Tanith sat at her vanity. She turned toward her guests. Her eyes, always cold, now turned to ice. She rose, approached, and then slowly walked around her daughter, taking in every detail. “Make sure Taniel has the carriage ready,” she ordered, nodding toward the door.
Sabra set out to do her bidding.
“So,” Tanith said to her daughter, “finally we’ll see if all my ministrations have been to a good end or for naught. You’ve been nothing but a burden to your father and to me. The penalties we’ve paid for you.” She sneered. “Well, Chaya, the bill has come due.”
Chaya stared at the woman, motionless. She wondered if she might change events if she made her mother angry. If Tanith struck her and ruined the object—the thing—she’d created, perhaps her fate would change. She needed to do something—anything—to get the woman to see her as a person in her own right. She fought for words, struggled for the most damning, insulting thing she could say.
“It’s a good thing you didn’t think to sell yourself, mother,” she finally said, her chin lifted, “or you’d likely starve to death.” She’d never used that title for the woman before, and certainly she’d never before dared to speak such words to her.
Tanith reached out to strike her daughter, but then stopped. She smiled wickedly, then laughed menacingly. “So, you think to make me angry enough to harm . . . this?” She waved her hand up and down. “My property? Clever—but not clever enough.” She huffed. “Fear not, my darling daughter, I’ve not lost my senses.”
“Not entirely, perhaps.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I just can’t help but wonder how little sense a woman has who bears a child, then raises it solely for profit.”
Chaya turned away—and that was when she saw it—her image in a mirror. She stopped cold, then gasped. Was that stunning creature in the mirror really her? She pivoted right, then left, getting the full picture, mesmerized despite herself.
“You’ll do, I guess,” Tanith said, as though reading her thoughts.
Chaya turned back, eyes glaring, silent.
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