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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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As we neared the ravine, Sven broke the silence. “It’s the note, isn’t it?”

A month before the wedding, Sven had delivered a note to me from the princess. A secret note. It was still sealed when Sven handed it to me. His eyes had never seen the contents. I had read it and ignored it. I probably shouldn’t have.

“No, I’m not going because of a note.” I gave a short tug on the reins and stopped, turning to face him. “You do know, Sven, this isn’t really about Princess Arabella.”

He nodded. It had been a long time coming. He reached out and patted my shoulder and then turned his horse back toward Dalbreck without another word. I continued down the ravine, but after a few miles, I reached into my vest and pulled the note from the inner pocket. I looked at the hastily scrawled letters. Not exactly a royal missive.

I should like to inspect you before our wedding day.

I tucked the note back into my pocket.

And so she shall.

There is one true history

and one true future.

Listen well,

for the child sprung from misery

will be the one to bring hope.

From the weakest will come strength.

From the hunted will come freedom.

—Song of Venda

CHAPTER FOUR

THE ASSASSIN

I’d gladly do it myself, but I need to return to my duties in Venda. You’ll be in and out in a day. She’s only a royal, after all. You know how they are. And only seventeen at that. How hard could it be to find her?

I had smiled at the Komizar’s summation of royals, but an answer wasn’t necessary. We both knew it would be easy. A panicked prey doesn’t worry about leaving a messy trail. The Komizar had done my job many times. He was the one who had trained me.

If it will be easy, why can’t I go? Eben had complained.

This job is not for you, I had told him. Eben was eager to prove himself. He was skilled with both their language and a knife, and being small and barely twelve, he could pass for a child, especially with his mournful brown eyes and cherub face, which had the advantage of disarming suspicions. But there was a difference between killing in battle and slitting a girl’s throat as she slept. He wasn’t ready for it. He might hesitate when he saw her startled eyes. That was the hardest moment, and there could be no hesitation. No second chances. The Komizar had made that clear.

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