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Pearson Mary E, “The kiss of deception”, public translation into English from English More about this translation.

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“It’s not so bad, really. And there’s no indication that it’s royal or even a wedding kavah anymore. The crest of Dalbreck and the royal crowns are gone. It’s only a partial claw and vines. It could be there for any reason. Can’t you live with that?”

Live with a scrap of Dalbreck’s crest peeking over my shoulder for the rest of my life? Not to mention it was the claw of a vicious mythological animal not even found in Morrighan folklore. Still, I remembered when I first saw the kavah, I had thought it was exquisite. Perfection, I had called it, but that was when I thought it would soon be washed away, when I didn’t know it would serve as a permanent reminder of the life I had thrown away. You’ll always be you, Lia. You can’t run from that.

“It will come off,” I told her. “I’ll just give it more time.”

She shrugged, and her gaze rose to the golden leaves of a lacy tree branching out above us, hemmed in by the vibrant green of others. She smiled, bittersweet. “Look at the brilliant yellow. Autumn is greedy, no? Already stealing days from summer.”

I eyed the premature color. “Early, yes, but maybe it all evens out. Maybe there are times summer lingers and refuses to give way to autumn.”

She sighed. “The rules of reason. Even nature can’t obey.” She stripped off her clothes, throwing them carelessly on the bank. She joined me in the deeper waters, dipping below the surface and then twisting her thick cords of burgundy hair into a long rope. Her milky white shoulders hovered just above the surface. “Will you ever go back?” she asked bluntly.

I had heard the rumors of war. I knew Gwyneth had too. She still thought that as First Daughter I could change things. That door had never been open to me, and now there was no doubt it was firmly shut, but she probably saw the stubborn kavah as a sign, and I wondered how hard she had really tried to scrub it away. She stared at me, waiting for my answer. Will you ever go back?

I dipped below the water, and the world grew muted again, the golden leaves above me barely visible, the dull echo of my heart beating in my temples, bubbles of air escaping from my nose, and soon Gwyneth’s question was gone, carried away in the current of the creek, along with all of its expectations.

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