February, 1883

My Dearest Erik -

I am so very excited and I think it only right that you be the first to know. Charles just took his first step!!!!

He's been standing and holding onto furniture for some time but just now, in my bedroom, he walked towards me. Rather unsteadily, of course, but he came to my waiting arms with a proud, toothless smile. I am stunned since he is only nine months old, but then again, I should not be when I consider who his Father is! Oh, I am so thrilled and exceedingly proud! I am all alone today aside from the servants and I felt it appropriate that you be the first to know.

Charles is such a wonderful, beautiful boy, Erik. I pray that, wherever you are, you have been able to watch him grow. The ease with which he accomplishes milestones amazes me. For he sat up at four months of age, crawled at six months and now, our baby is walking! He's never any trouble and has such an easy-going nature. Like most newborns, his eyes were a deep blue but the color has not changed. I'm so grateful to God that he has his Father's eyes.

And his first word. Were you there for that momentous occasion? I like to think that you were there, standing behind me. I know I shall never forget that cold, winter day when I was rocking him during his nap time. There are often days when I will hold him throughout his entire nap, just to have him in my arms. On this day, he slept lying against my chest and when he awoke, he rubbed his sleepy eyes adorably. Then, he lifted his head to look at me, as he always does. I am quite certain that it was merely my wishful thinking but he truly appeared to look up at the space over my shoulder when he said his first word. My heart stopped when he gurgled, "Papa." His eyes met mine again and he gave me that toothless smile that breaks my heart. Erik, were you there? Did you hear him? The heart- wrenching sobs tore from me without my will and poor Charles began to whimper from my distress. I wiped my tears then, smiled at him and repeated "Papa? Do you see Papa, my Precious?" All I received in answer was another gurgle but his first word seared into my consciousness. Most people would deem it a coincidence as many babies' first word is 'Papa'. Yet, most people aren't aware of the electric bond between us which time, space nor death can break.

I do not know if you would like for me to write this to you, but I must tell you that Raoul is a very good father to Charles. Although he can never, ever begin to take your place, I am grateful that he plays with our baby in absolute ignorance as to Charles' true paternal identity. For Charles could do much worse and Raoul seems to genuinely care for him. One day, Charles will inherit a substantial fortune and will never need worry about his means.

After Charles' difficult birth, I eventually wondered at Raoul's deliberate physical distance. Until the doctor enlightened me during one of my check- ups when Charles was 6 months old. The old doctor told me in no uncertain terms that I could not possibly carry another babe to term and survive. I remember as I absorbed this revelation that I asked him, with much embarrassment, about Raoul. The doctor refused to meet my eyes as he busily packed his little bag but assured me that he had spoken with Monsieur and Raoul quite understood. After I was alone again, I went to the window to look out at the beautiful English countryside. Tears streamed down my face when I realized that the only child I would ever hold in my womb and bear would be ours. It seemed a poetic irony, somehow. I must admit to you - and only to you - my Darling, that I was secretly relieved that I would be able to remain true to you at last. Whether or not you were aware of my fidelity, my heart accepted its penance with no regret. My only concern is that Charles will grow up an only child. Of course, Raoul and I never spoke of this matter but we have not slept in the same bed since Charles' birth.

In light of such circumstances, it would seem to be an odd and strained marriage, but strangely, it is not. Raoul and I have resumed a comfortable, intimate yet, platonic friendship. He discusses his business concerns with me at times and each evening, I prattle on about Charles' day. There are several friends we entertain and at times, we attend balls and the occasional opera. Really, it is quite satisfactory and not as unpleasant as one would believe.

I confess I am most content that our situation leaves my heart and soul belonging to the only person who ever owned it. That is you, my Darling Angel. Each and every evening, Raoul sweetly kisses my cheek and I retire to my bedroom. At times, the moon is shining through the French doors and I'm drawn to it like a magnet. I will stand on the balcony for hours at a time feeling the wind on my skin and imagining it carries your gentle caress. Often, I will close my eyes and upturn my face towards the stars knowing that my Angel of Music looks down upon me from Heaven. The only tie that keeps me earth-bound is our beautiful, precious little boy. I must do as you would wish and see him safely and lovingly to adulthood. Then, God willing, some day soon I shall join you, Beloved. My soul longs for you with my every breath.

Mercy, how off topic I have strayed! I hope you will indulge me, my Precious Angel, and forgive my babbling. I am sitting at my writing desk and your son is chewing wetly on the hem of my gown so I do believe he is hungry. Thank you for sharing this moment with me. I so cherish the times when it is truly just the three of us. Until next time, my Beloved Guardian Angel, stay by my side and guide me.

Yours Eternally -

Christine