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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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KADEN

We stopped midday at a shallow watering hole to fill our canteens and water the horses. Lia walked along the dry streambed that had once fed it, saying she wanted to stretch her legs. She’d been quiet all morning, not in an angry way that I might expect from her, but in some other way, a way that I found more worrisome.

I followed, watching her as she stooped to pick up a rock and turn it over. She examined its color, then skipped it along the dry bed as if she pictured it skimming along water.

“Three skips,” I said, imagining along with her. “Not bad.”

“I’ve done better,” she answered, holding up her bandaged fingers.

She stopped to slide her boot along a sandy patch, noting the gold glitter of the sand. Her eyes narrowed. “They say the Ancients pulled metals more precious than gold from the center of the earth—metals they spun into giant lacy wings that flew them to the stars and back.”

“Is that what you’d do with wings?” I asked.

She shook her head. “No. I’d fly to the stars, but I’d never come back.” She picked up a handful of the sparkling sand and let it sift from her fist to the ground as if trying to catch a glimpse of its hidden magic.

“Do you believe all the fanciful stories you hear?” I asked. I stepped closer and closed my hand gently around her fist, the warm sand slowly escaping between our fingers.

She stared at my hand clasped on hers, but then her gaze gradually rose to mine. “Not all stories,” she said softly. “When Gwyneth told me an assassin was on his way to kill me, I didn’t believe her. I suppose I should have.”

I briefly closed my eyes, wishing I could bite back my question. When I opened them, she was still staring at me. The last of the sand slid from our fists. “Lia—”

“When was it, Kaden, that you decided not to kill me?”

Her voice was still even, soft. Genuine. She really wanted to know, and she hadn’t yet pulled her hand away from mine. It was almost as if she’d forgotten it was there.

I wanted to lie to her, tell her that I had never planned to kill her, convince her that I’d never killed anyone, to take back my whole life and rewrite it in a few false words, lie to her the way I already had a hundred times before, but her gaze remained fixed, studying me.

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