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The Girl of Fire and Thorns

The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Description : The Girl of Fire and Thorns
PRAYER candles flicker in my bedroom. The Scriptura Sancta lies discarded, pages crumpled, on my bed. Bruises mark my knees from kneeling on the tiles, and the Godstone in my navel throbs. I have been praying—no, begging—that King Alejandro de Vega, my future husband, will be ugly and old and fat.

Today is the day of my wedding. It is also my sixteenth birthday.

I usually avoid mirrors, but the day is momentous enough that I risk a look. I can’t see very well; the lead glass ripples, my head aches, and I am dizzy from hunger. But even blurred, the wedding terno is beautiful, made of silk like water with tiny glass beads that shimmer when I move. Embroidered roses circle the hem and the flared cuffs of my sleeves. It’s a masterpiece, given its rushed stitching.

But I know the terno’s beauty will be much diminished when buttoned.

I sigh and motion for help. Nurse Ximena and Lady Aneaxi creep toward me, armed with button hooks and apologetic smiles.

“Take a deep breath, my sky,” Ximena instructs. “Now let it out. All of it, love.”

I push air from my lungs, push and push until my head swims. The ladies jerk and loop with their flashing hooks; the gown tightens. The bodice in the mirror puckers. It digs into my skin just above my hips. A jagged pain shoots up my side, like the stitch I get walking up the stairs.

“Almost there, Elisa,” Aneaxi assures, but I have a sickening hunch that when next I inhale, the gown’s grip on my lungs will prove deadly. I want to rip it off. I want not to get married.

“Done!” they announce together, and step back, one on each side, to admire their handiwork. “What do you think?”...

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