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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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The wagon was loaded.

We went back to our duties with Pauline buoyed among us. If I’d felt like a cloud before, now I was like a planet winking from the heavens. A burden shared wasn’t so heavy to bear anymore. Seeing Pauline’s lighter steps made mine glide above the ground.

Berdi and Pauline left to load the remaining baskets, and Gwyneth and I said we would follow after we’d swept the floor and wiped the crumbs from the counters. We knew it was better to deter furry gray visitors now than watch Berdi chase them with a broom later. It was a small task that was quickly done, and when I had the kitchen door halfway open to leave, Gwyneth stopped me.

“Can we talk?”

Her tone had changed from only minutes earlier when our conversation flowed as easily as warm syrup. Now I heard a prickly edge. I closed the door, my back still to her, and braced myself.

“I’ve heard some news,” she said.

I turned to face her and smiled, refusing to let her serious expression alarm me. “We hear news every day, Gwyneth. You need to give me more than that.”

She folded a towel and laid it neatly across the counter, smoothing it, avoiding eye contact with me. “There’s a rumor—no, very close to a fact—that Venda has sent an assassin to find you.”

“To find me?”

She looked up. “To kill you.”

I tried to laugh, shake it off, but all I managed was a stiff grin. “Why would Venda go to such trouble? I don’t lead an army. And everyone knows that I don’t have the gift.”

She bit her lip. “Everyone doesn’t know that. In fact, rumors are growing that your gift is strong and that’s how you managed to elude the king’s best trackers.”

I paced, looking up at the ceiling. How I hated rumors. I stopped and faced her. “I eluded them with the aid of some very strategic help, and the truth be known, the king was lazy in his efforts to find me.” I shrugged. “But people will believe what they choose to believe.”

“Yes, they will,” she answered. “And right now Venda believes you’re a threat. That’s all that matters. They don’t want there to be a second chance of an alliance. Venda knows that Dalbreck doesn’t trust Morrighan. They never have. The ferrying of the king’s First Daughter was crucial to an alliance between them. It was a significant step toward trust. That trust is destroyed now. Venda wants to keep it that way.”

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