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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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I washed away the suds with a quick dip, then twisted around, trying to view the lion’s demise, but the small section of kavah I was able to see in the dim light—the vines swirling around the lion’s claw on the back of my shoulder—still bloomed in all its glory. Ten days ago, I was praising the artisans. Now I wanted to curse them.

Snap!

I dropped down into the water and spun, ready to face an intruder. “Who’s there?” I called, trying to cover myself.

Only an empty forest and silence answered back. A doe perhaps? But where had it gone so quickly? I searched the shadows of the trees, but found no movement.

“It was only the snap of a twig,” I reassured myself. “Any small animal could have made it.”

Or maybe a wandering guest of the inn, surprised to have come upon me? I smiled, amused that I may have frightened someone off—before they caught sight of my back, I hoped. Kavahs were a sign of position and wealth, and this one, if examined too closely, clearly spoke of royalty.

I stepped out of the water, hastily putting on my fresh clothes, and then spotted a small gray rabbit darting behind a tree. A relieved sigh escaped me.

Only a small animal. Just as I thought.

CHAPTER SIX

After three days of keeping us in hiding, Berdi finally loosened her tight grip believing we were true to our word. No one had followed. She had an inn to think of, she reminded us, and couldn’t afford trouble with the authorities, though I couldn’t imagine anyone in a village like Terravin paying us any notice. She slowly let us venture out, running small errands for her, getting cinnamon at the epicurean, thread at the mercantile, and guest soaps for the inn at the soap maker.

I still had some jewels left over from my wedding cloak, so I could have paid my own way as a guest, but that wasn’t who I wanted to be anymore. I wanted to be engaged, attached to where I lived in the same way everyone else was, not an interloper trading on her past. The jewels remained tucked away in the cottage.

Walking down to the town center felt like the days of old when my brothers and I used to run freely through the village of Civica, conspiring and laughing together, the days before my parents began limiting my activities. Now, it was just me and Pauline. We grew closer. She was the sister I never had. We shared things now that protocol at Civica had made us hold back.

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