“I hate France. It's like the whole country's on a diet”
“He watched in awe as she stacked up an enormous armload of music. "There," she finished, slapping Frank Zappa's Greatest Hits on top of the pile. "That should do for a start."
"You are a music lover," said the wide-eyed cashier.
"No, I'm a kleptomaniac." And she dashed out the door.
He was so utterly shocked that it took him a moment to run after her.
With a meaningful nod in the direction of the astounded Cahills, she barreled down the cobblestone street with her load.
"Fermati!" shouted the cashier, scrambling in breathless pursuit.
Nellie let a few CDs drop and watched with satisfaction over her shoulder as the clerk stopped to pick them up. The trick would be to keep the chase going just long enough for Amy and Dan to search Disco Volante.
Yikes, she reflected suddenly, I'm starting to think like a Cahill....
And if she was nuts enough to hang around this family, it was only going to get worse.”
“For someone who'e smarter than a supercomputer, sometimes you're a real idiot.”
“The au pair was bug-eyed. "What happened back there?"
"It's not our fault!" Dan babbled. "Those guys are crazy! They're like mini-Darth Vaders without the mask!"
"They're Benedictine monks!" Nellie exclaimed. "They're men of peace! Most of them are under vows of silence!"
"Yeah, well, not anymore," Dan told her. "They cursed us out pretty good. I don't know the language, but some things you don't have to translate.”
“We didn't stow away!" Dan protested. "You sunk our boat and pulled us out of the canal!"
"Good point," Ian agreed. "Return them to the canal. Roughly, please.”
“Nellie grinned. "I always wanted to go to Venice. It's supposed to be the romance capital of the world."
"Sweet," put in Dan. "Too bad your date is an Egyptian Mau on a hunger strike."
The au pair sighed. "Better than an eleven-year-old with a big mouth.”
“For someone who's smarter than a supercomputer, sometimes you're a real idiot.”
“Amy turned to Nellie. "Can you create a diversion to draw the clerk outside?"
The au pair was wary. "What kind of diversion?"
"You could pretend to be lost," Dan proposed. "The guy comes out to give you directions, and we slip inside."
"That's the most sexist idea I've ever heard," Nellie said harshly. "I'm female, so I have to be clueless. He's male, so he's got a great sense of direction."
"Maybe you're from out of town," Dan suggested. "Wait–you are from out of town."
Nellie stashed their bags under a bench and set Saladin on the seat with a stern "You're the watchcat. Anybody touches those bags, unleash your inner tiger."
The Egyptian Mau surveyed the street uncertainly. "Mrrp."
Nellie sighed. "Lucky for us there's no one around. Okay, I'm going in there. Be ready."
The clerk said something to her–probably May I help you? She smiled apologetically. "I don't speak Italian."
"Ah–you are American." His accent was heavy, but he seemed eager to please. "I will assist you." He took in her black nail polish and nose ring. "Punk, perhaps, is your enjoyment?"
"More like a punk/reggae fusion," Nellie replied thoughtfully. "With a country feel. And operatic vocals."
The clerk stared in perplexity.
Nellie began to tour the aisles, pulling out CDs left and right. "Ah–Artic Monkeys–that's what I'm talking about. And some Bad Brains–from the eighties. Foo Fighters–I'll need a couple from those guys. And don't forget Linkin Park..."
He watched in awe as she stacked up an enormous armload of music. "There," she finished, slapping Frank Zappa's Greatest Hits on top of the pile. "That should do for a start."
"You are a music lover," said the wide-eyed cashier.
"No, I'm a kleptomaniac." And she dashed out the door.”
“Nobody got me out," Nellie replied. "They just let me go. They think I'm a deranged Jonah Wizard fan. Apparently, the hotel's full of them. A couple of idiots actually jumped off the front balcony. Can you picture that?"
"In Technicolor," Amy said bitterly.
"That low-down KGB reject!" Dan fumed. "I can't believe she cheated me–right when I was in the middle of cheating her!”
“Dan, this is crazy!" Amy quavered. "You can't drive a boat!"
"Say's who? It's no different from Xbox!"
Wham! The port-side rubber bumper at the launch's bow slammed into the end of an ancient cobblestone wharf. The small craft spun like a top, pitching Amy to the deck. Only an iron grip on the wheel saved Dan from a similar spill.
He hung on for dear life. "Okay, scratch Xbox–think bumper cars! I rock at those! Remember the carnival?”
“Nellie's brow furrowed. "The great Mr. Hip-Hop Mogul standing in line with the common peasants? How do you figure that?"
Dan grinned. "I'm starting to dig this 'no cars' thing. It's a great equalizer.”
“Sugar maple!" Mary-Todd Holt knelt over her husband. "Are you all right?"
Eisenhower sat up, and egg-size lump blooming on his crown. "Of course I'm all right!" he managed, his words slurred. "You think a little insect can stop me?"
Reagan was unconvinced. "I don't know, Dad. She brained you with a baseball bat!"
"Hockey stick," Dan corrected.
"Those could be your last words, brat–”
“Slime him, sis," Dan urged, "Make him a redcoat.”
“Follow him!” Amy said urgently. “Why?” “Do it!”
“Dark hair, olive skin, handsome features. It always made Amy guilty to find him good-looking. Ian Kabra.”
“bladelike motion of the shoulders as she”
“She was salted in the ladies’ room?”
“Mozart, the most famous Wiener of all time.”
“It had been a seven-year string of bad luck, ever since their parents died in that house fire.”
“and a thick mustache calmly gestured for them to get in. Amy”
“Dan shrugged. “Maybe when you’re rich, shopping takes longer, since you get to buy more stuff.”
“flames dancing on their dueling swords. One of the squirt painters stepped out beside them. Oh,”
“Jonah shook his head, clucking in false sympathy. “Told you guys — no way out.” They”
“them from both sides, it looked like escape. Dan”
“Amy took in the inspired look on her brother’s face. “That’s stealing!” Dan”
“The Janus, the Tomas, the Ekaterina, and the Lucian!”
“It’s cat food — it’s for people like you!” Saladin”
“He felt old at eleven. Amy”
“You want me to stop and give the Wizards a chance to do it?” he shot back. Dead”
“under the same cross that Christopher Columbus’s three caravels crossed the Atlantic to the New World.”
“The second simultaneous thing Reacher was doing was playing around with a little mental arithmetic. He was multiplying big numbers in his head. He was thirty-seven years and eight months old, just about to the day. Thirty-seven multiplied by three hundred and sixty-five was thirteen thousand five hundred and five. Plus twelve days for twelve leap years was thirteen thousand five hundred and seventeen. Eight months counting from his birthday in October forward to this date in June was two hundred and forty-three days. Total of thirteen thousand seven hundred and sixty days since he was born. Thirteen thousand seven hundred and sixty days, thirteen thousand seven hundred and sixty nights. He was trying to place this particular night somewhere on that endless scale. In terms of how bad it was. Truth was, it wasn’t the best night he had ever passed, but it was a long way from being the worst. A very long way.”
“Elemak pulled the shower cord before he soaped. The moment the water hit him he yowled, and then did his own little splash dance, shaking his head and flipping water all over the courtyard while jabbering “ooga-booga looga-booga” just like a little kid.”
“Perhaps in time, Ella, the words we have lost will fade, and we will all stop summoning them by habit, only to stamp them out like unwanted toadstools when they appear. Perhaps they will eventually disappear altogether, and the accompanying halts and stammers as well: those troublesome, maddening pauses that at present invade and punctuate through caesura all manner of discourse. Trying so desperately we all are, to be ever so careful.”
“You have a nice day, you hear?”
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