Mackenzi Lee · 513 pages
Rating: (27.7K votes)
“God bless the book people for their boundless knowledge absorbed from having words instead of friends.”
“We are not broken things, neither of us. We are cracked pottery mended with laquer and flakes of gold, whole as we are, complete unto each other. Complete and worthy and so very loved.”
“Just thinking about all that blood." I nearly shudder. "Doesn't it make you a bit squeamish?"
"Ladies haven't the luxury of being squeamish about blood," she replies, and Percy and I go fantastically red in unison.”
“We're not courting trouble," I say. "Flirting with it, at most.”
“The great tragic love story of Percy and me is neither great nor truly a love story, and is tragic only for its single-sidedness. It is also not an epic monolith that has plagued me since boyhood, as might be expected. Rather, it is simply the tale of how two people can be important to each other their whole lives, and then, one morning, quite without meaning to, one of them wakes to find that importance has been magnified into a sudden and intense desire to put his tongue in the other's mouth.
A long, slow slide, then a sudden impact.”
“It's beginning to feel like he's shuffling his way through the seven deadly sins, in ascending order of my favourites.”
“The stars dust gold leafing on his skin. And we are looking at each other, just looking, and I swear there are whole lifetimes lived in those small, shared moments.”
“I swear, you would play the coquette with a well-upholstered sofa."
"First, I would not. And second, how handsome is this sofa?”
“Love may be a grand thing, but goddamn if it doesn't take up more than its fair share of space inside a man.”
Percy looks sideways at me. "Oh no what?"
I swallow. "I'd first like it to be noted that I am most certainly not a smuggler."
"Monty..." he says, my name sopping with dread.
"And," I continue overtop him, "I'd like you to both remember just how much you adore me and how dull and gloomy your lives would be without me in them."
"What did you do?”
“It is remarkable how much courage it takes to kiss someone, even when you are almost certain that person would very much like to be kissed by you. Doubt will knock you from the sky every time.”
“What’s the use of temptations if we don’t yield to them?”
“I love you, but I don’t know how to help you. I still don’t! I’m an emotional delinquent and I say wrong things all the time, but I want to be better for you. I promise that. It doesn’t matter to me that you’re ill and it doesn’t matter if I have to give up everything, because you’re worth it. You’re worth it all because you are magnificent, you are. Magnificent and gorgeous and brilliant and kind and good and I just . . . love you, Percy. I love you so damn much.”
“It occurs to me then that perhaps getting my little sister drunk and explaining why I screw boys is not the most responsible move on my part.”
“Against the sky, the stars crown him, marking the edges of his silhouette like he is a constellation of himself.”
“I have lived most of my life as a devotee of the philosophy that a man should not see two sevens in one day,”
“In the east," she says after a time, her gaze still downcast, "there is a tradition known as kintsukuroi. It is the practice of mending broken ceramic pottery using lacquer dusted with gold and silver and other precious metals. It is meant to symbolize that things can be more beautiful for having been broken."
"Why are you telling me this?" I ask.
At last she looks at me. Her irises are polished obsidian in the moonlight. "Because I want you to know," she says, "that there is life after survival.”
“I wish I could be better for you." She looks over at me, and I duck my head, shame sinking its teeth in. "I'm older and I know I'm supposed to be... an example, I don't know. At least someone you aren't embarrassed of."
"You do fine."
"You're right, you don't. But you're getting better. And that isn't nothing.”
“And then Jesus says, 'Well, watch this' - "
"Really? Well, watch this?"
"That's biblical language."
"If your Bible is written by Henry Montague.”
“There is nothing good about watching another man claim your ship because your skin is too dark to do it yourself," he says, each word a glancing wound. "So in future, you needn't demand apologies on my behalf.”
“it’s hard not to see. You’re the kind of pair that makes everyone around them feel as though they’re missing out on a private joke.”
“Can’t seal up a conversation with a casual Oh, by the way, could you perhaps not touch me the way you always have because each time it puts fresh splinters in my heart? Particularly when what I’d really like to say is Oh, by the way, could you please keep touching me, and perhaps do it all the time, and while we’re at it, would you like to take off all your clothes and climb in bed? They’re both weighted alike.”
“He raises his head. "You're nothing like your father, Monty. For a start, you're far more decent than he is."
I'm not sure how, after all the terrible things I've done, he can possibly mean that. "You might be the only person left on earth who thinks me decent."
Between us, I feel his knuckles brush mine. Perhaps it's by chance, but it feels more like a question, and when I spread my fingers in answer, his hand slides into mine.
"Then everyone else doesn't know you.”
“If the Good Lord didn't want men to play with themselves, we'd have hooks for hands.”
“I have become a veritable scholar in seemingly innocent ploys to get his skin against mine.”
“Are you going to be sick?”
I raise my head. The duke is gone, but Helena is on the window seat, twisting her necklace around her fingers. I don’t answer, because I don’t believe a prisoner owes his captors any sort of report on his health. That, and if I’m going to be sick, I’d prefer to do it all over her, and I’d prefer it to be a stealth attack.”
“I am somehow stuck with an obstinate mount that resembles less a horse and more a leggy sausage, and seems fond of ingesting my commands and then ignoring them in their entirety.”
“Ugh. Feelings.” I take a long drink, then pass her the bottle. She has another delicate sip. “You were right—it’s less horrid now.”
“What do you want me to say? Yes, I’m ill. I’m an epileptic—that’s my lot. It isn’t easy and it isn’t very enjoyable but this is what I’ve got to live with. This is who I am, and I don’t think I’m insane. I don’t think I should be locked up and I don’t think I need to be cured of it for my life to be good. But no one seems to agree with me on that, and I was hoping you’d be different, but apparently you think just the same as my family and my doctors and everyone else.”
“People can smile even when terrified.”
“One advantage to being a despised species is that you have freedom, freedom to be any crazy thing you want. If you listen to a group of housewives talk, you'll hear a lot of nonsense, some of it really crazy. This comes, I think, from being alone so much, and pursuing your own odd train of thought without impediment, which some call discipline. The result is craziness, but also brilliance. Ordinary women come out with the damnedest truth. You ignore them at your own risk. And they are permitted to go on making wild statements without being put in one kind of jail or another (some of them, anyway) because everyone knows they're crazy and powerless too. If a woman is religious or earthy, passive or wildly assertive, loving or hating, she doesn't get much more flak than if she isn't: her choices lie between being castigated as a ball and chain or as a whore.”
“I see now the virtue in madness, for this country knows no law nor any boundary. I pity the poor shades confined to the Euclidean prison that is sanity”
“Romance is a universally unspoken language understood by all living organism on this planet except heterosexual men.”
“What are you two doing?” Her uncle’s teasing voice came into the room before he did. But his voice was the second warning that they were no longer alone, since Violet had tasted his presence long before he’d actually stepped into her house. Ever since saving her and Jay at Homecoming, her uncle carried an imprint of his own. The bitter taste of dandelions still smoldered on Violet’s tongue whenever he was near. A taste that Violet had grown to accept. And even, to some degree, to appreciate. “Nothing your parents wouldn’t approve of, I hope,” he added.
Violet flashed Jay a wicked grin. “We were just making out, so if you could make this quick, we’d really appreciate it.”
Jay jumped up from beside her. “She’s kidding,” he blurted out. “We weren’t doing anything.”
Her uncle Stephen stopped where he was and eyed them both carefully. Violet could’ve sworn she felt Jay squirming, even though every single muscle in his body was frozen in place. Violet smiled at her uncle, trying her best to look guilty-as-charged.
Finally he raised his eyebrows, every bit the suspicious police officer. “Your parents asked me to stop by and check on you on my way home. They won’t be back until late. Can I trust the two of you here . . . alone?”
“Of course you can—” Jay started to say.
“Probably not—“ Violet answers at the same time. And then she caught a glimpse of the horror-stricken expression on Jay’s face, and she laughed. “Relax, Uncle Stephen, we’re fine. We were just doing homework.”
Her uncle looked at the pile of discarded books on the table in front of the couch. Not one of them was open. He glanced skeptically at Violet but didn’t say a word.
“We may have gotten a little distracted,” she responded, and again she saw Jay shifting nervously.
After several warnings, and a promise from Violet that she would lock the doors behind him, Uncle Stephen finally left the two of them alone again.
Jay was glaring at Violet when she peeked at him as innocently as she could manage. “Why would you do that to me?”
“Why do you care what he thinks we’re doing?” Violet had been trying to get Jay to admit his new hero worship of her uncle for months, but he was too stubborn—or maybe he honestly didn’t realize it himself—to confess it to her.
“Because, Violet,” he said dangerously, taking a threatening step toward her. But his scolding was ruined by the playful glint in his eyes. “He’s your uncle, and he’s the police chief. Why poke the bear?”
Violet took a step back, away from him, and he matched it, moving toward her. He was stalking her around the coffee table now, and Violet couldn’t help giggling as she retreated.
But it was too late for her to escape. Jay was faster than she was, and his arms captured her before she’d ever had a chance. Not that she’d really tried.
He hauled her back down onto the couch, the two of them falling into the cushions, and this time he pinned her beneath him.
“Stop it!” she shrieked, not meaning a single word. He was the last person in the world she wanted to get away from.
“I don’t know . . .” he answered hesitantly. “I think you deserve to be punished.” His breath was balmy against her cheek, and she found herself leaning toward him rather than away. “Maybe we should do some more homework.”
Homework had been their code word for making out before they’d realized that they hadn’t been fooling anyone.
But Jay was true to his word, especially his code word, and his lips settled over hers. Violet suddenly forgot that she was pretending to break free from his grip. Her frail resolve crumbled. She reached out, wrapping her arms around his neck, and pulled him closer to her.
Jay growled from deep in his throat. “Okay, homework it is.”
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