Hello! Thank you for the positive feedback! It means a lot to see the same people from when this story was first posted come back to alert it and review it. That really is awesome to see. This chapter is basically like the old Chapter III, I really couldn't see it any other way. But some of the dialogue is changed. Hope you enjoy the chapter!
Chapter III: Under Dark Shadows
The party atmosphere was so hard to get used to. The managers showed her off to practically all the guests in the room and she was so unaccustomed to talking with them. Politics, what was so special about them? She didn't understand, some didn't even touch upon music. A lot asked her where she was from, she didn't mind that, but when she would mention Venice or Naples, she wouldn't be able to finish! She was cut off by the person talking with her and they would muse over the places. Theresa was starting to have enough of it, she looked around for someone in the Opera House to talk to. Why couldn't she find anyone to save her? Where was Meg? Henri? Emile? Or even the patron? Though, she wasn't sure about that, because he was part of the high society here and she had already forgotten his name, which would be embarrassing.
The Contes that she was talking to, Contes Danielle Bonde, continued to her with a genuine smile; she might've been the nicest and less snobbish of them all that she had talked to that night, "Now, my father had been to Venice on business with my mother, told me it was absolutely beautiful. Canals everywhere, gondolas transporting you in them, oh, and the buildings! He actually told me that he saw a woman by the name of Angelina Baccelli perform. Any relation to her?"
Theresa nodded, though it was the third time, maybe even the sixth time (she lost track since the first), that night her mother was used to identify her, at least. She replied, "She's actually my mother, madame."
"Your mother!" She mused, her smile growing with delight. Theresa only stood there not phased at all and kept a subtle smile on her face. Slowly, it was becoming more and more faker as she was shrouded in her mother's shadow once more. "You must have inherited her angelic voice. I remember when my father came back from Venice, all he could talk about was her! My mother had to pry him out of the topic because of her jealousy! All he talked about was her voice and looks, and her eyes!" You should really stop talking, she thought to herself, feeling a terrible headache start to drum into her head from her high-pitched voice.
She could chat to a wall, and it was almost like she was, too. Theresa was looking away from her, putting her wine glass against her pink lips. Her steadily small sips of it actually did remind her of home when she would sneak a glass of wine there without her mother's knowledge at all. 'It isn't a lady's drink,' her mother would scowl at her in their native tongue. She grew accustomed to drinking it when her mother was in bed, deathly ill. It was wrong for her to do that, she would admit, but Theresa really couldn't help but disobey her mother many times. She felt like it was the foundation of their relationship.
When Theresa looked back at the Contes, she regretted it. Her mind scowled, Does this woman have anything better to talk about? "I think the gala is going to go splendidly!" Oh, is that supposed to be something different? Her spiteful thoughts were going to wash off of her, until, "You being her daughter would make for a quality show, I believe!"
"Let's hope," she muttered to her, but mainly to herself, taking yet another sip of her wine, while looking around... for someone... anyone. Theresa found herself getting quite desperate. Theresa tried not to make her cruelty known when she looked back at the Contes, the angst from her mother being mentioned yet again drove into her veins again, like it had plenty of times before. She stated with a silent sneer, "Don't want to be shaming the woman above that had taught me most of everything that I know, now, do I?"
The Contes chuckled lightly and shook her head slowly at Theresa. "She will be proud of you, mademoiselle, so very proud to see you on that stage. I doubt she will be shamed!"
Theresa mentally shook her head no, If I don't do anything that she had taught me since my father's death, she will curse me to rot in Hell. The inner-most circle of Hell, actually. Though her mind scowled at her, she plastered on her fake smile once more and nodded, repeating, "Let's hope."
Theresa swallowed what she could down her throat and it was really her entire wine, which was only a bit. She needed so much more. Theresa held up a hand to the Contes to excuse herself, "Very nice talking to you, madame, but I must go." She bowed her head apologetically and the Contes a little shocked that Theresa didn't want to talk anymore, nodded her goodbye.
She quickly walked away from the Contes, taking in the last drop of her wine before going to the bar and pouring herself another glass. She filled it almost too much and she had to take a quick sip out of it to make the wine go away from the brim. She needed to be alone for now... out of this sort of air for a bit. Theresa needed to get out before Henri would find her, to get out of the same conversations she would have with the upper class, she only needed to think in fresh air that didn't have this type of air at all.
She stood there in thought of where she could escape for maybe twenty minutes and the chapelle came to mind for a moment, but she scratched that thought out immediately. Theresa would find sometimes a couple in the corner close to the sacred place... groping each other. That made her sick for it was a place of worship.
Not only that, she went there that morning, early that morning to pray like she had done late the night before. It was becoming a habit now. No, there had to be somewhere else. Her room was too obvious if someone went looking for her. Theresa took another careful sip out of her wine while her eyes scanned for Henri, specifically, she didn't want him to find her either. The roof... It was far, too far, but it would subdue. Or she could go into the theatre... that wasn't that bad of an idea maybe...
You would have to know her well enough to find her there. The thought crossed her mind and she disregarded it, that was probably stained a bit by the air in the lobby. She sighed. The roof, she would have to go onto the roof. It was peaceful and quiet there anyway. She had never been up there either, but she did have a feeling that she knew the way very well. She took several sips of her wine before seeing a ballerina by the name of Paulette next to her smuggling bottles of wine and other bottles of alcohol with Franck, another dancer.
She eyed them suspiciously with smirk pulling onto her mouth amused. The first sign of amusement that entire night, thankfully. She inquired to them, "Where are you going with those?"
They froze, realizing that Theresa was standing inches away from them. Franck answered for them both, "No where, mademoiselle. Absolutely no where."
"We're just holding them," Paulette started, looking over at Franck for confirmation, "to keep the wine... warm!"
Franck made a face at her, thinking that excuse would not do at all. Theresa chuckled nodding, not believing a single word of that, "Take this wine away from me before I get drunk," she took another sip of it before she handed the wine to Paulette who was looking at her wide-eyed and unsure of what she would mean, "I'm not supposed to be drinking like I am now, so if you won't tell that I'm on maybe my fourth," My fifth glass of wine, she corrected herself, it was embarrassing that the amount she drank was almost a bottle, "glass of wine already then I won't tell stories of you smuggling bottles out of here."
"Oh, we swear we won't, Theresa." Franck said with a grateful nod, Paulette took the wine out of her hand and muttered a quick thanks before running off to where the party really was. Theresa sighed, looking around and then moving to follow them actually, since she knew very well that the roof was that way.
"Theresa!" Meg's voice came to her and she felt her arm being dragged back to where she was before. "Where have you been hiding?" She asked her, Meg's sweet smile flashed to her. She was by far the most sweetest dancer in there. She added, "I've been looking all over for you in here."
Theresa looked around nervously and through her smile, she stated, "Same for you, you should've saved me sooner," Theresa looked over at the Contes she was talking to before, who had her back to her talking to someone else now. "I've spent a horrible time talking to people that I barely knew. I had no idea what the higher class really talked about until today."
She chuckled, "You got to get used to these parties, Theresa. Monsieur Firmin and Monsieur André happen to really enjoy them and like to celebrate anything that has a holiday."
Theresa shook her head disapprovingly, she had to get used to this all still. She stated sarcastically to Meg, "How exciting." They both laughed and Theresa took a chance to look around for Henri. Seeing him make his way toward her, no side conversations distracting him this time, Theresa breathed in sharply and looked to Meg. Theresa had to go... now. She said to her apologetically, "I apologize, Meg, but I really must be going."
Meg raised an eyebrow at her friend and before she could ask a question, Theresa quickly walked to where Franck and Paulette had gone. Meg looked around curiously, wondering why Theresa had to leave so abruptly. Meg had a feeling of where she was going, but it wasn't like Theresa to join the maids, the other dancers, and stage hands in the back behind the stage. They sometimes were more wild than they should be.
Henri came up to Meg in search of Theresa... he could've sworn that he had just saw her here. "Oh, Henri," her recently fallen smile was revived when Meg saw him. Henri smiled back at her, looking the way he thought Theresa had gone.
"Meg," he greeted her with a nod as he turned back to look at her. Where was this woman now? He was trying to get a single dance with her, at least, this entire time, but since they moved apart from the grand stairs, they hadn't been in contact. And whenever he would try to get her, she would move away! Or he would get distracted by someone calling him. Henri noticed how exceptionally beautiful Meg was at that moment, but he shrugged it off, he had a one-track mind most of the time. But her pure white dress made her skin and blonde hair more vibrant.
"I'm looking for Theresa," he started to her. Why did Meg have the slightest feeling that he was looking for Theresa before? "I just saw her here not that long ago. I swear, it's almost like she's avoiding me." It really was and it was aggravating him very much. He never got aggravated easily... especially with women. Theresa was the only one that he found now aggravating. "Any idea on where she had gone?"
Meg gulped, maybe that was why Theresa left so abruptly. She looked around and stated to him truthfully, "She left so suddenly that I really don't know, monsieur."
Henri's shoulders slumped. He looked behind his shoulder to see the way to the theatre, but the back way. Henri looked back at Meg curiously. "What's back there?" He asked. "I saw her go back there before, I think... anyway, Meg, did she go back there? I need to talk to her."
"Meg, please, I know you do." He cut her off, he wasn't going to take no for an answer. It wasn't that he needed to talk to her really, he just had to see her at that moment. Meg sighed, and explained to him what was back there. Henri paid attention and, he wouldn't blame her for going to that side, it sounded more enjoyable than over there. Though it could get wild, a little too wild for a woman such as Theresa, as Meg would put it. He smiled warmly toward her and nodded thankfully, before heading off to catch up to Theresa.
Erik stood on top of the roof with his cloak flaring behind him as the wind caressed it. He stood by the statue, looking over at the exact spot that he crumpled the rose that belonged to his Christine. His white mask that covered half of his face was shrouded by the dark fabric that covered Paris and his green eyes moved to the edge of the building. Balls. The managers truly never changed, they would always find an excuse to throw one. He didn't get it. Erik didn't even try to get it even when the thought had run through his mind several times before this one.
The Opera Populaire was definitely more different. It would never go back to its original glory, he knew very well, like it had before the fire. He didn't understand why they actually risked it again. They obviously had their heads more up their asses than they had six years ago. Maybe if they kept their heads in the office they would make less naïve choices like the reopening. He had unknowingly to them helped though, sending mysterious blueprints of designs to those that were on construction. Erik stood with the original design and late at night, when there were no workers at all there, he would do a little bit of his own work on the building as well.
The workers actually went along with the plan he had given them, which actually surprised Erik. He leaned his back onto the statue, sitting on it slightly in deep thought. So much had changed within him. It was all in more anguish and despair that he had felt. Erik went into his pocket and took out the ring that was hers, playing with it. The moment when she had given it back to him, showed in front of his eyes suddenly, a nightmare repeating, thinking that she had chose him over... Raoul, but no. She had taken off the ring and gave it back to him. His heart felt like tearing once again like it had.
He hadn't even composed a piece of music in a while... music was his passion, and it used to come so easily when he found himself inspired... now, he couldn't even find a song that he could match a voice with to use to help him. No inspiration like he had before. No Christine to spark even a small melody in his head!
Ugh, and that new soprano that they had gotten... used way too much emotion! She used so much emotion that it could kill the music! Erik felt tense only thinking about it, thinking that in his letter he should've been more harsher than only saying that she had to improve a little bit.
Her name didn't even stick in his mind for that long. She was not going to be memorable, he knew. The woman was too sweet for her own good. Erik was trying to decide if that would ruin the singer more or get her quickly replaced since she would most definitely allow it. She wouldn't even throw a tantrum like a normal Prima Donna would do.
She had the talent, he would admit, the sound of her voice was good. But the new soprano would push it to the point of it being strained. She didn't have enough control and for some reason, Erik was the only one that would point it out. In her defence, the character that she was playing was definitely rough and evil, but even when Lady Macbeth was supposed to be vulnerable and weak, she was powerful and never changing.
He didn't realize how long he was on top of the roof. But when he heard the door open suddenly, Erik moved further into the shadow of the statue. He watched and waited to see who was it that entered in on his thoughts. And then, through the dark he saw dark hair, that was pulled back. The certain soprano was right there. What is she doing here? He narrowed his eyes at her to see that she was crying, or she had been, her cheeks shined under the very dim light. This was the first time that he had seen her this close.
Yesterday, he saw her from the box he used to observe rehearsals and shows, but this was closer.
Without warning, she looked over to where he was before and he moved his body so that it was against the statue perfectly. Erik caught her shoulders moving up and down before she actually moved to where Erik was. Exactly where he was, too. He silently huffed and moved further back, to get out of her line of sight. She wasn't paying much mind to anything, though Erik knew that she was too close to him. It was dangerous if she ever decided to turn around, but he hadn't moved, watching her curiously. "I'll show them," she muttered to herself.
She spat a sort of hatred that Erik wouldn't expect. Hate? This woman could actually hate? She never seemed like that. The woman was wearing a long, pale blue dress that exposed a part of her shoulders, he noticed. She wiped the wetness off her cheeks, "I'll show them all now."
Theresa closed her eyes and leaned her head back onto the statue, feeling its not-so-cold surface. Someone was here before not too long ago. She opened her eyes and looked both right and left to see if this person was there still, but no, she felt like she was alone. The French, May air felt strangely cold to her as it settled. She liked it and now felt content.
"I'm going to make a name for myself, not to worry," she said to herself as a reassurance. Erik was still there, watching from behind. "My name isn't Angelina Baccelli. It's Theresa Baccelli." Ah, that was her name. Erik noticed her thick accent, never had she sang with it. Maybe that was why her voice was hard for her to control. "Even dead the woman is still ruining my own life. It still feels like hers." Theresa paused, crossing her arms over her chest. A cold, harsh feeling of how music used to be a burden to her came over. She looked up and used her hand to demonstrate with the other, smacking her knuckles into the palm.
"Practice, practice, practice, practice," her breath was trembling as she tried to imitate her mother's sneer and voice. She felt her eyes watering once again like they had after going through a mess of people to get up there. Her mind was whirling with thoughts, all about the past and before taking the job as the soprano she thought that she was passed all of this. She was stronger than to let this go to her head, of course she wasn't really. She fell into a trap by being swept off by Henri, only just meeting him! "I'm going to turn just like her, if I continue this."
"And who would ever want to be that witch?" She muttered. Theresa could hear her mother scowling at her already, about posture, about eating right, about singing higher, sing without the accent, more power, save your breath, and it all bothered her. She had put up with it for twelve years since her father's death. Erik stood still, this was not the sweet girl that he had observed since the week before. No, this girl was darker than he imagined her.
Theresa sighed looking down at her wrists, "I could've gotten married and had children by now," she chuckled spitefully. "It was like she shackled me somewhere and didn't want me to leave home... but she hated me also... so how does that make a bit of sense?" She used her hands to wipe tears that were slowly coming from her eyes. He took a quiet step forward to see genuine sadness coated on her face. "And the shackles are still there, laughing at me."
The woman who was unknowingly pouring her heart and soul out to him, held up her wrists to demonstrate. Though, nothing was there, it wasn't hard to see what her metaphor actually meant. Theresa closed her eyes for a moment, letting her anger be controlled. She didn't want it to be too out of control, if she knew her own pattern she would spat in her native tongue curses and harsh statements that she wouldn't want other people to understand. She told herself, "I need to try something new, that's what I need to do. Music's still my life and I love it, but not like that."
Erik tilted his head up, he was unconsciously playing with the ring in his large and gloved hands as he listened in. Theresa nodded slowly, "Yes, something new. The Phantom might even like that too," Erik caught the sense of mockery in her tone once he had heard him being mentioned. He narrowed his eyes at her scornfully. "My biggest triumph would be surprising that apparition. In fact, after the gala he should send me a rose for my amazing performance, to prove that he isn't a rumour... or a joke." The mockery and humour cut through the sadness of the thin air around her.
She chuckled lightly and leaned her head back, shutting her eyes calmly. "Something new, I like the sound of that," she muttered under her breath. She sighed, thinking of a way she could change her voice. The way her mother wanted her to sing made her seem more like a clone of her, which was impossible, her voice couldn't be controlled when she would try. Sheer luck, her mind told her viciously, taking her away from her sudden light mood.
You were lucky, you sung a scale, a simple one and they both clapped for you. The fact that your mother was a soprano and taught you everything she knows, just added points, Theresa gritted her teeth angrily, the voice in her head didn't stop. It continued, getting harsher and making Theresa's blood boil. You have no control of your voice, you try to hit notes that you cannot hit, and you cannot take any criticism, what does that tell you? You are a talentless, piece of—.
"Io non ce la faccio più, cazzo, no!"Theresa shouted out loud without realizing, walking away from the statue, gripping her ears to make those negative voices stop. She began to pant and she closed her eyes in an effort to get her decorum. How hard that decorum was to achieve? Extremely. She was talking to herself on a roof, crying and talking to herself. She was becoming mad. They were the first signs of madness, too. Theresa sighed and then cleared her throat, she felt strange on this rooftop... like someone was watching her. She hoped that she was wrong, if anyone heard her rants and how she truly was behind closed doors, it would be so humiliating and shameful.
She was silent for a moment to hear if someone was there with her, but there was no sound at all. A mouse scampering by could be heard with the silence that she was around. Theresa gathered up her courage to take this time to ask loudly, walking to the statue, looking around her cautiously, "Who's there?"
Erik remained silent, hearing her voice once more. She was clever, knowing that someone else was there with her. He didn't even make a sound, not that he recalled. He put his back to the statue, in a way for him not to be seen by her. The other opening to the roof wasn't too far away, but if he made a quick exit she would definitely see him. If he didn't want to be seen by her, the smarter thing that he could've done was leave when she wasn't paying attention.
Theresa narrowed her eyes where she was standing, she smirked, though she could feel the embarrassment of someone listening in on her. She joked, "Is that the Phantom of the Opera right there?"
Her steps became slower as she made her way back to the same spot. Still there was silence. Erik was debating if he should make his presence known to the naïve girl, but it was too late. The ring he was playing with soon fumbled out of his hand and fell onto the roof, making a light sound on the wood as it did. Theresa's ears perked from the only thing that was sounding around her and her eyes narrowed on it sceptically. Erik looked to his hand and before he could get it back quickly, Theresa was already picking it up off of the roof.
When she had gotten up, Theresa looked down at the ring. It was... beautiful. Absolutely beautiful, she felt the diamonds smiling up at her as she stared. Theresa turned the ring around in between her fingers, thinking it either to be an engagement ring or a wedding ring. She couldn't decide at all. "Give it."
Her head snapped up and she saw a large shadow looming in front of her. He wore almost all black and it was so dark where he stood that all she could see of him would be the faint image of a mask. Her mouth parted and her eyes went wide, not really frightened, but shocked that a man was standing right in front of her. He was tall, at least, maybe seven inches taller than her and his eyes, or eye... she could only see one looking at her clearly, were green. Theresa straightened her back, staying there stiff as a board with her chest starting to tighten. The tone of his voice was soft, but she knew that he was forceful also just by how he said his demand.
"Didn't you hear me?" He scowled louder, making Theresa inhale sharply. "I said give it to me." Theresa looked to her hand that held the ring and saw that she was shaking it. She gulped, slowly nodding as her trembling hand slowly placed it on the awaiting palm of the man in front of her. The leather and her skin made light contact before he snatched it away from her, closing his hand in a fist as he stuffed it into his breast pocket.
Theresa stood there, feeling like she just froze where she stood as her eyes lingered carefully on the figure in front of her. Her face softened when she felt her anxiety of him go away. She started, "Who—?" Theresa was interrupted by the door opening to the roof.
The two snapped their heads to the door to see that it was a man that Erik couldn't name. He couldn't risk getting seen, the girl could keep a secret he assumed. "Theresa?" Henri's voice came through and Theresa, panicked and still slightly flabbergasted, looked over at the man.
Calmly, Erik put a finger to his lips to not mention him.
"I-I'm over here," she answered, still trying to recover from her shock. She watched the man hide behind the statue's shadow before she turned to go over to where she thought Henri had been. He smiled at her genuinely and she tried to muster one as well, but her head was whirling in a hundred different directions all at once. She could barely think or stand on her two feet.
Henri stopped in his walk and looked her up and down unsure, but his smile still remained. Finally he got her where he wanted her. Though, she didn't look well, she looked sick to her stomach and... frightened almost. His smile fell a bit, showing a bit of concern in his eyes. He asked her, "What's the matter? You look as though you have just seen a ghost."
"Ghost?" She repeated. Henri eyed her carefully and walked closer to her with a cautious step. Theresa shook her head, "No, I..." she trailed off, still at a lost for words. She silently cursed herself for being so foolish and stammering like a fool. Theresa assured him once she was ready, "I haven't seen no ghost."
Erik rolled his eyes and quietly sighed, terrible liar this girl was. Henri cocked his eyebrow, clearly noticing (like Erik) that her sentence made little to no sense at all. "So you have seen a ghost?"
Theresa parted her mouth, still slightly speechless, but shook her head. She corrected herself from before, "I mean... I have not seen a ghost. Nope, no ghost. There's no such things, Henri, don't be silly."
"I'm afraid to tell you that I am not the silly one here, my lady," he stated to her, though humor was in his voice, he was concerned for her still. He chuckled and asked her, "Why are you out here anyway? I think I've been looking for you all night." I know, she thought to herself, that's why I came up here and away from you.
Theresa quieted down her thoughts, "Really? Well," she chuckled nervously looking around herself with a nervous grin, "I'm right here. The air in the ball was unbearable for me. So... I came out here, hoping that I could get some fresh air." It was partly true, so it wasn't much of a lie. But she also came out here to rant in privacy, knowing that she wouldn't be safe in her room or anywhere else. "Now, w-why are you here?" She didn't know why she had asked since she was afraid for the answer.
Henri answered more simply than she had, "Why, I came here looking for you. I saw you talking to Meg and go this way. The way up here was enjoyable, but I had a feeling that you wouldn't want to be caught up in it. So I figured you were up here." So, you followed me? Her mind was pondering on whether or not if she should ask that question.
Her only response was a quiet, "Oh."
Henri nodded, but he took several steps toward her with his hand held out to her to grab. Theresa narrowed her eyes at it pointedly, "Yes, 'oh' is right. Come on," he started with his grin, showing partly his white teeth. "I must get you back in that ballroom, we don't want people noticing your absence, now do we?" She shook her head no slowly. "You owe me several waltzes, too. Hate to remind you of that."
Theresa smirked, and slowly placed her hand on top of his to be led back. Henri's face showed his triumph and quickly, he led her away from where she was. Theresa looked around the roof puzzled to see if the man was still up there and by her surprise, when Henri opened the door for her... she caught a glimpse of him, watching her carefully and thankfully. Thankfully? Why would he look at her like that? Now that she had seen him with a bit more light on him, she noticed that he had a white mask that only covered half of his face. His eyes were still lingering on her and she now really saw that they were green.
Her thoughts were dwelling on him until she realized that Henri was looking at her, waiting. "Mademoiselle," he started to her, his eyebrows furrowed.
Theresa looked back at him, "Hmm?"
Henri looked at her strangely, seeing that her mind was definitely somewhere else. He told her, still holding the door open for her, "Ladies first." He bowed his head gentlemanly and cautiously. Theresa smiled at him sweetly, but before she left, she looked around once more on the roof to see if the man she had saw earlier was still there looking at her. But he wasn't. He disappeared in the matter of seconds.
"Thank you," she muttered, looking forward and going before Henri. He stood at the door for a moment, looking around at the roof curiously. What was she looking at before? As Henri's eyes scanned for some odd shape, he found that he couldn't find it at all. It was nowhere. Henri sighed before closing the door behind them to go inside after her.
So I hope you all enjoyed the chapter! If you haven't yet, don't forget to like my Facebook page for sneak peeks, this story's character bios of both Theresa and Henri, and other information. Next update will be on October 21st! Thank you for reading!