Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Immokk

Part 34 of 39

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Somehow she had managed to keep walking. She wasn't really sure how. Her knees felt soft, like sponge, and they were almost incapable of supporting her weight. With horror she realised that it was not only her knees but her entire body that was giving up on her. Every inch of her ached in one way or another, each section of her seemed unconnected to the others, as if she were several different pieces moving separately from each other. She could not connect what was in her mind to her limbs, yet she somehow made her way home based only on instinct.

The house was still quiet but she knew it was late, even without the aid of the clock in the entrance hall. She wondered if Raoul was home yet, and with some trepidation checked for his coat on the hat stand. On discovering that it was still missing, she felt a mixture of tangled emotions from which she could not discern the most prominent.

Part of her was relieved that he was not home; she had just spent the evening declaring her love to another man. Although she knew that she had not totally betrayed him, she knew that what she had done was a betrayal all the same and this prompted the guilt that swam in her stomach. She was sad that he wasn't there, as she always was when she could not see him but she was pleased that she would not have to have the inevitable discussion with him that night.

Briefly, she wondered what Philippe found to talk about so late into the night and felt her throat constrict at the thought that it might be her. She suddenly decided that the foremost emotion was, in fact, relief. She was glad to find that he was not home because she felt that she had simply shed enough tears for one night.

There was still anger coursing her veins as she crept up to bed being careful not to wake Benoit or the neighbour as she did. She felt as though she had been betrayed by Raoul as well. They had agreed to discuss the matter, like the couple that they had always been, and yet he had gone off on his own and arranged their transport back to France.

She changed into her night gown quietly and slid into bed. She gasped at how cold it felt without Raoul there and a sliver of sorrow buried itself in her mind and rested there as she curled herself up between the crisp sheets. Her eyes closed and she drifted off into a fitful sleep full of dreams.

The worst dream of all was where she was standing on a tightrope, fighting for balance as Erik held one end and Raoul held the other. In her one hand was Benoit, tiny like a doll, and in her other the town of New York. She wobbled almost uncontrollably but somehow remained balanced as tears streamed from her eyes. To her left, Erik looked at her. She could not see his eyes, only his mask, and as she reached for him he faded to blackness. When she turned to her right, Raoul stood there with his hands outstretched, trying to save her.

She knew, somehow, that it was useless. In her dream it was impossible for either man to save her without the other man's help. The knowledge that they could never work together, and that she would undoubtedly die, woke her with a start. She sat upright in bed, cheeks wet from the tears she had shed during sleep, and light pouring in through the window.

She checked the bedside clock and noticed that morning had come and was long gone, it was well after midday. She was amazed that she had slept for at such length but the feeling did not last for long, as her heart leapt to her mouth.



She looked at the other side of the bed and saw that it had clearly been slept in at some point in the night. The relief was short lived, though, as she threw herself out of bed, worried about why she had been left there for so long. Pulling on her dressing down she caught a glimpse of her reflection in her mirror and was horrified by what she saw. She looked tired, despite the additional sleep, and her eyes were so dark they were almost black. After making a quick attempt to neaten herself up she made her way downstairs and was comforted to hear the sound of laughing coming from beyond the kitchen.

Benoit and Helen were playing with a selection of her son's toys on the floor and they both looked up when she walked in. Helen stood.

'Good morning,' the cook said, smiling and moving past Christine. 'I will get your breakfast.'

Christi ne forced a smile back, 'More like lunch.'

Helen looked a little embarrassed before disappearing into the kitchen, leaving Christine and Benoit alone. He ran to her and she squeezed him into an embrace, planting a kiss on top of his head.

'Where is your father?' Christine asked as she relinquished her grip on him.

He sat back on the floor, 'He told me he was going to tie up some loose ends,'

She nodded, assuming that he probably had quite a lot to sort out before they sailed away the following morning. Cancelled deliveries of milk and bread, making sure all of their bills were paid, ensuring the house was put on the market for sale... her throat tightened.

'He told me not to wake you,' Benoit said as he twirled another Top across the floor. Those toys usually bored him and she found herself surprised that he was playing with them.

As she sat in the chair by the window she asked, 'Why did he ask you to leave me?'

Benoit shrugged his small shoulders and said, 'I think he said you were tired.'

Christine smiled, 'You think?'

He looked up at her and nodded, 'I don't know everything.'

She wondered.

After she had eaten her breakfast she listened to Benoit practicing his violin and then they walked on the beach, barefoot, as she deflected questions about why she had not gone to the theatre that day.

'It's nice to spend time with you,' she told him, in the hopes that he would let the subject drop.

Benoit had looked at her with what she thought was boyish satisfaction, 'I wish Lucy thought the same.'

Christine couldn't help but smile, 'You like Lucy, do you?'

Benoit's faced flushed crimson and he stared at his feet, 'No.'

'Oh, alright then...' she reached down and tickled his ribs as he squirmed for his freedom. Eventually he broke loose and ran ahead of her but she chased him with equal fervour until she caught him and they collapsed onto the sand giggling together. They lay on their backs, Benoit small next to her, catching their breath and laughing.

She had missed this.

That evening they took an early dinner with Raoul and when they were finished eating, Benoit ran off to play in his room leaving the couple alone for the first time in days. Once Helen had cleared the table and left for the evening Christine finally asked, 'What will you do about Helen?'

He looked confused and for a moment, Christine actually wondered if she had got the wrong idea. She persevered anyway, 'About losing her position.'

Raoul sighed, 'I was going to tell you...'

'I'm pleased to hear that,' Christine said coolly, 'For a moment there I was wondering if you might just club me about the head and drag me to the port.'

To his credit, he looked embarrassed, 'I didn't see you yesterday.'

'Because you were with your brother.'

Raoul shook his head, 'Because you were working.'

'One of us should, don't you think?'

She regretted the comment immediately. Raoul's face paled and when his eyes darkened with sadness, she realised how deeply she had hurt him.

'I've tried,' he said quietly.

She nodded, swallowed, 'I know... I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that.'

Raoul looked at her but said nothing.

'You should have spoken to me before you bought the tickets,' Christine said.

'For you to tell me that you want to stay?'

'It's not New York that keeps me here,' Christine said. 'It's my contract, my duty.'

He shook his head, 'It is him,'

'Honestly Raoul, you can't dictate my whole life.'

'I'm your husband,' he reminded her.

'It does not give you the right to up heave us.'

'Are you saying that you won't come?' Raoul asked, a note of anxiety punctuating the anger.

'What do you think?' she snapped.

'What do I think?' he said, his eyes fixed on hers. 'I think you want to stay here... I think you want to stay with him.'

'How can you say that?' she asked, surprised that he could be so uncertain of the depth of her feelings for him. She knew that they had been distant from each other and that things had been difficult but she had always loved him and had always shown him. 'You're my husband,'

Raoul looked away from her.

'I chose you, didn't I?'

'Did you?' he asked, turning back to her. She was surprised by the softness of his tone. She didn't know what to say to him. In that moment he looked so wounded, so lost, that she simply did not know what she could do to make things right.

She didn't answer his question.

'I saw him last night,' she admitted instead.

He nodded, hurt but listening and every flash of sadness on his face hurt her too.

'I told him I could not finish my contract, I told him we were leaving tomorrow.' His eyes met hers, 'I told him that I love you.'

'Then tell me,' Raoul asked. 'Because... lately...'

She reached out and held his hands in hers, 'I do love you, Raoul, you know that.'

He nodded, a small smile finally lightening his face. 'I love you too, I always have.'

She knew that she could simply lose herself in the moment and pretend that everything was going to work itself out for the best. She could, it was possible, but she knew that she should not. The thought made her throat constrict, 'There is something I need to tell you,'

'What is it?'

She let go of his hands because hers suddenly felt so clammy. 'It's about Benoit,'

'Is he alright?' Raoul asked.

She nodded. 'I...'

As she was about to speak, as she was about to confess, the door opened to the dining room and Philippe stepped inside, sober and neatly dressed bearing a bottle of Port and pastries.

For once, she was almost pleased to see him.

'I'm interrupting,' he said and in his defence, did look slightly uncomfortable.

'No,' Christine said, taking Raoul's hand again and squeezing it gently. 'Not at all,'

Her husband smiled at her.

'Well,' Philippe said. 'In that case... I couldn't let you leave without a real send off, as it were,'

He waved his gifts and smiled.

Jack was fidgeting awkwardly in his seat at the restaurant when Samantha arrived and was greeted by the appreciative eyes of most of the male patrons. He rose from his seat to welcome her and was struck dumb by his momentary lapse in social skills. It had been such a long time since he had last done this that he really had no idea how to act. Going on instinct he took her hand, feeling the soft pads of her fingertips on his rough palm, and kissed it gently.

She smiled at him and he was buoyed by the warmth of it, 'Hello Jack.'

As she sat down he called the waiter over and asked him to bring them some wine. 'You choose,' he said to Samantha, and she smiled again.

While she was talking to the waiter he let himself study her face. She was still stunning. Her eyes were blue and clear, such a light blue that they became almost silver under moonlight and he realised how much he had missed looking into them. When her attention turned back to him he managed a nervous smile in her direction.

'This is...' he began to say and she laughed.

'Strange?' she suggested.

He nodded. 'It's been a long time.'

'It has been,' she said and they lapsed into a short spell of silence. Jack resisted the urge to begin squirming in his seat again and instead raised the menu and pretended to be reading it.

Eventually Samantha broke the silence, 'This is silly.'

He lowered the menu so that his eyes peered over the top.

'Let's order,' she said, 'And then we'll talk... like old times.'

He nodded and, when the waiter arrived with the wine that Samantha had chosen, they gave their food order. Left alone again it was Samantha that ploughed into conversation, clearly no longer wishing to sit in uncomfortable silence. She told him that she had been working for Erik for a while, that she still lived in a small apartment not far from the ocean, she told him how she had finally been able to afford to buy the gold necklace she had been coveting for so much of their relationship. She told him everything she could think of and before they knew it, the conversation was flowing freely.

When he glanced down he noticed that they had barely touched their wine or their food, they had been so completely engrossed in the exchange, in the moment.

By dessert, Jack felt once again at ease with her. He could remember all of the things he had fallen in love with and had missed so badly over the years.

Samantha took a mouthful of her chocolate cake, scooped up a glob of cream and held it to her mouth. 'This is really excellent.'

Jack smiled, 'I'm glad you like it.'

He tapped at the top of his crème brulee and broke through the caramelised top. When he looked up again, Samantha was watching him. 'You have such a sweet tooth for a man,' she said, with a small snigger.

It was music to his ears.

'You don't change,' she said but didn't look too disappointed. 'Dessert was always the best time... do you remember when we fought over that sponge cake?'

He grinned and nodded his head, 'Neither of us got any in the end.'

'None to eat anyway,' she smiled, her eyes twinkling with mischief in the candlelight.

'It's one of my favourite memories,' Jack told her.

'What?' she said. 'Me covered in jam and cream... you laughing hysterically?'

He smiled but inside his stomach moved and he felt suddenly very serious. 'I'm glad you're here,' he said. 'That we're here.'

She met his eyes and reached over to grasp his hand, 'Me too.'

'It's like we've never been apart,' Jack said.

'Do you think we can be friends again?' Samantha asked. 'I have missed you,'

Jack turned his hand and held her fingertips, 'Then why not more?'

Samantha's smile stayed fixed but something in her eyes changed and Jack felt his heart drop.

'You don't want me,' Jack said as Samantha broke the hold of their hands and the fixed gaze of their eyes.

'We've moved on,' Samantha said softly but still refused to meet his eyes.

'I am different now,' Jack insisted but he knew that no amount of begging would change this. He had known this woman for so long that even now, even after they had been apart for years, he could still read her expressions.


'What is it about me that is so off putting?' Jack asked, his heart slowly crumbling.

'It isn't that simple, Jack, things have changed.'

He closed his eyes and squeezed the bridge of his nose. 'Someone else...'

When he managed to look at her again he found that she was nodding her head slowly, her eyes glassy with tears.

'Why are you crying?' he asked, more sharply than he had intended. 'Why did we even come here?'

Samantha took a deep breath and replied, 'I want to be your friend Jack.'

'That isn't enough for me.'

She sighed. 'Then I don't know what I can say.'

'I've never wanted to be your friend,' Jack confessed. 'Not even when we were kids.'

She didn't respond.

'You know that,' he said, feeling the hurt that was rushing inside him turn to anger. 'Why are we here when you know that?'


'Did you want to make me feel bad?' Jack asked, disbelieving. His fists clenched on the table. 'Who is it?'

She looked at him.

He stared back, 'Who is it? This new someone...'

'Does it matter?' she asked and her voice was soft. She was not angry with him but, what was clear now was, she did not care either.

'You mean everything to me,' he said quietly, his mind flicking from anger to sorrow.

'We haven't seen each other for years,' she reminded him.

'That hasn't changed anything.'

She stood, 'I'm sorry, Jack, I should go.'

He shook his head. 'Tell me Samantha.'

'It doesn't matter,' she said. He felt lost. 'I really am sorry Jack.'

Jack shook his head, the horrible realisation suddenly hitting him. 'Erik.'

She stared at him and that was all the confirmation he needed.

'You would prefer him to me?' Jack asked, incredulous. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. After all that they had been through, after all the reasons they ended their relationship she was choosing Erik.

Samantha sighed, 'He has been good to me.'

'He's been bloody good to me too but I don't want to marry him!' Jack growled.

Samantha did not respond. Instead, she turned and began to walk away. It was only in that moment, when he stood to follow her, that he noticed everyone in the room was staring at him. Now, as he added humiliation to the list of his raging emotions, he threw down payment to the table and stormed out of the restaurant.

'How does he feel about you?' Jack shouted after her, not caring anymore about his dignity.

She did not answer him, she continued to walk as if nothing was happening. He jogged up behind her and grabbed her shoulder, spinning her around. She held her hands up to protect herself and he was stunned. He had never hurt her before and would not dream of it now.

'Do you think I would hit you?' he asked.

'You're angry,'

'I've been angry before...'

'I know,' she sighed. 'Please, let me go home.'

'Are you going to him?'

'No,' she replied. 'I'm going home.'

He let her walk away, no longer able to find words to say how he was feeling, to ask any more questions. He stood alone in the street, in the dark with his arms dangling at his sides. Despair flooded his body and he realised that all along he had been holding onto the hope that one day she would come back to him.

He knew now that she wouldn't and it felt like the final straw, the final ignominy. Fuelled by dejection and rage he began to walk and set off behind Samantha, it was time to end things once and for all.


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Immokk

Part 34 of 39

<< Previous     Home     Next >>