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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 supposed they needed to know this too, sooner rather than later—at least before we got her back. “I told you, we didn’t get along so well at first. Then I learned she’s not exactly fond of Dalbreck or anyone from there. She can’t tolerate them, in fact.”

“But that’s us,” Jeb said.

I shrugged. “She’s not an admirer of tradition, and she holds Dalbreck responsible for the arranged marriage.” I took a swig from my bota. “And she especially scorned the Prince of Dalbreck for allowing his papa to arrange a marriage for him.”

I saw Tavish wince.

“And that’s you,” Jeb said.

“Jeb, I know who’s who! You don’t need to tell me,” I snapped. I sat back and said more quietly, “She said she could never respect a man like that.” And now they knew just what I was dealing with and what they’d be dealing with too.

“What does she know?” Orrin asked, waving a grouse leg in his hand. He sucked at a piece of meat between his teeth. “She’s just a girl. That’s the way these things are done.”

“Who did she think you were?” Tavish asked.

“A farmhand staying over for the festival.”

Jeb laughed. “You? A farmhand?”

“That’s right, a good farmer boy gone to town for his yearly jollies,” Orrin said. “Did you put a baby in her belly yet?”

My jaw turned rigid. I never held my station over fellow soldiers, but I didn’t hesitate now. “Tread carefully, Orrin. You speak of your future queen.”

Sven looked at me and subtly nodded.

Orrin sat back, a feigned look of fear in his eyes. “Well, hang me. Looks like our prince has finally polished his jewels.”

“It’s about time,” Tavish added.

“I pity the Vendan who stole her away,” Jeb chimed in.

Apparently none of them minded my pulling rank. It seemed that maybe they were even waiting for it.

“The one thing I don’t understand,” Jeb said, “is why that Vendan didn’t just let the bounty hunter slit her throat—do his work for him.”

“Because I was standing right behind him. I told him to shoot.”

“But then why take her all the way to Venda? Ransom?” Tavish interjected. “What was his purpose in taking her?”

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