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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 have none beyond Terravin. My only responsibilities are to Berdi, Pauline, and the inn.”

She nodded. “I see.”

But it was clear that she didn’t see. From her perspective, all she saw was privilege and power, but I knew the truth. I was barely useful in a kitchen. As a First Daughter, I wasn’t useful at all. And as a political pawn, I refused to be useful.

“Well,” she sighed, “I suppose all the mistakes I’ve made have been entirely my own doing. You’re entitled to make your own too.”

“What kind of mistakes have you made, Gwyneth?”

She shot me a withering stare “Regrettable ones.” Her tone dared me to push further, but her eyes faltered for a fleeting moment. She pointed to two narrow arms of the canyon where she said the best berry bushes thrived. “We can leave the donkeys here. You take one trail, and I’ll take the other. It shouldn’t take us long to fill our baskets.” Our discussion was apparently over. She untied her baskets from Dieci’s pack and left without divulging her regrettable mistakes, but the brief wistful cast of her eyes stayed with me, and I wondered what she had done.

I followed the narrow trail she pointed to and found it soon opened up into a wider oasis, the devil’s own garden, complete with a shallow pool of water fed by a trickling brook. The shaded northern slope of the canyon hung heavy with berry bushes, and their tufted purple fruit was the largest I had ever seen. The devil tended his garden well.

I plucked one of his forbidden berries and popped it in my mouth. A rush of flavor and memory engulfed me. I closed my eyes and saw Walther’s face, Bryn’s, Regan’s, berry juice dripping from their chins. I saw the four of us running through woods, scrambling over moss-covered ruins of the Ancients without care, never thinking our own world would one day change too.

Stair steps, Aunt Bernice called us, all almost exactly two years apart, like my mother and father, bred on the Timekeeper’s strict schedule, and of course, once a First Daughter was produced, the breeding stopped altogether. My father’s glance at my mother on my last day in Civica flashed through me, the last memory of them I’d probably ever have, and then his comment about her beauty on their wedding day. Was it the rigors of duty that made him shove her aside and forget about love? Had he ever loved her?

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