Small excerpt

The Princess Curse - Merrie Haskell

"I jumped when the door banged open and Pa’s voice asked, “Have you seen Mihas? He hasn’t been around all day.”
“No, I haven’t seen your apprentice,” Brother Cosmin answered.
“Wait—where’s Reveka? Did she go off with him?”
“Go off with him?” Brother Cosmin repeated, sounding surprised.
Pa’s voice was grim. “He’s got something of a crush on her.”
I buried my face in my hands. Why did Pa know this?
“Why would you think that means she’d go off with him?” Brother Cosmin asked.
A good question, Brother Cosmin! Why would Pa think that I’d be interested in a cowherd’s stupid crush and take up a dalliance with the boy—to the point of neglecting my work and letting Mihas neglect his? Now, granted, I was neglecting my work, and Mihas was one of the reasons, but this was life or death, not a crush.
“I don’t think you need to worry about that,” Brother Cosmin said. “She’s about as interested in Mihas as she is in my donkey.
Which is to say she might stoop to giving him mashed juniper berries for his colic, but that’s about all the notice she pays either of them.”
I never realized Brother Cosmin understood me so well. Though I had to say I liked his donkey better than I liked Mihas, even though Old Magar tended to bite.
“She spends most of her time dreaming about her nunnery, in fact,” Brother Cosmin added. “I don’t know if she’s ever noticed any man about the castle.”
Well, I argued in my head, I notice men. I just wasn’t particularly impressed by any of them. Except for—
No. I wasn’t going to think about him. And he wasn’t “about the castle,” no matter where his shadow diplomacy had brought him today.
“Let me know if you see her,” Pa said.
Brother Cosmin said mildly, “Well, she’s upstairs in the loft, dealing with a slight ague and probably listening to every ridiculous word you’re speaking.”
There was a silence from below, which I interpreted as mortified. I stuffed my half-finished cap under my apron, pinned the netting needle to my sleeve, and waited.
Pa’s head poked up over the edge of the loft.
“Sorry,” he said grumpily.
I shrugged.
“Do you need anything?”
I shook my head.
“Hope you feel better soon,” he said, and disappeared.
I flopped back on my pallet and wondered why it was we had fathers, anyway.