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The Love Lottery

“I would like to say something in my defense.” Lia Lombard pushed off the gleaming oak bench and stepped onto the mosaic floor in front of the city council table. Stopping four feet away from the mayor, she locked her trembling knees. She tried to swallow, but her tongue swelled like foam in her mouth. Oh, for a drink of water, just a sip.

She glanced out the window. Rain pattered gently against the stained glass depicting Psyche leaning over a sleeping Cupid. Lia’s leg jumped. The door was only ten feet behind her. She could leave, run out of the Consiglio Comunale’s chambers, tilt her face up and let the frigid rain slide down her parched throat.

Her sister Alessa eased next to her, brushing her shoulder despite the open space. Alessa’s sneakers squeaked on the tile, smearing mud on the mosaic’s sky. She tucked her hands in her rain-spotted jeans and offered Lia a stiff smile.

Lia raised her chin. She couldn’t run away, and refused to show any weakness in front of Amores’s governing council. Her life depended on it.

“We are not a jury, orfana.” Sindaco Mezzerti nodded to the four members on his right then the other four members of the council on his left. He rested his hands on the long marble table in front of him before leaning back on his elevated marble throne.

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