Ian's knees buckled. The rock outcropping shook the ground, sending a spew of grayish dust that quickly billowed around them.
Shielding his eyes, he spotted Amy standing by the figurine, which was now moving toward her. She was in shock, her backpack on the ground by her feet.
"Get back!" he shouted.
Ian pulled Amy away and threw her to the ground, landing on top of her. Gravel showered over his back, embedding into his hair and landing on the ground like a burst of applause.
His second though was that the shirt would be ruined. And this was the shock of it-that his first thought had not been about the shirt. Or the coin. Or himself.
It had been about her.
But that was not part of the plan. She existed for a purpose. She was a tactic, a stepping stone. She was...
"Lovely," he said.
Amy was staring up at him, petrified, her eyelashes flecked with dust. Ian took her hand, which was knotted into a fist. "Y-y-you don't have to do that," she whispered.
"Do what?" Ian asked.
"Be sarcastic. Say things like 'lovely.' You saved my life. Th-thank you."
"My duty," he replied. He lowered his head and allowed his lips to brush hers. Just a bit.”
“Trust is a fragile thing - difficult to build, easy to break. It cannot be bargained for. Only if it is freely given it can be expected in return”
“I'll sue!" Ian sputtered. "I'll sue you AND the dog. And the country of South Korea. And...and..."
"The landscape architect?" Natalie asked.
"The landscape architect!" Ian shouted.”
“We meant to temporarily disable her," Ian said. "Just a drop. But Natalie slipped during air turbulence. Before we could warn your nose-ringed nanny, she drenched us. Luckily, she allowed us to retrieve the antidote from our carry-on."
"That's kindness," Amy said.
"I made them agree to give me all their cash," Nellie explained.
"That's bribery," Natalie grumbled.”
“Amy was looking around the sanctum in awe. "It's...beautiful!"
The girl was modest and thoughtful. How bizarre. So rarely did Ian see these qualities in others–especially during the quest for the 39 Clues. Naturally, he had been taught to avoid these behaviors at all costs and never to consort with anyone who possessed them. They were distasteful–FLO, as Papa would say. For Losers Only. And Kabras never lost.
Yet she fascinated him. Her joy in running up Alistair's tiny lawn, her awe at this piddling cubbyhole–it didn't seem possible to gain so much happiness from so little. This gave him a curious feeling he'd never quite experienced. Something like indigestion but quite a bit more pleasant.
Ah well. Blame it on the ripped trousers, he thought. Humiliation softened the soul.”
“What's this?" Dan said, pointing to a funny squiggly formation.
Uh, an M," said Nellie. "Or if you look at it the other way, a W. Or sideways, kind of S-ish..."
Maybe it's palm trees," Dan said. "Like in the movie It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. You know? No? These guys need to find hidden money, and the only clue they have is it's under a big W? And no one sees what it means-but then, near the end of the movie, there's this grove of four palm trees rising up in the shape of... you-know-what! Classic!"
Amy, Alistair, Natalie, Ian and Nellie all looked at him blankly.
There is no W in the Korean language," Alistair replied. "Or palm trees in Korea. I might be maple trees..."
Mrrp," said Saladin, rubbing his face against Dan's knee.
I'll tell you the rest of the plot later," Dan whispered to the Mau.”
“Finders keepers!" Ian shouted, scooping up the overlay and hopping onto a rock outcropping.
"You cheater!" Amy was furious. No way was he going to get away with that. She climbed the rock, matching him step for step until she reached the top. There he turned to her, panting for breath. "Not bad for a Cahill," he said, grinning.
"You --y-y-you--" The words caught in her throat, the way they always did. He was staring at her, his eyes dancing with laughter, making her so knotted up with anger and hatred that she thought she would explode. "C-c-can't--"
But in that moment, something totally weird happened. Maybe it was a flip of his head, a movement in his eyebrow, she couldn't tell. But it was as if someone had suddenly held a painting at a different angle, and what appeared to be a stormy sea transformed into a bright bouquet -- a trick of the eye that proved everything was just a matter of perspective. His eyes were not mocking at all. They were inviting her, asking her to laugh along. Suddenly, her rage billowed up and blew off in wisps, like a cloud. "You're ... a Cahill, too," she replied.
His eyes didn't move a millimeter from hers.
This time she met his gaze. Solidly. This time she didn't feel like apologizing or attacking or running away. She wouldn't have minded if he just stared like that all day.”
“It's a token for the arcade games at Laser Sport Time!" Dan hissed.
"Uncle Alistair doesn't think so," Amy murmured. "He's a numismatist."
"He takes his clothes off in public?" Dan said.”
“He wrapped her around his hands and then yanked her inside out.”
“It didn’t seem possible to gain so much happiness from so little.”
“Ian turned around, revealing a tear in his pants that exposed boxers with pink dollar signs on a white background, then quickly spun back around. “Uh, never mind.”
“Back when Alistair had made his promise to Hope and Arthur. A promise that had been nearly impossible to keep.”
“He did look like an Italian of the worse type, though Vic didn't think he was, and it was an insult to the Italian race to assume that he was. He resembled no particular race, only an amalgamation of the worst elements of various Latin peoples. He looked as if he had spent all his life dodging blows that were probably aimed at him for good reason.”
“homini lupus’, said Plautus. ‘Man is a wolf to man.”
“The exact science of human regeneration is the Lost Key of Masonry, for when the Spirit Fire is lifted up through the thirty-three degrees, or segments of the spinal column, and enters into the domed chamber of the human skull, it finally passes into the pituitary body (Isis), where it invokes Ra (the pineal gland) and demands the Sacred Name.”
“We survive in order to struggle. Struggling means we’re winning.”
“One of the reasons teenagers rebel is to test the limits to make sure they are still there. But for you it was particularly difficult. And something you never really got over.”
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