Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Soignante

Part 39 of 64

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Christine giggled into the hollow of his shoulder. "I don't know. Bodily organs may dance very differently from the way we do..."

"Now." Erik took one of her hands into his and began gently massaging it, as the nurses in the hospital had done for him sometimes after a procedure. "Tell me what the arrangements are. I heard something about using your own composition..."

"There is a performance on June sixteenth. We'd have to arrive in Appleton the day before. These concerts are always held at seven-thirty pm. I'd be listed as "a special guest", which is very nice. I'd perform, stand for evaluation the following day, and hopefully that would be that." She sat back on the sofa with a comfortable sigh. "That's lovely, Erik. I may force you to do that every day for the rest of our lives. But yes. I want to perform the piece I wrote fr you. Normally, that would be strictly verboten, but apparently they are willing to make a great many concessions to me. They want the score, the title, and a recording. And my guess is that they'll need it within the week."

The right hand was warm and tingling; not an bit of its anxious chill remained. Erik traded the warm hand for the cold one and went to work again. The strength and flexibility of her hands delighted him. So many women had soft, tiny, useless hands. These were strong, capable hands, filled with power and purpose and talent. The nails were clipped very short and neat, like his own, to keep them from interfering with fingering. He knew which muscles were built up by fingering and which by bowing, and he knew which tendons were likely to revolt from overuse if not babied.

"That's an awful hurry, considering that you have never bothered to put even the basic score down."

This evinced another agonized groan from Christine. "Terrible confession time: I hate writing notation. Despise it. I'm not terribly talented at it and I tend to leave out important things like the key and the tempo."

"Which is just one more reason why..." Erik kissed her hands , then as he rose form his comfortable seat, risked stealing a couple more kisses on her wrist and forearm as well, " are so lucky to have a wonderful fellow like me." He went to his desk and rifled through one of the stacks of papers. "Here we are. But I took a liberty. I added the violin counterpoint. The cello melody line looked so lonely there by itself."

Christine was virtually dancing around him by this time, trying to see what he'd done. "You're too wonderful for words. Seriously. Let me see."

Erik's mouth twitched in rising laughter. He'd never really had the chance to be a kid - watching Christine give way to giddiness woke something within him. He wondered exactly how difficult the Charleston might be. "Hold on, hold on. You said they want a recording. Well, over here - as though you'd never noticed - we have my personal recording studio." He fussed with the stack of machines and microphones for a moment. "All we need..."

" a drummer, for people who only need a beat?" Christine poked him gently in the ribs as she teased.

"No. Silly girl. All we need are instruments and we're ready to go. Shall we?"

Christine mocked his formal tone by dropping a deep curtsy. "After you, maestro!"

He bowed in return, "Talent before beauty, my love. You go ahead." She swished down the hallway with her nose in the air.

Soon, the air of playfulness was gone. Two very serious artists huddled over the sound equipment, allowing nothing less than perfection to be committed to tape. The finished product Christine dropped in the mailbox two hours later was a fifteen minute work of art.

---- - - ----

As promised, Christine called Meg, who came rushing over to bring celebration cookie dough and a bottle of Solitude - one of the best rich, red wines ever to grace Christine's palate. There was a great deal of squealing, both external and internal before Meg began to calm down.

"I'm so glad he could make you do this..." She had claimed the papasan for her own. Christine lounged comfortably on the floor, playing her flute softly and reflecting that she had not done enough breath training recently.

"He didn't make me do anything. He just..." she tapped the spit valve a couple times. "He's impossible to explain. Erik would never make me do anything; in this case, he showed me the wisdom of one choice by contrasting it sharply with another. Somehow, he can convince me to open my eyes to things I've never considered without making the slightest argument."

"I wish I knew how he does it. Have you given any thought to what you will wear? None of your old things from those days will fit. You haven't been a size 18W for a long, long time." Meg spooned a large gob of cookie dough from the wrapper and shoveled it in her mouth. "No thanks you me, I guess. What are you now?"

"A fourteen."

"And I bet you have barely updated your wardrobe since I dragged you out that day."

"Not a whit. You should talk to Erik. He was babbling something about pearls." In truth, Christine was beginning to think a little shopping trip might be in order. "I don't think he was talking about plastic ones, either."

"You can't afford real pearls!"

"That's what I said, and he said, 'you've done your part. Let me do mine...' He starts talking in that voice and I can't begin to argue. He just sounds so damnably reasonable."

"If the man wants to buy you pearls, girl, you let him. It's not like you aren't worth it." Meg stood up a trifle unsteadily and walked over to Christine's pathetic wardrobe. "Let's see what you do have. Hmm...drab, drab, drab, boring, boring, -paisley, Christine? - boring, frumpy...Ah, here's that skirt I forced you to buy. Ok. I am staying over tonight. In the morning, you are going to fix me scrambled eggs and toast, and then I am taking you out shopping for your performance get up." Meg dug in her purse and waved a credit card in the air. "Let a man drape you in jewels if he wants to, but never let him pick your clothes. That is what best friends are for."

It took five hours and nine different stores, but Meg was finally satisfied with the outfit they'd put together. Even through the queasiness of a mild hangover, Christine looked good - better than good. A tailored black dress blouse, layered nicely over a lace chemise, and loosely belted with a silver chain drew attention to Christine's steadily reappearing waistline. Her full black skirt flowed smoothly down to her ankles. The sensible maryjanes had been replaced with snappy black highheels that strapped in a coil around her ankles, accentuating their shapeliness.

"From what you've said your have some accessories soon enough...especially after he sees yo in this. The hair needs something," Meg muttered, wrapping a few sections around her fingers and squinting at it critically. "So does the face, no harm meant..."

"The hair always needs something," Christine rolled her eyes. "and none taken."

"When is the last time you had a trim?" The question was obviously rhetorical. Meg was already hauling Christine down the street towards the Chakras beauty spa.

"We don't have an appointment..." It wasn't much of a defense, and Meg blew through it easily.

"We don't need an appointment. I know Marcus. I know Stephanie. I knew Kevin and Lori and..."

"Ok. Ok. I'm not going to fight you this time. It's your debt, not mine."

With a grin, Meg dragged her friend into the hair-spray scented hallows of the salon where a legion of trendy beauticians descended on the pair with hungry smiles.


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Soignante

Part 39 of 64

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