Ivory Wolf: Are you serious? It made you tear up? Aww! Thank you so much! thank you fo reviewing! It means a lot! I hope you enjoy this chapter!


Chapter 10: Masquerade/The Unexpected Guests

Halloween was finally here! Everyone was more then excited, especially after Erik gave them permission to attend and not as servants…but as close friends.

Indeed Erik has let me choose the guests, and of course I placed down every name that was on the uninvited guest list. Except for one. Lucian Grantford.

I couldn't believe the monster was a friend of Erik's. Perhaps he wasn't, when they spoke to one another they did not seem so friendly. Especially when he kept me safe from that repulsive thing some people called a man. I can only hope none of the guests will be like him.

When reading their background I read they were just ordinary rich folk, some even musicians. From asking Camille she told me all of them respected Erik and had a good relationship with him. All of them except of course Lucian, which the only good thing he had done for Erik was keep Erik's deepest secret. Such a disgusting pig he is!

Why would Erik depend on such a thing? Why not someone else?

Suddenly the answer came up instantly. Lucian is Chief of Police; he holds the deepest and darkest secrets of almost everyone that has the right amount of money.

Oh Erik, why pay a man like that? If I were you I would move as far away as I possibly could from Lucian. You do not get anything good from a thing like that. Except perhaps a bad name.

I sat silent in Erik's study staring at the multiple books that hold such powerful stories and lessons. I turned my head and stared at the new mirror placed on a wall. I then frowned, wondering if the letters from Raoul were still in the drawer. I shook my head of the thoughts; I did not need to think of that.

"Jaclyn?" I turned to see Camille, wiping her hands on her apron. No doubt from cooking delicious snacks for the party.

"Yes?" I asked her standing from my place.

"The musicians have arrived; the Master would like you to aid them in what they shall be playing throughout the masquerade." She says one eye brow lifted as if expecting me to throw a fit. I swore I would have as well, yet instead I took a calm breath. I straightened my dress as I tried my best to contain the small anger within me.

"Why does the Master wish for me to aid the musicians?" I asked her, trying to be polite and calm. She chuckles, clearly seeing my struggle for serenity.

"The Master said since it was your idea then you should be in charge of the musicians." She says with a smile. I shook my head taking in her information.

"But – He is the one hosting the masquerade; shouldn't he be the one to take charge of this?" I asked her my tone becoming sharper. I didn't mean anything against Camille, and thank goodness she knew this.

"Indeed, but I do remember you convincing him to have one child." She concludes before leaving. She then turns with her same smile. "The musicians are in the grand hall by the way." With that, she left the study.

I slightly growled and I marched to the grand hall. I stopped at the top of the stair case, down below me more then twenty men stood with cases filled with instruments. I didn't know a masquerade contained this much men! Perhaps Erik wanted the party to be perfect as well.

I sighed as I made my way to the men who stared at me in confusion. I cleared my throat as I stood before them, each one thinking something different.

"Good mourning," I greeted loudly for each to hear. Out of the whole group I would say three people smiled and nodded. The others just stood with a frown upon their face.

"Excuse me miss, but where is the head master of this manor?" One tall man asked.

"Oh, well…he is busy at the moment but he has asked me to aid you in what you shall be playing this evening." I tell him. He tilts his head in bewilderment. I rolled my eyes and folded my arms across my chest. "Look, as odd as it may be for a little girl to be aiding you I suggest you shake of the looks shock and follow me please." I tell them. The men stared at one another with not just a look of shock but…it looked like admiration. The tall man then focused on and nodded. He picked up his case and gently smiled.

"Lead the way, miss…?" He asks with a bow. I smile and held my head high.

"Jaclyn," I tell them before leading them away.

I watched from the second story of the manor as Jaclyn told the musicians where to go. It was a good area for them; it was out of the way and in a place where music would soar all around. Even in the deepest places of this mansion.

"Miss. Jaclyn? What music shall we be playing this evening?" A man suddenly asks. Jaclyn snaps her head in his direction and slightly frowns.

"Well, um…" She pauses to think. Oh please not Mozart. As much as I enjoyed his music, it was music that was played everywhere almost every single day.

"Do you know Vivaldi?" She asks him. I stared at her with a frown. She knew music, good music. Here I stood secretly supervising, ready to correct at any moment when really there was nothing to correct at all. She knew what she was doing which was excellent. Perhaps when she is older she could do this for a living.

Come to think of it, I do not recall ever hearing of what Jaclyn enjoys doing. I never once heard her say something she would like to do in the future. I glanced back down at Jaclyn.

"Yes, of course we know Vivaldi!" The musician said with glee.

"Excellent, play the cheerful pieces. It would not be pleasant to start dancing to distressing music." She says as she made her way upstairs. The men began to laugh as she turned back around. "Gentlemen, you may use this time to practice. Good luck to all of you."

The men thanked Jaclyn before they began to tune their instruments. Jaclyn made her way up the stairs and stopped as she spotted me.

"Enjoying the view My Lord?" She asks a bit annoyed. It was clear why.

"You seem to be having fun down there Jaclyn; there is no need to be irritated at a time like this. It is Halloween, and I believe this will be your first masquerade." I tell her. Her eyes become warm and she shrugs as she makers her way to me.

"Does everything please you? I mean would you suggest some changes? If so I will not mind." She says quickly. I slightly chuckle as I shake my head.

"No, there are no changes needed. You did an excellent job. The crowd will have the greatest time of their life." My words were more encouraging then usual. I sighed as I thought of a new subject. "Jaclyn, what exactly do you plan to be when you are older?" I ask. I watch as Jaclyn flinches.

"Well, I never really thought about that. Marie believed that planning ahead was important," she says mentioning Marie, someone I have not heard her mention before. Or at least not willingly. "I though believed that life was full of surprises, I might as well except them and take what comes my way."

Christine used to think that way at times. As much as I persuaded her to plan ahead she would always just plan certain things then wait for the surprises ahead of us to come.

"That is a clever way to think, but see this is where you are wrong." I say, Jaclyn frowns as she cocks her head. "Follow me," I tell her folding my hands behind my back; Jaclyn does the same action as she walks next to me. "I understand that life is full of surprises and we can never stop the unexpected. But when it comes to making money and surviving you need a plan to follow."

Jaclyn snaps her head up at me yet remains silent as I speak. As if taking a real interest in my words.

"Say for example you wish to be a dancer, well you would have to be dancing your whole life, and you would have to be taking proper classes. But also you would have to figure a way to pay for those classes. You can not just sit around and expect someone to just knock on your door and say that you can take dance lessons whenever and wherever you wish for free."

"But dancing isn't something I really enjoy doing," she says innocently. I sigh as I lead her downstairs and into the courtyard.

"It was just an example Jaclyn." I tell her sitting down on a bench. Jaclyn sits down next to me. "Just try and think, what is something you really enjoy doing? What is something you find yourself good at?"

Jaclyn begins to think, she then begins to look around as if the answer would bloom out of a rose.

"I don't know, honestly." She says glancing at me. "I enjoy doing many things and can do many things to but what I love doing most I don't know."

"Did you do anything when you were younger? Perhaps paint, or play an instrument?" I asked truly curious to why one such as she would not have one thing she loves doing the most. Jaclyn then begins to laugh.

"No, Marie always had me write or read. Sometimes work on arithmetic." My eyes widen at her words. She knew arithmetic? Jaclyn looks at me and seems to read my mind.

"I never got the full meaning of the subject but I understand enough." She says. "But other then that I never did anything, I mean there was always the piano but I -"

"The piano? You can play?" I ask interrupting her. Jaclyn stares at me with a frown as she nods.

"Yes, she would have me sing and play. She said it would help me in the future, if I couldn't find a job I could always play the piano for a tavern. Well, she would never of course allow me to perform in a place like that but some place appropriate."

"Yes, but…singing and playing the piano can take you to great heights! Why not pursue it?"

"Who exactly would take me? It is not as if I look like the perfect angel." She says firm.

"You've already tried haven't you?" I ask already knowing the answer. She looks away with her eyes cast far away.

"They just took one look at me and threw me out as if I were nothing,"

"A person's appearance can deceive them nowadays," I tell her. She chuckles as she nods.

"That is a fact," she says.

There was suddenly silence as we both went deep into thought. What she was thinking I do not know. But what I was thinking made me think I was growing old and crazy. I took a breath realizing what I was about to do. I turned to Jaclyn.

"Jaclyn, I have heard you sing before. You have a chance if you continue to practice now."

"What are you saying?" She asks with a tight frown.

"I am saying that if you wish I will teach you," I tell her my tone anything but funny.

"What? You? But…what do you know about singing or teaching the piano?" She asks. I then shook my head.

"I'm a musician Jaclyn; it's my job to know."

"What? You are a musician?" She asks with disbelief. I sigh as I placed a hand on my temple.

"You have seen me composing, you heard me play before how does this not tell you I am a musician?"

"I just assumed you enjoyed doing it I never thought you to be a sort of person to write music and perform!" She says truly confused.

"You would be surprised," I said. "I shall give you time to think about my offer Jaclyn, and I want you to think real hard about this." I tell her before standing. I turned and began to walk away when I suddenly stopped. I turned to see Jaclyn still seated, looking down, deep in thought. "You really do have what it takes Jaclyn. I want you to know that."

I left before she could say a word.

…….

I stood still in the darkness of my bedroom. Staring outside my window at the many carriages, dropping off the people I once knew, people I used to constantly talk to. My friends.

I took a breath as I placed my black mask on. This Halloween I would not be Red Death like I was so many years ago for New Years. I will be Don Juan, one of Lord Byron's greatest works. A character that once seduced the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, ever known. Christine.

The costume brought back more memories then intended. But the memories were not what I expected. I expected to remember thousands of deaths caused by a mad man, the Phantom. I expected to remember kidnapping a young, innocent woman, my Angel.

Those recollections were somewhat present. Yet they weren't exactly there, constantly stabbing at me. Instead, I was recalling how I caressed my love's beautiful neck, how soft it was. How I caressed her face, how I wanted to just turn her around and kiss her with all of the passion I had built up within me.

I remembered the smell of her hair, how it made me fall into reverie. How our voices and bodies entwined on the top of the bridge creating such a melody that just made me sway with madness as if greatly intoxicated.

Oh yes, these were not what I expected to remember. Especially how the costume was exactly the same, identical in everyway. The same cape, color, boots, everything. The mask covered my face well just like before, thank god.

I heard some laughter and I glanced back out the window. I slowly smiled as I saw Maurice Van Gallant. A very old friend of mine, one of the very men who helped make my music known. I met him one day in a park; I was walking with Christine with my new violin when she asked me to play something for her. I told her I would only if she sang for me. She laughed with such glee as she nodded.

I sat down on a bench as Christine stood in front of me; I then began to play a sweet melody she knew very well. Her voice soared throughout the park causing many couples to stop and listen with careful ears, as if to make sure that was really her singing. I have never been so proud of her that day.

She made the crowd sigh with such awe. She made them care for her; she also made them not care about my mask. She went up to me and quickly placed a kiss on my left cheek and quickly resumed singing. It was as if she were making a statement that I was her husband.

As soon as our song was done I began to place the violin back when a man in his late forties approached me. He asked where the song was from; he asked the question serious and straight forward. He made a quick glance at my mask yet settled his gaze back on my eyes. I took a breath and told him I created it. His eyes went wide as he glanced at Christine. He then began to ask if Christine was a professional and was just visiting London. At this Christine and I laughed causing the man to frown. Christine takes a step forward, her hand in mine. She then told the man that I was her mentor, since she was a little girl.

The man gasped and took a step forward offering his hand to me. I glanced at it with tension. No one has offered their hand to me willingly. I slowly grasped his hand and shook carefully while he shook mine with a squeeze. He was confident.

He introduced himself and then carefully began to explain how he was a patron at the Opera House here in London; he told us how he was in desperate need to hear good music and also in desperate need for a new soprano. At first I was not so sure if I could do this. Sell my music, and have Christine become a star yet again. Could I do it without becoming a specter again?

I then feel Christine gently squeeze my hand, I glance at her and stared into her eyes. This was something she was sure of; this was something she wanted to do.

With a breath I face the old man known as Maurice Van Gallant and I asked him when the best time to be at the Opera House was.

I haven't seen the man for years; he must be close to sixty-five years old. When I last seen him he wasn't as tubby, nor was his hair as white. I'll soon be that old. I'll soon have white hair; I will soon have a cane. I shook my head not needing to think about that. I glanced at his wife, she seemed happy of course.

I took a quick glance at the other people, the faces were all familiar, and some were faces I did not wish to see. Yet as I recall Camille has told me that Jaclyn has placed everyone that was on the uninvited list onto the invited list. With a grim look I shook my head.

Besides two people I did not have a grudge with the rest. The rest were just people that were extremely close with Christine. Yet with Raoul I would have my past to deal with, with Lucian I would have the past and the most horrible night of my life to deal with. Thank god they were not present tonight.

Each couple that stepped out of their carriage had a smile on their face, what they were so happy about was a bit of a mystery to me. Were they eager to have a good night? I wish. I am surprised anyone arrived after I shut them out of my life.

I was about to retrieve my cloak when a familiar carriage pulled up to the front. I frowned and took a better look. The symbol on the doors caused me to shiver and I nearly choked when his face appeared in sight.

Raoul stepped down and took in the sight before him. His hair had become short; he was till in shape, he must be at least forty-two. Was he really only twenty-six when the night at the Opera occurred sixteen years ago?

I shook my head in anger, why was he here? I told Jaclyn not to invite him! I told her exactly he must not be here!

With a slight growl I rushed to my door and roared to the nearest servant I saw.

"Bring me Jaclyn this instant!"

I heard running around outside my bedroom and I quickly went back to the window. The Comte De Chagney was now no where in sight. He was already in the mansion.

That little…! She betrayed me! I told her to not invite him! I made it perfectly clear!

I suddenly heard a knock and I quickly rushed to the door. I swung it open to see Jaclyn, she was still in her plain grey dress, and her hair was tattered. It confused me, yet it did not get in the way of my anger.

"Oh my goodness you look striking! Who are you? It is one of Shakespeare's characters isn't it? Is it Othello? No its Macbeth! Oh no…oh! It is Romeo is it not?" Jaclyn stated proudly. I remained silent and just stared at her.

"Don Juan, Lord Byron." I simply said. Jaclyn stomped her foot on the ground and her she slightly growled.

"I knew it! It was my first thought too!" She says placing her hands on her hips. "Oh yes, did you want me for something?" She then asks. She took a second look and frowned. "Why is it so dark in here?" She questions. Ignoring her question I sneer as I grab her arm and with enough force I pull her in my room.

"Get in here!" I whispered harshly. Jaclyn frowns as she yelped and yanked her arm away. I stared at her slowly, I sighed as I made no intention of repeating what happened that night.

She stands in front of me with confusion.

"What happened?" She asks puzzled. My fists were clenched as I glare at her.

"What happened Jaclyn?" I ask her as I approach her suddenly. I grabbed her arm yet again and pulled her to the window. I then pointed outside. "Do you see that carriage?" I ask with a scorn. Jaclyn squints her eyes and suddenly pulls back.

"You mean the Comte De Chagney?" She asks with a frown. I glare even further.

"I specifically told you he could not be invited!" I told her. Jaclyn shook her head and quickly spoke up.

"What are you talking about? You told me I could invite anyone I wished!" She answers with a snarl. My eyes widen.

"I said that after I told you not to invite the Comte!" I shouted. Jaclyn then takes a step forward.

"Exactly! After! When you told me to invite anyone I wished after you told me not to invite the Comte I assumed I could! Maybe you should have been more specific!"

"I should ring your little neck after what you did!"

"Fine! But after the masquerade! Guests await you and I have to announce you still! And not only that but you have to have a little chat with your old friend." She says leaving for the door. I rushed up to her and grabbed shoulders.

"What?" I demanded.

"Erik, you want my help? Then talk to him! Believe me! I am trying more then anything to understand you but I need you to understand me!"

There was suddenly silence, my anger was slowly descending. I was not as angry as I was; instead…I began to think.

"Trust me Erik, what ever history you have with him. What ever tragic story you had been through with him you must learn to forget. Just talk to him, he sent those letters for a reason. And I don't think they are to scorn you for what ever happened in the past."

Her words, they were true. Yet do I dare believe them? Christine has always wanted me to talk to Raoul, she always wanted me to become friends and forget what has happened. She never quite understood how I could not let go of the past. I never did either.

I then suddenly hear Jaclyn sigh, I glance at her and watch as she bows and makes her way to the door. I did not bother to stop her. Yet as she opens the door, letting light pour in I raised my voice.

"Jaclyn?"

She stops and turns to me, her eyes were filled with pity and confusion. Silently asking why people must suffer like this. I took a slow breath.

"Is that what you are going to wear?" I ask her. Jaclyn sighs and slightly chuckles as she shakes her head.

"No, what I am wearing is something a bit better." She says with warmth. I nod to her and she nods back as she closes the door.

I was left alone in darkness; soon I would have a room filled with old friends and people that were so close with her. Soon I will face a man I thought I would never see again. Could I go through with it?

I have come this far, one more step wouldn't hurt. Or would it? I shook my head with a sigh.

Fear was something I would not allow to overcome me. I sat down at the foot of my bed and waited for Camille to enter and tell me that my time has come. I sat down, waiting for Camille to tell me that it is time to face the past.

…….

I stood in front of the full length mirror in Camille's room. The dress fit me perfectly; its satin was more then beautiful and felt cool against my skin. My hair was still down, yet pulled back with one of Camille's clips to hold it. The beautiful shoes I was given fit like a glove, they were comfortable and I swear I would be able to dance in them throughout the whole night!

I was more then happy! I felt beautiful! I looked beautiful! I do not think I smiled like this in a long time.

"Are you ready?" Camille asked opening the door. I turned to her and watched as her eyes widen. She stares at me in awe and I couldn't help but blush. I took a quick glance at Camille, I noted she wore a beautiful black and gold dress and held a gold mask in her hand.

I smiled as I reached for mine and slowly placed it on. I then stare at Camille and smile.

"Yes, I am."

…….

I wait in the darkness completely still, waiting for the knock. I took a small breath and finally it came.

"Come in," I demanded silently. The door opened to reveal Camille. She looks lovely tonight, I thought.

"Excuse me My Lord, but the guests are ready for you." She says to me gently. She held a smile and hint of excitement. Were the other servants like this? Indeed it has been years since I have held a party. Their excitement must be beyond exhilarating.

I nodded to her and grabbed my cloak. I wrapped it around my arm and made my way out.

The closer I got to the grand hall the more I heard the chatter of my old friends, the laughter of my once great companions.

Suddenly I was at the entrance to the balcony. Soon I will face hundreds of people I once knew, hundreds of people I still have yet to meet. Will they like me? Despise me? I nearly laughed. Since when did I care?

I cleared my throat when Jaclyn suddenly appeared. My eyes widen at the sight of her. She looked beautiful! The dress made her glow, where did she get that dress anyways? I glanced at her face and saw the mask I gave her. It covers her eyes and a bit of her nose, yet it dare not interfere with her lips.

She turned to me and smiled, truly smiled. It made my heart ach. She looked more then beautiful. That smile just brought warmth to me and I loved it. She was happy.

She nodded to me and stood on top of the balcony. I heard the large crowd become silent.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you all for coming tonight. It means the world to the great musician."

Good start, I thought as she continued.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, showing up to this event tells a lot about yourself and how much you care for your friend. It shows you have not given up. He could not thank you enough."

Alright now she is just being too dramatic, I thought with a grim look.

"Now for what you all have been waiting for, ladies and gentlemen, I give you… Lord Erik Destler!"

I closed my eyes and I took breath. No turning back now.

I stepped onto the platform and stared at the crowd below me. I saw tears and smiles on their face and I felt my heart give away a little. These people were here for me. For me…

The crowd then began to clap, loud and mad as I slowly descended the stair case. I then stopped and raised my hands signaling for silence. Everyone did so, I then took a breath.

"Everyone, I do in fact thank you more then anything for being here tonight. It does mean a lot to me. Over the years growing old, I have grown to think that my friends have forgotten me. I feel foolish to think such a thing."

Their smiles never left them as I saw them smile at me with such glee. I slowly continued.

"I hope you all have a fun time while you are here, this is a night I want everyone to remember. The night you came and brought life back into this dark manor. Thank you."

Everyone cheered again and they quickly rushed to me. In the distance I heard the music begin to play and from the corners of my eyes I saw a few people begin to dance. I smiled at the happy couples.

"Erik!" I glanced up to see Maurice Van Gallant. I smiled at his very presence. He grabbed my hand and pulled me close into a hug. I hugged him back.

"It's good to see you my friend," I tell him.

"Good to see me? It's good to see you! You were the one who just disappeared with only a letter sent to me explaining you can no longer write for the opera!" He says with a grin. I nodded to him.

"Indeed, forgive me it's just after what happened I just lost the will -"

Maurice quickly interrupted.

"Enough of that tonight is a night for everyone including you to enjoy. Now I want you to meet someone." He snaps his fingers and two small children make their way in front. They stood in front of me, Maurice's hands on their shoulders. "This is my grandson and my granddaughter. Jonathan and Clarice," he introduces. I smile at the very sight.

"I never figured you to be a grandfather!" I told him patting him on the shoulder

"Oh! Neither did I!" He says with a laugh.

"Erik, darling!" I suddenly tensed knowing that voice. Maurice grabbed my hand again and shook it. We concluded our conversation and I turned to the woman. She was young, thirty-three, a year older then what Christine would have been if she was with me now.

The woman is Angela Derris, a fellow singer at the Opera, one of Christine's closest friends.

"Good evening Ms. Derris." I greeted taking her hand in mine and placing a kiss on her gloved hand. Angela laughed as she took a step closer.

"It is Mrs. Van Devon she says with glee. A man then suddenly came up to her. He was older then her, perhaps by three years. "Erik this is my husband, Charles Van Devon." She says. Charles reaches out for my hand. I take it and we shake.

"It's a pleasure to finally meet you Mister Destler,"

"A pleasure to meet you, I see you have stolen the heart of Ms. Derris. When I first met her she was a young woman who said she would never have time to fall in love. I see you have proven her wrong." I say to the young man. The man slightly blushes as he takes his love's hand in his.

"It was certainly a challenge, but it was all worth it." He says to me with a smile.

"Oh Erik, where have you been all this time?" Angela asks.

"Here, in my home." I tell her. She stares at me with a hint of pity yet she blinks and it is gone.

"Well I am glad you finally decided to do something like this." She says with encouragement. "Maybe perhaps you'll come back to the opera!" She says with glee. I chuckle at her excitement.

"Thank you, but a little more time is what I need. How is the opera by the way?" I ask her with a frown. Angel takes a breath.

"It hasn't been the same without you and…" She remains silently then clears her throat. "Things have changed, and let us say those changes have not done the opera much good."

I sigh and glance away.

"Well perhaps just maybe when the time is right I'll set things straight." I tell her placing a hand on her shoulder. She smiles and grasps my hand and squeezes.

"She's proud of you Erik, just know that."

"I know," I tell her with a small grin.

Angela and I parted and soon others began to speak with me. I spoke with people I have not seen in years, some of them were people I had no problem speaking with; others were people I couldn't help but tense around them. Yet I found myself slowly calming in front of those I tried so hard to ignore. I found myself talking about old times and laughing at silly memories. We talked and talked, laughed and laughed. Everything was going well.

"Erik?"

I paused as I concluded a conversation with a new friend. That voice, I recognize that voice. I turned and was face to face with Raoul De Chagney.

"Raoul," I greeted steady, neither smiling nor frowning. I just gave a blank expression. Raoul took a breath.

"It's been awhile," he says slowly.

"If you call sixteen years awhile, yes it has been." I tell him standing straight. Raoul slightly shifts to one side, obviously nervous.

"Do you mind if we speak in privet?" He asks carefully. I glance around me and saw everyone dancing and having a good time. I sigh and look back at Raoul.

"Trust me Erik, what ever history you have with him. What ever tragic story you had been through with him you must learn to forget. Just talk to him, he sent those letters for a reason. And I don't think they are to scorn you for what ever happened in the past."

Her words ran through my head over and over. Can I trust her? Can I trust him?

"Please Erik; I need to speak with you." He then says. I stare into his brown eyes.

Yes, I can trust her; yes…I can trust him.

I nod to Raoul and we made our way to the courtyard.

The moonlight shined on the white and red roses that were close to blooming. The smell made me close my eyes and think of her. These were her favorite flowers.

We came to a stop, we were alone and the area was close to silent.

"How has everything been?" I hear Raoul ask. I turn to him and made a quick glance at what he wore.

He came as a soldier, his clothes were tattered yet he still managed to look handsome as always.

"What do you think?" I ask grimly. Raoul shifts again as he takes a breath.

"Quite a costume you have," he then says. He stares at it a bit longer and he suddenly frowns realizing who I was dressed as.

"Is this what you wished to talk about? My costume?" I asked my tone deep and uncaring. Raoul closes his eyes and takes another breath, deep and long. He then sits down on the bench behind him.

"Have you received any of my letters?" He asks staring at the ground. I shifted around and sighed.

"Yes I have," I tell him.

"Did you read any of them?"

"No," I said straight forward. Raoul then sighs.

"Do you mind if I ask why?"

I glance around the courtyard desperately looking for an answer. When none came I sighed deeply, placing a hand on my temple. Just talk to him.

I then suddenly sit next to him, glancing away I sigh.

"Would you like an honest answer?" I ask him. From the corner of my eye I see Raoul sit straight and focus on me.

"Yes," he says simply. I nod to him and clear my throat.

"I guess you can say I was scared, still am." I tell him. Raoul frowns as he cocks his head to one side. "When I received the first letter, my first thought was to burn it. Yet I never did. Instead I placed it on my desk and I sat before it. Debating whether I should open it or not, wondering with so much curiosity if you wrote that letter to scorn me for letting her slip away form me."

I quickly took a breath trying to control my emotions. I see Raoul nod, needing to know more. I take another breath.

"I couldn't bare it, so I locked it away. Soon you sent me another one. Just like the first I placed it in a drawer and never went near it. Then more came in and I began to wonder if your words were something else other then cruelty." I made a small glance in his direction then glanced away. "Yet fear always took me, and your letters remained in the same place for fourteen years. That is why Comte." My words were true, not false.

There was silence around us, making both of us shift a bit. Suddenly, I hear Raoul sigh.

"I tried wondering how much you have changed. Exchanging letters with Christine she only gave me minor details on who you have become. I must admit I was eager to see you." I frowned at his words but allowed him to continue. "I trust Christine Erik; I still do even though she is gone." I turned my attention toward some flowers, taking long and steady breaths. "She once wrote to me telling me how much she loves you, and how she always will. As much as I did not want to believe it I knew it was true. Of course I was jealous, more then jealous actually. I wanted nothing more but to find her and take her away from you. But I couldn't. Not when she was in love with you."

The tears were close but I wouldn't shed any. Not tonight. Not right now.

"You have given her all the happiness she has always dreamed of having. When Christine wrote we were child hood sweethearts and nothing more I thought that would be enough. But it wasn't. What you have given her was something I realized I could never give her." He spoke from his heart, I know he was. I couldn't tell if he was looking at me, but I know for fact his eyes at this very moment held nothing but memories. "The last letter she ever wrote to me she told she was pregnant." He says. A tear slipped past me onto my black mask and I quickly wiped it away. "She seemed so happy Erik, and I am glad she was. She always wanted a baby."

"I know," I whispered silently. There was silence until Raoul continued.

"She also told me, that when she was young, she would think that if she were to have a baby she would have it with her Angel of Music." He says gently. My eyes widen. This was something I did not know about. "As much as it might have pained you to see her write to me I am glad she did. She was my best friend Erik."

I said nothing to him; I only gave a slight nod. Indeed I was hurt by her actions, but only because I thought she has fallen in love with the boy. Afterwards it was not so bad to watch her write, instead I found it entertaining.

Again there was an awkward silence, no one spoke. I then finally sighed as I turned to him.

"I am sorry about your brother," I told him. What else was there to say? Raoul slightly nodded, not saying a word. "How did he…?" I asked slowly. Raoul leaned back and sighed.

"He died from an incurable illness; it lasted about a month before it finally took over him." His words were low but I heard them clear.

"Father!" shouted a young boy. I snapped my head up as did Raoul. What we saw was a boy rushing toward his father. Raoul stood and so did I.

"Ah, Phillip. I want you to meet someone." He says placing a hand on his shoulder. He then walks in front of me. "This here is a very dear friend of mine," I stared at Raoul with a frown. He has called me a friend. "This here is Erik Destler."

At this the boy's eyes widen.

"You are Erik Destler?" He asked. I nodded to him. The boy then quickly held out his hand. I took it with ease. "It is such an honor! My parents and I are great supporters of your music Monsieur!" He says with anxiousness. Raoul chuckles.

"Erik, this here is my son, Phillip." He says. I nod to him again.

"It is an honor to meet the heir of one of my closest friends." I tell him. The boy had black hair and blue eyes. His smile did not belong to Raoul; he had freckles traveling from one cheek to the other, probably from his mother. He was in shape and probably sixteen years of age.

"What did you need me for son?" Raoul asks gaining his son's attention. Phillip turned to his father and suddenly turned pale.

"Well, what exactly do I do when… when…?" The boy continued to stutter causing Raoul to laugh.

"Just go up to her, bow to her then introduce yourself and ask her to dance. It is simple son, do not worry." He says patting his son's back. The boy nods with a bit more confidence yet anyone could tell how nervous he truly was.

"He must be on his mother's side." I tell Raoul watching the boy walk into the manor. Raoul snaps his head in my direction.

"How do you know? Julianne could not make it tonight." He says with a frown. I turn to him with one brow lifted and I grinned.

"I know simply because he looks nothing like you,"

At this Raoul laughs and I chuckle.

"It is good to know you have grown a sense of humor."

"I have always had a sense of humor, just not the one that everyone enjoys."

"That was back then, this is now." He tells me. I nod to him with a small smile.

"Indeed," I whisper.

"Thank you for inviting me tonight; there was a rumor going around that you were throwing a masquerade. I did not think I would be invited."

"I didn't invite you, my announcer did." I tell him with a grin. He then turns to me a bit pale.

"Oh yes, about the girl…she looks…uh…"

"Exactly like her, I know." I tell him knowing his exact thoughts. Raoul nods with a frown.

"That is…not the reason you hired her was it?" He then asks it was my turn to frown. I turned to him and folded my arms across my chest.

"No, she was running away from someone. I just helped her out. Although I must admit…I could not help but feel I was saving Christine." I tell him truthfully. Raoul nods.

"It is amazing how much she resembles her."

"It is," I agreed.

"What is her name?" He asks.

"Jaclyn," I answer.

"How old is she?" he asks with curiosity.

"Fourteen," I tell him. Suddenly the atmosphere around us became tense and I suddenly knew what was going to happen. I turned away hoping he wouldn't ask.

"Erik…I do not wish to bring back bad memories. But do you think it is possible that the girl can be -"

"No, Raoul please. Christine died alone with… please…not tonight." I begged facing Raoul. He takes a breath and glances away.

"Forgive me," he says. I sigh and glance away.

"I will not lie, I have thought about it. But the more I do the more I come to realize she could have never survived."

"I understand," Raoul says.

"My Lord?" Camille interrupted gently. I lifted my head to see the old woman in a beautiful dark dress approach me.

"Yes Camille?" I ask. Camille bows to Raoul and Raoul nods.

"My Lord, the young lady has asked me to tell you she has a surprise for you in the grand hall." She says with a grin.

I frown and nod to Camille. I then turned to Raoul who stood silent with a small grin.

"The young lady has a surprise for you? How sweet." He says boyishly.

"Remind me to congratulate you when you grow up." I tell him making my way inside. I hear Raoul's laugh as Camille walked up beside me and I turn to her.

"What is it she is going to do Camille?" I ask her silently. Camille grins.

"Something I think you shall enjoy," she says. I glare at her and make my way inside.

…….

I waited patiently for Erik to come into view. I could not believe I was about to do this!

Suddenly his black mask appeared into view and I soon saw the Comte De Chagney walk up beside him. So they spoke, I thought with glee. I then clapped my hands gathering everyone's attention. Erik held a tight frown truly not knowing what I was doing.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, this certain event is for Erik. This particular ballade is very dear to me and I hope all of you and Erik shall enjoy it." I conclude. Erik frowns even further as he makes his way closer to me. I nod to the musicians and they begin.

I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and began.

Tell me the tales that to me were so dear,
Long, long ago, long, long ago,
Sing me the songs I delighted to hear,
Long, long ago, long ago,
Now you are come all my grief is removed,
Let me forget that so long you have roved.
Let me believe that you love as you loved,
Long, long ago, long ago.

Do you remember the paths where we met?
Long, long ago, long, long ago.
Ah, yes, you told me you'd never forget,
Long, long ago, long ago.
Then to all others, my smile you preferred,
Love, when you spoke, gave a charm to each word.
Still my heart treasures the phrases I heard,
Long, long ago, long ago.

Tho' by your kindness my fond hopes were raised,
Long, long ago, long, long ago.
You by more eloquent lips have been praised,
Long, long ago, long, long ago,
But, by long absence your truth has been tried,
Still to your accents I listen with pride,
Blessed as I was when I sat by your side.

Long, long ago, long ago.

The song ended and before I knew it in the grand hall an applause erupted. I nearly flinched at the sound of claps. I glanced around watching everyone speaking with one another, not sure of what they said…but they all held a smile on their face. Even Erik…

He stood not too far from, clapping with all the others. His smile was grand, yet there was something in his eyes. As if he was trying to search for something or perhaps understand something. My best guess… he is thinking if I had made my decision about him teaching me how to sing or not.

I have indeed been thinking about it. Somewhere in the corner when everyone else was dancing with so much happiness. That was until some boy came and asked me to dance. I had to laugh at the thought. That was my first dance with a boy, and of course I was nervous. But the look on his face was beyond hilarious. He looked as if he'll faint! A boy! More nervous then me!

He was attractive though, yet perhaps his boyish and nervous manners are what caught me most.

We danced and danced until it was finally time for me to do what I wanted to do since that conversation with me and Erik outside in the courtyard.

This song was dedicated to him; although it is a song for lovers I just thought I would share with him one of my favorites. Also…as soon as things quiet down…I shall be telling him that I would be more then honored to be taught by the greatest musician of all time.

I descend into the crowd only to be placed in a deadly situation. Men, woman and even children began to come up to me to compliment me on my voice. I would thank them with such glee but deep down I was frowning. What mattered was not my voice but the words to the ballade!

After a solid five minutes of hearing "beautiful," "grand," and "astonishing," I lost count of the amount of people in front of me. Every where I glanced I saw strangers, strangers with long top hats, strangers with flowing dresses. Strangers with such masks! And even though I enjoyed seeing such designs my one wish at the moment was to see Erik, the one person I no longer saw. The one black, cryptic mask that was no longer in my line of vision. Where was he? Did I disappoint him? Did he not enjoy the ballade? Was he still upset with me for inviting the Comte? He held a grand smile on his face when I glanced at him, why would he be angry? Yet why would he not present right now?

With worry I excused myself quickly to search for my master, to search for Erik. Oh! Where was he? Surely he would not leave his guests! Unless it was a matter of emergency! Perhaps he went upstairs! I did in fact see a man walk up stairs dressed in dark clothing; surely no visitor would venture up stairs without permission

Thus picking up my dress I began to make my way upstairs. Please do not let me upset him! Please, let him be wondering about in his usual state of being deep in thought. Let him be in his room, sitting at the foot of his bed with his hand on his chin doing nothing but thinking of how the night's progress is going!

I heard very little of the crowd downstairs as I made my way through the dark hall toward the four privet rooms. I stopped at Erik's door and knocked gently.

"My Lord?" I called slowly. "Are you in?"

There was nothing. Was he in there? Could he hear me? I knocked again and again no answer, I sighed deeply and as I turned and stopped. Did I hear movement? Indeed! I hear it again! It was the sound of wood creaking as if someone walked about in the dark chamber before me.

I took a breath, something told me it was not Erik who walks silently in the dark room. I close my eyes and place my hand on the gold knob. It must be one the servants, perhaps they were cleaning for Lord Erik. But all servants were sent down to the party. All servants were off duty!

I flinched as the noise reached my ears yet again only louder. With another breath I turned the knob and pushed the door open. I was surrounded with darkness and coldness as I entered what seems to be an empty room. I was always on alert as I glanced around my surroundings. Nothing. Nothing but darkness.

I sighed and closed my eyes. Frightening myself was the last thing I thought I would ever do! I turned and made my way to the door. Yet suddenly as my fingers touched the cool wood a large hand quickly covered my mouth keeping in the desperate shout for help!

The shape quickly slammed the door drowning me in cold darkness; its strong arm then wrapped around my waist and pulled me further into the room.

I struggled with all the power I held in my limbs, I struggled and struggled to be loose from the tight grip! Suddenly it grabbed both of my hands with just one of his and held them tight as the shapes mouth came close to my ear.

"Eight years of escaping me and now I finally have you!" It sneered. My eyes then widen as I grew suddenly weak. I was in the arms of Lucian Grantford!

No! No! No! Not now! No please! Please this can't be! No! Not everything that has happened! Not now! Erik!

Lucian then threw me on top of Erik's bed and I watched him, frozen to my very core I watched him begin to quickly undress.


Alright, now I have to work on Endless Devotion, I have to right six chapters! SIX before I can continue anything else! Alright, I hope you will forgive me when I ask if you may have some paitence as I try to right the six chaps! Thank you so much and I hope you enjoyed the chapter!

Please REVIEW! PLEASE!!!!

Crys A.

"Life is a mask, its our job to take it off and discover the journey behind it not in front for there is nothing there but a mask"