Bella was determined not to let him ruin her dinner. As she approached the table and sat at one of the places, she realized she hadn’t eaten in hours. Her stomach gave a grumble of protest at her neglect.
“Madam.” She just managed to stay her startle reflex as someone tapped her elbow. “Dinner is served.”
People seemed to appear out of nowhere. A man over her shoulder poured wine into her glass as a woman in maid clothes approached with a bowl of what smelled like French onion soup. Looking down, she stared at the many pieces of cutlery and wondered what was the appropriate spoon to use.
“Always start from the outside.”
A very lovely woman with bright blue eyes had joined her while she contemplated her flatware. Her skin was darker, giving her an exotic appearance that would draw every gaze to her. It wasn’t only that, it was her cupid bow lips and the almond shape of her eyes and her perfect little nose…
Bella glanced back down at her soup suddenly feeling less. It was hard not to compare herself to this beauty. She was nothing like this woman even with this gorgeous dress on.
“Oh no, don’t do that.”
“Do what?” She couldn’t lift her eyes from the soup bowl.
A warm hand touched her arm where it lay on the table. Bella glanced up into the woman’s eyes and saw an open gaze.
“Don’t let those thoughts in your head ruin your dinner. You’re very very beautiful, Bella.”
She felt uneasy at having her thoughts read so easily with a glance. It wasn’t a feeling she particularly enjoyed.
“Where are my manners?” The woman reached out, offering her hand. “I’m Issa Benil.”
Bella’s hand was held in a firm grip and held. Issa stared at her intently, holding Bella’s hand as she examined her closely.
“He made the right choice with you.” Her head tilted as her eyes went a little dreamy. “Yes, a good choice that may bring so much good to this house. Though, I worry…”
Issa’s eyes cleared and she released her grip. Lips pressed in a tight line, she closed her eyes for a moment as though to get her bearings. The woman seemed shaken in a way that made Bella nervous.
“We’ll just have to pray things follow the path that’s the clearest.” Issa rubbed at her temple as she mumbled to herself. Sitting up straight, she turned back to Bella, her eyes bright once again. “Would you like to go for a ride in the morning? It’ll cheer you up.”
It felt like she was missing whole pieces to a very important puzzle, but no one was filling her in. Between her Monster and the strange people in this estate, Bella wasn’t sure what was going to happen to her.
“Please. I’d love to show you around a bit.” Issa’s earnestness was difficult to deny.
“That would be lovely.”
“Perfect. There’s so much to do.” Issa clapped and then rose from the table, all the while chattering to herself. “I’ll arrange the horse and a packed lunch…”
She exited through a side door, leaving Bella clutching her soup spoon. Staring down at the soup, she wondered what other interesting surprises would jump out at her.
Full from dinner and fighting drooping eyes, Bella left the dining room in search of her room. It should’ve been easy. Up a set of stairs, down a long corridor, down another set of stairs, and then she’d be at her room. Except she managed to make a turn where she shouldn’t have and ended up wandering into areas that felt unused.
The corridor she entered felt different. Books littered the ground the further down it she moved. Pictures, paintings, easels all lined the wall. She stopped at one of the easels and was shocked at the beauty of the picture. A woman in recline, naked with her thighs parted. The viewer could make out every detail of the woman’s form, from the hair on her head to the dimple in her bottom. The attention to her vulva should have shocked Bella, but she found herself mesmerized by how real the woman looked, as if she could touch the warmth of her skin.
Whoever drew this had remarkable talent and it was obvious as she looked at other drawings and paintings.
“Who told you that you were allowed in here?”
Bella looked up and realized she’d wandered into a darkened room. He stood in the corner, hugging the shadows.
“Then why are you here?” He practically growled the words at here. “Leave.”
Bella was done with whatever dance they were doing. She was tired and low, and he wasn’t going to bully her anymore. She moved into the room toward him, determined to deal with him head on.
“No. You wanted me here so I’ll go where I like.”
He did growl then, making her step falter for a moment. Balling her fist, she continued on closer to him.
“I said leave. Now.”
She was within touching distance, could smell the heat and earthy scent that clung to his clothes and skin. The desire to touch him was so intense that she started to reach her hand out to him. His hand wrapped like a vise around her wrist, stopping her. When she tried to pull back, he reeled her in closer. She was in his arms then, chest to chest with him and breathless from it.
He leaned in, his breath fanning over her face. “Oh sweet one, I’ll make you do whatever I want then.”