The wicked heroine, p.47
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       The Wicked Heroine, p.47

           Jasmine Giacomo

  Chapter Twenty

  “And why do you go by Meena now?” Rhona asked, helping Meena roll her tent. “Wasn’t ‘Lakara’ good enough for you?”

  Meena tied the tent’s straps together, holding it in its packed position. “‘Lakara’ was just the name I had at the time I joined your family.”

  “Gods above and below,” Rhona said as a thought struck her. “Ruel told me you’re the Shanallar.”

  Meena began stuffing a few last items into her duffel.

  “The things you can do…” Rhona knelt and grabbed Meena’s wrists, looking her in the eye.

  Meena halted reluctantly. “We’ll be late, child.”

  “Can you get stabbed through the heart with a sword and live, and not even have a scar? Can you will yourself not to die in a fiery ship? Has your hair ever had more than one color to it?”

  “Yes; I don’t know; and…” Meena held a bit of her hair straight out from her head, showing Rhona the red that was growing in to replace her dark brown. “Yes.”

  Rhona stared at Meena’s hair. “It’s you.”

  “It generally is,” Meena agreed diffidently, freeing her hands from Rhona’s grip and tying the duffel shut. She stood and walked to the pile of luggage and tents that were being loaded onto one of the last wagons.

  Rhona followed her, carrying the tent. “You’re the reason Agonbloom rose to be First Clan. Those things you can do, your descendants inherited from you.”

  “What?” Meena was so startled, she dropped her duffel. She spun to face Rhona. “That’s impossible.” She searched deeply into the girl’s eyes, looking for the lie.

  Those turquoise eyes widened with emphasis. “It’s not,” she insisted. “Those things all happened. My grandfather lost a champion’s duel, but he didn’t die when his opponent stabbed him through the heart. Great-grandmother Jaeci’s ship caught fire after my mother was born. Everyone thought she was dead, until they saw her dive off the ship with one of the Clan’s children in her arms. When they pulled her aboard the nearest ship, the child had burns, but she didn’t. And as you see,” Rhona waggled one of her copper-bright braids, “I’ve got two kinds of hair color. Always have.”

  Meena stared at her, horrified. “I never meant…” She swallowed and tried again. “I didn’t mean to share. I always thought…” Her throat closed on a sob. “I thought I was alone.”

  Rhona studied the living legend before her, her very own flesh and blood, and shook her head, smiling. “But you’re not.”

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