1. During the course of his quest, Dair Curator had lost count of the number of women he’d slept with. He didn’t care if he’d gotten a reputation for being a womanizer. He only cared about correcting his mistake. Angels don’t make mistakes, especially ones that cause the death of a Mortal.
2. It was right around 10 p.m. that I realized merry widows were made to be ripped off right away, not to be worn for an all-night TV marathon.
When I’d first put on the incredibly revealing costume — come-fuck-me red lace, satin garters complete with bows, and enough bone and underwire to heft my generous Ds to unbelievable heights — I was thinking about looking hot, not the practicalities of actually wearing it. But I needed to pull out all the stops, so here I was, all dolled up and ready for a little action.
Only, after lying in Daniel’s bed dressed like this for several hours, I was beginning to regret my choice of apparel.
3. She couldn’t believe it had come to this. All the years of hoping and training, the long struggle to conquer her powers and her heart as she pursued her childhood dream.
And for what? So she could submit herself to eternal bondage with some trigger-happy testosterone-driven hero.
4. “Betrothed…you can’t be serious!”
Calvin O’Donnell watched his daughter jump to her feet, knocking the chair to the floor. He knew this would be difficult and she would be unhappy, to say the least, but even so, he was shocked by her outburst of anger.
“Now, Mairin, lass, calm down.”
5. “Ever heard the phrase ‘out of the frying pan into the fire’?” Dan muttered as we stared at the huge black mirrored doors.â€¨
“You know, that’s what I love about you, always the optimist,” I said, trying to convince myself there was no reason for my reflection to look so nervous. Beyond the doors subterranean bass pounded, vibrating through my chest like a warning. A warning I had to ignore.
6. “I’m not giving her this.” I stared in horror at the inscription on the back of the huge diamond tennis bracelet, the curvy, flowing writing a mix of sentimentality and ownership.
For B, my Love Shack(le) baby
B, for Britney, who just so happens to be my cousin…and the current secret fling of my *married* boss, Mason.
7. Shivering in the half-light, Mary Jones was assaulted by the futility of her life.
The heat was off again; last week, the electricity wouldn’t work. Pulling the worn blankets closer around her, she huddled in her thin t-shirt wondering if the upper-castes were cold tonight, too. In the lower levels of the city, things were falling apart.
8. Kaitlin McKenzie stared down at her red-slicked hands and swallowed the pain; who knew a female body could lose so much blood! Ironic really; nine years in the field, surviving five shoot-outs and a knife fight and she was going to die from a bird attack.
“Hold on, McKenzie, the chopper’s on its way.” James Ryan carefully pried Kaitlin’s hands off her abdomen and packed his own t-shirt into the bloody mess where her belly-button used to be.
9. “Pull out, pull out, please pull out,” she moaned.
Knees aching and her back screaming with pain, Lana knew she couldn’t take much more. Knees pressed to her chest, right up under her chin and her back curled the way it was, she would definitely pay for this in the morning.
If she survived.
10. I stared at the nine men of my supposed dreams. Of my nightmares, more like, and theirs too judging by their stunned expressions as they stared back at me.
The show’s host said, “What’s wrong, Princess?”, the overdone innocence in his voice making it clear: this was no accident.
Horror and impotent fury spun through me, mingled with hatred of him for making me reveal the filthy trick the show had played on me.
11. I’m so happy to make it to round 4. So here goes.
Ringing phones and telegrams only brought bad news. At two AM it was a guarantee. Unknown caller glowed on the display, but Nash’s gut told him to answer it anyway.
“Don’t ask questions, just listen, a contract’s been taken out on your sister.
12. Finding anyone on a reservation is never easy, even someone dead.
Map labels and road signs were never part of this world. Maybe on a larger reservation, closer to a highway, closer to the bingo-playing grandmas and free-spending rednecks that are the acorns and venison of modern Indian life, you might find some oversized blinking neon sign pointing “Casino This Way, Graveyard That Way.” But not here.
13. “You want me to do what?” Kirby Jensen’s stomach flopped as she realized her best friend, Tish Cavendish, had finally lost her ever-loving mind.
Tish rolled her eyes and said, “Find Landon before the studio does. It’s what you *do*, after all.”
14. Jenna Montgomery shot from a deep sleep with her daughter’s shriek rattling her brain.
“Mom-meeeeee, help meeeee!” Ashley’s voice, hoarse and shrill with terror, mixed with the unmistakable shatter of glass.
Disoriented, still not fully awake, Jenna stumbled toward the bedroom door, calling to her four-year-old, “I’m coming, baby.”
15. Death permeated the air in the post-WWII bungalow as Sara Cooper walked through the front door and dropped her backpack on the floor. “Crap, another dead mouse stuck in the damn wall. Note to self: call the landlord in the morning,” she mumbled under her breath as she locked the door. But by the time she walked around the room to search for the source of the stench, the sickly-sweet mustiness had dissipated.
16. “Face it, the only reason she could possibly have for marrying that old fart is to get her hands on his money.”
Nissa Hagan backed out of the ladies room, letting the door close quietly behind her. As she turned to go back down the hallway, laughter from the closed door fanned her humiliation. She wasn’t stupid, she knew being engaged to a much older man would cause speculation, but what she hadn’t expected was to hear her coworkers make crude fun at her expense.
17. Shattered like a goblet on a tile floor, Sarah Wild’s dreams lay in a tattered heap of shredded white silk and gossamer tulle. Her dress went from bridal perfection to remnants for the ragbag with her quick frenzy of ripping and tearing. She stomped from the remains of her dress and kicked it into a pile against the large tri-fold mirror.
A slow wiggle of her fingers conjured a fireball hovering above the palm of her hand.
18. The first time he had put the moves on her she let it go but the second time, she shot him.
Unfortunately for her, the bullet just grazed his ear and when he recovered from the shock that she had shot at him, she couldn’t run fast enough.
She had made a grave mistake – she hadn’t killed the bastard – and now, he would kill her.
Kill her and take immense pleasure in it, but he’d have to catch her first and she knew how to hide – they had taught her well.
19. It’s hard to have a life when you’re the Angel of Death.
Aletta shimmered into the center of Orlando, metamorphosed into her usual human form, and watched and waited as more people died.
A chill slid through her and she walked into the Rialtmont entertainment complex, towards a dark elevator draped in spectral black crepeâ€“open wide like a ravenous mouth waiting for its next meal.
Heaviness pressed against Aletta’s ribsâ€“knowing what was about to happen, unable to change events and never allowed to interfere with a person’s fateâ€“the same sad, final result of death.
20. Nothing but forestâ€“miles and miles of forestâ€“stretched out in front of her. After wasting four hours of daylight climbing up the ridge she’d hoped to see more, a distant ribbon of highway, a lone radio tower, anything manmade that would point her way back to civilization.
Lost, the word she’d been refusing to acknowledge reverberated through her mind. “I’m lost,” she said it aloud, trying on the sound of it, surprised by the quiver in her voice and the knot in her gut.
21. I was standing there naked when a dead man sauntered into my bathroom.
Sauntered, not shambled.
That was the second frightening thing.
I let out an eeep! like a paralyzed parakeet, and skittered backward until the shelves holding my soaps and pretty bottles bit into my bare behind.
22. “Un-believable,” Ethan said as he threw his pen on his desk in disgust and pinned his assistant with a stare that made grown men’s balls shrivel. “Un-fucking-believable.”
Having learned long ago the value of silence, Ethan waited this one out, watching his assistant, Devon, shift from one foot to another. If the man couldn’t do the simple enough task Ethan had charged him with, then what was he worth?
23. “You look like a man who knows how to be wicked.”
Theron tore his gaze from the crowded club he’d been scanning and looked toward the bleach-blond bombshell rubbing like a cat against his arm. A heart pounding bass echoed through the dark room, making her words hard to decipher, but there was no missing her intent.
One long, white-tipped nail trailed down his chest as she puckered her heavily made-up lips, leaned in close and took a deep whiff of his scent.
24. Emma Morris looked out the back window of Zelda’s Magical Diner at the rows of tomato plants heavy with the red fruit, and something free and wild inside her unfurled. The lush garden mesmerized her, so different from the hardscrabble Texas ground she’d known until she was fifteen and her parents bundled her off to her aunt Zelda in Wisconsin.
This summer, ten years later, the abundance of plants wasn’t the only attraction. A man hunkered down to pick tomatoes, his back to her, the sun playing shadow and light across his skin.
25. For someone with Kate Atkinson’s unique talent, finding England’s most infamous pirate had been easy. Catching him, however, was proving more challenging as Black Jack Snow darted like a cat between the bawdy houses, alehouses and hovels squatting along the south bank of the Thames.
“Curses,” muttered Aunt Winifred between bosom-heaving breaths, “we lost him.”
Kate could think of more appropriate words than “curses”, most of which she’d overheard earlier while waiting for Snow outside a particularly unsavory tavern, but she refrained from using them in her aunt’s presence.
26. It seemed ironic that his own marriage should come undone at a house party whose sole purpose was to celebrate the promise of another.
From where he stood in his friend’s library, Marcus Elliot, the Duke of Westbrook, was able to stare out the library window and at the view beyond. A typical English garden laid spread out before him and, further in the background, the gentle hills tried vainly to beckon his gaze. A sense of lazy peacefulness seemed to permeate the scene, dotted here and there with those energetic few who had managed to leave their beds after last night’s festivities and were now slowly strolling the grounds.
27. Remorse, the malicious shit, saddled up and rode Sierra Talbot’s heels like a haunted horse the day she blew back into the heart of Simon, Michigan.
A town she hadn’t seen or lived in for five years.
A town she hadn’t missed.
“Take a left here,” Carrie Swanson said, flapping her hand at an unmarked intersection lined with a decaying array of single-wides.
28. The blood splattered on Maribel Thompson’s pillow and drying on her hand wasn’t hers, and neither were the boxer briefs tangled in her sheets. Her alarm clock lay dead on the floor, its cord snaked between shards of mirror and a trail of blood. The splintered mirror was a herald to seven more years of the luck she’d become accustomed to, and the blood was an all too familiar sight.
Sheer desperation stilled Maribel’s trembling flesh and drew her eyes into determined slits.
29. They spied the dog first, lean, long-legged and pale as a moonbeam in the darkness. It passed through the woodland like a wraith, gliding silently from one night shadow to the next as Hugo de Mercure watched from the battlements â€“ and waited.
“Over there,” the youth beside him hissed, pointing towards a taller, darker shape trailing the hound, “to the right of the great oak.”
With a barely audible curse, Hugo turned from the parapet and swept down the narrow staircase, the soft leather on the soles of his boots barely making a whisper despite the haste of his flight.
30. Dr. Ava Monroe listened intently as the subject screamed in pain. She held the man’s hand in place and watched his face contort in response to the stimulus. Suspicious, she let go of his hand, scribbled a few notes, then leaned back in her chair.
“On a scale of one to ten tell me how much it hurts.”
31. He found her just before sunrise.
Icy shivers slid down the back of Reyn’s neck as he stormed towards the inert figure on the ground. He tried to tell himself that the trembling he felt in his hands was the adrenaline receding now his long night’s search was over. Ignoring the tremors, he forced himself to scan the area, making sure they would be alone for the short time he needed.
32. Lissa, Princess of Horvald, waited for Death. She stood, still and silent in the dank chill of the Great Hall, determined to meet her fate without cowering in fear. But fear hovered, beating against her mind like moth wings, relentless and inescapable.
Her father, the self-proclaimed King of Horvald was gone, swallowed up in the vicious cycle of victory and defeat.
33. I squeezed the trigger, the noise of the gun nearly deafening in the confined space of the elevator. My legs trembled as I made my way over to where he lay, sprawled on the parking garage floor. Blood seeped from the four gaping holes in his chest, while his eyes stared unseeing up at me. The gun slipped from my grasp, clattered to the concrete, and landed next to William’s body.
34. There was only one coherent thought in Francesca’s mind as she huddled on the closed toilet seat, twisting her hour-old wedding ring. She needed to get the hell out and fast.
“Easy said, harder done,” she muttered, the sound of her voice bolstering her flagging courage.
Marching out the front door with her bridal veil fluttering behind her was worth a try, but she doubted she’d make it to the edge of his pristine driveway, let alone the ornate front gates.
35. As I forced my eyes to open, despite the thick crust gluing them shut, I knew one thing was certain â€“ I was dying. I attempted to extricate myself from my deathbed only to find I was somehow being restrained. I tried to lift my left hand, and was horrified by the pain that greeted me. The weight upon my chest was becoming unbearable – until it rolled off me with a loud groan.
36. Nick jumped as someone’s fingers slid down the back of his jeans. His hand jerked and his signature turned into a scrawl across the Rolling Stone cover.
“Nickee…Nickee…” bayed the pack of girls, as one of them shoved a scrap of lace into his shirt pocket.
“Nickee, marry me!”
37. Lindani didn’t run from anything, even a monster in the sea.
He blinked the wind-thrown rain from his eyes and leant over the cliff, his heart thundering along with the sky. A massive beast rolled in the waves, heaving in the flickering lightning light.
Lindani raised his spear.
38. Chocolate was made for moments like this. Standing for the first time on a Japanese street corner, I reached into my purse for the Hershey Kiss I had stashed in the zipper compartment for emergencies, but came up with a handful of brown ooze and an empty foil wrapper. Feeling the pulse of the city rushing all around me, I scanned the mirror-covered skyscrapers wearing their neon signs like fancy hats. So this was Tokyo.
39. I bucked and twisted to shake off the men pinning my arms against a rough brick wall. Dim-witted and foul-smelling, the brutes mocked my efforts until a third man emerged from the alley’s shadows, clutched my throat, and touched something cold and smooth to my forehead.
As it began to glow, someone crawled into my mind.
Disconnected thoughts scattered as he dug through my brain, ripping and tearing like a dog in search of a lost bone.
40. In recent nights, the hunger had grown overwhelming. The ache gnawed at my gut and played across my nerves, making me restless. Needy. Pacing the hardwood floor in my living room, I pressed my hand to the back of my neck.
41. “Ah, baby, that’s it…just a little…um, yeah…” he urged, his low ragged moan changing to a satisfied growl. Sweat droplets beaded around his receding, yet still dark hairline, and if he opened his eyes to look at her on top of him he would think she was enjoying herself as wellâ€“she’d slid her lips into a sexy smile to hide her revulsion.
Crumpled satin sheets clung in damp patches around her knees; her muscles quivered like a lioness ready to pounce, but she cautioned herself to wait, knowing the outcome of this planned encounter even if he didn’t. To temper her impatience she brought to mind the refrain from “Another One Bites the Dust,” letting it run through her head in a slow easy beat.
42. Something was wrong and had been for quite a while now. Exactly what, I had no idea, but it had to be big for me to be summoned up Here.
I glanced around the stark white marble foyer, resisting the urge to drum my fingertips on the arm of the white plush chair.
“What’s taking so long?”
43. “I bet you taste as good as you smell.” Rayne mumbled against the serving girl’s ample bosom, grabbed at and knocked over his mug of ale and then, on cue, pretended to pass out. If everything went according to plan, the wench’s shrieked outrage would distract the guards long enough for Bernie to pick the lock of the elder’s makeshift prison. Unfortunately, with the elders held captive and awaiting execution there was no choice but to risk using the fool’s uncertain magic.
44. At the moment of his death Alexander Detweiler didn’t find God, or see the welcoming smile of his dead sister, or experience that all but clichÃ©d brilliant halo of white light. He awoke to Armageddon instead. His t-shirt still tacky with drying blood, he struggled up from the unforgiving pavement. Confused, he glanced around the deserted street corner, where in the hell were the paramedics, or his partner—Nathan?
45. The frilly bedroom had been recently decorated in red â€“ blood red. Panicked, Samantha Blair struggled to move; this wasn’t her room or her bed and it sure as hell wasn’t her body. Tears welled and trickled slowly, sadly from eyes not her own and then the pain started; still she couldn’t move. She could only endure as terror clawed at her soul and dying nerves screamed in agony.
Good luck, ladies!