Summary: Based off the story from the movie Indecent Proposal. When Count Raoul de Chagny discovers, three weeks before his wedding to the beautiful Christine Daae that he has lost all of his money he is faced with a terrible predicament. But when the reclusive Lord Erik Rochford, a hermit among the London society, proposes the most dangerous and dishonorable ultimatum, Raoul has to make the hardest decision. The ultimatum: Give Christine to Erik on her wedding night.
Love and Secrets
"Oh, Raoul, look at this dress!" Christine exclaimed as she showed off a beautiful, white gown to her fiancée.
Raoul looked up from his desk stacked with papers and gazed at his young fiancée and her beautiful, expensive wedding dress.
"Oh, yes, Christine, it's beautiful."
Christine smiled and spun the dress around in front of him like an ecstatic little girl.
"I think this is the one, Raoul. I think I'm going to wear this for the wedding."
"Oh, well, Christine, it looks very expensive," Raoul said shakily.
"Oh. Is that a problem, Raoul? I mean, I don't have to get the dress. There are others…"
"No. No, Christine," Raoul responded quickly. "The dress is gorgeous and you should absolutely buy it."
Christine's worry vanished and was replaced with a smile. "Good."
Raoul kept smiling until his beautiful Christine left his office. He wanted to be happy and excited for his future bride. He wanted to be excited to see Christine in that beautiful white dress and wanted to be excited for when he got to take it off of her. But instead all he could think about was the giant stacks of paper on his desk; the piles of bad news. Letters, account information, al from his brother, Gaston.
Gaston was a gambling, drinking, womanizing child who had squandered all of their inheritance. When their father, Count Leopold de Chagny, a wonderful, honorable, and wealthy man, died, he had left all of his fortunes to his sons. Gaston had been sixteen at the time, but until a year ago, on Gaston's twenty-first birthday, he had taken his inheritance fortune and spent all of it. Whores, gambling, alcohol, parties; he had used all of his money on frivolous, trivial vices. Broke, Gaston crawled back to Raoul and begged him for some loans; promising to spend his money wisely and dedicate himself to work and settling down. Every month Gaston had asked Raoul for more to help him with his "business". And Raoul had fallen for it, not knowing what was really going on with his brother until a month ago. His brother had used all of Raoul's loans, all of Raoul's inheritance just to squander it again. Now, Raoul was ruined too.
Raoul had no idea what he was going to do. He was three weeks away fro marrying his wonderful and beautiful fiancée, who had no idea that she was marrying a destitute pauper. He didn't know how to tell her or when. What if she left him? What if she called off the wedding and never spoke to him again? It seemed incredibly unlikely that Christine would ever do such a thing, but there was still a chance.
Christine loved Raoul more than anything. She adored Raoul; she would do anything for him. But at the same time Christine was young, not even eighteen yet, and so beautiful. If Raoul told her he would barely be able to take care of her, she could easily leave and find another man eager to marry her. Eligible men all over the ton would jump at the opportunity to be with Christine. What man wouldn't want beautiful and sweet and innocent Christine?
Raoul looked at the papers in front of him in frustration and swept them away from him. He didn't want to think about his problems at the moment; he wanted to be happy and enjoy the weeks following up to his wedding. It was a time to celebrate and be excited, not worried.
Raoul left his office and decided to instead prepare for the ball at Lord Richmond's house. His fiancée was excited for the evening and he wanted to spend it with her.
Christine sucked in her breath carefully as the maid tied her corset tightly. The maid was as gentle as she could be, but the corset was brutal. Christine was lucky to be graced with a thin frame, but the clothing still pushed hard on her ribcage. The corset was however, worth it in the long run, for the dress that would go over it was magnificently beautiful. It was a lovely, light shade of pink with white gloves and a fan and delicate shoes. She was excited to wear the dress and see Raoul's reaction when he saw her in it. Christine frowned, however, when she realized Raoul would not be the only one admiring her.
She had pushed it to the back of her mind since the last time she had seen him, but tonight she knew she would have to see him again. He usually came to the same parties.
His name was Lord Erik Rochford; she had found out a few weeks ago when she had last seen him. She had noticed his gaze for a few months at the balls and parties, unnerved by penetrating stare. It seemed wherever she went he was there watching. He was so intimidating, so silent. He barely talked to anyone or danced with anyone, he just stared at her with his mesmerizing eyes. He dressed finely with expensive, tailored capes and suits and kept his black hair kept trim and neat, close to him. But what was most fascinating about him was his mask. He wore a white mask that covered a quarter of the left side of his face, leaving the rest of his face exposed.
"Some say his face was burnt from a candle during a brawl with a lover," Christine's dear and trusted friend Meg had told her one day.
"Others think it was from the war; a battle wound. No one has ever seen it and no one dares to ask him."
Christine was intrigued by the mystery of why he wore a mask and wanted to know why, but every time she saw him she felt afraid. He frightened her with his deep gaze and his unmoving eyes. His gaze was far too intimate and sensual. She felt so vulnerable and naked in his gaze.
Christine came to from her thoughts and looked up at her maid, who held the beautiful dress in front of her.
"Would you like me to help you with putting it on now?" the shy maid asked sweetly.
Christine smiled for the maid and nodded as the young girl lifted the dress over her head.
"Master Raoul will love you in this dress, Miss," the maid chattered innocently.
Christine smiled at the mention of her handsome fiancée. "I hope so."
"Oh, he will," the maid assured her. "You are so lucky, Miss, to be marrying such a fine, handsome man. He is ever the gentleman."
Christine blushed; giddy at all the talk of her beloved. She was lucky and she was grateful that God had blessed her so much. One day she had been a poor orphan and now she was the future bride of a wealthy, fantastic, handsome viscount.
The carriage arrived in front of Lord Richmond's house right on time. The guests were all coming and stepping out in their elegant gowns and tailored suits. The pathway was decorated with the most beautiful arrangement of flowers and lights, all leading up to the front door. Christine stepped out of the carriage with the help of Raoul and took his arm. He smiled at her and they both walked to the door, arm in arm, looking refined and fitting.
The inside of the house was just as dazzling as the walkway. The room was covered in opulent Greco-Roman pillars and sparkling white walls. The ballroom was already filled with an array of dancers as a band of musicians played light arias in the corner. Everyone looked beautiful and everything was perfect. The young couple couldn't help but smile at the extravagant display of beauty.
"Oh, my dear Viscount," the elder and host Lord Richmond greeted to Christine and Raoul. He was an older man with a gray beard and a fatherly voice.
"My Lord Richmond," Raoul responded, shaking hands warmly with the good man.
"Oh, and to see your beautiful fiancé. Always a pleasure to see you, child," Lord Richmond greeted Christine as he lightly kissed her hand.
"Oh, thank you, sir," Christine replied.
"Please, my dears do enjoy your selves tonight."
Raoul took Christine and they mingled among the guests, chatting and discussing. Christine found Meg and they talked about Christine's impending marriage and Meg's offers and Christine's dress. Raoul talked with his male companions about business, money, investments, all while Raoul tried to avoid his own business struggles. He was going to talk about it with Lord Richmond, but after the party.
"Oh, Christine, you look so lovely. Every time I see you you're more and more beautiful. New gowns, beautiful jewelry. I envy the happiness that makes you glow so much," Meg endeared to her friend as they walked through the party, taking sips from their champagne.
"Meg, it feels surreal. I keep expecting any moment to wake up and find it all a dream."
"No, no, it's all very real. You are just incredibly lucky. After years of suffering you are finally getting your happiness."
Christine smiled and squeezed her friend's hand lightly. Meg's mother and father had been the reason she was where she was. When her parents had died Meg's parents had taken her in and raised her as their own. She had spent wondrous years with the Girys, growing up with Meg and having lovely surrogate parents. And until a year ago when Master Giry had died, everything had been perfect. Now it was perfect again.
"Oh, it's Lord Rochford," Meg suddenly whispered. "I swear he is like a phantom."
Christine looked up at the name of Lord Rochford and felt herself shudder as she saw the man looking straight at her, as if through her soul. He stood in the shadows, blanketed by the dark, but still visible. His intense eyes looked back at her, penetrated hers. He held a god chain and fingered it in his hands as he watched her, never dropping his gaze.
"He won't stop looking at you," Meg whispered. Christine tried to lower her gaze and look away but could still feel his eyes on her.
Raoul looked toward his young fiancé and her good friend and smiled. Christine looked so beautiful in her dress, so innocent, so perfect. But her lovely face looked troubled as she and Meg whispered among each other and kept glancing to the walls. He looked up, back near the shadows and saw a man standing, watching. He seemed to be watching Christine.
Raoul looked at the way the man was watching his Christine. He knew that look. It was a hungry look, one that a lion would give its prey. Every man knew that look of desire, wanton, obsession. As well, it was common for men to look at Christine lustfully, but this was different. This man wanted Christine. He looked like he was planning to take Christine.
"Richmond, who is that man?" Raoul asked his friend, nonchalantly pointing to the man in the shadows.
"Oh, Lord Erik Rochford. He is extremely wealthy, but mostly keeps to himself."
"Is he married?"
"No, he is a bachelor, although he has made no offers for any women in the past few years."
"How old is he?"
"Why? What is the sudden fascination with him?"
"Just curious," Raoul tried to reply innocently.
"I believe he is about thirty-five."
An older man, Raoul thought; much older than his own twenty-four years. The man was also bigger, at least six feet three with broad shoulders and a strong chest. The man looked like he could have been a soldier. He looked like he could kill anyone.
Raoul wallowed, knowing that Lord Rochford was far more wealthy than Raoul and far more strong and large; probably more experienced. Raoul would be no match for the man if it came down to it.
As the party slowed down and the hour became late, people began to leave and Christine left with the Girys to go home. She kissed Raoul good-bye and promised to see him in the morning and meet for tea. He smiled at her and kissed her back and squeezed her hand.
Raoul went to Lord Richmond's office after the party had ended and everyone had left. He sat with his good friend and had a drink.
"What brings you here, my friend?" Lord Richmond asked once they situated themselves and Raoul sat across from his desk.
"Lord Richmond," Raoul breathed out, "I am in dire trouble. I have no money."
Richmond looked up from his drink, utterly confused; the laughter gone from his eyes. "What?"
"Gaston has taken all of our money, all of our inheritance and squandered it. He has left us with nothing. I'm finished."
"Raoul, how is that…that…possible?"
"Gaston had spent all of his own inheritance and then came to me, asking for help, so I did. Instead of helping, however, I unknowingly just kept giving him money to throw away. Now he has left me with nothing."
Lord Richmond slumped into his chair and sighed a long, heavy sigh of a man with no idea of where to turn.
"Have you filed for bankruptcy?" Richmond finally asked.
"Not publicly. You're the first to know. I have not even told Christine."
"Well, this is a precarious issue. I understand why you've been cautious, especially during your engagement."
"What do I do?"
"Do you need money? Loans?"
"Would it be horrible of me to ask?"
"No, Raoul. I will give you a loan and you will pay off your brother's debts and make some more smart investments. Choose wisely and do not give your brother any more money. He cannot be trusted."
"Yes. Thank you, my lord. You are a dear friend. And I will be sure to repay you."
"When you are ready."
"Yes, when I am ready."
Lord Richmond smiled and wrote a check for his desperate friend.