Belle took a deep breath as she looked up at the castle's looming spires. She was nervous, but she knew she couldn't turn back at this point. Belle had already traveled for several days, and the nearest settlement was four hours in the other direction. There was no way she would reach any other settlement by nightfall.
Belle crushed the paper in her hand and took another deep breath, letting the cool air fill her lungs. A small part of her couldn't believe she was doing this. The idea seemed utterly ludicrous on the surface. The idea that vampires existed and had also entered the tourism business sounded like a scam. But at the same time, it made Belle's heart flutter.
She stepped onto the gravel path and moved toward the large doors at the castle's entrance. The wind whistled around as Belle continued to crunch the paper in her hand, her mind running over what she planned to say when she reached the door. But her heart, despite her best efforts to stop it, continued to pound.
Upon reaching the entrance, Belle raised her shaking hand to knock on the door. But, before she could, the door swung open to reveal a diminutive girl in a maid's uniform. Belle gasped and jumped back. She had been so utterly wrapped up in her own thoughts that she hadn't considered that she would see someone.
"Good afternoon," said the woman, her voice dazed and slightly different. "The lady of the house is busy right now. May I be of assistance?"
"I," stuttered Belle, trying to get the words out. After a few slips of the tongue, she took a deep breath and held out the crumpled paper. "I have an appointment?"
The woman reached forward and took the paper, looking it over for a few seconds before stepping aside and gesturing into the building. "You do. Please come inside. I'll guide you to the study. I just started the fireplace, so it should be rather lovely."
"Okay!" Belle answered with an excited nod, trying to keep her breathing under control as she stepped into the building. As she followed the maid through the halls, Belle was taken aback by how beautiful everything was. The place was obviously old, but it had been maintained well. If it wasn't for the cleverly hidden power outlets and obviously modern light bulbs, Belle would have been convinced that she had stepped back in time.
Eventually, Belle was led into a large room lined with bookcases jam-packed with leather-bound books. In one corner sat a crackling fireplace, giving the whole place a very cozy vibe. The maid gestured toward an armchair and smiled at Belle.
"Please, take a seat," she offered gently. "The lady will be with you soon. I shall bring tea service once it is prepared." Belle nodded in reply and sat down as the maid put the paper onto a small end table and left the room, softly closing the door behind her. As Belle looked around, she quickly realized how much effort had gone into this place to keep it looking old without being dank and horrible. Several modern conveniences were hidden around the room, showing that this castle definitely had some present-day occupants.
Suddenly, a creak drew Belle's attention. She turned her head, only to see the study door opening. Belle held her breath as a figure made its way through the door. Her heart skipped a beat as she took in the figure. It was a woman with pale skin and deep red lips, clad in a dress that made her look like someone who had stepped right out of a high-fashion magazine from the early 1930s. She was tall and well built and, at a glance, it was clear she could overpower Belle without a single worry.
Belle stared dumbstruck as the woman made her way over and sat in the chair opposite Belle's. The woman adjusted her dress and got comfortable before smiling at Belle. "Hello," she said gently, her voice beautiful and melodic. "I'm Lady Demetria. I don't think we've been formally introduced before?" she asked as she offered her hand.
"I," mumbled Belle, utterly overwhelmed by this woman's imposing presence. After a few seconds, Belle kicked herself as she gently shook the woman's hand and forced some words out. "Yes, I've only seen your advert and spoken with your booking team."
"Wonderful," purred Lady Demetria as her blood-red lips curled up further. "Well then, allow me to introduce myself a little further. I'm Lady Demetria, the, gosh, 80th? In the line of Demetria. My family has owned this area for quite a while."
"Wow," replied Belle, utterly mesmerized by the woman's lips.
"But, you're here about other things," Demetria grinned as she opened her mouth a little more, revealing two pearly-white fangs. "Yes, it's true. The curse of the vampire has taken root in my family tree."
"Yes," Belle followed, a shudder running down her spine.
"And, I can tell you that most of the rumors about us are true," Demetria continued as the maid silently entered the room and placed a teaset upon a tray down on the table.
"Right," Belle answered again as she started to shake softly.
"Thank you, darling," Demetria said, smiling at the maid before turning back to Belle. "Tea?"
"Yes, please," mumbled Belle as she watched Demetria gently pour two cups. The maid walked back out of the room without a word. Once the cups were full,
Demetria gently slid one towards Belle.
"Now, it turns out that some people do quite like the idea of vampires and want a break from their day-to-day life," Demetria spoke, picking back up where she left off as she sipped her tea. "This castle has a lot of work that needs doing, and I need blood. So, a natural balance formed. I allow those interested in vampires to come vacation at the castle in exchange for blood and some light work."
"Yeah," Belle nodded along as she picked up the cup, nearly spilling it due to her shaking. "I came for that."
"Now, the exact details are negotiable, as you likely knew when you filled out the form," continued Demetria as she reached under the tea tray and produced a small folder. "Please forgive me. I like to remind myself of people's answers. They blur together after a while."
"Oh no," trembled Belle, "Please, I don't mind." She suddenly felt very exposed. Belle knew what desires had been included in that form. She knew the fantasies she laid bare, never thinking that someone would read them. The whole idea seemed so unbelievable at the time, almost like she was screaming into the void.
"Interesting, interesting," mumbled Demetria as she nodded her head. "So, I see you mention the thralling a lot."
Belle felt a wave of embarrassment wash through her. She wanted to curl up into a ball and let the world swallow her. She felt so called out, so exposed. "I. Um. Yes?" She stumbled over her response as she started to tremble more obviously.
Demetria let out a soft chuckle as she shook her head. "Don't worry. We're a safe space, here. You won't be judged for your desires. I've seen how humans portray vampires. I know all of the cliches," she comforted with a grin. "I'm not as outdated as people presume I am."
"Yeah, I like the hypnosis angle," mumbled Belle as she gazed down at her shoes, trying to keep her heart under control. "The loss of control and all of that."
"Of course," nodded Demetria. "And I did see that you mentioned having woodworking experience and some background in construction. Is that correct?"
"Yes, I worked in construction for a while and learned woodworking from my father. Repaired our shed and stuff like that," Belle recounted as she took a deep breath and tried to make eye contact with the larger woman, trying to look like a put-together adult rather than a shy little girl.
"Excellent!" cheered Demetria, giving Belle another look at her fangs. "On the grounds, we have some old stables that got heavily damaged in the storms last winter. They date back to the early 1800s, so I think it is imperative they're repaired for historical reasons. I think that would be a good task for you to perform."
"Oh! I would love to!" exclaimed Belle.
"Of course, I'll be giving you the required guidance," Demetria smirked. "You also mentioned being a maid?"
"Yes, I like the uniforms," admitted Belle as her cheeks flushed bright red.
"Well, that's fine. There are plenty of duties that need to be done day to day. This building has over one hundred rooms, so you can imagine the amount of dusting required." Demetria tapped her fingernails along her cup of tea. "You're staying with us for 9 days, correct?"
"Correct," answered Belle, unable to control her blushing.
"Fantastic! Plenty of time for you to get a nice wide range of experiences," Demetria said, keeping her gaze on her guest, smiling a hole into Belle. "And, I'll be drinking from you around four to five times during that period. That will be scheduled around your work to make sure you're safe."
"Okay," agreed Belle, feeling somehow both more scared and more relaxed. Something about Demetria was comforting, and it was clear she understood where Belle was coming from.
"But now, we must do serious business," Demetria said with a smirk. "As we're a consensual establishment here, I don't want to be taking advantage of people with no choice." The vampire adjusted in her plush armchair, crossing and then uncrossing her legs.
"Right, right," Belle replied, letting out another breath.
"Now," began Demetria, "For context, if you decide this isn't for you, we have a small suite just outside of the castle where you can stay the night. We'll arrange a way back to town for you tomorrow morning. Consider it a complimentary hotel, with meals and everything else. If you opt to go forward, we'll discuss the dynamic and then begin. While here, your meals and needs will be looked after, and several of the permanent staff have medical training should any issues arise... Though, we've never had anything beyond the odd splinter or fainting. Please, consider this very carefully."
Belle spent a few minutes pondering what the woman had said. She knew she wanted this, but at the same time, she was nervous to admit it. When applying, she had comforted herself with the idea that this was all some silly prank, one in a long line of fake sites designed to get attention on social media. But now, staring those dreams in the face felt different.
However, Belle knew she couldn't turn down this opportunity. A real vampire was staring her in the face, offering Belle her dreams on a platter. Belle steeled herself and took a final deep breath as she nodded her head firmly. "I would like to go ahead."
"Wonderful!" Demetria practically sang with a clap of her pale, slender hands before reaching into the folder and producing a pen and a sheet of paper. "Then could you sign this for me? It merely states that you understand what you've signed up for. I would prefer to not have the government at my door," she chuckled to herself. Belle didn't question and quickly grabbed the paper and signed it before passing it back.
Demetria looked over the form for a few seconds before slipping it back into the folder and sliding the folder back under the tray. Once she had done so, she picked up a small bell off the table and rang it. Before Belle could question what was happening, the maid returned and picked up the tray and the folder before vanishing back into the hall.
"So," smiled Demetria as she leaned forward. "We'll need to talk dynamic. How you wish to be treated during your stay."
"Right." Belle squirmed, finding herself utterly intoxicated by Demetria's aura. She was hardly able to return the woman's gaze due to how shy she suddenly felt. "Well, I'm a little unsure. I like a lot of stuff."
"You do," Demetria nodded. "I saw your preference for both aggressive vampires and a more motherly approach."
"Yeah," giggled Belle shyly, remembering once more that she had spilled her guts onto the form. "They're both really nice for different reasons."
"May I make a suggestion?" offered Demetria, "Based on what has worked for my previous guests?"
"Of course," replied Belle.
"A takedown-oriented scene," proposed Demetria. "We let you loose around the grounds while I hunt you down. I catch you, mesmerize you, and drag you back here."
Belle felt the heat rising inside of her.
"From there, we give you the vampire's daughter makeover."
"Oh gosh," stuttered Belle, "I."
"Now usually, I give a choice of rooms, but if you don't mind, I have the perfect one in mind." Demetria grinned at her guest. "Very vintage, feminine. I recently finished redoing it. I had to import the fabric, so it took longer than planned. That, and I've been looking for an excuse to spend more time in it."
"That sounds amazing!" gasped Belle.
"Wonderful," replied Demetria. "Do you have any more requests?"
"No!" Belle answered as Demetria slowly rose from her chair and smiled down at the woman.
"Then you should prepare yourself. I'll start the hunt in thirty minutes," chuckled Demetria. "My fangs will be waiting for you, Darling." With this tease she walked out of the door, letting it crash shut behind her.
Belle wiggled with excitement as the last few minutes washed over her. She was going to live out her fantasy with an actual vampire. However, just as Belle realized that, she also realized that she was about to be hunted and needed to hide.
Belle jumped out of the chair and dashed towards the door, pulling it open only to find that the maid was on the other side, a silver tray clasped between her hands. "Good evening," she said with a grin. "If you're planning to hide, I suggest the back flower garden.” She motioned to the tray. "Please, take this flare. If you need the hunt to stop for safety reasons, please fire it into the sky and you will be collected by the staff."
"Oh, okay?" mumbled Belle as she looked left and right before grabbing the flare and moving through the corridor, hoping to find a way out of the back of the building. After navigating through several hallways, Belle found an open door that led out into a garden.
She had no idea how long she had been running around, but Belle knew she had to find somewhere to hide soon. As she entered the garden, Belle was instantly taken aback by how large and ornate it was. It was full of shaped topiary, high-grasses, and various flower bushes, almost like it was designed with this sort of chase in mind.
Belle frantically looked around. She realized that being out in the open was a bad idea, so she had to find somewhere quickly. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted a tangled hedge and dived into it without a second thought.
As the branches scratched her, Belle tried to cover her breathing, hoping she could wait for the woman to pass so that she could run off somewhere else. This whole idea was just so exciting. She couldn't control her heart or the heat washing through her body.
After a few minutes, Belle heard movement. She peeked through the bushes, only to see Lady Demetria walking out into the garden with her maid behind her. "Lock the doors," she ordered firmly as the maid nodded. "She's mine." The tall woman purred as she took a few more steps into the garden, her sharp heels puncturing the mud as she looked around.
Belle tried to stay quiet and still as she covered her mouth to try and prevent herself from being heard. Her heart, though, was pounding in her ears. Her body was a massive swirling vortex of emotions. She was scared, thrilled, and utterly lost all at the same time. Her whole body was burning up and she didn't want it to end.
"Come out, come out wherever you are," shouted Demetria mockingly as she walked through the grass, her every step making the mud squelch. "You will be mine in due course."
Belle tried to stay still, but she couldn't help it. Everything about the situation was too much for her. The heat pulsing through her body and the adrenaline running through her veins reached a crescendo as Belle let out an involuntary whimper.
Instantly, Demetria turned around and glared right at the bush. "I smell you, human," growled Demetria as she walked forward towards the hedge. Belle trembled. She wanted to run, but she couldn't motivate her body to do so. Belle felt like she was rooted to the spot like the plant she was hidden within.
Suddenly, Lady Demetria's hand reached into the bush and grabbed Belle by the throat. Before Belle could tell what was happening, she was being pulled through the bush and held in the air, her eyes level with Demetria's eyes.
"Well, well, well," chuckled Demetria as Belle struggled. "Look at the weak little human. I'm sure you're going to be delicious," she teased as she bared her fangs. Belle was taken aback by Demetria's expression. She looked totally different from the woman that had talked to her so kindly in the study. She had a hunger in her eyes, a burning desire that Belle knew she was going to sate.
Belle kicked and struggled, trying to break free of Demetria's grip. Alas, her body was betraying her. Her twisting excitement and fear meant that she couldn't center herself long enough to get a good strike in. She felt like a deer in the headlights, she didn't feel like she could escape, and part of her didn't want to.
Lady Demetria tightened her grip, sending a wave of pain through Belle's body. "Yes, you're going to be delicious," she grinned as Belle let out a little whine of resistance. This whine caused an evil glint to flash in Demetria's eyes as she bared her fangs. "Hush, child," she commanded as a soft red glow filled her eyes.
Belle could only look helplessly as the red color totally filled Demetria's eyes. She wanted to fight back, but something about the glow was fascinating. She couldn't seem to pull her eyes away from it, even for a moment. It was like the eyes were a burning fire, but rather than emitting heat, they were emitting a heavy warm static. The warm static soaked into Belle's limbs, making them feel so heavy and tired. It felt like she was made out of dense rock.
"Yes. Stare, worm," Demetria growled, "Feel my power." With this, Belle felt herself becoming more drawn into the glow. Demetria's voice seemed to echo around the small garden, drowning out all other sounds, forcing Belle to listen to the words as she crept into her brain. "You are getting tired, so very tired," droned Demetria as Belle felt the words push into her mind.
Belle's eyes fluttered as she hung heavily in Demetria's powerful grip. Excitement and lethargy filled Belle's body. She realized what was happening. She had been captured by a vampire. Totally overpowered and dominated. And now, she was being hypnotized and she couldn't resist it. She couldn't fight it. Belle could already feel herself slipping into the abyss.
"You can already feel yourself slipping into the abyss," purred Demetria, drawing Belle's attention back to her powerful voice and beautiful glowing eyes. Belle was unsure if Demetria had somehow read or mind or if her mind was simply absorbing Demetria's will. Belle knew she should be scared, that she should try to fight back against the vampire, but she couldn't make her body listen to her. Demetria's eyes were full of a sinister beauty that Belle couldn't resist. Belle's heart pounded as she felt herself giving in to her own desires and Varlian's words. But Belle wasn't even sure if those two things were different anymore. She wasn't sure where she ended, and Demetria began.
Belle's muscles felt so heavy. She could only hang limply and continue to gaze deeply into Demetria's eyes. She felt like prey, caught in the gaze of a superior predator. She was scared but oddly comfortable, and it felt so right. It felt natural for Demetria to be in the dominating position. It felt good to submit to her. The weight of Belle's muscles seemed to radiate through her entire body. It was like the weight was pushing down on her mind, totally numbing her thoughts.
"Isn't that right?" teased Demetria, drawing Belle's attention back to the domineering vampire. "Say yes, my Lady," commanded Demetria as she used her free hand to grab Belle's chin and forced her to nod.
"Yes, my Lady," slurred Belle. Belle didn't need to be forced to agree. She couldn't even think about disobedience. Lady Demetria's eyes were just too powerful. It was like they were pushing into her brain and forcing it to turn off. Somehow, her eyes had access to Belle's reset switch.
Suddenly, Demetria let Belle go. She felt like she was falling in slow motion, or as if the air was made of thick, warm sugar. However, the sudden splash of the mud and the cool night air snapped Belle out of her daze just a little. The world still felt like it was spinning, but Belle could finally hear her own thoughts.
"Now," chuckled Demetria as she gazed down at Belle. "You have one final chance to escape. But know that if you don't, I will claim you as a thrall." Belle mumbled and tried to pull herself together. She pushed her hands into the wet mud and tried to clamber to her feet, but she kept slipping before she could come to a stand.
"I," mumbled Belle as she tried and failed to get to her feet again. She felt so humiliated and intimidated. Lady Demetria's height made her so imposing, it felt like Belle was prostrating herself before a titan or a god. "Escape," mumbled Belle as she was able to force herself to her feet, the cool mud sending a chill through her arms. However, before Belle could run off, Demetria smirked.
"Look into my eyes," she purred as the glow filled her eyes once more. Belle's thoughts instantly ground to a halt. Anything that had been in her mind was blown away like leaves in the breeze. Belle felt her eyes going wide as she swayed on the spot, her mind failing to do anything. Demetria stared into her soul with a smirk that radiated arrogance. It was clear she knew how helpless Belle was and was loving every minute of it.
Time seemed to stretch out into infinity as Belle continued to stare into Demetria's eyes. Her mind was waiting for some holy words to fill the gaping void inside her skull. Belle's mind was empty. It had accepted its position as prey.
After what felt like forever, Demetria opened her blood-red lips. "Follow." She said as she started to walk backward towards the castle. As Demetria walked, Belle remained glued to her eyes, unable to pull her gaze away. The world away from Lady Demetria’s eyes didn't matter. All Belle could think about was gazing into Demetria's eyes and doing as she was told.
Demetria guided Belle toward the door. As they got close, one of the maids opened the door. Belle could hear Demetria talking, but it went straight through her. She didn't have to listen or perceive the words. Belle simply had to obey automatically. She was a puppet, and puppets didn't question. They didn't have opinions. They could only obey without thought or questions.
Belle continued to follow Demetria's beautiful eyes. Belle wobbled as she walked, feeling like she might fall over at any moment, but Belle didn't care. As long as she was moving behind Lady Demetria, she would crawl through the mud. Her dignity didn't matter. All that mattered was following Demetria. It was like she was on an invisible leash pulling her ever forward.
Demetria guided Belle back into the house as Belle continued to float in her haze. The world aside from Demetria seemed to be a fuzzy suggestion, like she was viewing it through a foggy camera lens. But, Belle didn't care. Belle felt like she was wrapped in a static-wrapped dream.
Belle followed Demetria through the house, looping through the various corridors and climbing up several twisting, spiraling staircases. Belle felt like she was floating along in a dream. She didn't want anything else. She didn't want to escape.
Eventually, Demetria led Belle into a large room. Belle had hardly noticed; she was so focused on Demetria's eyes. The rest of the world had totally faded into a fuzzy mass of nothingness. Once they were a few steps inside, Demetria reached forward and grabbed Belle, effortlessly lifting her into the air before putting her onto a stool.
Freed from Demetria's gaze, Belle started to wake up from her daze. The world seemed to return from the haze it had been trapped in as Belle realized she was in the room Demetria had talked about earlier. This room looked like a child's bedroom from the Victorian era. Belle was sitting before a massive vanity mirror that was painted a soft pink. Behind her was a four-poster bed with pink floral sheets, and the walls were painted light pastel pink. On top of this, several vintage dolls sat on various shelves and toy chests.
However, before Belle could form an opinion, Demetria moved behind Belle. The glow of her eyes reflected in the mirror. "Hello darling," cooed a teasing Demetria as Belle felt herself spiraling back down into the abyss, her body once more filling with the numb static that stopped her thinking. "Delicious," chuckled Demetria as she gently rubbed Belle's hair and bared her fangs.
Some distant part of Belle knew she should be afraid of those fangs. Some primal part of her should fear someone as tall and powerful as Demetria. But Demetria's eyes were too powerful. They pulled Belle in and forced her to turn off, utterly short-circuiting her mind. Demetria chuckled as she grabbed Belle's hair and yanked her head sideways, exposing her neck. Belle could only passively watch as Demetria opened her mouth, showing the length of her fangs. In one flowing movement, she clamped down onto Belle's neck. Belle felt the fangs push into her flesh, but the sensation was oddly distant. It was like she was watching herself in a movie. Waves of warm fire washed over Belle as she felt her body squirm and thrash due to the immense joy that was rushing through its distant form. As the blood trickled down Belle's neck, Demetria's eyes rolled up into her head. She looked utterly overjoyed at Belle's taste, and that made Belle's addled mind happy. She felt like she was fulfilling her purpose.
As Demetria continued to drink, the pleasure built inside Belle. It was like a tidal wave crashing against the dam of her fuzzy and numbed emotions. Until, with one massive crash, the dam gave way and Belle felt it all with an intensity greater than she had felt anything before. She let out a loud moan as her world span around her. Her whole body was on fire and it felt so, so good. Better than any sensation she had ever experienced. Belle didn't want it to end.
When Demetria removed her fangs the sensation continued, crashing across Belle's being in long waves, each one making her moan harder than the last. Belle was in a hot, warm daze. It felt so right. However, mid-sway, her eyes met Demetria's reflected eyes again. The red glow made Belle freeze mid-sway. The pleasure and the numbness classed and entangled, creating a whole new sensation that Belle had never felt before.
"Yes, enjoy it," purred Demetria, "Enjoy it and listen. Feel me in your veins as you submit to my will. You are a thrall. Repeat."
"I am a thrall," gurgled Belle.
"Yes, you are," chuckled Demetria as she lifted a dress up and held it next to Belle. Through her haze, Belle was able to see that the dress was very vintage. It was a long pastel-pink dress that looked both old and childish at once. "And Belle can just sink into the haze of my bite. She can fade as she lets me flow through her veins," continued Demetria.
Belle felt it happen. The waves of pleasure and numbness started to alternate as Belle felt herself drifting further and further away. She could only sit and watch her eyes helplessly glaze over as what she used to be floated off on the waves of fuzz. It didn't matter. She was an empty vessel, an empty thrall. She could feel Demetria's words dancing into her brain, shaping a new reality. That reality felt so right.
The thrall blankly listened as Demetria weaved a new reality for her. The thrall watched as Demetria moved her body, helping her remove her clothes and change into the pink dress before covering her face in powder. After several minutes of work, the thrall looked like a totally different person. The thrall didn't mind. Demetria told her it felt right, and thus it felt right. Demetria's word was all that mattered.
Demetria relaxed in the study, her eyes watching the flames dance in the fireplace. She lazily reached out and grabbed a small bell and rang it, letting the soft noise echo through the castle's halls. "Bellamina! Bellamina!" She shouted.
After a few seconds, the study door swung open, and Bellamina walked in, her arms behind her back. Even Belle's closest friends wouldn't be able to tell that this girl used to be their friend. Thanks to the make-up, dress, and the puncture wounds on her neck, Belle was unrecognizable.
"Yes, Mother?" asked Bellamina.
"Fetch me my tea," commanded Demetria.
"Yes, Mother. Of course, Mother. As you command Mother," complied Bellamina as she did a small, cute curtsey before dashing out of the room, her dress flowing behind her. Only a few moments later did she return with a silver tray laden with a warm, steaming tea set. Gently. Bellamina made her way over to the table and smoothly placed the tray down before bowing her head.
"Good girl Bellamina," cooed Demetria as she gently rubbed Bellamina's hair. "Did you clean your room?"
"Yes, Mother," replied Bellamina.
"Good girl," Demetria praised her thrall as Bellamina's eyes fluttered gently. "You may kneel next to Mother's chair while she works," said Demetria as Bellamina gasped and quickly moved into position before dropping to her knees.
Demetria reached out and picked up her cup and took a few sips of tea before picking a folder up off the floor and drawing a sheet of paper out of it. Demetria turned and looked down at Bellamina with a smirk.
"Bellamina dear, do you know of a girl called Belle?" Demetria tested, curiously.
"No, Mother. Should I?" asked Bellamina as she looked up at Demetria.
"She is coming to stay with us in the coming weeks, and I was merely curious," chuckled Demetria as she held a sheet of paper in front of Bellamina.
Bellamina looked at the sheet with curiosity. It was a form, the type Bellamina has seen their Mother looking at many times before. It was some girl rambling about her love for vampires, but Bellamina didn't understand most of it.
"What about the picture?" asked Demetria, pointing her finger to the photograph at the bottom of the form. Bellamina's eyes followed Demetria's finger until she spotted the picture. It was a photograph of a girl, but Bellamina didn't recognize her at all. While this girl and Bellamina had a similar hair color, they looked nothing alike.
"I've never seen her before, Mother," whimpered Bellamina. "Should I know her?"
"No darling, it is okay," Demetria laughed as she returned the paper to the folder and gently rubbed Bellamina's hair. "Just forget all about her. Every single thing."
"Yes, Mother. As you command Mother," nodded Bellamina, leaning into Demetria's touch as she gazed at the dancing flames.