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Mercy
by Jodi Picoult


p.5 A man gazing at the stars is proverbially at the mercy of the puddles on the road.
     --Alexander Smith, Men of Letters

p.15 "Guess who came into the store today." Allie moved off his lap to sit on the corner of the desk, swinging one leg.
     "Am I supposed to go through everyone in the town?" Cam asked.
     "Verona MacBean." Allie frowned. "Well, I don't know if it's MacBean anymore, but she's here, all the same. She's a famous writer now. They're doing some hotshot lunch for her at the library."
     "Verona MacBean," Cam said, grinning. He tipped his chair onto its two rear legs. "Good old Verona MacBean."
     "Oh, cut it out," Allie said, lightly kicking him in the leg. "She's pinched and pruny and her boobs don't look nearly as big now as they did when she was sixteen."
     "Probably grew into them."

p.49 "Allie," he said, do you think he was right?"
     Allie slid into the chair across from her husband. There was no question in her mind what he was asking. "Do you?"
     Cam stared at her so forcefully Allie could feel his gaze. She covered her chest with her palms, picturing in a flash Cam's mouth drawing deep at her breast the night before. "I don't know," he admitted. "But my hands are tied. He killed a woman; we've got the body. He's got scratches on his face and Hugo found skin cells that match up under Maggie MacDonald's fingernails." He paused a moment, cocking his head. "If I was dying of cancer and in god-awful pain and I asked you to kill me, would you do it?"
     Allie didn't hesitate. "Yes. But then I'd kill myself, too."
     Cam's mouth fell open. "Because you'd murdered me?"
     "No," Allie said. "Because you'd be dead."

p.67 A smile stole across Jamie's face, so completely transforming him that Allie would not have recognized him if she'd seen him on the street. "Then you're the one."
     Allie blinked at him. "The one what?"
     "The one who loves more." He moved closer to the desk, and the handcuffs tapped against the metal edge as he inadvertently made gestures. "You know it's never fifty-fifty in a marriage. It's always seventy-thirty, or sixty-forty. Someone falls in love first. Someone puts someone else up on a pedestal. Someone works very hard to keep things rolling smoothly; someone else sails along for the ride."

p.152 The first night had been something he would never be able to put into words. Making love with Mia was a bit like waking up one morning to discover the color green. You saw it in the grass and the trees and the road signs and you could not imagine that you had spent so many years of your life in the absence of this hue, which seemed to make the rest of the world fall into place.

p.176 Then there were the mechanics of death. Smothering was okay, for example, but a gunshot to the head was out of the question.
     Graham sat down in a cold metal deck chair and propped his feet on the railing of his balcony. There were a million stars out there, and just as many facets to a euthanasia defense. You couldn't possibly make a law or set a precedent, because the very next case would break it with hairline circumstances.

p.191 "I haven't forgiven God for letting Maggie get sick," he said. "So why the hell should He bother to forgive me?"

p.201-202 The funny thing was, he did not picture hopping into bed with her. He imagined sitting down on the floor, his back to a corner, with Mia between his legs. He imagined pulling the towel form her head and combing the tangles from her hair. He imagined their voices weaving the house into a delicate net that could hold the night as it fell all around them.

p.222 Angus sat down at his seat--which was actually Cam's seat, but Cam was working this Thanksgiving as he had every Thanksgiving for the past eight years. It was a fair trade; this way he was sure to get Christmas off. For reasons Angus never understood, Allie always insisted in making Thanksgiving dinner, and then proceeded to invite Cam's entire family. It seemed to Angus that since she was the one left alone, she should have been the one picked up by someone else.
     He supposed he'd just keep his mouth shut and enjoy the meal.

p.223 Allie walked around the perimeter of the table, pouring white wine into everyone's glass. When she passed Angus, he grabbed at her sweater. "And what about me?"
     "You have grape juice. You can't have any alcohol with your heart medication."
     "I would ha' rather skipped the pills," he muttered.

p.259 He had wanted to wear cutoff jeans and faded khaki T-shirts and to be a travel writer; instead he was a uniformed police chief. He had wanted to skim the surface of the world, touching down like a dragonfly where he chose to; instead he was bound and tied to Wheelock. He had wanted to become a faceless individual in the crowds that thronged the Riviera and the running of the bulls; instead he was the titular head of a clan and completely unmistakable to its members.

p.293-294 Jamie pushed his sandwich away and took a drink of water. He thought about the snow, which lay knee-deep over Maggie's raw grave. He would miss the outdoors, he thought. He would miss seeing the sky.
     Other than that, he didn't much see how the punishment would differ: a life sentence that made the limits of your world a prison, or the prison your world became when your sentence was simply to live.

If you forgive people enough, you belong
     to them,
and they to you, whether either person
     likes it or
not--squatter's rights of the heart.
     --James Hilton, Time and Time Again

p.309 Allie remembered once hearing a song that the first person you fell in love with stole your heart. The first person you made love with stole your soul. And if these were one and the same, you were damned.

p.327 Cam took the stand again just after lunch, and Graham moved directly in front of him. He knew what his job was going to be, and he had to admit, it was going to be a pleasure to do it. You couldn't discredit a policeman's testimony, especially a police chief. Everyone on that jury saw Cam as a good guy just a few notches down from God and the President; a solid, helpful public figure. If he bullied Cam, the jury would judge Graham harshly. You didn't destroy the lawman; you destroyed the jury's blind acceptance of him.

p.340 "It's the not knowing that's driving me crazy."
     Allie nodded. "It's like that for me, too. I can't imagine having Cam walk out of my life, but I have nothing to say to him when he's there. I wish someone would hold up one of those little photo key chains you used to get at amusement parks and say, 'Here, look. This is your future. This is the way it's going to be.'"

p.357 Pauline glared at Audra. She didn't like her, not her tight-ass little designer suit or her scraped-back hair or the way she talked through her nose. Well, hell, the prosecutor had yet to see the loyalty that was part and parcel of Pauline Cioffi. When a bully beat on her little son, Pauline had gone to the kid's house and slapped his mother. If this prosecutor bitch started to shred Pauline's relationship with Maggie--something sacred and fine, one of the bright spots in Pauline's life--she was going to get equal treatment.