These characters are mine, except Erik who belongs solely to Gaston Leroux and Andrew Lloyd Webber. But I do have a special edition DVD that...sigh...is all mine.
I recommend reading Under the French Sky before trying to make sense of this madness. These side stories will hopefully not be very long, and I intend to do three of them. One for Mirela, one for Lily, and one for Jackson. Wish me luck! And happy reviewing!
Under the Gypsy Sun
Rand decided after one month that being in love was a pain. First, his love – Mirela – lived in Paris. Second, he had two teenagers living under his roof that did not allow for him to romance his love, and a farm that required more attention than he wanted to give. He missed her. After only knowing her for one week, he knew he was in love, and he had to see her again.
After Erik and Susanna cleared up matters with the Prefect in Guinevere Allard's death, Erik moved into the home that he had built in memory of his mother. So near it was to Susanna and Henri's cottage, he was able to see Elisabeth and Daniel every day, and assume the role of soon to be father. And in his astounding new confidence in himself, he offered to let Eli and Daniel stay with him while Susanna took Rachel and Elisabeth, giving Rand time to travel to Paris, just once to see Mirela.
Of course things did not go as planned, and Erik ended up with both boys while Rachel clung to him tenaciously all the way to Paris. As terrifying as it was to leave her home, she absolutely would not let him leave without her.
Eli would tend to the farm during his brief stay, and he prayed that he was leaving it in capable hands.
"Uncle Rand, do you think she wants to see us?" Rachel asked worriedly as the carriage drew to a halt in front of a massive stone house.
"Why certainly," Rand said, flashing her a smile. Though plagued with doubt at the same time. He had not given Mirela notice that he would be arriving. And likely it was going to come as a shock. But he was taking a chance that what they had shared in Artenay was real.
Unless Guin had bashed him over the head harder than he thought, he was almost certain that it was real. He loved her. Hopefully she loved him.
"Why did she leave without saying goodbye?" Rachel asked, for the thousandth time. "She didn't even let me know she was leaving."
"Rachel, she was frightened. And there are things that she cannot speak about, just as there are things you cannot speak about," Rand said gently. "But she did care about us. Mirela has a great heart. Just like you."
"And you," Rachel said softly.
Rand opened the door of the carriage and helped his niece out. "Then let's go see her, and find out precisely what she has been doing the past month."
They walked up the steps and Rand rapped on the door lightly, looking down at Rachel and blowing air out through his teeth in anticipation. He could not wait to see her dark eyes light up...and hopefully they would. It was like a pain in his stomach when the door opened to a dour faced woman, who stared at him, then at Rachel with disgust.
"I beg your pardon?" Rand gaped at her. "I am here to see Madame Purram. Is she available."
"No. Now off with you," she scowled.
"Does she live here?" Rand asked persistently, trying to see beyond the doors. "Mirela? Mirela?"
He called her name, and louder when the woman tried to push against his chest. "Monsieur, you must leave," she demanded, her eyes growing anxious.
Rand felt a thread of fear that something had happened to her, and grasped the woman by the shoulders. "You will take me to her now, or I will find a gendarme," he growled.
Her eyes widened, and he set her away from the door. Grabbing Rachel's hand, he tugged her through the door then shut it, locking the woman outside. She must have been startled at first, because it took her several moments to realize what happened.
She began beating on the door, and likely would summon a gendarme herself with all the racket she made.
"What is going on?"
Rand turned, his heart in his throat at the sound of her voice. "Mirela."
"Hello," Rachel said politely, stepping up beside her uncle to peer at the woman standing at the top of the stairs.
"Rachel," she whispered, then a hesitant smile crept on her face. "My goodness."
"Are you alright?" Rand asked slowly above the pounding behind him. "That woman tried to get rid of me. Am I...intruding?"
"No." She smiled, then came down the stairs quickly and opened the door.
"Madame! This man, he locked me outside!" The woman exclaimed, giving Rand a heated glare. "I will summon a gendarme, after I have thrown him from your home!"
Mirela smiled. "It's alright, Vida. This is Rand Vallee. The man from Artenay."
The woman fell silent, appraising him, then she smiled as well. "Ah. I will leave you then, my lady. But if he gives you problems, I will still throw him out," she said, then marched off with her nose in the air.
Rand said nothing, because he had not taken his eyes off Mirela.
"Uncle Rand wanted to see you," Rachel whispered, giving her a shy smile. "So did I."
"Then I am glad you came," Mirela said softly, feeling her heart flutter inside.
"You said we could visit," he stated, quite obviously.
"I did," she responded. Then finally looked back to Rachel. "You will turn fifteen soon, won't you Rachel?"
Rachel's heart bloomed inside. "You remembered?"
"Of course. And you have finished another school year under Madame Allard. Soon you will be looking for a husband, yes?"
"No. And it will be Madame Dessain. Or Talbot. Erik hasn't decided yet," Rachel said quietly.
"Talbot, I think," Rand put in. "He wants to accept his father in all ways, and put the past behind him."
"That's wonderful," Mirela said, then led them into a small sitting room. "And how are Erik and Susanna?"
"Doing beautifully. They are getting married in two months. Henri, that's Susanna's father, is not doing so well. After the wedding he is planning on taking a long trip. Perhaps he will run into Jackson while he's traveling, though we have no idea where the boy has gone."
"He just left? He seemed eager to leave Paris once he accompanied me here," Mirela mused aloud. "But he didn't say where he was going."
"Erik received a letter from him a few days ago, but he did not specify his location, nor did he indicate where he was headed," Rand said, then sighed. "He will find out soon that there is no place like home."
"And how have you been?" Mirela asked, looking directly at Rand this time.
"I must confess to bouts of melancholy, and an occasional encounter with whiskey," he replied, half teasing. "I was wondering if I might take you and Rachel somewhere this evening. Perhaps to a ballet? I'm not entirely certain what you might enjoy."
"A play," she said quickly. "I do enjoy those."
"So do I," Rachel beamed.
Rand smiled. "Then it's a date."
Meanwhile, back in Artenay, France:
Erik and Eli lifted the last bed frame up the stairs to the house, each of them grunting and sweating in the warm house. Finding it constraining, Erik had quietly removed his mask long ago to try and dispel some of the heat of the day. Eli had said nothing, though whenever Daniel was in the vicinity he placed it back on. Daniel had seen him without it twice, and it always led to tons of questions.
Not that he minded answering them anymore, but they were the same questions over and over again.
Does it hurt?
Can I touch it?
Does it come off?
And Erik's favorite: Can I have one too?
Usually those questions were repeated when someone important came to visit, instead of the actual time when the mask was off. Such as Reverend Lewis and his wife, or the new schoolteacher that had been hired to replace Henri and Susanna.
"You got it?" Eli asked, straining to push up the stairs.
"Yeah. You?" Erik returned, trying to move the massive headboard up and around the corner of the landing.
And so they climbed, carefully up the stairs. It had never bothered Erik to be in this house, although Susanna had reservations at first. But she had fell in love with her new kitchen, and was in the process of making curtains for every window in the house. And Erik spent most of his time moving furniture now that the painting was finished.
"Now be careful!" Susanna called, waiting in the bedroom with the bed rails and the rest of the bed. "Do not scratch my bed, Eli Vallee, or I will have your hide. And Erik! Don't drop it! Don't drop it!"
"I'm not dropping it," he grunted, even as it slid down his leg and nearly cut off his toe. "I'm setting it down. Quickly."
Susanna sighed, dutifully inspecting each inch of her new bed. "You should have been more careful. I see a scratch."
"There is no scratch," Erik said tightly, glaring at her.
"Right there," she pointed, arching her brow. "See it?"
"That is part of the wood grain," he responded.
Eli shook his head and scooted the bed to the proper place along the wall, then left them alone. Such arguing was normal between them, and it was time for a glass of lemonade.
"It is not part of the wood grain," Susuanna argued.
Erik kissed her.
"It's still scratched," she managed, trying to breathe.
"Susanna." He nuzzled her neck, then kissed her jawline. "Stop nagging. Or we will never get this bed in place."
He placed both his hands on her bottom and squeezed, pulling her flush against him. "Nagging," he replied, giving her a slow smile. "If you want to take a more active part in this process, perhaps it will be better suited for when the bed is up. Then you may order me about as you please."
"Oh," she whispered, then he tugged on her lips with his teeth. "Perhaps I will enjoy that role."
Erik smiled, then kissed her deeply.
"Not as much," he said gravely, "as I."
Should I include all three stories under one heading? Or make them into three seperate stories? They will not be told at the same time, so it is up to you, reviewers! And I hope you like these. They are mostly to encourage my third person skills, so I hope you will read and review!