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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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I stopped, my hand still shoved in my pocket. Berdi was silent for a long while.

“Yes,” she finally said. “A long time ago.”

“You didn’t marry?”

“No. We were very much in love, though. By the gods, he was handsome. Not in the usual sense. His nose was hooked. His eyes set close. And there wasn’t a lot of hair up on top, but he lit up the room when he walked in. He had what I called presence.”

“What happened?”

Berdi was an old woman, and yet I noticed she sighed as if the memory were fresh. “I couldn’t leave here, and he couldn’t stay. That pretty much tells it all.”

Lia questioned her more, and Berdi told her the man was a stonecutter with a business in the city of Sacraments. He’d wanted her to come away with him, but her mother had passed on, her father was getting older, and she was afraid to leave him alone with the tavern to run.

“Do you regret not going?”

“I can’t think about things like that now. What’s done is done. I did what I had to do at the time.” Berdi’s knobby hand reached down for a handful of pegs.

“But what if—”

“Why don’t we talk about you for a while?” Berdi asked. “Are you still happy with your decision to leave home now that you’ve had some time here?”

“I couldn’t be happier. And once Pauline is feeling better, I’ll be delirious.”

“Even though some people still think the tradition and duty of—”

“Stop! Those are two words I never want to hear again,” I heard Lia say. “Tradition and duty. I don’t care what others think.”

Berdi grunted. “Well, I suppose in Dalbreck they aren’t—”

“And that’s the third word I never want to hear again. Ever! Dalbreck!”

I crumpled the notes in my fist, listening, feeling my pulse rush.

“They were as much a cause of my problems as anyone. What kind of prince—”

Her voice cut off, and there was a long silence. I waited, and finally I heard Berdi say gently, “It’s all right, Lia. You can talk about it.”

The silence continued and when Lia finally spoke again, her voice was weak. “All my life I dreamed about someone loving me for me. For who I was. Not the king’s daughter. Not First Daughter. Just me. And certainly not because a piece of paper commanded it.”

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