Author's Note: I don't own "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You" byElvis Presley.

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The Silver Stage

Chapter 10

When the current fell on the stage and the diva took her final bow to start the play, Christian moved to meet her backstage. He wanted to wish her luck and put his mind at ease. He was still disturbed by the thought that she might be cheating him, but now after seeing her and receiving her recognition it all seemed ridiculous. His little nymph would never betray him. He had faith in her. He believed in their love. Yes, Abigail had restored his conviction. Yes, love was once again a many splendid thing!

Though, oddly as he opened her dressing room he noticed that it wasn't the same space he had conducted their interview. Instead, he found himself in some weird looking gypsy den. There were beads everywhere and burning herbs in a caldron. There were pictures of tarot cards and bits of dead animals all over the place. It was creepy.

"Oh! What are you doing here?" questioned a woman in costume at the vanity.

She was dressed in a period gown and had on her had a lovely blond wig. Embarrassed and shocked, Christian said, "Oh, I beg your pardon, Miss but I'm looking for Ms. Nightingale. Have you seen her?"

The woman stood up and shouted, "I'm Ms. Nightingale! Now, get out of my dressing room!"

"What? But that's can't be. You're not Ab—"

"OUT!" shrieked the woman. She shoved him out and slammed the door.

Meanwhile, in the hall the Duke's servant man saw the whole thing from a distance. He narrowed his brow and assumed that the writer was up to no good again. He assumed he was also courting Ms. Nightingale. He decided to find him and teach him a lesson.

Though, just behind the stage Abigail was leaving to change. She couldn't let Mr. Jenkins see her this way. She had to meet him at the box. However, as she was walking she bumped into the Duke. Startled, she exclaimed, "Oh! Good heavens, please excuse me, sir."

The Duke glared at her and grabbed her wrist in a vice grip and seethed, "No! You are mine! I won't have you having a fling with that writer."

Abby tried to break free, but his grip was too strong. "What are you talking about? Let me go!"

Viciously, the Duke grabbed her other wrist and trapped her in his embrace. He looked at her intensely and peered into her eyes behind her crescent moon mask. Darkly, he said, "Oh, don't play stupid with me, darling. I know you and that writer have a thing. I know you have been two-timing me, you whore!"

"What! I don't know what you're saying!"

Abby tried again to pull away from the crazy Duke, but he wouldn't budge. He instead started to drag her away. Fearful, Abigail began to struggle and cried out for help.

"No! Let go of me! Help! Help! Somebody help!"

Concerned, Cherie bolted across the stage in her costume and said, "Hey! Monsieur, what are you doing to the diva?"

"It's none of you're business!" shouted the Duke. "It's a matter between me and the lady. Now, go and do you're silly play."

Irked, Cherie halted him by grabbing onto his arm and said, "No, you must let her go. She must change her costume."

"Back off!"

The Duke knocked Cherie away and she landed on her back. She hit the back of her head onto one of the support beams and was let dizzy. Frightened for her friend, Abby redoubled her efforts to break free. She managed to twist out from his grip and rushed to check on Cherie.

"No, Cherie!"

Abigail checked her head and eased her onto the ground. The sound of the commotion got the attention of the other members of the stage and they all paused to help too. Christian followed the crowd and noticed that the diva was in the middle of it. He called out her name, "Nightingale!" and dashed to see what was wrong.

The Duke saw the diva immediately react to the sight of him. She raced to Christian arms and hugged. The writer hushed her and rubbed her back. He saw that she was all right and he was greatly relieved. He was afraid that something might have happened to her.

"Oh, Abby. Are you all right?"

"I'm fine. It's Cherie. That madman came out of nowhere and started harassing me."

"Man? What man?"

"That man!"

Abigail pointed to where the Duke had been, but saw that in the mist of the confusion he had disappeared. Everyone seemed baffled about what to do. It wasn't until Mr. Fits, the stage manager started clapping his hands that got everyone's attention.

Annoyed, he said, "Great Shakespeare! We've got a play to perform! The show must go on!"

In a matter of minutes, the stagehands and actors began to reorganize. They started working again and set up the opening act. Though, nobody seemed to notice that the Duke was still close by. He was furious to know that Christian was once again stealing yet again what was rightfully his. Enraged, he pulled out his gun from his coat and decided to settle this matter once and for all.

Unexpectedly, he fired a shot into the air. The actors and workers screamed and ducked for over at the sound. All eyes turned towards the Duke. He pointed the gun at Christian and began to shake with pent up rage and fear.

"You! It's was always you! You're always trying to steal my property!"

Dumbfounded, the writer stared at the gun and then the Duke. It was clear that the man was on edge. He slowly raised his hands and said, "Don't. Don't do this. Don't shoot."

The Duke roared, "Don't tell me what to do! Wasn't it bad enough that you took the first one away from me! Why do you have to steal my turtledove too! Why can't you leave us alone! Why can't you let her love me!"

Confused, Abby said, "Love? Christian what is he talking about?"

The Duke smirked, "Oh, so he hasn't told you. He hasn't told you about the first one—he hasn't told you about Satine. You are not the first. You're just his next harlot."

Abigail turned to face beloved and said, "Christian? Is this true? You two have fought over a woman before?"

Christian lowered his glaze and then replied, "Yes…"

"But, you said you used to work for this man. You said you quit. You said it was some sort of disagreement."

"Yes, the disagreement was over a woman named Satine. She was his courtesan and I was the man she loved."

Devastated, brown-eyed beauty wasn't sure what she should be feeling. Christian was in love with a courtesan? She just couldn't seem to wrap her head around that fact. She couldn't image him in love with anybody else. She just couldn't image him involved with people that like.

Shaking her head, she stepped back from him and said, "No, no you—you never said. You lied to me. Why?"

Christian tried to hold her hand, but she pulled away. "No! I get it. You—you loved this woman. You loved somebody else, I understand. I get that, but why didn't you tell me? Is it because I remind you of her? Is that it? I remind you of Satine, the Sparkling Diamond?"

Shocked, Christian asked, "Diamond? But, how do you know that?"

Abigail laughed and pressed her hand over her mouth and said, "Because I read your story!"

"What?"

The diva replied, "I read your story Christian…I read your book."

In response, Christian was enthralled. He knew that Abby loved to read, but he never thought she'd actually read his book. It never accorded to him that anyone would. It was just something he promised Satine. Overwhelmed, he rushed to her side and held her hands in his.

"You read it? You read my story? Why? Why didn't you ever tell me?"

"I wasn't sure if it was really you who wrote it or if it was just some fiction. I didn't think it mattered. Does it?"

Christian shook his head and grinned. "No, no it doesn't, not anymore. All that matters is that I love you."

Abigail beamed. She couldn't even begin to express how wonderful he made her feel. Impulsively, she threw her arms around his next and the two hugged. However, the Duke would have none of it. He cocked his gun and pointed it at the pair.

"No, not again! I won't let you take away what's mine!" He then extended his left hand and towards Abby and said, "Maggie, get over here now."

Confused, the couple shared a look. The brown-eyed beauty shook her head and said, "I'm not Maggie. I'm Abigail."

"What?"

She then removed her crescent moon mask and revealed her face. And like a deflated balloon, the Duke lowered his gun and was stumped speechless. He was completely taken back and in distress ran his hand over the side of his sweaty face. Stuttering, he said, "Wh—what's going on? How? You're—you're not my Maggie?"

"No, I was only pretending to be Maggie or Ms. Nightingale. I was just covering for her because she was spending so much time out on the town the Duke. The stage-manager got desperate. I stepped in. I don't even like singing. I wanted to write. I wanted to be a playwright. I didn't intend to lie. I was only trying to protect the theatre."

"Then, Maggie?" questioned the Duke.

"She's in her dressing room. She made me do the opening song because it's the last performance."

"Abigail!" shouted Mr. Jenkins.

The theatre-owner marched through the currents and stood between the Duke and the diva. Flustered, the elder man yanked off his hat and shouted, "Confounded young lady! What on earth have you been doing while I've been away?"

The brown-eyed beauty nervously twisted her fingers and inched up to him and said, "Oh, hello Uncle Walter."

"Uncle Walter!" cried Christian. "You never said you where related to Mr. Jenkins."

Abby shrugged and said, "Well…I guess that makes us even. You're really an aid writer for a newspaper and the former lover of a dead courtesan and I'm actually not a diva, but an heiress on holiday from overseas."

Christian narrowed his brow. "Aid writer? How do you know that?"

She explained, "You're place is full of products, drafts and clippings. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that you write aids and not articles."

The young writer beamed. "And you still didn't care? You still wanted to spend time with me even though I haven't got much to my name."

Abby smiled and said, "I wasn't always rich, Christian. Those things don't matter to me."

Mr. Jenkins frowned at the two's lovely-dovey state coughed. He pointed to Mr. Fits and began parking out commands. He wasn't a successful department store giant for nothing. "You, what the heck do I pay you for? Go put on that play." He then turned to the Duke and roared, "And you! What the hell do you think this is? Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show? Put that thing away before you hurt yourself." Then, turned on Abby and yanked on her arm. "And you, young lady. I've got words with you little Missy."

Christian scrabbled to keep up with Mr. Jenkins and his fast pace as he pulled Abby down the hall and into an empty dressing room.

"Mr. Jenkins, sir. Please, let me explain. I—"

The elder man shoved Christian out and barked, "Beat it, paperboy! This conversation is private."

"But sir—"

The door slammed in Christian's face. He wasn't sure what had happened. Abby's uncle was certainly a pushy man. However, he wasn't about to let things just drop.

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Meanwhile, in the dressing room Mr. Jenkins began to pace. He never in his life imaged that Abby would go off and make a fool of herself. She was such a sweet child. He was sure she'd grow up to be a nice young lady. He never thought she'd fall in with gunslingers or other people's dirty laundry. Yet, here she was dressed up and painted like a vaudeville China doll. Gone was the wallflower and here stood the rose in bloom. He hardly recognized her. She looked so grown up and different. He was used her being straight laced and with her nose stuck in a book, but now there was a boy. Things were bound to get complicated.

"Abigail, what is this all about now? Why on earth are you gussied up like that?"

Though, before she could answer the door was kicked opened and in entered Christian. He would not wait. He would not lose a moment to be with the woman he loved ever again. If there was one thing he learned in life was that he had to take chances and follow your dreams. Be damned the consequences.

Abruptly, he crossed the room to his distressed nymph and held her in his arms and turned to address Mr. Jenkins while he held her hand.

"Mr. Jenkins, sir. I want you to know that I love your niece. She the most wonderful young woman I ever met. She's smart, funny and kind and above all else she cares about me too. I know it. So, please don't punish her. Abby's actions are not to blame, but if possible I'd like to ask if I can have her hand in marriage."

Abigail gasped and physically turned him around and shouted, "Are you serious! We don't—you don't even know me."

Christian beamed and said, "It doesn't matter. I love you. I didn't even know if I would ever find love like this again. You've transformed me, Abigail. You've made me believe again."

"Oh, Christian. I love you too."

The two then hugged, but quickly broke apart when the writer realized they weren't exactly alone. He disentangled himself and reached down to take her hand. And with a heavy sigh waited for Mr. Jenkins' verdict.

The elder gentleman groaned and shook his head. He quietly sat down on a chair and gaze at his niece and said, "Look Abigail. I promised your folks I'd look after you after they passed away. And though I'm glad you've got yourself a nice young man I still don't know if you're ready to be off on your own."

The brown-eyed beauty stepped towards her uncle and bent down to take his hand and said, "Uncle Walter, I know you worry about me, but I won't be alone. I've got Christian and he loves me. Gosh, he didn't know about the department store or who I was. He liked me."

Mr. Jenkins patted her head and relented. "Well, if he makes you happy, but he isn't going to be a lump. I need to know he'll be a hard working young man."

Christian nodded his head. "Yes, if that's what it takes to be with Abigail, but I'm no business man, Mr. Jenkins. I'm a writer."

"Are you any good?"

Bashfully, Christian replied, "Well, I make a moderate living."

"Well, at least you do something. I'd hate for Abigail to have fallen for some tumbleweed. Tell you what though you know anything about theatre?"

Startled, Christian was taken back. "Uh, oh yes. I'm familiar with the stage. Why do you ask?"

"Oh, I was thinking you can help prove your salt by running this theatre for me. If you can manage that for a year than I'll consider you my new nephew."

Christian was ecstatic. He never think in a million years he'd be offered an opportunity like that. It was like a dream come dream. Enthralled, he rushed up to the man and shook his hand firmly and exclaimed, "Oh, Mr. Jenkins. This is unbelievable. I don't know how to thank you!"

The elder man patted him on the back and said, "Just don't disappoint, son."

"Oh, I promise, sir. You have my word."

"Good, then by Shakespeare let's go see that play." He then turned to his niece and said, "Abigail, you go change and meet me at the box."

"Yes, uncle."

The elder man left the dressing room, but Christian linger behind and just couldn't get over the fact that he was going to be the new owner of the Silver Stage. It was a writer's dream. He never thought Mr. Jenkins would be so generous. Meanwhile, Abby dropped herself in his lap after he sat down and circled her arms around his neck.

"Well, it looks like Uncle Walter has put you to work."

Christian smiled and pressed her close to his chest and said, "Yes…your uncle is a very kind man."

Abby scuffed and said, "Oh no, he's a workaholic. You don't own big department stores by being lazy."

"Yes, but—to let me run the theatre…it's hard to believe."

"Well, I know you can do it."

He turned to grin at her and asked, "And how do you know, Ms. Jenkins?"

Smiling, she answered, "Because you love me."

He framed her face between his hands and lovingly caressed her cheek. Christian beamed at her answer. He couldn't have asked for a more prefect happy ending even in his wildest dreams. It wasn't everyday you'd find somebody to love and who happened to love you in return. It was a miracle he thought he'd never experience again. And Abigail had more than just his heart, she his soul because she dreamed the same dreams as him. With her, he came to love again the things that had brought him to Paris in the first place—she brought back to him his own dreams.

Wise men said, "Only fools rush in"
But I can't help falling in love with you

Shall I stay?
Would it be a sin
If I can't help falling in love with you

Like a river flows
Surely to the sea
Darling, so it goes
Some things are meant to be

Take my hand
Take my whole life, too
For I can't help falling in love with you

Like a river flows
Surely to the sea
Darling, so it goes
Some things are meant to be

Take my hand
Take my whole life, too
For I can't help falling in love with you

For I can't help falling in love with you

Christian then closed the distance between them and kissed Abigail on the lips.

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The End.

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I've re-written the last chapter because I felt like it needed to end with a song. Again, thanks for reading and reviewing.