It had always been assumed they’d marry. Two acrobat families combined—Marjetke and Leo, the next generation. From the time they could walk they’d been groomed for the trapeze. Soon they’d be the stars of the act.

To leave the circus would be to leave her family—she knew that. And she did love flying. She loved his strength when he caught her. The certainty of being held safe, of staring down gravity’s inevitable pull. But she didn’t love him.

It was fine when there was no one else. But an impresario with smooth fingers beneath gold bands had been lavishing her with gifts a circus girl might never have expected. At first it had been flattering. She’d laughed at his persistence. But after a time the trinkets came to represent a world outside the big top. Now he had offered to take her away.

Though she imagined packing her meagre things for a new life, she would have stayed if Leo’s jealousy hadn’t surfaced.

‘We should do the triple spin without the net,’ he’d said.

She knew what that meant. She’d owe him every waking day. He’d have a power that trust alone could never justify.

So she was waiting near the town limits, scanning the road for the Bentley’s headlights.

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