on top of the empire state building

  • getting a 90 on a test in 6th grade: ok good
  • getting a 90 on a test now: tears of joy stream down my face as I climb to the top of the Empire State Building singing let's dance to joy division. god bless america
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Fog and Midtown, NYC by Ryan Budhu

Things Tim Drake has Definitely Done at Some Point

-passed out on patrol due to lack of sleep and fell off a building

-drank somebody else’s entire cup of coffee without realizing it

-somehow gotten convinced by Steph to let her put tiny braids in his hair

-Bruce told him to let a difficult case go, leading to Timmy
singing the entirety of “Let it Go”. Bruce just facepalmed

-tapped a glass for a toast and shattered it completely

-ate an entire bag of marshmallows during a WE meeting

-teased Jason by wearing his helmet, but he put it on backwards and ended up walking into a pole

-accidentally hacked the government database

-sent Damian constant memes for a week just to annoy him

-accidentally butt-dialed the Joker

-created a collection in the back of his closet consisting of 14 Superboy shirts he secretly stole from Kon

-became shopping partners with Cass

-dedicated an entire day to taking embarrassing candid photos of his siblings while hiding around the manor

-invited Kon and Bart for a sleepover where they watched the entire Star Wars series in one shot

-he somehow saw an episode of Grey’s Anatomy and is now a dedicated fan (he’s totally crushing on Lexie)

-was forced to go undercover as a woman and was flirted with by every other man he encountered

-tripped over a crack in the sidewalk and managed to stab himself in the foot with a batarang

-got roped into going to a party with Ives where he got slipped alcohol and woke up the next morning on top of the empire state building

-went to see Up with Dick and Steph but was full out bawling all over his brother’s jacket

-sneezed during his school photo

-touched a hot stove and didn’t notice until it was too late

-got into a pun war with a villain

-tried to eat cereal with a fork

-thought of a stupid joke in his head and shot scalding coffee out of his nose

“the door, get the door.” was all magnus was able to gasp against alec’s lips as they stumbled into his bedroom, hands fluttering and mouths moving like wildfire, quick and passionate. alec made a noise of agreement that made something warm and wanting pool in magnus’ gut as he blindly reached for the door with one hand while his lips remained attached to magnus’. it was almost comical, how frantic alec was in trying to push the door shut while attempting to maintain contact with him. it was like magnus was the only oxygen left in the world and alec felt like his lungs were going to burst because he was suffocating. magnus cupped the back of alec’s neck and his face, smiling as alec finally managed to close the door and reach out for his forearms, tugging him closer.

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they tipped and swayed a little as alec began to try to take his boots off, hopping a little on one foot so that they wouldn’t lose their balance. it was like being intoxicated, uncoordinated movements and whirling minds, and magnus began to laugh as alec just gave up and pulled away for a few seconds to get his shoe off.

and he was smiling, too and god, wasn’t that beautiful, wasn’t he beautiful. alec was smiling at him like he was the sun and his forehead was against his and he smelled so good, like aftershave and laundry detergent and just alec. his hand was on magnus’ chest to steady himself as he let out little breathy laughs, laughs that were like fireflies that seemed to glow and that magnus wanted to catch and put in a jar because they were so precious.

and it was all so funny, wasn’t it? how a shoe, a damn shoe, was interrupting their moment, how magnus had forgotten that first times weren’t as flawless as they were in the movies, how life wasn’t set out like actors with blocking, how alec had seemed to believe that this was all supposed to go one way but it was not going entirely as planned.

a shoe, a boot to be more specific, had been preventing them from getting their groove on.

hah. screw you, shoe magnus thought triumphantly when he heard alec’s boot thud on the floor.

they were both giggling now, kissing forgotten as they held each other in the dimly lit room, and magnus only realized now that sex wasn’t always sensuous or intense; it was clumsy, it was educational, and at times, it was joyous. it was uniting and connecting with someone in the closest way possible. that’s what they were doing, that’s what him and alec were about to do: connect.

it had been a long time since magnus actually laughed during a makeout session or a heated moment, but it felt….right. like it was okay to be messy and not super elegant with alec because alec didn’t care. it was relaxing, comforting, to know that they were in the same boat, that they could be like this, laugh at each other and with each other, even as they were fumbling with buttons and stumbling towards a bed. at the same time though,  magnus was positive that alec could practically hear the butterflies in his stomach through his chuckles, the pounding of his heart. he could certainly feel it, with his hand on his chest, but he just kept looking at him like that, in that open honest way that magnus had never before and that made him want to weep because of how exquisite alexander lightwood was.

and then they were kissing again and wow, did that feel bloody incredible. the thing about alec was that he was so eager and so giving and was willing to give anything he tried his all, so kissing him was incredible. his lips moved almost desperately, breath ghosting magnus’ cheek and chin and his hair was tickling his forehead and his hands were moving all over his body and it was so much and magnus suddenly realized that there were too many layers of clothing between them and he needed to feel alec’s skin and the scars and the coarse hair under his fingertips or else he was going to die, he was sure he was going to die if this didn’t happen soon enough.

magnus grabbed at the back of alec’s shirt and tugged and alec at once got what he was trying to do and he graciously helped magnus’ wish come true, breaking away to hastily take off his shirt and throw it aside somewhere. magnus wouldn’t have cared if that shirt had ended on top of the empire state building, waving in the wind like some strange flag because alec was now kissing him again and he could feel the warmth of his skin radiate through his own shirt as he slipped off his own jacket. alec’s hands went to magnus’ shoulders as if to help him push his jacket off, but magnus already had that covered and his hands kind of wandered for a few seconds, not sure what to do. magnus found that strangely endearing.

but, of course, all horrible things come in pairs, as alec was walking around with only one shoe on  and he pulled away to take off his second boot, forehead touching magnus’. and then this for some reason made them laugh again and magnus felt like he could fly when alec was looking at him like that. the second shoe practically sailed across the room and magnus was so overwhelmed with emotions for the man in front of him that he took his face in his hands and flipped them over , both of them falling rather smoothly onto his bed.

and this, wow, this was the jackpot. alec’s weight underneath him, his chest rising and falling and a bright look in his eye. his lips were already shiny and a gorgeous pink from kissing and his hair going this way and that. it made magnus’ heart practically ache. alec lightwood was going to be the death of him.

“that was graceful.” magnus observed, shifting so that he was able to situate himself between alec’s legs, planting his hands on either side of his head. these were the first words that they had exchanged since their conversation in the living room and magnus tried not to sound as wrecked as he felt.

“shadowhunter.” alec replied breathlessly, making no attempt to hide his state at all. and that was….lovely. it was really, really lovely to see alec, a man who had been unable to express himseflf and his true emotions for all of his life be so open about what he was feeling in this moment. in this moment with magnus.

a sense of honor filled magnus’ chest, that he was the only one, had ever been the only one, to witness the true alec lightwood.

“huh.” magnus mustered before alec was pulling him down by his face for a kiss, a kiss so deep and slow like caverns or waves rolling gently towards the shore. magnus hummed in response, his brain short circuiting when alec craned his neck and chased his lips when he started to sit up a little.

 it just all felt so wonderful, everything about this moment was perfect, and magnus wasn’t sure if he wanted to faint, cry, or both when he felt alec’s hands slip under his shirt to pull it up his back oh so slowly, like molasses or sap dripping from a tree.

magnus wanted to memorize every little detail about this moment: the feel of alec’s body underneath his, their chests pressed together, hands exploring his own back and exposing his skin to the warm air, mouth pulling kiss after kiss from his own lips,  every little sound coming from alec and how his body tensed and shivered under magnus’ touch, how alec’s heart was thudding against his chest at a million miles per hour.

it had been centuries since someone had touched him like this, with such care and preciseness and with a craving and an itch for more. and magnus wanted everything, he wanted so much as well, as he held alec’s face in his hands, and suddenly the room started to spin and the combination of alec’s hands on his body and teeth tugging at magnus’ bottom lip and his back arching just so he could be as close to magnus as possible made something in magnus snap, like a cable or a wire, and he felt the familiar spark of the glamour hit his eyes at full force.

he remembered lovers in the past cowering at his eyes, sometimes sneering at them and calling them hideous. some, like camille, had laughed at him, shaming him for who he was. others, like etta, didn’t understand, even if they weren’t cruel about it. guilt and fear washed over magnus and he sat up right away, getting off of alec and turning to face the opposite wall, squeezing his eyes shut and trying to snap the glamour back on. the blood rushing in his ears and the dizziness and arousal and joy clouding his mind were making it very frustratingly difficult to do so. 

he faintly heard alec’s confused voice in the background and picked up on him saying, “am i doing something wrong?” and of course alec would ask that. the perfect soldier, the man who wanted to get everything right all the time. his first concern was that he had messed up, had made magnus unhappy, was seeking answers on how he could fix his supposed mistake and that made magnus want to turn to him and hold him, but he refrained. the nerves over his eyes were eating him up inside and he felt sick to his stomach.

“no such thing.” he responded, attempting to put on a breezy air, but the anxiety seeped through his words like water through paper.

magnus heard alec sit up and he wanted nothing more than to run from the room or kiss alec and pretend like everything was okay. 

“do you not want to?” alec asked curiously and that was the last thing magnus wanted him to think.

“no- yes, of course i do.” magnus pinched the bridge of his nose, still not looking at his boyfriend.

why me? magnus thought miserably. why can’t i have this one good thing with this one great person? 

alec stayed quiet for a moment before magnus felt his hand on his back, comforting and grounding but also terrifying at the same time. “magnus, what is it?” alec tried slowly and carefully, waiting patiently for a response.

magnus hesitated, taking a deep breath before saying shakily, “it’s just…sometimes i lose control.” and before he could stop himself, despite the voice screaming in his head telling him not to, magnus turned around, facing alec with his unglamoured eyes and pure terror in his heart.

alec stared at him for what felt like the longest five seconds of his whole  life, his face unreadable. magnus felt a lump form in his throat and was already preparing what to do and what to say next: this was fun while it lasted. here’s your shirt. i hope you have a nice night.and he reprimanded himself for ever opening up his heart again, for every trusting a shadowhunter, for ever being this foolish.

but then.

but then alec smiled.

he was smiling.

it was a soft smile, a gentle smile that made magnus’ heart soar and instantly calmed his fears. it was unguarded and sweet , the kind of smile you wouldn’t expect to see on the face of a soldier, especially alec lightwood. but here he was, smiling at magnus and his eyes.

his real eyes.

alec scooted closer until their legs were touching, his smile never faltering.

“magnus,” he began tenderly, licking his lips before cupping magnus’ face with his hand. his eyes were welcoming and looked like stars, twinkling and gorgeous in the moonlight. “they’re beautiful. you’re beautiful.”

and that, well.

magnus didn’t know what to say to that.

all the air whoosed out of his lungs and he felt his chest tighten and his heart began to hurt, like physically hurt, because of how in love he was already with this man, how much his comment meant to him, how he was still smiling at him and wasn’t scared or disgusted.

he thinks i’m beautiful, magnus giddily processed. it had been along time since someone had called him beautiful, but it had never felt quite right when they had said it

when alec called him beautiful, magnus felt complete, he felt alive. he felt like he wanted to throw his arms in the air and twirl around.

he felt like…happiness.

no words could sum up what he was feeling in that moment, so magnus settled for taking the wrist of the hand that alec was cupping his face with and squeezing, smiling fondly at him. they stayed like that for a few moments, smiling and peaceful, until alec started to smirk at him.

“what?” magnus smiled a little and alec’s smirk only continued to grow.

“not gonna lie, you losing control of your magic because of me is really sexy.” alec said flirtatiously and magnus scoffed, pretending to be annoyed. the smile on his face was a dead giveaway.

“oh, please.” he laughed, alec’s hand still on his face, his thumb stroking his cheekbone.

“it is! quite the confidence booster.” alec scrunched his nose up and magnus rolled his eyes, slapping his chest playfully.

“don’t be so smug, alexander lightwood.” magnus warned. “you weren’t oh so cool and collected a few moments ago either.”

“okay, okay,” alec surrendered, smiling as he tilted his head to press kisses up magnus’ jaw, fingers hesitatingly brushing the hem of his shirt.

“if you still want to-” he started, his mouth against magnus’ jaw, slight nervousness in his tone before magnus cut him off.

“with all my heart.” he finished before pulling alec into a sweet, passionate kiss, slowly but surely resuming the pace they once had. and then it was like nothing had happened, magnus back on top of alec, but at the same time, everything had happened. everything felt in place, right and secure, and magnus sat up as alec’s hands moved to his shirt’s hem again.

“go ahead, love.” magnus smiled and with slightly trembling hands, alec pulled magnus’ shirt over his head with his assistance. the shirt fell on the ground beside the bed, but magnus paid no attention because the feeling of alec’s hand, running slowly down his chest and the sweet, awestruck smile on his face was taking over all of his senses at that moment.

“this is so unfair.” alec said after a bit and magnus looked at him in confusion.

“what is?”

“that i’m the only one who gets to see how utterly, completely radiant you are. it’s not fair to the rest of the world.” alec replied like it was the easiest thing to say and magnus was so overwhelmed with emotion that he pulled alec in by the back of his neck for a kiss, lips crashing together as alec’s hands trailed and traced patterns on his body. magnus pulled away to kiss along alec’s deflect rune, making the shadowhunter stretch his neck for easier access.

and magnus couldn’t help but smile when he moved to kiss alec again and alec stopped him so he could take his face in his hands and press two soft kisses on both of his eyelids.

Ever since King Kong first gave Fay Wray that unexpected lift to the top of the Empire State Building in 1933, Hollywood has gone ape depicting the gorilla as perfect monster material. They seem to be forever typecast as the heavy. But the truth is, they’re peaceful, family oriented, plant-eating animals that live in complex social groups. They are the largest of all primates—the group of animals that includes monkeys, lemurs, orangutans, chimpanzees, and humans. (photo: Mike Wilson)

Better This Way (Chapter One)(Spideypool ABO)

Welcome to the story!
ABO Universe here, Andrew Garfield is Omega!Peter, Ryan Reynolds is Alpha!Wade.
Buckle in for inappropriate jokes, some pretty intense angst, lots of feels, and all the smut that goes along with ABO and pretty people.

Can’t wait to hear what you guys think!

ADDITIONAL CHAPTERS HERE

Enjoy :)
***********

Peter loved the way Deadpool smelled.

Not like the way he smelled after a hard night of patrol, or after they each devoured their share of a dozen burritos, or after he returned from one of those missions he never ever talked about.

No, it was something under all that. Something Peter couldn’t quite name. But the Alpha had a heavy scent that reminded him of something electric and wild and dangerous. And for whatever reason it was also completely comforting and safe, which of course didn’t make any sense at all.

It was like the time Peter had shot a web as high as he could on the Empire State Building, then scrambled towards the top. A thunderstorm had been brewing, and he had balanced on the edge of the spire and watched the lightning snap across the sky, and heard the thunder roll and felt that eerie electricity in the that made his hair stand on end and sent chills down his back. It was not his smartest moment, and looking back he knew he could have been killed in a heartbeat.

But standing there, balanced between feeling so very alive, and what was probably certain death– Peter had felt completely safe. Completely at home.

And for some inexplicable reason, that was how he felt with Deadpool. That’s was the Alpha’s scent–electric and wild and dangerous.

And Peter was… well he was addicted.

Keep reading

If you drop an ant from the Empire State Building, will it die?

In the ‘90s, there was a popular Korean TV show called Curiosity Heaven (It does not translate well) that conducted experiments based on these weird hypothetical questions.

In one episode of Curiosity Heaven, the hosts took ants to the top of the 63 Building (Seoul’s equivalent of The Tall Skyscraper Tourist Attraction in Every City, named for the number of floors it has) to drop them off. The question of the episode: if you drop an ant off a skyscraper, will it survive?

After coming to a theoretical conclusion through a lot of math and physics that the ants would survive an 820-foot fall, the plan was put into action. But as the hosts summited the top of the skyscraper, they discovered all of the ants had exploded from the atmospheric pressure. That’s right: exploded.

If that’s not the biggest plot twist I’ve ever read in my life, then I don’t know what is.

From The Washington Post:

Almost exactly three years ago, Taylor Swift sat on a small leather sofa, beaming, as she revealed the details of her upcoming album, “1989,” to a select group of fans in New York City.

“I’m so excited, I can’t even,” she exclaimed, as the audience cheered and screamed upon hearing news that she had a new single. “I want to play it now. Will you get up and dance with me?”

Suddenly, “Shake It Off,” an ode to ignoring the haters, blasted out of the speakers. ABC News and Yahoo live-streamed the spectacle worldwide, which started with Swift standing on top of the Empire State Building. As Swift announced that this album would mark a switch from country music to pop, the message became clear. So long Nashville, hello world pop domination — but she was still the superstar who had a dance party with her fans. It was a relatable, everywoman narrative that carried through her massively successful “1989” era.

On Wednesday, Swift sent another missive with the reveal of her sixth studio album, “Reputation,” which will be released Nov. 10. (The first single drops Thursday night.) Her previous carefree demeanor was nowhere to be found. The album cover art appeared out of nowhere on Instagram and Twitter — the only warning that something was brewing in Swiftland were videos of a snake posted to her social media profiles through the week, after she wiped all of the accounts clean last Friday. There was no dance party.

she’s got you. [part three]

Here it is! This is the final part of this little series. I’m glad you’ve all enjoyed it. Let me know what you think, and if you’d like to request anything, my requests are open. Enjoy!

part one - part two

Word count: 2,402


“What do you mean he’s gone?” your hands started to shake from worry. The intensified nervousness that’s been building up in you for the past week was finally taking over you. You couldn’t believe he was doing this, on today of all days. Harry wasn’t the type to do this, especially with a life-altering situation such as this. Even though part of this situation was mostly your fault, you’d be damned if he left his fiance at the altar.

Keep reading

Flood my Mornings: Little things far beneath us

Anon said: Was reading FMM again () and had forgotten how mean and judgy Claire’s old neighbors were to her back before Jamie came. I would LOVE to see a scene where sassynach gives her a peace of her mind!!!

@themusicsweetly suggested (many moons ago): Jamie going into his first skyscraper and looking out over the city. 

  • This story takes place in an AU in which Jamie travels through the stones two years after Culloden and finds Claire and his child in 1950 Boston.
  • Previous installment: Winky (Claire’s nickname for Ian has some unexpectedly poignant tie-ins to their lives) 

Special Flashback installment! 

Yes, the date is March! No, you’re not going crazy! 

As noted on a previous post, I intentionally fastforwarded through the Ian pregnancy, with the intention to occasionally flash back and show some of the scenes I had already written, but chose to skip over. As always, feel free to request scenes from any point in the timeline  :) - Mod Bonnie


March, 1951

It was amazing to see the exact same expression on their faces as they looked out at the city below; to hear the awed delight in both voices, battle-hardened man and tiny girl in his arms somehow one in the novelty and wonder.

“Da?” Bree’s hands and nose were smushed right up against the glass. “Everyfin’s all LITTLE down-there.”

“Aye, you’re right, Bree.” His hands were occupied holding her up, but his own nose would have been eagerly flattened too, if it weren’t for the brim of his hat. “All the Cars and people are like wee bugs crawling about.”

“….They’re…. BUGS?”

“Nay,” he laughed, kissing her cheek before peering out again himself. “Only from up so high, they seem bitty and small, aye?”

“Uh-huh….Will they stay small all ever?”

“They’ll go right back to their proper sizes when we go back down,”  I promised, slipping my arm around Jamie’s back.

“M’okay, that’s-good!” 

“So, what do you think?” I asked Jamie, rubbing my belly gently and already knowing the answer. 

“’Tis a grand sight, Claire. Thanks for winning me over to the idea, for ‘tis well worth it.”

It was an unseasonably warm, blue day for March, and from the top of the skyscraper’s observation deck—even at only 25-or-so stories—the view was little short of spectacular.

“What’s the highest up you’ve been, previously?”

“When I voyaged on the Aeroplane, I suppose,” he said after considering a moment. “Though, I’ll confess, I didna once hazard looking out the wee portholes to inspect the view.” 

“Oh, you absolutely must next time! It’s breathtaking to see the world from up there.” 

“Aye, took my breath and my breakfast both, repeatedly.” He gave a playful shudder. “Why d’ye think I was so reluctant to let ye drag me up here? I’ve been atop mountains that were higher still than this, certainly, but a view so high of a city….” He shook his head, kissing the top of Bree’s before turning his gaze back to the horizon, “I canna recall ever seeing such a thing.”

“We’ll have to pop down to New York, one of these days,” I said dreamily as I threaded my arm through his. “The Empire State building is over triple the height of this one.”

Truly?” he breathed, staggered. “How far away is—”

“Oh my goodness! If it isn’t Mrs. Randall!”

We both jumped and whirled, and a dread I hadn’t felt in over a year suddenly drenched my entire body at sight of that perfect wave of blonde hair bobbing toward us.

“From the old house?” I was nearly as shocked by Jamie’s immediate comprehension as by the sight of Julianne Wirth herself, until I remembered. Lord, he must have encountered her as he went door to door, asking after me. I nodded once in answer and saw his jaw tighten. Knowing her—as I unfortunately did— she would have shut the door in his face immediately, unless she had called the police first.

To this very day, I couldn’t say what it was exactly that had made this woman take such a dislike to me. In those brief months, though, when Frank and I were—by all appearances, anyway— a normal, happily-expecting couple on Furey Street, Julianne had picked up on my detachment immediately and saw fit to make every encounter a living hell. She had a knack for bringing me down with a masterful array of half-veiled jibes, all while fawning and mooning over Frank, leaving me and her poor husband to stand awkwardly to the side. I was convinced it was all a game to her, not driven by any desire for Frank or anything at all, really, apart from fiendish cruelty. 

After the divorce, when I was alone as a new mother, encounters with her had been rarer (for I didn’t bloody go out of my way to invite the Wirths over for dinner parties, anymore, did I?), but no less nasty, and had sent me into fits of enraged tears behind closed doors on more than one occasion. Even then, though, I had kept my mouth shut and taken it, too vulnerable and uncertain in my place in the world to risk outright confrontation. 

“My word, what a pleasant surprise” the present incarnation of the spiteful bitch was simpering up into my face, her 5-foot-2-inch frame still infuriatingly perfect. “How are you, Mrs. Randall?”  

Julianne,” I said with a warmth I that I’m sure did not extend to my eyes. “I’m quite well, thank you, and it’s Mrs. Fraser, now, in fact,” I said, turning to introduce Jamie. “This is my—”

“Oh, that’s right,” she was already saying, eyes alight as they moved between Jamie and me. “The divorce.” She said it with deepest pity and loud enough to be heard across half the observation deck. 

I could hear Jamie’s rage in every tightly-controlled breath as he very deliberately put his free hand on the small of my back. Reinforcement, it said. Ye need only say the word.  

“My, and look how much sweet little Barbara has grown.” 

Brianna,” I corrected with a smile so forced it could have broken through a brick wall. “I trust Daniel and the children are well?” 

“Yes, wonderful, all,” she beamed over her shoulder, where her family stood at the opposite end of the observatory. Clearly, she didn’t want them personally witnessing this exchange, for she jumped right in with, “How is the job, going, these days, dear?” 

Out for blood, but damn me, if I would let this harpy get the better of me. “It’s splendid, thank you for asking!  It’s beyond compare, to be so useful in a context outside the home. Though, I’m working only part-time at present, as I’m soon to be studying to be a physician.”

“Goodness! What a devastating challenge that will be to your family; but you’ll keep at it no matter what, I’m sure,” she said with a sympathetic grimace before brightening and having the gall to pat my belly uninvited. “And you’re in the family way again, I see! How lucky that you found another husband so quickly.” She paused, distracted by Bree, who—oblivious to the drama—had pulled Jamie’s hat off to play with. For the first time, Julianne looked actually surprised, and I watched her expression go positively crazed with glee. “Ohhhh….Oh, I do think I see.”

“See?” It was Jamie that said it, sharp and wary. I myself knew precisely what she was piecing together. 

“Well, Mr. Randall was a lovely man, but there are limits to what even a saint can endure, of course, when he learns that his wife isn’t—well—Not all surprises are good ones, after all.” 

I wasn’t certain if it was peripheral vision or premonition, but I caught Jamie’s wrist behind my back before he could even budge. His fingertips were like a vise through my coat, perhaps the only thing preventing him from lunging forward and slapping the woman. Lord knew, I agreed with the sentiment wholeheartedly, but I only gave him a squeeze. 

And then, I charged. 

“Oh!” I cried, blinking as though coming out of a daze. “Oh, Julianne, dear, I’m terribly sorry, have you finished?” She opened her mouth but I was already flashing her a dazzling fake smile to match every one of hers. “Didn’t think so. I’m sure you’ve got an endless list of faults to throw in the face of someone who, despite more than a year’s acquaintance, is an absolute stranger to you. That being true, of course, because no matter the many, many opportunities you had to extend kindness, you stood by and reveled in her struggles and made sure everyone called it shame.” 

My voice was as saccharine-sweet as my smile, but I took a step forward, letting every inch of my superior height and pregnant bulk work to my advantage. “I truly hate to disappoint you, but I’ve no room in my life whatsoever for shame, and what’s more, I’m precisely where I wish to be.” I placed a hand softly on her arm, still beaming. “Please don’t ever come near me or my family again, mm?” I leaned forward as though to kiss her cheek in farewell and took the opportunity to whisper in her ear, “Kindly go fuck yourself, Julianne.” 

Her gasp and splutter were sweet, sweet music.

“Have a good day, dear,” I said at normal volume, stepping back and linking arms with Jamie. “Lovely to see you.” 

Bree, uncharacteristically silent up to this point, piped up suddenly with, “Mummy, who’s ‘at?”

I maintained eye contact with the still-indignant Julianne and tilted my head to the side in challenge. Do you really want me to say aloud who (or what) you are?

She clamped her jaw shut and turned on her heel. Across the observatory, I watched her find her husband and children and begin herding them at once toward the stairs.

“Just a mean woman, lovey,” I said to Bree as I let the breath escape me in a whoosh. “No one we need worry about.”

If we didn’t have an audience,” Jamie whispered, in French to evade little listening ears, “I would have you right there on that bench….RIGHT now.”

He was absolutely serious, of course. I laughed and patted his cheek. “We really need to work on finding a less base outlet for your appreciation of female assertion, my love.” 

“Tell me another way, and I’ll do it, gladly. That was—Damn, Claire, if that wasna the best thing I’ve ever bloody seen!” He leaned in and kissed me, still chuckling gleefully as he pulled away. “Can we go find someone else for ye to eviscerate next?” 

“Anyone in particular?” 

“Well, and surely we can think of a handful of other people at least that have wronged ye over the years.” He jostled Bree encouragingly. “Is there anyone else that’s been mean to Mummy?”

“Umm….” She gave it considerable thought. “Somm-atimes you bite her on’the neck?” 

Jamie’s grin was positively impish as he raised his eyebrows in my direction. “Never fear, Bree, Mummy likes that.” 

Bree scrunched her eyebrows sternly. “Da, isnot NICE, bite’n.” 

“It is the way I do it. Mummy’s verrrra ticklish, aye?”