I'm tired of being your best friend. I'm tired of being second best. I won't settle for that anymore. It's all or nothing, Schuyler. You have to decide. Him or me.
- Oliver Hazzard-Perry
Melissa de la Cruz (Revelations (Blue Bloods, #3))
Then, what's the matter?' I wonder, in fact, how many times I have said that or something equal to it to a woman passing palely through my life. What're you thinking? What's made you so quiet? You seem suddenly different. What's the matter? Love me is what this means, of course. Or at least, second best: surrender. Or at the very least, take some time regaling me with why you won't, and maybe by the end you will.
Richard Ford (The Sportswriter (Frank Bascombe, #1))
I said that I am in love with you. I've tried not to be, I really have, but it's just useless. I know you don't feel the same way about me, but I had to tell you because... well, you're all I think about. All the time. I miss you every second that you're not with me... and I know you won't want to be around me anymore, but, Camilla... you're one of the best friends I've ever had. You're smart and amazing and weird and probably the most beautiful person I've ever seen... and before I met you, all I wanted was just to fast-forward through everything. But, really, I think my life was just paused, or something. You... made me press play. You made everything move. And no matter where you go, or whatever you feel about me... I will love you forever for that.
Melissa Keil (Life in Outer Space)
Me?" he said in some surprise. "I won't be dancing! It's the bridal dance. The bride and groom dance alone!"
For one circuit of the room," she told him. "After which they are joined by the best man and first bridesmaid, then by the groomsman and the second bridesmaid."
Will reacted as he had been stung. He leaned over to speak across Jenny on his left, to Gilan.
Gil! Did you know we have to dance?" he asked. Gilan nodded enthusiastically.
Oh yes indeed. Jenny and I have been practicing for the past three days, haven't we, Jen?"
Jenny looked up at him adoringly and nodded. Jenny was in love. Gilan was tall, dashing, good-looking, charming and very ammusing. Plus he was cloaked in the mystery and romance tat came with being a Ranger. Jenny had only ever known one ranger and that had been grim-faced, gray-bearded Halt.
John Flanagan (Erak's Ransom (Ranger's Apprentice, #7))
Because when you finally find the one against all odds, you give him your best and let the magic of the world carry the rest.
E. Mellyberry (I Won't Break (A Broken Love Story, #2))
I sense that you won’t let the world push you into a life you don’t want. Maybe I’m wrong so let me at least say this: Fight, America. You might not want to fight for the things that most others would fight for, like money or notoriety, but fight all the same. Whatever it is that you want, America, go after it with all that you have in you. If you can keep from letting fear make you settle for second best, then I can’t ask for anything more from you. Live your life. Be as happy as you can be, let go of the things that don’t matter, and fight.
Kiera Cass (The One (The Selection, #3))
I distrust plot for two reasons: first, because our lives are largely plotless, even when you add in all our reasonable precautions and careful planning; and second, because I believe plotting and the spontaneity of real creation aren’t compatible. It’s best that I be as clear about this as I can—I want you to understand that my basic belief about the making of stories is that they pretty much make themselves. The job of the writer is to give them a place to grow (and to transcribe them, of course). If you can see things this way (or at least try to), we can work together comfortably. If, on the other hand, you decide I’m crazy, that’s fine. You won’t be the first.
Stephen King (On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft)
He stared at her and his smile slowly faded. He put his hands on his hips. He took a deep breath and felt tears gather in his eyes. “You’re all I need to be happy, Shelby,” he said. “You’re everything I need…”
He actually surprised her. Her arms dropped from over her chest and she gaped at him for a second.
“You’re everything,” he said. “It scares me to death, but I want it all with you. I want you for life. I want what you want, and I want it right now. Everything, Shelby. I want you to be the lead in my shoes that keeps me on the ground. The mother of my children. My best friend, my wife, my mistress. It’s a tall order.” He took a breath.
“If you won’t quit, I won’t.
Robyn Carr (Temptation Ridge (Virgin River, #6))
I sense that you won't let the world push you into a life you don't want. Maybe I'm wrong, so let me at least say this: fight, America. You might not want to fight for the things that most others fight for, like money or notoriety, but fight all the same. Whatever it is that you want, America, go after it with all that you have in you.
If you can do that, if you can keep from letting fear make you settle for second best, then I can't ask for anything more from you as a parent. Live your life. Be as happy as you can be, let go of the things that don't matter, and fight.
Kiera Cass (The One (The Selection, #3))
Without failing at one thing, there won't be an opportunity to try again, learn and grow. Life isn't static but dynamic. Learn to embrace whatever situation you may face and strive to overcome. Believe in yourself, knowing your best is yet to come.
The process of miraculous change is twofold. One: I see my error or dysfunctional pattern. Two: I ask God to take it from me. The first principle without the second is impotent. As they say in Alcoholics Anonymous, your best thinking got you here. You're the problem but you're not the answer. The second principle isn't enough to change us either. The Holy Spirit can't take from us what we will not release to him. He won't work without our consent. He cannot remove our character defects without our willingness, because that would be violating our free will. We chose those patterns, however mistakenly, and he will not force us to give them up. In asking God to heal us, we're committing to the choice to be healed.
Marianne Williamson (A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles")
I smack into him as if shoved from behind. He doesn't budge, not an inch. Just holds my shoulders and waits. Maybe he's waiting for me to find my balance. Maybe he's waiting for me to gather my pride. I hope he's got all day.
I hear people passing on the boardwalk and imagine them staring. Best-case scenario, they think I know this guy, that we're hugging. Worst-case scenario, they saw me totter like an intoxicated walrus into this complete stranger because I was looking down for a place to park our beach stuff. Either way, he knows what happened. He knows why my cheek is plastered to his bare chest. And there is definite humiliation waiting when I get around to looking up at him.
Options skim through my head like a flip book.
Option One: Run away as fast as my dollar-store flip flops can take me. Thing is, tripping over them is partly responsible for my current dilemma. In fact, one of them is missing, probably caught in a crack of the boardwalk. I'm getting Cinderella didn't feel this foolish, but then again, Cinderella wasn't as clumsy as an intoxicated walrus.
Option two: Pretend I've fainted. Go limp and everything. Drool, even. But I know this won't work because my eyes flutter too much to fake it, and besides, people don't blush while unconscious.
Option Three: Pray for a lightning bolt. A deadly one that you feel in advance because the air gets all atingle and your skin crawls-or so the science books say. It might kill us both, but really, he should have been paying more attention to me when he saw that I wasn't paying attention at all.
For a shaved second, I think my prayers are answered because I go get tingly all over; goose bumps sprout everywhere, and my pulse feels like electricity. Then I realize, it's coming from my shoulders. From his hands.
Option Last: For the love of God, peel my cheek off his chest and apologize for the casual assault. Then hobble away on my one flip-flop before I faint. With my luck, the lightning would only maim me, and he would feel obligated to carry me somewhere anyway. Also, do it now.
I ease away from him and peer up. The fire on my cheeks has nothing to do with the fact that it's sweaty-eight degrees in the Florida sun and everything to do with the fact that I just tripped into the most attractive guy on the planet. Fan-flipping-tastic.
"Are-are you all right?" he says, incredulous. I think I can see the shape of my cheek indented on his chest.
I nod. "I'm fine. I'm used to it. Sorry." I shrug off his hands when he doesn't let go. The tingling stays behind, as if he left some of himself on me.
"Jeez, Emma, are you okay?" Chloe calls from behind. The calm fwopping of my best friend's sandals suggests she's not as concerned as she sounds. Track star that she is, she would already be at my side if she thought I was hurt. I groan and face her, not surprised that she's grinning wide as the equator. She holds out my flip-flop, which I try not to snatch from her hand.
"I'm fine. Everybody's fine," I say. I turn back to the guy, who seems to get more gorgeous by the second. "You're fine, right? No broken bones or anything?"
He blinks, gives a slight nod.
Chloe setts her surfboard against the rail of the boardwalk and extends her hand to him. He accepts it without taking his eyes off me. "I'm Chloe and this is Emma," she says. "We usually bring her helmet with us, but we left it back in the hotel room this time.
Anna Banks (Of Poseidon (The Syrena Legacy, #1))
He is all my art to me now," said the painter gravely. "I sometimes think, Harry, that there are only two eras of any importance in the world's history. The first is the appearance of a new medium for art, and the second is the appearance of a new personality for art also. What the invention of oil-painting was to the Venetians, the face of Antinous was to late Greek sculpture, and the face of Dorian Gray will some day be to me. It is not merely that I paint from him, draw from him, sketch from him. Of course, I have done all that. But he is much more to me than a model or a sitter. I won't tell you that I am dissatisfied with what I have done of him, or that his beauty is such that art cannot express it. There is nothing that art cannot express, and I know that the work I have done, since I met Dorian Gray, is good work, is the best work of my life. But in some curious way—I wonder will you understand me?—his personality has suggested to me an entirely new manner in art, an entirely new mode of style. I see things differently, I think of them differently. I can now recreate life in a way that was hidden from me before. 'A dream of form in days of thought'—who is it who says that? I forget; but it is what Dorian Gray has been to me. The merely visible presence of this lad—for he seems to me little more than a lad, though he is really over twenty— his merely visible presence—ah! I wonder can you realize all that that means? Unconsciously he defines for me the lines of a fresh school, a school that is to have in it all the passion of the romantic spirit, all the perfection of the spirit that is Greek. The harmony of soul and body— how much that is! We in our madness have separated the two, and have invented a realism that is vulgar, an ideality that is void. Harry! if you only knew what Dorian Gray is to me! You remember that landscape of mine, for which Agnew offered me such a huge price but which I would not part with? It is one of the best things I have ever done. And why is it so? Because, while I was painting it, Dorian Gray sat beside me. Some subtle influence passed from him to me, and for the first time in my life I saw in the plain woodland the wonder I had always looked for and always missed.
Oscar Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray)
I said I wanted you, entire. And I will have you, when you truly give your all to me. When you finally free that part of you that you so desperately deny, the part of you I have wanted ever since I first met you, then I will have you Elisabeth. You entire. On then...I won't settle for second best. I won't settle for half your heart when I want your whole soul. Only then will I taste your fruit, and savor every last drop until it is gone. Your would is beautiful. And the proof is there. In your music. If you weren't so afraid to share it with me, if you weren't so scared of that part of you, you would have had me long ago" -Der Erlkonig
S. Jae-Jones (Wintersong (Wintersong, #1))
Do you have someone in mind, Galen?" Toraf asks, popping a shrimp into his mouth. "Is it someone I know?"
"Shut up, Toraf," Galen growls. He closes his eyes, massages his temples. This could have gone a lot better in so many ways.
"Oh," Toraf says. "It must be someone I know, then."
"Toraf, I swear by Triton's trident-"
"These are the best shrimp you've ever made, Rachel," Toraf continues. "I can't wait to cook shrimp on our island. I'll get the seasoning for us, Rayna."
"She's not going to any island with you, Toraf!" Emma yells.
"Oh, but she is, Emma. Rayna wants to be my mate. Don't you, princess?" he smiles.
Rayna shakes her head. "It's no use, Emma. I really don't have a choice."
She resigns herself to the seat next to Emma, who peers down at her, incredulous. "You do have a choice. You can come live with me at my house. I'll make sure he can't get near you."
Toraf's expression indicates he didn't consider that possibility before goading Emma. Galen laughs. "It's not so funny anymore is it, tadpole?" he says, nudging him.
Toraf shakes his head. "She's not staying with you, Emma."
"We'll see about that, tadpole," she returns.
"Galen, do something," Toraf says, not taking his eyes off Emma.
Galen grins. "Such as?"
"I don't know, arrest her or something," Toraf says, crossing his arms.
Emma locks eyes with Galen, stealing his breath. "Yeah, Galen. Come arrest me if you're feeling up to it. But I'm telling you right now, the second you lay a hand on me, I'm busting this glass over your head and using it to split your lip like Toraf's." She picks up her heavy drinking glass and splashes the last drops of orange juice onto the table.
Everyone gasps except Galen-who laughs so hard he almost upturns his chair.
Emma's nostrils flare. "You don't think I'll do it? There's only one way to find out, isn't there, Highness?"
The whole airy house echoes Galen's deep-throated howls. Wiping the tears from his eyes, he elbows Toraf, who's looking at him like he drank too much saltwater. "Do you know those foolish humans at her school voted her the sweetest out of all of them?"
Toraf's expression softens as he looks up at Emma, chuckling. Galen's guffaws prove contagious-Toraf is soon pounding the table to catch his breath. Even Rachel snickers from behind her oven mitt.
The bluster leaves Emma's expression. Galen can tell she's in danger of smiling. She places the glass on the table as if it's still full and she doesn't want to spill it. "Well, that was a couple of years ago."
This time Galen's chair does turn back, and he sprawls onto the floor. When Rayna starts giggling, Emma gives in, too. "I guess...I guess I do have sort of a temper," she says, smiling sheepishly.
She walks around the table to stand over Galen. Peering down, she offers her hand. He grins up at her. "Show me your other hand."
She laughs and shows him it's empty. "No weapons."
"Pretty resourceful," he says, accepting her hand. "I'll never look at a drinking glass the same way." He does most of the work of pulling himself up but can't resist the opportunity to touch her.
She shrugs. "Survival instinct, maybe?"
He nods. "Or you're trying to cut my lips off so you won't have to kiss me." He's pleased when she looks away, pink restaining her cheeks.
"Rayna tries that all the time," Toraf chimes in. "Sometimes when her aim is good, it works, but most of the time kissing her is my reward for the pain.
Anna Banks (Of Poseidon (The Syrena Legacy, #1))
Life isn’t a dress rehearsal, and you won’t always get a second chance to do your best.
Tina Seelig (What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20: A Crash Course on Making Your Place in the World)
New Rule: America must stop bragging it's the greatest country on earth, and start acting like it. I know this is uncomfortable for the "faith over facts" crowd, but the greatness of a country can, to a large degree, be measured. Here are some numbers. Infant mortality rate: America ranks forty-eighth in the world. Overall health: seventy-second. Freedom of the press: forty-fourth. Literacy: fifty-fifth. Do you realize there are twelve-year old kids in this country who can't spell the name of the teacher they're having sex with?
America has done many great things. Making the New World democratic. The Marshall Plan. Curing polio. Beating Hitler. The deep-fried Twinkie. But what have we done for us lately? We're not the freest country. That would be Holland, where you can smoke hash in church and Janet Jackson's nipple is on their flag.
And sadly, we're no longer a country that can get things done. Not big things. Like building a tunnel under Boston, or running a war with competence. We had six years to fix the voting machines; couldn't get that done. The FBI is just now getting e-mail.
Prop 87 out here in California is about lessening our dependence on oil by using alternative fuels, and Bill Clinton comes on at the end of the ad and says, "If Brazil can do it, America can, too!" Since when did America have to buck itself up by saying we could catch up to Brazil? We invented the airplane and the lightbulb, they invented the bikini wax, and now they're ahead?
In most of the industrialized world, nearly everyone has health care and hardly anyone doubts evolution--and yes, having to live amid so many superstitious dimwits is also something that affects quality of life. It's why America isn't gonna be the country that gets the inevitable patents in stem cell cures, because Jesus thinks it's too close to cloning.
Oh, and did I mention we owe China a trillion dollars? We owe everybody money. America is a debtor nation to Mexico. We're not a bridge to the twenty-first century, we're on a bus to Atlantic City with a roll of quarters. And this is why it bugs me that so many people talk like it's 1955 and we're still number one in everything.
We're not, and I take no glee in saying that, because I love my country, and I wish we were, but when you're number fifty-five in this category, and ninety-two in that one, you look a little silly waving the big foam "number one" finger. As long as we believe being "the greatest country in the world" is a birthright, we'll keep coasting on the achievements of earlier generations, and we'll keep losing the moral high ground.
Because we may not be the biggest, or the healthiest, or the best educated, but we always did have one thing no other place did: We knew soccer was bullshit. And also we had the Bill of Rights. A great nation doesn't torture people or make them disappear without a trial. Bush keeps saying the terrorist "hate us for our freedom,"" and he's working damn hard to see that pretty soon that won't be a problem.
Bill Maher (The New New Rules: A Funny Look At How Everybody But Me Has Their Head Up Their Ass)
To make the best use of your life, you must never forget two truths: First, compared with eternity, life is extremely brief. Second, earth is only a temporary residence. You won’t be here long, so don’t get too attached. Ask God to help you see life on earth as he sees it. David prayed, “Lord, help me to realize how brief my time on earth will be. Help me to know that I am here for but a moment more.
Rick Warren (The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?)
She’s my best friend,” I reminded him.
“If she is, she’ll come to see what’s good for you and she’ll sort her shit out. If she’s a different kind of woman, she won’t. Instead, she’ll see green and won’t clue in that men do not want high maintenance drama queens so much they steer well clear and until she shifts that shit outta her life, it’s gonna be a lonely one. Unlike her friend who sees a man drinking outta her milk jug, processes that it’s highly unlikely she’s gonna break him of that habit seein’ as he’s forty-five and still does it and has since he was a kid, lets it go and moves on all in the expanse of about a second instead of throwing a shit fit about it which gets her nowhere, is a waste of energy and leaves both involved feeling like garbage.”
Well, I had to admit, all that was interesting and insightful and weirdly mature.
Kristen Ashley (Wild Man (Dream Man, #2))
You’ll do,” Hemarchidas thought. “Isn’t this what we always end up with? What we truly want is unreachable, so we’ll make do with what is at hand. I know for you it’s different. I know for you it’s really me you want. You won’t regret it. I’ll love you for that, and for who you are. There is still a little part of me that wishes things could have been different. I’ll never let you know, feel, or even suspect that, though. I’ll make sure at least one of us gets what he truly wants.” He noticed Arranulf was studying his face. He gave him a reassuring smile and a light peck on the lips. “It’ll be all right, and I too will be all right.
Andrew Ashling (The Invisible Hands - Part 2: Castling (Dark Tales of Randamor the Recluse, #5))
In 90% of cases, you can start with one of the two most effective ways to open a speech: ask a question or start with a story.
Our brain doesn’t remember what we hear. It remembers only what we “see” or imagine while we listen.
You can remember stories. Everything else is quickly forgotten.
Smell is the most powerful sense out of 4 to immerse audience members into a scene.
Every sentence either helps to drive your point home, or it detracts from clarity. There is no middle point.
If you don’t have a foundational phrase in your speech, it means that your message is not clear enough to you, and if it’s not clear to you, there is no way it will be clear to your audience.
Share your failures first. Show your audience members that you are not any better, smarter or more talented than they are.
You are not an actor, you are a speaker. The main skill of an actor is to play a role; to be someone else. Your main skill as a speaker is to be yourself.
People will forgive you for anything except for being boring. Speaking without passion is boring. If you are not excited about what you are talking about, how can you expect your audience to be excited?
Never hide behind a lectern or a table. Your audience needs to see 100% of your body.
Speak slowly and people will consider you to be a thoughtful and clever person.
Leaders don’t talk much, but each word holds a lot of meaning and value.
You always speak to only one person. Have a conversation directly with one person, look him or her in the eye. After you have logically completed one idea, which usually is 10-20 seconds, scan the audience and then stop your eyes on another person. Repeat this process again.
Cover the entire room with eye contact.
When you scan the audience and pick people for eye contact, pick positive people more often.
When you pause, your audience thinks about your message and reflects. Pausing builds an audiences’ confidence. If you don’t pause, your audience doesn’t have time to digest what you've told them and hence, they will not remember a word of what you've said.
Pause before and after you make an important point and stand still. During this pause, people think about your words and your message sinks in.
After you make an important point and stand still. During this pause, people think about your words and your message sinks in.
Speakers use filler words when they don’t know what to say, but they feel uncomfortable with silence.
Have you ever seen a speaker who went on stage with a piece of paper and notes? Have you ever been one of these speakers? When people see you with paper in your hands, they instantly think, “This speaker is not sincere. He has a script and will talk according to the script.”
The best speeches are not written, they are rewritten.
Bad speakers create a 10 minutes speech and deliver it in 7 minutes. Great speakers create a 5 minute speech and deliver it in 7 minutes.
Explain your ideas in a simple manner, so that the average 12-year-old child can understand the concept.
Good speakers and experts can always explain the most complex ideas with very simple words.
Stories evoke emotions. Factual information conveys logic. Emotions are far more important in a speech than logic.
If you're considering whether to use statistics or a story, use a story.
PowerPoint is for pictures not for words. Use as few words on the slide as possible.
Never learn your speech word for word. Just rehearse it enough times to internalize the flow.
If you watch a video of your speech, you can triple the pace of your development as a speaker. Make videos a habit.
Meaningless words and clichés neither convey value nor information. Avoid them.
Never apologize on stage.
If people need to put in a lot of effort to understand you they simply won’t listen. On the other hand if you use very simple language you will connect with the audience and your speech will be remembered.
Andrii Sedniev (Magic of Public Speaking: A Complete System to Become a World Class Speaker)
I think the shooter is Kevin Burns. I know him pretty well. Maybe I can talk him down."
"Are you nuts? He’s crazy. Everyone knows he’s a lunatic. No one can talk him down. Get out of there!"
"I can’t sit around and do nothing. I have to do something. Remember what Mom and Dad told us after Father Gerry? If you have a chance to save or protect innocent people, you have to make that sacrifice. I won’t let another predator get the best of me."
"That’s not what they meant, you idiot! Get the hell out of there and let the police handle it. I’m sure they’re on their way!"
"If anything happens to me, I want you to know you’re the best little brother a guy could hope for, squirt. Take care. I love you."
"I love you too. Please don’t do anything stupid."
"We’re going to get out of this together. Understand? We’re best brothers, forever."
"Forever, bro . . .
Mark M. Bello (Betrayal High (Zachary Blake Legal Thriller, #5))
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)
It’s not easy to feel good about yourself when you are constantly being told you’re rubbish and/or part of the problem. That’s often the situation for people working in the public sector, whether these be nurses, civil servants or teachers. The static metrics used to measure the contribution of the public sector, and the influence of Public Choice theory on making governments more ‘efficient’, has convinced many civil-sector workers they are second-best. It’s enough to depress any bureaucrat and induce him or her to get up, leave and join the private sector, where there is often more money to be made. So public actors are forced to emulate private ones, with their almost exclusive interest in projects with fast paybacks. After all, price determines value. You, the civil servant, won’t dare to propose that your agency could take charge, bring a helpful long-term perspective to a problem, consider all sides of an issue (not just profitability), spend the necessary funds (borrow if required) and – whisper it softly – add public value. You leave the big ideas to the private sector which you are told to simply ‘facilitate’ and enable. And when Apple or whichever private company makes billions of dollars for shareholders and many millions for top executives, you probably won’t think that these gains actually come largely from leveraging the work done by others – whether these be government agencies, not-for-profit institutions, or achievements fought for by civil society organizations including trade unions that have been critical for fighting for workers’ training programmes.
Mariana Mazzucato (The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy)
Pulling to a stop in front of Aly’s house, I take a deep breath. With a flick of my wrist, I cut the engine and listen to the silence. I’ve sat in this exact spot more times than I can count. In many ways, Aly’s house is like my sanctuary. A place I go when my own home feels like a graveyard. I glance up at the bedroom window of the girl who knows me better than anyone, the only person I let see me cry after Dad died. I won’t let this experiment take that or her away from me.
Tonight, I’m going to prove that Aly and I can go back to our normal, easy friendship.
Throwing open my door, I trudge up her sidewalk, plant my feet outside her front door, and ring the bell.
I step back and see Aly stick her head out of her second-story window.
“No problem,” I call back up. “Take your time.”
More time to get my head on straight.
Aly disappears behind a film of yellow curtain, and I turn to look out at the quiet neighborhood. Up and down the street, the lights blink on, filling the air with a low hum that matches the thrumming of my nerves. Across the street, old Mr. Lawson sits at his usual perch under a gigantic American flag, drinking beer and mumbling to himself. Two little girls ride their bikes around the cul-de-sac, smiling and waving. Just a normal, run-of-the-mill Friday night. Except not.
I thrust my hands into my pockets, jiggling the loose change from my Taco Bell run earlier tonight, and grab my pack of Trident. I toss a stick into my mouth and chew furiously. Supposedly, the smell of peppermint can calm your nerves.
I grab a second stick and shove it in, too.
With the clacking sound of Aly’s shoes approaching the door behind me, I remind myself again about tonight’s mission. All I need is focus. I take another deep breath for good measure and rock back on my heels, ready to greet my best friend. She opens the door, wearing a black dress molded to her skin, and I let the air out in one big huff.
Rachel Harris (The Fine Art of Pretending (The Fine Art of Pretending, #1))
What are you two doing?” Her uncle’s teasing voice came into the room before he did. But his voice was the second warning that they were no longer alone, since Violet had tasted his presence long before he’d actually stepped into her house. Ever since saving her and Jay at Homecoming, her uncle carried an imprint of his own. The bitter taste of dandelions still smoldered on Violet’s tongue whenever he was near. A taste that Violet had grown to accept. And even, to some degree, to appreciate. “Nothing your parents wouldn’t approve of, I hope,” he added.
Violet flashed Jay a wicked grin. “We were just making out, so if you could make this quick, we’d really appreciate it.”
Jay jumped up from beside her. “She’s kidding,” he blurted out. “We weren’t doing anything.”
Her uncle Stephen stopped where he was and eyed them both carefully. Violet could’ve sworn she felt Jay squirming, even though every single muscle in his body was frozen in place. Violet smiled at her uncle, trying her best to look guilty-as-charged.
Finally he raised his eyebrows, every bit the suspicious police officer. “Your parents asked me to stop by and check on you on my way home. They won’t be back until late. Can I trust the two of you here . . . alone?”
“Of course you can—” Jay started to say.
“Probably not—“ Violet answers at the same time. And then she caught a glimpse of the horror-stricken expression on Jay’s face, and she laughed. “Relax, Uncle Stephen, we’re fine. We were just doing homework.”
Her uncle looked at the pile of discarded books on the table in front of the couch. Not one of them was open. He glanced skeptically at Violet but didn’t say a word.
“We may have gotten a little distracted,” she responded, and again she saw Jay shifting nervously.
After several warnings, and a promise from Violet that she would lock the doors behind him, Uncle Stephen finally left the two of them alone again.
Jay was glaring at Violet when she peeked at him as innocently as she could manage. “Why would you do that to me?”
“Why do you care what he thinks we’re doing?” Violet had been trying to get Jay to admit his new hero worship of her uncle for months, but he was too stubborn—or maybe he honestly didn’t realize it himself—to confess it to her.
“Because, Violet,” he said dangerously, taking a threatening step toward her. But his scolding was ruined by the playful glint in his eyes. “He’s your uncle, and he’s the police chief. Why poke the bear?”
Violet took a step back, away from him, and he matched it, moving toward her. He was stalking her around the coffee table now, and Violet couldn’t help giggling as she retreated.
But it was too late for her to escape. Jay was faster than she was, and his arms captured her before she’d ever had a chance. Not that she’d really tried.
He hauled her back down onto the couch, the two of them falling into the cushions, and this time he pinned her beneath him.
“Stop it!” she shrieked, not meaning a single word. He was the last person in the world she wanted to get away from.
“I don’t know . . .” he answered hesitantly. “I think you deserve to be punished.” His breath was balmy against her cheek, and she found herself leaning toward him rather than away. “Maybe we should do some more homework.”
Homework had been their code word for making out before they’d realized that they hadn’t been fooling anyone.
But Jay was true to his word, especially his code word, and his lips settled over hers. Violet suddenly forgot that she was pretending to break free from his grip. Her frail resolve crumbled. She reached out, wrapping her arms around his neck, and pulled him closer to her.
Jay growled from deep in his throat. “Okay, homework it is.
Kimberly Derting (Desires of the Dead (The Body Finder, #2))
Look, Bob, what part of this don't you understand, eh? It's a matter of style, okay? A proper brawl doesn't just happen. You don't just pile in, not anymore. Now, Oyster Dave here--put your helmet back on, Dave--will be the enemy in front, and Basalt, who, as we know, don't need a helmet, he'll be the enemy coming up behind you. Okay, it's well past knuckles time, let's say Gravy there has done his thing with the Bench Swipe, there's a bit of knife play, we've done the whole Chandelier Swing number, blah blah blah, then Second Chair--that's you, Bob--you step smartly between their Number Five man and a Bottler, swing the chair back over your head, like this--sorry, Pointy--and then swing it right back onto Number Five, bang, crash, and there's a cushy six points in your pocket. If they're playing a dwarf at Number Five, then a chair won't even slow him down, but don't fret, hang on to the bits that stay in your hand, pause one moment as he comes at you, and then belt him across both ears. They hate that, as Stronginthearm here will tell you. Another three points. It's probably going to be freestyle after that but I want all of you, including Mucky Mick and Crispo, to try for a Double Andrew when it gets down to the fist-fighting again. Remember? You back into each other, turn around to give the other guy a thumping, cue moment of humorous recognition, then link arms, swing round and see to the other fellow's attacker, foot or fist, it's your choice. Fifteen points right there if you get it to flow just right. Oh, and remember we'll have an Igor standing by, so if your arm gets taken off do pick it up and hit the other bugger with it, it gets a laugh and twenty points. On that subject, do remember what I said about getting everything tattooed with your name, all right? Igors do their best, but you'll be on your feet much quicker if you make life easier for him and, what's more, it's your feet you'll be on. Okay, positions, everyone, let's run through it again...
Terry Pratchett (Going Postal (Discworld, #33; Moist von Lipwig, #1))
The hit-woman opened the door. No dead body on the floor. Thank God.
I heard an unearthly roar and then Jordan charged Liz from where she’d been hiding beside the door. She tackled her to the floor and stabbed her through the wrist with a small switchblade. The hit-woman shrieked and let go of the gun, allowing Jordan precious seconds to bat it across the room. She landed a couple hard punches to the assassin’s nose, bloodying it, before the other woman got the upper hand.
She grabbed a handful of Jordan’s ponytail and slammed her head into the edge of the coffee table. Jordan cried out, but didn’t let go of the knife. She withdrew it and held it against the assassin’s throat, shouting, “Move again and I’ll kill you, puta!”
Liz panted madly, but stayed put. Jordan glanced up at me. “You okay?”
“Alive,” I said through a grimace. “Not okay.”
“Good enough.” She returned her gaze to the woman pinned beneath her and glared.
“The police are on their way. And not the nice, human police. Angels. Get any ideas about trying to kill me again and you won’t even get to deal with them.”
“I’ve been in jail before,” Liz said, attempting to recapture her former arrogance. “I’ll get over it.”
Jordan leaned down a few inches, lowering her voice. “Really? How’d you like to return without your tongue?”
Liz’s eyes went wide, as did mine. “You wouldn’t dare.”
“You shot my best friend. Multiple times. Lex talionis.”
“You can’t kill me. You’re not a policewoman. You’re just a girl.”
“No. I’m a Seer. You and the rest of your friends had better learn the difference between a sheep and a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Until then…”
She lifted her fist and punched Liz hard in the temple. The assassin went out like a light.
“Vaya con dios, bitch.
Kyoko M. (The Deadly Seven (The Black Parade, #1.5))
The three thousand miles in distance he put between himself and Emma tonight is nothing compared with the enormous chasm separating them when they sit next to each other in calculus.
Emma's ability to overlook his existence is a gift-but not one that Poseidon handed down. Rachel insists this gift is uniquely a female trait, regardless of the species. Since their breakup, Emma seems to be the only female utilizing this particular gift. Even Rayna could learn a few lessons from Emma in the art of torturing a smitten male. Smitten? More like fanatical.
He shakes his head in disgust. Why couldn't I just sift when I turned of age? Why couldn't I find a suitable mild-tempered female to mate with? Live a peaceful life, produce offspring, grow old, and watch my own fingerlings have fingerlings someday? He searches through his mind for someone he might have missed in the past. For a face he overlooked before but could now look forward to every day. For a docile female who would be honored to mate with a Triton prince-instead of a temperamental siren who mocks his title at every opportunity. He scours his memory for a sweet-natured Syrena who would take care of him, who would do whatever he asked, who would never argue with him.
Not some human-raised snippet who stomps her foot when she doesn't get her way, listens to him only when it suits some secret purpose she has, or shoves a handful of chocolate mints down his throat if he lets his guard down. Not some white-haired angelfish whose eyes melt him into a puddle, whose blush is more beautiful than sunrise, and whose lips send heat ripping through him like a mine explosion.
He sighs as Emma's face eclipses hundreds of mate-worthy Syrena. That's just one more quality I'll have to add to the list: someone who won't mind being second best. His just locks as he catches a glimpse of his shadow beneath him, cast by slithers of sterling moonlight. Since it's close to three a.m. here, he's comfortable walking around without the inconvenience of clothes, but sitting on the rocky shore in the raw is less than appealing. And it doesn't matter which Jersey shore he sits on, he can't escape the moon that connects them both-and reminds him of Emma's hair.
Hovering in the shallows, he stares up at it in resentment, knowing the moon reminds him of something else he can' escape-his conscience. If only he could shirk his responsibilities, his loyalty to his family, his loyalty to his people. If only he could change everything about himself, he could steal Emma away and never look back-that is, if she'll ever talk to him again.
Anna Banks (Of Poseidon (The Syrena Legacy, #1))
I wouldn’t have thought she had that much to say,” Pandora agreed.
“Perhaps it’s just that she’s never able to slide a word in edgewise,” West remarked blandly.
A few seconds later, he was pelted with a shower of sugar lumps.
“Girls,” Kathleen exclaimed indignantly. “Stop that at once! West, don’t you dare encourage them by laughing!” She sent a threatening glance at Devon, who was desperately trying to suppress his amusement. “Or you,” she said severely.
“I won’t,” he promised, wincing and reflecting ruefully that whoever said laughter was the best medicine had never broken a rib.
Lisa Kleypas (Cold-Hearted Rake (The Ravenels, #1))
Now,” Samite continued, “after Essel has just spent time warning you about generalities and how they often don’t apply, I’m going to use some. Because some generalities are true often enough that we have to worry about them. So here’s one: men will physically fight for status. Women, generally, are more clever. The why of it doesn’t matter: learned, innate, cultural, who cares? You see the chest-bumping, the name-calling, performing for their fellows, what they’re really doing is getting the juices flowing. That interval isn’t always long, but it’s long enough for men to trigger the battle juice. That’s the terror or excitation that leads people to fight or run. It can be useful in small doses or debilitating in large ones. Any of you have brothers, or boys you’ve fought with?” Six of the ten raised their hands. “Have you ever had a fight with them—verbal or physical—and then they leave and come back a little later, and they’re completely done fighting and you’re just fully getting into it? They look like they’ve been ambushed, because they’ve come completely off the mountain already, and you’ve just gotten to the top?” “Think of it like lovemaking,” Essel said. She was a bawdy one. “Breathe in a man’s ear and tell him to take his trousers off, and he’s ready to go before you draw your next breath. A woman’s body takes longer.” Some of the girls giggled nervously. “Men can switch on very, very fast. They also switch off from that battle readiness very, very fast. Sure, they’ll be left trembling, sometimes puking from it, but it’s on and then it’s off. Women don’t do that. We peak slower. Now, maybe there are exceptions, maybe. But as fighters, we tend to think that everyone reacts the way we do, because our own experience is all we have. In this case, it’s not true for us. Men will be ready to fight, then finished, within heartbeats. This is good and bad. “A man, deeply surprised, will have only his first instinctive response be as controlled and crisp as it is when he trains. Then that torrent of emotion is on him. We spend thousands of hours training that first instinctive response, and further, we train to control the torrent of emotion so that it raises us to a heightened level of awareness without making us stupid.” “So the positive, for us Archers: surprise me, and my first reaction will be the same as my male counterpart’s. I can still, of course, get terrified, or locked into a loop of indecision. But if I’m not, my second, third, and tenth moves will also be controlled. My hands will not shake. I will be able to make precision movements that a man cannot. But I won’t have the heightened strength or sensations until perhaps a minute later—often too late. “Where a man needs to train to control that rush, we need to train to make it closer. If we have to climb a mountain more slowly to get to the same height to get all the positives, we need to start climbing sooner. That is, when I go into a situation that I know may be hazardous, I need to prepare myself. I need to start climbing. The men may joke to break the tension. Let them. I don’t join in. Maybe they think I’m humorless because I don’t. Fine. That’s a trade I’m willing to make.” Teia and the rest of the girls walked away from training that day somewhat dazed, definitely overwhelmed. What Teia realized was that the women were deeply appealing because they were honest and powerful. And those two things were wed inextricably together. They said, I am the best in the world at what I do, and I cannot do everything. Those two statements, held together, gave them the security to face any challenge. If her own strengths couldn’t surmount an obstacle, her team’s strengths could—and she was unembarrassed about asking for help where she needed it because she knew that what she brought to the team would be equally valuable in some other situation.
Brent Weeks (The Blinding Knife (Lightbringer, #2))
It was a fine gun, but an unlucky one. Steyr-Daimler-Puch built it with the prospect of big orders from the Austrian Army dancing in its eyes, but a rival outfit named Glock came along and stole the prize. Which left the GB an unhappy orphan, like Cinderella. And like Cinderella it had many excellent qualities. It packed eighteen rounds, which was a lot, but it weighed less than two and a half pounds unloaded, which wasn’t. You could take it apart and put it back together in twelve seconds, which was fast. Best of all, it had a very smart gas management system. All automatic weapons work by using the explosion of gas in the chamber to cycle the action, to get the spent case out and the next cartridge in. But in the real world some cartridges are old or weak or badly assembled. They don’t all explode with the same force. Put an out-of-spec weak load in some guns, and the action just wheezes and won’t cycle at all. Put a too-heavy load in, and the gun can blow up in your hand. But the Steyr was designed to deal with anything that came its way. If I were a Special Forces soldier taking dubious-quality ammunition from whatever ragtag bunch of partisans I was hanging with, I’d use a Steyr. I would want to be sure that whatever I was depending on would fire, ten times out of ten. Through
Lee Child (The Enemy (Jack Reacher, #8))
Who’s Josie?” Alex asked, confused.
“Uh . . .” I looked over at Deacon. “You want to do the honors? I know how much you love awkward conversations.”
A wide smile broke out across his face. “Of course, especially when I’m not the center of the awkwardness.”
“So!” Deacon clapped his hands together as he faced Alex and Aiden. “Did you guys happen to notice a certain girl out on the quad when you did your magic doorway thing?”
Aiden glanced at Alex. She raised a shoulder. “There were a lot of people out there that I hadn’t seen before.” She paused. “I noticed Boobs, though.”
I slowly shook my head.
“Um, that’s not who I’m talking about. Anyway,” Deacon said, his gray eyes light. “She’s pretty tall. Well, taller than you and everyone is practically taller than you, Alex. Has long blondish-brown hair. Kind of weird hair.”
“Awesome hair,” Luke added.
Alexander frowned silently.
“She does. It’s like an array of colors. One moment it looks completely blonde. The next it’s long brown and then it changes again. It’s very cool,” Deacon continued, and I had to agree with him on that. “And when you see her, you’re going to think, wow, this girl looks familiar. You won’t be able to put a finger on it at first, but it’s going to nag at you and then, when it hits you, you’ll—”
“Deacon,” Aiden warned. “Who is Josie?”
His brother pouted for a second and then sighed. “Fine. She’s a demigod. Like, a born demigod. Powers unlocked and all, and she’s super-cool and really nice.” His gaze slid over to where I stood and his expression turned sly. “Isn’t that right, Seth?”
I eyed him. “Right.”
“You’re forgetting the best part.” Solos walked past the couch, sending me a long look. “Which god she came from.”
Aiden seemed to get what wasn’t being said first. His eyes closed as he rubbed his fingers along his brow. “Gods.”
“What?” Alex looked at him and then at me. “Whose kid is she?”
“Apollo’s,” Deacon answered, his smile going up a notch when Alex’s gaze flew to him. “Yep. Josie is Apollo’s daughter.”
Her mouth dropped open.
“And that kind of makes you and her cousins? I guess?” Luke frowned. “I don’t know what exactly, but it does make you two related. Somehow. I don’t know how, but she does have some of your mannerisms. It gets really weird sometimes.
Jennifer L. Armentrout (The Power (Titan, #2))
I sometimes think, Harry, that there are only two eras of any importance in the world's history. The first is the appearance of a new medium for art, and the second is the appearance of a new personality for art also. What the invention of oil-painting was to the Venetians, the face of Antinous was to late Greek sculpture, and the face of Dorian Gray will some day be to me. It is not merely that I paint from him, draw from him, sketch from him. Of course, I have done all that. But he is much more to me than a model or a sitter. I won't tell you that I am dissatisfied with what I have done of him, or that his beauty is such that art cannot express it. There is nothing that art cannot express, and I know that the work I have done, since I met Dorian Gray, is good work, is the best work of my life. But in some curious way--I wonder will you understand me?--his personality has suggested to me an entirely new manner in art, an entirely new mode of style. I see things differently, I think of them differently. I can now recreate life in a way that was hidden from me before. 'A dream of form in days of thought'--who is it who says that? I forget; but it is what Dorian Gray has been to me. The merely visible presence of this lad--for he seems to me little more than a lad, though he is really over twenty--his merely visible presence--ah! I wonder can you realize all that that means? Unconsciously he defines for me the lines of a fresh school, a school that is to have in it all the passion of the romantic spirit, all the perfection of the spirit that is Greek. The harmony of soul and body--how much that is! We in our madness have separated the two, and have invented a realism that is vulgar, an ideality that is void. Harry! if you only knew what Dorian Gray is to me!
Oscar Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray)
I struggle with words. Never could express myself the way I wanted. My mind fights my mouth, and thoughts get stuck in my throat. Sometimes they stay stuck for seconds or even minutes. Some thoughts stay for years; some have stayed hidden all my life. As a child, I stuttered. What was inside couldn't get out. I'm still not real fluent. I don't know a lot of good words. If I were wrongfully accused of a crime, I'd have a tough time explaining my innocence. I'd stammer and stumble and choke up until the judge would throw me in jail. Words aren't my friends. Music is. Sounds, notes, rhythms. I talk through music. Maybe that's why I became a loner, someone who loves privacy and doesn't reveal himself too easily.
My friendliness might fool you. Come into my dressing room and I'll shake your hand, pose for a picture, make polite small talk. I'll be as nice as I can, hoping you'll be nice to me. I'm genuinely happy to meet you and exchange a little warmth. I have pleasant acquaintances with thousands of people the world over. But few, if any, really know me. And that includes my own family. It's not that they don't want to; it's because I keep my feelings to myself. If you hurt me, chances are I won't tell you. I'll just move on. Moving on is my method of healing my hurt and, man, I've been moving on all my life.
Now it's time to stop. This book is a place for me to pause and look back at who I was and what I became. As I write, I'm seventy hears old, and all the joy and hurts, small and large, that I've stored up inside me...well, I want to pull 'em out and put 'em on the page. When I've been described on other people's pages, I don't recognize myself. In my mind, no one has painted the real me. Writers have done their best, but writers have missed the nitty-gritty. Maybe because I've hidden myself, maybe because I'm not an easy guy to understand. Either way, I want to open up and leave a true account of who I am.
When it comes to my own life, others may know the cold facts better than me. Scholars have told me to my face that I'm mixed up. I smile but don't argue. Truth is, cold facts don't tell the whole story. Reading this, some may accuse me of remembering wrong. That's okay, because I'm not writing a cold-blooded history. I'm writing a memory of my heart. That's the truth I'm after - following my feelings, no matter where they lead. I want to try to understand myself, hoping that you - my family, my friends, my fans - will understand me as well.
This is a blues story. The blues are a simple music, and I'm a simple man. But the blues aren't a science; the blues can't be broken down like mathematics. The blues are a mystery, and mysteries are never as simple as they look.
B.B. King (Blues All Around Me: The Autobiography of B.B. King)
I walk away, feeling Brody’s gaze on me. There’s no doubt that as soon as we get back in the car, I’m going to get it—good.
Instead, Brody stays quiet while I assemble the paperwork. He may not be speaking, but he’s saying a whole lot in the silence.
“Just say it,” I mumble and finally look over.
“I’m not saying a word.” He raises his hands. “Clearly, you two know each other, and it ain’t from growing up here. You tell me everything, so there is no way you wouldn’t have told me you know him,” Brody pauses and leans back. “I’m not saying a word about who you may or may not have slept with recently. Even though, it’s pretty obvious.”
“You know, you not saying a word took you a long time.”
“It’s not like you’ve had a five-year drought since your divorce. Or that you slept with a singer/actor. Nope. I have nothing to say about that. Not a thing.”
I groan. “Could you not say anything for real this time?”
“Sure thing, boss. I’ll just be over here, watching Hell start to thaw.”
This is not going to get any better. I’d almost rather hear the questions. This is Brody Webber. My partner, my friend, and the one person who I have enough dirt on to make his life hell if he repeats this.
“Okay, fine. Yes, I slept with Eli Walsh. I was crazy and dumb. I also had about six beers, which is two over my threshold, and I was trying to be in the moment for once. Fucking Nicole and her pep talks.”
Brody coughs a laugh and then recovers. “Sorry, go on.”
“I swear, you better keep this to yourself. If you tell anyone . . .” I give him my best threatening face. “I mean anyone, I’ll make your life a living nightmare.”
He shakes his head and laughs again. “I won’t say a word, but you had a one-night stand with one of the most famous men in the boy band atmosphere. You’re too cool for me, Heather. I don’t think we can be friends. I’m sure you and the band will be happy without me.”
I huff and grab the papers. “I’m getting a new partner.”
I walk back over to the car, praying this will be painless
Corinne Michaels (We Own Tonight (Second Time Around, #1))
There was a note on the table.”
“Bring it here,” Van Eck barked. The boy strode down the aisle, and Van Eck snatched the note from his hand.
“What does it … what does it say?” asked Bajan. His voice was tremulous. Maybe Inej had been right about Alys and the music teacher.
Van Eck backhanded him. “If I find out you knew anything about this—”
“I didn’t!” Bajan cried. “I knew nothing. I followed your orders to the letter!”
Van Eck crumpled the note in his fist, but not before Inej made out the words in Kaz’s jagged, unmistakable hand: Noon tomorrow. Goedmedbridge. With her knives.
“The note was weighted down with this.” The boy reached into his pocket and drew out a tie pin—a fat ruby surrounded by golden laurel leaves. Kaz had stolen it from Van Eck back when they’d first been hired for the Ice Court job. Inej hadn’t had the chance to fence it before they left Ketterdam. Somehow Kaz must have gotten hold of it again.
“Brekker,” Van Eck snarled, his voice taut with rage.
Inej couldn’t help it. She started to laugh.
Van Eck slapped her hard. He grabbed her tunic and shook her so that her bones rattled. “Brekker thinks we’re still playing a game, does he? She is my wife. She carries my heir.”
Inej laughed even harder, all the horrors of the past week rising from her chest in giddy peals. She wasn’t sure she could have stopped if she wanted to. “And you were foolish enough to tell Kaz all of that on Vellgeluk.”
“Shall I have Franke fetch the mallet and show you just how serious I am?”
“Mister Van Eck,” Bajan pleaded.
But Inej was done being frightened of this man. Before Van Eck could take another breath, she slammed her forehead upward, shattering his nose. He screamed and released her as blood gushed over his fine mercher suit. Instantly, his guards were on her, pulling her back.
“You little wretch,” Van Eck said, holding a monogrammed handkerchief to his face. “You little whore. I’ll take a hammer to both your legs myself—”
“Go on, Van Eck, threaten me. Tell me all the little things I am. You lay a finger on me and Kaz Brekker will cut the baby from your pretty wife’s stomach and hang its body from a balcony at the Exchange.” Ugly words, speech that pricked her conscience, but Van Eck deserved the images she’d planted in his mind. Though she didn’t believe Kaz would do such a thing, she felt grateful for each nasty, vicious thing Dirtyhands had done to earn his reputation—a reputation that would haunt Van Eck every second until his wife was returned.
“Be silent,” he shouted, spittle flying from his mouth.
“You think he won’t?” Inej taunted. She could feel the heat in her cheek from where his hand had struck her, could see the mallet still resting in the guard’s hand. Van Eck had given her fear and she was happy to return it to him. “Vile, ruthless, amoral. Isn’t that why you hired Kaz in the first place? Because he does the things that no one else dares? Go on, Van Eck. Break my legs and see what happens. Dare him.”
Had she really believed a merch could outthink Kaz Brekker? Kaz would get her free and then they’d show this man exactly what whores and canal rats could do.
“Console yourself,” she said as Van Eck clutched the ragged corner of the table for support. “Even better men can be bested.
Leigh Bardugo (Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2))
The centurion‟s voice was little better than a squeak. Julius snorted his disdain.
'What about the Hamians? Useless bow-waving women. All they‟re good for is hunting game. There‟s a war on, in case you hadn‟t noticed. We need infantrymen, big lads with
spears and shields to strengthen our line. Archers are no bloody use in an infantry cohort.'
He raised his meaty fist.
'No, mate, you‟re going to get what‟s coming your way.'
The other man gabbled desperately, staring helplessly at the poised fist.
'There‟s two centuries of them, two centuries. Take them and the Tungrians and that‟s two hundred and fifty men.'
Marcus spoke, having stood quietly in the background so far.
'So we could make a century of the best of them, dump the rest on the Second Cohort when we catch up with them and take back the century he sold them in return.'
Julius turned his head to look at the younger man, keeping the transit officer clamped in
place with seemingly effortless strength.
'Are you mad? There won‟t be a decent man among them. They‟ll be arse-poking,
make-up-wearing faggots, the lot of them. All those easterners are, it‟s in the blood. They‟ll mince round the camp holding hands and tossing each other off in the bathhouse.
Anthony Riches (Arrows of Fury (Empire, #2))
Criticism can be useful.
I’ve taken a beating from the DWTS judges on many occasions. Most of the time, because I’m always aware of the cameras in my face, I just suck it up and take it. Here’s the thing: I realize that maybe they’re seeing something I’m not. Sometimes you’re too close to a situation, too connected to it, to be 100 percent honest with yourself. Or your ego gets in the way and won’t let you improve, because that would mean changing course and admitting you were wrong. I tell my partners to listen carefully when Len, Carrie Ann, or Bruno has a constructive criticism for us. Yes, sometimes it boils down to taste and opinion (and I don’t always agree), but often it’s a valid point. They want us to succeed. The way I see it, you have lots of choices on how to handle it: the first is to lose your temper, get defensive, and spend the rest of the night beating yourself up about it. The second--a natural reaction for most people--is to mentally shut down when someone points out your flaws. Who wants to hear that? Let me just drown it out and ignore it. The third option is your best: keep your mind and your ears open. You can learn about your weaknesses and how you can improve them. A leader is never scared of criticism, but instead knows there is always room to grow and improve. So bring it on.
Derek Hough (Taking the Lead: Lessons from a Life in Motion)
He’s a murdering chud,” Zil was yelling.
“What do you want to do? Lynch him?” Astrid demanded.
That stopped the flow for a second as kids tried to figure out what “lynch” meant. But Zil quickly recovered.
“I saw him do it. He used his powers to kill Harry.”
“I was trying to stop you from smashing my head in!” Hunter shouted.
“You’re a lying mutant freak!”
“They think they can do anything they want,” another voice shouted.
Astrid said, as calmly as she could while still pitching her voice to be heard, “We are not going down that path, people, dividing up between freaks and normals.”
“They already did it!” Zil cried. “It’s the freaks acting all special and like their farts don’t stink.”
That earned a laugh.
“And now they’re starting to kill us,” Zil cried.
Edilio squared his shoulders and stepped into the crowd. He went first to Hank, the kid with the shotgun. He tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Give me that thing.”
“No way,” Hank said. But he didn’t seem too certain.
“You want to have that thing fire by accident and blow someone’s face off?” Edilio held his hand out. “Give it to me, man.”
Zil rounded on Edilio. “You going to make Hunter give up his weapon? Huh? He’s got powers, man, and that’s okay, but the normals can’t have any weapon? How are we supposed to defend ourselves from the freaks?”
“Man, give it a rest, huh?” Edilio said. He was doing his best to sound more weary than angry or scared. Things were already bad enough. “Zil, you want to be responsible if that gauge goes off and kills Astrid? You want to maybe give that some thought?”
Zil blinked. But he said, “Dude, I’m not scared of Sam.”
“Sam won’t be your problem, I will be,” Edilio snapped, losing patience. “Anything happens to her, I’ll take you down before Sam ever gets the chance.”
Zil snorted derisively. “Ah, good little boy, Edilio, kissing up to the chuds. I got news for you, dilly dilly, you’re a lowly normal, just like me and the rest of us."
“I’m going to let that go,” Edilio said evenly, striving to regain his cool, trying to sound calm and in control, even though he could hardly take his eyes off the twin barrels of the shotgun. “But now I’m taking that shotgun.”
“No way!” Hank cried, and the next thing was an explosion so loud, Edilio thought a bomb had gone off. The muzzle flash blinded him, like camera flash going off in his face.
Someone yelled in pain.
Edilio staggered back, squeezed his eyes shut, trying to adjust. When he opened them again the shotgun was on the ground and the boy who’d accidentally fired it was holding his bruised hand, obviously shocked.
Zil bent to grab the gun. Edilio took two steps forward and kicked Zil in the face. As Zil fell back Edilio made a grab for the shotgun. He never saw the blow that turned his knees to water and filled his head with stars.
He fell like a sack of bricks, but even as he fell he lurched forward to cover the shotgun.
Astrid screamed and launched herself down the stairs to protect Edilio.
Antoine, the one who had hit Edilio, was raising his bat to hit Edilio again, but on the back swing he caught Astrid in the face.
Antoine cursed, suddenly fearful. Zil yelled, “No, no, no!”
There was a sudden rush of running feet. Down the walkway, into the street, echoing down the block.
Michael Grant (Hunger (Gone, #2))
Taking a rich wife . . . a duke’s daughter . . . there would be strings. Golden chains. It would all have to be her way. Her decision would always be the last.” West tugged irritably at his trapped finger. “I’ll be damned if I dance to her tune, or her father’s.”
“We all have to dance to someone’s tune. The best you can hope for is to like the music.”
West scowled. “You never sound like more of an idiot than when you try to say something wise and pithy.”
“I’m not the one with his finger stuck in a teacup,” Devon pointed out. “Is there any other reason you won’t pursue her, besides the money? Because that one rings hollow.”
It wasn’t just the money. But West was too tired and surly to try to make his brother understand. “Just because you’ve given up all masculine pride,” he muttered, “doesn’t mean I have to do the same.”
“Do you know what kind of men are able to keep their masculine pride?” Devon asked. “Celibate ones. The rest of us don’t mind doing a little begging and appeasing, if it means not having to sleep alone.”
“If you’re finished—” West began, with an irritated gesture of his hand.
At that moment, the teacup came unstuck, flung itself off his finger, and went soaring through an open window. Both brothers stared blankly after the path of its flight. A few seconds later, they heard a crash of porcelain on a graveled pathway.
In the silence, West shot a narrow-eyed glance at his brother, who was trying so hard not to laugh that his facial muscles were twitching.
Finally, Devon managed to regain control of himself. “So glad your right hand is free again,” he said in a conversational tone. “Especially since it seems that for the foreseeable future, you’ll be making frequent use of it.
Lisa Kleypas (Devil's Daughter (The Ravenels, #5))
Well, I saved you today, didn’t I? Just like I saved you before. You walked out of the Bastion free, without a scratch, and if any Cokyrian but me had caught you with that dagger, you might be drawn and quartered by now.”
“You didn’t save me from that butcher,” I said irritably. “But you’re right. About today, I mean.” I could sense his satisfaction, which irritated me all the more. “So accept my thanks, but stay away from me. We’re not friends, you know.”
I was nearing my neighborhood and didn’t want anyone to see me with him. He stepped in front of me, forcing me to stop.
“We’re not friends yet. But you’ve thought about it. And you just thanked me.”
“Are you delusional?”
“No. You just said thank you to the faceless Cokyrian soldier who arrested you.”
“Don’t you ever stop?” I demanded, trying in vain to move around him.
“I haven’t even started.”
“What does that mean?”
There was silence as Saadi glanced up and down the street. “I want to know where you got that dagger. Or at least what story you told.”
“Why don’t you ask Commander Narian? The two of you seemed fairly close.”
“Quit making jokes.”
“I haven’t made a single one.”
“It was my father’s,” I said, clinging to the lie Queen Alera had provided, whether by mistake or not.
“Oh.” This seemed to take Saadi aback.
“And now, because of you, I don’t have it anymore.” I knew I was pressing my luck, but I wanted to make him feel bad.
“I’m sorry,” he muttered, seeming sincere enough.
Thinking I had maybe, finally, succeeded in getting him to leave me alone, I stepped around him.
I stopped again, without the slightest idea why.
“Your father--what was he like?”
The question shocked me; I also wasn’t sure I could answer it without crying. But Saadi appeared so genuinely interested that I couldn’t disregard him.
“You have no right to ask me that,” I answered out of principle. “But for your information, he was the strongest, bravest, kindest and best-humored man I ever knew. And none of it was because he took what was handed to him.”
For the second time, I attempted a dramatic departure.
“What now?” I incredulously exclaimed.
“Do you have plans tomorrow?”
“I have a day off duty. We could--”
“No!” I shouted. “What is this? You expect me to spend a day with you, a Cokyrian--a Cokyrian I can’t stand?”
“Yes,” he affirmed, despite my outburst.
I laughed in disbelief. “I won’t. This is ridiculous. You’re ridiculous. Enjoy your time off duty with your own kind.”
Turning, I sprinted down the street, and though he called after me yet again, I ignored him. As I neared my house, I glanced behind once or twice to assure myself he wasn’t following. He was nowhere in sight.
I reached the security of my home just in time for dinner, and just in time to cut off Mother’s growing displeasure--the first step in her progression to anger. I smiled at her, hurried to wash, and was a perfect lady throughout the meal. Afterward I retired to my room, picking a book from my shelf to occupy me until my eyes drooped. Instead of words on pages, however, I kept seeing Saadi’s face--his clear blue eyes, that irritating hair, those freckles across his nose that made me lose willpower.
What if I had offended him earlier? He had only asked to spend time with me, and I had mocked him. But he was Cokyrian. It was ludicrous for him to be pursuing my company. It was dangerous for me to be in his. And that, I suddenly realized, was part of the reason I very much wanted to be with him. Saadi aggravated me, confused me, scared me, and yet I could no longer deny that he intrigued me in a way no one else ever had.
Cayla Kluver (Sacrifice (Legacy, #3))
But what do we pray for if we aren’t asking God to tell us exactly what to do? Well, first of all we pray for illumination. We ask God to open our minds so we can understand the Scriptures and apply them to our lives. Don’t forget about this prayer. God can show you amazingly relevant things in His Word if you ask Him to. Second, pray for wisdom. We have not because we ask not. God wants us to make good decisions that will help us be more like Christ and bring Him glory. Third, pray for things that you already know are God’s will. Pray for good motives in your decision making. Pray for an attitude of trust and faith and obedience. Pray for humility and teachability. Pray for His gospel to spread. You know that He wants these things in the world and for your life. Pray for them. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, as Jesus asked us to (Matthew 6:33).
And then after you’ve prayed and studied and sought advice, make a decision and don’t hyper-spiritualize it. Do what seems best. Sometimes you won’t have time to pray and read and seek counsel for a month. That’s why the way of wisdom is about more than getting a decisive word about one or two big decisions in life. The way of wisdom is a way of life. And when it’s a way of life, you are freer than you realize. If you are drinking deeply of godliness in the Word and from others and in your prayer life, then you’ll probably make God-honoring decisions. In fact, if you are a person of prayer, full of regular good counsel from others, and steeped in the truth of the Word, you should begin to make many important decisions instinctively, and some of them even quickly. For most Christians, agonizing over decisions is the only sure thing we know to do, the only thing that feels safe and truly spiritual. But sometimes, oftentimes actually, it’s okay to just decide.
Kevin DeYoung (Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will)
It takes some getting used to,' Mr. Forkle said. 'But what you're seeing is a visual representation of each other's moods.'
'So that means if I do this...' Keefe tickled Sophie's neck.
'GAH--everything just went supersonic!' Fitz said.
Sophie snatched Keefe's wrist as he reached to tickle her again. 'Don't. You. Dare.'
'Whoa, now everything's red and ripply,' Fitz said. 'Is that because she's angry?'
'Precisely, Mr. Vacker. Every time her emotions shift, the patterns and colors will change. And with practice, you'll learn to interpret what you see.'
'Okay, but...can't they just say, "Hey, I'm feeling this?"' Keefe asked.
'People aren't always honest about their feelings--even with themselves,' Mr. Forkle told him. 'Plus, many telepathic missions involve stealth and secrecy. So for this exercise I'm going to need both of you to forget everything around you. Let the world drop away, leaving only you two.'
Keefe sighed. 'Just tell them to stare into each other's eyes and they'll be good.'
'None of that, Mr. Sencen. From this moment on, you have one job and one job only: to judge their translations of the various emotions I'll be triggering.'
'Triggering how?' Sophie asked.
'You'll see soon enough. And you'll go first, Miss Foster. For this to work, Mr. Vacker, it's crucial that you not react externally. No yelling or thrashing or screaming or--'
'Uhhh, what are you going to do to me?' Fitz asked.
'Nothing you won't survive. Consider it an exercise in self-control. And try not to listen to his thoughts, Miss Foster. Study only the changes in his emotional center and make your deduction. We begin now.'
Sophie closed her eyes and focus on the colors weaving around Fitz's mind. She was about to ask if she was missing something when the pattern exploded into a swirl of pale blue tendrils. The color felt to bright to be sad, but also too wild to be peaceful.
'Tension?' she guessed.
'Kinda close,' Keefe told her.
The laughter in his voice made her wonder what had happened to poor Fitz.
She tried to think of other emotions as his mind turned electric blue.
'Shock?' she guessed.
'That counts,' Keefe said. 'Though the best answer would've been "surprise."'
'Is that an emotion?' she asked.
'Indeed it is,' Mr. Forkle said. 'One of the most common emotions you'll experience as you navigate someone's mind--hence why I chose it as our starting point.'
'Can I talk now?' Fitz asked. 'Because that was seriously disgusting!'
Sophie opened her eyes and tried not to laugh when she saw red fruit smashed all over Fitz's face. He wiped his cheeks on his sleeves, but that only smeared the pulp.
'I think I'm going to like this assignment,' Keefe said. 'What else can we fling at Fitz?'
'Nothing for the moment,' Mr. Forkle told him. 'It's his turn to interpret. Everyone close your eyes. And remember, no cues of any kind, Miss Foster.'
Sophie counted the seconds, bracing for the worst--and when nothing chaned, she opened her eyes and found Mr. Forkle with his finger over his lips in a 'shhh' sign.
'Um...confusion,' Fitz guessed.
'That works,' Keefe said. 'It started as anticipation, but then it shifted.'
'Very good,' Mr. Forkle said. 'And well done, Mr. Sencen. I wasn't sure you'd recognize confusion. It's one of the more challenging emotions for Empaths.'
'Maybe on other people,' Keefe said. 'But on Foster it's easy. Why are her emotions so much stronger?'
'Honestly, I'm not sure,' Mr. Forkle admitted. 'I suspect it stems from the combination of her inflicting ability and her human upbringing. But it was one of the surprises of her development. Much like her teleporting. Okay, Miss Foster, it's your turn to guess again.'
She closed her eyes and watched as the lines of color in Fitz's mind blossomed to a snowflake of purple.
'Pride?' she guessed.
Keefe laughed. 'Wow, add more fail points to Sophitz.'
'Quiet,' Mr. Forkle told him.
Shannon Messenger (Neverseen (Keeper of the Lost Cities, #4))
GUAC AD HOC Hannah’s 1st Note: This is Howie Levine’s guacamole recipe. He’s Lake Eden’s most popular lawyer. 2 ounces cream cheese 4 ripe avocados (I used Haas avocados) 2 Tablespoons lemon juice (freshly squeezed is best) 1 clove garlic, finely minced (you can squeeze it in a garlic press if you have one) cup finely chopped fresh oregano leaves 1 Italian (or plum) tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped 4 green onions, peeled and thinly sliced (you can use up to 2 inches of the green stem) ½ teaspoon salt 10 grinds of freshly ground pepper (or tea spoon) ½ cup sour cream to spread on top Bacon bits to sprinkle on top of the sour cream Tortilla chips as dippers Howie’s Note: I use chopped oregano because Florence doesn’t always carry cilantro at the Lake Eden Red Owl. This guacamole is equally good with either one. Heat the cream cheese in a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl for 15 seconds on HIGH, or until it’s spreadable. Peel and seed the avocados. Put them in the bowl with the cream cheese and mix everything up with a fork. Mix just slightly short of smooth. You want the mixture to have a few lumps of avocado. Add the lemon juice and mix it in. It’ll keep your Guac Ad Hoc from browning. Add the minced garlic, chopped oregano leaves, tomato, sliced green onion, salt, and pepper. Mix everything together. Put your Guac Ad Hoc in a pretty bowl, and cover it with the sour cream. Sprinkle on the bacon bits. If you’re NOT going to serve it immediately, spread on the sour cream, but don’t use the bacon bits. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until time to serve. Then sprinkle on the bacon bits. (My bacon bits got a little tough when I added them to the bowl and refrigerated it. They were best when I sprinkled them on at the last moment.) Hannah’s 2nd Note: Mike and Norman like this best if I serve it with sliced, pickled Jalapenos on top. Mother won’t touch it that way. Yield: This amount of Guac Ad Hoc serves 4 unless you’re making it for a Super Bowl game. Then you’d better double the recipe.
Joanne Fluke (Red Velvet Cupcake Murder (Hannah Swensen, #16))
This isn’t weird for you, Mark? I mean, not even a little bit?” Green questioned. “Why? Is it for you?” Ruxs inquired, slightly nervous. “No. Not at all. I’ve thought of a million sexual things I could do to you and what I wanted you to do to me. But that’s because I’m bi. You on the other hand, have never been with a man. Now you just had your finger in my ass. I’m just wondering. You’re not the slightest bit weirded out.” Ruxs thought for a second. He stared into those smoky eyes and knew exactly why he wasn’t weirded out. Green was his friend, his best friend. The only person he had, his family. Nothing about them coming together was weird for him. Ruxs was a man who always did his own thing. He wasn’t judgmental and he didn’t worry about labels or societal conformity. If it felt good, then it was all good. He’d lived by that motto since college. Ruxs finally shook his head no. “I feel good about this. You and I being together this way is only strange in a good way. It’s wild to be able to finally touch you like I’ve been wanting too. To see you come, to watch you get off. I’m just trying to wrap my head around you wanting me.” Ruxs had a hard time meeting Green’s eyes. He hoped like hell that Green did want him. Green cupped his jaw and turned him so he was facing him. “I do want you. More than you think. I want you because you’re an amazing man, Mark Ruxsberg. You have to stop thinkin’ otherwise. You’re smart, caring, loyal, a damn good cop, you’re great to Curtis and…” Green tilted his still half-hard cock against Ruxs’ pelvis. “You’re sexy as fuck. Big and beautiful. Muscles all over the fuckin’ place. It’s a huge turn-on for me.” Ruxs blushed. He loved Green telling him this. Most of all he believed him. Green wasn’t a liar and he didn’t do anything that he didn’t want to do… just like him. “So no more of this self-doubting shit. Or else I won’t blow you anymore.” Green winked, rolling off of him and climbed out of the messy bed. “Now get your lazy ass up, and don’t worry about the sheets, the maid comes today. We got to get going. We’re supposed to be doing surveillance on that damn warehouse.” Ruxs
A.E. Via (Here Comes Trouble (Nothing Special #3))
We’ve all heard the phrase, “When seconds count the police are only minutes away.” This is not a knock against the police. Many officers are good friends of mine, and no police force can be everywhere—nor, in a free country, would we want them to be. But calling the police almost never helps. Criminals, like predators in nature, do not attack when conditions favor the prey, when the sheepdog is alert beside the sheep. Predators attack when the prey is vulnerable and unprotected. In other words, when the cops can’t respond fast enough. When an attack comes you probably won’t be standing in front of the police station. You’ll be alone, or multi-tasking a busy life, or burdened (tactically speaking) with small children. You could even be sound asleep. Your attacker will choose that moment precisely because he thinks he can get away with it. The mere thought of this is frightening. And that’s a good thing. Properly applied, a little bit of fear keeps us alert. It is OK for children to live without fear. Indeed, that is a top priority of every parent. Adults, though, must see the world for what it is, both very good and very bad, and prepare for the worst so they can safely enjoy the best. This book is about winning the legal battle, and leaves tactical training to others. In no way does this imply, though, that your first priority shouldn’t be survival. If you are in a fight for your life, for the life of your spouse or your children or your parents, you MUST win. Period. If you don’t win the physical fight, everything else becomes rather less pressing. The good news is that because we know how evil people target their prey we can use this knowledge against them. Avoid looking weak and the bad guy will seek easier prey. Stay alert and aware of your surroundings. Project confidence. Avoid places where you can get cornered, and make yourself look like more work than you’re worth. Criminals are sometimes too stupid to know better, but that’s the exception. They largely know the difference between easy and difficult victims. There’s more than enough easy prey for them. If you look difficult they’ll move on.
Andrew F. Branca (The Law of Self Defense: The Indispensable Guide to the Armed Citizen)
We’ve combined the jurda parem with a sedative that makes them more biddable. We’re still working out the correct ratios, but we’ll get there. Besides, by the second dose, the addiction does the work of controlling them.” “Not the first dose?” “Depends on the Grisha.” “How many times have you done this?” Brum laughed. “I haven’t counted. But trust me, she’ll be so desperate for more jurda parem, she won’t dare act against us. It’s a remarkable transformation. I think you’ll enjoy it.” Matthias’ stomach clenched. “You’ve kept the scientist alive then?” “He’s done his best to replicate the process of creating the drug, but it’s a complicated thing. Some batches work; others are no better than dust. As long as he can be of service, he lives.” Brum placed his hand on Matthias’ shoulder, his harsh gaze softening. “I can scarcely believe you’re really here, alive, standing before me. I thought you were dead.” “I believed the same of you.” “When I saw you in that ballroom, I barely recognized you, even in that uniform. You are so changed—” “I had to let the witch tailor me.” Brum’s revulsion was obvious. “You allowed her to—” Somehow, seeing that response in someone else made Matthias ashamed of the way he’d reacted to Nina. “It had to be done,” he said. “I needed her to believe I was committed to her cause.” “That’s all over now, Matthias. You are finally safe and among your own kind.” Brum frowned. “Something is troubling you.” Matthias looked into the cell next to Nina’s, then another, and another, moving down the hall as Brum followed. Some of the captive Grisha were agitated, pacing. Others had their faces pressed up against the glass. Others simply lay on the floor. “You can’t have known about parem for more than a month. How long has this facility been here?” “I had it built almost fifteen years ago with the blessing of the king and his council.” Matthias drew up short. “Fifteen years? Why?” “We needed someplace to put the Grisha after the trials.” “After? When Grisha are found guilty, they’re sentenced to death.” Brum shrugged. “It is still a death sentence, just one a little longer in the making. We discovered long ago that the Grisha could prove a useful resource.” A resource. “You told me they were to be eradicated. That they were a blight on the natural world.” “And they are—when they attempt to masquerade as men. They aren’t capable of right thinking, of human morality. They are meant to be controlled.
Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1))
I’ve only an hour,” Colin said as he attached the safety tip to his foil. “I have an appointment this afternoon.”
“No matter,” Benedict replied, lunging forward a few times to loosen up the muscles in his leg. He hadn’t fenced in some time; the sword felt good in his hand. He drew back and touched the tip to the floor, letting the blade bend slightly. “It won’t take more than an hour to best you.”
Colin rolled his eyes before he drew down his mask.
Benedict walked to the center of the room. “Are you ready?”
“Not quite,” Colin replied, following him.
Benedict lunged again.
“I said I wasn’t ready!” Colin hollered as he jumped out of the way.
“You’re too slow,” Benedict snapped.
Colin cursed under his breath, then added a louder, “Bloody hell,” for good measure. “What’s gotten into you?”
“Nothing,” Benedict nearly snarled. “Why would you say so?”
Colin took a step backward until they were a suitable distance apart to start the match. “Oh, I don’t know,” he intoned, sarcasm evident. “I suppose it could be because you nearly took my head off.”
“I’ve a tip on my blade.”
“And you were slashing like you were using a sabre,” Colin shot back.
Benedict gave a hard smile. “It’s more fun that way.”
“Not for my neck.” Colin passed his sword from hand to hand as he flexed and stretched his fingers. He paused and frowned. “You sure you have a foil there?”
Benedict scowled. “For the love of God, Colin, I would never use a real weapon.”
“Just making sure,” Colin muttered, touching his neck lightly. “Are you ready?”
Benedict nodded and bent his knees.
“Regular rules,” Colin said, assuming a fencer’s crouch. “No slashing.”
Benedict gave him a curt nod.
Both men raised their right arms, twisting their wrists until their palms were up, foils gripped in their fingers.
“Is that new?” Colin suddenly asked, eyeing the handle of Benedict’s foil with interest.
Benedict cursed at the loss of his concentration. “Yes, it’s new,” he bit off. “I prefer an Italian grip.”
Colin stepped back, completely losing his fencing posture as he looked at his own foil, with a less elaborate French grip. “Might I borrow it some time? I wouldn’t mind seeing if—”
“Yes!” Benedict snapped, barely resisting the urge to advance and lunge that very second. “Will you get back en garde?”
Colin gave him a lopsided smile, and Benedict just knew that he had asked about his grip simply to annoy him. “As you wish,” Colin murmured, assuming position again.
Julia Quinn (An Offer From a Gentleman (Bridgertons, #3))
I’m going to guide you across the desert,” the alchemist said. “I want to stay at the oasis,” the boy answered. “I’ve found Fatima, and, as far as I’m concerned, she’s worth more than treasure.” “Fatima is a woman of the desert,” said the alchemist. “She knows that men have to go away in order to return. And she already has her treasure: it’s you. Now she expects that you will find what it is you’re looking for.” “Well, what if I decide to stay?” “Let me tell you what will happen. You’ll be the counselor of the oasis. You have enough gold to buy many sheep and many camels. You’ll marry Fatima, and you’ll both be happy for a year. You’ll learn to love the desert, and you’ll get to know every one of the fifty thousand palms. You’ll watch them as they grow, demonstrating how the world is always changing. And you’ll get better and better at understanding omens, because the desert is the best teacher there is. “Sometime during the second year, you’ll remember about the treasure. The omens will begin insistently to speak of it, and you’ll try to ignore them. You’ll use your knowledge for the welfare of the oasis and its inhabitants. The tribal chieftains will appreciate what you do. And your camels will bring you wealth and power. “During the third year, the omens will continue to speak of your treasure and your Personal Legend. You’ll walk around, night after night, at the oasis, and Fatima will be unhappy because she’ll feel it was she who interrupted your quest. But you will love her, and she’ll return your love. You’ll remember that she never asked you to stay, because a woman of the desert knows that she must await her man. So you won’t blame her. But many times you’ll walk the sands of the desert, thinking that maybe you could have left … that you could have trusted more in your love for Fatima. Because what kept you at the oasis was your own fear that you might never come back. At that point, the omens will tell you that your treasure is buried forever. “Then, sometime during the fourth year, the omens will abandon you, because you’ve stopped listening to them. The tribal chieftains will see that, and you’ll be dismissed from your position as counselor. But, by then, you’ll be a rich merchant, with many camels and a great deal of merchandise. You’ll spend the rest of your days knowing that you didn’t pursue your Personal Legend, and that now it’s too late. “You must understand that love never keeps a man from pursuing his Personal Legend. If he abandons that pursuit, it’s because it wasn’t true love … the love that speaks the Language of the World.
Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist)
ASSERTIVE The Assertive type believes time is money; every wasted minute is a wasted dollar. Their self-image is linked to how many things they can get accomplished in a period of time. For them, getting the solution perfect isn’t as important as getting it done. Assertives are fiery people who love winning above all else, often at the expense of others. Their colleagues and counterparts never question where they stand because they are always direct and candid. They have an aggressive communication style and they don’t worry about future interactions. Their view of business relationships is based on respect, nothing more and nothing less. Most of all, the Assertive wants to be heard. And not only do they want to be heard, but they don’t actually have the ability to listen to you until they know that you’ve heard them. They focus on their own goals rather than people. And they tell rather than ask. When you’re dealing with Assertive types, it’s best to focus on what they have to say, because once they are convinced you understand them, then and only then will they listen for your point of view. To an Assertive, every silence is an opportunity to speak more. Mirrors are a wonderful tool with this type. So are calibrated questions, labels, and summaries. The most important thing to get from an Assertive will be a “that’s right” that may come in the form of a “that’s it exactly” or “you hit it on the head.” When it comes to reciprocity, this type is of the “give an inch/take a mile” mentality. They will have figured they deserve whatever you have given them so they will be oblivious to expectations of owing something in return. They will actually simply be looking for the opportunity to receive more. If they have given some kind of concession, they are surely counting the seconds until they get something in return. If you are an Assertive, be particularly conscious of your tone. You will not intend to be overly harsh but you will often come off that way. Intentionally soften your tone and work to make it more pleasant. Use calibrated questions and labels with your counterpart since that will also make you more approachable and increase the chances for collaboration. We’ve seen how each of these groups views the importance of time differently (time = preparation; time = relationship; time = money). They also have completely different interpretations of silence. I’m definitely an Assertive, and at a conference this Accommodator type told me that he blew up a deal. I thought, What did you do, scream at the other guy and leave? Because that’s me blowing up a deal. But it turned out that he went silent; for an Accommodator type, silence is anger. For Analysts, though, silence means they want to think. And Assertive types interpret your silence as either you don’t have anything to say or you want them to talk. I’m one, so I know: the only time I’m silent is when I’ve run out of things to say. The funny thing is when these cross over. When an Analyst pauses to think, their Accommodator counterpart gets nervous and an Assertive one starts talking, thereby annoying the Analyst, who thinks to herself, Every time I try to think you take that as an opportunity to talk some more. Won’t you ever shut up?
Chris Voss (Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It)
An upbeat song played over the loudspeaker, and everyone's attention focused on the Jumbotron above the basketball court.
"It's time for the Bulls' Kiss Cam. So, pucker up for your sweetie and kiss them."
The camera found an older couple in their fifties. The man pulled his wife, I assumed, in for a quick peck on the lips.
"Aww. That is so sweet," Trina said. She proceeded to yank poor Owen to his seat in case the spotlight landed on them. She'd do just about anything to get on television, even if it meant not kissing Owen tonight to do so.
"That is so staged," I said and sneaked a quick peek at my phone, seeing if he messaged me back. He didn’t.
"Really?" she countered and slapped my arm. Once I glanced her way, she pointed towards the large screen looming above.
On the screen was Sebastian and me as the camera had just so happened to find us. It stayed there zooming closer. And closer. And closer.
"Come on," the announcer called out, prodding us. "Just one kiss won't hurt."
He had no idea what he was asking. A kiss would initiate feelings I couldn't avoid any longer.
I momentarily forgot how to breathe as the song, “Kiss the Girl” from the Little Mermaid hummed at my lips. Not the best choice, but still. Everything became much worse once my giant moved into view, smiling my favorite smile.
Sebastian inched closer; eyebrow cocked to dare me."No pressure or anything."
I was quiet for a moment before whispering, "Game on, buddy."
My eyes closed a few heartbeats shy of Sebastian's lips meeting mine. His hands rose, cupping my cheeks to keep me from pulling away. Like that was going to happen.
Sebastian’s mouth moved against mine, and I conceded, kissing him in return. He tasted sweet and minty, like the home I’d been missing. The kiss turned from soft and tame to fierce and wantingas if neither of us could get enough.
And already, I considered myself a goner.
Everything became a haze. My heart thumped so wildly against my chest, I swore Sebastian could hear. The crowd surrounding us was whistling and cheering us on, and it only kept gaining momentum as the moments passed. The noise quickly faded until it was as if we were the only two people in the room. We could have been the only two people on earth.
"Okay, guys." Trina tapped my shoulder, garnering my attention. "Camera has moved on now."
That was our cue to separate, and I slowly drew away from Sebastian.
He, in turn, slipped his hand to the back of my neck, holding me here. "Don't," he sighed against my lips.
I didn't budge another inch. I didn't want to. Sebastian rewarded me by deepening the kiss. Dear God. There were sparks. My stomach flipped. My toes curled. My body warmed. Every single inch of me only wanted one thing and one thing only.
If this continued for too much longer, it was easy to guess my new favorite hobby: Kissing Sebastian Freaking Birch.
Needing some air, I pressed my palm flat against his chest. This time he released me as we both were breathless.
Sebastian's eyes carefully studied me. He kept staring as if he could read my heart, my mind. And for those brief few seconds, I honestly didn't believe there were any secrets between us. His gaze shifted as he gauged what to do next, and I had no freaking idea where we went from here. We'd done it now. We crossed that line, and there was no way of ever going back.
Patty Carothers and Amy Brewer (Texting Prince Charming)
How Google Works (Schmidt, Eric) - Your Highlight on Location 3124-3150 | Added on Sunday, April 5, 2015 10:35:40 AM In late 1999, John Doerr gave a presentation at Google that changed the company, because it created a simple tool that let the founders institutionalize their “think big” ethos. John sat on our board, and his firm, Kleiner Perkins, had recently invested in the company. The topic was a form of management by objectives called OKRs (to which we referred in the previous chapter), which John had learned from former Intel CEO Andy Grove.173 There are several characteristics that set OKRs apart from their typical underpromise-and-overdeliver corporate-objective brethren. First, a good OKR marries the big-picture objective with a highly measurable key result. It’s easy to set some amorphous strategic goal (make usability better … improve team morale … get in better shape) as an objective and then, at quarter end, declare victory. But when the strategic goal is measured against a concrete goal (increase usage of features by X percent … raise employee satisfaction scores by Y percent … run a half marathon in under two hours), then things get interesting. For example, one of our platform team’s recent OKRs was to have “new WW systems serving significant traffic for XX large services with latency < YY microseconds @ ZZ% on Jupiter.”174 (Jupiter is a code name, not the location of Google’s newest data center.) There is no ambiguity with this OKR; it is very easy to measure whether or not it is accomplished. Other OKRs will call for rolling out a product across a specific number of countries, or set objectives for usage (e.g., one of the Google+ team’s recent OKRs was about the daily number of messages users would post in hangouts) or performance (e.g., median watch latency on YouTube videos). Second—and here is where thinking big comes in—a good OKR should be a stretch to achieve, and hitting 100 percent on all OKRs should be practically unattainable. If your OKRs are all green, you aren’t setting them high enough. The best OKRs are aggressive, but realistic. Under this strange arithmetic, a score of 70 percent on a well-constructed OKR is often better than 100 percent on a lesser one. Third, most everyone does them. Remember, you need everyone thinking in your venture, regardless of their position. Fourth, they are scored, but this scoring isn’t used for anything and isn’t even tracked. This lets people judge their performance honestly. Fifth, OKRs are not comprehensive; they are reserved for areas that need special focus and objectives that won’t be reached without some extra oomph. Business-as-usual stuff doesn’t need OKRs. As your venture grows, the most important OKRs shift from individuals to teams. In a small company, an individual can achieve incredible things on her own, but as the company grows it becomes harder to accomplish stretch goals without teammates. This doesn’t mean that individuals should stop doing OKRs, but rather that team OKRs become the more important means to maintain focus on the big tasks. And there’s one final benefit of an OKR-driven culture: It helps keep people from chasing competitors. Competitors are everywhere in the Internet Century, and chasing them (as we noted earlier) is the fastest path to mediocrity. If employees are focused on a well-conceived set of OKRs, then this isn’t a problem. They know where they need to go and don’t have time to worry about the competition. ==========
The group picked up the picnic hamper from the Queen and strolled down a narrow path through the woods leading to Willow River. “Here’s a good spot.” Callie pointed to a shaded level area along the bank. “We haven’t been in this section before.” Soon everyone was enjoying the delicious lunch the girls had prepared: chicken sandwiches, potato salad, chocolate cake, and lemonade. While they were eating, the girls were the targets of good-natured kidding. “Boy!” Joe exclaimed as he finished his piece of cake. “This is almost as good as my mother and Aunt Gertrude make.” “That’s a compliment!” Chet said emphatically. Callie’s eyes twinkled. “I know it is. Joe’s mother and aunt are the best cooks ever!” Iola sniffed. “I don’t know about this compliment stuff. There’s something on your mind, Joe Hardy!” Joe grinned. “How are you on apple pie and cream puffs and—?” “Oh, stop it!” Iola commanded. “Otherwise, you won’t get a second piece of cake!” “I give up.” Joe handed over his paper plate.
Franklin W. Dixon (The Secret of the Old Mill (Hardy Boys, #3))
2. Obvious Calls to Action If you’re not sure what a call to action is, go back and read chapter 8 in this book. It’s important. For now, know that the whole point of your website is to create a place where the direct call to action button makes sense and is enticing. While we’re in business to serve our customers and better the world, we’ll be out of business soon if people don’t click that “Buy Now” button. Let’s not hide it. There are two main places we want to place a direct call to action. The first is at the top right of our website and the second is in the center of the screen, above the fold. Your customer’s eye moves quickly in a Z pattern across your website, so if the top left is your logo and perhaps tagline, your top right is a “Buy Now” button, and the middle of the page is an offer followed by another “Buy Now” button, then you’ve likely gotten through all the noise in your customer’s mind and they know what role you can play in their story. For best results the “Buy Now” buttons should be a different color from any other button on the site (preferably brighter so it stands out), and both buttons should look exactly the same. I know this sounds like overkill, but remember, people don’t read websites, they scan them. You want that button to keep showing up like a recurring theme. A person has to hear something (or read something) many times before they process the information, so we want to repeat our main call to action several times. Your transitional call to action should also be obvious, but don’t let it distract from the direct call to action. I like featuring the transitional call to action in a less-bright button next to the call to action so the “Will you marry me?” and “Can we go out again?” requests are right next to each other. Remember, if you aren’t asking people to place an order, they won’t.
Donald Miller (Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen)
He got in his car and rolled down the window. 'Make me out to be a good guy, okay? Brave and handsome, all that stuff. Best platoon leader ever.' He hesitated for a second. 'And do me a favor. Don't mention anything about -'
'No,' I said, 'I won't.
Tim O'Brien (The Things They Carried)
How To Write Achievement Stories
Because you’re asking people to take a chance on you, you need to show them why they should take a chance.
We live in a world best summarized by the words of Grant Cardone:
Sell Or Be Sold!
Practically, everything we hear and read on TV, radio, and the internet is an attempt to sell us something.
When you find yourself in front of the hiring manager, it’s essential that you sell yourself.
Selling yourself means helping the hiring manager understand why she should hire you.
Hiring managers want to know how you’re different from all of the other candidates. If you can’t answer that question, you won’t get a second interview.
After my job was eliminated in ’95 and ’02, I knew I had to quantify the impact of my work, so I would be ready for the next time.
As a result, I took detailed notes on everything I did that 1) earned money, 2) saved money, and 3) increased productivity.
I also took detailed notes on everything that set me apart from other candidates.
Because everyone responds well to stories, and detailed stories add to your credibility, I created Achievement Stories.
Achievement stories are also known as STAR stories. STAR is short for Situation – Task – Action – Result. Another name for Achievement stories is SOAR stories. (See explanation below.)
First, provide the context of what was happening. This is the before picture, namely what was going on at the time, before you took action.
These are the issues and problems which you had to overcome to be successful.
This is where you explain what you did to overcome the issues and problems.
This is where you share the outcome of your action – both quantitatively and qualitatively.
Clark Finnical (Job Hunting Secrets: (from someone who's been there))
Dear Boundaryless Client, We certainly love working with you. (This is the first slice of graciousness.) Squeezing this important request in over the weekend won’t work for us. (This is the no. Just get it out.) Your deliverables are very important, and we want to make sure they get the focus they deserve. (Second slice of graciousness. This sentence shows good intention and some effort at gentle repair for their disappointment.) We would be happy to give this our full attention early Monday morning and have some numbers to you by end of business. Best, Chris
Juliet Funt (A Minute to Think: Reclaim Creativity, Conquer Busyness, and Do Your Best Work)
—Have you ever seen the sunrise here? and as though she'd answered she hadn't, as though she'd answered at all —especially in winter. You'll see it in winter, it's moved south where the river's its widest and it comes up so fast, it's as if it just wanted to prove the day, get it established so it can loiter through the rest of it, spend the first damned half of your life complicating things in that eagerness to take on everything and straighten all of it out and the second half cleaning up the mess you've made of the first, that's what they won't understand. Finally realize you can't leave things better than you found them the best you can do is try not to leave them any worse but they won't forgive you, get toward the end of the day like the sun going down in Key West if you've ever seen that? They're all down there for the sunset, watching it drop like a bucket of blood and clapping and cheering the instant it disappears, cheer you out the door and damned glad to see the last of you.
William Gaddis (Carpenter's Gothic)
Second, accept the fear; don’t fight it. It’s like trying to wrestle with the current – best to let the waves carry one this way and that; they’ll tire eventually and set one back on shore. Never struggle against a rip tide. Accept that maybe the speech won’t happen; you might faint in your seat or be forced to run out of the room. So what? Refuse to be humiliated by the panic. You don’t have to be competent all the time. Everyone is allowed some failures, and this just happens to be one of your well-earned ones.
The School of Life (Anxiety: Meditations on the Anxious Mind)
Our journey won't be easy, but the best things aren't supposed to be.
Lasairiona E. McMaster (Intimate Strangers (Lisa Millar, #1))
I happened to look over and found Amos leaning against the counter, looking way too introspective.
“What?” I asked him, popping the tab on my own soda and taking a sip.
The boy shook his head.
“You can tell me anything, Little Sting, and I can tell you want to.”
That seemed to be enough for him. “Are you flirting with my dad?” he straight-up asked.
I almost spit the soda out. “No…?”
He blinked. “No?”
Amos raised an eyebrow.
It was my turn to blink. “Yes, okay. Yes. But I flirt with everyone. Men and women. Children. You should see me around pets. I used to have a fish, and I sweet-talked her too. Her name was Gretchen Wiener. I miss her.” She had passed away a few years ago, but I still thought about her from time to time. She’d been a good travel companion. Not fussy at all.
That had the teenager’s cheeks going puffy for a second.
He fucking liked me. I knew it.
“Does it bother you if I flirt with your dad?” I paused. “Would it bother you if I liked him?” That wasn’t the best word to describe it, but it was the simplest.
That got him to scoff. “No! I’m sixteen not five.”
“But you’re still his wittle baby, Am. And my feelings won’t be hurt”—that was a lie, they would be—“if you weren’t okay with it. You’re my friend too. Just like your dad. I don’t want to make things weird.”
The kid gave me a disgusted expression that made me laugh. “I don’t care. We already talked about it anyway.”
Mariana Zapata (All Rhodes Lead Here)
Dex lost his balance for a second. Then he wrapped his arms around her, squeezing as tight as he could. And when he let go a few seconds later, his cheeks weren’t red, and he didn’t look shy or nervous or fidgety. He looked… like her best friend. “Okay, my turn,” Stina announced, reminding Sophie that she still had three more questions to go. “And I won’t be getting all sappy.” “Shocking,” Sophie deadpanned, leaning back against the Panakes again. “You really think Bronte’s your biological father?” Stina asked, crinkling her nose like she couldn’t picture it—which might’ve been the best compliment she’d ever given Sophie.
Shannon Messenger (Legacy (Keeper of the Lost Cities, #8))
DIDN’T COME GET me until two in the morning, and she was still singing—in French.” Lydia yawned hugely, then sang, “Ne me quitte pas, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah. What am I going to do? Ben won’t let me into his room every night, no matter what Jeffrey says.” “Sleep in my room from now on,” said Alice. “You can have either the top or bottom bunk.” “Really?” What a relief to never again sleep in the mansion. “Actually, I do prefer the top bunk, so if you wouldn’t mind the bottom—” “No, I mean, do you really think I can stay with you? Wouldn’t your parents mind?” “They’ll like it. They’ve decided you’re a good influence on me.” Lydia thought that being a good influence made her sound as boring as being a person who liked everyone (except she didn’t). But if that was what she had to suffer to get out of the mansion, she’d accept it. Both girls were in their new ballet skirts, swishing along on their way to see Blossom. Alice was carrying the oats in a bag—the skirts were without pockets—and Lydia was carrying Natalie’s phone, plus two books, in another bag. Alice knew about only one of the books, Practical Magic, written by an Alice for grown-ups. The other, sneaked in by Lydia, was a copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. She was hoping to convince both Alice and Blossom to love it. Unless—she stopped walking—that could be considered being a good influence. No, she decided, and started walking again, quickly, to catch up with Alice as she entered the field. They’d decided to begin the visit with a dance, the best way to show Blossom their new skirts. This was the first time the two of them had danced together seriously, and anyone other than sheep would have appreciated the vision—the beautiful skirts, the fusion of ballet and tae kwon do, the paean to freedom and friendship. But to Blossom, the oat carriers seemed to have gone crazy, spinning around like bugs trying to escape a water trough. She stopped halfway across the field, apparently planning to chomp on grass until they became less buglike. The dancing a failure, the girls moved on to the second part of the entertainment. Alice took out oats, Lydia took out Practical Magic, and Blossom came the rest of the way over, accepting the oats and ignoring the book.
Jeanne Birdsall (The Penderwicks at Last (The Penderwicks, #5))
J-Just m-my throat,’ I stuttered, my lips quivering from the cold.
‘Let's get you out of here, then,’ Marcel said. He slid his arms under me and lifted me without effort-like picking up an empty box. His chest was bare and warm; he hunched his shoulders to keep the rain off me. My head lolled over his arm. I stared vacantly back toward the furious water, beating the sand behind him.
‘You got her?’ I heard Sam ask.
‘Yeah, I'll take it from here. Get back to the hospital. I'll join you later.
My head was still rolling. None of his words sunk in at first. Sam didn't answer. There was no sound, and I wondered if he were already gone.
The water licked and writhed up the sand after us as Marcel carried me away like it was angry that I'd escaped. As I stared wearily, a spark of color caught my unfocused eyes-a a small flash of fire was dancing on the black water, far out in the bay. The image made no sense, and I wondered how conscious I was.
My head swirled with the memory of the black, churning water of being so lost that I couldn't find up or down. So, lost… but somehow Marcel…
‘How did you find me?’ I rasped.
‘I was searching for you,’ he told me. He was half-jogging through the rain, up the beach toward the road. ‘I followed the tire tracks to your truck, and then I heard you scream…’ He shuddered. ‘Why would you jump, Bell? Didn't you notice that it's turning into a hurricane out here? Couldn't you have waited for me?’ Anger filled his tone as the relief faded.
‘Sorry,’ I muttered. ‘It was stupid.’
‘Yeah, it was really stupid,’ he agreed, drops of rain shaking free of his hair as he nodded. ‘Look, do you mind saving the stupid stuff for when I'm around? I won't be able to concentrate if I think you're jumping off cliffs behind my back.’
‘Sure,’ I agreed. ‘No problem.’ I sounded like a chain-smoker. I tried to clear my throat and then winced; the throat-clearing felt like stabbing a knife down there. ‘What happened today? Did you… find her?’ It was my turn to shudder, though I wasn't so cold here, right next to his ridiculous body heat.
Marcel shook his head. He was still more running than walking as he headed up the road to his house. ‘No. She took off into the water-the bloodsuckers have the advantage there. That's why I raced home- I was afraid she was going to double back swimming. You spend so much time on the beach…’ He trailed off, a catch in his throat.
‘Sam came back with you… is everyone else home, too?’ I hoped they weren’t still out searching for her.
‘Yeah. Sort of.’
I tried to read his expression, squinting into the hammering rain. His eyes were tight with worry or pain.
The words that hadn't made sense before suddenly did. ‘You said… hospital. Before, to Sam. Is someone hurt? Did she fight you?’ My voice jumped up an octave, sounding strange with the hoarseness.
Marcel’s eyes tightened again. ‘It doesn't look so great right now.’
Abruptly, I felt sick with guilt-felt truly horrible about the brainless cliff dive. Nobody needed to be worrying about me right now. What a stupid time to be reckless.
‘What can I do?’ I asked.
At that moment the rain stopped. I hadn't realized we were already back at Marcel’s house until he walked through the door. The storm pounded against the roof.
‘You can stay here,’ Marcel said as he dumped me on the short couch. ‘I mean it right here I'll get you some dry clothes.’
I let my eyes adjust to the darkroom while Marcel banged around in his bedroom. The cramped front room seemed so empty without Billy, almost desolate. It was strangely ominous-probably just because I knew where he was.
Marcel was back in seconds. He threw a pile of gray cotton at me. ‘These will be huge on you, but it's the best I've got. I'll-a, step outside so you can change.’
‘Don't go anywhere. I'm too tired to move yet. Just stay with me.
Marcel Ray Duriez
Claire continued. "There's a complexity of... looking forward to something. Being scared it doesn’t live up to your hope... like second dates... or returning to Cancun... or being in love with a stranger, hoping they never love you. It’s not that you prefer the concept or the excitement of the beginning. It’s the fear that a future with someone won’t be as nice as you hoped it would be. I would hate that, Brit. It'd crush me. It's like when you tell a person you like them—it always dips. It gets awkward. The expectation of it. I feel some things are best left at 'Hello.' Like, I write about living in a forest away from everyone, but I can’t tell if that’s the future I want or only enjoy writing about.
Kristian Ventura (The Goodbye Song)
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It’s okay if you can’t. No worries. Just an idea,” I say quickly, looking away so she won’t see how disappointed I am.
“No—I mean, I want to, but—” Hana sucks in a breath. I hate this, hate how awkward we both are. “I kind of have this party”—she corrects herself quickly—
“this thing I’m supposed to go to with Angelica Marston.”
My stomach gets that hollowed-out feeling. It’s amazing how words can do that, just shred your insides apart. [...]
A rush of hatred overwhelms me. Hatred for my life, for its narrowness and cramped spaces; hatred for Angelica Marston, with her secretive smile and rich parents; hatred for Hana, for being so stupid and careless and stubborn, first and foremost, and for leaving me behind before I was ready to be left; and underneath all those layers something else, too, some white-hot blade of unhappiness flashing in the very deepest part of me. I can’t name it, or even focus on it clearly, but somehow I understand that this—this other thing—makes me the angriest of all. [...]
Despite everything, this gives me pause. In the days after the party at Roaring Brook Farms, snatches of music seemed to follow me everywhere: I heard it winging in and out of the wind, I heard it singing off the ocean and moaning through the walls of the house. Sometimes I woke up in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat, my heart pounding, with the notes sounding in my ears. But every time I was awake and trying to remember the melodies consciously, hum a few notes or recall any of the chords, I couldn’t.
Hana’s staring at me hopefully, waiting for my response. For a second I actually feel bad for her. I want to make her happy, like I always did, want to see her give a whoop and put her fist in the air and flash me one of her famous smiles. But then I remember she has Angelica Marston now, and something hardens in my throat, and knowing that I’m going to disappoint her gives me a kind of dull satisfaction.
Lauren Oliver (Delirium (Delirium, #1))
Do you have any idea how much I love you?” “I do,” she said, smiling. “Well, I’d give my life for you, that’s how much. I’ve never been happier than these past few weeks. But I was just telling Matt—I’d give it all up and live alone and miserable and jealous till the end of time if I could get him back. He was the most amazing man, the most incredible friend. It would probably kill me, but I’d give this up if it meant he could live.” Vanni put a hand along his cheek. “He knows that already, Paul. He always knew that.” “You have to be real sad sometimes, honey. Even now. You don’t ever have to hide that from me. I’ll hold you through the tears now, just like I did before—and I won’t feel cheated. Not by a long shot.” “Paul, I wouldn’t hide anything from you,” she said sweetly. “Not long after Matt and I met, I lost my mom—and she was the best friend I ever had. And then I lost my husband to a war. Do you have any idea what a gift I have in you? It was like being rescued. I didn’t know I could feel like this. I thought every day would hurt forever. It’s probably not really stronger than what I felt for Matt, but coming after all that loss and pain, it sure feels like a miracle to me. Oh—I’ll always miss him, too. I can’t help that. But I’m so grateful to have you in my life. I’m not giving you up.” “I just wish there was a way I could know—I wish I knew he was okay with this—you and me.” “Remember, I told you,” she said, smiling. “I ran it by him already. A few times. Before you ever let me know how you felt.” “I wish I could know he forgives me for—for wanting you all those years you belonged to him…” She laughed softly, sweetly. “I think you’re being silly now. You showed him such incredible respect, never letting anyone know. Paul, there’s nothing to forgive.” “The night Mattie came, I was out here talking to him. Jack came and got me—he said Matt had moved on. He said we each have our destiny and Matt’s took him somewhere else.” “Yeah—wherever he is, he’s tearing the place up, making people laugh, feel good. Paul, this would make Matt happy. You know how much you love him? He loved you that much or more. I can’t think of anyone he’d rather have raise his son.” “I’ll do the best I can with that, honey. I’d sure like to make Matt proud. I’ll try to be as good a husband as Matt was….” She shook her head and smiled at him. “You’re not going to have to try. As far as I can tell, you’re a natural.” *
Robyn Carr (Second Chance Pass)
I think I’m the only woman you’ve loved in forever. And you were going to pitch me out that fast, just because I make you nervous. I thought you didn’t trust me, but now I think you don’t trust yourself.” She shook her head. “I don’t want a man like that. I need a man with guts, who’s sure of himself. Confident enough to stand by me. I need a man who’s not afraid to take a risk or two for something important.” “I’ve taken a risk or two,” he said. “And you don’t scare me. Come up here on the porch.” “No. Not until you say that if we stay solid, there will be a real relationship and a family. I don’t want any of this ‘I don’t get involved’ shit. It’s all crap, Luke. You can have some time to be sure, I’m patient. But I’m not giving you up.” He smiled at her. “I don’t need time to be sure. I know how I feel.” “Still on that? Still that ‘never gonna happen’ bullshit?” “Okay, I guess it could happen,” he said. “If it did happen, it would happen with you. I just always thought you deserved more.” “More than everything I’ve ever wanted in the world? See what an idiot you turned out to be?” He had to laugh. She was something, this woman. “Shelby, come here. I don’t have to think about it—you’re the most solid thing I’ve ever had in my life. Now come here.” “I thought I wasn’t enough for you—but I was too much,” she said. “And you don’t get to decide what I deserve. What I deserve is a man who looks at me grow fat on his baby and feels pride. Love and pride.” “Okay then,” he said. “I love you. Come here.” “Not good enough. You have to say something to convince me this is worth the gamble. I came a long way and I came alone. I was betting on you, on us. I love you and you love me and I’m sick of screwing around. Say the right thing for once. Say something profound.” He stared at her and his smile slowly faded. He put his hands on his hips. He took a deep breath and felt tears gather in his eyes. “You’re all I need to be happy, Shelby,” he said. “You’re everything I need…” He actually surprised her. Her arms dropped from over her chest and she gaped at him for a second. “You’re everything,” he said. “It scares me to death, but I want it all with you. I want you for life. I want what you want, and I want it right now.” “Huh?” “Everything, Shelby. I want you to be the lead in my shoes that keeps me on the ground. The mother of my children. My best friend, my wife, my mistress. It’s a tall order.” He took a breath. “If you won’t quit, I won’t.” “You’re sure about that?” she asked him. “Sure it scares the hell out me you’ll change your mind? Or sure I want it all? Oh, yeah, honey. I’m sure.” “I won’t change my mind,” she said softly. “I can’t hear you!” he yelled. “I can’t hear you because you won’t come out of the frickin’ rain!” She ran up the porch steps and into his arms.
Robyn Carr (Temptation Ridge)
What’s going on? What news?” I said glancing between the two. Sam gave Clay a sharp look. “You didn’t tell her?” “He’s not talking to me, yet,” I said, wondering what bad news Sam had to share. Sam shook his head at Clay. “You’ve dug your own hole then, son.” He focused on me. “A group of Forlorn have asked Elder Joshua to approach you for an unofficial kind of Introduction. Joshua approved, but he made it clear they were to keep it brief and then leave, unless any of them had a further request of him.” The meaning of Sam’s words sunk in deep like a vicious bite. It also explained his less than warm greeting. He stood in my living room as an Elder on pack business, not as family or a friend. I struggled to contain my anger. “I thought I was done with that. We had a deal.” I crossed my arms and coldly regarded Sam. “I know I said I was done.” The carefully, composed expression on Sam’s face faltered a bit. “Honey, there are rules we must follow to keep peace in the pack. Clay had six months to convince you of his suit. That time has passed. That means unMated can once again approach you, with permission.” My mouth popped open. Six months. Permission from an Elder. That’s why they’d stationed Joshua here. A backup plan because they knew I didn’t want to Claim Clay. They failed to understand I didn’t want to Claim anyone. I’d never been free. I clenched my fists. My temper boiled. “That’s complete crap,” I gritted out. “First of all, I didn’t reject anyone. Second, no one ever told me about this stupid rule.” My voice rose to a yell, and I took a deep breath and closed my eyes briefly to restrain myself. When I reopened them, I felt more in control and able to speak calmly. “You know what? I don’t care what the pack rules are. I gave you my word and my time. Now, I expect you to keep yours. I worked hard to get here, Sam. I won’t let anyone take this away from me.” My hands shook. That Sam had cared for me in the past and given me a place to call home for two years, kept my tongue marginally civil. “By not completing the Claim, you’ve become eligible again. Charlene was granted a special consideration because, at that time, we weren’t even sure a Claiming would be possible between a human and a werewolf. Now that we know it is, you fall under the same rules,” Sam explained calmly, his face again carefully devoid of emotion. “No, I don’t.” I knew I could stand there and argue all day with Sam, and he wouldn’t budge. It would always be whatever’s best for the pack with him. “Is this why Clay was beat up?” Clay made a noise—like a snort of disagreement—behind me. “Feel free to jump in at any time,” I said, turning to arch an eyebrow at him. He remained mute, but his eyes softened when he looked at me. Sam spoke up from behind me, but I didn’t turn to look at him. “Gabby, it’s the reason he’s been fighting. He’s not relinquishing his tie to you. Every time an unMated shows up here, he will challenge that man for his right for an Introduction. Did Clay get beat up? Only as a byproduct of handing out beatings.” Clay steadily met my gaze the entire time. It broke my heart a little to know he was fighting so hard to keep me, and all I’d given him in those six months was a kiss. Not even spontaneously given, but relinquished as part of a bribe. I hadn’t rejected him. I just didn’t want to be forced into a choice. If I chose to be with Clay, I wanted it to be on our terms. “Why
Melissa Haag (Hope(less) (Judgement of the Six #1))
You won't get rid of him that easily. Troy will live a long and annoying life. People like him always do.
Jessica Dettmann (How to Be Second Best)
As I was reading, I started thinking about Jessica and the idea of getting married. We could be doing this--reading our Bibles, cooking our own food, hanging out--at our own house. Suddenly, I was excited about the idea of leaving Mom and Dad’s house and starting my own family with Jessica.
All my brothers had gotten married before they were twenty, and here I was twenty-two, and not married. I knew Jess was the one. I’m not going to look at any more girls, I thought, still reading through Scripture out loud. I just want to get married to the woman I love. There was a deep sense of knowing inside of me. I didn’t want to overthink it anymore; I just wanted to do it. If we knew we wanted to be married, why wait? So all of a sudden I just burst out, “We should get married.”
Jessica looked up from her Bible, surprised. I wasn’t down on my knees, and I didn’t have champagne or a ring, so she wasn’t exactly expecting a marriage proposal. But that’s what it was. A random impulse of a marriage proposal.
I looked in her eyes and said it again. “Let’s get married. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”
There were hugs and tears, and then we ran out to tell Mom and Dad the news. More hugs, more tears. And wedding plans started right away.
“We’ll just elope,” I said, “or get Dad to marry us.”
We didn’t want to waste a second. Now that we knew, we wanted to get married as soon as possible and start our lives together. But Mom had a fit.
“No,” she said in a loud voice. “We have to have a wedding. I’ve always dreamed about your wedding, Jep.”
I didn’t want a big wedding, and I knew it would take time and cost a lot of money.
“Mom, I just think it would be better this way.”
“Look, just some family,” she argued back, “and maybe some of my best friends. I’ll help get everything together. It won’t be hard. You’ll see.”
Then she tilted her head and smiled that big smile; how could I say no?
We finally gave in because we could see how important it was for her, but we made it clear we wanted to get married as soon as possible, so we set a date for two weeks away. We don’t waste much time down here in Louisiana.
Jep Robertson (The Good, the Bad, and the Grace of God: What Honesty and Pain Taught Us About Faith, Family, and Forgiveness)
Dear Rebecca— You may have picked up on my growing disappointment with you this afternoon as our first meeting progressed. I have to say that though you seem quite personable in your electronic communications, in person your behavior is a little lacking in some of the traits that would let you get from a first to a second date with regularity. If Lovability had a rating system, I would award you 2.5 out of 5 stars; however, if it used a scale that only allowed for integral values, I would unfortunately be forced to round down to two. Here are some suggestions for what you could do to improve the initial impression you make. I am speaking here as a veteran of the online dating scene in LA, which is MUCH more intense than New Jersey’s—there, you are competing with aspiring actors and actresses, and a professionally produced headshot and a warm demeanor are the bare minimum necessary to get in the game. By the end of my first year in LA my askback rate (the rate at which my first dates with women led to second dates) was a remarkable 68%. So I know what I’m talking about. I hope you take this constructive criticism in the manner in which it is intended. 1. Vary your responses to inquiries. When our conversation began, you seemed quite cheerful and animated, but as it progressed you became much less so. I asked you a series of questions that were intended to give you opportunities to reveal more about yourself, but you offered only binary answers, and then, troublingly, no answers at all. If you want your date to go well, you need to display more interest. 2. Direct the flow of conversation. Dialogue is collaborative! One consequence of your reticence was that I was forced to propose all of the topics of discussion, both before and after the transition to more personal subjects. If you contribute topics of your own then it will make you appear more engaged: you should aim to bring up one new subject for every one introduced by your date. 3. Take control of the path of the date. If you want the initial meeting to extend beyond the planned drinks, there are many ways you can go about doing this. You can directly say, for instance, “So I wasn’t thinking about this when you showed up, but…do you have any plans for dinner? I’m starving, and I could really go for some pad thai.” Or you can make a vaguer, more general statement such as “After this, I’m up for whatever,” or “Hey, I don’t really want to go home yet, Bradley: I’m having a lot of fun.” Again, this comes down to a general lack of engagement on your part. Without your feedback I was left to offer a game of Scrabble, which was not the best way to end the meeting. 4. Don’t lie about your ability in Scrabble. I won’t go into an analysis of your strategic and tactical errors here, in the interest of brevity, but your amateurish playing style was quite evident. Now, despite my reservations as expressed above, I really do feel that we had some chemistry. So I would like to give things another chance. Would you respond to this message within the next three days, with a suggestion of a place you’d like us to visit together, or an activity that you believe we would both enjoy? I would be forced to construe a delay of more than three days as an unfortunate sign of indifference. I hope to hear from you soon. Best, Bradley
Dexter Palmer (Version Control)
I know this is being your second relationship and mine be the first one. I'd shed a lot of tears to find my love of life undoubtedly after my mom. Babu, I literally don't know whether I'm perfect for you or not but ya at times i feel like there will always be someone more perfect than me for you. May be he won't able to love you the same way that i do but ya there is someone.... This is my first and only relationship. I know i make lots of mistakes but I swear upon you and my mom that i never ever want to hurt you. There are nights for me in which i just think of myself without you and those nights be so silent that i can hear someone laughing at me Or shall i say that those are the one which literally make me realize my position. Driver for family, termed as useless creature by my father betrayed by my own trust worthies. It feels like time stop at that particular moments and they just want me to haunt it down all through the night. And then comes the time when I'm with you probably spending an hour with you. It seems like life is so good. At that point of time i enjoy the most. Unwillingly i need to drop you back home. Obviously right now I can't or you can't take me home. I had never ever felt so much loved by anyone else.
You may think that this guy had copied from net. Once in a while that just comes up. Right!?
But just like you do your art work through your heart i do the same. I just express myself to you, my love for you and that is just beyond your imagination.
I never ever thought of getting physical or had that mindset to do any such thing with you, your hugs are my favorite and yea "JAAN" too. These two things makes up my day.
You can compare me to numerous and i would be not a strong guy or may be I don't possess other qualities which many other have but yea i can challenge you that no one can love you as much as i do. I know for you your parents are first in love and I respect this from my heart.
I know i have failed many a times and many times and i have disappointed you, i really regret that and I'm trying to not make those silly or may be big mistakes again.
When i say I don't watch a girl or don't get my eyes on her I seriously mean it. Because when I'm having one of the most infact best and most beautiful girl with me why should i get keen on seeing or watching out others.
I really don't know what em i up to like I don't know about others but ya there are few persons whom i always want smiling my mom you and my brother.
I really wish if i could see your expression after sending you this.
Lastly babu, I love you.
Nice hammer,” Harlow said from behind me.
“Hey,” I said, glancing around casually to see if Winnie was with her. “Nice shiner.”
“You should see the other chick,” she muttered. “Can we talk?”
Setting down my hammer, I followed her away from the other guys. Harlow seemed tense and I worried something was wrong with Winnie.
“This is awkward and I feel weird coming here like this,” she said, pushing her blonde hair behind her ears. “Are you dating anyone?”
My breath caught. A fear rose up in my chest at the thought of Harlow wanting to date me. What would that mean for me and Winnie? The look in Harlow’s eyes calmed my terror. I might as well have been a brick wall based on the lack of attraction she showed.
“Some girl was hugging you outside a restaurant. Wasn’t that a date?”
Frowning, I scratched at my jaw where I forgot to shave that morning. “That was a girl from high school. She might have been into me, but we went out as friends. I’m not dating anyone.”
“Winnie saw you with that girl and she got really upset. I know she’s not ready to have a boyfriend, but she wants you. Do you want her?”
Playing it cool might be the stud move, but I didn’t want to be a player. I wanted Winnie. Besides, for the second time in twenty four hours, someone close to Winnie wanted to play matchmaker. “Yes.”
Harlow nodded. “She’s messed up. You know that, right?”
“I know she’s fragile, yeah.”
“Winnie has a lot of phobias. Not stupid shit for attention, but real chronic problems that won’t go away because you’re hot. She’s been in therapy for years and gotten stronger, but she’ll never be okay.”
Harlow bit her lip then nodded again. “Do you want to take her out to dinner tomorrow?”
Harlow smiled. “You better be chattier than that on the date or else no one will say anything. Winnie likely won’t say anything all night, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to. She just takes a long time to warm up to people.”
I wasn’t sure what Harlow saw on my face, but she grinned. “She really wants to warm up to you, Dylan. Don’t fuck it up, okay?”
“I’ll do my best.”
When Harlow narrowed her eyes, I was pretty sure she might hit me. “I appreciate the way you tried to save us that day. You showed balls and I respect that. With that said, you better be taking this seriously, understand?”
Leaning closer, I stared right into those suspicious eyes. “No one makes me feel like Winnie. If she needs to take it slow, we’ll go slow. If she wants to rush into it, we’ll rush. If she needs me to stand on my fucking head and sing the National Anthem, I’ll do it. So yes, I’m taking this very seriously,” I said, running a hand where short dark stubble took the place of my mohawk. “I told Winnie I would wait and I meant it. What you think is me being passive is just patience.”
“Okay,” Harlow said softly. “You know when I came to Ellsberg, I was pretty messed up. My family was dead and I was in this new place with strangers. Winnie took care of me. She became my sister and best friend. I love her like she’s blood. Nothing personal, but if you hurt her, I’ll have to kill you.”
“Fair enough,” I said, grinning.
“Smile all you want, buddy, but I’ve got moves.”
Harlow faked a punch, but I didn’t flinch. My mind was already focused on tomorrow. I hadn’t talked to Winnie since the day Nick’s dad showed up. I hadn’t seen her close up in weeks. I needed to be close to her even if she couldn’t do more than hide behind her hair all night.
Bijou Hunter (Damaged and the Bulldog (Damaged, #6))
To make the best use of your life, you must never forget two truths: First, compared with eternity, life is extremely brief. Second, earth is only a temporary residence. You won’t be here long, so don’t get too attached.
Rick Warren (The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?)
My walk to Alex’s study is like the green mile. I wonder what he’s going to say. This isn’t going to be fun.
I step inside his study, but no one announces me, and he doesn’t notice. So I just stare.
He’s writing something. With a quill and ink. The well is sitting next to his right hand. He’s so intent on whatever he’s writing he keeps at it for thirty seconds before he sees me. Long enough for me to see the way he narrows his eyes when he’s concentrating and the way he purses his lips.
Long enough for me to wonder what it would be like to kiss him.
Oh God, where did that come from? I hate him. Hate him. There’s no way I could possibly want to kiss him.
He looks up at that instant, and I do my best to just smile right at him and not give away my thoughts.
“Please sit,” he says, rising. I nod and sit down in the same fancy chair as before. The door stays open.
I sit as erect as possible, my hands in my lap, my ankles crossed beneath me. Victoria must be rubbing off on me.
Alex comes around to the front of his desk and rests on it, crossing one ankle over the other as he leans back.
“What you did was overstepping your bounds.”
I clench my teeth, hard, to stop from snapping back. I have to see where he’s going with this before I get angry.
“You went behind my back and orchestrated one of the most ill-planned, riskiest schemes I’ve ever seen. I am shocked.”
He puts his hand up to silence me. “I won’t tell you what I had to do to convince her father to consent to the new arrangement. You are lucky Mr. Rallsmouth will have the means necessary to support Miss Emily, as she will not be receiving a thing from her father from here on out.”
All I hear is convince her father. So it worked?” A grin spreads across my features and I jump to my feet. “She’s going to marry Mr. Rallsmouth?”
Alex pushes off the desk behind him and stands in front of me. “Have you not heard a word I said? You made grievous errors of judgment. You--”
“But I was right! And thanks to me, she’s going to marry the love of her life!”
He’s standing right in front of me, inches away. “You were not right! You interfered and it was not your place!”
I clench my fists as my anger flares to match his. “You think nothing is my place because I’m some lowly, untitled girl! But someone had to do it, and you didn’t care to!”
“You should not have gotten involved!” he growls.
“You should not have forced me to!” I say, jabbing my finger into his chest. “You should have been there for her when she needed you!”
In an instant, he closes the gap between us. His lips hit mine so fast I can’t even close my eyes. His hands find a place on either side of my face and pull me close, and for two-point-five seconds, I’m lost somewhere between closing my eyes and standing there, frozen. Somehow the eyes win out and I shut them, and my knees start to buckle as I press my lips into to his. I stop breathing and grip his sleeves with both hands to keep from falling straight over. His lips are warm and soft and…
And then I realize what’s going on. Who I’m kissing.
You’re not a lady, he’s said.
It stings as much now as it did the moment he said it. He thinks I’m unworthy.
What am I doing? I reel back and knock into the wall with a loud crash that makes him jerk his eyes open.
“I, uh…” I stutter, then spin around so fast my skirts twist around my legs and I have to wait for them to swing around again before dashing out of the room.
Mandy Hubbard (Prada & Prejudice)
Walter Wagner, the man who had gone to court to stop the Large Hadron Collider from beginning operations. A serious charge had been leveled: the LHC was a hazard to the very existence of life on earth. JO: So, roughly speaking, what are the chances the world is going to be destroyed? Is it one in a million, one in a billion? WW: Well, the best we can say right now is about a one-in-two chance. JO: Hold on a second. It’s . . . fifty-fifty? WW: Yeah, fifty-fifty . . . If you have something that can happen, and something that won’t necessarily happen, it’s going to either happen, or it’s going to not happen, and, so, the best guess is one in two. JO: I’m not sure that’s how probability works, Walter.
Sean Carroll (The Particle at the End of the Universe)
What’s important is the balance between taking care of yourself and taking care of others. When the first concern overrides the second regularly, you’ll have a problem being effective in an organization. If you make your purpose clear and do your best to lead in a way that’s true to your values—while leaving space to accommodate cultural differences, situational context, and what you don’t know—then you probably won’t need authenticity training.
You won’t know until you see where you end up, kiddo.” He chuckled. “Until then, you’ve got to keep coming up with ideas to solve your problems. You never know, you might have one of those plot twists in life that turns everything upside down at the last second. But you’ll never know that until you fight your best fight until the end.
Madison Adler (The Brotherhood of the Snake (Return of the Ancients, #2))
“She’s keeping company with Mr. Winterborne,” Cassandra said brightly.
How had that come about? Devon sent a questioning glance to West, who hitched his shoulders in a slight shrug.
“Mr. Winterborne had a rather difficult day,” Kathleen explained. “He’s feverish, and the laudanum makes him ill. It’s against all decorum, obviously, but Helen asked if she might try to help him.”
“That’s very kind of her,” Devon said. “And it’s kind of you to allow it.”
“Mrs. Church told me that Mr. Winterborne isn’t snapping and snarling anymore,” Pandora volunteered. “He’s resting on pillows and drinking orchid tea. And Helen has been chattering like a magpie for hours.”
Cassandra looked dumbfounded. “Helen, chattering for hours? That doesn’t seem possible.”
“I wouldn’t have thought she had that much to say,” Pandora agreed.
“Perhaps it’s just that she’s never able to slide a word in edgewise,” West remarked blandly.
A few seconds later, he was pelted with a shower of sugar lumps.
“Girls,” Kathleen exclaimed indignantly. “Stop that at once! West, don’t you dare encourage them by laughing!” She sent a threatening glance at Devon, who was desperately trying to suppress his amusement. “Or you,” she said severely.
“I won’t,” he promised, wincing and reflecting ruefully that whoever said laughter was the best medicine had never broken a rib.
Lisa Kleypas (Cold-Hearted Rake (The Ravenels, #1))
She couldn’t look at Jacques, who had somehow made his large body thin and weird looking. Carpathians were capable of doing things she didn’t want to think about. How had she gotten herself into this mess?
Sex. A good-looking intense man with black, hungry eyes, and she fell like a lovesick calf. Sex. It ruined many otherwise sane women.
I can read your thoughts. The amusement was soft and caressing, wrapping her up in strong arms.
I was perfectly sane and sensible until I met you. Now look at me. I’m crawling around inside a mountain. Suddenly she stopped and held herself perfectly still. I’m hearing something. Tell me you are not taking me into a cave full of bats. Say it right now, Jacques, or I’m out of here.
I am not taking you into cave filled with bats.
Shea relaxed visibly. She was not squeamish about very many things, but bats were creatures that were on the earth to remain a safe distance away from her. Miles away. Bats were one of those things she could stare up at in the night sky and think how interesting and wonderful they were, as long as they stayed high above her and nowhere close. Her nose wrinkled. The sounds she was trying to ignore were getting louder. Her heart began to pound in alarm. The walls of the passageway were so narrow, she had no way to move fast. All at once she felt trapped, as if she was suffocating.
I’m going back, Jacques. I’m not a cave person. She did her best to sound firm and matter-of-fact, not at all as if she were seconds from screaming her head off. She turned her head cautiously to keep from scraping her face on the jutting surfaces.
His fingers circled her wrist like a vise. There must be no disturbance. If any creatures exit the cave or warn others of our existence here, we could be found.
A piece of paper couldn’t fit in here, certainly not a person. No one is going to look for us here.
A vampire would know the moment bats flew from the cave.
Bats can’t fly out of here if there aren’t any in here, now, can they? She was sweetly reasonable.
Trust me, little red hair, it is only a short distance farther.
You aren’t going to make me sleep in the ground, are you? Because I won’t do it, not even if there are ten vampires stalking us.
Christine Feehan (Dark Desire (Dark, #2))
When I plan a menu I consider color, texture, taste, and balance: Color: A red vegetable next to a yellow one looks unappetizing. Two white ones, like celery and cauliflower, look awful.
Texture: Creamed chicken with mashed potatoes makes too much mush. Always serve something crisp with something soft.
Taste: Never team two sours, two sweets, or two bitters. Candied yams and cranberry sauce are both delectable, but served together they break two of these rules, color and taste contrast.
Balance: Courses shouldn't be uniformly rich nor light. A too rich menu might consist of a heavy cream soup, a roast with thickened gravy and potatoes, and a heavy cream soup, a roast with thickened gravy and potatoes, and a heavy whippedcreamtopped dessert. If the main course is substantial, the first should be light, crisp and appetizing, and the dessert an airy sherbet or a compote of fresh fruit.
I decide first on the main course. For a buffet for twelve there should be two warm dishes. If you're going to be a relaxed hostess choose two that can be made the day before. Most of them improve with reheating. Some of the possibilities are beef bourguignon, boned and skinned breasts of chicken in a delicate cream sauce, a shrimp-lobster-and-scallop Newburg, lamb curry with all its interesting accompaniments.
With any of these, serve a large, icy bowl of crisp salad with a choice of two or three dressings in little bowls alongside.
Hot dishes must be kept hot in chafing dishes or on a hot tray so that they’re just as good for the second helping. Plates should be brought warm to the buffet table just before the guests serve themselves. I like to have a complete service at each end of the table so that people won’t have to stand in line forever, and there should be an attractive centerpiece, though it can be very simple. A bowl of flowers, carefully arranged by the hostess in the afternoon, and candles—always candlelight.
The first course for a buffet supper should be an eye-catching array of canapés served in the living room with the drinks. I think there should be one interesting hot thing, one at room temperature, and a bouquet of crisp raw vegetables.
The raw vegetables might include slim carrot sticks, green pepper slices, scallions, little love tomatoes, zucchini wedges, radishes, cauliflowerettes, olives, and young turnips. Arrange them colorfully in a large bowl over crushed ice and offer a couple of dips for non-dieters.
It’s best to serve hot hors d’oevres in two batches, the second ones heating under the broiler while the first round of drinks is served.
After people have had their second helpings the maid clears the buffet and puts out the dessert. Some people like an elaborate ice-cream concoction — so many men like gooey, sweet things. Pander to them, and let them worry about their waistlines. Some people like to end dinner with cheese and fruit. Other two kinds — one bland and one forthright, and just ripe. French bread and crackers on the side. For diet watchers gave a pretty bowl of fresh fruits, dewy and very cold. Serve good, strong coffee in pretty demitasses and let the relaxed conversation take over.
Joan Crawford (My Way of Life)
Somewhere on the rocky voyage from the garage to the fully managed organization, they get it backward. They begin to view the passion as something they can use to build the business. That may well be true, of course. The problem is, if you keep heading in that direction, you’ll eventually lose whatever it was that gave the company its mojo in the early days. Contributing something great and unique to the world will become less and less of a priority. By the time the second or third generation of owners takes over, there’s a good chance that the passion and the business will have gone their separate ways, and the company will have become just another income-producing property. If it’s acquired, it won’t be because the acquirer’s stockholders share the passion or believe in the mission (whatever the new management may say). They’ll want to own it only if they think it will improve their financial returns. People will work there mainly because they need a job. Customers will buy its products and services only if they offer the best value for the money. The company will be an economic mechanism and little more. Pretty much everything else will have been lost.
Bo Burlingham (Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big)
He snapped back to the present, once again utterly distracted by the woman before him. “We should head back. I’ve got things to do.”
“Things? Ooh. That sounds utterly decadent. What kind of things are you planning? I’m very partial to nipple play just so you know.”
The bag with its leftover treats provided a shield to hide the tenting of his trousers, but nothing could quell the heat in his blood.
Why did she do things on purpose to tease him?
Why are we not taking her up on her offer?
Why wouldn’t his liger go take a fucking nap like other bloody felines?
A glower didn’t deter her from linking her arm through his as they left.
A tight-lipped countenance didn’t stem her adorable chattering as they walked.
A firm leash on his emotions didn’t prevent the spurt of pleasure at her touch.
A denial of their involvement didn’t stop his growl of jealousy when some yuppies they passed on the sidewalk swiveled to give her a second look.
Were the teeth he bared necessary?
Was the sigh as he entered the lobby and a dozen lionesses went “ooh” avoidable?
Nor could he avoid the snickers that followed Luna singing, “Bow-chica-wow-wow,” especially since Meena joined in and began the impromptu dance that involved a lot of hip shaking and breast jiggling.
Throw her over our shoulder and take her to our room. We must claim her before another does.
What happened to his usually staid and laid back inner feline?
The right woman happened.
But what was right for his wild side wasn’t what the more serious man side wanted.
She is chaos.
Yes. And wondrous for it.
She is physically perfect.
And tempting him to take a bite.
She’ll never let you have a moment of peace.
His life would have purpose.
She would love me with the passion and embrace of a hurricane.
But could he survive the storm? Or should he try and outrun it?
She would catch us. She is strong. A true huntress.
Possible life-changing inner conversations were best conducted out of sight, especially since it made him less mindful of his surroundings allowing his cousin Luna to sidle alongside and mutter, “I see the look in your eye.”
“The one that sees something yummy it wants to eat.”
Was he truly that obvious? “I’m not hungry. I just had breakfast.”
Luna elbowed him as she snickered. “Way to pretend ignorance. I know that you know what I know is happening.”
“Say that fast five times.”
She did. Luna wasn’t just quick on her feet.
“So when are you claiming her?” the nosy woman asked.
“Never.” He ignored his feline collapsing in a heap.
“Leo. I am shocked at you. Aren’t you the one who advocates honesty?”
“Only if it won’t cause irreparable harm. Then even giant white lies are allowed. Anything to hold back the insidious forces of chaos.
Eve Langlais (When an Omega Snaps (A Lion's Pride, #3))
She trusted Finn completely. If he said a pool was safe to swim in, she dived in without a second thought, and the dreaded piranha fish did not tear at her flesh, nor did a caiman come at her with snapping jaws. If he told her a mushroom was safe to eat, she ate it.
“My father had this thing he used to say to me,” she told Finn. “It was in Latin. Carpe diem. ‘Seize the day.’ Get the best out of it, take hold of it and live in it as hard as you can.” She pushed back her hair. “After he died, and my mother, I couldn’t do it too well. There never seemed to be a day I wanted to seize all that much. But here…”
“Yes, some places are right for you. Your mother was a singer, wasn’t she?”
“Yes. But she never made a fuss about it. I never remember her saving her voice for the performance or gargling with eggs and all that stuff. She’d just sing--in the house, in the garden, anywhere.”
“Everyone says you ought to get your voice trained,” he said, and frowned because if she had a future as a singer, perhaps she shouldn’t be taking off into the unknown.
She shook her head. “I’m all right like this.”
“But won’t you miss music?”
“There’s always music. You just have to open your mouth.
Eva Ibbotson (Journey to the River Sea)
Shrieking Brooke’s name as loudly as I could, out in the corridor, I brought her running quickly to my room.
‘What’s happened, what’s wrong?’ she immediately cried concerned, legging it up the stairs two at a time. She appeared breathless outside the kitchen door. Brian appeared sleepily at his door too, awoken by the noise, and watched us.
‘She’s moving,’ I cried.
‘What? Flutters like before?’
‘No more, here feel.’ I grabbed her hand and pushed it down onto my
exposed belly. Brian averted his eyes as I stood, belly out and top up over my bra, in the middle of the corridor.
‘I can’t push you that hard,’ she exclaimed, pulling back her fingers surprised. ‘It will hurt you, or her, I can’t do that.’
‘Yes, you can,’ I insisted. ‘You won’t hurt us.’ I pulled her hand back and pushed her long fingers into my belly and we stood waiting, hardly daring to breathe. You kicked again, hard into my side, under Brooke’s long pink fingernails. Brooke jumped away from me in shock and then burst out laughing. She clapped her hands together delighted.
‘Well?’ I asked her.
‘She kicked me,’ Brooke shrieked still jumping up and down clapping. ‘She kicked me. That was amazing, let me do it again.’ She came back over towards me slowly. Cautiously she pushed her fingers into the same spot on my side. We waited again in silence and I saw her face slightly drop as the seconds ticked by.
‘Ah it works,’ she yelled, as again she jumped back shocked as the tiny little feet thudded from my insides at her hand. ‘I love it. Do it again.’ I laughed and then Brian stepped forward.
‘Can I have a go?’ he asked quietly, fiddling with his hands and stepping out of his room towards us.
‘Of course you can, come here.’
And that is how we spent the next few minutes out in the corridor by the kitchen, shrieking, whooping, and jumping around. If anyone had been in the house, I know they would probably have thought we were all mad. Mad, no. Thrilled and excited, most definitely.
Baby girl, you did that to us. Thank you.
Emily Williams (Letters to Eloise)
Two more of the gamers Claire had gifted with the invitation stumbled by; one grabbed Claire's arm and planted a sloppy wet kiss on her cheek. "We passed out copies," he said, and giggled. "Hope that was okay. Great party!"
Shane sighed and moved him off with one hand on his shoulder. "Yeah, yeah, whatever. Naked Vulcan chick in the next room. Better hurry."
The gamers sobered up fast, and moved on. Monica's glossy, perfect lips were open, her eyes wide.
"You?" she said. "You did this? These idiots made flyers! They put them all over campus! This was supposed to be the best people!"
"Don't worry," Eve said sweetly. "We're here." She smiled, which in that lipstick was Wicked-Witch-of-the-West evil. "Air kiss!" She mwahed the air somewhere near Monica's cheek. "Lovely party. Shame about the furniture. Ta!" She sashayed on, Michael on her arm, as if she was the Queen of Everything, never mind Morganville. Claire got out her camera and got a picture of the murderous fury on Monica's face as she watched her go.
"You treacherous little bitch!" Monica snarled.
Claire lowered the phone and met her eyes for a long second. She wasn't scared, not anymore. "You got your friends to roofie me and told them I wanted it rough. All I did was recycle your invitation. Let's call it even."
"Let's call it not!"
Shane leaned forward, dropped his voice so that Monica had to work to hear it, and said, "Calm down. You get blotchy when you're angry. And if you call my girlfriend a bitch one more time, I won't be so nice about it.
Rachel Caine (Midnight Alley (The Morganville Vampires, #3))
If your the type of man that is always searching for something better than what you have.... move on, I'm not anyone's second best! If you discriminate against tattoos..move on, I have lots, in other words I am a piece of art. If you think I sit around and wait for love...move on, I create love. If you act like your to good for me...move on, I'm to good for you. If you don't believe in god... move on I love God. Don't take me for granted and I won't take you for granted, let's be real and stick together.
Discipline When the child loses control, avoid punishment. Loss of self-control is scary enough; punishment adds guilt and shame. Comment on the child’s negative behavior, not on the child: “Your yelling makes me angry,” rather than “You infuriate me!” Help the child find a quiet space, away from sensory overload, as a technique to regain self-control. Let him decide the length of the time-out, if possible. Set limits, to make a child feel secure. Pick one battle at a time to help him develop self-control and appropriate behavior. Be firm about the limits you set. Show him that his feelings won’t change the outcome; a rule is a rule. “I know you’re mad because you want to play with the puppy, but it is suppertime.” Discipline consistently. Use gestures and empathy to explain why you are disciplining him. (Discipline means to teach or instruct, not punish.) After you tell him what you are going to do, then do it. Determine appropriate consequences for misbehavior. A natural consequence is best, because it is reasonable, factual, and you don’t impose it: “If you skip breakfast, you will be hungry.” A logical consequence, in which the child is responsible for the outcome of his behavior, is second best: “If you throw food, you must mop it up.” An applied consequence, in which the punishment doesn’t exactly fit the crime, is useful when nothing else works: “If you spit on the baby, you may not play with your friends,” or “If you hit me, you may not watch TV.” Reward appropriate behavior with approval.
Carol Stock Kranowitz (The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder)
It is easy to enter every moment of a day so burdened down as we try to carry all of our hopes and fears for that day, that we miss the good in every moment. Every moment is worth investing a full moment in.
How we approach every moment matters. Shakespeare said in Antony and Cleopatra, “Give me my robe. Put on my crown. I have immortal longings in me.” Our innermost longing is not merely to survive, but to thrive, and we share that longing with everyone else.
Connection comes most intimately from looking for that innermost longing in others and ourselves. Love says, as Jordan Peterson wrote, “I want the best, for what wants the best in you.” We ought to love ourselves and want the best for what wants the best in us. There is a longing inside to love without reserve or limits and allow ourselves to be loved with ultimate vulnerability.
We are more than what we can hide behind a mask, and there is no reason we should try to hide it. We are not the chemical mess we feel like at times, we are amazing—we defy the law of the universe that says all things trend towards chaos and emptiness.
Walt Whitman said, “I am not contained between my hat and my boots.” We are not contained between our fears and our past experiences either.
We are born with awareness, imagination and will-power, and combined with any other awareness, imagination and will-power both will be increased; that is the value of connecting. What we are born with is all we have or need to give. You were born worthy of connection, don’t ever second guess it!
Yes, it may be dangerous to open up and let people into our life, but it is fatal to attempt to keep people out. Choose love, choose to see the goodness in life unbiasedly wherever it may be, and choose to make life better for yourself and everyone, whether or not anyone else wants to help.
It is very normal and understandable to want to feel heard, seen and appreciated; at some point however, we have to make the decision to say what most merits hearing, do what is most worth seeing, and give what is most worth appreciating, whether or not anyone sees, hears or appreciates it. There is a saying that “integrity is how you act when you think no one is looking.” I say that character is what we do despite all that would sway us otherwise, whether that be potential for fame or fear of insignificance.
"No positive effort is so small that good things won’t come from it, so do it!
Michael Brent Jones (Conflict and Connection: Anatomy of Mind and Emotion)
So Luke went to the back of the SUV where Sean was unloading way too many suitcases for five nights. “You’d think she was taking a fricking cruise.” “Your death is going to be slow and painful.” “Aw, come on! What’s up your butt now? You had plenty of time to get used to the idea. And she’s thrilled to be here, you can see that.” “You told her all about Shelby? I didn’t even tell you what was going on with Shelby! Can’t you ever keep your mouth shut about anything?” “I beg your pardon—I fly a spy plane. I have a very large security clearance. I told her about Shelby to piss you off.” He grinned. “Did I hear right? We’re going to the general’s for dinner?” “Listen to me carefully, because if you screw this up I really will kill you. She’s young and inexperienced, not my type, I’m too old for her and it’s not serious. Her uncle is trained in hand-to-hand combat and he doesn’t like that she likes me. It’s not the usual thing, so just keep your big mouth shut. You hear me?” “Whew, this is making you testy,” Sean said with a smirk. “That means it’s heating up. Where’s Art?” “In his cabin. I’ll go get him as soon as we get these bags in the house.” Luke hefted two. “Jesus, where did she think she was going?” “She plans to be at her best for your new friends. You know, you could have avoided all this by just going to Phoenix for two days.” “I’ve been trying to avoid you for years, but you just won’t go away,” Luke grumbled. “This was your idea and you know it. Don’t screw with me.” Sean stiffened. “In three seconds we’ll be back twenty years, rolling in the dirt. Let’s not do this to her, huh? She really gives a shit what’s happening with you. I don’t, but she does.” “Ach,
Robyn Carr (Temptation Ridge)
Are you all right, Vanni?” he asked. “Hmm, just a little melancholy, that’s all.” “It’s hard to tell what’s bothering you most—Midge’s passing or some problem you’re having with Paul.” She turned to look at him and he said, “Anything you want to talk about?” She shrugged. “There’s not too much to talk about, Dad.” “You could help me understand a couple of things, you know.” “For instance?” “Oh, don’t be coy—you stood Paul up to go away with the doctor and if I know anything about you, you’re not that interested in the doctor. Hell, you’ve been in a strange mood since Paul left after Mattie was born. You knew Paul was coming for the weekend—and despite his best efforts to be circumspect, you knew he was coming for you.” “I wasn’t so sure about that.” “I heard you fight with him, Vanni. Did you and Paul have some kind of falling-out?” “Not exactly, Dad.” Walt took a breath. “Vanessa, I don’t mean to pry, but it’s pretty apparent to me how you feel about Paul. And how Paul feels about you. And yet…” “Dad, while Paul was here last autumn, we got a lot closer. We were good friends before, but of course with all we went through together… Dad, before all that happened, Paul had a life in Grants Pass. One that’s not so easily left behind.” “Vanni, Paul loves you, but something happened between you recently…” “He let me know—there are complications in Grants Pass. Something he’s been struggling with. It’s kept him from being honest about his feelings,” she said. “He has commitments, Dad.” “A woman?” Walt asked. Vanni laughed softly. “We shouldn’t be so surprised that Paul actually had women in his life, should we? Yes, apparently there was a woman. Is a woman…” “Jesus,” Walt said under his breath. “He’s not married, is he?” “Of course not. He wouldn’t keep something like that from us.” “Engaged?” “He says there’s enough of an entanglement there to make his position difficult. That’s why he wasn’t around after Mattie was born.” Walt drove in silence for a while and Vanni resumed gazing out the window. After a few moments of silence Walt asked, “What about you, Vanni? I know you care about him.” “Dad, Matt’s only been gone a few months. Should I even have such feelings? Should I be completely embarrassed? I’ll miss him forever, but I—” “Please don’t do that to yourself, honey,” he said. “Haven’t we learned by now? Life is too short to suffer needlessly.” “Will people say I—” “I don’t give a good goddamn what people say,” he growled. “Everyone is entitled to a little happiness, wherever that is. And I think for you, it’s with Paul.” She sighed and said, “I’m asking myself why I thought I had some claim on him. He was very good to us all, I’m so grateful—but why didn’t I realize that a man like Paul wouldn’t have any trouble attracting the attention—the love—of a woman? I’ve been so angry with him for not telling me, but… Why didn’t I ask?” “Now what, Vanni? Is he trying to make a choice, is that it?” “We were having a discussion, not a very pleasant one, right when the call came from Shelby. It left his intentions up in the air a bit. But there’s one thing I won’t do, I can’t do—I can’t ask Paul to choose me over a woman he has an obligation to. I tried to make it very clear, his duty to me as his best friend’s widow has expired. He doesn’t have to take care of me anymore.” “I have a feeling it’s more than duty,” Walt said. “I have a feeling it always has been…” “He has to do the right thing,” she said. “I’m not getting in the way of that. A man like Paul—he could regret the wrong decision for the rest of his life. And frankly, I don’t want to be the one left to live with his regret.” “Oh, boy. You two have some talking to do.” “No. Paul has business to take care of. I have nothing more to say about this.” *
Robyn Carr (Second Chance Pass)
We’ll just elope,” I said, “or get Dad to marry us.”
We didn’t want to waste a second. Now that we knew, we wanted to get married as soon as possible and start our lives together. But Mom had a fit.
“No,” she said in a loud voice. “We have to have a wedding. I’ve always dreamed about your wedding, Jep.”
I didn’t want a big wedding, and I knew it would take time and cost a lot of money.
“Mom, I just think it would be better this way.”
“Look, just some family,” she argued back, “and maybe some of my best friends. I’ll help get everything together. It won’t be hard. You’ll see.”
Then she tilted her head and smiled that big smile; how could I say no?
We finally gave in because we could see how important it was for her, but we made it clear we wanted to get married as soon as possible, so we set a date for two weeks away. We don’t waste much time down here in Louisiana.
Jep Robertson (The Good, the Bad, and the Grace of God: What Honesty and Pain Taught Us About Faith, Family, and Forgiveness)
Very well. Since you won’t divulge her location, answer me this. Why would Miss Plum turn down a respectable offer of marriage from a gentleman such as my Bram?” “Why is it that ladies seem to believe I enjoy discussing these types of personal matters?” Mr. Skukman countered. Iris continued as if Mr. Skukman had not spoken. “Bram is a wealthy, eligible, and influential gentleman who owns his own castle—not to mention his stellar good looks.” “You’re his mother. Of course you’re going to believe he has stellar good looks.” “You don’t believe my Bram is handsome?” “Yet another topic I’m not comfortable discussing, but . . . I suppose if I really consider the matter, yes . . . Mr. Haverstein’s features are adequately arranged, but Miss Plum is not a lady who is impressed by a handsome face.” “She’s an actress.” Mr. Skukman let out a bit of a growl, which had Lucetta immediately stepping from behind the curtain. “Thank you, Mr. Skukman, but I think it might be for the best if I take it from here.” “Were you hiding behind the curtains?” Iris demanded. “Obviously,” Lucetta said as she headed across the room, stepping in between Iris, who was looking indignant, and Mr. Skukman, who’d adopted his most intimidating pose—a pose that didn’t appear to intimidate Iris in the least. “Now then,” Lucetta began, sending Mr. Skukman a frown when he cracked his knuckles, “from what I overheard, you’re here, Mrs. Haverstein, to learn why I rejected Bram’s offer.” Iris lifted her chin. “That’s one of the reasons I’ve sought you out.” “Lovely, and before we address those other reasons, allow me to say that the reason I refused Bram’s proposal was because your son was offering to marry a woman who doesn’t exist. He simply has yet to realize that.” Iris narrowed her eyes. “Bram could provide you with everything.” “I’m fairly good at providing for myself, Mrs. Haverstein.” Iris’s eyes narrowed to mere slits. “What are you really playing at? Are you, by chance, hoping that because you turned him down, he’ll make you a better offer?” Lucetta’s brows drew together. “What else could he possibly offer me that would be more appealing than his name?” For a second, Iris looked a little taken aback, but she rallied quickly. “You may be the type of woman who prefers the freedom spinsterhood provides, so I would imagine you’re holding out for a nice place in the city, replete with all the fashionable amenities.” Even though Lucetta was well aware of the reputation most actresses were assumed to enjoy, and even though such insinuations normally never bothered her, a sliver of hurt wormed its way into her heart. Before she could summon up a suitable response, though, Abigail suddenly breezed into the room. “Lucetta is like a granddaughter to me, Iris, and as such, you will treat her accordingly, as well as apologize for your serious lack of manners,” Abigail said as she plunked her hands on her hips and scowled at her daughter. At first, it seemed that Iris wanted to argue the point, but then she blew out a breath and nodded Lucetta’s way. “My mother is quite right. That was unkind of me, and unfair. Forgive me.” Lucetta
Jen Turano (Playing the Part (A Class of Their Own, #3))
And I promise you, when it’s right, you won’t ever want to lose her. Not for an hour. Not for a second. Not for a nanosecond. Because it’s the people we make our lives with that make our lives. Not our careers or titles or bank accounts. I have nothing without her, even though from the outside it looked like I had everything. I am nothing without her. An empty shell of a man with a stupid crown and some shockingly big crown jewels. But because of her, I have everything. I have two children who will have their dad wrapped around their little, tiny pinky fingers forever, I have someone to share my life with, someone to laugh with and fight with, someone to make up with, and someone to love. And the very best thing in the world is if you love someone intensely and wildly and unconditionally, and she loves you right back.
Melanie Summers (The Royal Delivery (Crown Jewels, #3))
Good days will be here soon again.
When there will be laughter & no grief.
No sad moment, no drop of tear & no second thoughts before buying things.
When my son will get only the best & we can unwind & rest.
When we will have no worries to pay house bills & we can travel the world as per our will.
When we will share what we have & care from within.
When these thoughts won't worry me a day out & in.
I trust the Lord who always gives me the strength to battle the odds & to win.
Good days will be here soon again & my wheel of fortune will spin.
Harris: Let’s talk about how the AI future might look. It seems to me there are three paths it could take. First, we could remain fundamentally in charge: that is, we could solve the value-alignment problem, or we could successfully contain this god in a box. Second, we could merge with the new technology in some way—this is the cyborg option. Or third, we could be totally usurped by our robot overlords. It strikes me that the second outcome, the cyborg option, is inherently unstable. This is something I’ve talked to Garry Kasparov about. He’s a big fan of the cyborg phenomenon in chess. The day came when the best computer in the world was better than the best human—that is, Garry. But now the best chess player in the world is neither a computer nor a human, but a human/computer team called a cyborg, and Garry seemed to think that that would continue for quite some time.
Tegmark: It won’t.
Harris: It seems rather obvious that it won’t. And once it doesn’t, that option will be canceled just as emphatically as human dominance in chess has been canceled. And it seems to me that will be true for every such merger. As the machines get better, keeping the ape in the loop will just be adding noise to the system.
Sam Harris (Making Sense)
One of his hands tangled in my hair, tugging it to tip my chin back and eliciting another moan of pleasure from my lips. He swallowed it up, his tongue sinking into my mouth and making my heart find a rhythm it had never beat to before.
He kissed me like he wasn't allowed to kiss me, but if he didn't he'd die. I tangled myself around him with equal desire, the well of magic in my body spilling over and flooding my veins. A profound and unknown energy hummed within me, drawing to the edges of my skin. Orion seemed to sense it too as the hairs raised along my arms and static energy crackled everywhere our flesh met.
I was entirely lost to the deepest and most carnal desire I'd ever felt.
His hand found the slit in my dress and his fingers trailed onto my bare leg, making me gasp in response. Fire surged down my spine only to bounce back up again as he gripped my thigh and squeezed.
With so little clothes parting us, I felt every inch of his arousal pressing between my legs and I started to wonder how far this kiss was going to go. My fingers slid into the verge of his hair as I ground against him and my thoughts scattered again. He released a rumbling growl filled with nothing but need and his hand shifted between us, roaming deeper beneath my dress until he found the top of my panties. I nearly lost my mind as his fingers brushed the sensitive flesh there and skimmed the line of my underwear. My back arched as I tried to bring his hand closer to fulfil the promise of ecstasy I knew he could bring me.
Instead, he pulled his hand free and placed it on my hip with a heavy breath. It took everything I had, but with his fingers firmly away from the area of my body which was trying to run the show, I could think a little clearer.
He pulled back almost the same moment I did and I swallowed hard as I felt the lasting sensations of that kiss everywhere. My mouth tingled and my cheeks stung from the scrape of his stubble. My thigh muscles throbbed where they were still locked tightly around his waist and my heart seemed to bleed from the loss of contact with his mouth.
We remained breathless and silent, staring at each other like the reality waiting above us wasn't about to rip us apart. But I knew as well as he did, this was a one time only thing. Now I just had to convince my body of that.
I unwound my legs from him, bracing my hands on his shoulders as I dropped down. He steadied me for a moment then the air between us changed. His eyes darkened and he didn't need to speak to let me know what he was thinking. A vow hung solidly around us. This won't happen ever again.
He opened his mouth to speak but I spoke before he could, not wanting to be commanded into eternal silence. I already knew what would happen the second we left this magical place behind, I didn't need to be told. “Let's go.”
“We can stay a little longer...if you want.” His expression was that of a wounded man but I knew whatever pain lay in his body, would never be mine to heal.
I shook my head, lifting my chin to gaze up at the surface of the pool. “No, I think we should go back to reality now.” The longer I stay, the harder it will be to leave.
“Are you angry with me for bringing you here?” he asked and I was compelled to look down, falling into the intensity of his eyes as a strained line formed on his brow.
He reached out to skate his fingers across the line of my jaw, feather light. “You know how it has to be.”
I nodded, leaning away from his touch which felt like forcing two magnets apart. “I know.”
What happens at the bottom of the pool, stays at the bottom of the pool.
“Come on then, Blue.” He held out his hand.
I took a shuddering breath, placing my hand in his. “I think it might be best if you don't call me that anymore.” I tugged at a lock of wet hair. “It's not blue anyway.”
Caroline Peckham (Ruthless Fae (Zodiac Academy, #2))
You will never win with a Boundary Destroyer. Even if you have the best bullet-pointed argument in the world, the Boundary Destroyer is not going to acknowledge your truth. Convincing them of your perspective is a thankless, energy-zapping task... Just as it's pointless to win with a Boundary Destroyer, it's also a waste of your precious time and energy to convince people to see your point of view. Those who know the real you won't for a second doubt you or your intentions. Others may take the Boundary Destroyer's side, but you have to let go of caring what others think.
Terri Cole (Boundary Boss: The Essential Guide to Talk True, Be Seen, and (Finally) Live Free)