Here’s a snippet from Kira’s story. This is the very beginning.
It isn’t an easy thing, being best friends with a princess.
Especially when the princess is cursed.
We try not to talk of it, but as her birthday looms, it’s all anyone can think of. Guards surround her night and day as though they can prevent the inevitable. I find myself watching Tala carefully, out of the corners of my eyes, when she thinks I’m not paying her any mind. She’s still her usual merry self, but paler than usual.
Fear sits like a carrion bird on my chest, cawing in my face every time I forget. I fight it for every breath and every smile. I must be normal for Tala’s sake. When I catch a pair of kitchen maids whispering her name, crossing themselves as she walks by, I slap one of them. My hand leaves a scarlet mark on her cheek and she stares at me with shock in her eyes. I have never slapped anyone in my life, and I want to hang my head and mumble apologies, but I know Opa would say I’ve done well.
Their fear is understandable. Showing it in front of the Princess is not.
Opa won’t speak of the curse. She won’t let me speak of it before her. To talk of wicked things gives them more power, she says, and hushes me. Grainne is strong enough and she does not need our suffering to add to it.
So I whisper my fears into the silky black ears of my cat, Peregrine, and hope that Tala will fall in love tonight.