🐝 * ― 𝐒𝐎𝐅𝐓 𝐀𝐍𝐆𝐒𝐓 𝐒𝐄𝐍𝐓𝐄𝐍𝐂𝐄 𝐒𝐓𝐀𝐑𝐓𝐄𝐑𝐒. ( some random sentences for your angsty needs. feel free to adjust to better fit your muses. )
❛ hey … it’s okay now. you’re safe here. ❜
❛ please don’t leave me alone again. ❜
❛ was it all just a lie ? ❜
❛ you have to trust me on this. ❜
❛ i didn’t mean it like that ! ❜
❛ i can’t do this anymore. ❜
❛ promise me not to do anything stupid. ❜
❛ we’ll see each other again soon. ❜
❛ i can’t lose you , too. ❜
❛ this is how you wanna end it ? ❜
❛ whatever this is - it’s over. ❜
❛ i’m not gonna let you die ! ❜
❛ we have to stop this before someone gets hurt. ❜
❛ i’m fine … it’s gonna be okay. ❜
❛ please don’t do this to me. ❜
❛ just talk to me , okay ? ❜
❛ don’t close your eyes. stay with me. ❜
❛ you’ll have to save yourself. ❜
❛ stop lying to me ! ❜
❛ you have to do this for me or i’ll never be able to forgive you. ❜
❛ i deserve better than this. ❜
❛ just leave me alone. ❜
❛ we’re too late … ❜
❛ save yourself while you still can. ❜
❛ you’re gonna be fine. just stay awake for a little longer , help’s already on their way. ❜
❛ please don’t cry. ❜
❛ stop moving , you’re only making this worse. ❜
❛ does it hurt ? ❜
❛ if this is the end , i’m really glad i get to be here with you. ❜
❛ whatever you do , do not let go of my hand. ❜
❛ i’ve got you. ❜
❛ i’m sorry for not telling you sooner. ❜
❛ this is all your fault ! ❜
❛ we’re gonna survive this , right ? ❜
❛ we’re screwed. ❜
❛ just do this for me and we’ll never have to speak to each other again once this is all over. ❜
❛ i thought you were better than that. ❜
❛ one of us is gonna end up with a broken heart. ❜
❛ i’m scared. ❜
❛ so that’s it ? ❜
The slave trade was hardly something an individual such as Donna should have any interest in. No, that was the territory of her siblings. The eldest and the by far the most voracious, Alcina Dimitrescu. Whose stomach and vanity were impossible to satiate. She cultivated the populace like livestock. Fattening the thin meated bones only enough to flavour their life’s blood. Maidens were preferred, of course, but the glutton would make do so long as you could part a slave from its blood. The Countess was as neck deep in the business of human trafficking as one possibly could be.
Then there was the pragmatic Karl Heisenberg. These pickings were of the dead male variety. Fuel for an army beneath everyone’s noses. The bigger they were in life, the better. And so labourers, soldiers, farmers and any man who was thickened by toil and sinewed muscle were ideal. The scraps were of some use too though more intended as meat fodder than anything else.
(Full version here)
A series of knocks came to the wooden door and Fiamma had mere seconds to back away before it flew forcefully open. Before her was…..nothing. Ghosts were not an entity Fiamma was eager to contend with- but neither was the short, squelching, wooden figure before her.
It stood roughly the height of a little kid, draped in a worn, molding lace bridal gown, and the notion of having it dominate her life was slightly more horrifying. Little kids could be vicious. She’d seen a child shank a man with a crude shiv fashioned from a plastic comb back in Palermo. Her eyes were drawn briefly to the toothbrush on the nightstand.
The doll’s voice was just as unpleasant as its appearance.
Fiamma had expected a vampire or one of Rednic’s crew, but this? Honestly she should not have been surprised. The doll in Rednic’s cabin was clearly the trafficker’s sick way of hinting at her fate.
Then the smell.
Oh God, how the doll smelled. Worse than the rat that had died in Chiara’s ventilation system back in Venice. The shock of the stench alone was enough to throw her back a few steps, even if a talking doll had not been. Which it absolutely had been.
The con woman came to a halt just inches from colliding with the wooden bed frame. If this was the mistress of the house, it would be best not to insult her right away. Fiamma immediately regretted taking such a deep, grounded breath.
Fiamma forced a pleasant smile to mask the nausea she was experiencing.
“Vittoria.” The false name came to her reflexively. It was nearly compulsive at this point.
This was a name Fiamma had held before, only in brief moments. At the bar when she ordered her morning coffee, Vittoria, to the servers - to the strangers rousing from slumber through partaking of this little ritual. Vittoria was a name upon a reservation for one at an atmospheric candle-lit restaurant. Vittoria ordered small, ornate cakes eerily close to Fiamma’s birthday.
Vittoria was a name alone.
-However, it was likely that the doll - Miss Angie- had her passport. Fiamma recalled her first meeting with Rednic after the disastrous pick-pocketing attempt. The woman had flicked the little red booklet from one knuckle to the next, weaving it one-handedly about her fingers. Bound as she was, Fiamma could only watch helplessly while Rednic delivered an oddly stylized monologue as though she thought they were in the middle of a Tarantino film. Some anecdote about how she had been bitten by a snake concealed by fallen leaves when she was a kid that Fiamma could see the parallel in early on. Why couldn’t she just tell her that she had ‘messed with the wrong woman’ like a normal person?
With the probability that her genuine identity was already known, she’d have to come up with an excuse for having given a different name.
Before that happened Fiamma needed information. Certainly her environment had given her a bit. Fiamma would gladly accept all that she could safely take. The most important of which would be the reason she was presumably purchased. What moves she made next would be entirely influenced by it.
Might as well cut straight to her primary fear. Was she here to be Angie’s primary food source.
“Lei hai fa-” It had spoken to her in English. She might have been off the mark in assuming Italian ancestry. Still, Beneviento sounded so much like the city Benevento.
“You said that you’re hungry.” She resumed in English, “What is it that you eat, Miss Angie?”
Please don’t let it be people.
Based on her limited knowledge of the nightmare world Rednic had ushered her into…. Her odds were bleak. A pity that they were so near to water and that the air was so damp. She knew how to start a fire in a pinch. She also doubted that she was the first person to think of it. Of course it wouldn’t be as easy as simply lighting the little fucker on fi-
As a mounting sense of dread coursed through her chest, a freezing agony lanced into her right eye. She clasped her palm over her gauze-covered injury. Grimaced. As suddenly as it had started, it was gone again.
What was that?
“Ahia,” Fiamma growled, before dropping her hand back to her side. “Sorry, that-”
Probably best not to call someone the doll obviously did business with an ‘asshole’. Besides, the doll undoubtedly knew what had happened to her eye. Rednic didn’t punch her with her overabundance of cocktail rings and state ‘oh, she came like that’- who knows, maybe she did. Telling the doll about her escape attempt wouldn’t up her value any unless Angie was specifically looking for someone less than docile for whatever purpose it had in mind.
“What is it that you were wanting to eat?”
What on earth was that wet, pulsing sound?
Did she even want to know?
New border and icon! <3
Credit to the lovely adrytia45 for her lovely artwork of Fiamma. <3
(( I used it as a writing break, so I got a little carried away beyond the ask character limit- whoops <3 Hope you like it. Takes place in the thread-verse in which Donna puts a portion of her own cadou in Fiamma’s eye socket. ))
Is this a test?
The black-clad dollmaker lay motionless, but could she actually be dead? There were stretches of time in which Lady Beneviento would remain so still that Fiamma would wonder if the other woman was truthfully the very thing she crafted. This… did not seem like those moments. The other woman laid crumpled on her side with one arm flung backward in a manner that partially twisted her entire upper body.
It appeared uncomfortable, unnatural.
Earlier in the evening, Fiamma had felt a surge of stabbing pain radiate out from where that parasite had been placed within her own eye socket. If Lady Beneviento was truly deceased and this wasn’t some twisted mind game then that had to have been when it had happened. They shared intense feelings. Literally. Not in the abstract, figurative, or romantic sense. It was inconvenient for Fiamma at times, to put it lightly, and there had been one or two powerfully awkward moments. None of it compared to how debilitating this pain had been.
“Lady Beneviento?” She said; quiet, a whisper.
“Are you taking a nap on the floor? Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Totally normal, I- uh-” She glanced over her shoulder. “Do it all the time myself.” No she didn’t.
There was no sign of Angie yet. That little hellion was always at her side.
Fiamma crouched down to look closer at the woman lying on the not very well-swept floor, she would know- she’d been the one who cut corners on that chore today. Not even the black fabric veil was moving with her breath. She stopped short of reaching out to shake her awake. If the not-a-vampire was not dead, getting killed over double-checking whether she was dead would not only be a stupid reason to die- but a vaguely confusing sentence to read as well.
Would she also be punished for leaving her on the ground? Even if Lady Beneviento was dead, what if she became a ghost and took out her other eye for it?
“GET AWAY FROM HER!” As Fiamma began to loop one of her arms under the possibly-dead woman’s knees, Angie’s grating voice pierced through the tense still that had enveloped the room.
At Angie’s approach, Fiamma scrambled backward, but her heel got caught in a partially undone hem in her skirt, causing her to fall onto her backside.
The doll released an ear-splitting screech that was felt both within the former conwoman’s head and outside of it. “WHAT DID YOU DO TO HER?”
“I didn’t do anything! I found her like-”
The words died within Fiamma’s mouth as her arm moved out towards Angie seemingly of its own volition. As the flat of her palm faced the ground and raised upwards, so too did the doll. Angie levitated back downwards to sit upon a nearby chair in sync with Fiamma’s hand. While she herself could not explain what happened, thankfully Angie did not ask. There was a certain calm awareness that the usually high-strung doll possessed over the following days that would have been suitably unnerving if it were not for how distracted Fiamma had become with the whispers.
Dark and low, they came to her at first to offer guidance in a voice identical to Lady Beneviento’s. This was not terribly new. It was not the first time that she had heard the dollmaker’s voice in her head. Never before, however, had the woman spoken through her.
Then the lift ride happened. Despite having fought tooth and nail to not enter the lift to the basement her treacherous body did as though there was not a will fighting against it. There was more than one mind occupying it and only one had a decided advantage. That advantage would increase over the following days until Fiamma was the distant influence and not the controlling party. Another day would come in which there was no Fiamma at all…
It was not until October that a woman who was, in all but face and frame, Donna Beneviento would sit in the foyer with a cup of tea in her and Angie upon her lap. While her black mourning dress remained the shroud had been replaced with an eye patch. The cadou had not yet blistered beyond her current body’s eye socket and across her cheek the way it had with her previous one. Even if it had, she wondered how motivated she might have been to wear it consistently.
Donna had not only taken possession of the other woman’s body. Her memories remained, to Donna’s fortune and misfortune both. She would take the new experiential knowledge and leave behind the awareness of what sordid ventures this body had undergone before, thank you very much. The things it had done would have been enough to warrant scrubbing her entire body raw of perceived impurities if it weren’t for how desensitized she had become to such things. Not entirely, of course. She’d make certain to leave Rednic a long list of requirements for the next one- and there would be a next one.
There was little doubt that the negative side-effects that had plagued her previous body would eventually take this one too. Unlike before, Donna would be ready. It would be simple enough to remove the eye of the next girl and place within the socket a bit of the cadou she had saved from her previous body. If she responded as well as Fiamma did to the parasite then Donna could simply dispose of her present physical form and inhabit her new host. This time she would want a taller girl. Fiamma had been short enough to make reaching certain shelves a bit of a nuisance.
For now, she would remain in this form, sip her tea, and snicker to herself about the wry remark she had enough discipline not to make regarding Lady Dimitrescu’s overblown turn of phrase at the most recent meeting. A bad habit from Fiamma, no doubt, but she wouldn’t complain. It was best to keep a sense of humor to further speed recovery. Possession was an exhausting endeavor, after all.
IT WAS ALWAYS INTERESTING WHEN ONE OF THESE FOREIGNERS WOULD STUMBLE UPON THE LITTLE VILLAGE HIDDEN IN THE MOUNTAINS. STRANDED AWAY FROM CIVILIZATION. OUT OF SIGHT AND OUT OF MIND.
WOULD THIS ONE BE OF ANY USAGE. Would this one be like her false children. Who came to the village as she has. WHO STUMBLED UPON THE HIDDEN SANCTUARY OF THE BLACK GOD. WHO SOUGHT ANSWERS. WHO WISHED FOR PURPOSE. WHO WANTED NOTHING MORE THAN TO BE ACCEPTED. She gifted all who came here what they truly wanted. Or was this one more like the young explorer. Who she had reduced from the mountain, a young man with a brilliant mind. Spencer. WHO SHE HAD BROUGHT IN WHEN SHE COULD HAVE LEFT HIM. WHO WAS SHOWN ALL THE TRUTHS OF THE WORLD AND WHO IN TURN, SNUCK AWAY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT AND LEFT HER. Taking all he had needed to try and become something. To try and create what she had here. Her eyes glanced down, she was unsure now more than ever.
COULD SHE TRUST THIS ONE. ALL WHO STOOD WERE SHE NOW STOOD. HAD BEEN PROMISING TO HER. HAD ENSURED HER THAT THEY WERE WORTHY OF HER TIME. THAT THEY COULD BE THE PROMISED ONE AND EACH OF THEM FAILED.
“Is that why you are running from it.” SHE QUESTIONED. Speaking softly as not to scare this little one away. “Or running from someone perhaps?”
She questioned. AS THEY STOOD THERE, ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF THE VILLAGE. Anyone who wonders within the land, whose blood is not part of the black god. Whose family have no roots here. She would confront them. SEEK OUT INFORMATION, ENSURE THEY WERE NOT A THREAT TO HER, HER FALSE CHILDREN AND THE FLOCK SHE WAS TASKED HERSELF TO PROTECT. This one had so many questions about the village. Seeing such a place, from an outsider perspective would be alarming. A village trapped in a time warp. A village that was stuck in time, that had no advanced, that had not moved, that had not seen any reason to move on and become like the rest of the world. ROTTEN.
“Is it so hard to believe, that those with so little, would have so much joy in there hearts. You are like the rest of the world, you have forgotten how to truly live from the land and find pleasure in it.”
The modern world. How little she truly knew of it and what she was experienced from it, she had no need for it here. IT WAS COLD, RUTHLESS AND UNCARING. THOSE THAT COME FROM IT, OFTEN COME WITH FALSE PROMISES. WHO WISH TO GIVE A LITTLE AND TAKE SO MUCH IN RETURN. Spencer had done the same, others had sought her out as well and been refused. Was this one the same. Who wished for knowledge and power. WHO WISHED TO UPSET ALL THAT SHE HAD CREATED. She was beginning to make her mind up on this one and when that happened, when the priestess mind was settled on a matter, there was no changing it.
“You will not make it far if you refuse my hospitality. Your lacking the correct equipment, your supplies are low. If the winters winds don’t take you - the creatures of the forests will.”
The woman had taken her cynicism for materialism. It was not so much that people could be happy without modern appliances- though really Fiamma was starting to wonder about that now as well- but that people could be collectively happy at all. It was hard enough for one person to feel that way for longer than a moment or two- for everyone to be happy at once? Fiamma was not convinced.
The most important thing at the moment, however, was to accept the offer of shelter. Winters such as these were nothing like the ones she had experienced in Italy. It could become cold, but not this biting and dry sort of chill. Breathing too deeply even hurt under these conditions.
At least that asshole she escaped wouldn’t find her here. Fiamma, of course, was entirely unaware of the fact that the asshole in question, Rednic, delivered women to the castle on the hill.
“Thank you for your hospitality, I’ll take you up on that offer.” She said, as though she had much choice in the matter given the circumstances.
Fiamma shifted her weight to her back foot in discomfort. Nah, probably best to clarify what she had meant earlier than leave a possibly magical host potentially offended. “I didn’t mean any offense by what I said earlier. I’m sure you take good care of the people here.” The breath she took stung her throat with chill, “I meant that I had a hard time believing that people could be happy at all really. -In any way that actually mattered.”
“I’ve known a lot of people and none of them were.” Her brows furrowed. Not in a gesture of scrutiny or skepticism, but dismay that she could count herself among them.
True, a lot of the people in her line of work were desperate. She knew a few wealthy people who were incredibly unhappy as well- granted, they were also the sort who had to sleep with one eye open.
To not be so numb to happiness and for what happiness she could get to not be so ridiculously fleeting- No. That wasn’t possible. Not even with what could be magic. This hollow was a part of her. It was her. It had nothing to do with where she was. Fiamma had traveled enough to know that.
Continued from here.
She’s quiet as the other woman, angel (?) demon (?), bird (?), speaks. By all appearances, every word was meant. By all appearances, Fiamma meant many of the things she herself had said in the past- a good portion of them had been lies.
Still. It could not be denied that this village was entirely unnatural. In fact, she had witnessed six impossible things before breakfast. Better than simply believing them.
The origins of the little indents upon Fiamma’s chapped lips become evident as she chews upon them in thought. No, she has not bought what she’s being sold, but it is better to remain neutrally curious. The village was a curiosity so it did not take much in the way of acting.
For Fiamma to immediately pretend that she believed in Mother Miranda would be unbelievable to anyone capable of rational thought anyways. Especially so to this woman who may or may not have magic powers. Cult leaders did not get where they were by being gullible- magical or not. That task was left to the lowest of their followers.
“What you say is true,” she begins with carefully measured words, “the world out there is not kind…"
Neither was Fiamma really, but that was beside the point.
"With that in mind, I am having a hard time wrapping my head around how everyone can be happy?” It had to have come at a steep price and certainly not all people reaped the benefits of it. No way.
Even if the potentially magical bird woman -who seemed like a cross between an angel, a folkloric antagonist, and someone who would make her run through a labyrinth in order to rescue her baby brother- was somehow above human fault, what of the villagers? In Fiamma’s experience, there was not a soul alive who did not have their own selfish agenda, whether they were willing to admit it to themselves or not.
“I am sure that in staying I will learn, but… it just sounds too good to be true.” The slight smile and subtle wonder in her voice were entirely put on. Absolutely. Even if she were somehow in the heaven oft depicted in art museums all over Rome Fiamma would still ask the angels ‘so, this is nice and all, but what’s the catch?’. Nothing is free.
Donna eyed the woman for nine quiet seconds, so still she might have been a statue of old if her veil did not ripple with each intake and release of breath. She did not trust this girl. Not an iota. Donna was hardly capable of trusting anyone let alone an outsider. This one reeked of ill intent. A brush against her mind told her as much. Just another in a long line of fools set to butt horns with the Dollmaker. When she spoke at last it was a whispery sound. Affect as dull as a spoon.
“Keeping secrets is rather… rude.”
The woman rose from her creaking chair, smooth as a dancer, and paced to the other side of the room, heels clicking. A motion of her hand and a wooden boy rose from the shelf to her open palm. Miraculous levitation. Or so a dosed mind would believe it to be. She smoothed his red silk ascot between her fingers, dust feathering away at her gentle touch. This child, just the same as every doll Donna created, had a gentle expression of serenity, rosy cheeks and pinched smile. Perhaps an ideal the Lord so sought herself, as maladjusted as she was.
Turning back to Flamma, the boy in Donna’s grasp cocked his head, glass eyes blinking out of sync. His creator hardly seem phased by this animation and moved around her guest in a loose circle. A predator assessing its prey before risking a strike.
“…Ask away. I will decide if it is unimportant.”
Those silent seconds stretched for far too long and Fiamma took the time to convince herself that she had been telling the woman the truth. It was the only way to hold to a lie convincingly and to trick those pesky nervous responses that there was no need for them. She had to sell it- even if Lady Beneviento was not buying. Attempting to outrun her would be pointless and even if she did make it out the door to what end would it have been aside from a bloody one. Being able to fight off a common street tough in Rome for long enough to get away was one thing, going toe to toe with one or more lycans was another. Fiamma could attempt to dance around unpredictable moods, but she could not even hope to reason with an animal.
The fluidity of Lady Beneviento’s movements as she neared struck Fiamma. Certainly she had taken note before, but still it caught her by surprise. As tightly wound as the woman was, her movements had a smooth and deliberate grace to them. Beautiful, somehow vaguely nostalgic-
Like that stronza Signora Accardi. Fiamma’s father had pulled her from ballet after three sessions when she was eleven years old. Apparently biting the ballet mistress was “wrong” and “entirely inappropriate”. Whatever, she had been an afterthought to him anyways. It was Lucia that he had truly wanted to enroll in the class.
Now that the connection was made, Fiamma could almost hear Beneviento’s low, whispering voice snapping at her for a sloppy chassé. On a dull, solitary night in the distant future, the thought might return to haunt her in an unusual and somewhat confusing way.
Show off, the woman thought to herself as she watched the Lady use that Jedi-esque levitation trick to bring the doll from the shelf and into her hand. Hopefully that was the extent of her force-like abilities. The power of suggestion and mind-probing was a bit too frightening to even think of her being able to wield.
When Fiamma spoke it was with all the faux, but outwardly convincing, gentility that she could muster.
“Of course, my apologies.” She wasn’t sorry. Fiamma would have difficulty remembering the last time she was truly sorry for anything. Probably for something she had done to Maria. Her best friend occupied most of her stunted empathy. She had been the last person Fiamma had called before…
“Is your family from Venice?” It was a question she had held for a time, though certainly not her reason for staring. “The sun and the moon are popular design motifs there. Particularly in the masks.”
She had not heard Lady Beneviento speak enough in Italian to be able to decipher whether she was from the north or south. Certainly she had not addressed her in Sicilian, but to be fair- neither had Fiamma. The name Beneviento was reminiscent of Benevento, which would be considered southern enough by some.
“Dollmaking is a trade mostly in the north, though we do have a few artisans where I am from as well…” Regardless of where the….. not-a-vampire could trace herself back to Fiamma likely had spent time in or near the region. Especially Venice. Tourists loved Venice and Fiamma’s ilk loved tourists.
What Fiamma did not love was that shroud. It was near impossible to reliably gauge how the other woman was responding as she spoke. These subtle reactions often guided her in what to say next. She was flying in near darkness when it came to her- which would have been almost thrilling if it weren’t for what price she could pay for losing.
The unsettling way Lady Beneviento was stalking circles around her would have been chalked up to a meaningless intimidation tactic if it were not for previous evidence that this woman was not ordinary. Even if she were, perfectly average humans filled perfectly average ditches with one another every day.
Her gaze flicked momentarily back to where Angie remained at the table to see if her movements revealed anything. Alas the doll was not a snitch.
What the muse’s signature looks like.
It’s…. a signature.
(Also check out my light, Sinday drabble here. Mwah <3 )
-Fiamma is attracted to people who really commit themselves to something. It can be a movement, an aesthetic, survival even.
-Sex is easy for her, intimacy is not.
-Choking and being choked is an absolute hard limit. Any form of suffocation or breathplay is similarly a resolute no for her.
-While she is flexible in what role she will take on (especially so if she has any ulterior motives) her preference is generally a more dominant position, regardless of whether she is topping or bottoming.
-Fiamma is bisexual, but slightly more woman leaning in her attraction.
-In a relationship that matters beyond what she can get from it, a rarity, she will not fake a climax unless the partner in question is genuinely inexperienced. As she sees it; skill can be taught with patience, but laziness needs a cold slap in the face.
-While she is experienced, her partner need not be.
-When she pursues more solitary pleasures it is rare that she pictures anyone specific. It is generally sensation focused and vague. There are exceptions to this. Variety is the spice of life.
-She is bite-y. Light nibbles to near-skin breaking bites, depending on the preferences or limits of the person she is with.
(Light-ish nsfw for a moment, the muse wanted to go soft on me for once)
There was a romance in broken things. Elizabeth had said so as decaying metal tines plucked Gymnopédie No. 1. Fiamma took a careful breath and agreed despite not knowing if she did.
The name was an invocation of earlier days, of an era neither of them had seen. Her speckled skin smelled of dust and nostalgia like Fiamma had found her in a sprawling antique store. A ginger doll sitting still upon a shelf; surrounded by those fading music boxes she adored. She felt fragile in her arms, and it chilled her how bird boned she felt in turn.
On empty nights like this, thoughts of their mornings came; how she’d wake to those grey eyes watching her with softness, closing in sleep and opening again. They fought against heaviness despite how long and deep their owner slept. Envy would stir within Fiamma’s chest, but she’d bring her close and lull her back to dreams with slow, gentle circles stroked across her back. She suffered a sleepless existence, yes, though she would not pull Elizabeth into it.
There were a great many things she would not bring her into.
At times she wished she were “Gemma”- her perfect, patient, false persona- and moments still when this was so.
Gemma would take slow, unworried steps through botanical gardens as Elizabeth and the swallows chirped about the gentleness of weather. How fortunate they had been that the predicted rain wouldn’t yet come.
It was Gemma who let her rest her head on her shoulder as they waited for the bus in the fog veiled mornings. Who’d lend her a coat and pretend the shrouded cold of London was second nature. That her blood did not ache for the waters of the Tyrrhenian.
Gemma was peachy, pristine, and could make a convincing enough performance of domesticity to be beautiful and beloved by her lover’s friends. Women must be gentled and good to be accepted, after all. Virtuous, nurturing and declawed.
Fiamma did not fault Elizabeth for she had not composed the script. She had not requested the performance either, but as Fiamma suspected it was met with figurative applause.
At night Fiamma could be for a time; impassioned, predacious, patient.
Elizabeth would tremble beneath her fingertips as they traced over a dustings of freckles so close together that they melded. The quiet, strategic routes she would press in her advance would lead to mouth opened, to breast caressed, to wrists held over head as teeth and tongue would take then soothe.
of flesh, of sighs,
dew slick blossoming
a r c h i n g
With a subtly pleased smile Fiamma had been told that during such exquisite suspension it seemed that her hunger made her someone else entirely. Ah, but it was the truest she had been. Gemma was possessor, not the host; the façade, not the decaying interior. Fiamma could not be loved in the light.
With the shuddering glimpse of dawn Gemma would take her place in bed with gentle gazes and soft sentiments. She would play at being who she felt could have been, what was impossible.
One day, she knew, Fiamma would shatter her.
She knew, she knew.
In winter they ended with two words and a passport found-
There was a romance in broken things, but not in the breaking.
@fiammafiorani liked for a toxic starter
Held between pallid knuckles is a whittling chisel. Its delicate scrape dimples the cheeks and softens the joints of wooden children. Donna is masterful in its application. Long, smooth strokes that taper to feather touches. Imperceptible where its kiss has so evened the roughest of tree skins. Currently, it is being used to scrape away peeling wallpaper as one might pick at a scabbed over wound.
Donna did not need to turn to know the other was there. That much was obvious. Nor did she deter the Lord from her task.
“Continue to stare at me and I might be so inclined as to smooth down to the marrow.”
Noisy neighbors were a common enough occurrence for Fiamma. Shouts, screams, music that made the walls shudder with pulsing bass; it was white noise to her, but when the situation was dire enough ear plugs, the humming drone of the radio, and sleeping pills usually did the trick. None of her usual solutions were available to her here and even if they were, she did not feel certain enough in her safety to use them.
It was just as well, she’d been tossing and turning for what had felt like hours. Every movement, tick, habit, word, scrap of information she had mentally stored away that day had been reviewed to the point of memorization yet she did not feel any closer to escape. She was not nearer to determining whether or not her chances were better cultivating some semblance of a life here either. There were moments, gleaming fragments of time that she felt almost vaguely comfortable around the denizens of the estate- but they were just pin pricks of light along a dark stretch of highway.
There was not enough information to commit to any course of action and no compelling reason to do so in a rush. While there was time to observe, she would, closely.
The autumn cold floor meeting her bare feet was enough to wake her up from what little drowsiness she did have. For a moment she looked at where her day clothes were folded upon the dresser before deciding it wasn’t worth the effort. If doing god knows what downstairs in the wee hours of the morning was appropriate, so was walking around the common areas in a nightgown. It was more than she usually did at her apartment in Catania.
Her footfalls are quiet as she descends the dark wooden staircase. As always she spares the portrait a passing glance. She had already ruled out the theory that Lady Beneviento was a beheaded ghost and the reason for the veil was a lack of a head entirely. She had seen the smallest, fair sliver of her jaw. The Medusa and Phantom of the Opera theories were still on the table.
What the fuck.
Sharp chisel in hand, the ever black clad Lady Beneviento was choosing this hour to scrape the old wallpaper away on the first floor. 3 o'clock, tonight, after probably having let it go for decades. Was it spite? Was it being unable to sleep? Both?
Fiamma’s chapped lips press into a line at the thinly veiled threat. Charming. She just manages to keep herself from rolling her eyes on reflex. Who knows if Lady Beneviento literally has eyes in the back of her head.
“I won’t look then.” She says simply, shifting her weight to her left hip. “If you need help you can just ask. I can’t sleep either.” She never could.
☆ Considering writing a drabble for Sinday, but unsure whether I should go soft or saucy with it. 🤔
“ what am i supposed to do when i can’t even trust my own mind? ”
“ i have to believe death is the end. because all that waits for me in the afterlife is a debt of sin i don’t think could ever be paid off. ”
“ what do you see when you look into my eyes? ”
“ it doesn’t always have to be you, you know? your shoulders aren’t the only ones that can bear the weight of the world. ”
“ i don’t think hearts break. shattered things can only be broken once. but torn things can be mended again and again until it’s all scars and stitching. ”
“ i can’t remember what it’s like to be truly wanted. ”
“ every time you look at me i feel invisible. ”
“ loneliness is a slow and cruel poison. ”
“ i’m afraid that if i let you see every side of me, you should shrink back in fear or disgust. ”
“ for once in your life, what is it that you want. ”
“ i’ve been wrapped in my sorrow for so long, i’m afraid i’ll feel too cold without it. ”
“ i just want to see you smile again. ”
“ can’t you stop running for one second? ”
“ i’ll be here. when you’re ready to talk. ”
“ being strong doesn’t mean never asking for help or admitting you’re in pain. ”
“ don’t shut me out. please. ”
“ don’t look at me like that. ”
“ the world isn’t made up of heroes and monsters. just broken people balancing between the two. ”
“ i just wanted to do something good for once. ”
“ why can’t you tell me what’s wrong? ”
“ just trust me. please. ”
“ why can’t you let me in? what are you so afraid of? ”
“ you’re so worried about losing me/them you’re missing everything in front of you. ”
“ i’m not leaving you. ”
“ you’re not alone. i’m here. ”
“ you see everyone so clearly except yourself. ”
“ don’t you understand? i love you. and nothing you’ve done, no matter how much of a monster you think you are, is gonna change that. ”
“ i find broken things interesting. maybe that’s why i like you so much. ”
“ i want to be whatever it is you think i am. ”
“ you see the good in everything. that’s why i like it when you look at me. ”
“ i’ll still be here when you wake. ”
“ i promise i’ll never hurt you again. ”
“ as long as i have you, the rest doesn’t matter. ”
“ what did they do to you? ”
“ i’m not sure i should leave you alone. ”
“ i won’t hate you. i know you think that’s what you deserve but it’s not. ”
“ i want to love the parts of you that you hate. ”
“ i’m scared of what you’re becoming. ”
“ i’m sorry, i’m not what you think i am. ”
“ you’ll always have a home with me. ”
“ what happened to you? ”
“ i thought i’d never see you again. ”
“ you’re such a fucking coward. ”
“ i envy anyone who has the privilege of being loved by you. ”
“ you scared me. ”
“ please, don’t ever give up on me. ”
“ i’m not giving up on you. not ever. ”
“ i know you love me. but it’s not the way i want to be loved. ”
At first it had been a relief when the gaggle of whimpering girls she had been stuffed into the holding room with had been carted away to the castle. Vampires lived there, apparently, and Fiamma believed it. How could she not after seeing that wolf man creature tear into that deer in the woods through the slats of the transport van two days prior?
She remained behind because, from what she could gather in her limited grasp of Romanian, Lord Dimitrescu was more keen on virgins. Of course he was. She considered not being taken to the vampire man’s castle a win more than ever.
The question remained- where would they be taking her? It was hard to decipher what little conversation she could overhear from Rednic and his associates. The others were no longer around to listen to. All she could be left to do was to reexamine the room repeatedly and think. A simpler task if her room was not now filled with small, unblinking dolls.
It was not dolls that bothered her particularly. No, she had one as a child and they were literally everywhere in Sicily. The reason for them being there is what perplexed her most. Her captors were business minded, a brutal business but business just the same. Placing dolls in her room likely had nothing to do with wanting to make the space homier.
Her dark eyes would fix upon them at night, large and unblinking like their own. As she reclined in the overly firm bed Fiamma would remain deathly still. Waiting. Nothing would happen and she would allow her lids to close, open, before beginning the cycle again.
“Blink if you can hear me,” she whispered to one of them, “or do you only speak Romanian?” Nothing. Then in English, “No Italian? What about English?” Nothing. “What a shame. I’ve been told that my Scouse accent is perfect.” Nothing.
With a groaning sigh, she sunk into the bed and would continue to pry at the little nail in her bed frame for a few moments more. This was ridiculous. They were just dolls. Her energy was better spent resting so that she might consider her next move. So, she snatched what sleep she could before resuming.
The next day the nail she had been pulling at with breaking, bleeding, fingernails would come loose from the wooden frame and find its way into the neck of one of her captors. Not more than three yards from the front door, from freedom, a heavily ringed fist thrust into her right eye and her world shuttered dark.
There were flashes in that darkness. Strobed images that chopped through the liminal space between consciousness and sleep; a gurney with unforgiving straps, fingers wound tightly in her hair, a low voice from a voided shape whispering words she could not grasp except two.
For a quiet breathless moment shuddering in time with the blindingly flickering light above, Fiamma complied. Then it came into focus. What it was, she did not know. Wriggling, bloody, squelching; it was held a distance above her, darkness, then it was so close that it almost eclipsed the light before her right eye. A freshly born mouse- or at least, that was the only thing Fiamma’s mind could process it as before tail or tendril flicked into the inner corner of her eye. The slick creature withdrew. Darkness. A flash of silver, pointed, precise. Agonizing pain, a scream she would have known to be hers if it did not sound so beyond humanity.
The images stop.
Morning stings her awake through the mist slick window.
Unlike in the holding cabin, the mattress beneath her is comfortable enough to tempt her into staying upon it. Not that she could spring up without considerable effort. Her bones ached; her throat was raw. The dull simmering pain within her head was background noise in comparison to the burning of her right eye.
Reflexively her hand reached up to rub it. She jerked it back as soon as it touched upon a rough, gauzy surface. It was bandaged. Her right eye, the same eye that the slimy newborn mouse entered in her vivid dream, was bandaged and it burned.
Fiamma forced herself upright and observed her surroundings with her good eye. The wallpaper was peeling under the cold, oppressive dampness that undoubtedly came from what sounded like the roar of a dam or waterfall outside. The bedroom she had awoken within was not part of the cabin Rednic had kept her in, that much was certain. It seemed more like a guest room in an old home than a place for captives. A wooden rocking chair stood still in the corner, a matching nightstand and dresser sat within their proper places….-
The porcelain dolls from the holding room stood sentinel across the dresser; the only gap in their line being where a hand mirror, hairbrush, toiletries and change of clothing were lain. Fiamma grabbed the mirror, sharp eyes upon the dolls until she was satisfied that they were indeed just dolls. There was a packing of gauze and cotton taped over her eye, as suspected. A yellowing bruise painted her right jawbone in a sickly reminder of her fight with Rednic outside of the hotel bar in Târgu Mureș.
Her scabbed fingertips lifted at the lower edge of the beige tape securing the gauze but stopped. It could be just an injury from the blow she took to the eye during her escape attempt. Yes. The bloody, squirming mass slithering into her eye socket might have been all a sick nightmare within a nightmare. The mirror was set back upon the dresser with a soft thud.
Fiamma peeled out of her sweat dampened nightgown, shivering in the coolness of the room. The deep red slip as well as the rest of the undergarments she had worn under her black sheath dress, wherever that was now, remained- indicating that whoever had dressed her chose to preserve her modesty. That didn’t matter to the con woman, but it was a detail to mentally tuck away until it could later have more meaning. Since they went through the care of giving her time to rest, a change of clothing and a hairbrush, maybe the intention was not to drink her dry on day one. Rich people could be extra like that, however. Fiamma had pretended to be one enough to know.
The vampire she had been delivered to- if this was her destination and not just a nicer holding room- did not appear as wealthy as castle vampire judging by the state of the torn and peeling wallpaper. Fiamma’s virginity or moreso lack thereof was not a make-or-break matter, her injured eye was bandaged, and care was taken in the manner she was dressed. It was doubtful that her being brought here was a strange sex thing or that whoever resided in the home lacked restraint. That is, if it was the head of the household who had any direct contact with her, it could have been a servant who had clear boundaries.
Answers that led to more questions.
Her wide, yet weary good eye shifted back to the doll closest to her. Upon its chest there was a crescent moon and sun crest. Now that Fiamma noticed it- this doll was not the only one that bore the mark. Vaguely it brought to mind masks that she had seen before in Venice. The sun and moon were a common enough design motif there. Could the head of the household be Venetian, or at least have some nature of connection to northern Italy? If so, that could have been the deciding factor in her delivery here despite her being from the opposite end of Italy entirely.
Something to keep in mind.
Her freckled hands carefully removed her red full slip from over her head and held the neckline of the clean cotton blouse open as she shimmied into it so that it would not bump her bandaged eye. It would heal if she left it alone. That eye needed to heal. The last thing she needed was such an easily identifiable feature.
How strongly it burned did not feel like a good sign. Nothing about her right eye felt like a ‘good sign’.
She did, deeply, slowly. The scent that thickly permeated the air was mildew, yet there was a strange nostalgic comfort in the smell. A memory was connected to it, pleasant, distant… Ah. When she was eleven her school had gone on a trip to a water park. Every single euro she had was spent on repeatedly riding a circular raft upon manmade water rapids through a dark, dank cave that pulsed through hidden speakers the sound of a human heart. Hidden lights ebbed on and off in the darkness, casting everyone in the raft in living, fluid shadows. In the distance the faint roar of the ride’s grand finale could be heard. As Fiamma drew closer the lights were lost entirely. All she could do is hold her breath for the fall.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
As she finished fastening the muted red skirt about her hips, her wiry shoulders tensed at the sound coming from beyond her door. Someone or something was nearby.