By Nicola Griffith

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We turned right, heading northeast, and then right again, finally moving south and east. “After all these years I still can’t believe how early Americans eat their dinner,” Dornan said, as we passed dark storefronts. “Look at that. K. ” It did to me. The city was full of Norwegians and Swedes who had formed the backbone of the fishing and shipping industry and a large part of the paper and lumber industry, and then settled back to work hard, live quietly, and grow. They would write back to relatives dug into their fjell-side seters, or boiling and freezing in sod houses in the Midwest, and tell them about the good life, the teeming salmon and the miles of trees, and how it hardly ever snowed.

I put everything on the bed and opened the window, which was less than eight feet above the water. I listened a moment; all I heard was the slap and slip of Puget Sound against the pilings driven deep into the muck of Elliott Bay. I closed the window. Being so close to the water was less than optimal, in terms of security. I took a dime from my wallet and balanced it against the glass. There were a dozen portable intruder alerts on the market, but low-tech worked well enough. One of my credit cards wasn’t plastic but specially sharpened ceramic.

Don’t think. Do. And run. ” The air began to hum, and muscles plump, and just before the room kindled I clapped my hands and said, “Enough. ” They did, in an obliging circle, some smiling, and Blue Blouse scooted to her left with an ingratiating bob of her head—teacher’s pet—to make a space. I took it. “I am Aud Torvingen. ” They waited for more, but I wasn’t interested in proving I was qualified to teach them, and the name of the class, Introduction to Women’s Self-Defense, was self-explanatory.

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