Lonesome Hearts

A Phantom of the Opera Fan Fic

By DonJuanTriumphs

Copyright 2006

Author's Note: Welcome to my 9th phic! I know that the last thing I should be doing is taking on another story, but all of the others are going good and I just could not resist. I have already fallen in love with this Erik and Christine and I hope you all do, too. So please let me know what you all think!

Pairing: E/C

Rating: M, you have been warned.

Universe: Modern Day

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters from the Phantom of the Opera, the only ones I take full credit on are the ones you do not recognize! So Please read and review.

Chapter One: Pastry Disaster

"Two dollars and fifty cents, Mrs. Landress."

Christine smiled at the eighty year old woman as she searched her purse for the amount Christine had indicated. Mrs. Landress was a regular customer at the Daae Delights Bakery and she had come in every day without fail for the past ten years, and had known Christine since she was a tiny baby. Handing over the money Christine gave the older woman her regular, a cup of coffee and a blueberry muffin.

"Thank you, dear, it looks wonderful, just like always," Mrs. Landress said with a warm smile that seemed to cover her entire wrinkled face to give her a warm, welcoming glow. Christine smiled and came out from around the counter, helping the old woman to her seat like she did every morning. One of the perks about owning a bakery like this was the people. Christine loved people and living in a small town like they did it was very easy to know everyone as well as you would know family.

Mrs. Landress took Christine's hand when they reached her table and she motioned for her to sit down. For an eighty year old woman she sure knew how to talk. Christine would not prefer it any other way. One could learn much from those with more worldly experiences.

"Have you heard, Chrissy?"

Christine smiled and shook her head. Far from wisdom, this woman loved her gossip, she lived and thrived on it, and she had to make sure that she kept everyone informed about what was happening in town, from what color the Olsen's had painted their house, to who had not said a word of welcome to her when she had been walking down the street.

"I have not heard anything new lately, what is it?"

Mrs. Landress smiled and looked at the young woman fondly.

"I've always liked you, Chrissy. You're a good girl, you listen when an old gal like me has something to say."

Christine smiled and waited for the woman to continue her story. She was the only one that Christine would allow to call her 'Chrissy'. Coming from Mrs. Landress it sounded like an endearment. From other people it made her feel like a child. She was anything but.

"A man has just moved into town!"

Christine's eyes flew to the other womans in surprise. What had she just said? A man had moved into their old, little town? She had expected her to tell her something like who has been gaining far to much weight, or something along those lines. But this was far from what she would have ever guessed. Intrigued, she leaned forward a little more.

"A man?"

"Yes, a man! Could you imagine? Nothing like this has happened in years!"

"When did he come to town?" Christine asked. Why was she barely hearing about this now? Something like this was big news. No one had moved into this place for at least ten years. Christine was so curious she was nearly fidgeting in her seat.

"Late yesterday evening. Seems he went and bought the old Miller house!"

"The Miller house?"

That place had been bordered up since Christine was ten years old at least! Who in their right mind would buy a house that needed so much work? Not only that, it was on the very outskirts of town, a good mile, a long distance when everything was usually only a few minutes away.

"Yes, and from what I have been told he is a city boy through and through."

"Handsome?" Christine just had to ask. Looks, however, meant very little to her.

"Can't say. I have people telling me yes and others saying something is wrong with him."

"Wrong with him? What do you mean?"

"No idea, honey, but I did hear mention of a mask or some such thing. Sounds like a bunch of rubish if you ask me. You know how much everyone in this town likes to exagerate."

Christine nodded, but was still curious to know who this man was and how she was going to find out.

"Christine?"

She was broken from her thoughts when one of the children that loved her cookies came in and stood by the register. She excused herself from Mrs. Landress and went to help her customer, the thoughts of this new man on her mind. Their little town, appropriately named Heaven, was one of the smallest anyone could say they had ever been to. They had none of the big department stores everyone seemed to have and they did not even have a movie theater. Christine, though, would never have it any other way. She had been to the city before, and had not liked it very much. It was crowded, loud, and the thing that bothered her the most was the fact that you could not see the stars. Here in Heaven the stars were always brightly shining over head and it was one of the simple pleasures in life that she knew she could not live without.

"Chocolate chip, Alex?" Christine asked the little boy in front of her. He nodded. His dark, shaggy brown hair, blue eyes, and sweet disposition, had made him one of her favorites. That was why she never charged him for his cookie. She knew his parents were going through a rough time financially and they did not have money to give him for a cookie. Alex never forgot to thank her every day with a hug and a whispered thanks.

"Thanks, Christine!" he said before dashing out of the room. Mrs. Landress smiled and shook her head. She had never met anyone quite like Christine Daae in her entire life, and that was not an exaggeration. Since the time she was a little girl she had always been the sweetest, most kind hearted child she had ever laid eyes on. Always saying please and thank you and her smile could just light up a room. Now, at the age of twenty, was no different. Everyone was quite taken with her in Heaven and she seemed to make friends easily without any effort whatsoever.

"Mrs. Landress, could you watch the shop for a moment? I have some rolls ready to come out of the oven!"

When the older woman gave her consent she dashed to the back room, having completely forgotten about the cinammon roles she had left baking. Opening up the stove she gave a sigh of relief. They were not burnt. They smelled wonderful and she smiled gently. This was one of the things her father had passed down to her before he had passed away, his love of baking. He had taught her every secret he had to make the perfect pastry, and she would always be thankful. If she had not liked baking so much she would have closed this place up long ago and moved somewhere else. But this place was a part of her and she could never imagine herself leaving it behind her forever. It was a piece of her father, and God knew how much she missed him!

Had it really only been four years since his passing? That had been one of the most horrible days of her life and she remembered it like it was yesterday. It seemed her father had been sick for a very long time and had never had the courage or the heart to tell her. The last thing he wanted, he said that day, was to see her worry about him when he had been fine up until that moment. And Christine, in her innocence had believed her dad would always be there for her. He was the only one she had left, now the angels had him and she would give anything just to see him smile one more time.

"Don't start, Christine," she whispered to herself, wiping a tear from her eye, angry at herself. Her father would not want her to be sad, he had always said one of the things he loved most about her was her smile. "I'll smile for you, Daddy, I will..."

"Christine! Customer!"

She heard Mrs. Landress shout but she had already heard the little bell on the door that tinkled every time someone came in. Wiping the tears from her eyes she set the rolls down and took out some of her famous white frosting.

"Just a moment! I will be right with you!"

She lathered the rolls with extra frosting, that part being her favorite of any pastry. She loved the aroma baked goods seemed to leave the room in and it caused a smile to come to her face and it warmed her heart.

"Christine, a customer! Hurry up!"

She frowned. What in the world was Mrs. Landress' rush? She had said she would be right there! Curious, Christine grabbed her tray of cinnamon rolls and headed back into the bakery after calling that she would be right there. She went through the doors backwards so they would open and was glad that the rolls looked so good. She was thinking about this mystery man when she turned...and ran straight into her waiting customer...

Christine gasped in dispair when she and the customer fell back onto the floor, landing hard on their rear ends. She moaned in embarrassment when her freshly baked cinnamon rolls got all over her and the man she had run into like a semi truck! She could hear Mrs. Landress in the back, laughing like she was having trouble breathing. Christine blushed an interesting shade of red and could not find it in herself to meet the mans gaze. She stared at his boots for several long moments, admiring how finely made they were and obviously of the best quality. You could not get a pair of shoes like that in Heaven.

Christine felt dread wash over her. If this man was wearing shoes from outside of Heaven...that meant he was the new city boy! How embarrassing that their first meeting would be covered in frosted sweets! Finding courage she slowly allowed her gaze to roam upwards, past his black, neatly pressed trousers that seemed to encase very long legs, up to his broad chest and shoulders encased in a white button down polo, all of which was covered in cinnamon rolls, to a thick, very masculine neck to land with startled surprise on his face.

Christine decided to look at what she could see first, not wanting to dwell on the fact that he did, indeed, wear a mask. Perhaps being a country girl had limited her experience with the opposite sex, but she was sure that none of Heaven contained more manly looking features. A sharp, strong, clean cut jaw with nice cheekbones and a straight nose. Thick, dark black hair with just a hint of gray at the sides. She was sure that he could not be any older than his mid thirties and she was suddenly curious to know what in his life had caused such early signs of old age. Perhaps what startled her the most about this stranger was not his mask-which in itself was quite startling-but the sadness contained in the gray green depths of his eyes.

She stared at him a moment, knowing that whatever had caused the gray hairs on his head had also caused that sadness. She could not quite explain it, but it was so profound she knew that she had to do something to ease that ache she saw there. And she did not even know his name! Deciding to ignore the mask-which covered the whole right side of his face-she scrambled to her feet. The mask was of no importance at the moment.

"Oh, my goodness! I am so sorry!"

She offered him her hand but he refused it and stood up on his own. She was surprised to see how tall he was. Grabbing a towel she tried to wipe at the frosting on his shirt and trousers, praying she had not ruined them. It did not help that Mrs. Landress was still laughing in the background. The man said nothing as she continued to try and clean him up and Christine knew her face was becoming a darker shade of red with each passing moment.

"Wait here and I will get some water!"

She turned to run to the kitchens when she felt her foot slide out from beneath her and suddenly she was falling backwards for the second time in less than five minutes. Christine closed her eyes, expecting to hit the ground rather hard, when suddenly two strong arms were there supporting her. She opened her eyes very slowly and looked up, meeting the eyes of her new stranger. She swallowed and pulled away, now completely sure that this had to be the most embarrassing day of her entire life.

"I...I'm..." for the first time, ever, Christine found that she had absolutely nothing to say! It was the way this man was staring at her that her on edge. He seemed to be looking right through her and it made her a little uncomfortable. Quite unexpectedly he held out his frosted covered hand.

"Although this is a rather awkward meeting, I am Erik Bontecou," he said. Her eyes flew to his mouth, her knees nearly going weak at the sound of his voice.

"I'm-that is-" She could not remember her name!

"Her name is Christine Daae," Mrs. Landress supplied. Erik glanced at her before looking back at Christine, a small smile lifting the corner of his mouth. When he smiled it seemed, just for a moment, that all of that sadness she saw in him disappeared.

"Nice to meet you, Miss Daae, it really is a pleasure," he murmured, looking down at his cinnamon roll shirt. Christine knew that if any more blood went to her face she was going to faint.

"I am so sorry!" she finally managed. She knew she should offer to pay for the cost of his shirt and trousers but knew there was no way she could ever afford what brands he was wearing.

"Nothing to apologize for. I came in for a cup of coffee and it seems I got a little more than I bargained for."

He did not sound mad, but one could never tell with city boys.

"If you would like to take a seat I will get you that cup of coffee-free of charge."

She had to get out of the room before she had a heartattack. Erik smiled again.

"That sounds like an offer I cannot refuse."

When he turned to find a seat Christine flew out of that room like a rabbit being chased by a fox. When she entered the kitchen she leaned heavily upon the wall, taking several deep breaths to try and calm down. She had been so curious to meet the man who had just moved into town and now she was sure that whenever she saw him she would not be able to look him in the eyes. She heard Mrs. Landress telling Erik that she was one of the clumsiest people the old woman had ever met and Christine put a hand to her forehead in humiliation, after today she had no doubt about the fact that she had to of been born with two left feet.

"Come on, Chris, if there is one thing you are good at it is being around people!"

She would not let this Erik Bontecou be any different. Pouring the coffee she came back out with a smile on her face. No matter what happens, darling, always smile, her dad used to tell her. She knew she could not have much dignity left when they were both covered in cinnamon rolls but she held her head up high when she approached Erik, who was surprisingly sitting at Mrs. Landress' table, talking to the older woman. They both turned to look at her and the smile never wavered from Christine's face.

"There you are Chrissy, we were just talking about the fact that you are single and currently unattached!" Mrs. Landress said cheerfully. Christine dropped the coffee cup and it shattered on the floor. Could this day get any worse? She stared down at it. She had never been more embarrassed in her life. This man had to think that she was a simple country twit!

"Here, let me help," Erik said, standing and grabbing a towel from the counter. She bent down beside him to help him pick up the glass pieces and could not meet his gaze. He spoke, saving her from having to say anything.

"I must say, Christine Daae, this has to of been one of the most memorable meetings I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing."

After that it seemed like neither of them could help it; they both burst out laughing...

Author's note: This Christine is not a simple country twit, I have tried to make her smart with a will of her own, but even though she is good around people she often gets shy, which is obviously the case with this scenerio! Please read and review, I really want to know what you all think!