Stand Out with Strong Language Skills: Read, Read, Read

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“Stand Out with Strong Language Skills: Read, Read, Read” is the fourth article in my four-step series dedicated to effective methods for expanding your vocabulary through reading! In this series, we will talk about various strategies on how to utilize books for language growth, enhance your strong language skills, and discover new ways to enrich your word knowledge.

I am thrilled to share my insights on how reading can be a valuable tool for enriching your vocabulary.

In this blog post, we will continue our exploration of chapter 2 from the captivating novel “Harsh Affairs.”

Together, we will analyze the text, uncovering new words, phrases, and idioms along the way.

Keep reading as we will start reading chapter 2 of the novel “Harsh affairs”.

Text for Exploration: Chapter 2 Of The Novel “Harsh affairs”(Extract)

Strong Language Skills

After that unforgettable night, Lucy and I began spending more time together. Although we weren’t sure if we had romantic feelings for each other, we both knew that we cherished each other’s company.

It was time to tell her the truth.

I invited her to join me for a bike ride in Central Park after school, seeking a quiet place where we could have a conversation.

As the sun began its descent, casting a warm, golden hue over Central Park, Lucy and I decided to take a break from our bike ride. We found ourselves drawn to a secluded spot near a tranquil pond, where the vibrant colors of the surrounding flowers bloomed in harmony with the gentle breeze.

Leaning against a nearby tree, I caught my breath, my eyes scanning the picturesque scenery that unfolded before us. Central Park had a way of captivating the senses, with its sprawling greenery and a sense of calm that permeated the air.

I turned to Lucy, her face flushed from the exertion of our ride, and couldn’t help but be captivated by her radiant smile. The sunlight played upon her features, casting a soft glow that enhanced her youthful beauty.

“That was quite a ride, wasn’t it?” I remarked, my voice filled with a mix of exhilaration and contentment.

Lucy, still catching her breath, nodded in agreement.

As we sat on a nearby bench, the sounds of nature providing a soothing melody, I gathered my thoughts and prepared to share something that might have a profound impact on our connection.

“Lucy,” I began, my voice tinged with a touch of uncertainty, “there’s something important I need to tell you about our relationship.”

Her gaze fixed on me, a mix of anticipation and vulnerability in her eyes. I took a deep breath, searching for the right words to express the truth.

“You see, Lucy, we’re not first-line cousins, as I had initially believed. My father was adopted, which means we don’t share a blood relation,” I confessed, the weight of the revelation heavy on my shoulders.

For a moment, a flicker of surprise danced across Lucy’s face, her youthful innocence momentarily disrupted. Emotions played on her features, her expressive eyes reflecting a whirlwind of thoughts.

A silence hung between us, filled with unspoken questions and the uncertainty of what this newfound knowledge meant for our connection. I braced myself for her reaction, unsure of how she would process this information.

But then, as if a switch had been flipped, an expression of relief washed over Lucy’s face. Her features softened, and a gentle smile tugged at the corners of her lips.

“Oh, thank God, Bobby! I was scared we are doing something wrong,” she exclaimed.

I nodded, understanding the weight of the revelation.

“Now we can do whatever we want. But it is so shocking, I can’t wrap my head around it, ” she continued, her voice trembling slightly. The realization of our true connection had shaken her to the core, yet she remained eager to embrace our newfound freedom.

“Is it my father who told you? He’s always been the one who knows everything and wants to control everybody.”

“No, it wasn’t him this time. It was my father.”

Lucy looked at me with concern in her eyes. “How so?” she asked, her voice filled with curiosity.

“He wanted me to know the trough. I will tell you everything when I am ready to share it.”

Lucy’s expression softened as she processed the information. “That must have been a lot to take in,” she said softly.

“It was,” I admitted, feeling a mix of emotions swirling inside me.

She reached out and gently squeezed my hand. “I’m here for you, Robert. We’ll get through this, no matter what.”

Taking a deep breath, I met her gaze, my expression filled with a mix of apprehension and determination. “Let’s keep it between us for now,” I suggested, my tone laced with caution. “We’ll see when the right time comes to share this with others.”

She nodded in agreement. “Of course. I will be silent,” she assured me, her voice filled with sincerity. ” I can imagine how you felt to learn about it. I like you so much, Bobby. You are my soulmate.”

A soft smile graced my face as I gently leaned in and tenderly kissed her on the cheek. The familiar flutter of attraction danced between us, but I knew we had to take it slowly. Our connection was unique and complicated, and it required time to move forward.

As we sat together, a palpable awkwardness enveloped us. The bustling world around us faded into insignificance as we confronted the gravity of our secret. The path ahead seemed uncertain, and we found ourselves grappling with the unknown. Yet, amidst the ambiguity, one thing stood unwavering: our bond, unbreakable and profound.

But things took a sudden turn when Elliott ordered me to stay away from Lucy. It was then that I realized how much she had come to mean to me. I was ready to fight anyone who tried to come between us.

* * *

“Lucy! My God! What are you doing here so late?” I exclaimed, pulling her into a hug.

“Hey, Bobby. I need to talk to you,” she said, her voice filled with urgency.

“What’s up?” I asked, concerned.

“Not much, but I need your help.”

“Sure. Let’s go to my apartment. “

The elevator was on the lobby floor, and when I pressed the button, the doors opened. We entered, and I said, “I thought you were studying for your test tomorrow.”

“My life is over! I am so mad!” she exclaimed.

I was sure she was exaggerating, as teenagers often do. My main concern was whether Elliott had disclosed something about us.

“Is it about your father?” I asked, hoping for some clues.

“It’s about both of them. They’ve completely ruined my life. I feel like I’m going to explode,” she replied, pausing to catch her breath. Just then, on the sixth floor, the elevator doors opened, revealing a young couple entering with their adorable toy poodle.

“We’re going up,” I informed them.

To my surprise, the girl responded, “We’re actually going to the roof terrace.”

Her smile was infectious, and Lucy’s anger seemed to dissipate as she spotted the puppy.

“Oh my God, she’s so adorable! Can I pet her? She’s a girl, right?” Lucy eagerly asked the couple.

“Yes, of course, you can pet her. Her name is Cookie,” the girl replied, beaming.

Lucy showered Cookie with affection, her face lighting up with happiness. “Oh hi, Cookie. You’re such a cute puppy!” she exclaimed.

The guy chimed in, “Actually, she’s 7 years old.” Lucy’s expression quickly changed. “Is she? Oh, I thought she was a baby.”

As Lucy continued to shower Cookie with love, she turned to me and said, “Bobby, I want you to buy me a dog. I adore small dogs.”

A thought crossed my mind. “I have an idea for a birthday present,” I replied with a smile.

Finally, we arrived at my floor, and the elevator doors opened. Lucy bid farewell to Cookie, giving her a quick kiss.

“Have a nice walk, Cookie,” she said, her face beaming with joy.

As we exited the elevator, Lucy’s voice rang out with a demanding tone. ‘I want a puppy, Bobby. Please, please, please buy me one.’ Elliott’s words, spoken during our morning conversation, echoed in my mind. ‘Lucy is not a kid anymore.’ It seemed that we were both mistaken. Perhaps I was the only one who sees in her, instead of an innocent teenager, an attractive, mature woman, which she will become one day, but not quite yet. In the present moment, though, Lucy was still young, a child in many ways.


My apartment is on the top floor of a new modern condo

building. I love the beautiful views that reveal the city and the distant

towers of Manhattan. At night, the picture is breathtaking. The

condo is open concept, with small and ergonomic furniture. I hired

a Puerto Rican couple to take care of my bachelor’s abode. I prefer

the servants and the driver to live separately. I kill for my privacy! But I rented a one-bedroom apartment in the same building. That’s convenient

because although they don’t live in the, they’re always at hand.

My favorite place is my sunroom, where I like to surf the net

or read magazines on the developments in high technology. From

the window on one side of the sofa bed, I can access the roof terrace,

where, in the summer, I love to drink my coffee and drinks.

When we entered the apartment, I realized how hungry I was.

“Did you tell your mom that you are at my place?”

“I sent her a message.”

“Text her that I’ll drive you home. Do it now while I check if

dinner is ready. I’ll be right back.”

“It’s okay. I’m not hungry.”

I’m starving. Just keep me company.”

” Alright.”

“Are you prepared for tomorrow?” I asked when I returned.

“I hope so.”

“The mid-term is just around the corner, right?


We settled down in the dining room.

“Some wine?”

“You know I’m not allowed to drink.”

“It’s tender Italian wine.”

“Bobby, you’re so cute. Ok, just a sip, and don’t tell my dad.”

“Melissa, can you get utensils for Lucy, please,” I asked the

housekeeper who was serving dinner.

“Si, sir,” said Melissa.

I love her Spanish accent.

“Do you want some stewed veal? Melissa is a magician in the

kitchen. You need to try it,” I said after the housekeeper put the

utensils in front of her.

“Oh, I could not eat a morsel. She looked like a fastidious child

who refuses to eat breakfast and drink milk, but then she hesitated,

and finally changed her mind.

“Well, well, I smell something very yummy,” she said like a

small, capricious kid. “Actually, I haven’t eaten since this morning,

and my stomach has twisted into a ball.”

Melissa also brought other delicacies and drinks.

“Do you want some crayfish in the marinade? You will find

that this is the best appetizer for our wine.”

“Oh, Crabs! I love them.”

“Try Melissa’s breaded chicken nuggets. They are one of a kind.”

“How can I resist these delicious meals? You’re such a gourmet.”

“Unfortunately, I don’t have so much time for that. Now listen

and follow my instructions: eat some fried morsels, and add a little feta

cheese. So… come on, now slowly, have a drink, a sip of wine.

Slowly. You can feel it. Good. Take a breath. How do you smell


She was following my instructions diligently.

“Mmm…. Awesome!”

Once she’d discovered the secrets of wine tasting, we had to

focus on her problems. I waited so she could experience the pleasure

of good food and drink before we got to the point:

“And now, after having enjoyed this pleasant part of life, tell

me, what’s going on?”

She answered me directly, without hesitating for a moment:

“I don’t want to live with my parents anymore. I have serious

problems at home.”

“Why? What happened?”

I didn’t know what to think. Did Elliott tell her something

about us, or was it something else?

“I just have to leave, Robert.”

“Speak out, kiddo. What exactly is the problem?”

This time she hesitated, seemed to think, took a slow sip of

wine and looked at me over the edge of the glass.

“The problem is that Dad is over-parenting. He doesn’t respect

me or listen to my opinion. He says “no” to everything I really

want. For example, I wanted to start working with an advertising

agency as a model. The photographer of this agency met me in a

café, and said that I have the qualities of a model. Well, what do

you think my father did? It was a “no” again. My mother thought

it was an unprestigious occupation for a girl with high social status.”

“When you finish school, you will be able to make your own


“I don’t think so. My father is pushing me to go to Harvard as

“all the Gerald go to Harvard.” Honestly, Bobby, I cannot care less.

I want to take Design Management at New York University.”

“Of course, it is better to conform to the traditions and go to

Harvard, but….”

“Sometimes he says that I can choose, other times he voices the

opposite opinion. As if he deliberately wants to annoy me. I think

there is a lot of tension in my family lately, and I’m not sure if I can

survive it.”

“Of course, you will.”

“Well, but you didn’t hear everything. Do you know what just

happened? He took my cell phone! Can you imagine? My phone is

my life. My friends are there, my Facebook, my everything. At that

moment, I felt like he didn’t take just my cell, that he took my soul,

Robert. Like I’m stupid or insane, and not able to make my own


“Don’t blame him, Lucy. Sometimes fathers are quite jealous

towards their daughters.”

“Jealous? No, he’s a dictator. He wants to control me.

However, he needs to understand that this is my life, and I don’t

need his advice on how to live it. I told my father that. In addition,

I told him if he doesn’t trust me, I couldn’t trust him either. If you

could have seen his expression.”

I leaned in, trying to offer her comfort.

“What about your mom? It seems to me she’s very nice and


“She’s kind of. She at least tries to understand me but she

always listens to what Dad has to say. She’s his shadow,” she replied with a sigh, her voice filled with frustration.

“Maybe you need to talk to her about how you feel.”

“I don’t think so. It will be a waste of time. She’ll agree with me

and then she’ll agree with him. I don’t want to be like her, not having

an opinion,” she said, shaking her head.

I looked at her with empathy and suggested:

“She wants all of you to be happy. Ask her to stay on your


“I think it will be much easier just to leave and live by myself,” she said, her voice growing more and more distant.

I shook my head, trying to reason with her: “I don’t think it’s a good idea to leave your home right now.”

“Why are you on their side? I don’t get it,” she said, her frustration growing.

I replied gently; “I’m not. For me, it’s too early. Finish high school first, and then if you decide to stay in New York, I promise I’ll help you find a


“You know what? I don’t want to go home. Can I sleep here on

the sofa bed for a while?”

“It’s not a problem for me at all, but, as I said, don’t do stupid


As the hours ticked by, I did my best to comfort my baby. Finally, after half an hour of coaxing, I convinced her to go home. It was clear that she needed someone to talk to, and I was glad that she trusted me enough to open up to me.

I really like Lucy, and it would make me happy to have her living with me under different circumstances. However, after Elliott ordered me to stop seeing her, I feel scared of what he was capable of doing to both of us. It’s not worth the risk, no matter how much I care about her.

* * *

As we sat in the car, the streetlights cast a soft glow, illuminating our faces. The engine hummed softly, filling the space with a comforting sound. Breaking the silence, I asked her:

“Did your father say something about me?”

Her brows furrowed as she processed my question. “What do you mean, ‘Something about me’?” she asked, a hint of confusion in her tone.

 “I mean, did he mention anything about us? About the fact that we’re going out and all?” I clarified, trying to gauge her reaction.

She shook her head, her expression a mix of surprise and indifference. “No, he didn’t say anything. Why would he? It’s not his business,” she replied, her voice tinged with a touch of defiance.

I quickly backtracked. “Forget it, kiddo. I was just curious,” I said, trying to brush off the weight of the question.

We arrived at her home in silence.

“You’re doing the right thing by staying with your parents, Lucy. Trust me,” I assured her, hoping to provide some comfort.

As she stepped out of the car and headed towards her house, she whispered, “Have a good night, betrayer,”

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Build and Develop Vocabulary for Strong Language Skills

I can’t wrap my head around it

is an idiom. It is a common expression used to convey the idea that someone is having difficulty understanding or comprehending something. When someone says, “I can’t wrap my head around it,” they are essentially saying that the concept or idea is so complex or confusing that they are unable to fully grasp or make sense of it. It emphasizes a sense of mental struggle or frustration in trying to comprehend a particular topic or situation.


  1. “I’ve read the instructions several times, but I still can’t wrap my head around how to assemble this complicated piece of furniture.”
  2. “The professor’s lecture on quantum physics was so advanced that most of the students couldn’t wrap their heads around it.”
  3. “I’ve been studying this math problem for hours, but I just can’t wrap my head around the solution. It’s too complex for me.”

To take in

is an idiom. It can have multiple meanings depending on the context. Here are a few common uses of the idiom “to take in”:

  1. To understand or comprehend: When someone says they “can’t take it in,” they mean they are having difficulty grasping or understanding a concept or information. For example:
    • “The lecture was so complex that I couldn’t take it all in.”
  2. To deceive or trick: When someone “takes in” another person, it means they deceive or fool them in some way. For example:
    • “He was taken in by the scam and lost a significant amount of money.”
  3. To accommodate or provide shelter: This meaning is often used when referring to providing temporary accommodation or lodging for someone. For example:
    • “We offered to take in the stranded travelers until they could find another place to stay.”
  4. To include or encompass: When something “takes in” or “takes in account” certain factors or aspects, it means it considers or includes them. For example:
    • “The report takes in all the relevant data and analysis.”

Please note that the specific meaning of “to take in” can vary depending on the context in which it is used.

hours ticked by

The phrase “hours ticked by” is an idiom that conveys the passage of time, often emphasizing a sense of waiting or boredom. It suggests that the hours were passing slowly, one after another, without any significant or noticeable events taking place. Here are a few example sentences using this idiom:

  1. “As I sat in the waiting room, the hours ticked by, and I grew increasingly impatient.”
  2. “She stared out the window as the rain poured down, feeling as if the hours were ticking by at a snail’s pace.”
  3. “During the long flight, the hours ticked by, and the passengers grew restless and eager to reach their destination.”

I’m here for you

is a comforting phrase often used to express support, availability, and willingness to help someone in need. It conveys the message that you are present and ready to offer assistance, guidance, or simply a listening ear. Here are a few examples of how this phrase can be used:

  1. “I know you’re going through a tough time, but remember, I’m here for you. If you need to talk or if there’s anything I can do, please don’t hesitate to reach out.”
  2. “You’re not alone in this. I want you to know that I’m here for you, no matter what. We’ll get through it together.”
  3. “Whenever you feel overwhelmed or just need someone to lean on, remember that I’m here for you. You can count on me.”

a morsel

The word “morsel” refers to a small or bite-sized amount of food, typically used to describe a small portion or fragment. It can also be used figuratively to refer to a small piece or amount of something non-food-related. Here are a few example sentences using the word “morsel”:

  1. “She savored every morsel of the delicious chocolate cake.”
  2. “The chef presented a tiny morsel of his signature dish as a tasting portion.”
  3. “I couldn’t resist grabbing a morsel of the freshly baked bread as soon as it came out of the oven.”

In these examples, “morsel” is used to describe a small amount or portion of food that is being enjoyed or consumed. However, it can also be used metaphorically to describe a small fragment or piece of something non-edible, such as a morsel of information or a morsel of truth.

Practical Exercises To Boost Your Vocabulary

Strong Language Skills

Exercise: Word Association


  1. Take each of the five words/phrases (“I can’t wrap my head around it,” “to take in,” “hours ticked by,” “I’m here for you,” and “a morsel”).
  2. For each word or phrase, write down the first word or phrase that comes to your mind when you think about it. Try to make a quick association based on your initial thoughts or feelings.
  3. Reflect on your associations and think about why those specific words or phrases came to mind.


  1. “I can’t wrap my head around it” – Complex
  2. “To take in” – Understand
  3. “Hours ticked by” – Waiting
  4. “I’m here for you” – Support
  5. “A morsel” – Bite-sized

Reflecting on the associations:

  • “Complex” came to mind for “I can’t wrap my head around it” because it implies something difficult to understand.
  • “Understand” came to mind for “To take in” because it relates to comprehending or grasping something.
  • “Waiting” came to mind for “Hours ticked by” because it suggests the passage of time, often accompanied by impatience or boredom.
  • “Support” came to mind for “I’m here for you” because it conveys being present and available to help someone in need.
  • “Bite-sized” came to mind for “A morsel” because it signifies a small portion of food or information.

Feel free to come up with your own associations and reflect on why those particular words or phrases came to mind. This exercise can help you explore the connections between words, thoughts, and personal experiences.

Conclusion: Stand Out with Strong Language Skills: Read, Read, Read

In conclusion, incorporating reading into your language learning is an excellent way to expand your vocabulary. By reading captivating novels like “Harsh Affairs” and exploring new words, expressions, and idioms within its chapters, you can enhance your language skills.

Additionally, the practical exercises provided have been designed to support your learning and help you retain the newly discovered words. I encourage you to maintain a consistent reading habit and practice daily. Read, read, read to stand out with strong language skills and strengthen your overall language proficiency.

Thanks for reading!

With love and respect,


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