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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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When Kaden and Finch returned with two hares for dinner, Kaden noticed Malich’s swollen lip and asked what had happened.

Malich only briefly glanced my way and said it was the sting of a wasp.

Indeed it was. Sometimes the smallest animal inflicts the greatest pain. He was in a fouler mood than usual for the rest of the night and lashed out at Eben for fawning over his horse. Kaden took a look at the horse’s leg, carefully examining the hoof that Eben had been checking again and again.

“He raised it from a foal,” Kaden explained to me. “Its front fetlock is tender. Maybe just a strained muscle.”

In spite of Malich’s jabs, Eben continued to check on the horse. It reminded me of how he was with the wolves. The boy was more connected to animals than people. I walked over to look at the horse’s leg and touched Eben’s shoulder, hoping to counter Malich’s harsh words with more hopeful ones. He whipped around and growled at me like a wolf, drawing his knife.

“Don’t touch me,” he snarled.

I backed away, remembering that though he might look like a child, even one who might forget himself from time to time and listen to a story around a campfire, an innocent childhood was not something he had ever known. Was he destined to be like Malich, who boasted how easy it had been to kill the coachman and Greta? Their deaths had cost Malich nothing more than a few thin arrows.

That night Kaden laid his bedroll close to mine, whether to protect me or Malich I wasn’t sure. Even with my bandaged fingers, Malich had taken the brunt of our mutual animosity, though certainly this afternoon he had intended to even the score. If Griz hadn’t come along, it could easily have been me with the bruised and swollen face, or worse.

I rolled over. Even if I ended up starved in the middle of nowhere, as Kaden predicted, I had to get away. Malich was dangerous enough, but soon I’d be in a city with thousands more like him.

We can’t always wait for the perfect timing. Pauline’s words seemed truer now than ever.


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