Tuesday, March 24, 2020
Discuss the fundamental concepts of marketing 97) Define customer equity and explain why it is important to a company. Answer: Customer equity is the sum of the lifetime values of all of the companys current and potential customers. Customer equity is dependent upon customer loyalty from a firms profitable customers. Because customer equity is a reflection of a companys future, companies must manage it carefully, viewing customers as assets that need to be maximized. Page Ref: 22 Difficulty: Easy Chapter LO: 4 Course LO: Discuss the fundamental concepts of marketing 8) Describe and compare the four types of customers classified by their potential profitability to an organization. Identify how an organization should manage each type of customer. Answer: The four types of customers are strangers, butterflies, true friends, and barnacles. 1. Strangers have low potential profitability and loyalty. A companys offerings do not fit well with a strangers wants and demands. We will write a custom essay sample on Buad Text or any similar topic specifically for you Do Not WasteYour Time HIRE WRITER Only 13.90 / page Companies should not invest in building a relationship with this type of customer. 2. Another type of customer in which a company should not invest is the barnacle. Barnacles are highly loyal but not very profitable because there is a limited fit between their needs and the companys offerings. The company might be able to improve barnacles profitability by selling them more, raising their fees, or reducing service to them. However, if they cannot be made profitable, they should be fired. 3. Like strangers, butterflies are not loyal. However, they are potentially profitable because there is a good fit between the companys offerings and their needs. Like real butterflies, this type of customer will come and go without becoming a permanent, loyal consumer of a companys products. Companies should use promotional blitzes to attract these customers, create satisfying and profitable transactions with them, and then cease investing in them until the next time around. 4. The final type of customers is true friends; they are both profitable and loyal. There is a strong fit between their needs and the companys offerings, so the company should make continuous relationship investments in an effort to go beyond satisfying and to delight these customers. A company should try to delight true friends so they will tell others about their good experiences with the company. Page Ref: 22-23 Difficulty: Challenging Chapter LO: 4 AACSB: Analytic skills Course LO: Discuss the fundamental concepts of marketing 99) Explain how the Internet has transformed the way in which we do business today. Answer: The Internet links individuals and businesses of all types to each other. The Internet allows firms access to exciting new marketspaces. The Internet has spawned an entirely new breed of click only companiesÃ¢â¬âthe dot-coms. The post-Internet frenzy of the late 1990s has introduced companies that are both savvy and face promising futures.
Friday, March 6, 2020
Recycling essays A Literary Masterpiece Composed by A Person Without A Twisted Mind or A False Sense of Reality A morbid and melancholic reality consumes Edgar Allen Poes mind. Through a life of loosing loved ones, his contorted thoughts are expressed through his writings. In his short story, The Fall of the House of Usher, he illustrates how evil can consume ones thoughts and alter their perception of reality. His ploy is effective in text and as a cinematic drama. Both versions have the same characters, and an identical setting. While the video and the short story have several similarities, the overwhelming differences between the main characters initial meeting, Ushers death, and the houses demise make both these interpretations terrifying. In the short story, Madeline is rarely mentioned throughout the beginning of narrators visit. Usher invited his childhood friend because of an illness he was experiencing. In the short story, the narrator, portrayed as Phillip in the film, is received with a very warm welcome. Also there is a mutual friendship between the two. No bitterness or dislike is made apparent. However, in the video this is displayed somewhat differently. Phillip is only coming to the house to claim his future wife. There is no amiable relationship between Usher and Phillip. Usher does not welcome Phillip at all and tries to make him leave immediately. Another obvious difference between the two versions is Ushers death. In the short story Madeline suddenly bursts into Ushers chamber and kills him. The film uses a much more dramatic and drawn out scenario. Phillip rushes down to free his struggling bride. When he frees her she latches on to him and starts to strangle him. She then realizes she is killing the wrong person and lunges towards Roderick. While she is atop Roderick, the fire begins to ...
Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Topical Issues of Applied Chemistry Assignment Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 1750 words
Topical Issues of Applied Chemistry - Assignment Example Light with a wavelength of 220nm has been emitted from an atom. From what energy level could the electron fall if its final energy state was n=2.=When fast-moving electrons hit target metal, the inner core electrons in the atoms of the target metal get Ã¢â¬ËexcitedÃ¢â¬â¢ and move from the first orbit (n=1) to say the second orbit (n=2) or third orbit (n=3). The electrons have moved from a lower energy level to a higher energy level. Hence from the question, the electron falls from the n=3 energy level.0g-ice cube at 00C is added to 50.0g of water at 25.00C. Find the final temperature of the mixture.Ã Answer: Ã Ice = mass x latent heat of fusion of ice (h) Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã = 10gx320=3200joules, h=320joules /gram, Water = MCÃ¢Ëâ TÃ Ã Ã = 10x4.2x25=1050, Total heat supplied = 1050=3200=4250joules. ThereforeÃ Ã 60g x 4.2 x T = 4250. T= 4250/252 = 16.870CÃ Answer: Ã Ice = mass x latent heat of fusion of ice (h) Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã = 10gx320=3200joules, h=320joules /gram, Water = MCÃ¢Ëâ TÃ Ã Ã = 10x4.2x25=1050, Total heat supplied = 1050=3200=4250joules. ThereforeÃ Ã 60g x 4.2 x T = 4250. T= 4250/252 = 16.870CÃ Pure hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a bit thick in consistency and its boiling point is 1520 The atoms in hydrogen peroxide are in the order HOOH in terms of intermolecular forces, why does hydrogen peroxide have different physical properties than water?Ã Answer: Ã H2)2 structure is H-O-O-H. The two behave like isomers (have the same molecular formula but different structure)For isomers:-Ã H2O2 Ã¢â¬â Has more bonds hence more intermolecular forces making it have a higher boiling point since more energy is needed to break the bonds.Which of the following has the highest boiling point; Hcl, Ar, F2. Explain in terms of intermolecular forces.Ã Ã Answer: Ã HCL= 2.8.7, Ar=2.8.8, F2= 2.7.The forces of attraction between molecules increase with the increase in the size of the molecules.In Argon there is a weak force of attraction between the atoms hence the low boiling point. For Hcl, the chlorine gas alone has a boiling point of Ã¢â¬â350C. Therefore chlorine has a higher boiling point than fluorine, which is of the same group because of an increase in the size of the molecule in chlorine.When chlorine reacts with hydrogen to from Hcl, a covalent bond is created. This bond is stronger than the forces of attraction between molecules and therefore require more energy to break hence higher boiling point.It should be noted that these are gases and gases have a low boiling point. Hcl can form HCl acid, which is a liquid with a high boiling point. Therefore Hcl is had the highest boiling point followed by Argon and F2 has the lowest.
Tuesday, February 4, 2020
Cyber Attacks and Politics from a technological and security perspectives - Essay Example The act of cyber attack is commonly known as the computer network attack (CNA). Politics encompasses the manner in which a nation or political entity is being governed. The term is primarily concerned with the controlling and the administration of the internal and the external affairs of that particular entity. In addition, this term is also applicable in other institutions such as religious or academic with regards to how authority and power is exercised within them and the tactics as well as the methods applied in the formulation and application of policies for the organization. This paper will focus on establishing the cyber attacks acts and politics from either the technological or security point of view. The government of all nations should put in place effective cyber security measures. These should be specifically aimed at detecting and combating all acts of cyber attacks, especially cyber terrorism. This can be done by governments allotting adequate funds to the relevant entities such as the ministry of defense to enable it counter attacks such acts. Cyber security deals with the protection of information and information systems against the significant threats that global computer networks face. Some of these threats include cyber terrorism, cyber espionage and cyber warfare (Czosseck & Geers, 2009). These threats are mainly targeted towards the political, infrastructure and military assets of the nation or at other time people within it. Cyber security is a highly critical issue that nationÃ¢â¬â¢s government should enact appropriate strategies of security to handle (Macaulay, 2009). For instance, the federal government of the United State embarked on allotting more than $ 13 billion each year from the year 2010 to cater for the Cyber security. The reason why governments should be concerned with the issue of cyber security with regards to terrorism is because terrorists groups use the
Sunday, January 26, 2020
The Point Of View Of Stories The two short stories chosen ,The Gift of the Magi and The Lottery,written by Shirley Jackson, both have different points of views. They are both narrated in first-person narration which affects our response to what we read as the narrator doesnt look into the minds of its characters which leave the reader only seeing the situation through ones eyes. In The Gift of the Magi we see everything through the eyes of Della, however in the second essayÃ ¢Ã¢â ¬Ã ¦. Short story The Gift of the Magi, by O. Henry, is a narrative piece about a young married couple, Della and Jim, who have very little money. Jim had suffered a pay cut, therefore the two have to work hard for everything for their earnings. On the day before Christmas, Della counted the money she had saved for months. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. Sadly, after a good long cry, she is determined to find a way to buy Jim the present he deserves for Christmas. Jim and Della have two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One is Jims gold watch, which has been passed to him from his grandfather. The other is Dellas lustrous hair falling down almost past her knees. As Della passes by a sign and reads: Mme. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds, she goes in to whom she sells her hair for twenty dollars. With that money, she tries to find something worthy of Jim, and in which she did, a platinum watch chain. O. Henry accomplishes several techniques in The Gift of the Magi that are representative to most of his other short stories. The story seems to be third person narrated. It is told in the third-person, and only follows Dellas perspective. We dont see what Jim is doing during the story, and once he does show up, he remains closed to us. Although the story focuses on Dellas point of view, is also shows us as the reader what she sees. It is like the narrator is in the story as a character that is just heard of, but never seen. By O. Henry doing this, it engages us and shares our insight thoughts on the Youngs situation. He uses a laid-back sort of expression such as took a mighty pride and breaks his story with a humorous tone such as forget the hashed metaphor. Della explains to Jim that in order for her to buy him his present she needed to sell her hair. Jim found it difficult to understand the situation but Della didnt understand why. He then takes from his pocket Dellas Christmas present, in which she opens it and finds a set of combs for her hair, which she had been admiring in a store window for a long time. Finally she understands why her husband was so shocked. They exchange their Christmas gifts; however, Jim does not pull out his watch to fit to the chain, as he had to sell his watch in order to buy Dellas combs. Both Della and Jim foolishly sacrifice their gifts and this is why they were called their most precious possessions. As in this story, O. Henry started of by introducing the first character Della telling details about setting that hint at plot. In the first paragraph, he opened it up by introducing Della and her money problem. He mentions her decisions that create a more strongly constructed plot which moves from introducing the story on to the surprise ending. The point of view of this short story does not exactly affect our response to what we have read. Well not mine anyway. If the story was written in another point of view, it would not make it as good as it already is as it would be focusing more on what is happening else where rather then showing us the love shared between two young adults whose gifts were given by the heart. They were wise and They are the magi. In the second story, The Lottery is written by Shirley Jackson. Its opening sequence is on a warm Junes day in a tradition town that is common among its nearby villages. In the story we come across some children, which arrive in the town and connect in boisterous play. Some of the boys create a great pile of stones in one corner of the square. The setting in The Lottery was described as relaxing and peaceful, as children were playing and adults were talking about day to day situations. This showed a happy setting distinction with the wild idea of the reality with the lottery. Jackson uses a narrative technique, where she tells the events in the story, which is de described as detached and objectiveÃ Ã . The tone of the narrative helps us to recognise the originality of the barbaric acts that are caused amongst it. Shirley Jacksons The Lottery uses the third person point of view to tell a story about a village that celebrates a yearly event. The narrator provides us with minor details of a lottery taking place, but what interests us the most is that she leaves the most important details until the end, which leaves us hanging with thoughts and questions. The use of the third person point of view is a good way of telling this short story because it helps put together the surprise that happens in the end by hinting out bits of information to the reader through the actions and discussions of the villagers without giving away the final twist.
Saturday, January 18, 2020
Lobolo or Lobola (Mahadi in Sesotho; sometimes translated as bride price) is a traditional Southern African custom whereby the man pays the family of his fiancee for her hand in marriage (Compare with the European dowry custom where the woman brings assets). The custom is aimed at bringing the two families together, fostering mutual respect, and indicating that the man is capable of supporting his wife financially and emotionally. Traditionally the lobola payment was in cattle as cattle were the primary source of wealth in African society. However, most modern urban couples have switched to using cash. The process of lobola negotiations can be long and complex, and involves many members from both the brideÃ¢â¬â¢s and the groomÃ¢â¬â¢s extended families. Often, to dispel any tensions between the families, a bottle of brandy is placed on the table. This is usually not drunk; it is simply a gesture to welcome the guest family and make everyone feel more relaxed (it is known as mvulamlomo, which is Xhosa for Ã¢â¬Ëmouth openerÃ¢â¬â¢). Lobola may have some unintended negative effects. It may have created a financial barrier for some young men looking to take a bride. It is common for a couple that are emotionally ready to commit to each other to stay unmarried if they do not have the financial resources to satisfy the impeding traditional ritual. For those who do have the financial means, the issue can be LobolaÃ¢â¬â¢s opportunity cost. Young men who are in the wealth-creation stage of life may feel that their future is better secured if they invest their money elsewhere to receive significant financial returns. Lobola is seen by some as an extravagance that has little relevance in a society where young Africans are trying to lift themselves out of inherited poverty. However, the tradition is adhered to as strongly as ever, and in families where tradition and intention override greed, lobola can be a great way of showing commitment between families, not just between the bride and groom. Many traditional marriages utilise a cash-based lobola; this can be then followed by a European-style wedding ceremony, where the lobola funds are used to pay for expenses. In this way, any outlaid costs are returned to the payer in another form, preserving tradition, honour and finances.
Friday, January 10, 2020
I stood there for several long seconds, staring at Shaya but not really seeing her. Ã¢â¬Å"Thank you,Ã¢â¬ I said at last, my voice unnaturally flat even to me. She hesitated, eyes worried. Ã¢â¬Å"Is thereÃ¢â¬ ¦is there anything I can get for you?Ã¢â¬ More wine, I thought. But I shook my head. Wine suddenly didn't seem strong enough. I wanted to go home just then and raid my liquor cabinet, seeking solace in my own home and its bed, not this godforsaken Dark Ages fortress. The wine was going to make transitioning between the worlds harder, though. It wasn't impossible but would hardly be as smooth as usual. No, it seemed I might be stuck here for a while. Ã¢â¬Å"I need to see Volusian,Ã¢â¬ I said. She stepped aside for me, and though I didn't ask for it, she followed me solicitously as I headed downstairs, down to the keep's dungeon. It seemed darker and drearier than it had last time, but maybe that was the wine. Jasmine's cell was easy to spot because four guards stood in the hall outside it. I reached it, and through the bars, I saw Volusian standing in one corner, perfectly still, with his arms crossed over his chest. Jasmine sat as absolutely far from him as she could, her face equal parts fear and sullenness. Ã¢â¬Å"What do you want now?Ã¢â¬ she snapped. I didn't even look at her. Ã¢â¬Å"Volusian,Ã¢â¬ I said. Ã¢â¬Å"I have an errand for you. I'll watch Jasmine while you're gone.Ã¢â¬ Volusian walked forward, passing through the bars and coming to stand in front of me. Ã¢â¬Å"No doubt my mistress has a more urgent task.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Moderately. I want you to go back to Tucson and bring me the bottle of tequila I keep in my liquor cabinet. And don't scare Tim.Ã¢â¬ Volusian remained motionless in that way of his. Ã¢â¬Å"My mistress grows increasingly creative in her ways to torment me.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"I thought you'd appreciate it.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Only in so much as it inspires me to equally creative means to rip you apart when I am able to break free of these bonds and finally destroy you.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"You see? There's a silver lining to everything. Now hurry up.Ã¢â¬ Volusian vanished. With him gone, Jasmine grew bolder. She hurried to the front of the cell, holding the bronze bars as best she could with her bound hands. Ã¢â¬Å"When are you going to let me go?Ã¢â¬ I sat down against the hall's wall, opposite her. I wondered if she'd try any of her stunted magic with me around. Ã¢â¬Å"When are you going to stop asking?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"You're a real bitch, you know that?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Look, little girl,Ã¢â¬ I growled. Ã¢â¬Å"You do not want to mess with me tonight. I'm not in a good mood.Ã¢â¬ Jasmine was undeterred. Ã¢â¬Å"I can't believe you're keeping me in here with thatÃ¢â¬ ¦that thing! That's just cruel and sadistic.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Wow, sadistic's kind of a big word. I didn't think you'd stayed in school long enough to learn that kind of vocabulary.Ã¢â¬ Her glower darkened. Ã¢â¬Å"When I get out, I'm going to kill you.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Then you and Ã¢â¬Ëthat thing' should get along beautifully, seeing as he spends all his time plotting my grisly death too.Ã¢â¬ She nodded down to her bound hands. Ã¢â¬Å"I can barely feed myself, you know.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Barely isn't the same as can't.Ã¢â¬ But I did feel a little bad about that. Was I really going to keep her in cuffs forever? Yet, how could I not? Maybe I should investigate that potion Rurik had told me about. NoÃ¢â¬ ¦that wasn't right either. I sighed, and spent the next half-hour listening to her alternate between insults and whining. It was better than thinking about Kiyo, though. All the while, I was sobering up, so when Volusian finally appeared and handed me over a full bottle of Jose Cuervo, I gave silent thanks that I'd purchased an extra-large bottle. Ã¢â¬Å"Thanks,Ã¢â¬ I said, rising to my feet. I pointed to Jasmine's cell. Ã¢â¬Å"Now-back to guard duty.Ã¢â¬ I turned around without a second glance, Jasmine's cries of outrage echoing behind me. Shaya, who had waited silently the whole time, fell in step with me as I walked back upstairs. Ã¢â¬Å"Are you sure there isn't anything I can do for you?Ã¢â¬ I eyed the bottle. Ã¢â¬Å"See if you can find some little glasses about this big.Ã¢â¬ I held my fingers out to the size of a shot glass. Ã¢â¬Å"And bring enough forÃ¢â¬ ¦I don't know. You, RurikÃ¢â¬ ¦hell, anyone who wants to get drunk with me. Even Ysabel.Ã¢â¬ I was feeling magnanimous tonight. Or, well, at least in a misery-loves-company mood. Shaya's face looked more troubled than ever, but I paid it little concern as I walked outside to a small circular courtyard in the castle's center. This seemed to be a fixture in most gentry holdings. Dorian had a couple. I'd been told that this one had been green in Aeson's time, filled with lilies and lilacs. Now, it was sandy and gravelly, lined with cacti, mesquite, and even some of the thorn trees that had given the land its name. At least the mesquite scented the air, and I decided one perk of the Otherworld was that those trees always seemed to be in bloom. I sat down cross-legged in the middle of the courtyard, noticing that someone had started to set stone tiles into it to create a kind of patio area. It hadn't been there last time, and I wondered if it was Shaya's doing, just like the patches of grass she kept trying to grow around here. Not waiting for shot glasses, I uncapped the tequila and took a long swig, the strong liquor burning my throat. Shaya returned shortly, Rurik following. His face was uncharacteristically serious. After a brief moment of exchanged looks, they joined me on the tiled ground. Shaya set down some tiny cups made of engraved silver. Not quite shot glasses, but they would do. I took the bottle and filled three of them up. Ã¢â¬Å"To the Willow Queen and her child,Ã¢â¬ I said, holding my cup in the air. I downed it one gulp. Ã¢â¬Å"Damn. Wish I had some salt and lime.Ã¢â¬ Shaya and Rurik exchanged glances once more-did they honestly think I didn't notice each time?-and then followed my lead with the tequila. Rurik took his down stoically, but Shaya choked on hers. Ã¢â¬Å"WhatÃ¢â¬ ¦what is this?Ã¢â¬ she asked, once she was able to speak. Ã¢â¬Å"God's favorite liquor. I should have had Volusian run to the grocery store and get some margarita mix while he was out.Ã¢â¬ I paused, laughing at the thought. I poured another shot. Ã¢â¬Å"It's made from a kind of cactus, you know.Ã¢â¬ Shaya eyed the bottle askance. Ã¢â¬Å"Truly?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Yup. Huh. I wonder if we could manufacture this stuff. I've seen agave around. I bet we could set up some serious trade with it.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"I'm not so certain,Ã¢â¬ she said. Rurik was pouring another glass. Ã¢â¬Å"I don't know. It might appeal to some.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Ah, Rurik. I knew we were kindred spirits.Ã¢â¬ I held up my empty shot glass, studying the way the half-moon's light shone on it. My head was regaining its pleasant buzz again. Ã¢â¬Å"Do you think Maiwenn's going to have a boy or a girl?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"I don't know,Ã¢â¬ said Shaya after several moments of silence. Ã¢â¬Å"There are those who can magically determine such things. But I haven't heard of the Willow Queen doing that.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Probably not.Ã¢â¬ Kiyo would have told me. Or would he have? Maybe he would have held on to that news, keeping it as a special secret between him and Maiwenn. I poured another shot but didn't drink it yet. Shitfaced was one thing; sick was another. Ã¢â¬Å"Back in my world, they would have known its gender a long time ago. They also would have been able to tell all sorts of things-its size, if it had any diseases, even if it was twins or triplets. There's this machine we've got. You run a paddle over the mother's stomach, and then you can see the baby up on this screen. Or, sometimes, even earlier, they can take a needle and suck up amniotic fluid to find out the same things.Ã¢â¬ Rurik and Shaya were staring at me wide-eyed. It was a common expression amongst Otherworldly denizens whenever I began talking about human technology. Ã¢â¬Å"I wonder sometimes if there's any mystery or wonder left in your world at all.Ã¢â¬ I glanced over and saw Ysabel's form silhouetted in the doorway to the castle. Ã¢â¬Å"Oh, sure. Plenty of it.Ã¢â¬ I gestured her over. Ã¢â¬Å"Come have a drink. I'm pretty sure I'm too drunk to kill anyone tonight.Ã¢â¬ Ysabel hesitated a few seconds and then slowly walked over, sitting near Rurik and Shaya, as far from me as she could respectfully go. She grimaced slightly at the tiles as she tucked her flowing silk skirts underneath her. No doubt being on the ground went against her fastidious nature. Rurik cheerfully handed her a tequila shot. She sniffed it, and her scowl returned. My mind was still on babies. Ã¢â¬Å"Seems like ultrasounds would be useful to you guys. I mean, what with the trouble you have having kids.Ã¢â¬ There was a good chance, I knew, that Maiwenn might not even survive the delivery. Or that her child wouldn't. It was common among the gentry, sort of the cost for their long and healthy lives. I didn't know how I felt about that. I didn't wish death on either of themÃ¢â¬ ¦and yet, how much simpler would things be if there was no Maiwenn and no baby? Even now, I could picture Kiyo by her side, holding her hand. His handsome face would be lined with worry as he spoke words of encouragement. Surely, with his human blood, their baby would be healthy and strong. And Maiwenn was a healerÃ¢â¬ ¦. would that be useful to herself? Maybe. Everything would go well, I was certain, and they'd undoubtedly have a beautiful baby, one that would create a bond between them forever, a bond I could never be a part ofÃ¢â¬ ¦. I drank my next shot and noticed that Ysabel had manfully downed hers. Ã¢â¬Å"Nice work,Ã¢â¬ I said. Ã¢â¬Å"You want another?Ã¢â¬ She shook her head. Ã¢â¬Å"I don't consider it ladylike to drown oneself in excess, losing hold of inhibitions and all sense of decorum.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Of course you don't,Ã¢â¬ I said. Ã¢â¬Å"I believe,Ã¢â¬ she added primly, Ã¢â¬Å"that the Willow Queen shares my views.Ã¢â¬ I smiled, spinning my cup on the ground, watching in fascination as it turned in smaller and smaller circles before coming to a stop. With Maiwenn's baby consuming my thoughts, Ysabel's baiting seemed insignificant tonight. We continued on for a while, Rurik keeping up with me in shots, with Shaya only occasionally indulging. Ysabel seemed to have lost her fear of me and continued her running commentary of barbed remarks. I think knowing I was in a fragile state over Maiwenn's labor had emboldened her. In fact, she was in the middle of some anecdote about how Kiyo and Maiwenn had first gotten involved when her words came to a halt, and her features lit up with surprise. Ã¢â¬Å"My lord!Ã¢â¬ she cried, springing up just as one of my servants began announcing, Ã¢â¬Å"His royal majesty, King Dorian, of the House of Arkady, caller of earth-Ã¢â¬Å" Dorian strode forward into the courtyard without waiting for his titles to finish. Ysabel fell to her knees before him, face radiant. Ã¢â¬Å"My lord!Ã¢â¬ He gave her a brief nod of acknowledgment and then swept on past her toward me. I don't think anyone except me saw the devastation that filled her face over the slight. Shaya and Rurik began to rise out of courtesy, but Dorian quickly motioned them down. Unfastening his cloak-it appeared to be navy in the moonlight-he spread it on the ground and sat beside me. Ã¢â¬Å"Well, well, a party, and no one invited me.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"It was kind of impromptu,Ã¢â¬ I said, reaching over to pour him a shot. My hand trembled as I held the bottle. Dorian took it from me and finished pouring. He eyed me carefully. Ã¢â¬Å"And yet, it appears to have been going on for some time.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Yes. We're toasting the birth of the next king or queen of the Willow Land.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"So I've heard, which is why I came to see how the news was received here.Ã¢â¬ Dorian tossed back the tequila. His eyebrows rose in surprise at the taste, but it didn't stop him from pouring another. Ã¢â¬Å"And don't presume her child will inherit. It all depends on strength and power.Ã¢â¬ His words reminded me distantly of Leith's own inheritance problems, which then reminded me of Leith's declaration of love. Ugh. I'd probably killed our one chance at engineering help. Well, that was a concern for another day. Ã¢â¬Å"How'd you get here so fast?Ã¢â¬ I asked Dorian. Ã¢â¬Å"Not that fast. I heard hours ago.Ã¢â¬ Hours ago. Dorian had found out before I had. Probably everyone had. Who was I, after all? Certainly no one who was connected to this birth. I was just another monarch who'd be expected to send jewels or tapestries when the baby was born. I poured another shot, but Shaya reached for it. Ã¢â¬Å"May I have another?Ã¢â¬ She wasn't a fan of this stuff, but I had a feeling she wanted to stop me from drinking any more. Oh, well. There appeared to be about one more shot in the bottle-though Dorian beat me to that one too. Ã¢â¬Å"You'll make yourself sick,Ã¢â¬ I warned, reaching for the bottle. Only a few drops poured into my cup. Ã¢â¬Å"I'll take my chances. This is a fascinating substance.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"It comes from cacti,Ã¢â¬ I said helpfully, hoping it might deter him from that last shot. It didn't. Ã¢â¬Å"Intriguing,Ã¢â¬ he said after downing it. Ã¢â¬Å"You should try producing it here. I'm certain a number of people would trade for it.Ã¢â¬ I couldn't be certain in the near-darkness, but it looked like Shaya rolled her eyes. Part of me resented Dorian's presence, though I had to admit that he did a good job in keeping the subject away from Maiwenn and Kiyo. That didn't stop me from thinking about them, of course, but I couldn't help but smile as he entertained the others. Whether it was part of being a king or just something inherently Dorian, he had a powerful charisma about him that could make everyone laugh and stay captivated. With my social reticence, his were skills I admired-and occasionally envied. As the night wore on, though, I could feel the tequila's effects lessening a little. That wasn't to say I still wasn't drunk as hell; I'd taken down half that bottle myself. But, I wanted to go to bed while I was still in that delirious haze. It didn't stop me from feeling down over Kiyo, but I had to imagine being sober would be worse. Everyone stood up when I did, and I felt my legs struggle for balance. Ã¢â¬Å"Let me assist you,Ã¢â¬ said Shaya, reaching toward me. Dorian intervened before she could help. Ã¢â¬Å"No, no. Allow me to guide the Thorn Queen to her room. I'd like a few words.Ã¢â¬ Ysabel's face darkened at this, and he gave her a chastising look. Ã¢â¬Å"Oh, stop it. I'll come to you shortly-provided Eugenie will allow me to stay overnight in her castle.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Sure, sure,Ã¢â¬ I said. Ã¢â¬Å"Come on over. Make yourself at home. Pick out curtains.Ã¢â¬ He extended his arm to me, and I decided the indignity of letting Dorian guide me was less than that of me falling over in front of my servants. Ysabel's eyes followed us furiously, and I couldn't blame her. If my boyfriend were taking a drunk woman to her bedroom, I'd be pissed too. Ã¢â¬Å"It was very high-handed of you to think I needed your moral support,Ã¢â¬ I told him once we were out of earshot of the others. Ã¢â¬Å"Right. You only need the moral support of a bottle,Ã¢â¬ he teased. Ã¢â¬Å"Be honest, Eugenie. Your lover's at the side of a former lover, eagerly awaiting the birth of their child. I'd be distressed as well.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Nothing distresses you,Ã¢â¬ I grumbled. We reached my room, and he followed me in without invitation. Ã¢â¬Å"Plenty of things do,Ã¢â¬ he said. He frowned, ever so slightly, and it occurred to me he was none too sober himself. I let go of his arm and walked over to the full-length mirror that stood on one side of the room, edged in gold. I'd pinned up my hair earlier and let it down now, wondering if I wanted to bother with sending Nia for a nightgown or if I'd just sleep in my clothes. Standing there, I stared at my body, thinking again of my mother's claims that I was too skinny. I always argued it was an athletic build. Running my hands over the sides of my stomach and down to my hips, I studied my figure. Whatever you wanted to call it, it was slim. Ã¢â¬Å"I can never do that for him,Ã¢â¬ I said in a small voice. Ã¢â¬Å"I can never give him a baby like she can.Ã¢â¬ Dorian strolled over and stood behind me, meeting my eyes in the mirror. Ã¢â¬Å"Do you want to?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"I don't know. Kids were never on my radarÃ¢â¬ ¦it was always a Ã¢â¬Ëmaybe someday' kind of thing. But nowÃ¢â¬ ¦knowing I can'tÃ¢â¬ ¦Ã¢â¬ My hips and stomach suddenly seemed as unhealthily skinny as my mother had always said. They would remain untouched and infertile, never filling out with the kind of life Maiwenn's had. I would never share that with Kiyo. I flinched as Dorian reached from behind and placed his hands on the narrowest part of my waist. He rested his head on my shoulder, and I was too weary to shoo him away. Ã¢â¬Å"You speak like someone who's been condemned with infertility or like you've passed your prime.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"I might as well be.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"That's not true. You're young. You radiate health and fertility. You could have a dozen children.Ã¢â¬ I shook my head slowly. Ã¢â¬Å"I can't,Ã¢â¬ I said sadly. Ã¢â¬Å"I won't. You know I won't, no matter how much you and every other Otherworldly creature want me to.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Maybe you'd have a daughter.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"I can't take the risk.Ã¢â¬ I knew I'd never be confiding in him sober. Ã¢â¬Å"And what if Kiyo decides he doesn't want that-to be with someone who's always going to be childless? What if he wants more kids? Maybe this babyÃ¢â¬ ¦Maybe he'll go back to Maiwenn. MaybeÃ¢â¬ ¦maybe he'll leave meÃ¢â¬ ¦.Ã¢â¬ I could feel tears forming in my eyes and hated myself for the weakness. Dorian tightened his grip on my waist. Ã¢â¬Å"He'd be a fool. And you'd be a fool to mourn him if he did. You're more than a childbearing vessel.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Not the way everyone talks. Not the way you talk.Ã¢â¬ To my shock, Dorian spun me around. Still gripping me, he pressed his forehead to mine so that only an inch was between us. I could smell the tequila on his breath, no doubt mirroring my own. Ã¢â¬Å"Eugenie, you're a woman without equal, and no matter how much you annoy the hell out of me and no matter how much I try to get you out of my head-and believe me, both occur regularly-I can't stay away from you. Even if you were barren, I'd take you as my consort in an instant and spend the rest of my life with you-childless, so long as it meant you'd be by my side. I would gladly bring you to my bed with no other thoughts than taking joy from your body. It would be enough.Ã¢â¬ I swallowed. Ã¢â¬Å"But you're withÃ¢â¬ ¦I mean, what aboutÃ¢â¬ ¦what about Ysabel? She can have kidsÃ¢â¬ ¦.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Ysabel,Ã¢â¬ he said dismissively, Ã¢â¬Å"is nothing. A pale imitation of you-and not even a good one at that.Ã¢â¬ That was harsh of him, but it filled me with something warm and loved and special. I realized then that no matter the bantering, sexual tension, and many schemes, Dorian really was my friend. I also realized that I wanted so badly then for him to kiss me, to crush his body against mine and run his hands along my bare skin. I wanted to have sex with him against the wall, on the bed, on the floorÃ¢â¬ ¦it honestly didn't matter, so long as our bodies were joined, and I could feel him in meÃ¢â¬ ¦. Whoa. I jerked away, my heart racing, barely stopping myself from doing something I'd regret. Deciding he was my friend was one thing; jumping into bed was another. I knew it was the tequila and my worry over Kiyo causing this. I didn't want to be with Dorian again; I couldn't be. Even if he claimed it would be for love and pleasure, I knew it could never be that simple. There would always be politics and schemesÃ¢â¬ ¦. And so, I did the most unsexy thing I could. I summoned Volusian. The icy, dark presence of my minion caught even Dorian by surprise, and he took a step back. It was the Otherworldly equivalent of a cold shower. Volusian's eyes flicked to him and then turned back to me. Ã¢â¬Å"My mistress requires more intoxication,Ã¢â¬ he said. Ã¢â¬Å"No.Ã¢â¬ My magical hold on him trembled ever so slightly. It was nowhere near enough for me to lose control, but the alcohol messed with my power a bit. Ã¢â¬Å"I wanted you to go to the Willow Land and see if there's any news.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"More romantic errands.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Just go,Ã¢â¬ I snapped, trying to sound as harsh and commanding as I could. As soon as Volusian was gone, Dorian strode angrily to me, all traces of sensuality gone. Ã¢â¬Å"That was stupid, Eugenie. You shouldn't have summoned him after drinking so much.Ã¢â¬ I turned away from him. Ã¢â¬Å"I need to find out what's going on.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"You need to banish him. You're going to regret keeping him someday.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"He's useful,Ã¢â¬ I protested. Ã¢â¬Å"I don't need any lectures. You should go to Ysabel now. I don't need any more declarations of love today.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Oh?Ã¢â¬ His light tone returned. Ã¢â¬Å"Had a few of those today?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Leith,Ã¢â¬ I admitted. Ã¢â¬Å"He came by tonight to profess his undying devotion and see if he had a chance with me.Ã¢â¬ Dorian's green eyes watched me carefully. Ã¢â¬Å"And?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"And, of course not. I had to tell him no a few times before he finally got it.Ã¢â¬ Dorian didn't bother hiding his satisfaction. Ã¢â¬Å"You've broken the poor boy's heart. And his mother's, no doubt. There'll be no ball now. Would you like me to throw one instead?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"No.Ã¢â¬ My sadness was turning into irritability. Ã¢â¬Å"I want you to leave. Go to Ysabel and paint her or tie her up or whatever it is you do together. I'm tired and want to go to bed. Alone.Ã¢â¬ To my surprise, Dorian didn't protest. Much. Ã¢â¬Å"As you wish. If you need me, you know where I'll be.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"It would take a lot for me to interrupt you,Ã¢â¬ I said dryly. Dorian gave me one of his knowing, sly smiles and then left without another word. The thought of him going to Ysabel's bed troubled me more than I would have liked. He'd barely been gone a few minutes when Volusian returned. Ã¢â¬Å"Well?Ã¢â¬ I asked. My stomach was queasy. I didn't know what I wanted to hear. If it was in Volusian's nature to smile, I swear, he would have. Ã¢â¬Å"The servants of the Willow Land report joyfully that their queen has given birth to a daughter. All are healthy and well.Ã¢â¬ My body went perfect still, and for a moment, I saw nothing in the room except those glowing red eyes. Finally, I snapped back to myself. Ã¢â¬Å"Thank you, Volusian.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Does my mistress require me to learn anything else about this joyous occasion?Ã¢â¬ There was a sneer in his voice. Ã¢â¬Å"No. Go back to Jasmine. Now.Ã¢â¬ He obeyed, leaving me alone. I sat on the bed for several minutes, thinking of everything and nothing. I felt numb. I felt every emotion in the world. And when I suddenly ripped the air from the room and used it to smash a vase against the wall, I couldn't say if it was because of Dorian or Kiyo.