The color drained from Myla’s face. She jerked backwards in an awkward step. The more space between herself and Lord Du Bois the better. She couldn’t be in his radar for a prospective bride. What would even qualify her for such a horrid fate?
“I require my bride to have a sensitivity to the spiritual and supernatural worlds. You both displayed heightened spiritual sensitivity.” Lord Du Bois said as if answering Myla’s unspoken question.
He took a step closer to the painted girl. Her tears had quieted, but she still clutched her arm. Lord Du Bois ran a long thin finger along the bare skin that Gian the Specter had touched.
“You’ll be fine. The numbness will fade in a few minutes. Quiet your sobs and tell me about yourself.” He said. The Lord’s voice was deep and rich, but there was no warmth to it.
The painted girl sniffled back the mucus that threatened to seep from her nose. The chalk white makeup that covered her face now had flesh pink rivers with jet black eyeliner banks running down her cheeks. Myla couldn’t help but remember the ghost stories her older siblings had told her as a child. Images of chalk white ghost women crying for the children they had drowned filled her mind.
“My name is Penelope. I am the daughter of your treasurer. This is my nineteenth winter. I am well versed in dance and etiquette.” Penelope the painted girl said.
Lord Du Bois made a sound that may have either been a questioning or approving, “Hmm.” He walked around Penelope in a careful circle. Myla had seen her father walk around a goat at the market the same way.
“Tell me, Penelope… Have you lain with a man before me?” the Lord asked in a dry monotone.
Penelope coughed in a way that wasn’t ladylike. She wrung her hands in a way that might have been an attempt at being shy. She shook her head back and forth sending thick ringlets of hair flopping, “No, your Lordship. Never.”
The thin nobleman jutted a bony hand out to grasp Penelope’s chin. He forced her to face his hooded face, “Don’t lie to me, Girl!”
Terror filled Penelope’s widened eyes and tears streamed down her face once more. She sobbed a sound that Myla understood as a confession.
The Lord Du Bois pushed the painted girl back, “I have no time to waste with sullied goods. You are dismissed.”
The Lord turned to face Myla. His face was concealed by the heavy hood, but Myla could feel his gaze on her. It left her with the same pressure she had felt earlier before seeing the specter. Her thoughts came together as she realized it was Lord Du Bois’ presence that had affected her earlier. She gulped.
“You Girl shall be my wife.” Lord Du Bois said as he extended a thin hand in Myla’s direction.