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Haunted
by Kelley Armstrong


p.44 I’d seen her show once, when I’d been bedridden with morning sickness, too queasy to change the channel. I forgot the exact topic, but it had been the kind of “every life has meaning” psycho-crap gobbled up by people whose existence proved the credo wrong.

p.70 Three people sat in the room. The oldest was a woman in her late fifties, seated behind a steel desk. She wore a multicolored caftan, enormous hoop earrings, and a necklace with an ugly wooden elephant slipping trunk-first between her breasts. The elephant looked scared. I didn’t blame him.

p.80 They bolted for the nearest wall. I grabbed Ted as he leapt to his feet.
     “I’m not giving up all my toys,” I said. “You, I’ll keep.” I smiled, showing my teeth. “First, I’ll teach you how to play hide-and-seek...with your head.”
     Ted’s gaze shot to Kristof, eyes widening. “But you--you said--”
     Kris only shrugged.
     “Show me your guts again,” I said. “I want to see how far I can pull out your intestines, maybe wrap them around your neck and use them as a leash.”
     Ted opened his mouth, but only a squeak came out.
     “He’ll make a fine pet, my dear,” Kristof said as he stepped behind me. “I can’t wait to hear him scream.”
     I smiled. “You won’t have to wait long.”
     Kristof slid a hand across my bare thigh. As his fingers crept up to my rear, I leaned back into him, twisted to his ear, and whispered, “Keep going, and I’ll play with your intestines.”

p.89 I cautiously extended my fingers toward the door again, braced for the jolt. Instead, a wave of some indefinable emotion filled me, amorphous but distinctly negative, it triggered a subconscious voice that said, “You don’t want to go in there.”

“Demon-spawn!” Janah shouted.
     Couldn’t argue with that.
     “Infidel!”
     Debatable, but sure, I’ll give you that one, too.
     “Satan’s whore!”
     Okay, now that was uncalled for.

p.128 Nothing more painful than a crush. I remember my last one. Greg Madison. Deep dimples and a laugh that made my heart flutter. Damn, that had been painful. Of course, I’d been fourteen at the time, not forty. But I suppose infatuation is infatuation at any age, and maybe even worse when you’re old enough to recognize the symptoms, be mortified by your reaction, and still not be able to do anything about it.

p.136 I slid through the metal detector, pas the two women at the front of the line. Both were older than me, one maybe in her late forties, the other fiftyish. Mothers of inmates; I could tell by looking at them.
     The older one held her chin high, defiant, certain someone had made a terrible mistake, that her child was innocent, and someone would pay for this travesty. The younger one kept her chin down, meeting the guard’s questions with a polite murmur and sad smile but not meeting anyone’s gaze. The guilt of a mother who sees her child in prison and sees herself to blame, not quite sure what she’s done, but certain she’s done something--maybe it was that glass of wine in her first trimester or that parent-teacher meeting she missed in fifth grade, some miniscule parenting oversight that had led to this.
     I walked past them and into the waiting room--a windowless gray blob of a room that said “We’d really rather you didn’t come at all, but if you must, don’t expect the damned Hilton.” Shabby red-vinyl chairs dotted the room like an outbreak of chicken pox. Goodwill rejects, by the looks of them. Yes, there are tings that even Goodwill won’t touch. From the way the visitors milled around the chairs, giving them wide berth, they weren’t touching them, either.

p.152 Agnes Miller was a zealot. She was also mad. The latter, the Nix reflected, often seemed a prerequisite for the former. Or perhaps it was simply an unavoidable result of the former.

p.321 Kristof then went through the formal rituals that tested a demon’s sincerity, to ensure Dantalian wouldn’t do to us what he’d done to the Nix. Dantalian suffered through this with the exasperated patience of someone having a grocery clerk examine his cash to see if it’s real.

p.352-353 “As partners go, Trsiel’s a good guy, but when it comes to plotting, our brains operate on completely different wavelengths.”
     “Won’t let you kill anyone, will he?”
     “Won’t even consider it. No kidding, no stealing, no lying. I think I’ve caught him swearing once or twice, but I can’t be sure.”
     “I’m taller, too.”
     I sputtered a laugh. “You’re what?”
     “Taller.” He snuck a grin at me. “He’s better looking, thinner, still has all his hair...but I’m taller. By at least an inch.
     “Not only do you support me in my moral bankruptcy, but you’re taller? What more could any woman want?”