I was told to update soon and I hope this is soon enough! Haha, actually I have these last chapters rolling around in my head so much I am itching to get them written. Only two more chapters to go! Things are about to get craaaazy. I also just noticed that I am almost to 300 reviews! Anyone willing to help me get there? Preeeettty please?
I will also be responding to reviews for the next few chapters.
Phantom Phan Phorever - No worries! I'm glad you are back reviewing now! I thought it would be fun to add a little LND here and there :)
Guest - I will keep going until the end! (Which sadly isn't too far away). That conversion was fun to write, I'm glad you liked it!
newbornphanatic - If you're mad at her now...just wait. I can't wait to read your reaction at the end of this chapter. I know Raoul is not as cool as Erik so I hope you can look past him being a lot of this chapter, but trust me, the rest of the story is all E/C.
Camelot Emrys - Erik IS a badass! Haha, and that's funny cause I couldn't stop grinning while I was writing it ;)
PhantomFan01 - I know it's not a popular opinion but I LOVE the Australian LND. Seriously Ben Lewis' portray is awesome to me. I even love his crazy eyes haha.
Million - If only they were candy...Carlotta's been fun to write, so I'm glad you are liking this version of her!
phangirl2017 - Awww thanks. We are doing better! And you are right...here we go!
Lana groaned, slamming her score sheet on the table in annoyance as Raoul won again. She was going stir crazy from being cooped up in Meg's little apartment all day long. To pass the time until they heard back from Nadir, Meg had suggested playing a few board games. Lana had reluctantly agreed because, honestly, she hadn't had any better ideas. The only problem was, Raoul seemed to be winning every one.
"This is getting ridiculous," she grumbled.
"What can I say?" he grinned, "I have amazing luck," he looked thoughtful for a moment and rubbed his chin,"Maybe I should try my luck at gambling."
Meg wrinkled her nose in distaste, "Please don't. Gambling never ends well. You'll most likely end up drowning your sorrows in some hole in the wall bar, so deep in debt you end up betting away the things you love most."
"Assuming he's capable of love," Lana mumbled.
"What was that?" Raoul requested.
"Oh nothing," Lana smiled.
"Be nice you two," Meg warned.
Raoul stretched his arms lazily over his head, "Oh, we're best of friends Megan, don't worry," he winked at Lana, "Isn't that right, Red?"
"Can you stop calling me that?" Lana demanded.
Raoul grinned crookedly, clearly enjoying her reaction.
Meg was saved from having to once again interfere by the ringing of a cell phone. Lana jumped up.
"It's Nadir!" she happily announced. Preferring a bit of privacy, she answered the phone and wandered into Meg's bedroom.
Raoul looked over at Meg, "Any luck getting a hold of Christine?"
She shook her head, "No, I've been trying all afternoon. She's probably furious at me for not calling her back right away. She's been a bit emotional lately."
Raoul ran his hands through his hair, "Well, things aren't going to get much easier for her if we don't stop what Carlotta has planned tonight."
"We will, it will be OK Raoul."
His eyes locked on hers, "What if we don't get there in time?"
Meg looked away, "We will."
Megs words didn't sound too convincing. The clock on her wall ticked endlessly and Raoul found himself growing more agitated each second Lana did not return with news. Unable to stop himself, he stood up abruptly, "We should just go over there now and warn them both."
Meg stood up as well and gently touched his arm, "We will...after we get the files she's blackmailing you with. If we try to stop her before then, she will know you betrayed her. I don't think your luck is going to do you much good in prison."
Raoul shook her off, "Megan, I still don't get it. Why you would you take the risk of not getting there in time...especially for someone like me?"
"Because you took a risk in coming to us. Besides, I think that Nadir and Lana both know that Christine would want us to help you," she tried to comfort him once more, "You know, she was never happy about the way things ended between the two of you."
This time Raoul didn't shake her off. He found her touch strangely comforting. Instead he looked down at where her hand rested and heard himself confessing, "Neither was I. I think that's why it was so hard for me to let go. I felt like she was stolen from me," he sighed, "but Erik was right, she was never really mine. She had always belonged to him."
Meg laughed, "You have no idea. I used to think she was nuts. I thought she had built up this unrealistic expectation of love that no one would ever meet. I thought maybe it was a way to keep from getting too close to anyone. Oh it got a little better when she met you but I could still see she felt something was missing. When Erik reappeared and I saw them together, I knew everything she had told me was true. They really were made for each other," Meg stopped, realizing what she was saying. She glanced up at Raoul, "Does it bother you to hear this?"
Raoul chuckled, "It's a little bit of a blow to my ego, but no, it doesn't bother me, not anymore."
"I was always a bit jealous of her you know."
Raoul looked a little stunned, "Why on earth would you be jealous?"
Meg's hand dropped to her side and Raoul felt himself missing her touch.
"Well," she confessed, the embarrassment evident in her voice, "I've never had the best of luck with men, I've always seemed to pick the worst ones. I finally got to the point where I decided to swear them off and focus solely on my dancing. I thought maybe if I did, the right one would just magically turn up. Instead, I've just been single the past few years. Christine, on the other hand, never seemed to have a problem. Not only that, all the guys interested in her were always handsome, incredible, and oddly enough, ready to commit, " she cast him an amused look,"That's a rarer combination than you might think."
"Now when you say handsome, I take it present company is included?" Raoul grinned.
Meg rolled her eyes and hid a smile, "Maybe. Anyway, please don't mistake me, I love Christine dearly and have always been happy for her, but seeing the two of you fight so fervently for her," she shrugged, "a girl can't help but hope that someday...someone might feel the same way about her."
She twisted away, unable to meet his eyes. Had she really just confessed that? What was getting into her? She wasn't typically the sentimental type but ever since Raoul had walked into her apartment, she had been blabbing her deepest secrets. He must think she was a complete basket case, or worse desperate! Deciding she had said enough she was startled to feel his hand slipping shyly into her own.
"You have nothing to be jealous about, you know," he murmured.
Meg looked at their interlocked fingers and raised her eyes to meet his, "I don't know why I keep telling you these things, you must think I'm an emotional mess."
Raoul shook his head and smiled, "No, after the kind of people I've been around, you have no idea how refreshing I find your honesty."
He looked like he was about to say something more but they were interrupted by Lana emerging from the bedroom. "Well, everything is set. Nadir should be here in..."
There was a knock on the door. "Now," Lana finished.
Raoul released Meg's hand and went to answer the door. Nadir did not wait to be invited in. He brushed passed Raoul, dropped the bag he was carrying and headed straight for Lana.
"My dear," he said, kissing her hand. He turned to Meg and did the same. Lastly, he eyed Raoul, "So, you've decided to switch sides have you?"
"I wouldn't exactly put it like that but yes, that's the gist of it," Raoul responded defensively.
Nadir walked over to him purposely, all the while keeping his hands behind his back. Raoul stood his ground, and did his best to not look intimidated. Nadir was not a tall man, but he didn't need to be. His intimidation came from the way he carried himself, how he used his hands, and the flash in his eyes. Even the strength in his voice left no doubt he was not a man to be trifled with.
"Let me make something perfectly clear Blondie," Nadir said in a sinister tone, "I have seen things...done things that you couldn't begin to envision, not even in your deepest, darkest nightmares. I am taking Meg's word that we can trust you, but remember, my loyalties have and always will lay with Erik. If you are playing us right now, if this is some sick part of Carlotta's plan, I will make you suffer in ways you can't imagine. Do I make myself clear?"
Raoul felt frozen in fear but somehow managed to nod.
"That's enough," Meg interceded. "Let's stop wasting time and get on with it."
Nadir took one last long look at Raoul and turned around, "Very well," He walked over the bag he had dropped and opened it up. He pulled out two black form fitting suits. He tossed one in Raoul's direction and the other in Meg's.
"Put these on quickly. After you are dressed I will help you put in your earpieces."
"Earpieces?" Meg asked.
"Yes, so we can communicate once you are both inside the apartment."
"Both?! Wait a second," Raoul interrupted, "No way. Meg is not going inside."
"Excuse me?" Meg's eyes widened.
Raoul looked at Meg, "You heard me, Megan. I will be the only one going in."
Nadir folded his arms across his chest, "The plan is for two people to enter her apartment."
"Then find a new plan, or better yet, you take her place. I will not allow her to be put in danger because of me."
"Now allow? We stayed up all night making plans to do exactly this. What did you think was going to happen?!" Meg asked him furiously.
"I don't know," Raoul barked, "But none of it involved you putting yourself at risk! I didn't expect any of this. I just came to do the right thing...I" his voice started to crack, "I...can't put you in jeopardy Megan, not for something that was my fault to begin with."
Meg's hands curled into fists and she glared at Raoul.
"Uh oh," Lana whispered to Nadir, "I've seen this look before."
"Look, I admire your chivalry, Raoul, I really do, but I'm going into that apartment, with or without you."
His eyes turned wild, "You think that's what this is?! Chivalry?!"
Meg raised her chin, "Of course, and I'm done discussing it. I will be in my room changing." She marched toward her bedroom, "I guess you can decide if I'll be doing this alone or not," she added before slamming the door shut.
Lana couldn't help but chuckle at Raoul's expression. "Is she always this stubborn?" he asked her.
"You have no idea," she replied.
"Surely you both agree with me?"
"Meg's a grown woman," Nadir said calmly, "It's her decision."
Realizing he was not going to win, Raoul picked up his suit and stormed into the bathroom, also slamming the door behind him.
Lana looked at Nadir skeptically, "You don't really need two people in that apartment do you?"
"It would certainly help things progress a bit quicker," he stated.
She put her hands on her hips and faced him angrily, "With them or with the plan?"
"I am a man of many objectives, my dear."
Lana placed her hands on her hips and glared, "You remember that he worked for Richard Duvone and helped humiliate Erik at that concert right?"
Nadir reached over and stroked her cheek, "My darling, he was a mixed up kid who had his heart broken, how would you feel if I had done that to you?"
"Shhh," she shooed his hand away, "no one is suppose to know about us yet."
Nadir chuckled, "Meg's a good judge of character, trust her."
Lana only sighed and hoped Nadir was once again correct.
Once Raoul and Meg had finished dressing, Nadir reviewed the entire plan. After making sure everyone knew their part he reminded them, "Raoul and Meg, just stick to the plan and we will be fine. Remember, I can hear everything through your earpieces and vice versa. I have the blueprints to her apartment and will be guiding you each step of the way. Any questions?"
"No," they both said in unison.
"Good luck," Lana added.
A short while later Raoul and Meg had made their way up the fire escape and safely into Carlotta's apartment. Nadir and Lana were parked in a car a few blocks away.
"The easy part is over," Raoul, "now we need to find those files and get the hell out of here."
Meg stared down at the street below, "That was the easy part?"
Raoul adjusted his earpiece, "Nadir," he whispered in the darkness, "we're in. And thanks for this niffty little instrument " he patted his pocket, "I never would have gotten her window open without it. I don't suppose I can keep it?"
"Not a chance, now pay attention Bondie, so far so good. I've tapped into all the neighbors phones and as of now, no calls have been sent out regarding suspicious activity. Now," Nadir instructed through the microphone, "the window you came through should have placed you in kitchen. Take a right through the dinning room and then an immediate left. That should take you right to her office. It's the most obvious place to start."
Meg whipped out her flashlight and shined it through the darkness, "This way."
Raoul tried to make out his surroundings in the darkness. From what he could see the entire apartment was quite stylish though a bit bland. It was decorated with black and white furniture and had an air of coldness about it. Everything he touched looked expensive yet there was no warmth in any of the objects surrounding him.
Meg turned around, "What is this woman's ungodly obsession with cats?"
Raoul looked at her quizzically and Meg pointed her flashlight to a wall covered in lavish pictures of a white Persian cat. There were images of all kinds: water colors, oil paintings, and photographs all depicting what appeared to be the same feline. Meg let her flashlight drop until it landed on a beautiful oak table pushed against the center of the wall. On the table sat a large black and white photograph of the same Persian cat lounging on a luxurious pillow, dressed in a fur coat and decked out with extravagant jewelry.
"Is that even legal?" Meg whispered.
Raoul was about to answer when the flash light moved to the left and revealed a tree shaped hanger lined with dozens of diamond studded collars, all in different colors and textures. Glancing to the other side of the picture, Raoul and Meg were perplexed to see a miniature wardrobe with one door wide open. The open door exposed various cat size hats, coats, shoes, and even wigs.
"You have got to be kidding me," Raoul muttered. He turned to Meg, "Well, if I wasn't afraid of her before, I'm petrified now."
While they both studied the outlandish shrine, Raoul was startled when something soft and furry rubbed against his leg. Jumping up in shock he raced forward knocking Meg straight to the ground.
"Ouch," Meg hollered as Raoul landed right on top of her.
"What on earth are you doing?" she demanded.
Raoul recovered quickly from his shock and raised himself on his elbows. Looking down at her he grinned, "Sorry, I think the object of Carlotta's obsession just attempted to make contact."
"Well my knee is going to make contact with something of yours if you don't get off me."
Raoul grinned even wider, "I'd love to see you try."
She once again tried to stop it but Meg found herself smiling back, "I'd love nothing more then to accept that challenge and make you eat your words, but as we are on a tight schedule, rain check?"
Raoul's smile faded and his face turned soft and more serious, "I'll hold you to that."
"My money is on Meg," came Nadir's voice through their earpieces.
Meg blushed, remembering Nadir and Lana were listening to every word they said.
Enjoying her embarrassment, Raoul smiled once more and reluctantly pushed himself off her. He then held out his hand and pulled her to her feet. Motioning to the left he commented, "I believe her office should be right through there."
Meg turned and followed him in. Sure enough, he was right.
Raoul whispered out instructions, "You take the desk, I'll try the filing cabinets."
"It can't be that obvious," Meg argued, "I think we should start by looking for a hidden safe or something."
Raoul shook his head, "No, trust me, start with the obvious."
Meg looked like she wanted to argue but obeyed and walked over to the enormous mahogany desk. She started opening the stop drawer and stopped.
"Raoul," she practically shouted.
"Shhh," he commanded, "What?"
"You're not going to believe this," she said stunned, "There's a file laying right here with your name on it."
Raoul moved quickly over to where she stood. Taking the file from her hands, he skimmed through the documents inside. His eyes filled with delight and he took a step closer to her. There bodies were side by side as he looked down at her, his hands brushing the hair from her face.
"You did it Meg, this is it."
"I did?" she practically squeaked, his nearness was beginning to affect her once again, "Wait," she cocked her head to the side, "you just called me Meg."
Raoul set the file down and pulled her into his arms, "I did," he murmured as his lips closed softly over hers. Meg stood perfectly still as his mouth coaxed a response from her. Finally realizing he was actually kissing her and she was doing nothing about it, she opened her mouth and allowed him entrance. The kiss deepened but never lost its gentleness. When he at last released her they both looked at one another and smiled.
"We should get out of here," Raoul said softly.
Meg nodded and slipped her hand in his as he led them back to the fire escape. "I can't believe she left it right there," she told him, "I feel like we didn't deserve to find it, like...we should have had to look harder or something."
Raoul raised her hand to his lips, "Sometime what we're looking for can be right in front of us. Then, when we finally open our eyes we wonder...why didn't I it sooner?"
Realizing he was no longer talking about the files, Meg felt her heart flutter.
"Look," Lana's voice boomed in their ears, "as much as I hate to break up the sweet little moment you two are having right now, I need you to confirm you've got what we came for."
"We've got it," Meg whispered, "We're on our way down. Now lets just hope we aren't too late."
Erik was putting the finishing touches on dinner when he heard a knock at the door. His plan was to surprise Christine with a romantic dinner when she got home. He had prepared her favorite dishes and scattered candles and rose petals throughout each room. Soft music was playing in the background and a bottle of sparkling grape juice was chilling on the table. He smiled, grape juice would have to suffice until she was able to enjoy anything stronger again. He had given the staff the week off. He felt he and Christine needed some time alone. Hearing another knock he wondered who could be calling so late. Christine had a key and he hadn't made any appointments. Walking through the dinning room he entered the foyer and opened the door.
His expression turned to stone. "What are you doing here?"
"Erik," Carlotta looked up at him, her eyes filled with tears, "please, may I come in?"
"Absolutely not, I thought I made myself clear this afternoon."
She nodded, pulled out a tissue, and dabbed her eyes, "You did...you did. But, you also asked for a confession, that's why I'm here."
Erik looked skeptical, "You've come to confess?"
"Yes," she whispered, breaking into sobs.
Erik grew uncomfortable. He really had not expected her to show up in such a state.
"Please, let me come in. I will tell you everything."
Erik thought long and hard. If this was some kind of trick, he wanted no part in it. Besides, he was in his house, alone. If she was really ready to tell him everything, it would be safer for her to do it tomorrow morning in his office.
He was just about to tell her so when he heard her whisper "I can tell you the real reason your father never loved you. It wasn't because of your face, there is more he never told you."
If she had been attempting to get his attention, she succeeded. "And you know this how?"
"I was his girlfriend for a long time Erik, he told me everything."
Erik found the temptation to much to resist. He had to know what she knew. If this was all nonsense he would kick her out in a heartbeat. He moved to the side and motioned for her to come in. He led her to the study and gestured for her to sit. He then walked over to the bar and poured himself a drink.
"You better make this quick, my wife is due home soon and I want you long gone by the time she walks through that door."
Carlotta sniffled a bit more and solemnly nodded. "Of course," she said. "I don't suppose you have any more tissues? I'm afraid I've used my last one and I'd rather not blow my nose on your curtains."
"I'll be right back," he growled, "And when I return, you better start talking." Erik set his drink down and left the room.
Carlotta raced across the room to where Erik's drink sat. She took out a small white pill from her pocket, dropped it his scotch and watched until it dissolved completely. She then quickly returned to her original spot and forced a few more fake tears to the surface.
When Erik returned he practically threw the box of Kleenex at Carlotta. "There," He walked over to his glass and downed it in one gulp. Pouring himself another he glared, "Now, tell me about my father."
Carlotta's tears vanished and she sneered victoriously. "My dear Erik, I'm afraid I do have a little confession, but not the one you had hoped for."
Erik narrowed his eyes as he felt the room start to spin.
"You see...I lied. Your father really did hate you because of your face. How could he not? I threw up the moment you left my office. It was revolting."
Erik tried to make his way to the couch but felt himself stumbling.
"Here," he heard Carlotta murmur, "Let me help you."
He tried to push her away but found himself too weak to do anything. His vision was also starting to blur though he could vaguely make out Carlotta looming above him. He cringed as he felt her lips brush his ear.
"Poor stupid monster. I have been waiting for this moment ever since you sent my only love to prison. I will do anything to see Richard Duvone's wish fulfilled. And do you know what that wish is?" She spoke breathlessly, as if she found the words incredibly seductive, "To ruin your life."
Erik felt burst of strength and attempted to fight the drug like state he was slipping into to. Carlotta jumped back as he attempted to stand. It was no use though, the drugs were quickly winning. He fell back against the couch and grabbed his head.
"What are you going to do with me?" he choked out.
Carlotta smiled, "It's not what I'm going to do with you as much as what we are going to do together...at least what it will look like we've done together." She laughed menacingly.
"If I timed everything right, you will wake back up the very moment your pretty little wife walks through that door. She will no doubt be in for the shock of her life to find her husband and another woman in a...lets just say less than delicate position."
"She'll never...buy it," he managed to gasp.
"Oh, I will make it look convincing...don't you worry. Now, enjoy your sleep my lover, it's the last bit of peace you'll have before I ruin your life forever."
Against his will, Erik felt his eye lids start to close. He fought to stay awake as long as he could but the last sound he remembered before passing out was Carlotta's high pitched cackle echoing in his ears.
30 minutes later...
Christine was exhausted. After her prenatal swimming class she had decided to do some shopping. She picked out a couple of new shirts for Erik. She had set a plan in motion a while back where she would slowly sneak some color into his wardrobe little by little. Still, she had to be sneaky about it. She had also bought herself a new cell phone and a maternity negligee, in Erik's favorite color, black. She might look completely ridiculous wearing it, but she was determined to end their lack of intimacy tonight. Taking her keys out of her purse she juggled her various bags and unlocked the front door. Walking into the foyer she called out Erik's name. She saw candlelight coming from the dinning room and heard music echoing through the halls. Rose petals lined the hallway. She beamed. Erik must have had the same thing on his mind. Setting her bags down in the hall she practically floated toward the dinning room. That is when she heard a voice coming from the study.
"Shhh...Erik, I didn't think you're wife would be home until later!"
Startled, Christine changed her direction and approached the study door. She saw the flicker of candlelight and noticed the door was slightly ajar. Curious as to what Erik could be up to, she pushed hard until the door swung completely open. Taking a look inside she gasped. There entangled on the couch, clothed in practically nothing, lay her husband and the woman she hated most in the world, Carlotta.
To Be Continued...