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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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CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO

I leaned forward in the tub as Pauline scrubbed my back, savoring the slippery luxury of the bath oils on my skin and the hot water soothing my bruised muscles. Pauline dropped the sponge in the water in front of me, splashing my face.

“Come back to earth, Lia,” she called.

“It’s not every day one has a first kiss,” I said.

“May I remind you that it wasn’t your first kiss?”

“It felt like it was. It was the first one that mattered.”

She had told me as we were drawing water for our baths that everyone could hear us yelling from the dining room, so Berdi and Gwyneth had started another round of songs to drown out our words, but Pauline had heard me shout go away, so she never thought she’d end up interrupting a kiss. She’d already apologized several times, but I told her that nothing could take away from the moment.

She lifted a pitcher of warm rosewater. “Now?”

I stood and she let the fragrant water trickle over my head and down my body into the tub. I wrapped myself in a towel and stepped out, still reliving every moment, especially that last brief exchange looking into each other’s eyes.

“A farmer,” I sighed. “Isn’t that romantic?”

“Yes,” Pauline agreed.

“So much more genuine than a stuffy old prince.” I smiled. He worked the land. He made things grow. “Pauline? When did you—” And then I remembered it wasn’t a subject I should broach with her.

“When did I what?”

I shook my head. “Nothing.”

She sat on the end of the bed, rubbing oil onto her freshly bathed ankles. She appeared to have forgotten my half-said question, but after a moment she asked, “When did I know I had fallen in love with Mikael?”

I sat down across from her. “Yes.”

She sighed, pulling her knees up and hugging them. “It was early spring. I had seen Mikael several times in the village. He always had plenty of girls around him, so I never thought he’d noticed me. But he had. One day as I walked by, I felt his gaze on me, even though I didn’t look his way. Every time I went by after that, he stopped, ignoring the attentions of those around him, and he watched me until I passed, and then one day—” I watched her eyes looking at the opposite wall but seeing something else. Seeing Mikael. “I was on my way to the dressmaker, and he suddenly fell in step beside me. I was so nervous I just looked straight ahead. He didn’t say anything, just walked beside me, and when we were almost at the shop, he said, ‘I’m Mikael.’ I started to reply, and he stopped me. He said, ‘You don’t have to tell me who you are. I already know. You’re the most exquisite creature the gods ever created.’”

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