Taste of Passion

Free Taste of Passion by Renae Jones

Book: Taste of Passion by Renae Jones Read Free Book Online
Authors: Renae Jones
surrounded by seasonal flowers, watching for spills, conversing with other parents. And attendants in red-and-white stripes hurried by with brooms as big as they were.
    Fedni took a seat at the edge of the crowd, on a bench near a slide that was currently closed. A smile already filled her face.
    Watching children slide was something of a mood cure-all. Who could feel lonely, watching children run and throw themselves at the super-slick surface of a slide? They would tumble against the bumpers, screaming laughter until they slid to a stop against the foam at the end of their lane.
    The next slide over, she watched a little boy have a go. He was a toddler in a cloth-covered helmet and thick padding, with his mother helping him get the hang of it. He ran as hard as he could for the slide, little steps turning the short distance into a long journey. At the transition to gray oiled plastic, he threw himself at the ground, bouncing more than sliding. He still crowed with delight.
    His mother let him scoot around on his belly for a minute, then picked him up before the rest of the line could get impatient. The mother was a short woman, in half-length pants and a white quilted, sleeveless vest, a sort of parent’s uniform for every caste, comfortable and with many pockets. She was laughing, her mouth wide and her hair pulled into a braid.
    She looked familiar.
    Fedni stared, searching the woman’s features. She looked just like a girl she’d known in school. One of her eyes was just a bit lower on her face than the other, like Kelsa’s had been. For both, it threw the symmetry of their faces out of alignment.
    Once she recognized the similarity in their eyes, the resemblance vanished. It wasn’t Kelsa all grown up. The woman was a stranger who, luckily, hadn’t noticed Fedni staring.
    Now she thought of Kelsa, though. Fedni hadn’t known her well, or thought of her in years, but they’d been the same age. They’d shared classes and seen each other around.
    Kelsa’s eyes and her coarse features had been damning in the Temple of Passion. As she grew into a young preteen, the word ugly had been whispered behind her back. Or said to her face. Fedni had never been one of those girls, the vicious ones, but she’d still witnessed a few taunts that made her sad to remember.
    Beauty wasn’t everything, not in Passion, but with a face such as Kelsa’s was, she would have needed an amazing personality to find success.
    On her second choosing, shortly after she turned twelve, no one had been surprised when she left. Her friends said her service had been sold to the Temple of Flesh―again, not surprising. The two temples shared many of the same skills, but a visit to the lower-caste temple wasn’t about beauty, desire, passion. It was a physical need that must be sated for continued mental health.
    Fedni’s mouth tasted like dry ash, the taste inspired for once by her own emotion. The words from Rasmus’s apology haunted her. Scars. Lack of education. Low self-esteem. Was Kelsa one of his patients?
    Fedni glanced back at the woman, the stranger with the cute child. The boy was back in line, and the woman was sitting on a bench, talking animatedly with another woman. It was impossible to guess her temple from her clothing, but she was luxury caste. She could be a land owner, or a world-health scientist, or a business dealer.
    She looked happy and healthy, and Fedni had a feeling whatever she did, the alignment of her eyes had never been a serious issue. Probably a source of endless teenage angst, sure, and perhaps an issue when dating―though something had gone right there. She had a baby to dote on. But only if she’d been born to parents from the Temple of Passion would her appearance have been able to bring her ruin.
    Fedni sighed. She’d managed to avoid Rasmus, but her mind tread the same circles.
    Kelsa’s parents shouldn’t have sold her service to the Temple of Passion. They should have violated tradition, and sold

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