The Music of the NightBy: Amanda Ashley
Christie sighed as pleasure flowed through her. In spite of his scars, his body was beautiful. Long and lean and well muscled. His skin was warm and taut beneath her questing fingertips. She ran her hands over his broad shoulders, his chest, his belly, loving the way he quivered at her touch. She had never known such pleasure, such wonder. She moaned as his body merged with hers. He was a gentle lover, his touch almost reverent, his words soft, poetic, filled with an aching tenderness that tugged at her heart. She prayed he would not ask her to stay longer, knew she could not bear to tell him no.
Sated and content, she fell asleep in his arms.
He watched her all through the night. Their last night. And as he did so, he knew he could not bear to tell her goodbye, could not abide the pain of parting, of watching her walk out of his life. So, in the dark of the night, while she slept, he dressed her, then carried her out of the theatre, his heart aching with every step.
Christie woke to the warmth of the sun shining on her face. Opening her eyes, she squinted against the brightness she had not seen in weeks.
Sitting up, she glanced round, surprised to fins herself lying on her bed in her hotel room with no recollection of how she had got there. Had it all been a dream?
She lifted her hand to her neck and felt the sring of tears when her fingertips encountered two tiny wounds. It hadn’t been a dream.
“Oh, Erik,” she murmured, “couldn’t you at least have let me say goodbye?”
She had her answer with the asking. He had left her before she could leave him.
She grieved to leave him, but how could she stay? Her life was in the States. She taught kinder garden in an upscale school in Boston, she had a family in the city, lifelong friends, a home of her own. Erik had no life outside the bowels of the Opera House. He had no friends or family, no home other than his underground lair. How could they have a life together? She could not live in his world and he could not live in hers.
With a sigh, she went into the bathroom to shower and dress. Thank goodness she had paid for her room in advance, she thought, and then frowned. How had Erik known where she was staying?
Leaving her room, she went downstairs for breakfast. She had another three weeks of vacation. Determined to see as much of Paris as she could, she went sightseeing. She visited The Arc de Triomphe, which had been built to honour the men and women who had died fighting for France. She visited the Eiffel Tower. She toured Notre Dame, which had taken 170 years to build, walked around The Pantheon, which had been built as a church by Louis XV, but was now the final resting place of such notable French thinkers as Rousseau, Voltaire, Hugo and Zola, as well as scientists Pierre and Marie Curie. Amazing places, all of them, but no matter where she was, Christie’s thoughts were on Erik. With every moment apart, the realization grew that she had fallen in love with him – with his kindness, his tenderness, the sound of his voice, his rare smiles and laughter.
Though they had never spoken the words, she was certain that he loved her in return. But was love enough? Could she go on without him? Did she want to?
She went to the theatre that night and every night for the next week, hoping he would seek her out. She scanned the balconies, the dark corners, the shadows, but there was no sign of him.
On her last night in Paris, she hid in one of the bathrooms in the theatre again, then spent two hours wandering the corridors trying to find the door that led to his lair. She called his name, but to no avail.
She spent a miserable night sleeping in one of the seats. In the morning, she asked a startled member of the cleaning crew to let her out.
Defeated, she returned to the hotel, Packed her bags and took the next flight home. She moped for days, her heart heavy with despair.
Christie was glad when school started. She’d spent the week before getting her classroom ready eager for the new year, eager for anything to take her mind off her Phantom. But even the excitement of a new year failed to lift her spirits.
Her steps were heavy when she returned home after the first day of school. She had once found joy in teaching. Where had it gone?
She was unlocking the front door when she felt a rush of wind and then, to her astonishment, Erik appeared beside her.
“Christie.” Just her name, but it held a wealth of emotion. “Erik! How did you find me?”
“Your blood,” he murmured, his dark gaze searching her face. “It led me to you.”
“I didn’t think you ever left the opera house.”
“I would risk anything to see you again.”
“I missed you too,” she said and, taking him by the hand. She drew him into the house and shut the door. “I tried to find you.”
“Why did you hide from me?”
He shrugged; an elegant shifting of one shoulder. “I thought it best to let you go, but I realized my life has no meaning without you. And so I came here, to ask you to be my Christine for always. Will you share my love, Christie, be part of my life?”
She knew what he was asking. Being a vampire had once seemed repulsive; now it would open the door to an eternity with the man she loved.