A/N: Oh boy did I go AWOL this time. I am so bad at this updating regularly thing and I am so very sorry you have to wait so long on me! Just know that no matter how long it takes in between each chapter, I will always be back! I will continue to try and juggle my crazy life to do this!
I hope you enjoy after such a long hiatus!
Chapter 11: Inside Out
"That was Antoinette." Erik explained, sitting back down in the armchair he had occupied earlier.
Christine's heart sank. How would she tell her about Meg? As if he read her thoughts, Erik turned to her.
"She has already been contacted by Meg." He said simply.
"What?" Christine asked, shocked. Erik nodded.
"She was being fed what to say of course. Antoinette said that she sounded completely terrified." He said, staring at the phone.
"What did she say Erik?" Christine got up off of the bed and hurried over to where Erik sat. Kneeling at his side she grasped his hand. Erik remained silent.
"Erik, I know you're trying to shield me from something. You were speaking to Antoinette in French. A thing you rarely do, and I'm not so daft as to not pick up on it. Please tell me what has happened now." She asked.
He turned to look down at her, and ran his hand down her jaw line. His lips formed a tight line as he contemplated how to tell her what he had to say next.
"It just so happens that that psychopath has discovered that you are on tour with me. Somehow or another, he was able to find out that you were singing backup in our show. Don't ask me how, considering I am not that well known in the United States. He was able to get out of Meg that her mother was my manager and the sick bastard's wheels began turning." He said angrily.
Christine searched his hard face for answers, waiting for him to continue.
"He wants you for Meg. No police." He said. Christine bit the inside of her cheek.
"Me? Why me?" Christine asked, dumbstruck.
Erik looked at her seriously, taking one of her hands in his.
"Because he is obsessed with you, that is why. He has not gotten over it during his current stint in prison and wants everyone to suffer until he gets what he wants."
Christine looked down at the thick carpeting, contemplating her next move.
"I guess that we should arrange for the exchange." She said, voice thick with fear.
"The hell we will! Christine, this is not up for negotiation. There will be no bargain. I will not turn you over to a murderer." He said roughly, shocked that she would even consider that to be an option.
"Erik, those are his terms! Me for Meg! She hasn't done anything and should not be in the middle of this, and neither should you! She is my friend, and I will do what I have to to protect her." Christine said sternly.
Erik's visible eyebrow narrowed at her.
"I said this is not up for negotiation. Antoinette and I are working something out. You will not be turned over like a form of payment. And that is the end of this conversation. We will get Meg back, but not at the cost of you."
Christine opened and closed her mouth again. She knew better than to argue with him. She looked down at her knees, trying to figure out what she should do.
"I owe it to Antoinette, Christine. It's not your fault he found out who I was. "he said, soothing her with his rich voice. They were silent for a few moments, Erik simply looking at her with worried eyes.
"What is your plan?" Christine asked, placing her hand atop his knee. Erik covered her small hand with own and gave it a light squeeze.
"Meg's...his instructions were for you to be brought to the final performance of the tour back in Paris, at the Opera House. Only then, would Meg be returned to our care." He said darkly.
Christine's mouth dropped, horrified. She stood up quickly.
"Erik, no! The tour isn't going to return to Paris for another two weeks! God knows what he will do with her between now and then!" She cried.
Erik stood up, his dark figure looming over her.
"Yes, Christine I know. I am worried too, but that is the best we can do for now." He said, his eyes searching hers. Christine bit back another sob.
"So what will we do?" She asked, hugging her own body close. Erik stood strong in front of her.
"We shall return to France and continue the rest of the tour. No one must suspect anything. If the police get involved, I fear for Meg's safety."
Christine nodded, wiping angrily at a tear.
"The police told me to stick close by." She offered softly.
Erik shook his head. "I think your presence in the city is the least of their worries for now. If it will please you, we can have them informed that you are in protective custody until he has been found."
"I'll go and pack my things." She whispered, turning back to her closet. Erik sighed and exited the room to give her a moment alone. He strode through the living room and back to his own quarters. He sat down on the bed and pulled his phone from his pocket. He looked at it for a moment before pressing numbers on the keypad and placing the device to his ear.
"Antoinette, it's me again." The woman sighed.
"What has she decided?" Antoinette asked softly. Erik pitied Antoinette for the hard time she would have to endure during this ordeal. Even when her only child was missing, she still tried to pretend she was made of steel.
"Christine shall return to France with me, I will go and book the two of us a flight tonight" He said softly.
"I have already done so, dear. I shall have you picked up in Paris when you arrive. You are to take the 3'o clock red eye from New York. You have two hours I do believe." She answered. Erik smiled into the phone. Still mothering him.
"Did you tell Christine about his bargain?" She asked. Erik's heart dropped down to his toes. He gripped the phone tightly in his hand.
"Only what she needed to know, Antoinette." He said darkly. He could just see her glaring at the phone.
"Erik, she will find out soon enough, you cannot protect her from everything!" Antoinette sighed. Erik clenched one of his fists.
"The hell I can't!" Erik growled.
"Keep your voice down!" Antoinette hissed. "She needs to be aware that that man is not just after money Erik. He swore that if he couldn't have Christine, no one could. The man is mad Erik!" Antoinette cried. Erik bit his lip.
"I know. I wish there were some other way." He whispered.
"Erik, she needs to be on her guard, but she has to come back to France for Meg's sake." Antoinette said softly. Erik shut his eyes tightly.
"I don't know if I can bring her back on stage with me."
"What? Why?" Antoinette asked. Erik shook his head.
"Do you realize how much danger that would be putting her in? I could not live with myself if I willingly put Christine in harm's way." He growled.
"Don't you back out on me like this Erik! You said yourself that Christine had to perform or the press would think something was up! She's become a part of the show! I care about Christine too, but she's the key! Think of my daughter Erik!" Erik slammed his fist down on the night stand beside him.
"Dammit, I won't see her placed in danger!" He roared.
Antoinette remained silent, and Erik heard a bag hit the ground behind him. He whirled around to see Christine standing behind him, confusion written on her face. Erik cursed and told Antoinette that he would be in France at the designated time. Shoving the phone back into his pocket, he stood to face her.
"Christine..." He began. She shook her head.
"You don't have to protect me Erik." She whispered. Erik cursed himself again.
"How much did you hear?" He asked.
"Enough to know that Alex has somehow threatened me as well and you won't let me back on stage." She said, crossing her arms over her chest.
"Christine, I cannot allow it." He said firmly, standing tall over her. She glared up at him.
"Erik, Meg could die if we make one false move. I refuse to sacrifice her for my own skin!" She cried. Erik's eyes flashed and he threw his arms about her, hauling her deadly close to his face.
"I will not let you do this. I will not lose you Christine." He growled. Christine stared into his molten eyes and shook her head sadly.
"It's not your place to decide what I should do Erik. I need to do this for Meg. Please understand. I won't do anything stupid, but I cannot risk Alex's temper to flare because I'm not following his instructions." She said softly, touching his visible cheek.
Erik shut his eyes and took a deep breath.
"You will not listen to me will you?" He asked, eyes still closed. Christine searched his pained features.
"When it comes to another human life...no I will not." She said defiantly. Erik opened his eyes and shook his head.
"Then let us return."