When I got the envelope in the mail, I DID NOT expect that there would be THAT inside of it. I expected a frilly Christmas card with puppies wearing jingle bells on their collars; because that's just what Uncle Menken sent. I suppose he thought they were cute. However, I was wrong. I slit the top of the envelope and a huge square of paper, folded many times over, slid onto the table. Definitely not puppies with jingle bells. I unfolded the crumbly, yellowed paper and looked at the image sketched upon it. I knew that shape. I knew that...

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The room was dimly lit with the candles he had scattered before she had arrived. The meal would be served in just a few minutes, a creation to do any chef proud. He had left the wine to breathe the required amount of time. The stage was set. He set the plate before her and frowned when she showed no sign of appreciation for his efforts. He poured her a glass of wine, an excellent vintage. Still, she showed no joy or surprise.
He batted the wineglass away and it shattered on the far wall. With a swipe of his...

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The freaking tiny pebbles are getting all stuck in my shoes. Urgggg. This is stupid. I mean why did I come down to the lake anyway? I'm pretty sure I forgot to lock the door too.
Uriah always told me to get fresh air every now and then, and this shore sure has a breeze.

*A chuckle slips out of my lips.*

Yup, definitely a breeze.

This is stupid. I'm not a little kid. I can't kick off my shoes and play pirates by the water anymore. How could I play pirates by myself, anyway? Impossible.
But I can still...

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Trivia. I only found out when one of my (many) credit cards was refused. Then a debt collection agency letter arrived. Finally, some landlord of office space told me I was 9 months in arrears and I had two days to remove my stuff.

Of course, I went round there. Not enough room to swing a cat DOT com would have been a good name for them. However, when I was given the key by a guard who joked as if he knew me, and "at least this time you're wearing clothes." I entered the storage room (closet?) to find...

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Kandace made me kneel, which was hard to do since my hands were tied behind my back, and jerked the burlap sack off my head. I'm sure she took a few strands of my hair with it. I was kneeling in front of a small wooden table, upon which sat three tea light candles, their tiny flames stood perfectly still. The room beyond was pitch black. The scent of melting wax thickened the air I was trying to breathe. Kandace doesn't know I have asthma. She has stuck a piece of duct tape across my mouth, keeping my complaints muffled....

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In hindsight, the solution was obvious. They had sat there for nearly half an hour, staring up at the stars. She'd tried to figure out why he was so quiet. He'd picked her up at 7, right on time, survived her dad's "look of death", and taken her out on the river in his boat. Now, sitting on the little sandbar, the remains of their picnic sitting in the basket beside him, he'd gone silent. She wondered if she'd said something wrong, something that made him regret ever asking her out in the first place. Or perhaps he was bored;...

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It was the quiet way Fron did the simple things - anticipating a glass of water, settling to a joint task, silently prompting something urgently forgotten - that Wilhelm noticed more than anything else. She would just eye smile at him when he, yet again amazed at her casual thoughtfulness, would gratify his mutterings. As if words were not necessary.

It was as bewitching as it was uncanny. He felt she could pluck a dropped desire out of the air, well before its longing weight would shatter it on the hard stone floor of the bakery. Slowly, quickly, her careless...

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"Lifetime Warranty - Satisfaction Guaranteed" the adverts had promised. "No one has ever returned a loveBot 7000 in the history of the company."

He flicked through the manual. Ah there it was: "If you are genuinely unhappy call THIS toll-free number…"

After keying in a few tones - he hated automated call centres - he had been put on hold by what he assumed to be a clever computer, but was in fact a rather stupid one.

The loveBot sat up, watching him lovingly, with her 'come to bed' eyes. It had entranced him at first. That, compliance, and...

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My sister signed me up for yoga the day before yesterday. And all I could think about were the yoga girl's toenails. She was the participant in front of me, on a pink mat patterned with yellow flowers. Sitting in the most uncomfortable position of my life, it was her toenails that bothered me. Sitting 10 inches in front of my face, yellowed and cracked, with an attempted cover up of aquamarine polish. "Excuse me, " I wanted to say, "That toenail polish does nothing for you." Or perhaps, "Excuse me, could you help me get my elbow out of...

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Once, in Beijing, a young girl in a red gown huddled in a doorway.

My lost daughter. Well, actually that isn't who she was, but as soon as I first saw her I convinced myself it was. I always do.

So far there had been sixty five possibilities.

John, my second husband was a patient man. Had to be. He was rich so indulged me. Paid for our trips round the world whenever there was a possible sighting. Gave me hope when everyone tried to convince me it was time to grieve, not continue searching.

Suzie would be fifteen now....

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