The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta Read Online (FREE)
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When I was a little girl, I thought my father was the king of Vinalia.
Our family lived in a round-walled castle that seemed to grow from the mountainside. Father’s favorite chair had been carved out of a black walnut tree. When I squinted long enough, it became a throne.
The first time I saw him kill someone, it made perfect sense. A king had to protect his family and his mountains.
I shouldn’t have been out of bed that winter night, but I traveled down to the kitchens, feet soft brushstrokes on cold stone, and stole a glass of milk. When I turned to leave by the back stairs, two men blocked my path. Father stood on the lowest step with his arm fastened around a stranger’s neck. Snow clumped wetly on the man’s shoulders.
I didn’t dare move closer. If I’d been in a white nightgown, Father would have seen me by now, but the di Sangro family wore red, so everything I owned was a deep shade that turned black in the moonlight.
I watched as cold beads slicked the outside of my glass, a pretty thing that had been handblown in the city of Amalia. Father’s grip tightened on the man’s neck while my grip weakened. Father grabbed a knife from his sleeve and stabbed the man’s side.
I dropped the glass.
The moment became a small eternity, giving me time to fear what came next. Father’s anger. My punishment. I closed my eyes tight, twisting the story in a new direction. The glass will dissolve into a pile of sugar. The milk will turn into a white, white moth and fly away.
When I opened my eyes, the snow light coming through the window caught on a pair of wings. Pale wings. A moth fluttered, gone before I could be sure of what I’d seen. I pushed one toe past the hem of my nightgown; it found no shards of glass. I knelt, licked my fingertip, and touched it to the stone. It came back gritty with crystals. I brought them to my tongue. Sweet.
Father turned toward me, finished with his business. His brown eyes held only torchlight. “Wait here, Teodora,” he said, shifting the dead man’s weight against his shoulder. Father opened the heavy door and disappeared into the kitchen gardens for a long mire of a minute.
I burned to ask about magic, but I knew what he would say. A strega is an old woman who has listened to too many stories. When he came back to the doorway, his shirt blotched with damp, I lit on a new question. I had to speak quickly, before my boldness faded into the shadows. “Was it your fate to kill that man?”
I was only Niccolò di Sangro’s second daughter and had no right to ask. I thought he would wave his hand vaguely, sending me back to bed. Father sat down at the coarse wooden table and patted the chair next to his.