Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Immokk

Part 9 of 39

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In the three and a half months since work started on the building the whole thing had taken on quite a breathtaking transformation. The exterior looked the same but lighter and the front door was now in place, large, imposing and yet somehow, inviting. When entering through the main doors they were greeted by the elaborate staircase from the design drawings, copied almost to perfection, with swirls around the ends of the banister and detailed designs carved meticulously into the woodwork.

The floor was a clean, polished marble that glittered under the new electric light system and back up gas lighting. It was slippery under foot and Christine had to be careful where how she walked, but she liked the expensive and yet welcoming feel of it, and felt that not only had Paul created an excellent design but that the masons, too, had done it justice.

Raoul was staring up at the open section in the lobby, it was a glass domed roof in the centre of the beautifully curved ceiling.

'Well,' he said, letting air escape his mouth in a 'whoosh'.

Christine smiled and shook her head, almost disbelieving herself. 'Well indeed,'

Both of them stood on the marble floor, under the open roof, simply looking around them, gobsmacked at the rapid and stunning changes since the last time they had been.

'It's certainly something,' Raoul said as his feet finally moved and he led her further into the building. There were no tools, no rubble, no workmen… the project seemed very nearly complete.

Christine looked up at the door to the left of the staircase and smiled. Above it, proudly, was one of the carved archways they had so vehemently argued with Philippe about. She moved closer to it and stared up. There was nothing wrong with it, it was wonderfully sculpted and beautifully finished. 'I love it,' she whispered softly, more to herself than to Raoul but she felt his arm slip around her waist none the less.

'Shall we?' he said as he pressed a kiss into her hair.

She nodded and they moved through the door and were led into the auditorium, which was larger and plusher than she had imagined it would be. Above her head were the balcony seats and straight ahead, down a long column of steps, stood the magnificent stage; imposing and inviting, all at the same time.

Raoul took her hand and, seeing no one else in the room, he began to run down the steps taking her with him, his boyish excitement as infectious as a plague. She followed, giggling the entire way down, until they both collapsed on the steps at the side of the stage, laughing and breathless.

'You're crazy,' she nudged him.

He turned to her and smiled, his hazel eyes dark under the gas lights. 'I feel like a teenager,'

It was wonderful to see him smile. 'It is beautiful,'

'It isn't that,' he said, his eyes not leaving hers, his smile never wavering, despite the serious tone in his voice. 'It's you,'


'You look…' he sighed, kissed her lips gently. 'Happy… at home,'

'I was happy before, Raoul,' she said, squeezing his hand.

He nodded. 'This is where you belong though, I know it is, and I am sorry that I took you away from it,'

She touched his cheek with her fingertips, 'You brought me back to it,'

They kissed again, and this time his arms went around her and he pulled her close, she felt his love in that kiss and smiled against him.

'I love the way that you're smiling,' Christine said to him as the kiss faded. 'That makes me happy,'

He opened his mouth to respond as they heard a door behind them clatter shut and footsteps on the stage. Christine jumped but Raoul, though tensed, was calm, he put an arm across her and simply turned. She realised that neither of them were quite sure what they expected but oddly, when seeing Jack, she could feel Raoul's relief run from his body to hers.

'Young love,' Jack said, looking down at them. From that angle he looked tall and dark, almost frightening.

They both stood and walked up onto the stage.

'I'm not sure we qualify as young anymore,' Christine smiled.

'Compared to me,' Jack said, 'You're a spring chicken,'

Raoul laughed gently and shook the other man's hand. 'How are you Jack?'

'I'm well, thank you,' he replied. 'I'll be better when the architect signs off on the building and we can have the keys,'

'When will that be?' Raoul asked.

'Hopefully today,' Jack said. 'I was actually just looking for him. You haven't seen him around have you?'

Christine shook her head. 'No, but we have only been in the lobby and here,'

'The two most spectacular places to be in all of New York at the moment,' Jack said. 'How rude of me… how are you both?'

'Don't be silly,' Christine said. 'But thank you, we're both very well… this place is wonderful,'

Jack nodded. 'Mr Schwarz only works with the best,'

'Speaking of which,' Raoul said. 'Has a meeting been arranged so that we can finally get to know him?'

Jack held up his hand, 'Ah, he's still pretty busy,'

Raoul looked sceptical.

'But, he says that with cast rehearsals going so well, and costumes being designed, opening night cannot be far away,'

Christine nodded. 'I can hardly wait, I don't think I have ever felt more ready,'

'That's good,' Jack said with a smile. 'Well, my point is that Mr Schwarz thinks that a ball… perhaps a week before… would not go amiss,'

Raoul nodded.

'He will invite all of the prominent people he knows, including you and the cast, and he will be in attendance,' Jack explained. 'He will be sending out invitations as soon as he knows when opening night will be and hopes to meet you both there,'

'What about Philippe?'

Jack glanced side to side and stepped closer, 'Honestly, unless he cuts down on his drinking and lewd behaviour, I'm not convinced he will be receiving an invitation,'

Christine was not surprised but Raoul looked shocked, 'He is the benefactor,'

'Nobody is saying that he hasn't contributed some money to the project and he will get his return, however, the paperwork you all signed did not specify his level of involvement. Actually, it did just the opposite.'

Although Christine felt almost relieved at this revelation, Raoul looked absolutely furious, 'This is ridiculous,'

Jack held up both palms in a half hearted gesture at surrender, 'Are you disagreeing that his behaviour is a problem?'

Raoul paused and looked at him. 'No,'

'Then I can't see the issue,' Jack said. 'I mean no offence, but there will be some very influential people there. I have no doubt that you and your lovely wife will be able to charm them but Philippe's presence is a worry,'

Raoul looked ready to argue again and so Christine placed her hand on his arm and said, as gently as she could, 'Raoul, you know what he is saying is right,'

He looked at her, angry at first but she saw the gentle softening of his dark eyes, 'Yes, I'm sorry,'

Jack shrugged. 'He's your brother,'

'He is,' Raoul sighed. 'I wish there was another way,'

'You never know,' Jack said to him. 'Maybe Philippe will turn himself around,'

Christine doubted this very much and although Raoul smiled and nodded, she could see the doubt surface in his eyes too. Perhaps it was best though, that Philippe was not involved in the day to day running of the opera and the meeting of potential members.

Jack bid them a cheerful farewell and returned to his search for the elusive architect and although he had dampened Raoul's mood, she doubted that anything could douse her bright spirits.

Jack had finally found Paul sitting up in the office adjoining the ball room. He held a small glass of brandy in one hand and a bunch of keys in the other. On the table was the release contract. When Jack had walked in the other man had looked up but did not smile.

'Paul,' he had said.

The architect had taken a large swallow of his brandy and held up the decanter. 'Jack,' he said. 'Drink?'

Jack held up his hand, 'No,'

'Your loss,' Paul had finally smiled but there was a shadow across it. 'I'm celebrating,'

Jack had raised his eyebrows and sat on the edge of the desk, 'Looks like it,'

I have signed your release,' Paul told him, pointing the key in his hand to the document lying on the table.

Jack lifted it up and read through it carefully, twice. Then he signed the bottom on behalf of the company and took the key from the architect.

Paul had scowled at Jack, 'I'm glad this is over,'

'You enjoy it,'

'I do but not when under this much pressure,'

Jack had not minded the comment, why would he? It was a statement of fact. Paul had been under immense pressure to finish this to a high standard as soon as possible.

'Don't do this to me again, Jack,'

Jack smiled. 'Sorry,'

'I did you a favour,'

'Mr Schwarz knows you have,' Jack had assured him. 'And you will be rewarded for it, you know how it works. He didn't trust anyone else with this,'

Paul had been silent for a moment before he nodded his head. 'Then it's all yours,'

Now, standing outside Schwarz's office, he wondered if the man knew how much affect he had on people. He waited a moment and then, when the prompt came, he entered the room, ensuring that the door was closed securely behind him.

'It's done?' Schwarz asked, his back to Jack and staring out of the window.

'I have the contract and keys,'

'I went there, last night,' the boss said, in an unusually conversational tone. It wasn't the first time that Jack had known it to happen, but it was rare. 'It's very nicely finished,'

'Yes,' Jack agreed.

'Sit down,' he said, his voice deep, accented and smooth. 'You look like a rag in the wind there,'

Jack walked over and pulled up a seat at the edge of the desk behind Schwarz. The boss finally turned around, his eyes intent as ever, the white mask glowing under the lights overhead.

'The keys?' he asked.

Jack placed the keys on the table, being careful not to force the boss to lean forward but also careful not to move too close to him, to invade his space. He had seen that mistake made before, though fortunately not by him.

Schwarz picked up the keys and removed one from the loop, placing it back on the table. 'Yours,' was all he said. Jack did not hesitate too long, picking up the key and pocketing it quickly.

'Paul is pleased with the work,' Jack said.

'He is fastidious,' the boss responded. 'He has never been any different. It is why I chose him,'

Jack nodded, waiting to be dismissed but the instruction never came.

'Have they seen it?' Schwarz asked, his blue eyes looking hard and sharp.

Jack did not need to ask who he meant. 'Philippe wasn't there,'


'What do you want me to do about him?' Jack asked.

A wry smile spread across the boss' face. 'He has served his purpose,'

Jack's eyes must have widened because Schwarz smirked again, 'Don't worry, Jack, this isn't one of the dirtier jobs. Find a way to keep him drunk and out of my way,'

Jack nodded his head, surprised by Schwarz's demeanour but not altogether unhappy about it either. Schwarz seemed to be in a good mood, one that rarely ever graced the office, let alone their conversations and so Jack said, 'They asked about meeting you again,'

He nodded but said nothing.

'I told them about the ball,'


'They seemed pacified,'

Again, the boss nodded and then he glanced away, a distance finding its way into his eyes as he looked out of the window and across New York's skyline. There was silence and the air suddenly felt thick but when Schwarz looked back his eyes had changed and he said, 'Did Christine like it?'

'The Opera house?'

He nodded.

'She loved it,' Jack said. 'And Bianchi thinks she's ready for the show to start right now. Knows all of her lines, all of the arias, the music the cues and says she sounded great,'

'He said great?'

Jack felt his cheeks go hot. 'Well, that was my interpretation,'

'Is he still unhappy?' Schwarz asked.

Jack nodded. 'But he's hiding it better,'

Schwarz's eyes shimmered a strange gold colour briefly before he blinked and they were blue again, leaving Jack to wonder if he had seen it at all. 'He should be grateful,'

Jack thought it was probably safer to say nothing at all than risk saying the wrong thing.

Schwarz asked, 'Can I confide something in you, Jack?'

As surprised as he was by the statement, Jack hid it well and replied, 'Of course,'

'Ricardo Bianchi is the luckiest man on earth,' Schwarz said, his eyes suddenly so dark they were almost black. 'He should count his blessings that he is fortunate enough to have a well paid job in a thriving part of the world and working with, perhaps, the greatest diva that has ever graced the planet,'

Jack nodded.

'He may think he is training her, but he is not,' Schwarz said. 'He may think he is her teacher, but he is not… if he spends enough time in her company he will want her to love him, she will not, but she will be the finish of him… just mark my words,'

It wasn't a conversation Jack was likely to forget anytime soon.


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Immokk

Part 9 of 39

<< Previous     Home     Next >>