Author: sapadu PM
There's something strange about Bella's older sister, Daphne.Rated: Fiction T - English - Mystery/Supernatural - Words: 5,891 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 4 - Published: 10-07-11 - Status: Complete - id: 2958899
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Bella loved her sister, Daphne. She always took such good care of her.
For as long as any of the students could remember, Bella Musgrave and her sister Daphne were always together. It was kind of endearing, what with the way they always walked the halls together and Daphne was always fussing over Bella, but it was peculiar to see how precise and how inexplicably detailed Daphne's fondness for her sister was.
The two of them weren't real sisters – Bella was petite and round-faced, with a cute, upward turned nose and dark brown eyes, a bronze tan and mousy hair. Daphne was tall, slender, curved, and model-like. Where Bella was tanned and moderate, Daphne was pale and extreme, her hair a streaked fiery red. Side by side, anyone could tell that Bella had been adopted.
Bella didn't have friends – not that she wasn't friendly or kind, but because Daphne was always so close. Nobody wanted to get near. And Daphne wasn't unfriendly or unkind, either. It was just sort of a vibe she gave off. Nobody could explain it, but all of them agreed.
If Daphne was around, Bella was simply off-limits.
The yearbook photographer didn't know what to think when Daphne wanted to squeeze in next to her sister for the pictures. It was too crowded already in the tiny space alloted for individual students. Trying to mush the two into a single picture would just make the image blurry and unreadable.
"I'm sure you can do it anyway, Mister. If worst comes to worst, you can always edit me out of the picture – I won't mind." Daphne purred, putting her arms around her sister's waist. Bella giggled, but sat up straight. Daphne was standing – there had been no way to get the two of them on the stool, so it had worked out that way – and standing well enough behind Bella so her entire body was hidden. Bella felt Daphne's pointed chin resting on her scalp, almost tickling the top of her head with it's sharpness.
"You sure you don't want your own picture, Daph? Mom and Dad'll want to see you."
Bella was surprised when Daphne laughed.
"They've got my picture plenty of times. This'll be their first of yours."
The photographer shook his head and let the camera flash.
The bench on the back wall of the cafeteria was always open. Other students left it open because that's where Daphne and Bella always sat for lunch. Once, a freshman had sat on the seat, not knowing who normally sat there. When Daphne and Bella came out for lunch, he'd moved, quickly, but the next day, he didn't show up for school. The nurse said he'd had to go to the hospital with an onset of anemia.
It was all just as well, nobody had anything that they could trade with Bella or Daphne for lunch. Daphne never had a lunch and always spent the entire hour mothering over Bella. Bella's lunches were always brought from home and expertly prepared.
Everyone assumed Daphne had some sort of allergy or was on a diet, and that it was for a similar reason she took such care of Bella. She always had something meaty in her lunch box, but it was usually a bite-sized roast beef or turkey sandwich. The rest was pure fruit and vegetables, and a thermos of milk.
"Daph, you sure that this is necessary?" Bella asked, licking the bread crumbs off of her fingers as she finished her sandwich. Daphne's red lips curved up as she lifted a carrot stick from the lunchbox and held it to her sister's lips.
"It's good for you – it's got vitamin K for your eyes and fiber for your teeth. Ready-made foods are too expensive, and the processed foods don't have all of their vitamins and minerals left. It tastes better this way." Daphne explained, patiently, as Bella continued to munch.
"I didn't say it didn't... I'd just like to try something different for once. Like marshmallows or potato chips. Just to know what they tasted like." Bella asked, obediently opening her mouth as Daphne lifted another carrot stick. Daphne laughed and leaned forward to rest her elbow on her knee as she watched Bella chew.
"A taste wouldn't be too bad, I guess." She conceded, lifting her hand to brush Bella's red hair back behind her ear, "The problem is that, with these snack companies, their food is made deliberately so that the taste will hook you. It's all horrible for you, but it tastes so great that one bite makes you want more. It's even worse than the drugs they teach us about in health class – nobody goes around talking about all the terrible things that these foods do to you, and everyone is eating them. Feeding their addictions. Pumping the industry full of your hard-earned money. Sucking you dry."
Bella stopped chewing and ended up swallowing her carrot a little too early. It hurt going down her throat and past her heart.
Daphne leaned in close, picking up one of the grapes. She prodded Bella's lips with it.
"Think about it – it's a corporation that you're feeding when you buy those products. Just like if you bought those expensive salon shampoos... or celebrity perfumes. You're just empowering the fat, money-grubbing corporates. Would you want to do that, sister?"
Bella and Daphne both despised corporate culture and anything that fed companies and studios. Everyone knew – from their home-made clothes to their second-hand supplies and books, absolutely nothing they owned would have 'Empowered the big men'. The two of them were almost icons to the subverting, anti-anti-establishment punk cliques in the school.
"Never." Bella agreed, fiercely, as she accepted the grape. But Daphne could see some kind of lingering desire – if not for the experience, then at least for the knowledge.
After the grapes were done, Daphne sat straight up and put one arm around Bella's shoulders, the other laying gently alongside Bella's arm. Both her hands gently folded around Bella's face, her long, red nails resting on Bella's cheeks and guiding her gaze around the room.
"Donna, sweetie." Daphne always called Bella a special name, but nobody knew why, or where it came from, "Look around the room and tell me what you see. The one over there with the bag of chips. Those girls and their school code violation soda. The boy with bigger mammaries than mine, with the brownies. Look at them and tell me what you see."
Bella looked. She looked because Daphne had told her to and because Daphne never did things like this without a reason. And she saw.
"They all look different than we do. Their hair isn't as healthy. Their skin is all ruddy. They're all bigger than us."
Daphne's hands slid away from Bella's face, down to her shoulders.
"That's right. You want to think about what, exactly, they're putting into their mouths at this moment? Ferrous sulfate, maltodextrin, disodium phosphate, monosodium glutmate, diglycerides, monocalcium phosphate, beef fat, cottonseed oil, soy lecithin, polysorbate 60." Daphne leaned in to whisper as she spoke. Bella felt her tongue shrivel up.
"And what's going to happen to all of them, too." Daphne rested her hand on Bella's shoulder, her hands draped on like gargoyle claws on a roof ledge. "That girl..." She lifted her finger to point at a creature that was straight up and down and a bag of wasabi flavored potato crisps, "She'll have a heart attack before she's thirty. And they..." Her nail turned to a group of boys with a package of sponge cakes, "They will all have strokes. And hernias." Pointed to a boy with too many bulging muscles in a constricting muscle shirt, "And four root canals and gingivitis." To a girl with a full pint of soda. Daphne's fingernail was like a compass needle.
"I don't think I'm quite so upset about missing out, now." Bella agreed, looking back down at her lunchbox and the remaining fruit and vegetables seemed to glow like beacons.
Daphne's hands slid down Bella's arms, arms hooking around her sister's bent elbows as she propped her chin up against Bella's shoulder. The both of them giggled for a moment at their own silliness, before Daphne reached down into the box. Out of it, she pulled a segment of red, juicy fruit.
"Alright, then. Come on; a blood orange. It's your favorite."
Bella and Daphne were the best athletes in the school. When the yearly time came to run the mile, both of them had the best times for the girls in their weight range. They even beat a few of the guys. During aerobics, they were the only ones who made the exercises without getting winded. During weight training, they were the only ones who could do all the reps in their required range. During endurance courses, they went longer than even the teacher at times.
"This scale not only measures your weight, but your body mass index. That means, for every pound that you weigh, it will measure how much of it is from fat and which of it is muscle and bone and other tissue."
Bella recognized the scale. There was one in the bathroom at home. Daphne measured herself on it, everyday, then always prompted Bella to do the same. It would always been the same scene – Daphne would always be in her crimson nightshirt, Bella in her bunny-printed pajamas, and both of them trying not to look at each other's horrible morning hair and laugh, or sniff their unbrushed morning breath and make faces.
She was almost always the same, every single morning. One-hundred fifteen pounds with BMI 20. It was heavy because she was mostly muscle. Daphne was one-hundred eighteen pounds with BMI 18. Technically, it might have been bad for Daphne, being so thin. Frankly, Bella didn't believe that she could be that light, especially when she was so tall and curvy.
"Donna, you know what you're supposed to do, right?" Daphne asked, her arm looped around Bella's elbow as usual. Bella just smiled her best smile at her sister.
"I'll be fine, Daph. You watch yourself – the last time we went in to be weighed, the nurse wanted to send you to the hospital for something." It was always that way. Daphne usually did cause alarm for doctors and nurses, but they could never find anything wrong with her. Bella didn't understand what they thought she could have – after all, Bella was with her every second of every day. If Daphne was sick with something, Bella should have it too, and she'd never even had chicken pox. She was healthier than anything in the world.
Daphne snickered and bent in an awkward manner as she pushed Bella forward. Bella felt her nails digging into her elbows.
"See you for the laps."
Bella was the best sprinter in their grade. She had good control over her legs and she knew how to regulate her breathing. She had a tough time with curves though, and usually slipped and fell when she went around in anything faster than a brisk walk.
Daphne was the amazing one. She said she was just light on her feet, but Bella could see how quickly she ran. It was like a sprint and a marathon combined. She went so quickly she practically flew, and she had such superb balance that she always made the turns like a gazelle. The most impressive moments were, when the laps started and they all went as a group, Daphne would pull ahead of the entire group and make her lap around to catch up with Bella and grab her in the middle of running. Bella usually collapsed right on the track field, laughing as Daphne tickled her, and then the coach would come over and shout at them to get back to running. And thus, their times were never record breaking – the prank usually made both Daphne and Bella fall behind the class.
"Daph, why don't you try out for the track team? I'd bet you'd win championships, maybe even break some world records. You could go to the Olympics." Bella asked as she washed her sweat off in the locker room. Daphne had already washed her's off and was now reapplying her makeup.
Daphne always wore heavy makeup. It was so thick that it was practically a mask.
"But, if I signed up, the team would start hounding you to join, too." Daphne explained, standing up straight as she finished with her mask job. Her eyes now had a rouge that was a vivid, rose red on their lids, "And then, more accidents like this might happen." As she spoke, she reached over and pulled Bella's elbow up. There was a bright red bruise and the tiniest of cuts on the skin. Blood oozed out, like oil from a pore.
"Oh. Must've happened when you tackled me." Bella commented, pretending to accuse her sister. Daphne smiled and turned on the faucet again. With soft, gentle care and minute precision, Daphne cleaned off the scrape and patted the wound dry. Then, out of her bag, Daphne pulled a perfectly sized band-aid.
Bella always forgot how many of those Daphne carried around with her, until she pulled them out.
"You could be an army nurse with all that stuff in your purse." Bella giggled. Daphne's smile dropped as she finished with her job. Without any warning, Daphne pulled Bella in closer, her other arm wrapping around her ribs and hand latching onto Bella's back. Bella could feel Daphne's nails digging into her skin just under her bra strap.
"Donna, don't joke about that." Her grip tightened on Bella's elbow. There was nothing that Bella could do but look up into her sister's face. It was taut and her eyes seemed to glow with a strange, possessive gleam. It was almost like the look of a young girl not wanting to let go of a favorite doll.
Bella didn't quite mind – Daphne did usually have these kinds of mood swings when something upset her. But Bella had never been so close when Daphne got mad. The makeup she wore really did seem like a mask just waiting to peel off and reveal a terrifying monster underneath it.
Daphne's clutch on Bella's back lessened, and the hand slid around and up to Bella's chin.
"I want you to promise me something – don't get yourself hurt like this." She squeezed Bella's elbow, then relaxed her grip, letting Bella's arm fall back to her side. The look disappeared from Daphne's eyes and her face relaxed back to the usual, sweet, loving sister Bella always knew.
"Daph..." Bella stammered. Daphne lifted her other hand and cupped Bella's chin. Bella closed her eyes as Daphne ran her fingers all along the frame of her face, her fingernails tracing, feather-like, over her neck, then back up.
"I don't want to see you lose any blood over a stupid trip or an accident. You're too important to me."
Bella nodded. Daphne's hands stopped, then scooped Bella's hair back behind her ears again. Bella felt goosebumps rise on the back of her neck as one of Daphne's fingernails brushed it.
"That's my girl."
Bella munched on a blood orange for her after school snack as Daphne took her medicine. It was out of a big bottle with a screw-on cap like mouthwash, except Daphne always swallowed it instead of spitting it out. She took three capfuls, exactly, before she ate anything in the fridge. Even then, she couldn't eat much. Daphne had an easily irritated stomach – that, Bella assumed, was how she was always so thin, as well.
It was genetic. Bella was certain of this, because both of their parents had to take the same medicine. Greater doses, of course, but still the same. They each had their own bottles, which they kept on the shelf over the bathroom sink. The one with the green cap was Dad's. The blue cap was for Mom. And Daphne's, of course, was red.
Bella was peeling a second blood orange as she heard Daphne's tiptoeing steps back down to the kitchen. Daphne never thundered down the stairs like Dad, nor clicked like Mom. It was like she wore nothing but Indian moccasins to keep her footfalls silent. There was practically no sound to anything Daphne did. Bella didn't know how, but she envied her sister that extraordinary talent.
Daphne slid into the chair next to Bella and picked a celery stick off the plate Mom set on the table for where they did their homework. Bella started to pick out the seeds in her orange as she pulled up her algebra book. When she was just munching, she did have the habit of pulling the fruit apart and eating it, piece by piece.
She only realized she was doing it when she accidentally squirted herself in the face with the juice. Bella glared at the orange, then turned as she heard Daphne chuckle. Daphne hadn't moved from her spot, chin propped up on her hand, eyes softly lidded and watching her like a cobra watching a charmer, still chewing on that stick of celery.
"What are you looking at?" Bella asked with a smile as she wiped the juice from her chin, then licked her finger clean.
"You." Daphne smiled back as she pulled her chair closer, "What's the trouble?"
Bella put her pencil down. She hadn't always had trouble with algebra – in fact, she'd been a straight-A student in earlier classes. The farther along they got, though, the more she fell behind. She just didn't understand why.
Daphne, however, understood everything. She listened to Bella's complaints, and to what she said she didn't understand. She slid her chair over and wrapped her arm over Bella's elbow, carefully taking hold of Bella's resting right hand. With her own right, Daphne pointed out what mistakes Bella had made, how to fix them, and even explained things in a way Bella understood.
By the time Bella picked up her pencil again, Daphne had both her hands folded on top of Bella's arm, head nestled alongside her shoulder as she watched Bella work.
"Why do you always watch me like this, anyway?"
Daphne stretched her arms out and covered Bella's free hand with one of her own, picked up a slice of blood orange with the other.
"Because I want to be sure I don't lose you."
Daphne wasn't just careful about the food Bella ate. Daphne was also Bella's personal bodyguard for medications, smoke, and alcohol. Bella never had so much as an aspirin without Daphne knowing about it, and she always made sure Bella drank two glasses of water when she did need to take medicine. At the same time, Bella rarely needed medicine – Daphne took such good care of her that Bella almost never needed it, except the occasional painkiller for a headache.
Problems came when kids from school entered the picture. Even bigger problems showed up in the form of complete strangers on the street.
Bella liked to sit outside the library on the bench and read her books. Daphne let her, on the condition that she not sit out there too long. She said that too much sun could cause cancer. She'd had a grandmother who'd died from it, so Daphne made sure to keep indoors as much as possible. That was how Daphne was still inside the library, getting her books, while Bella was enjoying the rays before her sister would come and sweep her home.
The rude, harsh clack of wheels on the concrete made Bella look up as a boy made entirely of black – save for his liquid-paper face – flopped down next to her. His clothes were frayed near the seams. His breath smelled like an uncleaned grill. His whole body reeked of a sickly sweet, smoky scent.
"Hey." She knew him. Or, at least, she knew he was called 'Toby' by other girls in school. Bella couldn't have placed a last name to him, though, even if she'd tried.
"Hi." And then she turned back to her book. Toby swayed next to her, then rustled his pocket, audibly. Bella had to at least glance, just enough that she could see a well-known white and green box poking out of his chest pocket.
"You wanna try?" Toby asked. Bella didn't lower her book, or her guard. She knew Daphne would be mad, "Got 'em from my uncle. He says they're the best."
Outside of Toby's figure, Bella saw a deep scarlet flash come into view. She put down her book and raised her gaze. Toby turned and looked, too.
It was Daphne, her books in one hand and her other resting on the hip of her stylish, button-up blouse. She was glaring down at Toby from almost completely shut eyes, her whole face radiating with disdain and contempt. Once again, Bella saw her face harden, as though it were nothing but a rubber mask waiting to be peeled off.
Toby quickly got off the bench and skittered back towards the street. Daphne's glare dissipated immediately, melting into a perfect smile.
"Glad you changed your mind." She said, agreeably. Toby didn't say anything, but Bella could see him watching them in fear as Daphne scooped Bella up and took her home.
Daphne always had a flair for style and ornaments. The ones that Bella was most jealous of were a pair of enormous ruby earrings. They weren't too big, but they were perfectly rounded and just the right width as they sat on Daphne's earlobes, like she had a second pair of blood red eyes on her ears. They were also the closest match to the glass, gem-cut buttons that ran down her black sweater, today. Bella so wished that she could have earrings as gorgeous as Daphne's.
"Rubies can be gaudy, though, sometimes." Daphne warned, as they both set down their backpacks at the art room tables. Bella shrugged as she fingered the blood orange she'd brought along for breakfast, "Besides, you've got such a perfect face – earrings would draw away from it, Donna."
Bella knew that Daphne was saying it to make her feel better, but it wasn't really working.
"I know. I guess I just wish I could be glamorous sometimes, too."
Daphne's lip twisted, coyly.
"I paid for my piercings – it hurt like a spider bite, and took three weeks to heal before I could take out the plain studs." Daphne's fingers combed through Bella's hair as she lifted a lock away from Bella's ear, "But maybe some clip-ons would be good for you. Like with glass jewels, or in the shape of oranges or cherries. Those would be so cute." She put Bella's hair behind her ear. This praise actually did a good job of making Bella feel better.
"Oh, but I wish I wasn't cute. I want to be beautiful, like you."
Daphne's smile spread from coy to outright amused. She slid closer and put an arm around Bella's shoulders and her hand clasped over Bella's folded fingers.
"Who knows. Maybe all you have to do is wait." She whispered. Bella smelled something faintly biting.
"Daph, what's that smell?"
"Had to pick up trash this morning. Racoon knocked it over in the night." It did smell bad, but Bella wasn't sure what else it could be. Then again, since she couldn't place the smell at all, maybe that's because it was garbage.
The bell rang, but the seat right next to them was still vacant. Bella knew that nobody wanted to sit near them when Daphne had herself wrapped around Bella like this, but the class was full. Somebody wouldn't have a choice. After looking around the room, Bella had figured out that they were short a classmate.
"Daph... Toby's not here." Bella turned back to her sister. Daphne raised her head and glanced around, as well. She only shrugged as she put her head back down.
"I wouldn't be surprised if cigarettes are the reason he's in the hospital." Was all she said. Bella shrugged, too. After all, it did make sense.
Despite Daphne's best efforts, Bella did find herself occasionally alone. It was usually when a teacher needed to speak to Daphne and insisted that it was private. That didn't stop Bella from standing outside the door, usually working on a puzzle. They were the only things she could do that Daphne somehow couldn't. It was an ability she was proud of, if only because of how different it made the two of them.
Unfortunately, Daphne always told her that the face she made when she was concentrating on solving a puzzle was unbearably cute. It shouldn't have been a surprise that a guy would try to ask her out when Bella was both alone and working on a puzzle. There really wasn't even a reason she would have said yes – he was taller and bigger than her, but it made him seem more like a gorilla than a prospective date.
"But, I know this great Italian place. We could catch a movie after it, and it's not like you've got anything going on." He protested.
"Thanks, but I can't go. I wouldn't like the food." Bella knew. Daphne had let her taste a little bit of a lot of different foods once – ones that she claimed weren't bad for your health as a meal every once in a while. Chinese had been okay, Mexican had been great, but Bella just couldn't stand Italian. It just hadn't had any flavor, not for her. It had been just noodles and chicken, like she might normally have.
"Then, we can just do the movie. That's okay, right?" His breath smelled like something acidic and sharp and molded. Bella had never smelled it before, not even from the foods other kids ate in the cafeteria. It was disgusting.
He was shut up when a bright red scarf slapped him in the face, like a whip. Bella turned her head enough to see Daphne tying her scarf back around her neck.
"Beat it." She ordered. The boy snapped to attention, then ran, "Donna, he didn't..."
"Never even touched me. Don't be so paranoid." Bella still didn't stop Daphne from sliding her arms around under her bust.
"I can't help it. It feels like those boys would taint you, somehow."
Bella smiled and patted her sister's arms with a hand.
"Don't worry. I won't be tainted, I promise."
The weekend was Bella's birthday. She'd completely forgotten about it – in fact, she'd been watching television with Daphne when Mom came into the room, carrying a blood orange tart with two number candles reading '16'. It had been a complete surprise, and the dinner and tart were both delicious. Bella might have called it her happiest night, if someone had only turned off the television. Instead, halfway through dinner, the family heard the news report of a teenage boy found hanging in a tree. The police called it 'suicide'.
It effectively killed the mood. The fact that, when all of them went to see the report, it was the same boy who had asked Bella out during the week didn't set her mind any more at ease.
Mom and Dad left Bella with Daphne, saying they were going to check it out, themselves. Daphne let Bella shudder and mumble until she'd gotten it out of her system before she pulled her sister in, close. Bella started to breathe in the smell of Daphne's perfume – it was rich and sweet, almost citrus-scented. She willingly buried her face into the red silk of Daphne's dress.
Daphne just combed her fingers through Bella's hair.
"It's okay. I mean, you're sixteen. That's amazing, on it's own."
Bella shook her head.
"I feel rotten."
Daphne's arms went around Bella's torso and pulled her in, closer.
"You shouldn't. You made it all this way, and you're still sweet, innocent, and pure." Daphne put a hand under Bella's chin and tilted it up, "Still untouched, unspoiled, like a snow white virgin."
Her face was getting too close. Bella wasn't sure she was comfortable anymore. She'd always been fine with Daphne just draping herself all over Bella's shoulders and arms, but this was just a little too close.
"Daph... Daphne." Bella protested, trying to pull away. Daphne let Bella lean back, but didn't let her go, "...This doesn't seem right. I mean, we're sisters."
Daphne started to smile. This time, Bella wasn't sure she liked it. It wasn't reassuring at all.
"Donna, don't be silly. We're not sisters."
"But, even if I was adopted..."
"Of course not. Mom and Dad never adopted you." Daphne whispered back in a sweet purr, "We just took you in. We raised you. That's all."
Bella never thought she could be more confused.
"Sixteen years ago, they went out for a hunt, but they screwed up without me there to supervise. When I got to the house they'd gone into, they had a couple on the floor. Both dead. Nothing we could do about it. And in the crib, there was a little baby, slumbering away. Not a care in the world."
Bella started to shiver again. She wanted to get away. Daphne's arms held her tightly, like an embrace that would shatter the world if it broke.
"Well, I thought to myself, why not raise this little girl child like one of our own? See what would happen if we did that. And then, I thought, we almost never get a decent meal. Humans can be such disgusting creatures, and no meal is ever consistent. What if I could raise this little human baby perfectly? Feed it just the right foods, make sure it got sun and clean air and exercise. Everything. It would be the healthiest human on the planet."
"Daphne, you're scaring me." Bella whimpered. She could feel her sister's nails digging in through her shirt as Daphne pushed her down onto the sofa. There was a light in Daphne's eyes, almost like when she got mad, except it seemed so much more dangerous. It was even worse, because Daphne was smiling as she spoke.
"We had to be careful. You couldn't have anything with garlic, not once in your life – just to be safe. And diseases and medicines all would pose a problem. We had to get you to build up natural immunities. You couldn't do anything to damage your liver or kidneys – that would put poison in your system – and smoke and alcohol just couldn't be chanced. Let's not forget all the other little details – you had to have healthy muscles and a good heart. Even improper dental hygiene could have ruined it. I took care of that, easily. And, of course, there were always boys to reckon with. I dealt with them, too."
Bella couldn't even move. Daphne was right on top of her, trapping her, pinning her down. Even though she'd been so light before, she now seemed so impossibly heavy. Bella's shivering even seemed controlled by her utter weight.
"And from the healthiest, purest, most virginal girl, undoubtedly... she would have the sweetest blood of them all."
This was it. She was going to die. Just like all her classmates, the ones Daphne had killed just to keep them away from her. Mom and Dad weren't going to help – they'd just left to clean up the mess. She was going to die. Bella knew it.
Daphne leaned over, softly and tenderly brushing Bella's hair back, behind her ear.
"Don't worry. It won't hurt a bit." Daphne's sultry voice murmured into Bella's ear, her lips tickling the fine edge as she moved past it, "I won't let anything bad happen to you."
Bella closed her eyes and tried to pretend that she couldn't feel the feverish heat from Daphne's breath right on the spot where her hair grew out from the side of her head.
"My pretty little Belladonna."
Bella woke up in her bed. The first thing she felt was the damp towel under her head, then her icy cold, wet hair. She was in her favorite, terry cloth bathrobe – with the pandas on it – and there was a heavy, dry patch of gauze on the side of her head, right behind her ear.
"Donna?" Daphne poked her head into the room. She was also in her satin carmine red bathrobe. Why, Bella couldn't remember.
"...Daph... What happened?" Bella asked, raising a hand to touch the gauze on her head.
"You slipped and bumped your head in the shower. Started bleeding, too, but nothing serious. You don't even need to go to the hospital." Daphne explained, sitting down next to Bella and brushing her hair to the side.
"Oh... okay." Bella muttered, sitting up and seeing the room spin, "...I feel dizzy."
Daphne pushed her back down, gently.
"I'll get you something to up your blood sugar. How about some orange juice?" She offered. Bella blinked, hazily.
"I don't really feel like..."
Daphne smiled, her lips like luscious red cherries.
"Fresh squeezed from some blood oranges. Your favorite." She prodded, tempting.
Bella felt her mouth water. Her lips twitched upwards.
Daphne smoothed her hair out and raised to go down to the kitchen.
Bella sighed and turned her head deeper into her pillow. She could see the picture her parents had framed for her nightstand – the school picture that Daphne had wormed her way into. In the end, Daphne had gotten cut out of the picture. Whatever there had been of her in there had been so blurry, the photographer just edited it out. It was kind of bittersweet, but Bella remembered, and that was the important thing. The way Daphne was still so concerned, even over school pictures.
Bella loved her sister, Daphne. She always took such good care of her.