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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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“Or about the bridge?”

“What was to be gained? It would only make it harder for you.”

“You mean harder for you.”

He pulled on his reins and stopped my horse too. Frustration sparked in his eyes. “Yes,” he admitted. “Harder for me. Is that what you wanted to hear? I don’t have the choices you think I do, Lia. When I told you I was trying to save your life, that wasn’t a lie.”

I stared at him. I knew he believed what he was saying, but that still didn’t make it true. There are always choices. Some choices are just not easy to make. Our gazes remained locked until he finally huffed out an annoyed breath, clicked his reins, and we continued on.

The narrow valley stretched for a few more miles and then we made a long, arduous descent on a trail that zigzagged down the mountain. From our first open vantage point, I saw flat land stretching for miles below us, seemingly to the ends of the earth, but this time instead of desert, it was grassland, green and gold grass as far as the eye could see. It shimmered in undulant waves.

On the northern horizon, I saw shimmering of another sort, a white glistening line like the afternoon sun on the sea and just as far-reaching.

“The wastelands,” Kaden said. “Mostly white barren rock.”

Infernaterr. Hell on earth. I had heard of it. From a distance, it didn’t look so terrible.

“Have you ever been there?”

He nodded toward the other riders. “Not with them. This is as close as they’ll go. Only two things are said to dwell in the wastelands—the ghosts of a thousand tormented Ancients who don’t know they’re dead and the hungry packs of pachegos that gnaw on their bones.”

“Does it cover the whole northern country?”

“Almost. Even winter doesn’t visit the wastelands. It hisses with steam. They say it came with the devastation.”

“Barbarians believe in the story of the devastation too?”

“It is not your exclusive realm, princess, to know of our origins. Vendans have their stories too.”

His tone was not lost on me. He resented being called a barbarian. But if he could play such a heavy hand with the term royal, tossing it in my face like a handful of mud, why should he expect different from me?

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