Your aunt’s a handsome woman, Fraser, but she could freeze the ballocks off the King o’ Japan, and she wanted to.

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The universe had shifted, with a small, decisive click; he could still hear its echo in his bones.

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EVEN PEOPLE WHO WANT TO GO TO HEAVEN DON’T WANT TO DIE TO GET THERE

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I was crying and laughing, snuffing tears and blood, bumping at him with my bound hands, trying awkwardly to thrust them at him so that he could cut the rope. He quit grappling, and clutched me so hard against him that I yelped in pain as my face was pressed against his plaid. He was saying something else, urgently, but I couldn’t manage to translate it. Energy pulsed through him, hot and violent, like the current in a live wire, and I vaguely realized that he was still almost berserk; he had no English.

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I was convinced by now that his feelings for Laoghaire were only those of a chivalrous friendship, but I didn’t know what he might do if he knew that his uncle had seduced the girl and got her with child.

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I knew Frank hadn’t been celibate since my disappearance. In his late forties, he was still lean and muscular, dark and sleek, a very handsome man. Women clustered about him at cocktail parties like bees round a honeypot, emitting small hums of sexual excitement.

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I have lived through war, and lost much. I know what’s worth the fight, and what is not. Honor and courage are matters of the bone, and what a man will kill for, he will sometimes die for, too. And that, O kinsman, is why a woman has broad hips; that bony basin will harbor a man and his child alike. A man’s life springs from his woman’s bones, and in her blood is his honor christened. For the sake of love alone, would I walk through fire again.

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