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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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Was she really on my side? She had been a spy. But she didn’t have to tell me any of this, and ever since I arrived, she had been kind. On the other hand, more than once she had suggested that I return to Civica and live up to my responsibilities. Duty. Tradition. She didn’t believe I belonged here. Was she trying to scare me away now?

“They’re only rumors, Gwyneth, probably conjured in taverns like our own from lack of entertainment.”

A tight smile lifted the corners of her mouth, and she nodded stiffly. “You’re probably right. I just thought you should know.”

“And now I do. Let’s go.”

Berdi had gone ahead in the wagon with Rafe and Kaden to set up the tables. Gwyneth, Pauline, and I walked to town at a leisurely pace, taking in the festive transformation of Terravin. The storefronts and homes, already glorious in their bright palettes alone, were now magical confectionery decorated with colorful garlands and ribbons. My conversation with Gwyneth couldn’t dampen my spirits. Indeed, it oddly elevated them. My resolve was cemented. I would never go back. I did belong here. I had more reasons now than ever to stay.

We arrived at the plaza, full of townsfolk and merchants spreading their tables with their specialties. It was a day of sharing. No coin would be traded. The smell of roasted boar cooking in a covered pit dug near the plaza filled the air, and just past that, whole slinky lamprey and red peppers sizzled on grills. We spotted Berdi setting up her tables in a far corner, throwing out gaily colored tablecloths to cover them. Rafe carried one of the cases from the wagon and set it on the ground beside her, and Kaden followed with two baskets.

“It went well for you last night?” Gwyneth asked.

“Yes, it went very well,” Pauline answered for me.

My own answer to Gwyneth was simply a wicked smile.

By the time I reached Berdi, I had lost Pauline to a table of hot griddle cakes and Gwyneth to Simone, who had called to her from a miniature pony she rode upon.

“Don’t need you here,” Berdi said, shooing me away as I approached. “Go, have fun. I’m going to sit here in the shade and take it all in. I’ll see to the tables.”

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