Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Immokk

Part 6 of 39

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Raoul had been in possession of the contract and detailed agreement for two days before he found the right time to talk to Christine about its contents. It was Friday morning and, after nearly forty-eight hours of nonstop rain, the sun was finally making a glorious appearance. He found Christine in the dining room reading an old, leather backed book bathed in the magnificent glow of the spring sunshine which was beaming in through the open windows.

She looked up and smiled with one eyebrow lifted, 'You're giving me a very strange look,'

He smiled back, 'I won't apologise for staring at you,' he said, sighing inwardly. 'You look beautiful today,'

Raoul was secretly pleased when he saw the blush creep into her cheeks, he was glad he could still flatter her, glad that their marriage was still happy and full of love. He had seen so many of his friends marriages turn into an entity that was nothing short of farcical because they had taken one another for granted or because the marriage had never been a good idea in the first place.

With Christine, although they did not always agree, things were different and he was constantly reminded of how lucky he was to have been the one to win her heart.

'You say that every day,' she said, placing the book open on the table, but the smile did not disappear from her lips.

He walked up behind her and kissed the top of her head. 'That's because you're beautiful every day,' he said quietly, and he meant it. 'What are you reading?' he asked, sitting down by her side and tilting the chair towards her.

Christine placed her marker in the book and closed the covers. 'Treasure Island,' she said as she placed her hand over his. 'Are you alright?'

'Yes, yes,' he replied and then blurted, 'I actually wanted to talk to you about something Philippe brought to me,'

Raoul saw the change in her expression, her eyes narrowed ever so slightly, her lips pulled together… just a little. 'Has he done something?' she asked. He knew that she tried to stay neutral and he knew how difficult it was for her because of the way Philippe had reacted to their marriage. She tried for his sake and for that he would be eternally grateful.

'No, not yet,' he managed a grin. 'Which is novel in its self, isn't it?'

The comment drew a smile, if only a small one.

'He has received a business proposition from a company called Verkleiden, have you heard of them?' he asked and when Christine shook her head he continued. 'Neither had I, when Philippe first brought the information to me.'

She nodded and Raoul felt uncharacteristically, and unreasonably, nervous. When he talked of it he felt a twitch in his stomach and had to force himself to focus. Perhaps it was that he actually liked one of Philippe's ideas but did not want to pressure Christine. Who knew?

'I've done some research, managed to ask a few questions,' he explained. 'They are a Manhattan based company functioning out of that huge building you can see from just about everywhere. Now, it seems they are simply an entertainment firm… but the owner has a particular penchant for theatre and owns several on Broadway,'

For the first time since Raoul had mentioned Philippe's name, he saw a genuine smile on Christine's face, 'It certainly sounds like an interesting company,'

Raoul returned her smile tenfold, 'As it happens, the owner of the company… a er… Mr Schwarz… wants to open another theatre, only this time, he wants to focus on opera. He has already purchased the building but it needs work…'

'Mr Schwarz wants investment,' Christine said, beating him to the punch.

Raoul nodded and squeezed her hand, 'You know how I feel about Philippe's schemes but I genuinely think this one has some potential,'

Christine did not look convinced and said, 'So, how did he end up involved in this…'

'Well, he isn't involved,' Raoul answered quickly. 'Not yet anyway. He had made a new acquaintance, Jack someone, a while back and one evening they were talking about us and it clicked with Jack that we must be the De Changy's from the Opera Populaire,'


'Well, Jack went back to the company and told them what he had learnt, knowing about the new project,' Raoul continued. 'The next time Philippe and Jack met, an offer had materialised,'

'And what is the offer?' Christine asked.

'Before I tell you that,' Raoul said, feeling Christine's scepticism. 'Let me tell you that I found out that Verkleiden has made profits of over a million dollars in these last five years, since it was established here,'

'A million dollars?'

Raoul nodded. 'The company is completely profit making, hugely, in fact,'

'So, why the need for our investment?' Christine asked the logical question.

'That's exactly what I said to Philippe,'

'And the answer?'

'Expertise,' he said. 'For one. The company has dealt with theatre, not opera, and although Jack and Mr Schwarz have a keen interest in opera, neither would know where to start in building an opera house and reputation to rival those in Italy and France,'

'And this is what they want to do, is it?' Christine asked. 'Rival the greats?'

Raoul shrugged his shoulders. 'It would seem so,'

She smiled. 'Admirable… foolish, perhaps, but admirable all the same,'

'So they are asking for our investment in return for…'

'How much?' she asked.

He looked at her.

'How much investment do they hope to get from the De Changy's?'

'Four thousand dollars,'

Christine raised both eyebrows. 'That's an awful lot of money,'

'I agree,' he asked. 'But not a patch on one million… besides, we're being offered a thirty percent share of the turnover as a return and there is more,' he took her hands, looked into her eyes. 'They want you to sing,'

She stared at him without saying a word and for a moment Raoul was afraid that he had offended her. 'Sing…'

He nodded. 'If you don't want to, it's fine…'

'I haven't sung on stage in years, I would need to train…'

'If you sing for the full first year, our share rises to fifty percent and we've been assured that you will also be paid a wage,'

'Fifty percent,' she said

Again, he nodded, watching her eyes.

'What is the turnover likely to be for the Opera house?' she asked. It was a sensible question and was one that Raoul had already looked into.

'It's difficult to say as there isn't an affordable opera house within a thousand miles,' Raoul explained. 'It will either be a massive success or collapse but you will be paid your salary, at least, either way. It's an opportunity, is all I am saying. It is up to you. The deal is only agreed if it has your signature and if not then it doesn't matter,' he looked at her. 'The four theatres make around three thousand five hundred dollars a month, now they are established and popular. The seats and boxes always sell out and the company also has membership fees… meaning that they get a monthly income from members who receive news leaflets and the occasional free seat, '

Her eyes met his. 'What do you think of the contracts?'

'They look sound to me,' Raoul said honestly. He had reread the papers more times than he cared to remember, every word, every stop… he had gone over and over it, to be sure, before he brought it to her. Before he had allowed himself to be excited about the prospect. 'And if he markets the opera house in the way he marketed his theatres I am convinced we will make money. He is offering us a percentage of turnover, not of profit.'

'That's very generous,' she said and he could see in her eyes that she was taking it seriously and considering her options. 'It's a good opportunity,'

'It is,' he agreed.

'And when to get to meet Mr Schwarz?' she asked.

'Jack has told Philippe he will arrange a meeting but it won't be possible for at least a few months,' Raoul replied. 'Lots of operations, lots of meetings,'

She nodded.

'And besides, Jack is in charge of things from a business perspective but as patrons we will be in charge of a lot of the other things,' he said. 'Like finding a manager, and overseeing the design of the building,'

She grinned, 'Business talk at the dinner table, Vicomte, what would your family say?'

He leaned over and kissed her softly. 'It is up to you, you know? I will support whatever decision you make,'

'But you're excited about this,' she said gently, touching her hand to his. The softness of her skin made him want to sigh. 'I see it in your eyes,'

'I will admit it,' he said. 'But it makes no difference,'

'I will need time to practice,'

'The building is not nearly ready yet,' he said. 'You will have more than enough time to prepare yourself,'

'Do they even know what they are hoping to open with?' she asked.

'Jack thought perhaps Faust or Carmen,' Raoul said. 'But the final decision is up to us… well, it's up to you,'

'Could I see the papers?' she asked.

Most men would probably have been offended by this request, after all, the men tended to deal with things like this but Raoul did not see it that way. He was proud that his wife was educated and bright and so he quickly fetched the contracts and waited patiently while she read them.

When she had reread them twice she looked up, 'They look fair,' she said. 'But not easy to get out of,'

Raoul nodded. 'That was the one thing that bothered me… the clause at the bottom,'

'If I agree to sing I am tied in for the full year,' she said. 'Although I can break the contract it will reduce the following month's returns to two percent of profit only,'

Again, he took her soft hands in his and kissed her knuckles. 'And yet if the opera house is as successful as the theatres, even if you pull out we will have our money without many problems,'

'It's a huge drop from fifty percent of turnover to two percent of profit,'

'Only if there is a break in the contract,' Raoul said. 'We can do this for thirty percent without need for you to opt in at all but I just have a feeling you would enjoy it,'

'I think…' she stopped and sighed. 'I have missed it, the opera,'

'I know,' he said, squeezing her hand. 'And we could end up making back a large amount of the money that Philippe lost, not only that but you would be paid for your time as well,'

'Would you be happy with this?' she asked, a little cryptically, because her eyes were asking questions that neither of them dared voice.

It wasn't as if he hadn't thought about it. He had spent two full days reading the contracts and thinking about the last time that they were patrons of an Opera House. He was more worried about Christine's memories than his own though and so, he smiled and said, 'Yes, I would love to hear you singing again,'

With that all of the fear, the trepidation, all of the worry disappeared from her face and she leapt up and threw her arms around him, hugging him tightly. 'Oh Raoul!'

He couldn't help but smile. 'And Benoit can finally see why his mother is one of the most respected and revered divas ever,'

Her grin was infectious and as she signed the papers, he simply watched her, amazed by her beauty and enveloped in her warmth. For once it seemed that Philippe had actually come upon a decent proposition, a good business deal and one that would not only make them some money but would also make Raoul's wife incredibly happy.


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Immokk

Part 6 of 39

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