Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Soignante

Part 38 of 64

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"I'm going to assume that's a positive reaction?" he asked, executing a quick turn to show her all angles. "When Nadir's son died, he asked me to sing at the funeral. He bought this outfit for me, minus the fedora. It's the only time I ever performed in public - until you."

"Tell me about Nadir. You've mentioned him before, but we never really discussed him."

Erik grinned. Nadir was an interesting topic. "You know he was my music teacher, and you know he is a dear family friend. I suppose you could say that he is a father, best friend, confidant and therapist all rolled into one."

"He's very important to you...I wonder if he'd like me."

"He has been a lifeline - 'a light when all other lights have gone out'." Erik smiled. "I think you are insinuating that the two of you should meet, are you not?"


"He'd be pleased to see what a gentleman I've turned out to be."

Christine stood up and circled him slowly. "You certainly look the part, but can you act it in public?"

"If you are the lovely lady on my arm? I think I can find a way."

She nodded, fingering the lapel of his dress jacket. "I'd only detract from the overall effect, I think."

"Oh no, my dear. You will also need a costume. That black skirt will do for a start, but you need an elegant shirt - something fitted. And some jewelry. For your skin tone...pearls, I think." He touched her hair. "You don't have to be pretty, Christine, just dignified."

Christine laughed nervously. "Erik, I don't have the money for all this."

"But I do." She started to protest, but his finger touched her lips. "You've done your part. Let me do mine, so that I don't feel like the lamprey to your shark." He winked at her mischievously. "Now, you were saying something about a rotating schedule?"

Christine sat down at the table. "Do you have paper handy?" Erik brought her paper and a pencil and she began to make a list of the prettier parks around the Seattle area. "Interlaken is my favorite, but there are so many. I thought maybe four of these? One per week? Same time and same general location."

"I see you included Carkeek park. That's...we should definitely do that one."

"Bellevue is gorgeous. The reflecting pool would make a great staging area."

"And Alki Beach. Wow. That was easier than I thought." She rewrote those four park names at the bottom of the page. "Ok. Time? Bess will let me have one regular day off per week if I ask. Especially for this. And you...your schedule is pretty...flexible, right?"

"Very delicately put, my dear. Yes. Any day you like is fine with me." Erik stood directly behind her chair, his hands on her shoulders. "You seem to have an affinity for Saturdays."

"One o'clock?"

"Absolutely." Erik combed her hair with his fingers, noting how easily it smoothed under his touch. "Speaking of time, I believe you should get going. It's nearly nine o'clock. You and I have a phone call to make tomorrow."

Christine stood reluctantly. She folded the paper and put it in her pocket. "I don't want to go. It's a childish thing to say, but I really don't want to go home to my lonely, silent apartment."

"Ah, but your cello is there and so is your flute. Go home and practice my dear. Rest." Somehow, she'dappeared in his arms.

"I will." She tilted her head up for a kiss and walked towards the door. In the doorway she paused and turned back. "Goodnight, Erik. You certainly do cut a very...dashing.. figure in that outfit. But you were very wrong about one thing. I still hate the mask."

---- - ----

Meg filled the mug with steamed milk and cocoa. She passed it to Christine, who passed it to the customer, politely inquiring whether he would like whipped cream, nutmeg, or cinnamon on that. The man replied that he would love some whipped cream and cinnamon on top. Christine lifted her hand to shake the cinnamon, and Meg saw a folded piece of white paper fall from her pocket. Before Christine finished her transaction with the customer, the paper was tucked neatly into Meg's own pocket.

Christine bit her lips and tried not to laugh. Meg was even more curious than she; there was no way Meg would ever pass up the temptation of The Mysterious Falling Note. Now she'll go to the back, peruse it, maybe make a copy, and then come back and say...

"Hey, Miss Chris. I found this on the floor. Is it yours?" Meg handed the schedule back to her. "Thanks! I would have been looking for that all over." Christine tucked the paper back in her pocket. "So, when are we going to get together again? I haven't spent a full evening with you in a long time."

"That's because you're always with the Masked Wonder. But, hey, it's cute to see you so in love." Meg's wryinflections belied her words.

"I can't help but notice your tone isn't exactly there something you don't like about him?"Christine asked, feeling entirely sneaky. She knew exactly why Meg was upset with Erik, but she wanted to see how deeply Meg would be willing to dig her hole.

"Oh, it's nothing. He just..." Meg fumbled, looking for a good explanation. "Maybe I'm just jealous of all the time he gets to spend with you."

"Oh, come on now, you get me every day we work."

From there, the conversation descended into friendly pass-the-time banter. Christine wanted Meg to think that she'd gotten away with the schedule-heist, and Meg wanted no further discussion of her feelings about Erik. It wasn't that she disliked him, necessarily, but she definitely questioned his commitment to Christine. After all, if he truly loved her, he'd help her realize her potential.

The afternoon shift arrived, releasing the two friends to the warm, wet day. Meg offered to walk Christine home, but Christine demurred, as expected.

"I'm going to Erik's...he's going to help me make a call." Christine shot Meg a look that warned her not to make a public display of the two of them.

"A Call? The Call?" When Christine nodded, Meg grabbed her in a bear hug. "Good for you, Miss Chris. Good for you. You'll beat me with your backpack if I squeal, but just know that intense inner-squealing is going on as we speak."

"I thought it might. Save it until I call you back. If there's good news we'll go running with outer-squealing aroudn the block. Ok?"

"Ok." Meg hugged Christine again, then skipped off down the street. Her friend was finally coming around. Maybe Erik was good for her after all.

---- - ----

Christine sat on the black suede couch, staring at her cell phone as though it might suddenly explode in her hand. Erik sat next to her, one arm around her waist. Every few seconds he'd give her a little squeeze. The Lawrence Conservatory Dean of Students number was already on the screen. One touch of the SEND button, and Christine would be well on the road to facing her greatest fear.

"I can't do it, Erik. You do it." Her eyes had a flat gleam and her hands were shaking.

"You can do it. Just put your thumb on the button. Don't push it, just set your thumb on it." He waited until her thumb hovered right over the button and then tapped her thumb down. She shot him a drop-dead look, to which he could only shrug. He gestured at the phone, which was ringing.

"Lawrence Conservatory, Dean's office. May I help you?"

" I mean. Um." Christine looked at Erik to gather strength. She cleared her throat and began again. "This is Christine Daae. Dr. Corringer has been trying to contact me for...quite some time now."

"Of course. Ms Daae. I'll see if he is in. One moment." classical music began to play softly in the back ground. Christine looked up to Erik and mouthed I'm on hold. Erik responded by kissing her cheek and giving her a cheesy thumbs-up.

"Miss Daae?"

"Yes ma'am."

"I'm transferring your call. Thank you."

The phone emitted three high-pitched beeps, and then a man's nasal voice answered.

"Christine! It is delightful to hear from our star cellist. How have you been?"

"'s nice to talk to you again, too." Christine felt the air thicken around her. She felt as though she was speaking unbearably slowly. "I...was...considering...your offer. Is it...still...on.. the table?"

"Of course, Christine, of course. The next concert in in two months. June 16th. Usual time, usual place. Do you think you can make that date?"

"Yes. I can. I mena, I will. Thank you for giving me this opportunity, Dr Corringer. I am in your debt."

"We will have your name on the program as a special guest. I would give you all the details of when to arrive and where to go, but I bet you already know them. Do you have any idea what piece you will be playing?"

"Would an original composition be admissible?"

"Not normally, no. Is this your own work?" The sound of a pencil flying over paper echoed across the connection.

"It is."

"I will make you no promises, but if you send a recording of the piece, along with sheet music and title to me, I will have the board review it and get back to you as soon as possible. Can you do that?"

Christine nodded, and then realized that Dr. Corringer could not see her head bobbing. "Yes. That's more than fair."

"I am glad you called, Miss Daae. We have been worried about you. And again, we apologize for that dreadful incident. Certain guidelines have been put in place to assure that nothing of the sort ever happens again."

"Thank you. Expect a recording from me soon."

"I look forward to it. Have a good afternoon, Christine."
"Goodbye." Christine pushed the last word out, flipped her phone closed, and then collapsed into Erik's arms, groaning, "And that was just the phone call! Crud! Erik, my heart is going to leap out of my chest and do the Charleston across your living room floor."

"It's hardwood," He hugged her. "Maybe we could take lessons from it - I don't know how many more times I can waltz..."


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Soignante

Part 38 of 64

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