My mother looked me over once and smiled gently. “You are truly beautiful.”
I smiled gently. “Thank you, mother.”
One of her delicate hands tucked a strand of hair behind my ear and she smiled once more. “I can’t believe it is already time…”
The time she referred to was my sixteenth birthday. I was finally a woman and, as such, a ball was being held in my honor. I would dance the night away with all of the eligible bachelors.
As if reading my mind, my mother spoke. “You will dance with everyone, with exception. There are seven you must never dance with.”
“Why?” I asked my mother inquisitively.
“These seven are known to steal the souls of the woman they dance with.”
“Souls or hearts?”
“Souls, my child. Souls…”
“They die?” I asked in horror.
“Worse…” She whispered. “They disappear completely, as if spirited away.”
I giggled, because of a mixture of fear and nerves. “Are you sure the girls don’t run off to elope with them?”
“Never to be seen or heard from again?”
“Sorry, mother. That was naive.”
“Just be cautious, daughter.”
“But, how will I know who they are?” I asked, fidgeting with the hem of my bell sleeve.
“You will know…”