously, from one day to the next, he would have vanished.
Roland Topor (The Tenant)
The day-to-day horror of writing gave me a notion of tournament time. Writing novels is tedious. When will this book be finished, when will it reveal its bright and shining true self? it takes freakin’ years. At the poker table, you’re only playing a fraction of the hands, waiting for your shot. If you keep your wits, can keep from flying apart while those around you are self-destructing, devouring each other, you’re halfway there. … Let them flame out while you develop a new relationship with time, and they drift away from the table. 86-7
Coach Helen’s mantra: It’s OK to be scared, but don’t play scared. 90
[During a young adult trip to Los Vegas] I was contemplating the nickel in my hand. Before we pushed open the glass doors, what the heck, I dropped it into a one-armed bandit and won two dollars.
In a dank utility room deep in the subbasements of my personality, a little man wiped his hands on his overalls and pulled the switch: More. Remembering it now, I hear a sizzling sound, like meat being thrown into a hot skillet. I didn't do risk, generally. So I thought. But I see now I'd been testing the House Rules the last few years. I'd always been a goody-goody. Study hard, obey your parents, hut-hut-hut through the training exercises of Decent Society. Then in college, now that no one was around, I started to push the boundaries, a little more each semester. I was an empty seat in lecture halls, slept late in a depressive funk, handed in term papers later and later to see how much I could get away with before the House swatted me down.
Push it some more. We go to casinos to tell the everyday world that we will not submit. There are rules and codes and institutions, yes, but for a few hours in this temple of pure chaos, of random cards and inscrutable dice, we are in control of our fates. My little gambles were a way of pretending that no one was the boss of me. …
The nickels poured into the basin, sweet music. If it worked once, it will work again.
We hit the street. 106-8
[Matt Matros, 3x bracelet winner; wrote The Making of a Poker Player]: “One way or another you’re going to have a read, and you’re going to do something that you didn’t expect you were going to do before, right or wrong. Obviously it’s better if you’re right, but even if you’re wrong, it can be really satisfying to just have a read, a feeling, and go with it. Your gut.”
I could play it safe, or I could really play. 180
Early on, you wanted to stay cool and keep out of expensive confrontations, but you also needed to feed the stack. The stack is hungry. 187
The awful knowledge that you did what you set out to do, and you would never, ever top it. It was gone the instant you put your hands on it. It was gambling. 224
Colson Whitehead (The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky, and Death)
Back then, I would never have thought- this was an option with me. I did what I believed was right, and I am happy. With all of the choices, but will I be able to finish school? Is being seventeen too young to be a mom? What is it like to be a mother? Why doesn’t the hellhole cover this in their health class? They just give you ways to prevent, yet not how to be a mother, who is supposed to teach this? I remember bringing her home for the first time, we made a nursery for her in my room, and we had a white bassinet for her. She keeps me tending to her nonstop, on the weekends he and I stayed together, maybe someday soon we can get our place. Her first bath was in the farm sink, and his mom got her all kinds of cute things to where it was hard to choose what to put on her. She always looked so adorable. A real-life baby doll.
Nevaeh- Talk is cheap… in all honesty, most people just need to mind their own business, I think. Either somebody wants to kick the shit out of you, or steal your joy. Stop making judgments about us! It all comes down to the fact that they need to feel needed. Just stop bothering me, go get what you need, and fight for it as I did, stop trying to take it away from me. Besides, keep this in mind as you are doing it- ‘Do to others, as you would want them to do to you.’ Why do you ask? Just because you might end up worse, off in what you are doing, than what you are seeing, and saying about others. ‘Just remember when you point a finger at someone three fingers are pointing back at you.’ Just like you can always tell when someone is on the dark side. They have to dance around the fires of destruction and torment, the flame within their eyes sparkles as you look at them, as they are children of the night and immorality.
Let's just say the sisters finally got their turn, for trying to kill my baby Jaylynn with her small pillow in my own home, in my room they stood over her one night. When hope was the only one home, and we were out for the first time all night without her. Hope caught and fought with all of them before they got the job done. Baby Jaylynn is still alive, yet it is a wonder that she is.
Marcel Ray Duriez (Nevaeh The Miracle)
Everyone reached out excitedly and ripped off the fruit, placing it on top of their cereal. Stef and Alice both picked up their spoons and began to eat. The room filled with clanging sounds as the spoons hit the porcelain bowls, echoing across the hall. 'Ahem,' Miss Moffat said, as she rose up from her dragon chair, her eyes fixed firmly on Stef and Alice before she led the rest of the girls into saying the witches’ creed. 'Witches old and witches young owls and bats and black cats too. Come together in this castle to bring out the best in you. With perfect love and perfect trust we learn the spells and witches' rules. Acting for the good of all now let’s eat in this great hall.' All eyes were on Stef and Alice who had finally realized what was going on. Both girls tried to quietly put their spoons down and swallow their food as quickly as possible. Stef began to choke and attempted to stifle the sound, reaching out for a sip of pineapple juice, the golden liquid that had magically appeared in each of the goblets. She tried to take a sip but had begun choking so much that she couldn't manage to drink any, and her face turned into a light shade of purple. 'Open your mouth,' Molly said, as she appeared by Stef's side. Stef opened it the best she could as Molly called over a bat, and with a wave of her wand, she caused it to shrink until it was the size of a small coin. Stef looked on in horror as it flew into her mouth and down her throat, appearing a few seconds later gripping the stuck piece of cereal. The rest of the girls cheered, and Stef looked sheepish, annoyed with herself for causing drama again and bringing negative attention to herself. 'Are you okay?' Charlotte whispered to her and Stef nodded back. Breakfast was by far the tastiest one that Charlotte had ever had. She'd never tasted fruit as delicious before and looked on in awe as the goblets continued to refill with pineapple juice. When the meal was finished, and the staff departed, Molly, whose hair was in a side braid, addressed the girls. 'I’d like all the new girls to stay behind, please, so I can take you to get kitted out with wands and broomsticks.' Each girl
Katrina Kahler (Witch School, Book 1)
On November 22nd, 2018, my mother Vernita Lee passed away. I was conflicted about our relationship up until the very end. The truth is, it wasn't until I became successful that my mother started to show more interest in me. I wrestled with the question of how to take care of her - what did I owe the woman who gave me life, The bible says 'honor thy father and mother', but what did that actually mean? I decided one of the ways I could honor her would be to help care for her financially ... but there was never any real connection. I would say that the audience who watched me on television knew me better than my mother did. When her health began to decline a few years ago, I knew I needed to prepare myself for her transition. Just a few days before Thanksgiving my sister Patricia called to tell me she thought it was time. I flew to Milwaukee ... I tried to think of something to say, at one point I even picked up the manual left by the hospice care people. I read their advice thinking the whole time, how sad it was that I, Oprah Winfrey, who had spoken to thousands of people one on one should have to read a hospice manual to figure out what to say to my mother.
When it was finally time to leave, something told me it would be the last time I'd ever see her but as I turned to go, the words I needed to say still wouldn't come. All I could muster was 'bye, I'll be seeing you' and I left for, ironically, a speaking engagement. On the flight home the next morning a little voice in my head whispered what I knew in my heart to be true: "you are going to regret this, you haven't finished the work". ... I turned around and went back to Milwaukee. I spent another day in that hot room and still no words came. That night I prayed for help. In the morning I meditated, and as I prepared to leave the bedroom I picked up my phone and noticed the song that was playing - Mahalia Jackson's 'Precious Lord'. If ever there was a sign, this was it. I had no idea how Mahalia Jackson appeared on my playlist. As I listened to the words,
Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand.
I am tired, I'm weak, I am worn
Lead me on to the light,
Take my hand, precious Lord
And lead me home.
I suddenly knew what to do. When I walked into my mothers room I asked if she wanted to hear the song. She nodded, and then I had another idea. I called my friend Wintley Phipps, a preacher and gospel artist, and asked him to sing Precious Lord to my dying mother. Over FaceTime from his kitchen table he sang the song a cappella and then prayed that our family would have no fear, just peace. I could see that my mother was moved. The song and the prayer had created a sort of opening for both of us. I began to talk to her about her life, her dreams, and me. Finally the words were there. I said, "It must have been hard for you, not having an education, not having a skill, not knowing what the future held. When you became pregnant, I'm sure a lot of people told you to get rid of that baby." She nodded. "But you didn't", I said. "And I want to thank you for keeping this baby". I paused, "I know that many times you didn't know what to do. You did the best you knew how to do and that's okay with me. That is okay with me. So you can leave now, knowing that it is well. It is well with my soul. It's been well for a long time."
It was a sacred, beautiful moment, one of the proudest of my life. As an adult I'd learned to see my mother through a different lens; not as the mother who didn't care for me, protect me, love me or understand anything about me, but as a young girl still just a child herself; scared, alone, and unequipped to be a loving parent. I had forgiven my mother years earlier for not being the mother I needed, but she didn't know that. And in our last moments together I believe I was able to release her from the shame and the guilt of our past. I came back and I finished the work that needed to be done.
Oprah Winfrey (What Happened To You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing)
squatted at the corner of the hutch one more time. They’d been trying for an hour to get it loaded, but no matter how many different angles they attempted, it was too heavy for him and Violet to move on their own, especially with Violet’s arm still in a cast. “Let me give it a try.” Barney stepped forward, and Nate scrutinized him. He didn’t appear frail by any stretch, but the man was nearly ninety years old. Nate didn’t want to be responsible for breaking him. “Barnabas Riley, step away from that hutch right this minute.” Gladys bustled into the room, pointing a spatula at her husband. Barney stepped back. “Busted.” But he nudged Nate and whispered, “I wasn’t really going to do it. Just had to show her I’m still willing.” Nate laughed with him, but Violet gave the hutch a regretful pat. “Looks like it wasn’t meant to be.” “Hold on a minute, dear. You’re the one we want to have this.” Gladys disappeared again. Nate and Violet both looked at Barney, but he threw his hands into the air. “Even after sixty-five years of marriage, I don’t understand everything about that woman.” He winked at them again. “Keeps me on my toes.” Three minutes later, Gladys reappeared. “I called Sylvia, and she said her grandson can come over to help us.” “That’s great.” Violet pulled out a chair to sit down and stifled a yawn. She looked exhausted. “In the morning,” Gladys finished. Violet dropped the hand that had been covering her yawn. “I’m sorry. I don’t think we can come back tomorrow.” “Of course not.” Gladys waved her objection away. “You can stay with us. It’s getting late anyway. You don’t want to drive back yet tonight.” Nate stole a subtle peek at the time. It was already eight o’clock. And Violet looked ready to drop. She gave him a questioning look, and he shrugged, hoping she would understand that meant it was up to her. “I guess that would work. The store is always closed on Mondays anyway.” Her eyes traveled to Nate. “Unless you need to be in the office.” He should be. He really should be. If Dad called and he didn’t answer, he would never hear the end of it. But right now, he cared more about what Violet needed. And she needed this hutch to save her store. “I don’t need to be in the office.” “Oh, but Tony―” Violet clasped his arm. She had a point there. He couldn’t leave his dog uncared for. “Unless.” Violet pulled out her phone. “Just a second.” She wandered toward the kitchen with the phone pressed to her ear. “Looks like I’m not the only one with a mysterious woman.” Barney chuckled so hard he broke into a coughing fit. “Oh, we’re―” “Neighbors.” Gladys rested a hand on her husband’s back. “We know.” Barney stopped coughing and straightened, shooting Nate a wink. Nate was about to argue more, but Violet stepped back into the room. Her smile was enough to steal his protest. “Sophie’s going to stop by to take care of Tony tonight and tomorrow morning. I hope you don’t mind, but I told her about your super-secret hiding spot for the spare key.” Nate pretended to be shocked. “How do you know about that?” “I saw you putting it under the mat the other day when you forgot your keys, remember?” He did remember. He had been especially enchanted by her laugh that day. It was amazing how many of his recent memories involved her. Including
Valerie M. Bodden (Not Until You (Hope Springs #3))
When Francine gave me that little gift, it made me realize that I had never once expressed my appreciation to any of the professionals on whom I depend: my attorney, my CPA, my doctor, my haircutter, the mechanic who looks after my car—the list goes on and on. So three years ago I started sending them all thank-you notes and in some cases a gift basket at Christmas. The first time I did this, my doctor called me personally to say “thank you.” Guess what? Even though my doctor is routinely booked up three months in advance, I never have to wait for an appointment anymore. I just seem to get right in. My car mechanic framed my thank-you letter and posted it on the wall of his waiting room. My CPA seemed to find more deductions the next year. I’m not kidding. Because of my small gifts and notes, my relationship with all these professionals is now different. They remember me because I made a small gesture to say “thank you.” Try it. Our parents were right: saying “thank you” goes a long way.
David Bach (Smart Couples Finish Rich: 9 Steps to Creating a Rich Future for You and Your Partner)
We formalized our group as the Vantastix and sang at dinner parties and charity events. My favorite venue though, was the City of Hope, where we went room to room singing for kids battling cancer. In 50 plus years of show business, I never had a better audience. Most of those little kids were bald; a fair number could barely sit up in bed and there was a sad handful who could not even do that. We stopped at the bed of a very sick 15-year-old boy. We tiptoed into his room and quietly sang a song; he did not react. Thinking he was asleep, we began to file out but suddenly we hear a thin voice ask, "Could I hear another one, please?" We turned around and sang a whole bunch of songs. He barely opened his eyes. But after we finished Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, I saw his mouth curl into a faint smile. As far as I'm concerned, applause does not get any louder.
Dick Van Dyke (My Lucky Life in and Out of Show Business)
Megan was over at the Morgan brothers’ house, having a casual dinner with Drew and his brother, Alan. It was casual in the sense that there were only three courses and no ice sculpture.
When Alan left the room to get dessert, Megan said, “If you don’t give me whatever’s in your pocket, I’m going to reach in there and grab it myself.”
He got a devilish grin and threw his hands in the air. “Help yourself!”
She reached in and found a ring. Not an engagement ring but a ring with a large stone in the middle. A cheap-looking stone.
Megan frowned. “Is this plastic?”
“It’s a mood ring,” he said. “I bought it at a carnival when I was a kid. I wore it to school once because I thought it was cool. I got my first black eye that day.”
“You got bullied?”
“Not exactly. The guy who punched me once got two right back.”
She handed the ring back. “You can wear it now, if you want. You’re an adult. Nobody’s going to beat you up.” She made a fist and punched her palm. “Not if they don’t want me to tag in and finish the match.”
He put the ring back in his pocket. “Never mind,” he said.
She put her hand in his pocket and grabbed the ring back. “Don’t tell me to never mind. Why do you have this? Were you going to give it to me?”
“I thought it would be funny,” he said. “You’re reading all those books Feather recommended, and you’re doing that thing where you name your emotions. I thought it would be funny if you had a mood ring to help you with that.”
She tried on the ring. The only finger it fit was her ring finger, so she left it there. “I like it,” she said. “It’s not very funny, though. It’s actually kind of…” She was at a loss for words. It had been happening a lot lately. Coming up with words to describe feelings was much harder than being crass or sarcastic.
“Romantic,” Drew said.
“Yeah. I guess you’re right. It’s romantic.” She leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
“Plus, now I know your ring size,” he said.
They both looked down at her hand.
She looked away.
“For the future,” he said. “Relax. I don’t mean right now.”
She looked at the ring again. It was changing colors.
“It’s working,” she said.
“It’s a heat-sensitive compound,” he said. “It doesn’t really tell you someone’s mood, just how warm their fingers are.”
“But finger temperature means a lot,” she said. “I’ve been reading about the nervous system, and how everything works together in all these different feedback loops. When someone’s stressed, their hands get cold. Or when their hands get cold for some other reason, they might feel stressed and make up a story about why they feel that way. People make up a lot of stories to explain how they feel because it’s so confusing to not know, and sometimes we’d rather think it’s because of something bad than not know at all.”
He looked down at the ring, which was still changing colors. “I had no idea.”
“I’ll have to come into your clinic and give you some tips for putting your patients more at ease.”
“You can’t do that,” he said. “It would really cut down on the screaming, which I have grown to love.” He gave her his mad scientist cackle.
“You are so weird.” She kissed him again.
Angie Pepper (Romancing the Complicated Girl)
But we can’t really do anything about what they say when we leave the room. We’ll never be able to control that. And we shouldn’t try. Our job is just to…well, be in the room while we’re there, and try not to think too much about where we’re not. Whatever room we happen to be in, just, be there,” she finished lamely.
Jean Hanff Korelitz (You Should Have Known)
As people started to leave, Sherrena and Lora found a quiet spot in the hallway. “I got drama,” Sherrena began. “Drama for your momma! Me and Lamar Richards are going at it again—the man with no legs. He shorted me on my rent this month.” “How much?” Lora’s voice, with soft traces of the island accent, belonged to a librarian. She was older than Sherrena and that night was elegantly dressed in dark slacks, gold earrings, and a layered red blouse. She folded her fur-lined coat on her lap. “Thirty dollars.” Sherrena shrugged. “But that’s not it. It’s the principle….He already owes me two sixty for that bad job for the painting.” When Lamar and the boys had finished painting, he called Sherrena, and she came over. She noticed that the boys had not filled in the holes; had dripped white paint on the brown trim; had ignored the pantry. Lamar said Quentin had not dropped off hole-filler or brown paint. “You’re supposed to go and ask for it, then,” Sherrena snapped back. She refused to credit Lamar a cent toward his debt. “And then,” Sherrena continued, “he did his bathroom floor over without my knowledge and deducted thirty dollars out of the rent.” When painting, Lamar had found a box of tile in Patrice’s old place and had used it to retile his bathroom floor, securing each piece with leftover paint. “I told him, ‘Do not—do not ever deduct any more rent from me ever again!’ Plus, how can you deduct when you owe me?” Lora recrossed her legs. “He’s a player, that’s all he is. Time for him to go….They just try to take, take, take, take, take.” “The thing is”—Sherrena circled back to Lamar’s painting job—“I would have never paid anybody two sixty to do that.” “I can get painting done in five rooms, thirty bucks a room, a hundred and fifty dollars.” “No, no, no. Our people do it for twenty dollars a room, twenty-five at the most.” “Exactly.” “As far as I’m concerned, he still owes the two sixty. Excuse me, now it’s two ninety.” The old friends laughed. It was just what Sherrena needed.
Matthew Desmond (Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City)
This is the carpenter's painful truth: that nothing is true.
By true, he means level, plumb, perfect. Every room you've ever entered has been off by at least a sixteenth of an inch -- more probably an eighth. Guaranteed. We think we live in boxes until we look closer and find we're in fact living in irregular shapes, in big, misshapen accidents.
Which makes carpenters the high priests of living with mistakes. And while sloppiness is the most grievous insult you could throw at another carpenter, true perfection is maddeningly unattainable, which is why it's never spoken of. Because even after you cut a piece of wood and lay it straight, it lives on after you've finished, soaking up moisture, twisting, bowing, and warping into unintended forms. Our lives are no different.
Michael Christie (Greenwood)
because there was a new face in the chorus, and rumor—in the person of his friend Aubrey—said she was a promising possibility as a mistress. And indeed she was, Lucien had to admit—at least, she would be for Aubrey, who had come into his title and had full control of his fortune. But not for someone like Lucien—a young man on a strict allowance and whose title of Viscount Hartford was only a courtesy one, borrowed from his father. Being my lord was, he had found, one of the few benefits of being the only son of the Earl of Chiswick. “She’s quite attractive, as game pullets go,” he told Aubrey carelessly after the play, as they cracked the first bottle of wine at their club. “Have her with my blessing.” Aubrey snorted. “You know, Lucien, it’s just as well you’re not looking for a high-flyer, for you damned well couldn’t afford her.” Lucien forced a smile. “She’s not my sort, as it happens.” “Balderdash—she’s any man’s sort.” Not mine, Lucien thought absently. He might have said it aloud if the sentiment hadn’t been so startlingly true. How odd—for the chorus girl had been a prime piece, buxom and long-limbed and flashy, as well as incredibly flexible as she moved around the stage. How could he not be interested? Aubrey was looking at him strangely, so Lucien said, “If she’s so much to your taste, I’m surprised you didn’t go around to the stage door after the performance and make yourself known.” “Strategy, my friend. Never let a woman guess exactly how interested you are.” Aubrey waved a hand at a waiter to bring another bottle, and as they drank it, he detailed his plan for winning the chorus girl. “It’s too bad you can’t join the fun, for I’m certain she has a friend,” Aubrey finished. “The gossips have it that your father is never without a lightskirt, so why should he object to you having one?” “Oh, not a lightskirt. Only the finest of the demimonde will do for the Earl of Chiswick.” Lucien drained his glass. “I’m meant to be on the road to Weybridge at first light—for the duke’s birthday, you know. A few hours’ sleep before I climb into a jolting carriage will not come amiss.” “Too late.” Aubrey tilted his head toward the nearest window. “Dawn’s breaking now, if I’m not mistaken. You won’t mind if I don’t come to see you off? Deadly dull it is, waving good-bye—and I’ve a mind for a hand or two of piquet before I go home.” Lucien walked from the club to his rooms in Mount Street, hoping a fresh breeze might help clear his head. The post-chaise Uncle Josiah had ordered for him was already waiting. The horses stamped impatiently, snorting in the cool morning air, and the postboys looked bored. Nearby, Lucien’s valet paced—but he
Leigh Michaels (The Birthday Scandal)
They spent three more long days in the whitened mountain ash trees on the whitened bay. Tatiana baked pies in Nellie’s big kitchen. Alexander read all the papers and magazines from stem to stern and talked post-war politics to Tatiana and Jimmy, and even to indifferent Nellie. In Nellie’s potato fields, Alexander built snowmen for Anthony. After the pies were in the oven, Tatiana came out of the house and saw six snowmen arrayed like soldiers from big to little. She tutted, rolled her eyes and dragged Anthony away to fall down and make angels in the snow instead. They made thirty of them, all in a row, arrayed like soldiers. On the third night of winter, Anthony was in their bed restfully asleep, and they were wide awake. Alexander was rubbing her bare buttocks under her gown. The only window in their room was blizzarded over. She assumed the blue moon was shining beyond. His hands were becoming very insistent. Alexander moved one of the blankets onto the floor, silently; moved her onto the blanket, silently; laid her flat onto her stomach, silently, and made love to her in stealth like they were doughboys on the ground, crawling to the frontline, his belly to her back, keeping her in a straight line, completely covering her tiny frame with his body, clasping her wrists above her head with one hand. As he confined her, he was kissing her shoulders, and the back of her neck, and her jawline, and when she turned her face to him, he kissed her lips, his free hand roaming over her legs and ribs while he moved deep and slow! amazing enough by itself, but even more amazingly he turned her to him to finish, still restraining her arms above her head, and even made a brief noise not just a raw exhale at the feverish end...and then they lay still, under the blankets, and Tatiana started to cry underneath him, and he said shh, shh, come on, but didn’t instantly move off her, like usual. “I’m so afraid,” she whispered. “Of what?” “Of everything. Of you.” He said nothing. She said, “So you want to get the heck out of here?” “Oh, God. I thought you’d never ask.” “Where do you think you’re going?” Jimmy asked when he saw them packing up the next morning. “We’re leaving,” Alexander replied. “Well, you know what they say,” Jim said. “Man proposes and God disposes. The bridge over Deer Isle is iced over. Hasn’t been plowed in weeks and won’t be. Nowhere to go until the snow melts.” “And when do you think that might be?” “April,” Jimmy said, and both he and Nellie laughed. Jimmy hugged her with his one good arm and Nellie, gazing brightly at him, didn’t look as if she cared that he had just the one. Tatiana and Alexander glanced at each other. April! He said to Jim, “You know what, we’ll take our chances.” Tatiana started to speak up, started to say, “Maybe they’re right—” and Alexander fixed her with such a stare that she instantly shut up, ashamed of questioning him in front of other people, and hurried on with the packing. They said goodbye to a regretful Jimmy and Nellie, said goodbye to Stonington and took their Nomad Deluxe across Deer Isle onto the mainland. In this one instant, man disposed. The bridge had been kept clear by the snow crews on Deer Isle. Because if the bridge was iced over, no one could get any produce shipments to the people in Stonington. “What a country,” said Alexander, as he drove out onto the mainland and south.
Paullina Simons (The Summer Garden (The Bronze Horseman, #3))
I remembered my initial enthusiasm, when I was with the youth movement members at Beit Zera Kibbutz. We were kids and had arrived for our first visit there. When we saw the drinking fountain next to the dining room, we were surprised. There were water fountains, and next to them was a soda fountain one could drink from freely, without restrictions. We were not used to this phenomenon. In the Jordan Valley heat, it looked to us as a well of vital water to those whose thirst had almost finished them. We pounced on the soda fountain, as ones who could not believe their eyes. We drank and drank until we could not fit another drop in our stomachs. I remember when Michael, one of the Tiberias youth movement members, clung to the fountain and began drinking soda, one cup after another. Behind him stood a member of the Kibbutz in work clothes, who apparently, had also come to quench his thirst from the soda fountain. The member of the Kibbutz arrived with a pitcher, which he sought to fill with soda. Michael clung to the fountain and did not let him get near it until he had finished drinking. The member of the Kibbutz waited patiently with a smile on his face, perhaps wondering a little about these Tiberians. Maybe he thought they had never seen a soda fountain. Which we hadn’t, especially one that was freely accessible to everyone. It was something beyond our understanding. As he was sipping the soda, Michael began to explain to a member of the Kibbutz about this invention they were standing in front of. “It's free," said Michael. "Everything is free. You can drink and fill bottles as often as you want. It's all free." "Really.?" asked the member of the Kibbutz, at the sight of the youth movement member who was amazed at the sight of soda. I do not know if he said it sarcastically or in natural simplicity, so as not to embarrass Michael. After all, he saw a group of children attacking the soda fountain, like a found treasure.
Nahum Sivan (Till We Say Goodbye)
You turn to shit, alright. But maybe you can leave something good behind you.’ She barked empty laughter at him. ‘What do we leave behind but things not done, not said, not finished? Empty clothes, empty rooms, empty spaces in the ones who knew us? Mistakes never made right and hopes rotted down to nothing?
Joe Abercrombie (Best Served Cold)
As you doubtless noticed, sometimes the words matched the pictures and sometimes they didn’t. It probably felt more difficult to name the pictures when there was a mismatch. That’s because when an experienced reader sees a printed word, it’s quite difficult not to read it. Reading is automatic.Thus the printed word pants conflicts with the word you are trying to retrieve, shirt. The conflict slows your response. A child just learning to read wouldn’t show this interference, because reading is not automatic for him.When faced with the letters p, a, n, t, and s, the child would need to painstakingly (and thus slowly) retrieve the sounds associated with each letter, knit them together, and recognize that the resulting combination of sounds forms the word pants. For the experienced reader, those processes happen in a flash and are a good example of the properties of automatic processes: (1) They happen very quickly. Experienced readers read common words in less than a quarter of a second. (2) They are prompted by a stimulus in the environment, and if that stimulus is present, the process may occur even if you wish it wouldn’t.Thus you know it would be easier not to read the words in Figure 3, but you can’t seem to avoid doing so. (3) You are not aware of the components of the automatic process.That is, the component processes of reading (for example, identifying letters) are never conscious.The word pants ends up in consciousness, but the mental processes necessary to arrive at the conclusion that the word is pants do not.The process is very different for a beginning reader, who is aware of each constituent step (“that’s a p, which makes a ‘puh’ sound . . .”). FIGURE 3: Name each picture, ignoring the text. It’s hard to ignore when the text doesn’t match the picture, because reading is an automatic process. The example in Figure 3 gives a feel for how an automatic process operates, but it’s an unusual example because the automatic process interferes with what you’re trying to do. Most of the time automatic processes help rather than hinder. They help because they make room in working memory. Processes that formerly occupied working memory now take up very little space, so there is space for other processes. In the case of reading, those “other” processes would include thinking about what the words actually mean. Beginning readers slowly and painstakingly sound out each letter and then combine the sounds into words, so there is no room left in working memory to think about meaning (Figure 4).The same thing can happen even to experienced readers. A high school teacher asked a friend of mine to read a poem out loud. When he had finished reading, she asked what he thought the poem meant. He looked blank for a moment and then admitted he had been so focused on reading without mistakes that he hadn’t really noticed what the poem was about. Like a first grader, his mind had focused on word pronunciation, not on meaning. Predictably, the class laughed, but what happened was understandable, if unfortunate.
Daniel T. Willingham (Why Don't Students Like School?: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom)
At nine o’clock Carrie swept into the room, looking like a queen. Never have I seen her look so lovely, or so distinguished. She was wearing a satin dress of sky-blue—my favourite colour—and a piece of lace, which Mrs. James lent her, round the shoulders, to give a finish.
Are you good to go? Because I should get that nap or I’ll be useless tonight.” “Go,” he said. “We’re going to do stuff.” “Now remember, always—” “Wear seat belts, make frequent bathroom stops, never let her out of my sight,” he finished for her. “And never—” “Send her into the ladies’ room. I will take her into the men’s room with me, if necessary, make sure it’s clean and private and, when possible, use the handicapped facility for privacy. And plenty of vegetables and nothing that tastes fun.” “You don’t have to be a wise a—” He grinned. But
Robyn Carr (Angel's Peak (Virgin River #10))
Michael takes me from behind, half asleep, fierce and close. He is taking me impersonally, and so I do not respond as I do when he is loving Anna. And besides with one half of my mind I am thinking how, if I hear Janet’s soft feet outside, I must be up and across the room to stop her coming in. She never comes in until seven; that is the rule; I do not expect her to come in; yet I have to be alert. While Michael grips me and fills me the noises next door continue, and I know he hears them too, and that part of the pleasure, for him, is to take me in hazard; that Janet, the little girl, the eight-year-old, represents for him partly women—other women, whom he betrays to sleep with me; and partly, child; the essence of child, against whom he is asserting his rights to live. He never speaks of his own children without a small, half-affectionate, half-aggressive laugh—his heirs, and his assassins. My child, a few feet away through the wall, he will not allow to cheat him of his freedom. When we are finished, he says: “And now, Anna, I suppose you are going to desert me for Janet?” And he sounds like a child who feels himself slighted for a younger brother or sister. I laugh and kiss him; although the resentment is suddenly so strong I clench my teeth against it. I control it, as always, by thinking: If I were a man I’d be the same. The control and discipline of being a mother came so hard to me, that I can’t delude myself that if I’d been a man, and not forced into self-control, I’d have been any different. And yet for the few moments it takes for me to put on the wrap to go into Janet, the resentment is like a raging poison. Before I go in to Janet I wash myself quickly between the legs so that the smell of sex may not disturb her, even though she doesn’t yet know what it is. I like the smell, and hate to wash it off so quickly; and the fact that I must adds to my bad temper.
Doris Lessing (The Golden Notebook)
On Claud, though, the look is very cool.) For example, today she was wearing a neon green tank top under a white oversized man’s shirt and fuschia pink stirrup pants. The shirt was rolled at the sleeves and belted with a colorful woven belt. Claud finished the outfit with dangly ceramic-bead earrings she’d made herself in pottery class. She’s super artistic. She paints, sketches, draws, sculpts. You name it! Besides art and cool clothing, Claudia loves junk food. Her parents disapprove of Ho-Ho’s and Twinkies and stuff like that, so she hides them all over her room. You never know when you’re going to pick up a pillow and find a bag of potato chips or something behind it. The other thing she stashes away are her Nancy Drew books. Her parents don’t approve of those, either. They don’t think the mysteries are “intellectual” enough. Claudia couldn’t care less if the books are “intellectual.” One thing Claud is not interested in is school work. Although she can’t spell for anything, she’s definitely not dumb. She just doesn’t like school. And, unfortunately, her grades show it. She’s the complete
Ann M. Martin (Jessi and the Awful Secret (The Baby-Sitters Club, #61))
Sylphid was beginning to play professionally, and she was subbing as second harpist in the orchestra at Radio City Music Hall. She was called pretty regularly, once or twice a week, and she’d also got a job playing at a fancy restaurant in the East Sixties on Friday night. Ira would drive her from the Village up to the restaurant with her harp and then go and pick her and the harp up when she finished. He had the station wagon, and he’d pull up in front of the house and go inside and have to carry it down the stairs. The harp is in its felt cover, and Ira puts one hand on the column and one hand in the sound hole at the back and he lifts it up, lays the harp on a mattress they keep in the station wagon, and drives Sylphid and the harp uptown to the restaurant. At the restaurant he takes the harp out of the car and, big radio star that he is, he carries it inside. At ten-thirty, when the restaurant is finished serving dinner and Sylphid’s ready to come back to the Village, he goes around to pick her up and the whole operation is repeated. Every Friday. He hated the physical imposition that it was—those things weigh about eighty pounds—but he did it. I remember that in the hospital, when he had cracked up, he said to me, ‘She married me to carry her daughter’s harp! That’s why the woman married me! To haul that fucking harp!’ “On those Friday night trips, Ira found he could talk to Sylphid in ways he couldn’t when Eve was around. He’d ask her about being a movie star’s child. He’d say to her, ‘When you were a little girl, when did it dawn on you that something was up, that this wasn’t the way everyone grew up?’ She told him it was when the tour buses went up and down their street in Beverly Hills. She said she never saw her parents’ movies until she was a teenager. Her parents were trying to keep her normal and so they downplayed those movies around the house. Even the rich kid’s life in Beverly Hills with the other movie stars’ kids seemed normal enough until the tour buses stopped in front of her house and she could hear the tour guide saying, ‘This is Carlton Pennington’s house, where he lives with his wife, Eve Frame.’ “She told him about the production that birthday parties were for the movie stars’ kids—clowns, magicians, ponies, puppet shows, and every child attended by a nanny in a white nurse’s uniform. At the dining table, behind every child would be a nanny. The Penningtons had their own screening room and they ran movies. Kids would come over. Fifteen, twenty kids.
Philip Roth (I Married a Communist (The American Trilogy, #2))
Sorry, Ivo... sorry,” she mumbled repeatedly. I let her cry in my arms for a while and I hated it. I never thought caring for someone could hurt me this much. “Go get your phone, faster! Take a video of me.”
I reluctantly pulled out my phone and started recording a video. “From the moment I first saw you, I knew you were the one with whom I wanted to share my life,” she started.
I tried to focus and steady myself.
“Because of you, I laugh, I smile, and I dare to dream again. I look forward with great joy to spending the rest of my life with you, caring for you, being there for you in all life has for us. Through the pressures of the present and the uncertainties of the future, I promise to be faithful to you. I love you with my whole heart. I have never trusted anyone the way I trust you. Sometimes I even doubt myself but I know I will never doubt you because you are my true love. I know deep down inside that, you will never break my heart or let me down in any way. I love you, Ivo, I will always be yours forever. Please always remember that,” she finished, crying uncontrollably.
My heart was beating so fast, I was sweating and my hands were shaking. It took me a moment to absorb what she just pledged. I felt my heart pounding with joy, but it was breaking at the same time.
I stared at her for a while, she took a deep breath before looking at me in the eyes again.
“When my mind stops remembering, I want you to show me this video to remind me how much I love you, Ivo.”
Her eyes perked up. Her smile lit up the entire room and she hugged me tight.
“Brandy, you will never know just how much I love you, but I will spend the rest of my days trying to show you.You, only you matter to me. No matter what, there will never be another for me. I love you, don’t you ever forget that.”.
Ysa Arcangel (Forever Night Stand)
Later that night Meridith was in her room working on Ben’s scrapbook when she heard a burst of laughter. Ben’s belly laughs drew her from her room, toward the steps. What she saw brought a bittersweet smile. Meridith lowered herself on an upper stair and peered through the oak spindles. Ben had Jake pinned to the rug and was tickling him. Jake moaned like he was in torture, which only made Ben laugh harder. She’d never seen the child so happy. He was small next to Jake’s mass, his wiry arms moving furiously, digging his fingers into Jake’s side. He twisted, straddling Jake. Jake groaned. “Help! Someone help!” Ben laughed. “You’re doomed! If I had my ropes, I’d tie you up and toss you off a cliff!” “No! Not that!” Meridith smiled around the tears that gathered in her eyes. She wondered if her father had tussled with Ben. He surely missed the interaction. And while she was grateful for Jake’s willingness to play with the boy . . . What would happen when the repairs were finished and Jake left? She saw how attached Ben had become to him. Her mind flashed back over the previous weeks to other occasions. Jake helping Noelle fix her bike chain, Jake and Max working on Max’s new boat model. Jake, Jake, Jake. He’d become a fixture around the house right under her nose. Worse, he’d become a friend. A friend the children would lose. The
Denise Hunter (Driftwood Lane (Nantucket, #4))
My bout with the Marquis was much like the others. Even more than usual I was hopelessly outclassed, but I stuck grimly to my place, refusing to back up, and took hit after hit, though my parrying was steadily improving. Of course I lost, but at least it wasn’t so easy a loss as I’d had when I first began to attend practice--and he didn’t insult me with obvious handicaps, such as never allowing his point to hit me.
Bran and Savona finished a moment later, and Bran was just suggesting we exchange partners when the bells for third-gold rang, causing a general outcry. Some would stay, but most, I realized, were retreating to their various domiciles to bathe and dress for open Court.
I turned away--and found Shevraeth beside me. “You’ve never sampled the delights of Petitioners’ Court,” he said.
I thought of the Throne Room again, this time with Galdran there on the goldenwood throne, and the long lines of witnesses. I repressed a shiver.
Some of my sudden tension must have exhibited itself in my countenance because he said, “It is no longer an opportunity for a single individual to practice summary justice such as you experienced on your single visit.”
“I’m certain you don’t just sit around happily and play cards,” I muttered, looking down at the toes of my boots as we walked.
“Sometimes we do, when there are no petitioners. Or we listen to music. But when there is business, we listen to the petitioners, accept whatever they offer in the way of proof, and promise a decision at a later date. That’s for the first two greens. The last is spent in discussing impressions of the evidence at hand; sometimes agreement is reached, and sometimes we decide that further investigation is required before a decision can be made.”
This surprised me so much I looked up at him. There was no amusement, no mockery, no threat in the gray eyes. Just a slight question.
I said, “You listen to the opinions of whoever comes to Court?”
“Of course,” he said. “It means they want to be a part of government, even if their part is to be merely ornamental.”
I remembered that dinner when Nee first brought up Elenet’s name, and how Shevraeth had lamented how most of those who wished to give him advice had the least amount worth hearing.
“Why should I be there?” I asked. “I remember what you said about worthless advisers.”
“Do you think any opinion you would have to offer would be worthless?” he countered.
“It doesn’t matter what I think of my opinion,” I retorted, and then caught myself. “I mean to say, it is not me making the decisions.”
“So what you seem to be implying is that I think your opinion worthless.”
“Well, don’t you?”
He sighed. “When have I said so?”
“At the inn in Lumm, last year. And before that. About our letter to Galdran, and my opinion of courtiers.”
“It wasn’t your opinion I pointed up, it was your ignorance,” he said. “You seem to have made truly admirable efforts to overcome that handicap. Why not share what you’ve learned?”
I shrugged, then said, “Why don’t you have Elenet there?”--and hated myself for about as stupid a bit of pettiness as I’d ever uttered.
But he took the words at face value. “An excellent suggestion, and one I acted on immediately after she arrived at Athanarel. She’s contributed some very fine insights. She’s another, by the way, who took her own education in hand. Three years ago about all she knew was how to paint fans.”
I had talked myself into a corner, I realized--all through my own efforts. So I said, “All right, then. I’ll go get Mora to dig out that Court dress I ordered and be there to blister you all with my brilliance.”
He bowed, lifted his gray-gloved hand in a casual salute, and walked off toward the Royal Wing.
I retreated in quick order to get ready for the ordeal ahead.
Sherwood Smith (Court Duel (Crown & Court, #2))
When I finished playing, I didn’t really know what to do with myself. I went back to Wisconsin. I actually never left Wisconsin. I was told one time by a very smart man, Paul Schramka, who owns Schramka Funeral Homes, that if you stick around Milwaukee and you’re good to the people, the town will take care of you.
Bill Schroeder (If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers: Stories from the Milwaukee Brewers Dugout, Locker Room, and Press Box)
In every room the recollection of my childhood is slight, and fireflies of memory disappear as soon as I turn my mind to them. I passed through my past, I didn't or couldn't savour the time, and now my history is huge and vacant, like a film I never finished watching.
Rebecca Whitney (The Liar's Chair)
At one end of the room was a group of young teens busy with swordplay, and at the other a swarm of children circled round on ancient carved horses mounted on cart wheels or played at stick-and-ball.
I wandered toward my friends and was soon hailed by Renna, who offered me a bout. Time passed swiftly and agreeably. I finished my last engagement with one of Nee’s cousins and was just beginning to feel the result of sustained effort in my arm and back when a practice blade thwacked my shoulder. I spun around, and gaped.
Shevraeth stood there smiling. At his elbow my brother grinned, and next to him, Savona watched with appreciation apparent in his dark eyes.
“Come, Lady Meliara,” the Marquis said. “Let’s see how much you’ve learned since you took on Galdran.”
“I didn’t take on Galdran,” I protested, feeling hot and cold at once.
“I don’t know what you’d call it, then, Mel.” Bran leaned on his sword, still grinning. “Looked like you went have-at-’im to me.”
“I was just trying to defend you,” I said, and the others all laughed. “And a fat lot of good it did, too,” I added when they stopped. “He knocked me right out of the saddle!”
“Hit you from behind,” Shevraeth said. “Apparently he was afraid to confront so formidable a foe face-to-face.”
They laughed again, but I knew it was not at me so much as at the hated King Galdran.
Before I could speak again, Shevraeth raised his point and said, “Come now. Blade up.”
I sighed. “I’ve already been made into cheese by Derec, there, and Renna, and Lornav, but if you think I merit another defeat…”
Again they laughed, and Savona and my brother squared off as Shevraeth and I saluted. My bout with the Marquis was much like the others. Even more than usual I was hopelessly outclassed, but I stuck grimly to my place, refusing to back up, and took hit after hit, though my parrying was steadily improving. Of course I lost, but at least it wasn’t so easy a loss as I’d had when I first began to attend practice--and he didn’t insult me with obvious handicaps, such as never allowing his point to hit me.
Bran and Savona finished a moment later, and Bran was just suggesting we exchange partners when the bells for third-gold rang, causing a general outcry. Some would stay, but most, I realized, were retreating to their various domiciles to bathe and dress for open Court.
Sherwood Smith (Court Duel (Crown & Court, #2))
I wanted to let you to know that I agree to the match and I will marry you.” He couldn’t suppress a chuckle at her regal demeanor. “Well, I should certainly hope so as our engagement is a foregone conclusion. The contracts have already been drawn up.” Ian reached to touch her silken hair, unable to resist her. Her eyes narrowed as she rose from her seat. “I would have you know, Your Grace, that it was not a ‘foregone conclusion.’ In fact, I was not going to marry you at all! I have been doing everything I can to avoid becoming leg-shackled to you and I was going to run away!” His jaw clenched. Ian had hoped to dispel her feelings that he was a monster and apparently had failed far worse than he had ever anticipated. “And just where were you planning to run to?” he asked icily, unwilling to acknowledge the pain in his heart. Angelica did not flinch at his tone. Her skirts rustled as she paced the room. “I would have used the money I made from my stories to rent a flat somewhere in the city and support myself with short stories until I finished a novel. I heard that the lady who wrote Pride and Prejudice made one hundred forty pounds.” “That would not be enough to buy your pretty gowns,” he mocked, his temper rising at her sheer ignorance and ingratitude. “Gowns can go to the devil!” she retorted, cheeks growing pink in indignation. She looked down at her pale-blue satin opera gown as if offended by the shimmering elegance adorning her exquisite form. “Besides, they are not sensible garb for an author, I should say.” The way Angelica glibly spoke of living in squalor and subjecting herself to the sordid dangers of London rather than being his duchess made him clench his fists. Did she really think he was a fate worse than death? Or was she truly that naive? “What play are we going to see?” she asked in a blatant attempt to change the subject. Ian did not intend to let her off that easily. Inspiration struck him. Oh, he would take her to a “play” for certain. A play that she would never forget. “Something pitiful and tragic,” he said with an evil smile. It was high time his bride received a taste of reality. “I think you will be quite affected.” Her eyes narrowed in suspicion at his tone but she nodded in assent, ever displaying her indomitable courage. “I will get my cape.” “Put on a sensible pair of boots as well.” Ian’s heart twisted with bitterness. He would show her a fate worse than death. ***
Brooklyn Ann (Bite Me, Your Grace (Scandals with Bite, #1))
I was clearing some plates off a table when I heard the familiar strum of guitar chords. My heart clenched painfully as I slowly made my way to the kitchen. Tonight was another open-mic night, and while I enjoyed having live music playing throughout the bar and dining room, I didn’t usually pay that much attention to it. But there was no way to miss this song. The deep, husky voice began crooning through the speakers as I came back out of the kitchen empty-handed. And I couldn’t shake the feeling that I knew that voice as I made my way to a spot where I could see the stage. I rubbed a hand over my aching chest and stopped suddenly when I saw Kash sitting on the stool in front of the mic with a guitar in his hands. What was he doing? Since when did he play guitar and sing? And why this song? His eyes searched the dining area and landed on me just as he began the first chorus of “I’ll Be.” Tears pricked the back of my eyes and my entire body warmed under his intense stare as he continued through words that meant more to me than he could have known. Not once did he take his eyes from me, and my mind and heart fought over my conflicting feelings. Part of me wanted to yell that he was the guy I’d been waiting for. That I was in love with him and was done being only his friend. The other part wanted to know why he was torturing me with this song. With everything else that had happened tonight and the fourth anniversary of my parents’ death less than two months away, I wanted to run away from there, to curl in a ball and mourn what I had lost and would never have. I couldn’t call my mom and tell her I’d met a guy whose presence alone made me dizzy. Who sang to me the same song Dad had always sung to her. I couldn’t tell my parents that no matter how hard I fought my feelings and pushed Kash away, I knew I’d met the man I wanted to marry. The haunting words drifted to an end, and soon the chords did too. When Kash was finished, he put the guitar on the stand and began walking in my direction. Throughout all of this, his eyes still hadn’t left mine. Before he could reach me, the bitter side of me won out and I turned on my heel and rushed back to my customers. I kept myself busy for the rest of the hour and whenever I had to go over to the bar, I made sure to go to Bryce’s side so I wouldn’t have to face Kash again. I knew I was being ridiculous, but if it had been any song other than that one, if it had been on a night that wasn’t wearing me completely down, I may have been brave enough to finally fight for what I wanted. But right now all I could think of was finishing out this shift at work and staying far from Logan Hendricks. Somehow, he knew how to get to me. And somehow, I knew that our being together was right. But especially after that morning, everything about him—and us together—scared me. And I wasn’t sure I could handle that right now. People say that being in love is amazing. They lie. It’s freaking terrifying.
Molly McAdams (Forgiving Lies (Forgiving Lies, #1))
The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting. It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the seven miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example: Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating. None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. The narrator of this story is Steve Jobs, the legendary CEO of Apple. The story was part of his famous Stanford commencement speech in 2005. It’s a perfect illustration of how passion and purpose drive success, not the crossing of an imaginary finish line in the future. Forget the finish line. It doesn’t exist. Instead, look for passion and purpose directly in front of you. The dots will connect later, I promise—and so does Steve.
Jesse Tevelow (The Connection Algorithm: Take Risks, Defy the Status Quo, and Live Your Passions)
Srog bowed. “My lady, truth be told, after all these wars, I dearly miss Silesia. I ache to return, to rebuild. But for you, I would do anything. If the Upper Isles is where I am needed, then it is to the Upper Isles that I shall go. I shall rule in your name.” Gwen nodded back, satisfied. “Excellent. I know you shall do a fine job of it. Keep Tirus imprisoned. Keep an eye on the sons. And get these stubborn people to like us, will you?” Everyone in the room laughed. Gwen sighed, exhausted. Matters of court never seemed to end. “Well, if that is all, then I would like to go and participate—” Before she could finish the words, the doors to the hall opened yet again, and Gwen was shocked to see two young girls enter, perhaps twelve and ten, followed by Steffen, who nodded
Morgan Rice (A Rite of Swords/A Sky of Spells/A Grant of Arms (The Sorcerer's Ring, #7-9))
Ten things you should never do when you form a group 1.Work with your friends (they won’t be for long if you do) 2.Let the singer do his own backing vocals (this is a great opportunity for the band to pull together – ignore it at your peril; see also ‘narcissism’) 3.Have a couple in the band (they will always conspire against you) 4.Listen to an A&R man (apart from Pete Tong, everyone I have ever met has been an idiot) 5.Let your manager open a club/bar (see The Haçienda: How Not to Run a Club) 6.Let the publishing/performance split go unspoken (sort it out as soon as the recording is finished and put it in writing; this is the worst thing you will ever have to do, but the most important, and usually splits most bands before they even start) 7.Get off the bus (Fatty Molloy did this once and has regretted it ever since) 8.Think one member is bigger than the group (courtesy Gene Simmons again) 9.Sign anything that says ‘in perpetuity’ (that means forever, even you won’t live that long) 10.Let your record company owe you money (see Factory Records) 11.Ship your gear – always hire (a very famous sub-dance sub-indie outfit once phoned their manager after they’d split and said, ‘Hey, where did all the money go?’ See above!) 12.Interfere with another group member’s sleep (they will turn very nasty and may call the police) 13.Interfere with another group member’s girlfriend/wife (this will always end in violence) 14.Never have a party in your own hotel room (always go to someone else’s) . . . Oh shit, way too many. I’ll stop now.
Peter Hook (Substance: Inside New Order)
I can honestly say by the time I was standing on U.S. Bank Field, I had no doubts that we would win. I had watched a lot of tape, including the previous year’s Super Bowl when the Patriots came back against the Falcons. In fact, I reviewed a lot of games where the Patriots were losing and came back, focusing on their ability to pull it off. What did I learn? It wasn’t about the Patriots as much as it was about the teams they were playing. Their opponents weren’t playing for sixty minutes. They weren’t finishing. They weren’t executing their offense. Play callers became more conservative and stopped being aggressive. A great example was the AFC Championship Game. When the Jacksonville Jaguars had a four-point lead on New England and had the ball with fifty-five seconds left in the first half, they took a knee and ran the clock out. I was watching the game from our locker room at Lincoln Financial Field as we were getting ready to play Minnesota. I sat there thinking, “You have got to be kidding me right now.” They had two time-outs and close to a minute left. They could have at least tried for a field goal. They took it out of their quarterback’s hands, and they didn’t give it to their big back, Leonard Fournette. I thought, “If they lose this game, this is why.” Sure enough, they would go on to lose the game. It made me mad because Jacksonville had New England right where they wanted them. I was screaming at the television in my office. When they knelt right before halftime, inside I was like, “I’ll never do that.” It fueled me. Against the Vikings later that day, we had twenty-nine seconds left in the first half and three time-outs. Instead of taking a knee, I called for a screen pass to Jay Ajayi to the sideline, a pass to Zach Ertz up the sideline, another pass to Ajayi, and then we kicked a field goal to grab three points. All in twenty-nine seconds. That’s how I wanted to play the last minute of a half—with an aggressive mentality.
Doug Pederson (Fearless: How an Underdog Becomes a Champion)
What seemed to be the entire staff of the place turned out, all bowing and scurrying, to make our debarkation as easy as possible. As I watched this--from beneath the rain canopy that two eager young inn-helpers held over our heads--I couldn’t help remember last spring’s sojourn at various innyards, as either a prisoner or a fugitive, and it was hard not to laugh at the comparison.
We had a splendid dinner in a private room overlooking the river. From below came the merry sounds of music, about as different from the haunting rhythms of the Hill Folk’s music as can be, yet I loved it too.
When we had finished, Nee said, “Come! Let’s go dance.”
“Not me,” Bran said. He lolled back on his cushions and grabbed for his mulled wine. “In the saddle all day. I’ll finish this, then I’m for bed.”
“I’ll go with you,” I said to Nee, rising to my feet.
Nee turned to Shevraeth, who sat with both hands round his goblet. “Lord Vidanric? Will you come with us?”
I looked out the window, determined to say nothing. But I was still angry, convinced as I was that he had been spying on me.
“Keep me company,” Bran said. “Don’t want to drink by myself.”
The Marquis said to Nee, “Another time.”
I kept my face turned away to hide the relief I was sure was plain to see, and Nee and I went downstairs to the common room, which smelled of spicy drinks and braised meats and fruit tarts.
In one corner four musicians played, and the center of the room was clear save for a group of dancers, the tables and cushions having been pushed back to make space. Nee and I went to join, for we had come in on a circle dance. These were not the formal Court dances with their intricate steps, where each gesture has to be just so, right down to who asks for a partner and how the response is made. These were what Nee called town dances, which were based on the old country dances--line dances for couples, and circles either for men or for women--that people had stamped and twirled and clapped to for generations.
Never lacking for partners, we danced until we were hot and tired, and then went up to the spacious bedrooms. I left my windows wide open and fell asleep listening to the sound of the river.
Sherwood Smith (Court Duel (Crown & Court, #2))
Well, if he wants to be king, he’ll just plain have to get used to questions and toadies and all the rest of it,” I said. Remembering the conversation at dinner and wondering if I’d made an idiot of myself, I added crossly, “I don’t have any sympathy at all. In fact, I wish he hadn’t come up here. If he needed rest from the fatigue of taking over a kingdom, why couldn’t he go to that fabulous palace in Renselaeus? Or to Shevraeth, which I’ll just bet has an equally fabulous palace?”
Nee sighed. “Is that a rhetorical or a real question?”
“Real. And I don’t want to ask Bran because he’s so likely to hop out with my question when we’re all together and fry me with embarrassment,” I finished bitterly.
She gave a sympathetic grin. “Well, I suspect it’s to present a united front, politically speaking. You haven’t been to Court, so you don’t quite comprehend how much you and your brother have become heroes--symbols--to the kingdom. Especially you, which is why there were some murmurs and speculations when you never came to the capital.”
I shook my head. “Symbol for failure, maybe. We didn’t win--Shevraeth did.”
She gave me an odd look midway between surprise and curiosity. “But to return to your question, Vidanric’s tendency to keep his own counsel ought to be reassuring as far as people hopping out with embarrassing words are concerned. If I were you--and I know it’s so much easier to give advice than to follow it--I’d sit down with him, when no one else is at hand, and talk it out.”
Just the thought of seeking him out for a private talk made me shudder. “I’d rather walk down the mountain in shoes full of snails.”
It was Nee’s turn to shudder. “Life! I’d rather do almost anything than that--”
A “Ho!” outside the door interrupted her.
Bran carelessly flung the tapestry aside and sauntered in. “There y’are, Nee. Come out on the balcony with me? It’s actually nice out, and we’ve got both moons up.” He extended his hand.
Nee looked over at me as she slid her hand into his. “Want to come?”
I looked at those clasped hands, then away. “No, thanks,” I said airily. “I think I’ll practice my fan, then read myself to sleep. Good night.”
They went out, Bran’s hand sliding round her waist. The tapestry dropped into place on Nee’s soft laugh.
I got up and moved to my window, staring out at the stars.
It seemed an utter mystery to me how Bran and Nimiar enjoyed looking at each other. Touching each other. Even the practical Oria, I realized--the friend who told me once that things were more interesting than people--had freely admitted to liking flirting.
How does that happen? I shook my head, thinking that it would never happen to me. Did I want it to?
Suddenly I was restless and the castle was too confining.
Within the space of a few breaths I had gotten rid of my civilized clothing and soft shoes and had pulled my worn, patched tunic, trousers, and tough old mocs from the trunk in the corner.
I slipped out of my room and down the stair without anyone seeing me, and before the moons had traveled the space of a hand across the sky, I was riding along the silver-lit trails with the wind in my hair and the distant harps of the Hill Folk singing forlornly on the mountaintops.
Sherwood Smith (Court Duel (Crown & Court, #2))
After seeing Dylan with the redhead, I sunk deeper into a depression. Even working at Lark’s house did nothing to distract me. I simply went through the motions. Fortunately, Lark was especially tired and slept most of the day, so she never noticed my bad mood.
Harlow wasn’t as oblivious as we washed dishes after dinner.
“What’s up, stinky pup?”
I rolled my eyes at her nickname for me. “Nothing.”
“She doesn’t want to deal with the leaves,” Jace said from behind us. Our ten year old brother crossed his arms like Dad often did when suspicious. “See, she got spooked last night and bailed on raking the leaves. They ended up blowing around the yard and now she’s trying to get out of raking them again.”
“That’s not it.”
“Sure, it is,” he said, his dark hair covering his narrowed eyes. “What else could it be?”
Grumpy, I decided to punish him. “It’s about a sexy guy.”
Jace’s face twisted into horror. “Eww!” he cried, running out of the room.
Harlow and I laughed at the sound of him telling on me to Mom.
“In a few years, girls will be all he thinks about,” I said, returning to the dishes.
Harlow leaned her head against my shoulder. “Sexy guy, huh?”
“Shouldn’t you be getting ready for your fight?”
Harlow glanced at the clock. “Yeah. When I get back, I want to hear about the sexy guy making you sigh so much.”
As my sister dressed to go, I finished the dishes and struggled to stop sighing.
I was still grumpy when Dad got home. In this living room, he told Harlow to be careful. She said something and laughed.
When Harlow started fighting at the Thunderdome, she called herself Joy and hid it from our parents. She didn’t think they’d approve and she was right. Harlow and I were naïve to assume they wouldn’t find out long before she told them the truth though.
Dad might be a pastor, but he learned about the Lord in prison. As a member of the Reapers, Dad had eyes and ears all over Ellsberg. He likely knew Harlow was fighting before she threw her first punch.
Entering the kitchen, Dad smiled at me. “Stop talking about cute boys around your brother. He has a sensitive gag reflex.”
I laughed as he got himself a beer and joined me at the sink. “Mom said we have leftovers. Mind warming them up for me?”
Shaking my head, I filled a plate and set it in the microwave.
“Are you okay?” Dad asked, frowning at me. “You look worn down.”
“I had a long day.”
“You sure that’s it?”
We watched each other and I remembered the first time he asked if I was okay. Five years earlier when I was brought to this house and met my new family. I didn’t remember a lot from that day besides thinking these people were too good to be true. I figured they’d wait until Kirk was gone then hurt me.
I couldn’t remember when I knew Dad was a good man who loved me. Not like my real dad loved me. Tad felt the kind of love a person died to protect. I saw the love in his eyes as he waited for his food to finish warming.
“I wish I was stronger.”
“So do I,” he said softly. “Everyone does. They just don’t admit it. That’s what makes you so brave. You can admit your fears.”
Even thinking he was full of shit, I smiled. “Thanks, Dad.”
Taking his plate out of the microwave, he inhaled. “Mom makes the best meatloaf.”
“I made it.”
Grinning, Dad nudged me with his hip. “If you make this meatloaf for the boy you’re hung up on, you’ll own him.”
“I’ll remember that.
Bijou Hunter (Damaged and the Bulldog (Damaged, #6))
Although,” Mater said, “it’s to be hoped that Regina didn’t give you nearly as much trouble as when she was younger. We never had much doubt that she’d come through illness, as a girl” she said to the table, shaking her head and smiling affectionately at Reggie, “but we often wondered whether the household would survive.”
“Slander,” said Reggie, after swallowing a bite of muffin. “Slander and calumny. I shall file a suit directly. And Edmund was a hundred times worse. I didn’t have friends smuggle reptiles into my room.”
These days, the reptiles in her bed did their own smuggling. Reggie tried to stifle a laugh when she thought of that and nearly choked on her tea as a result.
“Are you all right?” Miss Heselton asked. “If you’re feeling unwell—”
“She’ll be fine,” Mater said as Reggie finished her coughing fit. “Too easily amused, but fine. I recognize that expression.
Isabel Cooper (The Highland Dragon's Lady (Highland Dragon, #2))
A hand touched her shoulder. “Miss Erstwhile,” Martin said.
Jane spun around, guilty to have just come from a marriage proposal, ecstatic at her refusal, dispirited by another ending, and surprised to discover Martin was the one person in the world she most wanted to see.
“Good evening, Theodore,” she said.
“I’m Mr. Bentley now, a man of land and status, hence the fancy garb. They’ll allow me to be gentry tonight because they need the extra bodies, but only so long as I don’t talk too much.”
His eyes flicked to a point across the room. Jane followed his glance and saw Mrs. Wattlesbrook wrapped in yards of lace and eyeing them suspiciously.
“Let’s not talk, then.” Jane pulled him into the next dance.
He stood opposite her, tall and handsome and so real there among all the half-people.
They didn’t talk as they paraded and turned and touched hands, wove and skipped and do-si-doed, but they smiled enough to feel silly, their eyes full of a secret joke, their hands reluctant to let go. As the dance finished, Jane noticed Mrs. Wattlesbrook making her determined way toward them.
“We should probably…” Martin said.
Jane grabbed his hand and ran, fleeing to the rhythm of another dance tune, out the ballroom door and into a side corridor. Behind them, hurried boot heels echoed.
They ran through the house and out back, crunching gravel under their feet, making for the dark line of trees around the perimeter of the park. Jane hesitated before the damp grass.
“My dress,” she said.
Martin threw her over his shoulder, her legs hanging down his front. He ran. Jostled on her stomach, Jane gave out laughter that sounded like hiccups. He weaved his way around hedges and monuments, finally stopping on a dry patch of ground hidden by trees.
“Here you are, my lady,” he said, placing her back on her feet. Jane wobbled for a moment before gaining her balance.
“So, these are your lands, Mr. Bentley.”
“Why, yes. I shape the shrubs myself. Gardeners these days aren’t worth a damn.”
“I should be engaged to Mr. Nobley tonight. You know you’ve absolutely ruined this entire experience for me.”
“I’m sorry, but I warned you, five minutes with me and you’ll never go back.”
“You’re right about that. I’d decided to give up on men entirely, but you made that impossible.”
“Listen, I’m not trying to start anything serious. I just--”
“Don’t worry.” Jane smiled innocently. “Weird intense Jane gone, new relaxed Jane just happy to see you.”
“You do seem different.” He touched her arms, pulled her in closer. “I’m happy to see you too, if you’d know. I think I missed you a bit.”
“That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.
Shannon Hale (Austenland (Austenland, #1))
Tidying up by location is a fatal mistake. I’m ashamed to admit that it took me three years to see this. Many people are surprised to hear that such a seemingly viable approach is actually a common pitfall. The root of the problem lies in the fact that people often store the same type of item in more than one place. When we tidy each place separately, we fail to see that we’re repeating the same work in many locations and become locked into a vicious circle of tidying. To avoid this, I recommend tidying by category. For example, instead of deciding that today you’ll tidy a particular room, set goals like “clothes today, books tomorrow.” One reason so many of us never succeed at tidying is because we have too much stuff. This excess is caused by our ignorance of how much we actually own. When we disperse storage of a particular item throughout the house and tidy one place at a time, we can never grasp the overall volume and therefore can never finish. To escape this negative spiral, tidy by category, not by place.
Marie Kondō (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (Magic Cleaning #1))
Then, that night at dinner—we were at a steak house—Grant got up from the table and I thought he’d gone to the men’s room, but he never returned. So Tate and I finished up, I paid the bill, and we went to find him. He was in the bar, of course, where there was a television. He was talking to a complete stranger about the Giants’ chance the next day against the Panthers.” “That sounds like Grant,” India said. “It was Grant, is Grant. But it hurt. He loved us, but he didn’t like us.
Elin Hilderbrand (The Island)
ball she would attend. When the fourth dance started, Merrifield showed up. “You aren’t on my dance card,” she chided as he took her to the center of the ballroom. “I am now,” he said, pulling her into his arms. “How did you manage that?” “I called in a favor from a friend.” He twirled her around and then brought her close. “It will be worth it to see the envy on Luke’s face.” “I doubt that,” Caroline said. Merrifield frowned at her. “Why do you say that?” “Luke doesn’t care for me . . . in that way. Ask him. He will tell you we are merely friends.” Her partner grew thoughtful. “I’ll do that.” They finished the dance, Merrifield as smooth as ever, making her feel graceful and polished. He returned her to where Leah and Amanda stood together and bowed. “I’m off to ask that question,” he said mysteriously and left. “What question? Of who?” Leah asked. “Nothing. Merrifield is merely being silly,” Caroline said. She ate supper with a lively viscount and his friends, thoroughly enjoying herself, and then danced several more times. When her next partner showed up, he asked if they could do so another time. “My mother has a headache and has asked for me to see her home.” “By all means, go to her,” Caroline urged. After he left, she decided to go to the retiring room for a few minutes of rest. Only a few women were present. She went behind one of the curtains and, moments later, overheard her name. She grew still, knowing she shouldn’t eavesdrop, but chose not to reveal herself. “Have you heard that she plans to open a bookstore? And a tearoom?” Several women tittered with laughter. “How gauche,” one said. “Just think how awkward it will be if you encounter her at a social event.” “If she’ll be invited to any. Who would ask anyone in trade—much less a woman—to a ton event? She’ll never land a husband now.” “That’s not all,” another said. “I’ve learned who her father was. The Earl of . . . Templeton.” “No!” “Oh, yes. No wonder she has to do something for money. Templeton ran through it all and left nothing.” “You heard what happened to him?” “Something about footpads,
Alexa Aston (Embracing the Earl (The St. Clairs, #3))
A year after the gold lamé shoe, the gift basket I received from Donald and Ivana hit the trifecta: it was an obvious regift, it was useless, and it demonstrated Ivana’s penchant for cellophane. After unwrapping it, I noticed, among the tin of gourmet sardines, the box of table water crackers, the jar of vermouth-packed olives, and a salami, a circular indentation in the tissue paper that filled the bottom of the basket where another jar had once been. My cousin David walked by and, pointing at the empty space, asked, “What was that?” “I have no idea. Something that goes with these, I guess,” I said, holding up the box of crackers. “Probably caviar,” he said, laughing. I shrugged, having no idea what caviar was. I grabbed the basket handle and walked toward the pile of presents I’d stacked next to the stairs. I passed Ivana and my grandmother on the way, lifted the basket, said, “Thanks, Ivana,” and put it on the floor. “Is that yours?” At first I thought she was talking about the gift basket, but she was referring to the copy of Omni magazine that was sitting on top of the stack of gifts I’d already opened. Omni, a magazine of science and science fiction that had launched in October of that year, was my new obsession. I had just picked up the December issue and brought it with me to the House in the hope that between shrimp cocktail and dinner I’d have a chance to finish reading it. “Oh, yeah.” “Bob, the publisher, is a friend of mine.” “No way! I love this magazine.” “I’ll introduce you. You’ll come into the city and meet him.” It wasn’t quite as seismic as being told I was going to meet Isaac Asimov, but it was pretty close. “Wow. Thanks.” I filled a plate and went upstairs to my dad’s room, where he’d been all day, too sick to join us. He was sitting up, listening to his portable radio. I handed the plate to him, but he put it on the small bedside table, not interested. I told him about Ivana’s generous offer. “Wait a second; who does she want to introduce you to?” I would never forget the name. I’d looked at the magazine’s masthead right after speaking to Ivana, and there he was: Bob Guccione, Publisher. “You’re going to meet the guy who publishes Penthouse?” Even at thirteen I knew what Penthouse was. There was no way we could be talking about the same person. Dad chuckled and said, “I don’t think that’s such a good idea.” And all of a sudden, neither did I.
Mary L. Trump (Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man)
My name is Layla Bailey, and this is my biome.” I cut to the footage of my house, turning up the audio so that I can be heard explaining my habitat. I added today’s men in plastic suits to the very end, and I narrate over it. “These people and CPS are the apex predators of my ecosystem, and I am an endangered species. The last of my kind. But the Sierra Club doesn’t make posters out of kids like me.” I add three screenshots near the end. The first is the only picture of my mom I could find, in profile and wreathed in smoke. “This is my mother, Darlene Thompson. She was born in captivity and released into the wild without any skills to care for herself. She is missing. If you see her, do not attempt to approach her, but please contact animal control.” The second is of Andy. “This is Andrew Fisher Bailey, my little brother. He was taken into captivity two days ago by people he had never seen before. I don’t know his whereabouts, but I hope he’s safe. If you see him, remember he is friendly but skittish. He is better off in captivity than in the wild.” The last one is my most recent report card, accessed on the school website by inputting the username and password I created for my mom last year. “This is me, Layla Louise Bailey. I was born in the wild and cannot be domesticated. However, I’m not yet fully capable of caring for myself, either. I have no money and not enough skills. What I have is a 4.0 and really low standards. I’ll do chores. I’ll be quiet. If you’ve got a garage or a laundry room I could sleep in, I am mostly housebroken. I just want to finish school, adopt my little brother, and go to college.
Meg Elison (Find Layla)
She was sceptical about the painting when it was finished. 'It's nice. But it's not quite like the real thing.'
'But what would be the point of it being exactly like the real thing?'
The next day, he painted the same corner of the room as previously. Bea's response was as before.
He was amused. He painted the corner of the room over and over. She was never entirely satisfied.
When he had produced his hundredth canvas, she kissed him tenderly, suggesting he gave up. 'You'll never be a success...
Brian W. Aldiss (Three Types of Solitude)
stage. Our holiday has been transformational, not just for you but for me as well.” Mom’s phone started ringing; I could see that it was dad calling. She rejected the call. “I’ll call him back later.” I told mom that I planned to go to the beach later and try to find Remmy and apologize to her properly, face to face. Mom thought that was a brave idea, and she was proud of me. We finished our drinks and walked home, holding hands. When I went to my room, I found Harper awake. She had arranged to meet with Sandy, Rach, and Susie at the beach. She'd also asked Elliot to come along. “Do you know if Remmy is coming?” I asked. Sandy looked at me and grinned. “Shouldn’t you be more concerned about whether Charlie is coming?” I shook my head. “No, not really. Charlie likes Remmy, not me. He never liked me. I just had a crazy crush on him. Looking back, I think he was probably too polite to tell me to go away.” Harper walked over to me and knocked on my head with her fist. “Hello! Sydney? Are you in there somewhere? Why are you so negative?” I smiled at Harper. "Actually, I feel incredibly positive and really good
Katrina Kahler (WILD CHILD - Book 4 - Holidays)
Yurik's room became their love nest. And a messier room the world had never seen. It was a jumble of dirty socks strewn about the floor, sheet music, CDs, cigarette butts, paper plates, and half-filled cans of Coke. An old Hammond organ, left behind by former tenants, stood in the hallway, blocking half the entrance and leaving only a narrow space to squeeze through.
This was the room where the young couple broadened their knowledge of the world, from time to time ingesting substances that took them to other places and realities. But when Laura finished high school, and showed her parents the report card with grades that would never get her admitted into a decent college, she announced to Yurik that he had no prospects, and danced off forever. After leaving Yurik and giving him his first broken heart, she went to California. Then she flew off to the places where fearless and brainless enthusiasts of dangerous journeys fly to.
Lyudmila Ulitskaya (Лестница Якова)
When I first met you, you seemed easily categorized, Lux. Like one of my herbs. 'Nettles: a remedy for night sweats, fatigue, and releasing excess mucus.' I like things to be defined. It calms me, brings order to my life. So on your first visit, I thought, 'Lux Lysander: flighty, scared, we'll never see her again.' On your second visit, I thought, 'Sweet, a bit of a dreamer.' And now, on your third visit, it's clear I have to recalibrate once again."
She nodded briskly. "Intuitive, honest, clear-thinking, and loyal."
I looked at her openmouthed, letting the praise sink in. Each adjective was like a little firework burst, spreading its fingers of heat over the surface of my skin.
"I'm not done," she said. "Compassionate, resourceful, intelligent."
My eyes welled up.
"Worthy," she finished.
I swallowed the lump in my throat. "I thought I'd lost those parts of me."
"Nothing is ever lost," said Martha. "Only forgotten. All that's needed is one person who remembers, one person who realizes it is still there."
The door to a long-abandoned room inside me that I hadn't even known existed until this minute began to open. Sweet, fresh air poured in.
Melanie Gideon (Valley of the Moon)
Burgling your way out of yourself, quietly, subtly, slipping away from yourself as light slips away from a room when night falls (though night does not fall; objects secrete it at the end of the day when, in their tiredness, they exile themselves in their silence).
Grey, still day, like a perpetual dawn. The birds themselves were deceived by it. They went on singing all day, even though daybreak never came. It is Sunday 13 May, 6 p.m. Is this a good or a bad thing? As evening comes on, a cold silent wind gets up. All we need is a heat storm to put the finishing touch to the unreality of the season. And yet the birds are singing and men are thinking, on this Sunday, in secret. They are warding off the absence of sun and the monotony of Sunday. They are dreaming of the marriage of sun and sand. They are dreaming of fogging up the mirrors and each shining forth in his own madness. They are listening to a piece of baroque music: 'Whence comes, whence comes such a loneliness?
Jean Baudrillard (Cool Memories)
Right now, in front of all of you, I’m gonna make the vows my dad showed me you should make when you fall in love with a woman.”
“Oh shit,” Cher murmured.
Ethan turned and looked down at his bride. “I vow to take care of you. I vow that every day you’ll feel safe because you know that down to your bones, seein’ as I’ll be breakin’ my back givin’ it to you. And I vow to give you shit when you’re bein’ a wiseass.”
Laughter filled the room, but Ethan was not done speaking.
“I also vow to take your shit when I’m bein’ one. I vow to make sure you got what you want as often as I can give it to you. I vow to love the children we make, spend time with them as often as humanly possible, and knock myself out to make them feel safe. I vow to guide them to the right paths in life, showin’ them I’m proud they’re mine, they’re ours, even when they don’t do anything special to make me feel that way.”
His voice dipped before he went on.
“And most importantly, green eyes, I vow to make you laugh at least once every day for the rest of the beautiful life I also vow to give you. I vow to make you do it hard. I vow to give it from the heart so I can make it come from your gut, and you’ll never forget how happy you make me because I vow to bust my ass to make you the same. I love you, baby, and I cherish you, and that’s what you’re gonna get from me until one or the other of us stops breathing.”
“Oh, Ethan!” his girl cried, surging out of her seat, throwing herself in Ethan Merrick’s arms, and shoving her face in his neck.
He wrapped one around her and kissed her hair before he turned to the room, raised his glass, and finished.
“So toast with me, with my bride, to what real love means—care and safety and laughter and givin’ your baby shit when she’s bein’ a wiseass.
Kristen Ashley (Hold On (The 'Burg, #6))
When the men finished their game of whist and downed the last of the brandy, they decided the evening was at last over.
“That’s enough for me.” Godric turned towards the ladies. “Come along, Em. Time to depart.”
Emily didn’t spare her husband a glance. She had one hand on Horatia’s shoulder and another on Audrey’s while she spoke to the pair of them in a huddle. None of the men really bothered trying to figure out what women whispered about. Lucien guessed it would always remain one of life’s mysteries, like why a woman needed countless bonnets when they were such ugly and useless things. It was a damned nuisance trying to untie yards of unnecessary ribbons in order to touch a woman’s hair while he was kissing her.
“That’s an unholy alliance if I ever saw one,” Cedric noted.
The Sheridan sisters were trouble enough, but adding Emily was like a lit match near a very large powder keg.
“I’d best collect my wife before she causes trouble,” Godric replied.
Lucien didn’t miss Godric’s pleased tone as he had said ‘wife.’
Godric stood, then walked quietly over and plucked her away from the group, scooping her up into his arms.
“Godric!” Emily kicked her feet in outrage. “Put me down at once!”
“I don’t think so, my dear. It’s time I put you to bed.” Godric bent his head low so his face was inches from hers.
“Oh if you must.” She tried to sound reluctant, but there was a breathless quality to her voice that fooled no one. For a moment, Lucien was struck with a sharp sense of envy. If Horatia weren’t related to his friend, he would have been carrying her out the door in the same fashion, to find the nearest bed.
“Good night, everyone!” Godric called over his shoulder as he and Emily left the drawing room.
Cedric shook his head, but his eyes glinted with merriment. “By the way they act I swear you’d never know they were married.”
“They are indeed fortunate,” Ashton said. “To be so in love that marriage is a blessing rather than a burden.
Are you finished with your little meeting?” Audrey asked, setting down her magazine and smiling up at her brother.
The way she’d said “little meeting” left Lucien with no doubt they were having fun at their expense, or perhaps it was her biting her bottom lip to prevent her laughter that gave her away. Regardless, Cedric’s sisters had challenged the men and they were in no mood to play games. Especially Cedric.
“You.” Cedric pointed to Audrey. “Bed, now!” His accusing finger then swept towards Emily. “Since when do you embroider? I distinctly recall you telling me once that such a thing was a complete and utter waste of time.”
“Considering your rather callous behavior tonight in leaving us out of your decisions, I decided to renew the rather useless habit,” Emily replied as though speaking of the weather. She politely held up the embroidery hoop, which was festooned with flowers around a simple phrase every single man in the room could read, Never Challenge a Woman. Lucien could only imagine how she must have embroidered that in so short a time.
“We left you out of it because this matter doesn’t concern any of you ladies. Besides, it is a delicate and dangerous situation,” Cedric said.
“Hmm,” Emily responded, the feminine sound came out strangely condescending. “Perhaps we ladies are keeping you out of a dangerous situation and haven’t bothered to inform you of our intentions. If you insist on keeping us in the dark, we will persist in our efforts to keep all of you alive regardless of your belief that we are incapable females.”
-His Wicked Seduction
After she was finished with me, because it was clear she had no interest in my name either, she thanked me for the good time and left me alone in the bedroom. I sat on that bed, naked, with my head in my hands. If a guy could ever feel used I definitely felt it that night. I never had visions of perfection or anything like that regarding my first time but I would have liked to have known the girl's name. Or at the very least remembered how I had even met her in the first place. I looked around that room and hated everything it stood for. There wasn't anything memorable about it. No distinguishing items to identify who the room belonged to. It seemed to be just another room in another house that I felt completely alone in, even though the house was filled with people."
From Back to You by Angela L. Hansen.
Angela L. Hansen (Back to You (Discovery #2))
Yes, Pilcher was a money-man. They were a type. It was easy to spot them. You could always tell one by that cold fire in his eyes. It was not the hot fire of the man who would never interrupt a dream to calculate the risk, but the cold fire of the man whose mind was geared to the rules of the money game. It was a game that was played with numbers on pieces of paper … common into preferred, preferred into debentures, debentures into dollars, dollars into long-term capital gains. It was the net dollars after tax that were important. They were the numbers on the scoreboard, the runs that crossed the plate, the touchdowns, the goals. Net dollars were the score markers of the money-man’s game. Nothing else mattered. A factory wasn’t a living, breathing organism. It was only a dollar sign and a row of numbers after the Plant & Equipment item on the balance sheet. Their guts didn’t tighten when they heard a big Number Nine bandsaw sink its whining teeth into hard maple. Their nostrils didn’t widen to the rich musk of walnut or the sharply pungent blast from the finishing room. When they saw a production line they looked with blind eyes, not feeling the counterpoint beat of their hearts or the pulsing flow of hot blood or the trigger-set tenseness of lungs that were poised to miss a breath with every lost beat on the line
Cameron Hawley (Executive Suite)
Wrath bared his fangs. “John, as God is my fucking witness, I will cut you if you don’t—”
“Easy, there, big guy,” V gritted out. “I’m going to translate. You want to hit the library where we can—”
“No, I want to fucking know where my shellan is!” Wrath boomed.
John started signing, and whereas most of the time people translated half sentences sequentially, V waited until he’d finished the whole report.
A couple of the Brothers muttered in the background as they shook their heads.
“In the library,” V ordered the King in a way John never could have. “You’re gonna wanna do this in the library.”
Wrong thing to say.
Wrath wheeled on the Brother and went for him with such speed and accuracy no one was prepared: One minute V was standing next to the King; the next he was defending himself against an attack that was as unprovoked as it was . . . well, vicious.
And then things went shit-wild. Like Wrath knew he was on the thin edge of a bad ledge, he broke off from V, and went total wrecking ball on the billiards room.
The first thing he ran into was the pool table Butch was chilling next to—and there was barely any time for the cop to get that ashtray up off the side rails: Wrath grabbed the gunnels and flipped the thing like it was nothing but a card table, the mahogany and slate-topped behemoth flying up so high, it wiped out the hanging light fixture above, its weight so great it splintered the marble floor beneath on landing.
Without missing a breath, the King EF5’d into his next victim . . . the heavy leather sofa that Rhage had just leaped up off.
Talk about your couch-icopters.
The entire thing came at John at about five feet off the floor, the pair of ends trading places as it spun around and around, cushions flying in all directions. He didn’t take it personally—especially as its mate do-si-doed with the bar, smashing the top-shelf bottles, liquor splashing all over the walls, the floor, the fire that was crackling in the hearth.
Wrath wasn’t finished.
The King picked up a side table, hauled it overhead, and pitched it in the direction of the TV.
It missed the plasma screen, but managed to shatter an old-fashioned mirror—although the Sony didn’t last.
The coffee table that had been in between the two sofas did that deed, killing the muted image of the two Boston guys and the old man from Southie with the baseball bat shilling for DirectTV.
The Brothers just let Wrath go.
It wasn’t that they were afraid of getting hurt.
Hell, Rhage stepped in and caught the first couch before it tore a hunk off of the archway’s molding.
They just weren’t stupid.
Wrath - Beth x Overnight = Psycho-hose Beast
J.R. Ward (The King (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #12))
How could he convey to someone who'd never even met her the way she always smelled like rain, or how his stomach knotted up every time he saw her shake loose her hair from its braid? How could he describe how it felt when she finished his sentences, turned the mug they were sharing so that her mouth landed where his had been? How did he explain the way they could be in a locker room, or underwater, or in the piney woods of Maine, bus as long as Em was with him, he was at home?
Jodi Picoult (The Pact)
Take Brooksley Born, former chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), who waged an unsuccessful campaign to regulate the multitrillion-dollar derivatives market. Soon after the Clinton administration asked her to take the reins of the CFTC, a regulatory backwater, she became aware of the over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives market, a rapidly expanding and opaque market, which she attempted to regulate. According to a PBS Frontline special: "Her attempts to regulate derivatives ran into fierce resistance from then-Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, then-Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, and then-Deputy Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who prevailed upon Congress to stop Born and limit future regulation." Put more directly by New York Times reporter Timothy O'Brien, "they ... shut her up and shut her down." Mind you, Born was no dummy. She was the first female president of the Stanford Law Review, the first woman to finish at the top of the class, and an expert in commodities and futures. But because a trio of people who were literally en-titled decided they knew what was best for the market, they dismissed her call for regulation, a dismissal that triggered the financial collapse of 2008. To be fair to Greenspan et al., their resistance was not surprising. According to psychologists Hillel Einhorn and Robin Hogarth, "we [as human beings] are prone to search only for confirming evidence, and ignore disconfirming evidence." In the case of Born, it was the '90s, the markets were doing well, and the country was prospering; it's easy to see why the powerful troika rejected her disconfirming views. Throw in the fact that the disconcerting evidence was coming from a "disconfirming" person (i.e., a woman), and they were even more likely to disregard the data. In the aftermath, Arthur Levitt, former chairman of the SEC, said, "If she just would have gotten to know us... maybe it would have gone a different way."12 Born quotes Michael Greenberg, the director of the CFTC under her, as saying, "They say you weren't a team player, but I never saw them issue you a uniform." We like ideas and people that fit into our world-view, but there is tremendous value in finding room for those that don't. According to Paul Carlile and Clayton Christensen, "It is only when an anomaly is identified—an outcome for which a theory can't account that an opportunity to improve theory occurs."13 One of the ways you'll know you are coming up against an anomaly is if you find yourself annoyed, defensive, even dismissive, of a person, or his idea.
Whitney Johnson (Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work)
It is illegal to portal anyone while they are under duress,I could lose my license if I were to do so."
"You're going to lose a lot more than that if you don't tell me where my twin went," I said in a low, mean voice.
"Mayling, please. I must insist that you allow me to be the bad cop," Gabriel said as I slid the dagger at my ankle out of its sheath.
"I have never subscribed to the sexist belief that women have to be good cop," I said, twirling the dagger around one finger.
"Nonetheless, you are far more suited to the good cop role," Gabriel insisted.
"I'm going to have to go against popular opinion and side with Mei Ling on this," Savian said, watching us with a delighted twinkle in his eye. "She looks like she knows how to use that blade. What is that, a stiletto?"
"Sicilian castrating knife," I said with a smile at the portal man.
"She wins," Savian told Gabriel.
"Er..." Jarilith said, his expression starting to slide into worry.
"I am a wyvern! I can do far more to this man than merely remove his genitalia," Gabriel answered in an outraged tone, a little tendril of smoke emerging from between his lips as he spoke.
"Eh..." Jarilith said, taking a step backward.
"Hmm. He's a weaver," Savian said thoughtfully as he examined the portalist. "Those are immortal, aren't they? So he could survive a castration, but the question is would a dragon barbeque be enough to finish him off?"
"Absolutely," Gabriel said. He smiled. It wasn't a nice smile.
"Threatening a weaver is strictly prohibited by law," Jarilith said indignantly, but the fight had gone out of him. His gaze was flickering back and forth from Gabriel to Savian to the dagger I held casually. "I could have the watch on you for what you're saying!"
"Oh, please," I said with a dramatic roll of my eyes.
"Just about every thief taker in this hemisphere is after me. I've already been sentenced to banishment to the Akasha. You think one little murder is going to make that any worse? Not likely."
Jarilith's eyes widened.
"It's true," Savian said. "The price on her head has already gone over six figures."
The color washed out of the portalist's face. "Erm..."
"Mate," Gabriel said sternly. "I must insist that you refrain from slicing and dicing this man."
Jarilith nodded quickly. "Listen to the dragon."
"It is my place to destroy those who stand in your way," Gabriel continued, the pupils in his eyes narrowing as he turned to the now hastily backing away Jarilith.
"Let's not lose our heads, here," the latter said in a rush.
"I don't think it's your head the lady has in mind," Savian said as he looked pointedly at the portalist's crotch.
Jarilith's hands hovered protectively over his fly. "Such an atrocity would constitute torture. You wouldn't do that to an innocent man, would you?"
"What makes you think I'd stop at the castration?" I twirled the knife around my fingers again. "This little jobby fillets, as well."
"She went to Paris," Jarilith said quickly as he dashed for a door to a back room. "Your portal is ready in room number three. Have a pleasant journey..."
His voice trailed off as he bolted.
I turned a frown on Gabriel. "You really wouldn't have let me be bad cop? I'm very good at it, as you can see."
"I'm sorry," he said, his dimples belying the grave look he was trying to maintain.."Wyverns have some standards to maintain with their mates, and one of them is always being the bad cop.Although I do admit that you have a particularly effective manner. Would you really have castrated him to get the information about your twin?"
"Would you really have burnt him to acrisp for not answering?"
"Such a bloodthirsty little bird," he said fondly, giving my butt a little pinch.
Savian stood still for a moment, giving us an odddisbelieving look before shaking his head and following. "You two are the strangest couple I've ever met. And I have to tell you-I've met some real weirdos
Katie MacAlister (Playing With Fire (Silver Dragons, #1))
As they approached the park exit, Emma became aware that they would soon be saying goodbye, and that there was every chance that they would never see each other again. There might be parties, she supposed, but they both knew a different crowd, and besides he would be off travelling soon. Even if they did see each other it would be fleeting and formal, and he would soon forget everything that had happened in that small rented room in the early hours of the morning. As they stumbled down the hill she began to feel regret creeping up on her, and realised she didn’t want him to go yet. A second night. She wanted one more night at least, so that they could finish what they had started. How might she say that? She couldn’t of course. Fainthearted as usual, she had left it too late. In the future, I’ll be braver, she told herself. In the future, I will always speak my mind, eloquently, passionately. They were at the park gates now, the place where she should probably say goodbye.
David Nicholls (One Day)
What was best for Charlotte? The answer was obvious. And for once he needed to overcome his selfish desires. "Go home, Charlotte." "So thats it?" She straightened, her lovely pride stiffening her frame. "You are finished with me? Finally?" He discarded the glass and moved so quickly across the room, around the furniture, that he saw the surprise that she couldnt hide. "No." He touched her chin, made her meet his eyes. "I would never be finished with you, Charlotte" Something far more contorted than simple confusion graced her face. "Roman." And her voice was soft, questioning. "Do you think you might come to love me? If you werent ...giving...me back? Someday? Just a little?" He was frozen. Absolutely frozen. He couldnt speak a word. She lifted her chin a notch and pressed a soft kiss to his lips at his nonresponse. And still he remained frozen. He saw her walk to the door and grab Bills arm. Heard their footsteps filing down the hall. Leaving. Leaving. Never hearing his whisper that he already did.
Anne Mallory (One Night Is Never Enough (Secrets, #2))
Kelly started to frame her dangerous question by saying, “You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs,’ and ‘disgusting animals . . .’” Trump interrupted her by saying, “Only Rosie O’Donnell.” Kelly finished her question and Trump responded with something about the problem of political correctness. But by then it didn’t matter. The Rosie O’Donnell reference sucked all the energy out of the room. It was a masterstroke of persuasion, timed perfectly, and executed in front of the world. When I saw it happen, I stood and walked toward the television (literally). I got goose bumps on my arm. This wasn’t normal. This was persuasion like I have never seen it performed in public.
Scott Adams (Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don't Matter)
You do understand what I mean!” he exclaimed, pleased to see Maude responding to his song. “I chose Nina Simone to show you something else. Just like you, Nina Simone had a classical background. When she was younger, she wanted to become a concert pianist. Her skill was beyond measure and she used it in a wide repertoire of jazz, blues, and R&B songs. And I think you can do the same. Music knows no limits and I truly understand why James insisted on signing you, Maude.” Maude remained silent, still thinking about his rendition of Nina Simone. “All you have to do is dig deeper. Try finding some suffering in you. Don’t sing the Cenerentola with a smile. Although you look like a girl who’s had it all. You know, the nice girl from the North of France, who grew up in a quiet, small town with her loving mom and dad and brothers and sisters, always top of her class, quick-tempered when things didn’t go her way. A bit spoiled, I guess. You have to put all that—” “Spoiled?” Maude blurted in utter disbelief, the word echoing through her mind. Of all the things he could’ve said about her, spoiled was the last word that could have appeared remotely appropriate to describe her. As for suffering, she’d had plenty of that, too, which is why she didn’t want to think about it. Not while she was so happy in New York and Carvin and the Ruchets were the last thing she wanted in her head. She painfully pushed the Ruchets away from her mind and turned to Matt, eyes flaring up again. “You know nothing about me, Matt,” she said, her voice quivering with emotion. “And you obviously know nothing about suffering, or you wouldn’t idealize it the way that you do. You see it as a romantic notion that seemingly gives depth to songwriting. And it does. Not because the singers actually thought of woe in a purely aesthetic way, but because that’s how they actually lived. You will never understand that,” she finished, trembling from head to toe. And with that, she grabbed her bag, coat, gloves, scarf, and stormed out of Matt’s Creation Room, slamming the door behind her.
Anna Adams (A French Girl in New York (The French Girl, #1))
Ten months after Jamie’s death, the 2006 football season began. The Colts played peerless football, winning their first nine games, and finishing the year 12–4. They won their first play-off game, and then beat the Baltimore Ravens for the divisional title. At that point, they were one step away from the Super Bowl, playing for the conference championship—the game that Dungy had lost eight times before. The matchup occurred on January 21, 2007, against the New England Patriots, the same team that had snuffed out the Colts’ Super Bowl aspirations twice. The Colts started the game strong, but before the first half ended, they began falling apart. Players were afraid of making mistakes or so eager to get past the final Super Bowl hurdle that they lost track of where they were supposed to be focusing. They stopped relying on their habits and started thinking too much. Sloppy tackling led to turnovers. One of Peyton Manning’s passes was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. Their opponents, the Patriots, pulled ahead 21 to 3. No team in the history of the NFL had ever overcome so big a deficit in a conference championship. Dungy’s team, once again, was going to lose.3.36 At halftime, the team filed into the locker room, and Dungy asked everyone to gather around. The noise from the stadium filtered through the closed doors, but inside everyone was quiet. Dungy looked at his players. They had to believe, he said. “We faced this same situation—against this same team—in 2003,” Dungy told them. In that game, they had come within one yard of winning. One yard. “Get your sword ready because this time we’re going to win. This is our game. It’s our time.”3.37 The Colts came out in the second half and started playing as they had in every preceding game. They stayed focused on their cues and habits. They carefully executed the plays they had spent the past five years practicing until they had become automatic. Their offense, on the opening drive, ground out seventy-six yards over fourteen plays and scored a touchdown. Then, three minutes after taking the next possession, they scored again. As the fourth quarter wound down, the teams traded points. Dungy’s Colts tied the game, but never managed to pull ahead. With 3:49 left in the game, the Patriots scored, putting Dungy’s players at a three-point disadvantage, 34 to 31. The Colts got the ball and began driving down the field. They moved seventy yards in nineteen seconds, and crossed into the end zone. For the first time, the Colts had the lead, 38 to 34. There were now sixty seconds left on the clock. If Dungy’s team could stop the Patriots from scoring a touchdown, the Colts would win. Sixty seconds is an eternity in football.
Charles Duhigg (The Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business)
We got dressed as soon as we were finished and sat in his living room and drank mint tea and I said, "What makes you want a baby anyway?" and he said, "Can you imagine how it must feel to love someone from the moment they begin to exist? To know that you'll never not love them?
Ramona Ausubel (Awayland)
But he took another deep hit on the joint and it sent him back to twelve, being twelve; a precocious kid, waking up each morning fully expecting a twelve hours until nuclear apocalypse announcement, that old, cheesy, end-of-the-world scenario. Round that time he had thought a lot about extreme decisions, about the future and its deadlines. Even then it had struck him that he was unlikely to spend those last twelve hours fucking Alice the fifteen-year-old baby-sitter next door, telling people that he loved them, converting to orthodox Judaism, or doing all the things he wanted and all the things he never dared. It always seemed more likely to him, much more likely, that he would just return to his room and calmly finish constructing Lego Medieval Castle. What else could you do? What other choice could you be certain about? Because choices need time, the fullness of time, time being the horizontal axis of morality—you make a decision and then you wait and see, wait and see.
Zadie Smith (White Teeth)
Actually, his illness caused him to commit suicide. That’s what happened. And his mother, my patient, as you can imagine, was so sad. And she had to find a way to get some peace after this terrible thing. And one day she said to me, ‘For the rest of my life, it’s the first thing they’ll say about me when I leave the room.’ And I remember thinking: Yes, that’s true, it will be. But we can’t really do anything about what they say when we leave the room. We’ll never be able to control that. And we shouldn’t try. Our job is just to…well, be in the room while we’re there, and try not to think too much about where we’re not. Whatever room we happen to be in, just, be there,” she finished lamely.
Jean Hanff Korelitz (The Undoing: Previously Published as You Should Have Known)
Almighty God, You never stop showing Your goodness to those who love You, and You let Yourself be found by those who seek You; show Your favor to your pilgrims as they pursue their pilgrimage and guide their path according to Your will. Be to them a shade in the heat of the day, a light in the darkness of the night, a relief in the midst of their fatigue, so that they can happily finish their journey under Your protection. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.’ I hope this has been your experience.” Heads nod all around the room. The monk waits a moment and then adds, “Here is another blessing for the end of your Camino. ‘May the Lord Christ go with you wherever He may send you, guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.’” He opens up the gathering to a time of sharing for the pilgrims, but I am too overcome to trust my voice. I sit with the cross-stitch across my lap, fingering its nubby surface, and listen as, one
Elizabeth Musser (The Promised Land (The Swan House #3))
May always said we were angels before we were ever people. She said when we were finished being people we'd go back to being angels. And we'd never feel pain again. But what is it that makes a person want to stay here an this earth anyway, and go on suffering the most awful pain just for the sake of getting to stay? I used to think it was because people fear death. But now I think it is because people can't bear saying good-bye. May was lucky. When she had to say her goodbye to Ob, she had to hurt over it only once. And then she was an angel and it didn't hurt her anymore. But Ob. Ob hurt and he kept on hurting. Living in a trailer full of May's empty spaces. Walking through May's dying garden. Sleeping in a bed that still left room for her. He hurt so much. But even after his most terrible hours, he decided to stay here on this earth. Right out of the blue, he wanted to live again. And I'd like to think maybe he wanted to live because of me. Because he couldn't bear the thought of saying good-bye to me.
Cynthia Rylant (Missing May)