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You still owe it to her to try. You want to be free of any promise to love me? You can be free. But you and Greer still have my blessing to love each other as fully as you used to. I can easily picture those blue eyes narrowed in wariness, that mouth pulling into a doubtful frown. I was there in that room too; I knew what it meant to promise what we did. And to me it means that we all still try as hard as we can to love each other. My cell phone buzzes in my pocket and I pull it out to check it.

Letting out mercies and honesties and tendernesses that I would have kept hidden out of hurt or guardedness just moments before. But that hurt and guardedness has to stop. I would have spared you that. This is about Melwas and Carpathia, about our country, about Greer—not just you and me. Not even my love, sure and strong and bedrock, can bridge it for us. All I can do now is try to fight for both—to be a king and to be his king— and to hope I get it right. You too. As a young child—years before I felt desire as a bodily thing—I found myself fascinated with Jareth and Sarah from the movie Labyrinth.

Him, supple and almost feline, lithe and dangerous, and drenched in a kind of knowledge that I could only barely begin to apprehend, and her so clear-eyed and rosy-mouthed and strong, this contradiction between delicacy and iron will. Yes, both of them enraptured me as a little boy, and when I saw the movie again at the awkward, unfurling age of thirteen, watching both characters made me flush hot.

I remember checking the basement—paneled in fake wood and studded with scratchy chairs and an even scratchier sofa—to make sure I was completely alone, and then I let myself feel the creeping edges of that flush all over my body. Later that night, alone in my room, I rolled onto my stomach and pressed my hips into the mattress, mindlessly rubbing into the soft sheets.

But more than all of those things, I thought of one scene in particular, one line. A part when Jareth says to Sarah, just fear me, love me, do as I say… and I will be your slave. Those words had rung through me like a gong, calling awake something new and sleepy-eyed and hungry and eager. I wanted to touch and be touched by Jareth, but that was only the edge of my lust; I wanted to be him. I wanted to find someone with a pretty mouth and demand her obedience and affection in return for my heart.

My heart in their hands forever. The first time I ever gave myself an orgasm, this was what I was thinking of. Not because I was tormented by them; I felt too much clarity —and if you can excuse the spiritual overtones—too much rightness for that. If I liked boys as well as girls, then that was how I needed to live. If the idea of power seeped into me like sunlight and grew a crop of desires so fretfully preoccupying that I could barely make it through reading The Taming of the Shrew in class without getting hard, then that was how I was made.

If I sometimes had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep from biting the good Catholic girls I dated, if I had fist my hands as they crawled onto my lap to keep from spanking and grabbing and bruising, then that was fine too. College came, and with it, for the first time, boys. A kiss stolen in the back of a liquor store, a drunken Princeton rub at a frat house—even a professor once, right there in his office, his glasses falling off his face and my skin stinging with the feel of his beard as we kissed against his bookshelf.

There were flashes of connection, even something like a boyfriend for a few short weeks, but nothing stuck. Maybe every college boy was the same as me, or maybe I was broken, but whatever the reason, I spent those years alone, the occasional impersonal fumble lighting up my landscape like a flash of lightning and then plunging me back into darkness.

I wanted to own, I wanted to possess, I wanted to bruise willing flesh with rough fingers and push someone down to their knees and have them like it. I wanted someone to look up at me with their whole world in their eyes. I was an aromantic bisexual, and I could be content with my life, with friendships and meaning beyond romance, and it would be fine. Surely it was a sign that the only thing that made my heart beat faster, that made me think of things like vows and forever, involved kneeling and arched throats and the most sinful kinds of discipline?

The problem was that the two things were—and still are—hopelessly tangled together for me: my capacity for love and my craving for power. And those in turn were, and are, tangled with my bisexuality. Did I date more girls in high school because it was so easy to indulge in small exercises of power? Picking the restaurant? Driving the car? Paying the check? All of it was rooted in culture, in how society told me the ways boys should be with boys and the ways boys should be with girls.

And so with every lover, I poured all of my energy into those two things. Negotiating consent. Engaging respectfully. Even my hottest, dirtiest encounters started with questions and answers. Is this okay? God, yes. Can I see how wet you are? Fuck, please. Hurry, please, hurry. And every encounter ended with kisses and a glass of water and help cleaning up if necessary.

But because I took consent seriously, it meant I rarely allowed my darker side out to play. Never, actually. Never until Prague. The final piece grew inside of me at the same time as all of this, something just as insistent and hardy and impervious to outside damage as was my bisexuality, and it was this old-fashioned idea of honor. I believed that honor was available for the earning so long as you did the right things, said the right things, believed the right things.

That was how you became honorable. That was when you could feel noble. It was an idea that died in the valleys of Carpathia. If I had to pretend to be something else, to want different things, if I had to close my eyes and imagine more in order to come. I recognize now how heteronormative this belief was— even with bisexual desire—centering meaning on penetration, when really sex is a spectrum of activities that far exceeds the narrow boundaries of intercourse.

Which is how I ended up a virgin in a war zone. And then came Embry Moore. And then came Greer Galloway. How does a man end up loving two people, you ask? This is how. A couple of hours? To come to grips with this? But even as I think it, I feel irritated at myself. But the pain is proof of my discipline, and the flare of misery is evidence of my self-control.

Worthy of the trust of others. I had earned it, and I was strong enough to keep it. Until last night, I thought being strong was enough. I thought caging all my weaknesses—anger and fear and vulnerability—meant I was a better person for it, but I see that now for what it really is, which is the pride of a man addicted to control. Fix this, goes the thrumming headache creeping behind my eyes. Fix this, goes my heartbeat, beating wildly still for Embry and his blue eyes.

If it were, Embry would be back in my arms right now. I hated the way I felt after a fight—like a live wire, exposed and sparking into the empty air, and I hated the animal I became after, undisciplined and savage with lust. If Embry remembers nothing else from the war, surely he remembers that. All the times I fucked him like I wanted to tear him limb from limb with my teeth and fingers, like I wanted to conquer his body like it was the next outpost. They were fucks of pure, mindless despair.

I go and I kneel at her feet. I hear and feel her surprise, her gentle pleasure. Never have I done this, never have I wanted or needed to, but right now, it is undeniably right. With my arms wrapping tight around her legs and my face pressed against the sweet curve of her hip and her hand on my head like a priestess conferring a blessing. I lift my face to hers, and I think for one crystalline, perfect moment that I could live like this forever. Drinking in her silver eyes and long, dark lashes with gold at the very tips, as if her eyelashes remembered too late that they were supposed to be blond.

No one is beautiful like Greer, no one else has that same combination of regal poise and secret knowledge and fragility and joy. And her hair tumbling over her shoulders in a tousled mess of light and dark gold…I revise my earlier wish. I could live forever like this if only I had her near and her hair unbound. I close my eyes and remind myself not to be selfish.

Instead of biting her thigh through her dress like I want to, I hug her tighter, still gazing up at her face. It cracks my heart open to see, that mouth curling in such a melancholy way. When I saw her last October after all those years apart, what struck me most was how sad she seemed. How lonely. Nothing gave me greater delight than surprising her, than petting and pleasing her and spoiling her with every display of tender affection that I could dream up. Whenever she laughed, I felt at that moment that I could die satisfied, having made her safe and happy and loved enough to feel joy.

And what matters is you and Embry. I let her finish. She gives me another smile, less sad this time, more rueful. Punishing Embry only punished us, and God knows you least of all deserve to be punished. What was it you said to me on our wedding day? Living without the pain means living without each other? I choose the pain, Ash, and I always will. I choose the three of us, no matter what. I finally give into that dark urge and I bite her thigh, just a little nip, just enough to make her whimper and tighten her fingers in my hair. Once again, the weight of my missteps and my pride and what I know to be right and honorable hangs on me.

It feels like a sword too heavy to wield, like a crown too heavy to wear. But I must. I have to. Even though, for once, I take no pride in the pain it will cause me. I stand up and kiss my wife. Frost on a window that you can melt and mar with a single fingertip. She peers up at me, sliding her hands up my chest. Out of habit I take her wrists in my hands and fold her arms so that they are behind her back, and she gives a small shiver of delight. Too perfect to be real. I was that hand once. And that thought brings me away from the edge of my need, just enough to remember who I am.

A snarled tangle of kink and honor, and honorable kink means consent. Unconditional respect. I owe it to Greer to tell her everything now, because it affects her as much as it affects me, and she deserves to know. She deserves everything I can give, in fact, and this simple courtesy is the least of what I owe her.

With a quick move, I scoop her up and over my shoulder, her ass up in the air and her legs kicking fruitlessly as I carry her over to the chair by the window and set her on the floor. I snap my fingers, and she drops to her knees so gracefully and gratefully, a relieved smile on her downturned face.

I sit in the chair in front of her kneeling form. I run a hand through her magic hair, watching the sunlight glint through the strands. You are also permitted to speak freely and ask questions. Her lips are so soft, and the place where they blush from skin into plump rosiness is unbearably silky. But he called with his official resignation this morning. The PR, the strategy, the math of states and votes and polls. Which means you would ask Trieste to be Chief of Staff.

And what does Merlin say about the election? Embry loves you and you love him and I love you both. It would be wrong for me to speak on his behalf. My bed. My body. Her body has gone hot and pliable in front of mine, practically begging to be handled. I ignore it for the moment, ignore the angry throb of my cock against the wool of my suit pants. We promised each other on our wedding night, and we keep our promises. I care too much for you to do that. I always have. You might agree with him that I should no longer be President.

Do I really lose the right to talk about Embry with you because you want to be fair? Not about pain. I know he still loves you. She knew about this before I did? Her aunt raised him, and no one knew the boy was hers, not even Embry. Not even me. He is mine. She looks up at me with eyes the color of the sea under moonlight, and then she presses a cool hand against my face. Only you. I failed her and our baby too badly for her to trust me again. I was green, I was young, I was doing my best, but I still chose what I chose. But then I pull away and search her face. You would be well within reason to divorce me over this.

Your cousin was the one who told Embry. In fact, she was using Lyr as blackmail to manipulate Embry into dating her. He was hurting you in order to protect me and my image from the truth. You are allowed to resent me for that at least. Not now, not ever. None of it is. And Morgan. And certainly the public will have a different opinion. For now, with Embry thoroughly trapped and you thoroughly miserable, she might be content.

Especially if she has a chance of taking your spot in the White House. However, that same chance might be too much of a temptation; she could just as easily disclose the information about Lyr in order to destroy my chances at re-election. And so you see why I want to give you a choice.

To stay with me. With Embry gone? After all that Melwas did and with all the terrible things that might happen? I choose it all. And I nearly do, holding her close. Master me. Break me. Her ball gown is rucked up around her hips, her chest flushed, her knuckles white as she grips the edge of the seat.

And the wand vibrator buzzing between her legs makes an ominous whirr against the wood as she tries to shift away from it. This is after I spent an hour teasing her with my mouth before my meet and greet, and after I spent another thirty minutes in the shower with her afterwards, slowly fucking her ass until she could barely stand up. She was not given permission to come then either. In short, she is currently a wet, writhing mess, and I plan to take her to the gala that way. God, that cunt will feel so good to fuck later, so puffy and so wet.

It is one thing to break someone open with pain—some might even say an obvious thing, if not an easy one—but it is another thing entirely to break someone open with pleasure. It takes a different kind of skill and care, a different brand of attention to keep someone so torturously aroused for so long. But because of the gala and her sleeveless gown, I decided not to tie or tape her— nothing that would leave visible marks.

Which meant she had to keep herself on that chair with sheer willpower; every moment she sat on the chair, she was suffering and enduring that vibrator for my sake. For me. Her smooth, pale arms, free of any mark or stripe from my ropes, display the difference between force and choice, and while both things are delicious to me, right now the choice carries so much more weight. But an exercise like the chair strips away all the pretenses and leaves our exchange for the naked, gleaming thing it is.

A decision. A willing surrender. A display of love. I am a man who loves. A man whose love demands much in return. And I will survive this. I mark every flutter of those long eyelashes against her cheek, every tiny furrow of her brow as she pulls the fabric around my neck into the right shape. My young wife, my regal little queen, so willing to be unspooled at my whim. She finishes with the bow tie, plucks the corners into sharp peaks, and then smiles up at me, all bright red lips and white teeth. I bend my head and bite the small cleft in her chin and she laughs.

But the fucking gala. You just want to be fucked sooner. I sweep her into my arms, honeymoon style, and carry her out of the bedroom. I can smell all the sweet aromas that come with a woman—soap and perfume and the faint smell of skin and arousal underneath it all. I savor the picture she paints like this—hair coiled into perfection, makeup like art, the gorgeous gown—but she is a hot, greedy thing under her skirt, her snatch tight around me and her clit a hard, plump bud against the muscles of my groin.

Not the least because I have my wife on my lap, repeatedly impaling herself on my penis. And that is the moment I want to come inside her, when she is completely and utterly outside of herself with release. I enjoy the effect of denying her very much, but I still give her the last few minutes of the ride to compose herself and let her mind clear a little—I always play to tease, sometimes even to test, but I would never actually jeopardize her ability to do her job—and by the time we reach the Luther Center itself, she is able to smile and wave calmly enough as we leave the Beast and trail past the red carpet into the crowd.

And I mean it. Greer lifts her chin a little. I catch her wrist. Me too. Are you sure I have to go give this speech? Afterwards, there is the usual array of handshakes and pictures and conversations, there is dancing, there is the expected bevy of powerful people hoping to speak into my ear. In short, it is a typical night in Washington, and ordinarily, it would take tremendous powers of focus and memory to distinguish it from any other night afterwards.

But three things set it apart. The first is—painfully and inevitably—Embry. But as the night goes on, it becomes clear that the rest of the political world exploded after Embry gave his official resignation speech today. Did you make him leave? I have to make polite noises and vague explanations and benign well wishes for his future, and how do they not all see? Merlin rescues me eventually, inserting himself into a cloud of speculation and curiosity that no amount of calm, noncommittal statements on my part can clear, and he pulls me away on the pretense of discussing something confidential.

Take a minute to breathe. Which is all the more reason for you to breathe now. Take comfort in your queen. We can discuss preliminary election strategy later this week. Business as usual. Just one more angle to fold into the strategy. I drain the flute in one movement and set it on a nearby table. And I am only realizing this now as it becomes apparent that I might lose. I think this reelection could be personally uncomfortable, but politically quite easy.

There is no way we can accomplish the rest of that list in the time we have left. The band is playing a waltz now, and the music is a shard of glass against my throat. How many times had I held Embry in my arms to music just like this? Do I even want to try? I was even listening to Strauss when he came to me last night, when I saw him standing in the doorframe of my office, looking beautifully brooding, as only he can.

God how I love him, and it took only one blue glance before I was coming toward him, pressing against that firm, flat chest of his and guiding his long, elegant fingers to the place that waited for him. One blue glance before I was completely open and undone for Embry Moore, just as I have always been, just as I have been since the first day I saw him spoiled and scornful in the mountains of a strange land.

I would walk barefoot over every jagged rock of that cursed country if it would bring Embry back to me. I would crawl. I have to get as much done as I can in case I have to leave. No, these are projects that require huge amounts of bipartisan leverage and cooperation and favors—not even Penley Luther himself could have done it. Give up this idea of cramming six years of work into two, and focus on getting elected again. A dare? Like he knows he must say these things to provoke me into saying the opposite, but when I examine his face, all of that vanishes, and he is the picture of polite and reserved calm once again.

Even if it kills me. Her dress—some strapless confection of gold and white—renders her into a shimmering vision of light, a drop of sunlight playing over water, and she draws people to her simply by existing as she does, sublime and sovereign. Like the painting, she is clad in white and gold and surrounded by a crowd; like the painting, there is something aching and lonely in her face.

It is because I love you that I love Embry. We fell in love with each other by loving you. It was just as well. My love was—and is—implacable and cruel to those it chose. I had been glad that they could take comfort in one another, however envious the idea made me.

I clap him on the shoulder. Inside, the world is small and quiet.

Table of contents

A wall of windows frames a spill of Georgian buildings and thick trees; beyond the rise of stone and leaves, the white finger of the Washington Monument presses into the purple-clouded night sky. Huge canvases of modern art stud the all-white walls, shadows leak from the windows onto the blond wood floors, the noise of the gala is a muffled memory. We are alone at last. When Greer hears my footsteps, she turns to face me and the lights from the city outside catch on the gold of her dress and in the gleam of her hair. I take a minute to enjoy her, strolling around her kneeling figure with my hands in my pockets, taking in the elegant line of her neck and shoulders, her perfect posture, the delicate curve of her collarbone.

The corona of white and gold silk around her knees. The excited heave of her breasts under her bodice. The ring glinting off her finger, better than any collar. A thousand possibilities scorch through me all at once—my cock down her throat; her face in the floor; the nylon tie of a stocking around her wrists. The sound of her begging voice echoing off the empty walls. Without saying anything, I cup the back of her head with my hand as I stand beside her, and she leans her head against my thigh.

Not kittenishly rubbing or bucking as before, but merely resting, enjoying the simplicity of the contact. I enjoy it too, standing above her, looking down on her with pride and pleasure. Both of us exactly where we need to be, and how we need to be. If only… If only my little prince were here. I allow myself the grief and the splintered hurt, even as I refuse to vent it on Greer.

If only Embry were here. If only it were the three of us in this gallery, the only entrance guarded, our privacy secure. Beside me, Greer makes a small, unintentional sigh. I want to ask. My own fucking heart, torn into bloody tatters? My every foolish hope for a future with both my queen and my prince? My kingdom, which was built with Embry at my side? The garish, crimson wounds all over my body? If I could press my fingers into my veins and claw out any acceptable and worthy sacrifice, my soul, my blood, my past and my future, then by fucking God I would have done it.

Anything, anything, anything. I get to my own knees in front of my wife. Psalm Fifty-One. The psalm of a father mourning a son that should not have been conceived. A broken and contrite heart which You will not despise. I let it fall as I keep my hands open and empty. Then you will delight in right sacrifices. I will love her until the stars burn themselves out and hang like cold rocks in the lightless sky.

Right sacrifices, I remind myself. The Lord only delights in right sacrifices. What a bleeding, sluggish world this would be if we all indulged in martyrdom; what a luscious fucking lure to bite—to brood and wallow and feel. But the world was not made to be bleeding and sluggish, and those lures are just baited traps for the moody and the vain.

However tempting a sacrifice for its own sake might be, however tempting self-flagellation and melancholy and grasping, needy gloom—it is not a right sacrifice. The world must spin. What it would feel like to give in. To yield. To—just for a moment—drop the crown and the sword to the floor and carry my heart in my hands. But I must, Greer, I must, even if it dissolves my bones and eats me alive. Even if I sometimes fantasize about not holding it at all. Beat me or fuck me or anything you need. I need everything. My heart thumps uncomfortably in my chest; my mouth feels dry.

I feel like a boy asking someone on a date for the first time. I tilt my head all the way back and stare up at the ceiling. Not to be the one to carry it all. Like a child pretending. And I understand—mastering is far more complicated than being mastered. I bow, moving so that my palms are flat on the floor in front of her knees and then I press my forehead to floor. Only for a few minutes.

She and I have endeavored not to have any secrets from one another, and so I know all about their times alone—Carpathia and her office at Georgetown chief among them—and I know that together, the two of them have a much more traditional dynamic. Giving and taking in equal measure, unspoken negotiations of power—the way equals fuck each other. I should be happy for them, happy that without me they can find some normalcy and intimacy in sex without resorting to degradation and a degree of suffering, and I am happy for them, but also I grieve.

Envy curls. I got my teenage wish to become the Goblin King, but wars and sisters and lovers and my dead wife have finally planted all the guilt and shame I never used to feel about it, and sometimes I hate myself for the things I need. I resent my lovers for not always needing them. I hurt for wanting to hurt them. I want the other side of it, I want the other side of it right now. Yes, Sir. Then silence. I stay where I am, my eyes on the wood grain of the smooth floor, my body pulling uncomfortably in the unfamiliar posture.

This is what it must be like for Greer. The waiting. The pregnant stillness. The creeping uncertainty. It takes so much willpower simply not to move, not to act, when moving and acting are my defaults. And in order to do that, I had to know how they felt. Kneeling with my head pressed to the floor for almost two hours while the Dominant training me watched. Those two hours on my knees, it had felt like an academic exercise, like I was taking a tour.

A visitor to the land of kneeling. And although I made notes in my head about how long it took for parts of my body to fall asleep, about the ways my thoughts wanted to stray, about what I could see and perceive from my deferential position, it never felt real. It never was real. It was research. You look spellbound," said Martin, tapping at her shoulder. She turned off the tape. Stop or I'll scream. I asked you a simple question. Is it too much effort to answer?

I mean, you're walking around here in another world, Alice. That's what it's saying. If you're alone and accosted in Athens. Or adopted children.

Maxim Jakubowski. The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica. Volume 3

But he could no longer mention such things. Now all her store of words was in foreign tongues. He felt faint with loneliness. You're not really sleeping. You just want company on your travels. It doesn't have to be me or anyone in particular. You could do it yourself and I could watch - it would be the same thing. To him, who sought only the perfect communion of spirits! She was deliberately withholding herself, refusing him what he needed.

Just as his mother had done, but he had not succumbed then and wouldn't now. It all came clear: his work was failing because she was failing him. Women were the rich source, the spring, the indispensable path. Throughout history, Dante to Picasso Poets were not mad when they wrote of their Muses. Still, he was never unfaithful to Alice except in the abstract, though opportunities were near at hand. Students hovered close, hoping for a sign of his interest; a few were not content passively to hope and had to be gently deflected.

Martin was surprised, since even in the abstract they were hardly the rich source he was after. Could it be that his exuberant hugs and kisses, the long conferences where he allowed them to expatiate on their private lives, the cups of coffee he offered not only at home but all over town, his letting his wild hair down at parties and dancing with the girls, even his occasional ribald remarks, were misinterpreted? Was he provocative, all unwittingly?

The very notion disturbed his pride. Certainly no girl could ever claim his warmth had been anything but paternal, professorial. If he seemed more frankly human than the other teachers- well, it was his nature. Not for him that dry aloofness. He had never been an academic type. It was no more than common courtesy to offer the girl a lift home after their weekly conference: she wasn't feeling well. As they pulled up in front of her house he saw she was weeping.

He put his arm around her shoulder. Too embarrassing. Well, all right: she was pregnant. Martin removed his arm, edged off a bit. Is it someone you-" "I went out with him a few times but I don't really want to see him any more. I'm Catholic. I see. Look, don't despair. It'll work out somehow. Do your parents-" "You don't understand! It's that I mean Catholic, all right, but there are limits Aren't you getting a little carried away? Her doctor had confirmed it. It doesn't have to be really that near.

Just sort of nearby Oh, go ahead and laugh if you want. I know it must seem funny. You always seemed to like me. He looked at her and stroked her arm. Paternally, he hoped. At this moment he could hardly distinguish. She put her hand on his knee. Help her. Wouldn't any man? This is not just some casual thing. I've cleared the way. First gently but efficiently to get the job done, and then more elaborately, so she might see what it was all about. He felt a trifle exploited, but bore that with patience. Women did, why shouldn't he? At least she was appreciative. So much so, that Martin had felt compelled to leave somewhat abruptly, declining her offer of a hamburger dinner.

He drove a few blocks to the edge of town, stopped near a stand of maples ripe with the reds and golds of fall, and rested his head on the steering wheel to weep. Absurd as it was, the singular event renewed him. He had not fathered a child this time, yet he had had some role in the mysterious process. He felt obscurely chosen, as if he were a larger-than-life character in an ambiguous myth. That winter he worked swiftly, with fresh energy and purpose. He was in his studio one afternoon when Alice interrupted to speak to him, which she rarely did.

She had taken to wearing his old sweaters around the house, and her hair was very short now. He couldn't remember when she had cut it, before his encounter with Tracy or after. What's the matter? Martin laid aside his brushes to listen. Finally he said, "Well, if it's necessary Look, afterwards you'll be better than ever.

They were sitting on tall stools side by side. Showing them off. You would have been a good father, too. Look at you with the students. In profile, the lines of her face were still clean and young, after ten years. Well yes, I guess so. Do I suffocate you? You were all I ever wanted. And still. She had a new nervous gesture, he noticed, pushing her hair off her forehead with both hands, fingers outspread. Kind of like latter-day Madonnas, aren't they? They're better than anything you've done in years. He realized he was blushing like a girl.

He understood women well enough to know it would be incumbent upon him, after the operation, to show her that it made no difference. Easy enough: to him it made no difference whatsoever; he harbored no old wives' superstitions. No, it was not the presence or absence of any organs that governed his desire, but that gradual shrinking of the spirit. In truth he felt more sorry for himself than for her. What was she losing but a mere lump of flesh? While he had given her his soul in trust, and instead of nurturing it she had starved it.

As he sat in the depressingly plastic waiting room with an atrocious painting of a dancing gypsy girl on the wall- what imbecile's idea to hang it in a hospital? Like an attic door flying open, it released a rush of memory and speculation. What might it have been like, how might his life have gone, had he not met her at the American Library in Paris and been captivated by By her appreciation of him.

He thought of the women he had known during that boyish jaunt through Europe and before, back and back into the past like road markers sliding off a rear-view mirror. From the very beginning, with all the neighborhood girls he had managed to cajole into bed, he had been courtly and gallant, as courtly and gallant as a teenager from an inner-city slum could know how to be. Once, a girl cried out loud, gasping, and Martin stopped short in panic.

Maybe he had hurt her, maybe there would be blood. Once he knew, the fact and the lore surrounding it fascinated him. He was not shy about asking girls questions, and so became a virtuoso. It pleased him to please; it pleased him more to give help to the needy, to girls who had no idea what they were capable of, or to girls who knew but needed a little more time. Of his time and efforts he was unsparing.

He only knew it had to do with art. And that Alice, more than any other, had offered the lure of transformation. He had first watched her bashful face pass through the stages of knowing to finally turn abandoned, and all the times he had made love to her since, or desired her only to be turned away, that progressive image had roused him.

It was an image of incomparable voluptuousness, to which he was indispensable. Now from all their straining nothing could ever spring, and as she lay being eviscerated he thought again that somewhere might be a child of his. Girl or boy? He hoped it was nothing like that lurid gypsy on the wall. The idea engendered no real curiosity or hope, though.

What could he hope for? Rather, it opened on to a vista of possibilities-not only all the women there had been, but all the women there had not been, trailed by all the possible children. At every nerve-ending he sensed the abundance out in the broad world. The doctor who came to tell him Alice was stapled back together found Martin bemused, adrift in transcendent realms, like a youth who has heard the call of the spiritual life. Still he strove to do what was right. When Alice came home he hovered over her like a mother, he brought her chocolate turtles and reassured her of his love.

I know you do," she said wanly. It's long enough. Still, he groped for words befitting the occasion. She stroked his hair, beginning to go grey. He was the street urchin her charmed eyes had once idealized. No wonder he was rejected. The following month a critic saw his new work in a group show and singled it out. A gallery in New York was interested. As Martin looked his last at the two paintings bought by a nearby museum, it. She had dropped out of school after Christmas and he had not seen her since.

But he hoped all went well - he felt a familial concern. Before long there was a one-man show. He worked feverishly. He was thirty-six, not too old for a fresh start. He traveled, giving lectures, showing slides, showing himself. Everywhere he was such an excellent showman that even without the paintings his charm would have left indelible impressions. Happily, though, he was no charlatan but the genuine article: an artist, with an artistic temperament. III A new era dawned in which Martin became a personage. At each gallery opening, at each university he visited-those trips replete with parties and every variety of chicken dinner - was some woman he knew he might effortlessly possess, and often did, parched and deserving as he was.

He was not without scruples or discrimination, would not become one of those middle-aged fools who break the hearts of mere children. They were all so skinny and boyish nowadays anyhow, besides which, a grown man could hardly talk to them. No, give him a mature woman with a fullness of spirit any day. But he was ravaged by guilt. He thought of his marriage vows, his attachment to Alice, his dependence - for admittedly he was dependent. Was that a crime? She was, after all, his wife, and he needed her, when he returned from his wanderings, to greet him with her cool equanimity, to ask how things had gone at the shows or seminars, to sit up late over cups of honeyed tea, never commenting on his infidelities though it was hardly possible she could be ignorant.

The enigma in this friendly civility - did she know, and if she knew how could she not speak? So that with the others, after the first rush of arousal his spirit would falter. One of his great-grandfathers had been a rabbi back in the Ukraine, his mother had told him. He had always felt, faute de mieux, a halfmystic connection to this rabbi - it was the closest thing to an artist his family had ever produced.

Now Martin imagined he felt the genes of the rabbi stir within him in revolt and disgust, reminding him of what the decent life was. His spirit would falter, but luckily not his body. For was there not a morality to seduction too? Manners were morals, and Martin was a lover of extensive courtesy, until he rolled away clutching a pillow, isolated in a fog of oppression. When he had had his fill he resolved to give up these ways. This was not the man he was meant to be. Even his work, which by now was praised indiscriminately, seemed to him to have lost texture and to subsist on a surface brilliance.

It was only love of a woman, of every plane and arc and fold of her body, every cranny of her spirit, that could open the subterranean chambers. It's not too late for us, is it? Say it's not. It's been too late for years. I've never loved anyone else. Why are you suddenly interested in me, Martin? Is the work not going well? I've always been interested. You know I'm interested in everything in the world. It's all arbitrary with you. Like God. Who knows why he giveth and taketh away? But I'm not one of your creatures, you see.

He, playing God! When he was the humble supplicant, pleading for salvation at her hands! Yet her words did not pain him so much as that thorough calm. He had listened to similar complaints, but they were made in heat and truculence, and never so sharply formulated; he had to hand it to her for that, even as he lay stunned and aching.

Do you? Tell me, for God's sake! She must have someone else, God knows for how long now. How had he never thought of it before? Occasionally some woman or other had asked about his wife. Do you have an "arrangement? He had always said, with conviction, Oh no, she's very involved in her work. An extraordinary woman. Not once had he made a derogatory remark about. Such was his loyalty. While she, all along, like a snake in the grass That she might prefer solitude he had managed to swallow.

But this! Panic broke through his skin in a cold sweat and he pulled the blanket closer. We get along all right. I like watching you, and you like to be watched. She did need him. Maybe he was imagining it all, exaggerating as usual, yes. He could show her Summoning his resources, like calling in the diverse troops, foot soldiers, light artillery, cavalry, Martin advanced with cunning on the supposedly impregnable Alice, first setting her book down on the nighttable, careful not to lose the place. Afterwards he held her close and murmured in her ear, "It isn't so, all you said, is it?

Her lashes were glistening. A moment or two later she rolled over and curled up, her back turned. IV Martin's life became a quest for love. He bypassed ephemera with only a glimmer of regret, for he was pursuing something higher, spiritual. There was a French woman who taught chemistry at a private high school in New York City, where Martin now held a tenured position at the City University. Twice a week, on the days of his classes, he would spend the night at her Brooklyn Heights apartment and return to his house on Long Island the next morning.

Frangoise was a woman of firm and inflexible character: though she was divorced and had two children she struggled to support, she refused any help he offered. If he would divorce his wife and marry her But this way, no, merci. He listened attentively, but Alice preyed on his mind.

She was losing weight again and having dizzy spells. One does not desert a sick wife. He did not even need the genes of a rabbi to tell him that. When he and Frangoise made love, the image of Alice hovered over the bed. Frangoise sensed her presence and could not abide it. Several times she actually stopped in the middle and fetched a pile of test papers to correct. At last, after almost a year, she declared she had to think of herself and her children, her future. Martin was dismayed that a woman he had chosen could be so pragmatic. Which is greater for you in all this?

The pleasure or the pain? She was sitting cross-legged in her red flowered armchair, wearing a black satin Chinese robe he had given her, her breasts spilling out the front. It flashed through Martin's mind that he must keep that image of her, in case it should be the last. I'm sorry. Quite soon he was distracted by a woman he had noticed during the waning weeks of the Fran! All the women he was drawn to, Martin couldn't help observing, were mothers.


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He liked visiting and finding the children rowdy and ubiquitous; as he bantered with them he grew excited by the prospect of soon snatching their mother away, locking the bedroom door against them and seeing her transform from mother to lover, possessing her in a way they would never know. The new woman, Peg, was not beautiful at all. She was tall and thin and moved gawkily - her jutting hips and elbows banging into furniture - and was the most sexually aggressive woman he had ever known. It was she who first suggested they have lunch, and in the restaurant pressed her leg against his.

Martin could hardly believe it. His approaches were generally executed with a careful and gracious decorum. Sara Lee apple crumb. Alice never ate in bed, nor did she leave clumps of hair in the bathtub. Nonetheless something rapacious about Peg's lanky, small-breasted body made him avid.

Together they would careen into a world where only flesh and sensation existed; all traces of who they were, and where, were forgotten. But then at the awakening, the same oppression, the same withdrawal. Peg raged beside him, calling him names. Why did she even bother with him, he was only a stupid old clown who would soon be too feeble to hold a paint brush, not to mention screw.

These were. At home in his studio, he labored over ungainly images of dislocation and imbalance. When critics called the work startling and original, he decided it was worth the torment. He discovered she was unfaithful. She would bring home virtual strangers and not even bother to cover her tracks.

What do you want me to do when you're with her -knit you a codpiece to keep it warm? You can drive a person insane, you know? All that wild talk about South Sea islands, then I don't hear from you for days. She would betray him; she was mad; and when she tired of his body she would cast it aside the way she peeled her clothes in haste and kicked them across the floor. After a year and a half she exchanged him for someone else. He was in physical agony, had never felt so battered and ready to die.

Sexual memories taunted him like furies. Feverish, he thought of escaping into the depths of the Sound. Once he went so far as to drive his car to the water's edge, where he grew lost in dreams of his boyhood; when he awoke with a start he wondered why he was there, and drove home.

Alice would find him huddled at the kitchen table and would stroke his hair, nearly gone over to grey now. Months later, when it passed, he was empty and light-headed, as after a fast. He moved more slowly, his shoulders drooped, and he no longer searched for love.

Still, there were women everywhere, and he would sit up talking in bed till the late hours, getting to know all about them -he continued to find so many so interesting. He never stayed with them long; if he saw they were falling in love with him he extricated himself as best he could. With all his precautions, in some cases he left grief behind him, but what was he to do? He had not forced himself on them. Far from it. And maybe it was only right that a few should suffer, to offset in some small measure the suffering he had undergone at the hands of his mother, and Alice, and Peg, as if there were a great communal balance sheet of suffering to be rendered at the final judgment.

Martin was not proud of such feelings, yet didn't the best of disciples sometimes. Only the untried kept a pure faith. Sometimes he would glimpse a woman on the street who reminded him of Peg, or of Alice in earlier days, and he felt such acute longing that he would have to follow her for several blocks. His heart fluttered, he stumbled with vertigo, fantasies roiled in his head. He never made any attempt to catch up or to speak, and later, sitting on a park bench to calm his blood, he would fear that he was in his dotage, though he was only forty-five.

Once, on the crowded steps of the Metropolitan Museum, he came face to face with an old lover. She was graciously polite, even warm, but Martin could tell she had not forgiven his defection. Was she one of those to whom he had sworn eternal friendship? If only he could remember exactly how he had dropped out of her life, he might say something mitigating or soothing, but alas Everything else he remembered vividly.

He remembered that though her manner was crisp and lively, in bed she was enchantingly languid. So often they were contrary to the way they appeared. Peg's public behavior was rather severe. FranCoise, for all her luscious looks, tended to be phlegmatic, and his own proper Alice in her day, well All this was fascinating, but right now, of no avail.

He knew this woman so well, her every expression and mood, the tone she used for each degree of personal connection, that he could have charted on a graph precisely where he stood in her feelings, precisely where the axis of love and the axis of resentment intersected. It was that very knowledge of her that she could not forgive, he well knew, a knowledge painstakingly acquired only to be interred.

He sympathized with her veiled disgust; it disgusted him too, that glimpse of his heart as a rank, unvisited graveyard of intimate and varied data about women, once-precious relics, neglected and moldering. V When Martin returned from the upstate college where he met Paula-her dance troupe performed opposite the gallery showing his paintings - Alice told him about the lump in her breast.

He was dazed by the rhythmic recurrence of events, life grinding in cycles love, cancer as though it had but a limited supply of plot. She had noticed it a while ago, she said, but had waited to speak until the doctor was sure. In a manner quite unlike her, hesitant and tremu. He didn't want to, but to refuse would be more horrible still.

She opened her blouse and offered her breast, showing him the place. He felt it right away, like a berry deep in the flesh. His fingers recoiled but he forced his hand to remain. He was unsure what to do. He made a gesture like a caress. She stepped back and buttoned her blouse. The doctor had urged an even earlier day, but she had not wanted to spoil his trip, or to shock him with a note in an empty house. Tears came to Martin's eyes as she recounted all this in her even way. Even, yet teetering on some brink. Martin led her to the sofa and they sat down. He realized that touch of her breast had been a farewell, and felt a surge of regret and loss.

One flesh, the Bible said. Then shame crept over him. Men used the word "possess" for a woman's body, but ultimately The word stood for all the advantages of possession, none of the liabilities. It would be her loss.

The Black Dancing Body

He had not really possessed her in years, if ever. If they were truly one flesh he could feel the loss without shame at his feeling. Who was she, then? In one of those instants when reality threatens to appear as brutally as a graveyard lit by lightning, Martin strained to see her, huddled on the worn sofa, as a being distinct from himself, but it was too arduous.

His imagination shrank back. He turned with relief to a more practical thought, of Paula. He had promised to call her. Of course it would be out of the question to see her this week, perhaps for several weeks. And he felt a surge of regret and loss over that too, like a distorted echo. Alice started to cry and Martin murmured the suitable words until she was calm again. Do you want to lie down? I'm hungry, but there's nothing around. I haven't shopped since you left. How's that? Don't they give condemned men whatever they want? I'll even bring them to you in the hospital if you want.

Remember last time I. Nothing is more difficult to conceal than a pizza. What can they take after this? Defy it. Go change and make yourself beautiful. Life is still good. It is! You really think so, don't you? A lovable jerk. This was the closest they had been in years. A bitter notion, but what was any pleasure without a dash of bitters? He had almost forgotten the feel of her shoulders, square and firm. A holy fool. This 'is one show you can't steal. She shuffled groggily through the house in an old bathrobe, and could sit for hours over a jigsaw puzzle of a Rothko painting, adding four or five pieces a day.

All the time Martin tended her, his thoughts kept straying to Paula. She was a dancer. Hoot is a Newbery Medal Honor Book. Everything you need to get organized This workbook provides a complete system for structuring and organizing your information and documents into a records binder. For each topic, you will find helpful content, rich resources, and step-by-step instructions. To purchase, search for "get it together binder and tab set. If you're like a lot of people, you keep important information--from the whereabouts of family heirlooms to online passwords to automatic bill-pay details--in your head or stashed in the odd desk drawer.

Unfortunately, this disorganization will likely cause hassles for those who someday take care of you or your estate. Get It Together provides an easy, straightforward method to help you and others keep track of: secured places and passwords employment records insurance policies real estate records tax records retirement accounts estate planning documents funeral arrangements letters to loved ones This updated 8th edition is a guide to gathering records, an organizer for you, and a road map for your survivors.

All forms are downloadable through a link printed in the book.

Bad Things

Oliver Harris has spent years hiding behind his espresso machine at Doyle's. After flunking out of art school, he has preferred instead to create art with his lattes, which he loves, but the customers? Not so much. An anxious young man, he uses his shorter statue to his advantage by avoiding looking at those who come around and attempting to avoid conversations as well. For years, this has been fairly effective on everyone, except one regular. Dean Burkett doesn't mind taking both parts of a conversation and talking until even Oliver's voice is hoarse.

However, when he stops coming around as often, Oliver faces an odd feeling--disappointment. He misses Dean. While Oliver claims it's because of the habit of it, he starts to think, maybe it's more? Oliver's mother is constantly bothering him about visiting her in Miami for the holidays. While struggling with his growing feelings for Dean, Oliver is in a whirlwind of emotion. When Dean finally asks him out, he struggles with the fact that he not only has fun, but he can feel something real--something more than attraction.

His mother, in an effort to get him to visit, tries to set Oliver up with a date with a woman. Now, he has to choose whether or not to come out to his very religious family and risking his relationship with them, or having the chance of a relationship with Dean. Novel, approximately 30, words in length.

A Comprehensive History of Tea from Prehistoric Times to the Present Day

HEA happy ever after ending. Does not end with a "cliffhanger. That understanding transformed the way he saw himself--and the world. A born storyteller, Robison has written a moving, darkly funny memoir about a life that has taken him from developing exploding guitars for KISS to building a family of his own. It's a strange, sly, indelible account--sometimes alien yet always deeply human. Introducing MATH! Introducing Math! This workbook is designed to provide you with a comprehensive overview of Grade 2 mathematics.

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Our workbooks include topic overviews with instruction, practice questions, answer explanations along with free digital access to video explanations. Practice in confidence - with ArgoPrep! Represent and solve word problems. Add and subtract within Understand Even adn Odd Numbers. Understanding Three Digit Numbers. Adding and Subtracting. Using Tools to Measure. Working with Time and Money. Represent Data. Chapter 4 - Geometry4. Recognizing and Drawing Shapes. Chapter 5 - Mixed AssessmentWhether your school follows common core curriculum or a state-aligned curriculum, our Introducing Math!

We strive to provide you with an amazing learning experience. If you have any suggestions or need further assistance, don't hesitate to email us at info argoprep. Duck wants to go on an adventure. But Goose isn't so sure. Together, the two best friends set off on a walk that takes them through the meadow, past a shady thicket, and over a distant hill, all the way to a place they've never been before--the beach!

Turns out, Goose loves the ocean. But guess who doesn't? Hills is master of the light comic touch. From the author of "the definitive history of bourbon" Sacramento Bee comes the epic true tale of how beer conquered America, from B. From the earliest Native American corn brew called chicha to the waves of immigrants who brought with them their unique brewing traditions, to the seemingly infinite varieties of craft-brewed suds found on tap today, beer has claimed an outsized place in our culture that far transcends its few simple ingredients--water, barley, and hops. And yet despite its ubiquity--Americans consume some six billion gallons of beer each year--the story of beer in the USA is as diverse and fascinating as the country itself, overflowing with all the color and character of America's many peoples and regions.

A brewery was among the first orders of business when the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, and George Washington tried but mostly failed to produce beer at Mount Vernon. Since , America has operated under the principle of E. Pluribus, Brewdog: out of many regional brews, one nation of beer drinkers. The first "macrobrew" revolution was in the Midwest, where an influx of German immigrants in the s changed American brewing forever. Bavarian newcomers brought their now-universal lager to St. Louis, Milwaukee, and the rest of the heartland; Busch, Pabst, and Schlitz soon followed, establishing the first great beer empires and ushering in a golden age of brewing that would last into the twentieth century.

Then in , Prohibition threatened the very existence of beer in America. Brewers were forced to diversity into a variety of odd products--among them malted milk, porcelain, and cement--in order to survive. When the spigot finally reopened in , many breweries were tapped out. By the early s, a country that once boasted more than a thousand breweries was down to a few dozen, with little to distinguish among them. But stirred by the American entrepreneurial spirit, a cadre of daring young trailblazers decided our options shouldn't be limited to watery, flavorless macrobrews. The microbrew movement began on the West Coast, but quickly spread: today there are thousands of craft breweries, scattered across all fifty states.

Drawing upon a wealth of little-known historical sources, explaining the scientific breakthroughs that have shaped beer's evolution, and mixing in more than a splash of dedicated on-the-ground research, The United States of Beer offers a raucous and enlightening toast to the all-American drink. Set against the neon backdrop of the South Florida city where Miami Herald reporter Edna Buchanan covered the police beat for nearly two decades, this memoir collects true tales of both heroes and villains--from the heartbreaking to the heartwarming to the outright hilarious.

When all hope seems lost, a deal between them offers them a new life. But within his castle walls, something evil seeks to destroy their happiness After her heart was broken, Beatrice Leeson has forsaken love. Close to spinsterhood, she is content to help with her sister's family. But then, a handsome but unsmiling duke offers her a deal she can't refuse. Little does she know how accepting it will endanger her life Alexander Langdon, the Duke of Everdale, has suffered many misfortunes in his life - so many, that some may say he is cursed.

His duty is all that he has left. In the deal he makes with Beatrice Leeson, however, he will find more than what he bargained for. But within his castle walls, a malevolent presence awakes and seeks to cause harm again. Who is this mysterious friend and what are they after? This time, Alexander is determined not to allow another tragedy. This time, Beatrice will fight for what she wants. Even if it claims her life.

If you like engaging characters, heart- wrenching twists and turns, and lots of romance, then you'll love "The Odd Mystery of the Cursed Duke! After a year of working as a tour guide in the swamps of Louisiana--and the day after a man's body is found in a canal--former Police Chief Clint Wolf realizes he can't stay away from law enforcement work forever. Ditching his paddle for a pistol, he rejoins the Mechant Loup Police Department, but this time as their chief investigator, and he works beside Police Chief Susan Wilson as they seek to solve the mystery in the canal.

While it isn't odd to find drowned bodies floating in the vast waterways of Louisiana from time to time, it is unusual to find a body with six bullet holes in its back. This first case back for Clint won't be a walk in the park, but a blue truck and a single piece of paper might be the key to everything. The only problem? The truck has seemingly vanished into thin air and no one can find the piece of paper. Winner of the Tiptree Award! McLemore uses the supernatural to remind us that the body's need to speak its truth is primal and profound, and that the connection between two people is no more anyone's business than why the dish ran away with the spoon.

Now, McLemore delivers a second stunning and utterly romantic novel, again tinged with magic. To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel's wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five.

Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel's skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love.

And they're willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up. Atmospheric, dynamic, and packed with gorgeous prose, When the Moon was Ours is another winner from this talented author. A captivating and emotional story delivered in a straightforward way without an ounce of self-pity. Ruth Wariner was the 39th of her father's 42 children. Growing up on a farm in rural Mexico, where authorities turned a blind eye to the practices of her community, Ruth lives in a ramshackle house without indoor plumbing or electricity.

At church, preachers teach that God will punish the wicked by destroying the world and that women can only ascend to Heaven by entering into polygamous marriages and giving birth to as many children as possible. After Ruth's father - the man who had been the founding prophet of the colony - is brutally murdered by his brother in a bid for church power, her mother remarries, becoming the second wife of another faithful congregant.

In need of government assistance and supplemental income, Ruth and her siblings are carted back and forth between Mexico and the United States, where her mother collects welfare and her step-father works a variety of odd jobs. Ruth comes to love the time she spends in the States, realizing that perhaps the community into which she was born is not the right one for her.

As Ruth begins to doubt her family's beliefs and question her mother's choices, she struggles to balance her fierce love for her siblings with her determination to forge a better life for herself. Recounted from the innocent and hopeful perspective of a child, The Sound of Gravel is the remarkable true story of a girl fighting for peace and love.

This is an intimate, gripping audiobook resonant with triumph, courage, and resilience. This workbook is designed to provide you with a comprehensive overview of Grade 1 mathematics. When we eat may be as important as what we eat. Like most people, you probably wake up, get hungry for meals and doze off in bed around the same time every day. If you've ever experienced jet lag or pulled an all-nighter, you know that this schedule can easily be thrown off kilter. But for some people, that imbalance--difficulty sleeping at night, hunger at odd times, or sudden fatigue at noon--is a constant.

If you're one of those people, Dr. Satchin Panda, one of the leading researchers on circadian rhythms, has a plan to reset your body clock. Beginning with an in-depth explanation of the circadian clock--why it's important, how it works, and how to know it isn't working--The Circadian Code outlines lifestyle changes to make to get back on track. It's a concrete plan to enhance weight loss, improve sleep, optimize exercise, and manage technology so that it doesn't interfere with your body's natural rhythm.

Panda's life changing methods show you how to prevent and reverse ailments like diabetes, cancer, and dementia, as well as microbiome conditions like acid reflux, heartburn, and irritable bowel disease. What they don't know is her trailblazing career was a happy accident. In this funny and intimate memoir, Penny takes us from the stage of The Jackie Gleason Show in to Hollywood's star-studded sets, offering up some hilarious detours along the way. We see Penny get married. And divorced. And married again the second time to Rob Reiner. We meet a young Carrie Fisher, whose close friendship with Penny has spanned decades.

Only someone who lived it would be able to write this. What, then, could render two veteran homicide detectives speechless as they stand over their latest victim? Tightly-wound Dickie Jones and his smart and cocky partner, Matt "Pretty Boy Floyd" Tyler, find themselves entangled with gang members and a sexy drug dealer as they uncover a nefarious plot rife with greed, sex, and betrayal. Can law enforcement's "odd couple" survive fights, shootouts, and a sniper who wants them dead? What about their wives, and their captain, all of whom have had it with them both?

Real page turner. Sheehy"I was totally blown away. Unable to put the book down. Anyone with law enforcement experience MUST read this book. Excellent character development and the story is a page-turner. Argott"If you want to know how murders are truly investigated and solved, and how homicide detectives think, walk, and talk, then A Good Bunch of Men is for you. Knight"This book gets you behind the yellow tape of a murder scene and investigation.

You will feel as though you're living the life of a homicide investigator. The author obviously writes from experience. And when that happens, one can celebrate their literary blessings. This humorous, heartwarming story about Greig's real-life menagerie of senior rescue animals affirms that, in a family, everyone belongs. What makes a family? Is it sharing favorite foods, cuddling up for snuggle time, loving each other no matter what you look like in the morning?

For Steve Greig's oddly wonderful, real-life family of senior dogs, chickens, rabbits, and a pig named Bikini, family is all those things and then some! Meet the Wolfgang, a loveable bunch of animals belonging to Steve and each other. Greig looked for the most "unadoptable" animals and gave them a home. Appearing on the popular Instagram account Wolfgang with close to thousand fans and growing, this lovable bunch is now starring in their very first children's book that showcases the importance of family.

Featuring unique, whimsical art from Nadja Sarell combined with comical photographs of the Wolfgang, The One and Only Wolfgang will remind readers that no matter how old or how odd, everyone can find a place to belong. The first novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club is a rollicking tale of small-town peculiarity, dark secrets, and one extraordinary beauty pageant.

When her husband is offered a post at a small university, Maye is only too happy to pack up and leave the relentless Phoenix heat for the lush green quietude of Spaulding, Washington. While she loves the odd little town, there is one thing she didn't anticipate: just how heartbreaking it would be leaving her friends behind. And when you're a childless thirtysomething freelance writer who works at home, making new friends can be quite a challenge. After a series of false starts nearly gets her exiled from town, Maye decides that her last chance to connect with her new neighbors is to enter the annual Sewer Pipe Queen Pageant, a kooky but dead-serious local tradition open to contestants of all ages and genders.

Aided by a deranged former pageant queen with one eyebrow, Maye doesn't just make a splash, she uncovers a sinister mystery that has haunted the town for decades. The Vampire Diaries with faeries. Welcome to Rowan Founded two centuries ago by a powerful tribe of Gottwa Indians, Rowan was a quiet town, so quiet that I fled after graduation. Staying away was the plan, but Mom died suddenly. Dad said she suffered a stroke after she dug up one of the ancient graves in our backyard, which happens to be the town cemetery. Creepy, I know. Creepier still, there was no corpse inside the old coffin, only fresh rose petals.

As we made preparations for Mom's burial, new people began arriving in Rowan, unnervingly handsome and odd people. I begged them to leave, but they stayed, because their enemies--my ancestors--were beginning to awaken. The world building is phenomenal and there are many twists and turns. Touches your heart. A sharp, well written and at times emotional read guaranteed to entrance from beginning to tend.

The New York Times bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek teaches you how to reach your peak physical potential with minimum effort. Tacky the Penguin Helen Lester. Tacky's perfect friends find him annoying until his odd behavior saves the day. Simmons brilliantly crystallizes contemporary girls' dilemma: the way old expectations and new imperatives collide; how a narrow, virtually unattainable vision of 'success' comes at the expense of self-worth and well-being.

Enough As She is a must-read, not only for its diagnosis of the issues but for its insightful, useful strategies on how to address them. This is the book parents need to change girls' lives and guide them to truly become happy, healthy, and powerful adults. For many girls today, the drive to achieve is fueled by brutal self-criticism and an acute fear of failure. Though young women have never been more "successful"-outpacing boys in GPAs and college enrollment-they have also never struggled more.

On the surface, girls may seem exceptional, but in reality, they are anxious and overwhelmed, feeling that, no matter how hard they try, they will never be smart enough, successful enough, pretty enough, thin enough, popular enough, or sexy enough. Rachel Simmons has been researching young women for two decades, and her research plainly shows that girl competence does not equal girl confidence--nor does it equal happiness, resilience, or self-worth. Backed by vivid case studies, Simmons warns that we have raised a generation of young women so focused on achieving that they avoid healthy risks, overthink setbacks, and suffer from imposter syndrome, believing they are frauds.

As they spend more time projecting an image of effortless perfection on social media, these girls are prone to withdraw from the essential relationships that offer solace and support and bolster self-esteem. Deeply empathetic and meticulously researched, Enough As She Is offers a clear understanding of this devastating problem and provides practical parenting advice--including teaching girls self-compassion as an alternative to self-criticism, how to manage overthinking, resist the constant urge to compare themselves to peers, take healthy risks, navigate toxic elements of social media, prioritize self-care, and seek support when they need it.

Enough As She Is sounds an alarm to parents and educators, arguing that young women can do more than survive adolescence. They can thrive. Enough As She Is shows us how. Priestdaddy: A Memoir Patricia Lockwood. From Patricia Lockwood - a writer acclaimed for her wildly original voice - a vivid, heartbreakingly funny memoir about having a married Catholic priest for a father. Father Greg Lockwood is unlike any Catholic priest you have ever met - a man who lounges in boxer shorts, who loves action movies, and whose constant jamming on the guitar reverberates "like a whole band dying in a plane crash in ".

His daughter is an irreverent poet who long ago left the church's country. When an unexpected crisis leads her and her husband to move back into her parents' rectory, their two worlds collide. In Priestdaddy, Lockwood interweaves emblematic moments from her childhood and adolescence - from an ill-fated family hunting trip and an abortion clinic sit-in where her father was arrested to her involvement in a cultlike Catholic youth group - with scenes that chronicle the eight-month adventure she and her husband had in her parents' household after a decade of living on their own.

Lockwood details her education of a seminarian who is also living at the rectory, tries to explain Catholicism to her husband, who is mystified by its bloodthirstiness and arcane laws, and encounters a mysterious substance on a hotel bed with her mother. Lockwood pivots from the raunchy to the sublime, from the comic to the deeply serious, exploring issues of belief, belonging, and personhood. Priestdaddy is an entertaining, unforgettable portrait of a deeply odd religious upbringing and how one balances a hard-won identity with the weight of family and tradition. Prize-winning biographer Leo Damrosch tells the story of "the Club", a group of extraordinary writers, artists, and thinkers who gathered weekly at a London tavern.

In , the painter Joshua Reynolds proposed to his friend Samuel Johnson that they invite a few friends to join them every Friday at the Turk's Head Tavern in London to dine, drink, and talk until midnight. It was known simply as "the Club". In this captivating audiobook, Leo Damrosch brings alive a brilliant, competitive, and eccentric cast of characters.

With the friendship of the "odd couple" Samuel Johnson and James Boswell at the heart of his narrative, Damrosch conjures up the precarious, exciting, and often brutal world of late 18th-century Britain. This is the story of an extraordinary group of people whose ideas helped to shape their age - and our own. Now, author Brian Godawa shares the Biblical and ancient historical research that undergirds that fiction. Bonus Chapter. How influential the ancient book of Enoch has been on the Church and the New Testament.

The Nephilim Expanded This chapter explores everywhere giants appear in the Bible. LeviathanThe notion of a sea dragon of chaos is universal in the ancient Near East and the Bible. What is its theological meaning? Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography in the BibleDid the Bible writers assume the ancient Mesopotamian view of a flat earth supported by pillars over an Underworld with a solid dome overhead? The ancient book of Jasher. Famous Biblical giants. Goliath was Not AloneA closer look at Goliath. But there are five other giants spoken of as hunting David. And who were the Lion Men of Moab?

Jesus and the Cosmic WarSatan as "god of this world. Christ's descent into Sheol with victory over the Powers. The Geography of HadesA look into the underworld as presented in pagan myths, and the Bible. Gehenna, Sheol. Notes from a Small Island Bill Bryson. Grab your umbrella and join best-selling author Bill Bryson for a grand tour through the heartland of the United Kingdom.

As he wanders through tiny villages and bustling cities, his irreverent travelogue will keep you laughing out loud and eager to explore what lies just around the next corner. Before he returns to the United States after nearly two decades on British soil, Bryson decides to take a farewell jaunt through his adopted homeland. But his plans to neatly traverse the island by foot, bus, and train are soon thwarted.

On weekends, odd train and bus schedules leave him stranded in isolated communities with damp, moldering inns. And as a destination beckons above the rooftops, a maze of city streets leads him further away. Amidst the difficulties, Bryson encounters quirky age-old customs, charming architecture, and salt-of-the-earth inhabitants.

His uproarious social commentary and Ron McLarty's warm and witty performance will leave you feeling as if you have actually been travelling across the enchanting island. Damned Chuck Palahniuk. Irreverent and hugely entertaining. Madison is the thirteen-year-old daughter of a narcissistic film star and a billionaire. Abandoned at her Swiss boarding school over Christmas, she dies over the holiday, presumably of a marijuana overdose. The last thing she remembers is getting into a town car and falling asleep.

Then she's waking up in Hell. Madison soon finds that she shares a cell with a motley crew of young sinners: a cheerleader, a jock, a nerd, and a punk rocker, united by their doomed fate, like an afterschool detention for the damned. Together they form an odd coalition and march across the unspeakable landscape of Hell--full of used diapers, dandruff, WiFi blackout spots, evil historical figures, and one horrific call center--to confront the Devil himself. Cut down your Game Master prep time with 25 1D random tables.

If so, these random tables come in handy any time your players are searching or exploring. Don't waste your time prepping things your players will never see. Just pull out these tables and create a quality gaming experience simply by rolling dice. Find items for a wizard's chambers, campsites, desks, and more. Also, exciting random encounters for different terrains and rumors and odd jobs.

Plus fantasy names for non-player characters. Get the other books in the series! This first series of 4 books is an excellent gateway into the world of dot-to-dots because of its concise instructions and ample white space. Most of these new dot-to-dots number in the hundreds and include David's brand new interesting and inventive dot-to-dot variations.

Each of these books appeals to puzzlers as young as eight, as well as older children and adults. The Original Greatest Dot-to-Dot Book 1 published in , contains the first challenging puzzles ever produced. Most of these new dot-to-dots number into the hundreds. Readers will appreciate the fact that they can't tell what the images are before they start, as well as the twists and playful challenges that maintain excitement throughout the book.

The final pictures cover a broad subject range, adding to the surprise element. This is a relaxing and fun book that will entertain young and old alike. Ages 8 to adult. A bold, accessible, illustrated guide that delivers real scientific information on how the body works with a healthy side of fun facts and trivia. If you've ever searched the Internet for information on that odd rash on your arm, advice to help you get the best night's sleep, or tips for staying healthy during cold and flu season, you know there is skill to sorting fiction from scientific fact.

How the Body Works uses clear, easy-to-understand graphics and illustrations to demystify all the complex processes that keep our bodies alive and thriving -- from the basic building blocks of the body -- our cells -- to skin, muscles, and bones and the ways in which our many parts work together.

Learn about the senses, how we read faces and body language, nutrition and immunity, the brain, sleep, memory, dreams, and much more. Each chapter takes you through a new body system and includes surprising facts like "there are no muscles in the fingers and toes" and "by the time you finish reading this sentence, 50 million of your cells will have died and been replaced. New York Times bestselling author Lee Strobel trains his investigative sights on the hot-button question: is it really credible to believe God intervenes supernaturally in people's lives today?

The book features the results of exclusive new scientific polling that shows miracle accounts are much more common than people think. Here's a unique book that examines all sides of this issue and comes away with a passionate defense for God's divine action in lives today. Also available: The Case for Miracles Spanish edition, kids' edition, and student edition. A razor-sharp collection from the acclaimed New Yorker cartoonist and Instagram sensation whom Vulture recently called "a remarkable young talent"With her trademark, scratchy style and keen eye for the absurd, Liana Finck has amassed a large, devoted following who love the deeply insightful, delightfully odd way she describes how we all experience the world.

Melancholy and hilarious, relatable and surreal, intensely personal yet surprisingly universal, Excuse Me brings together the best work so far by one of the most talented young comics artists working today. Ever since her parents were killed, Hannah Fisher has struggled to raise her two younger brothers and to take care of their grandmother. But money is tight, and Hannah frets constantly.

When Matthew Zook refuses to pay what he owes her, the pressure becomes nearly unbearable. Does Matthew's son Noah know about this? Hannah prays he doesn't, as she is smitten with handsome, kind Noah. How could he not? When Noah comes around, offering to do odd jobs for Hannah, her suspicions grow. Just what is his motivation?

Is he trying to lessen his father's guilt or is there something more to his sudden help? Can Hannah trust anything he says? He wasn't partying in high school or winning football games like his older brother. Instead, he posted comics on the Internet. Now, he's ready to share his hard-earned advice from his 21 years of life in the funny, relatable voice his fans love.

In this illustrated collection, Rallison tells his own stories of growing up as the "odd one out": in art class with his twin sister she was more talented , in the middle school locker room, and up to one strange year of college he dropped out. Do you want your child to learn the English alphabet? Does your child like coloring? It is the perfect start for any child to learn all the letters from A to Z effortlessly while having fun. Features: Cute and super fun original illustrations that will surely keep your child engaged and entertained.

Animals for each letter Each letter is represented by different animals pictured in various amusing and curious scenes to keep your child excited about the coloring page and further ease memorization. Learn by association method Learning with picture association is way more fun and easy than pure repetition. Find all the objects In addition to the animals each coloring illustration includes other objects beginning with the same letter. Finding them can be a fun way to practice the child s new alphabet skills. Single sided printing Kids can use their favorite coloring tools pencils, crayons, pens or felt tip without worrying that an image on the back will be ruined.

Coloring is a creative activity that provides relaxed, quiet time away from the TV and iPad, and a favorite pastime option for many children. My 1st Animal ABC Coloring Book offers hours of educational coloring fun and is the perfect gift for every little kid. A little note from the artist: I truly hope that your little one enjoys coloring all the illustrations inside this book!

It doesn t matter if he or she goes outside the lines at times or all the time or if they choose some odd colors for the animals. What matters is that they learn the letters while having fun because joy, above all, should be part of every childhood. Thank you, and please, don t forget to leave a review. I would really appreciate it!

Age specifications: This early learning activity book is geared to boys and girls aged from 2 to 8 years old designed for toddlers, preschoolers, pre-k and kindergarten kids but it is suitable for any child who loves coloring. This entertaining puzzle book is filled with a terrific variety of easy, fun puzzles and brain games!

Adults can exercise a wide variety of mental skills such as attention to detail, memory, problem solving, vocabulary and logical reasoning. Easy Puzzles and Brain Games is a perfect puzzle book for seniors and older adults because of its large print, clear images and higher-quality white paper that make the puzzles and games easy to see. Easy Puzzles and Brain Games has evenly distributed the different kinds of puzzles within the book, so that the reader can enjoy an exceptional selection of easy puzzles and brain games.

Enjoy hours of fun with this relaxing and engaging book! Would you like a more detailed overview? Then read on Easy Puzzles and Brain Games has four major sections each with its own set of puzzles that exercise the brain in a different way. Here's a quick description of each section. Visual Puzzles: In this section, there are fun puzzles and brain games which exercise the solver's attention to detail, comparison skills, and problem solving skills. Word Puzzles and Brain games: In this section, relaxing puzzles and brain games help solver's exercise their vocabulary and problem solving skills in a fun way.

Logic and Number Brain Games: This entertaining section of games exercise the players numeracy skills, logical reasoning skills, comparison skills, and general problem solving skills. Memory Brain Games: This section makes exercising your memory a good time! It is filled with brain games are focused on exercising the solver's short term and long term memory including: Trivia Matching, Lovely Lists, Complete it!

Easy Puzzles and Brain Games is the perfect puzzle book for seniors because provides a great selection of easy, fun puzzles and games in a highly readable format. Have a wonderful time working throught this entertaining book! Challenger Deep Neal Shusterman. Caden Bosch is on a ship that's headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.