|Under The Veil of Honorable Marriage
Author: Erik'sBelleNoire PM
Dreading the return of Christine de Chagny to Paris, Erik reluctantly hires a wife to keep up appearences. Yet, he soon comes to realize that his new 'wife' has her own dark demons. And what happens when Christine suddenly reenters his life? PLEASE READ!Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Drama - Erik - Chapters: 28 - Words: 120,173 - Reviews: 187 - Favs: 97 - Follows: 24 - Updated: 06-03-06 - Published: 04-11-06 - Status: Complete - id: 2887570
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Hi there, its me again. First of all, this is a new form of writing that I'm doing with my friend, Roxanne. We are basically writing this on messenger at night and I'm editing it during the day. So, I apologize if this is choppy in spots, we're getting into our groove. Be patient, we are doing the beta for this story ourselves, so if you see a stray wrong word or goof, let us know...nicely...its appreciated. What we plan on doing is a chapter a night on IM, then posting the next day.
If you want a good picture of this story, think of Susan Kay's Erik, butlooking like Gerard Butler's. Don'tget hot flashes now...
And as always, we don't own anything to do with Phantom, in any way, shape or form. Only thing original is our characters and if you don't recognize them as being from Phantom, they are ours. ;)
by: Erik'sBelleNoire and DarkWhispers4Andre
Headline in The Époque:
De Chagny's To Return To Paris.
The clank of the coins hitting the newspaper boy's meager cup was enough to bring Erik out of his haze. He re-read the headline again, walking away from the stand and keeping his hood pulled tightly over his head, bracing against the cold, snowy morning.
It has been just over a year. One long, agonizing year since the Opera house fire that burned all he had. One long, agonizing year since he made the fateful decision to let Christine return to the safety of her boy, Raoul de Chagny.
He could hardly contain his curiosity as he sat in the carriage that would take him to his home in Le Vezinet, just outside the hustle and bustle of the busy Parisian streets. He finally opened the paper and read the rest of the story.
Vicomte and Vicomtess Raoul and Christine de Chagny are expected to arrive within the next week in preparations for the grand opening of the newly restored Paris Opera House. Christine de Chagny, having officially retired from the opera since her nuptials nine months ago, has decided to participate in the new production of Meyerbeer's Le Prophète.
Her voice is not ready…. Erik grimaced at the very notion, but continued to read.
The Opera house, whose upper rooms, stage and rooftop were almost completely destroyed by the infamous fire just over a year go, is expected to be full to capacity when the doors open officially the first of May. The Opera house owners, Monsieurs Richard Firmin and Gil Andre are quoted as saying that they are, "most excited to see the Opera house back to its full glory and splendor."
He dropped the paper into his lap in disgust as the carriage pulled to a stop in front of his home. His driver, Jacques, opened the door for him and waited for Erik to exit. Erik nodded to him and he drove the carriage off to the eastern side of the estate.
A rather vast estate, it was found by his associate Jules Bernard within a mere few days after his escape from the Opera house. It took more than half of his money to buy and restore it, but as he stood to admire it, walking up the cobblestone path to the front entrance, he knew it was worth it.
After moving in and being rather disgusted with half his money now spent, he looked for a way to make a new profit. With his twenty thousand francs a month salary gone, he decided to bleed the Opera house dry another way, by becoming an investor. Jules did the legwork, and under the name Charles Renault, his father's name, he became a principal investor. It has paid off. Even while the renovations were going on, the opera house turned a hefty profit, opening it up for tours of the damage, especially the cellars.
They were all but destroyed in the fire, yet a rather crafty Madame Giry, under instructions from Erik, suggested that curiosity seekers might pay money to view the former home of the now infamous Opera Ghost.
It worked beautifully.
Word of mouth grew and more and more flocked for guided tours below the five cellars. Money began to return and with it, the satisfaction that he had fooled them yet again.
But, for all that, he was still empty. He had a large home, eight rooms, a full library, a music room with a large, black lacquered piano. He had servants, loyal servants, yet he did not have the one thing he desired. He did not have Christine, his Christine.
She had left Paris immediately with Raoul, escaping to the de Chagny estate where nothing was heard from them until her wedding was announced three months later. After that, it was if they had disappeared. Erik would scan the newspaper everyday for any word, but to no avail, until today.
He tucked the paper under his arm as he entered the foyer and went straight for the library. Throwing the paper on the desk, he removed his hood and cape, throwing them on the leather chaise before sitting down at his desk. In front of him on the large, ornate wood desk sat a stack of papers pertaining to the financial operations of the opera house. The latest was on top, thanks to Monsieur Bernard, who had them on his desk just after sunrise that morning. He picked it up in his hands and began to examine it when a knock came to his library door.
"Enter." He spoke softly in reply.
The door opened and Erik did not have to look up to see who it was, it was his head maid, Emma. She paused at the entrance and waited for him to address her.
"Yes, Emma?" he still did not look up from the papers.
"Monsieur…. Messieurs Bernard and Mancia are here to see you."
It was only then he looked up and grimaced.
Monsieur Eduardo Mancia……
How that man irritated him so. A fellow investor, in fact, the only investor that knew of his true identity, his expertise and advice had been invaluable over the past several months as Erik slowly acquired more and more shares of the Opera House.
Other than that, Erik had no use for Eduardo Mancia. He was boorish, uncivilized, rather portly and was constantly either eating or drinking, leaving disgusting stains on his shirt, and food crumbs in his long, unkempt beard. Just the very sight of him made Erik blanch.
Sighing, Erik knew he had to let him in, but fully intended on raking Jules Bernard over the coals for such a breach of unspoken etiquette….he knew that Erik did not like Monsieur Mancia visiting his home more than it was absolutely necessary.
"Let them in." he spoke to Emma and immediately noted the look of disgust on her soft features. He scowled slightly, "What is wrong?"
"Umm…Master Erik, Monsieur…." She started, looking back into the foyer towards Monsieurs Bernard and Mancia. A strong willed woman of fifty, it was not in her nature to be so apprehensive.
He waved for her to come inside the door, which she did, shutting it behind her.
"Now, tell me." He instructed, rising from his desk and approaching her.
"Monsieur, you know how I feel about that….Monsieur Mancia…."
"Yes, I do, Emma."
"He is…well, he has taken to physical advances toward Lacie." She said softly, but firmly, not hiding her displeasure as she gestured toward the closed door.
"Lacie?" Erik scowled.
"You know, Monsieur….she is such a young girl, barely twenty-one, naïve and loyal and has not been here long. She did not know how to handle this….well, it was a good thing, Monsieur, that I happened upon him and pulled her away."
"When did this happen?"
"Just a few moments ago, Monsieur."
"And where was Monsieur Bernard?"
"He was at the carriage, settling the payment, Monsieur Mancia wandered off into the side garden where Lacie was cleaning the outside windows and…."
He held up his hand and said firmly, "Enough."
She nodded in compliance.
"Where is Lacie now?"
"Cleaning the kitchen, I felt it best to keep her as far away from Monsieur Mancia as possible until his departure."
"Very well. I wish to see Lacie later, but until then, inform her she has done no wrong and in the future, to always report anything of this nature to me immediately, or of course, to you. And never to be afraid of defying anything that Monsieur Mancia says or does towards her."
"Yes of course, Monsieur."
"Now, show them in." He turned and walked back to his desk and sat down, tapping his fingers against the stack of papers, trying his best to determine how to handle what had just happened.
Emma nodded and in turning around, opened the door and gestured for the men to enter from the foyer.
Jules Bernard entered first with a soft nod to Emma, his face pale and apologetic, his mouth inaudibly speaking to Erik…..
Erik returned the gesture with a shrug of disgust and motioned for Jules to sit down in the chair closest to the large window on the right side of the library that looked out onto the side garden.
"Well, well….Monsieur Renault!" the loud, rather snorting voice of Eduardo Mancia rang out as he entered the library, holding in his hand a large hunk of bread, half eaten as evident of the crumbs that lodged in his beard. "As always, your home has much lovely things to offer!" he grumbled as he popped Emma on the backside playfully. She gave a very noticeable frown, but said nothing as she exited.
"Monsieur Mancia, that will be quite enough!" Erik stood up and momentarily forgot his manners. "You were not brought to my home to accost my servants, nor to get your disgusting food droppings onto my fine Persian rugs!"
Monsieur Mancia stopped cold in his tracks, never being spoken to by Erik in that manner, the bread in his hands dropping to the floor with a soft thump.
Erik took a long, deep breath, glancing at Jules who seemed rather shocked, but amused at the sudden show of displeasure.
"Sit down, Monsieur Mancia and tell me what brings you here today." He spoke more civilly as he sat back down at his desk, leaning back and folding his arms over his chest.
Grumbling slightly at the loss of his bread, Monsieur Mancia stuffed himself into the chair closest to Erik's desk and leaned back, resting his hands on his large belly.
"Monsieur Renault," he began, then cleared his throat free of dry bread, "I am sure you read in the Époque today that the de Chagny's are due to return to Paris for the opening of the Opera House."
Erik gestured to the paper that lay on his desk close to Mancia, "Yes, I am aware."
"I have returned from the Opera House and from an impromptu investor meeting…." Then he began to chuckle, "The investors have been given special seats at the opening performance."
Erik's eyes widened. This was indeed unexpected, but he couldn't quite understand why Monsieur Mancia found it amusing.
He turned to Jules.
"Monsieur Erik…" he reached into his pocket and pulled out an envelope. He leaned forward and handed it to him, "it's an invitation and seat ticket for the opening addressed to Monsieur Charles Renault."
Erik took the envelope and sat it down without looking at it. "It is rather simple gentlemen, I shall not attend. I am an investor by proxy. I am sure an excuse could be made."
"Oh, I am afraid not, Monsieur Renault!" Monsieur Mancia replied loudly with a deep laugh, "I have already informed them that you will attend."
"And why did you do such an ignorant thing without consulting me?" Erik spat out, leaning forward on his desk and resting on his elbows.
Mancia did not flinch, his voice smooth and self assured, "Surely, you understand how important it is for all the investors to be there. Many of them are looking forward to meeting you as you are the majority shareholder, thanks to my guidance….and word has gone out to the de Chagny's themselves….they wish to know of the new and generous benefactor who came up with the wonderful idea to hold tours while the restoration was being completed."
Erik leaned back against the chair, rubbing his chin as he again glanced at Jules, who could do nothing but shrug his shoulders in defeat.
"Was that all you wished to tell me?" he said to him coldly.
"Yes, all that comes to mind, Monsieur." He answered almost happily.
"Then do not let me keep you, I assume you have a carriage outside?"
"I settled the bill and he awaits us." Jules spoke up.
"Emma!" Erik called out and within a few seconds, she entered the room.
"Monsieur Bernard will remain with me. Please walk Monsieur Mancia to the door….and, if he behaves inappropriately, you have my permission to respond in any manner which you see fit."
Mancia grimaced as Emma smiled and answered, "Yes, Monsieur."
He then stood and nodded to Erik, "Until the opening then, Monsieur Renault."
Mancia turned on his heels and followed Emma out of the library, shutting the door hard.
Only when that happened did Erik finally lose his composure.