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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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Berdi led us into the cottage, apologizing for the dust, explaining that the roof leaked and it was mostly used for overflow now, which was what we were. The inn was full, and the only alternative was the barn. She lit a lantern and pulled a large copper tub that was tucked in the corner out into the middle of the room. She paused to wipe her forehead with the hem of her apron, for the first time showing any sign of exhaustion.

“Now, what kind of trouble could two young girls like you be in?” Her gaze dropped to our middles, and she quickly added, “It’s not boy trouble, is it?”

Pauline blushed. “No, Amita, nothing like that. It’s not even trouble, exactly. At least, it doesn’t have to be.”

“Actually, the trouble is mine,” I said, stepping forward and speaking for the first time. “Pauline has been helping me.”

“Ah. So you have a voice after all.”

“Maybe you should sit so I can—”

“You just spill it out, Lia. It is Lia, right? There’s nothing I haven’t heard before.”

She was planted near the tub, bucket in hand, ready for a quick explanation. I decided I would give it to her. “That’s right. Lia. Princess Arabella Celestine Idris Jezelia, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan, to be exact.”

“Her Royal Highness,” Pauline added meekly.

“Ex Royal Highness,” I clarified.

Berdi cocked her head to the side, as though she hadn’t heard quite right, then paled. She reached for the bedpost and eased down onto the mattress. “What’s this all about?”

Pauline and I took turns explaining. Berdi said nothing, which I suspected was uncharacteristic of her, and I watched Pauline grow uneasy with Berdi’s silence.

When there was nothing left to say, I stepped closer. “We’re certain no one followed us. I know a little about tracking. My brother’s a trained scout in the Royal Guard. But if my presence makes you uncomfortable, I’ll move on.”

Berdi sat for a moment longer, as if the truth of our explanation was just catching up to her, one of her brows rising in a curious squiggled line. She stood. “Blazing balls, yes, your presence makes me uncomfortable! But did I say anything about moving on? You’ll stay right here. Both of you. But I can’t go giving you—”

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