Chapter One

Christine's lips quirked up in a smile as she sensed the fluttering of a cape to her right in the Opera House's storage room.

"I can hear you, ghost" she announced with amusement. A deep chuckle echoed around her in the darkness.

"How you are so adept at sensing me I will never know, my dear," the smooth and bemused voice commented.

The girl ran her hands over the fabric in front of her, memorizing the feel by touch. She laughed. "It is not so hard to hear when one cannot see," she replied matter-of-factly. Quickly, she set to work organizing costumes and props. By the rich fabric she understood this was the Prima Donna's costume. Christine's fingers lightly traveled over the curls in the wig which she placed on top of the dress. She then moved onto the leading tenor's set of accessories.

Many had questioned the choice of letting a blind young woman organize, clean, and repair the Opera House's costumes; yet she had proved so adept at the tasks and required so little in payment that Christine was no longer under the earlier scrutiny which had accompanied her employment.

"They are doing Il Muto" she informed the specter.

"Yes, I know" the ghost replied, somewhat sardonically. "Yet the leading lady cannot carry a tune, and Piangi's pronunciation is absolutely insufferable. This is a novel production by Abrizzoli which will surely put the composer to shame when he sees what that harpy does with it." The apparition had previously made it quite clear to the girl that he did not care for the manner in which the theater was being managed.

"Oh come now," she teased. "Carlotta is not at all bad. She was trained in Spain by one of the best maestros!"

"He was not the best, he was simply popular," the ghost sneered.

"Oh, don't be so harsh. We cannot all be trained by a genius such as you," she soothed.

"Flattering child," the ghost scoffed with a grin evident in his voice. "You should be the Prima Donna. You far outshine Carlotta by now."

Christine laughed and shook her head, blonde curls bouncing against her shoulders. "They will never think to let a blind woman on the stage. The Populaire would be a laughing stock. Why, I might fall into the orchestra pit!"

"My dear, I would never let you fall," the specter replied softly. "Besides, you are far more graceful than those fools who prance around the stage with two perfectly good eyes in their skulls. Imbeciles," he snorted.

"Always so callous, Maestro," Christine commented light-heartedly as her hands snagged on a rip in the fabric of the leading tenor's cape. The girl reached for the sewing needle and thread tucked neatly into the bag tied onto her hip. She heard the sound of a chair being moved behind her so she could more comfortably make the repair. Christine sat down and sighed.

"Thank you, you are always so thoughtful," she smiled, her eyes glazed and gazing nowhere in particular.

"I must be a gentleman if nothing else," the voice replied, pleased at her thanks. While she worked Christine hummed an old folk song. The specter stayed and listened.

Christine met her friend, Meg, at the end of her shift. Meg was a dancer, and, if the praise Christine heard from the ballet corps and audience concerning her friend were correct, Meg far outshone all of the other ballerinas.

"Christine!" Meg greeted, clearly excited to speak with her.

"How are you?" Christine inquired, gently placing a hand on her friend's face where she could feel the smile blossoming. "What has happened? Something good I presume?"

The girl took Christine's hand gently and proclaimed, "I am to be the Prima Ballerina! Sorelli has announced she is leaving!"

"Oh Meg, that is wonderful news! You have more than earned the title," Christine declared gaily. She pulled her friend into a quick embrace which Meg happily returned."We must celebrate!" Christine proposed. Meg heartily agreed and the girls decided on a rather popular restaurant that had just opened up by the Opera House. Given the time and day of the week, the two did not think it would be too crowded.

As routine dictated, Christine placed her hand in the crook of Meg's elbow while the pair navigated the streets of Paris.

"Oh Christine," Meg sighed happily. "It's such a lovely day! The sun is so bright and the flowers have just begun to blossom. Everyone is out for a walk it seems."

Christine nodded, smiling at her friend's description. Indeed, she could very well feel the warmth of the sun on her face and heard the chatter of fellow Parisians milling about. The low voices of the men and the lilting voices of the women mingled together in a pleasant symphony. The sweet fragrance of flowers floated in the air and Christine relished in the scent. If only she and her ghost companion could stroll together through the streets! The girl nearly snorted at the thought-the blind girl on the arm of an invisible gentleman. What an odd couple they would make.

The pair of friends finally made it into the restaurant and were quickly seated at a table near the window. Suddenly, the warmth from the sun seemed to disappear. Christine inquired, "Is it very cloudy now?"

"It looks like it may rain," Meg commented with disappointment evident in her tone. Christine sighed. The sun never seemed to stay out for very long in Paris.

"What a shame."

A shout rung out across the restaurant, prompting the girls to snap their heads in that very direction.

"Christine!" A not-unpleasant male voice sounded. The name bearer furrowed her delicate blonde brow. She heard heavy footsteps approaching the table.

"Christine! It is you, isn't it?" the man asked excitedly.

"Monsieur? I apologize, have we met?" Christine responded, vaguely gazing up to where she assumed the figure stood. She recognized the disappointment in his voice the next time he spoke.

"You don't remember me? I rescued your red scarf from the sea, Little Lotte!"