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The Mysterious Madam Morpho (Blud #1) Playing for Keeps (Neighbor from Hell #1)

For the first time I noticed that Sidney was wearing a dress. It looked to me like she had every intention of staying for the party. My mother must have given her a heads up.

Because it’s better for everyone if we’re not together.I can’t keep the sneer off of my face. Better for whom?

The Selection (The Selection #1)

Olivia closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. Estella, she says.It feels like someone has reached a hand into my belly and grabbed hold of my organs.Olivia is chugging her water, her free hand limp in her lap.

The Dosadi Experiment (ConSentiency Universe #2)

What the hell are you talking about? I haven’t heard her name in a long time. I’ve thought it plenty, but Olivia’s voice wrapping around the syllables is jarring.Her nostrils are flaring as she breathes. She still won’t look at me.

Estella is yours. It’s a blurt. I blink at her, not sure where that came from, or why she’s saying it.

Being told I had twenty-four hours to live would have been less painful than that statement. I don’t say anything. I stare at her nostrils, which are working like fish gills.All right. But I didn’t mean it.

He tapped the granite with his fingertip. All right, he repeated. I’ll see you later, Senna.I started unpacking the groceries. At first I felt nothing. Just boxes of pasta and bags of fruit being shelved … put away. Then I felt something. An itch. It nagged at me, tugging and pulling until I was so frustrated I threw a box of soup crackers across the room. They hit the wall and I stared at the spot where they’d landed, trying to find the sound of my emotion. Sound. I ran to the living room and hit play on Florence Welch. She’d been singing this song to me nonstop for days. Her real voice would be tired by now, but her recorded voice called out to me, unfailing. Strong.

The One That I Want

How had he known this song, these words, this tormented voice would speak to me?I didn’t see Isaac until a few days before the surgery. I saw plenty of Dr. Elgin. I saw her three times a week upon my surgeon’s demand. It was like trying to fit a lifetime’s worth of therapy into six sessions. She commanded me to speak with her eyes and her tinkling bracelets: tell me more, tell me more. Each time I sank into her couch, I sank a little lower in esteem. This was not me. I was spilling my guts, as some people called it; divulging. It was word vomit and Saphira Elgin had her fingers down my throat. I discovered that private things were mostly sour. They sat spoiling in the corners of your heart for so long that by the time you acknowledged them you were dealing with something rancid. And that’s what I did; I threw every rotting thing at her, and she absorbed each one. It seemed that the more Saphira Elgin absorbed of me, the less of me there was. Sometimes I tried to be funny, just so I could hear the dusty way she laughed. She laughed at the inappropriate, sometimes the crass. I liked her so much on some days, and on others I hated her.

At the end of every session the dragon would purr the same thing: Read Nick’s book. It will give you purrrrspective. Closurrrrre. I would drive home determined, but then I would get to the title page and see For MV, and quickly close the cover.The dedication page was beginning to look worn and touched, rivets of fingerprints on the page.

I waited until our last session to tell her about the rape. I didn’t know why except that other than the cancer, the rape was the last thing that happened to me. Maybe I had a chronological way of dealing with things; a writer’s route to solving problems. Her insouciance over the matter was what finally won me over. It was as if the entire time I saw her I was counting down the days until I would have to tell her about the rape, dreading the pity I’d see appear her eyes. But there was none. Life happens, she said. Bad things happen because we live in a world with evil. And then she’d asked me the strangest thing. Do you blame God? It had never occurred to me to blame God since I didn’t believe in him.If I believed in God, I would blame him. I suppose it’s easier not to believe, then I have nothing to be angry at.

She smiled. A cat’s curl smile. And then it was over, and I’d left a free woman, my purgatory served. Isaac would operate on me now. I would be free of cancer, free to move forward without fear. Without some of the fear.That night I started having the dreams again, hands pushing and pulling at me. Sharp pain and humiliation. The feeling of helplessness and panic. I woke up screaming, but there was no Isaac. I got in the shower to wash away the dream, shivering under the scalding water. I couldn’t fall back to sleep with those images so fresh in my mind, so I sat in my office and pretended to write the book my agent was waiting for. The book I had no words for.

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