• Castle Hill (On Dublin Street #2.5) Halo: The Thursday War (Halo #10)

    My brain locked and I wasn’t sure which way to send my tongue. This was such a touchy subject. I was about to tell another lie — or maybe it was the truth, when Cammie came barreling into the room, saving me.

    But my brain knows it’s not a mistake. My brain is acquainted with grief and so is my body.I find an ornate silver box on the top shelf of the armoire. I pull it down, shake it. It’s heavy. Foreign. Inside is a box of lighters, a key, and a small silver knife. I want to question the contents of the box. Stare at them, touch them—but I need to move fast. I use the knife to cut a strip of material from the bottom of a shirt, then I loop it and tie it into a knot with my teeth and good hand. Slipping my wrist into my makeshift sling, I flinch.

    Rapture Untamed (Feral Warriors #4)

    I pocket the knife and fumble for one of the lighters. My hand hovers above the box. Eight pink Zippos. If I didn’t already have chills, I’d get them now. I blow it off. I can’t blow it off. I can and I have to, because I’m freezing. My hand is shaking as I reach for the lighter. It’s a coincidence. I laugh. Can anything tied to a kidnapping be coincidence? I’ll think later. Right now I need to get warm. My fingers are numb. It takes six tries before I can get the wheel on the Zippo to spin. It leaves indentations on my thumb The wood is hard to catch. Damp. Had he put it here recently? I look for something to feed the flames, but there is nothing I can burn that I might not need later.I am already thinking survival, and it scares me. Kindling. What can I use for kindling? My eyes search the space until I see a white box in the corner of the armoire with a red medical cross on the top. A first-aid kit. I run to it and flip the lid. Bandages, aspirin, needles—God. I finally find single use packages of alcohol prep wipes. I grab a handful and run back to the fireplace. I rip the first one open and hold the lighter to its tip. It catches and flares. I tuck the burning pad against the log and rip open another package, repeating the process. I pray to whoever is in charge of fire and blow gently.The wood catches. I pull the thick comforter off the bed and wrap myself in it, crouching in front of the meager flames. It is not enough. I am so cold I want to dive into the fire and let it burn this cold off of me. I stay like that, a lump on the floor, until I stop shaking.

    The Bitter Kingdom (Fire and Thorns #3)

    There is a trapdoor under the rug with a heavy, metal handle. It is locked. I yank on it for five minutes with my good hand until my shoulder burns and I want heave up my guts again. I stare at it for a moment before I run to get the key from the silver box. What kind of sick game is this? And why do I take so long to realize the thing about the key? I don’t know what to do. I pace around the trapdoor in my bare feet, smacking the key against my thigh. It is an abnormally large key, old fashioned and bronze. The keyhole in the trapdoor looks large enough to fit it. I get another chill and this time I know it’s not just the cold. I stop my pacing to examine the key more closely. It takes up my entire hand, fingertips to wrist. There is a question mark in the center of the handle, the metal curling around the character in an ornate design. I drop the key. It clanks heavily against the floor not far from where I threw up. I back up until my shoulder blades are pressed against the wall.What. Is. This? There is no one to answer, of course, unless they’re waiting just below that trap door to tell me exactly what this is. I shiver and my fingers automatically close around the knife in my pocket. The blade is sharp. I feel really good about that. I have a penchant for sharp knives and I sure as hell know how to carve skin. If I have a key, they have a key. I can wait here for them to come up, or I can go down. I prefer the second option; it feels like it affords me a little more power.

    I walk quickly, sidestepping the vomit and snatch up the key. Before I can think about what I am doing, I crouch over the trapdoor and plunge it into the keyhole.

    Metal against metal and then … click.Jenny laughed, a tinkling sound. You bet there is. Ta-ta, you totes adorbs two. She dashed ahead of us. I have to meet my lumberjack at an undisclosed location!

    Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do! I called after her.She turned back. I have a feeling that doesn’t leave much out. Her pink hair streamed behind her as she raced out of the building.

    Blackout (Newsflesh #3)

    I turned to Gavin. So, your scowl could have peeled paint off the walls earlier, I said. You’re not seriously going to be upset every time I talk to some other guy.Gavin’s jaw started working and I squeezed his hand. We’ve got this, right?

    Shoot, I just remembered something. I stopped walking. I have to pick up a book on reserve for my lit class. Do we have a minute?Gavin checked his watch. Sure. Even if it takes a bit, I can call Bud.

    We doubled back toward the center of campus and the looming Geisel Library. I had only been inside once, taking a cursory look at the Dr. Seuss memorabilia. Gavin walked along the clear cases of drawings and war posters as I collected my book. Have you been on the top floor? he asked when I came up beside him.Nope. Are there stacks up there?

    Not many. I think they use it for storage. It’s a mess. You want to see?I glanced at the clock. We still had a half-hour before we really needed to head to work. Okay.

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