All merriment and conversation stopped when Madame Laura Dechant entered the room.
Every head turned towards the door she emerged from. It wasn’t because she was the banquet’s host. No, it was as if a queen had descended upon them.
Her skin was as white as marble, her hair like spun silk. Her hazel eyes wandered over each guest before a coy smile showed on her face.
With a throw of her long hair, she bid them continue and took her seat at the top of the table.
There she sat, basking in the attention awarded her. There were the longing gazes of men who wanted her and the jealous looks of the woman who wanted to be her.
A new pair had just arrived. One, a man of her retinue, the other a young thing, barely of age. She was shy and nervous as she entered.
She wore a shoddy dress, walked in a tottering way, and almost stumbled over her own feet as she approached the table.
Yet, there was something about her, and Laura noticed that some men regarded the newcomer with more than curiosity.
When she noticed this, Laura got to her feet. With swift steps, heels clattering over the floor, she approached the girl.
Standing in front of her, she stared her down with the most condescending of smiles.
“And who might you be?” Laura asked in a warm, kind voice.
“Jeanette, Miss Dechant,” the girl mumbled, eyes downcast.
Laura’s eyes wandered over Jeanette’s body and eventually came to a rest. Not on her shapely body, not on her eyes, her hair, or her face. They came to rest on the girl’s hands.
Jealousy rose and a crude smile distorted her face.
Those hands, Laura thought. They were the most beautiful, delicate hands she’d ever seen.
No one intervened when Laura took the girl’s hand.
Laura smiled at her sweetly.
“Welcome to my home, Jeanette,” she said, her voice dripping with honey.
Everyone was quiet as Laura led the girl along the table, then past it and finally to the door at the end of the hall.
“Where are we-,” Jeanette began to ask, but Laura put a finger to her lips.
“I’d like to talk with you privately, Jeanette,” Laura answers.
The young girl, embarrassed and overwhelmed by the attention, can only nod and when Laura opens the door to her personal quarters, she steps in undeterred.
Again, no one says a word, not even Jeanette’s companion.
As Laura leads her inside, she stares at those beautiful, delicate hands once more, hands so very fitting for her body.
And as the door closes behind them, her attendants are already prepared. The tools and machines are ready, the process perfected over the years.
And once morning arrives, Laura would be just a tad bit more beautiful.
For then, those small, delicate hands would be her very own.