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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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We reached the cottage door, but he still held my arm to support me. “Should I see you inside?” he asked. He was steady and even, as he always was. Except for the brief fit when Rafe’s horse bit him, nothing seemed to ruffle him, even the terror of today.

His eyes rested on me, two warm circles of brown, and yet they betrayed him, just as they had on that night in the tavern when I first met him. Though composure ruled on the outside, a strange tempest stirred inward. He reminded me of Bryn in so many ways, the youngest and wildest of my three brothers. Bryn was always clever enough to put on the correct royal airs in my father’s presence to deflect any suspicion of his misconduct, but my mother could always pinch his chin, look into his eyes, and the truth was revealed. I just couldn’t figure out Kaden’s truth yet.

“Thank you, but I’m steady now,” I answered. But even as I stood there, I didn’t feel so steady. I was drained. It was as if a week’s worth of energy had been dispatched in just a few quick moments of trying to survive.

“You’re sure there were no others?” he asked. “No one else that you saw?”

“I’m certain.” I couldn’t explain that I knew bounty hunters didn’t run in packs and this one especially was on a private mission. His hand slid from my arm, and I was grateful. Berdi was right. I did need to rest.

I closed the door behind me, took off my bloody shirt, and threw it in the corner. I was too tired to be worried about washing it just now. I sat on the bed, wincing at the pain in my shoulder and neck, then fluffed my pillow, tucking my knife beneath it. I would do as I promised Walther—practice—no matter how early I had to rise. No one would take me by surprise again, but for now a short rest was all I needed. My eyelids grew heavier. What had Berdi given me in that water?

I slept heavily but remembered Berdi coming into the cottage, sitting on the edge of the bed to say something to me, brushing the hair from my forehead with her hand, and quietly leaving again. I sniffed the aroma of freshly baked bread and chicken broth coming from the table next to me, but I was too tired to eat and fell back asleep until I heard a soft knock on the door.

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