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the enchanted sleeper

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Though Bella found her first love in Italy, it is German art that has always held a special place in her heart. She’s practical that way.

It also seems that her second love, and possibly greatest mistake, tends to disagree.

“Truly unsettling,” Bedelia says, shuddering delicately, comically. She turns away from the Franz Stuck print on the wall. “She’ll haunt us both tonight, I think.”

Bella laughs, beckoning her to the couch. An art history book is open on her lap. “Maybe you’ll find something more to your taste in here.”

Bedelia settles in next to her. She thumbs through the pages. “Now this one,” she says, looking up at Bella with a sly smile. “I like this.”

“Of course you would,” Bella says. “It’s Austrian, not German. A generally forgotten artist.” The book’s print portrays a pale, golden-haired siren sitting confidently on the bow of a destroyed ship, a man lying dead at her side. She smiles down at him, rosy-cheeked, perfectly content with her wrongdoing.

As Bedelia looks on, one hand tracing the contours of the photo and one hand teasing at Bella’s inner thigh, Bella can’t help wondering about the woman who inspired this painting of beautiful destruction, and if she lived a good and happy life, or if she too fell victim to a dark and stormy sea.