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Hot4Gerry

Heart of a Phantom

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Leroux/Kay based.

Summary: Erik will have to go on living as his heart did not give out after Christine left. He will take up his old life as the Opera Ghost. A woman will come along who will challenge him in many ways. She will also work her magic on him as he falls in love as he never has before. this time there will be more at stake. This time Erik risks losing more than just a piece of his heart. He risks losing his soul.

Heart of a Phantom

Chapter One

The Decline

Whoever said that love does not wound so deep that death can be achieved from the bleeding wound has never truly loved. I know this is true, for I am dying from the terrible barbs of loves wounding arrows. Love rejected is the cruelest of fates for one who has only ever felt that emotion once in almost five decades of life.

Due to the circumstances of what God deemed a suitable face for one of his children I had never thought to even entertain seeking out a woman as a companion. At least not since my early youth had the thought entered my mind. My adolescent imaginings went unfulfilled except in the most embarrassing way for one such as myself. Pleasure is pleasure that cannot be disputed, but would it not be even more sublime if shared with another?

My blasted libido had been dormant for some time. I do suppose the amount of morphine I had been indulging in had a small part in this. It never would have been resurrected had it not been for Christine Daaé enchanting me with her voice. Her voice was what drew me to her in the beginning. Once I saw her beautiful innocent face I knew I had to have her. I had to make her mine. Whatever means I needed, would be used to accomplish this goal. I wonder now if I had known I would have to wear the guise of the Angel of Music if I would have been so ready to risk all for anything she would give to me.

In the end I had nothing but her pity. Perhaps she did have some sort of affection for me. She had kissed me. Kissed me right on my forehead. I have never been kissed so I cannot say with total certainty, but I do think her lips pressed to my forehead was the most wondrous kiss ever given to anyone. When she had leaned her forehead toward me inviting my kiss, I thought for a moment I might die from the pleasure of it. If I could live in only one moment for eternity, that would be my moment. The splendid feeling of joy had all but transported me to what I am sure was some heavenly cloud.

My joy in the memory of those two exchanges is somewhat dimmed when I recall how I had dropped to my knees to beg her to love me, to stay with me. I had grabbed the hem of her dress pressing my lips to it then kissed her dainty foot that was encased in an elegant shoe. Actually it had been her shoe I kissed so I am even a more pathetic idiot than I first thought. I kissed her in supplication. It had all been for naught. She could not bear to live in this rabbit’s burrow with me. This place is all darkness. She was pure light. I knew my dark world would drain every bit of light and life right out of her. She would die in her unhappiness if she were to lose her boy, the Vicomte Raoul de Chagny.

I had forced Christine to choose the grasshopper or the scorpion. With either choice I see now she would be choosing her death. To live with me would be the same as choosing death.

She had chosen to stay with me. Unbeknownst to her I had still kept Raoul prisoner. I had intended to leave him chained to that wall until he met his demise. In the end I could not let my love suffer his loss. The damn Persian would have haunted me night and day as well if I had done such a thing. Why I had not thought to chain him to a wall to die while Christine had fainted I cannot say. Perhaps in my insanity I had lost the ability to think clearly as usually I am quite a clever man.

I could not bear to think of how Christine would come to hate me if I forced her to lose her little lover. I, and I alone, should be the one to suffer in this decision. Releasing her to her young man was the right thing to do. Even as I knew it would cause my demise I rejoiced in my misery for having made her so happy. My reward for my loving gesture would be my demise I was sure. As I watched her leave my home, for what I knew to be the last time, until she kept her promise to bury me once she learned of my death, my chest had tightened with an unbearable pain, sending me to my knees. I had clutched at my chest as sobs took hold of me. Those sobs had echoed through my home for many days with little cessation. Music that had always filled my home, especially in times of stress or anger, now remained locked away in my mind, refusing to come to me.

Here I sit weeks later on my throne in my music room, dying. This thrown I once considered a slap in the face to those who considered me less worthy of living because of the tragedy of my face. I had thought with this thrown I would be king in my own world under The Paris Opera House, the most prestigious opera house in all of France. I had even contributed in the construction of this very building I now sit under. I say under for my home is in the fifth cellar of The Paris Opera House.

I have a coffin I may crawl into when I feel the last dregs of life draining out of me. Until then I will sit here and wait. Food has never been a concern of mine. I eat when my body can no longer stand to be denied sustenance. Music fuels my body more than any food I may partake as a meal. I have gorged myself on music for the last thirty or so years. Well, now I am denying myself food as well as my music.

I sleep in that coffin so that I am reminded that my face is a deathly visage. I am not nearly as hideous as the ones who walk above depict. Honestly I am horrid, frightening in fact. This I know for my mother forced me as a young child of five to look in a mirror at what was given to me in place of a beautiful child’s face. I had the face of a horribly frightening monster. It had surprised me that the face looking back at me, was, well me. I had not felt monstrous. From that day forward until now I have never willingly taken my mask off other than for hygienic purposes. I no longer fought my mother over having to wear the uncomfortable thing. At that young age I thought if the monster was covered he could do no harm. Little did I realize the monster was not harbored in my face, he was in my soul.

Christine, that sweet angel, she had shown concern for me on numerous occasions. She had encouraged me to eat more. She was of the opinion my lack of eating properly contributed to my skeletal appearance. To know she worried about me had filled me with delight until my ever doubting mind had concocted the scenario of me dying and Christine languishing down in this cavernous grave should something happen to me. She could not find her way out of here. I had made sure she did not ever know of the way back to the surface. At least not until I had released her and that boy.

At first when I took up residence in my new home I made fumbling attempts to play what I had heard in the opera house all those many years ago when I first came to live here. I could play the violin with exquisite perfection. So too, I would learn how to play the piano. As I became better acquainted with the keys on the piano my hands took on a life of their own. Anything my ears can hear I can play. Melodies float around in my head at the most peculiar times. In the middle of the night I must leave my coffin at times to release the music that pounds at my brain until it is written down on parchment. Only then can I go back to my coffin to sleep. I cannot recollect with any clarity when I had decided to build my organ. Once the thought took hold in my mind it beat at me until I gave in and built what my mind foresaw. It really is a grand instrument. I can make myself heard all the way up to the very top floor if that is my wish. Sometimes I do get a bit of pleasure from allowing them to hear the ghostly melodies that filter in through the venting systems.

Everyone feels free to spread gossip and rumors concerning me. Most are exaggerated, some are downright lies. My hair is a bit sparse it is true. That, they do not exaggerate. I do not, in any way, smell like death as Joseph Buquet, that noxious lout, bandied around the opera house. I smell musty at times, not because of any lack of bathing, but because of the humidity and dampness caused by the lake. I have learned of wonderful things for men called cologne. Splashing a bit of that on anything will take the stink right out. My hands do not smell like death. This accusation I vehemently deny. I smell nothing like the grave. I suppose I could have proven that point by removing one of the bodies buried in the catacombs from the time of The Commune. During that time precious little had been done to anyone executed then placed down here for eternity. It the breeze blows just so I myself had smelled that less than pleasant odor of death that permeates some of the tunnels. That is one reason I had constructed new walls. The walls blocked out a good portion of the stench.

Yes, I killed my tormentor Joseph Buquet. I am glad I relieved him of his life all those weeks ago. He had been a thorn in my side for much too long. I could hardly walk along the catwalks without him trying to catch sight of me. Too many times he had followed me down below the opera house. Once I concluded he would not leave me alone it was not a very big leap to deciding he must be dealt with harshly and permanently.

Ah now we come to the Vicomte or rather the former Vicomte. Raoul’s older brother. His death is less certain in my mind. Did I set out to end his life? Of course not. Am I solely responsible for his death? I am not 100 sure. I do not think I pushed him but in my anger I may have given him a hand in falling down on the rocks, cracking his head and falling into the lake to drown.

Is it my fault if I had pressing matters and did not look to see if that de Chagny fellow came out of the water? Am I responsible for everyone who steps foot in my domain? I think not. His own actions hastened Philippe de Chagny’s end to its final conclusion, not me.

To get back to the matter of my smell or lack thereof, I bath regularly, which is more than can be said for most of the opera house stagehands. I change into fresh clothing each morning. I even dab a bit of my men's fragrance about my person, if I was meeting with Christine. Why waste it on anyone else? I did not care a francs worth for their opinions.

Another fallacy Joseph spread was the absence of a nose. I do have one, it may not meet the standards of what is considered normal, but it is there. I do believe the cartilage in my nose is defective causing it to be a little askew. Pushed to the side a bit one might say. It is just slightly out of line, much like those men who participate in the sport of fisticuffs. The way it sets on my face makes it seem as if there are only two holes in my face instead of a nose.

I do indeed have lips. They are quite nice actually. A bit on the thin side, but not so thin as to be non-existent as the rumors state. I do tend to bare my teeth when I snarl on occasion. That I think is where they get the idea my lips are non-existent. They think my teeth are always showing. For those infidels who occupy my opera house that is what they deserve.

I will agree my complexion is somewhat lighter than normal. What would one expect of a man who spent most of his life underneath the ground without the sun? I am in no way yellow as those superstitious fools claim. My touch is somewhat cold as Christine could attest to that fact if she were so inclined to speak of me to anyone, which I highly doubt. I wear gloves most of the time, for I find it is hard to play when one's hands are as cold as a block of ice. Again this phenomenon is the result of living underground. If I wear my gloves my hands are as warm as toast. I keep fires going year round as it gets quite chilly in this dark, dampness. After a few years struggling to keep fire wood and coal, my necessity to find a better way to heat my home proved to be the spur needed to invent a way to divert a bit of the gas from the lines leading to the opera house. They would not miss what I needed. I have also devised a way to use the gas in my stove and to heat water in the two bathrooms I have added to my home over the years.

I had helped to build the opera house after all so I felt that any comfort I may find from the opera houses resources to be payment for my expertise all those years ago.

Bringing my hand to my face I run it down over my skin. I trace my features with my hand. My right eye droops down a bit making it seem as if my eye socket is sunken in somewhat. The biggest flaw in my face is the mottling of skin. Some places are thickened while others are quite thin. All in all a horrible sight I do agree. If someone had just once looked beyond this face perhaps my life would have been different.

Perhaps if that slave the Khanum had given me...No, no. I will not ever think of that time again. No good can come from those memories. That whole chapter of the creation of death and torture are best left deeply buried in the deepest, darkest corner of my mind. To delve into that bit of ancient history invited ghosts I would rather not have visit me.

Struggling to my feet I walk to my kitchen to see what was left of my meager stores. Something strange is going on in my stomach. Stopping I wait to see if the oddity is repeated. There. That noise. I do believe I am having hunger pangs. Never have I experienced such a normal human result of lack of food in ones body.

Was this my body’s way of letting me know it was not ready just yet to lay in permanent rest in my coffin? What dreadful treachery is this? I was sure my time had come. I had already prepared for the event. There are certain things I have already set in motion. I sent Nadir Christine's precious relics. I requested he place the ad in the Époque spouting three simplistic words. Erik is dead. Now this feeble body decides to reject death? No, damn it. I will not have it. I have been fully prepared to die. I was sure I was dying of love. The pains in my chest had weakened me so much I had been sure my death was only a question of when, not if.

I ignored the fact that I had already decided to find something to eat in the kitchen. I would forever deny any weakness in my resolve to end things. It was my stomach forcing me to seek food not any conscious decision on my part to live.

I suppose if my stomach feels the need to betray me I will send it something to quiet its grumblings. Checking through my meager supplies I could not find much. I have not bothered to replenish anything as I thought I would actually be a corpse by now.

As I bit into an apple I mused how ironic that now that I was eager to be a real corpse my body demands I stay alive becoming a living corpse once again. I suppose this little departure from my plans will require I go about securing supplies again. For that irritating chore alone I feel I must hate my traitorous innards. I, the great Opera Ghost, the all powerful Phantom of the Opera had been outmaneuvered by my stomach.

Well I guess I shall make one of my rare visits to the shops just before they close. I do so hope I do not give anyone a heart attack as they will no doubt think me dead as I had informed them that I would no longer have need of such earthly requirements. I must say it was heartening to see a few real tears shed for my upcoming demise. I do think it is because they will miss those hefty fees I pay for their silence that they will miss instead of me.

I suppose I should once again inform poor Jules I will be in need of his services. I do hope my note does not give him some sort of attack. I cannot go to see in person for surely he would have heart palpitations upon seeing one who claimed to be a ghost, who told him of imminent demise, only to go to his home and scare the life right out of him with my walking, talking ghostly self. No, that would not do at all.

Well now I suppose I shall have to finish those damned drawings for all my recent clients. My secret delight in hoodwinking them out of that hefty commission I demand be paid in part ahead of the beginning of construction, has grown flat now that I think I may live just to spite myself. That is what I get for taking things for granted. I should have gone ahead and just done myself in. Everyone would have applauded my exit from this world. Well they would have assuming they ever braved coming down here to investigate my domain.

Perhaps I would be like those Egyptian fellows who have been long gone for centuries, only to be dug up and hailed as the greatest find since...well since the last great discovery. Yes, I think I would quite like that. Since all men look ghastly after some time in deaths domain, they might assume I was a handsome fellow in life.

A/N: I am just posting this to test the waters to see how much interest there is in a fic based on a lot of Leroux Erik and a little Kay Erik. Please let me know what you think. Please review.

Heart of a Phantom - FEEDBACK

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There are many other writers of the continuing saga of Erik and they may all have a different take on it. Good luck with your writing!

Edited to save space.

D

Edited by GBPhanatic

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Thanks for taking an interest in my work.

This Erik isn't pretty but he isn't quite the skeletal figure Leroux depicted. He'll still be both monster and man. He does have the normal desires men have ans suffers from them.

Erik will have his ups and downs. Drama, angst and love are all part and parcel of an Erik story.

I sent in the second chapter but haven't seen it posted yet. Hope it comes up soon.

Hot4Gerry

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Hi Hot4Gerry!

As one of the GALS who has been writing a POTO based novel (which was at one time posted on this board), I welcome you! We each have our preferences where the character of Erik is concerned, and given that this is a Gerard Butler fansite, many here do prefer Erik based more in Gerry's portrayal of the role... but that does not mean other versions/depictions of the story are not welcome! We have a lot of avid readers here who read EVERY SINGLE version of POTO they can get their hands on! They will be thrilled to have another POTO writer on GALS!

I am not a huge fan of Leroux's writing style, but in writing my own novel, I have learned to appreciate the original story and characters he created. I am sure you will have many fans!

Swannie

Edited by Swansong

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I haven't got to read Leroux's version. Do you believe my stupid library in my town does not have it? I have read Susan's. I really liked it after he got older. I could hardly bear his childhood though. I write Erik with Meg. It is Gerry's Phantom and Jennifer Ellison's Meg.

I did write a love scene for Susan Kaye's Erik onetime, because I believe everyone deserves to be loved even if he was far more disfigured than Gerry's version. Even if his face was skeletal, his fingers skeletal with tight cold skin thinly draped over the bones and without a nose.

I believe a mother's love above all should be unconditional. Part of Susan's story broke my heart. but I had to read it.

I also have read 2 Meg and Erik fan fics.

All of Sadie Montgomery's Phoenix of the Opera series.

Stephanie Cole's The Phantom Returns which I truly enjoyed despite being an Erik/Meg shipper.

I also want to read Swannie's who posted above me book.

Though I prefer Erik and Meg. I will read any Erik shipping.

Right now I am writing a fan fic about Meg and Erik that is quite different called Megerik Time Travelers. It is in the fan fiction section.

I have not read this closely. I just skimmed, but I plan too.

When I wrote the Love Scene with Susan Kay's Phantom. I wrote his lover as a pear shaped rubenesque widowed woman with black hair and silver threads in it and piercing dark blue eyes.

I will come back here when I feel like reading.

I just finished reading The Grapes of Wrath and my eyes are tired, but there is no such thing as too many Erik stories.

I love them. I hope everyone keeps writing them.

Love,

Tracy

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Posting this for Hot4Gerry

This was sent to the yahoo address, however I do not know if any Moderator

was PMed that it was sent. If I am not mistaken we only noticed this after being

notified by another author that their story had also been sent. We tend to get to see

the chapters faster if we also receive a PM that one was sent.

Here is her second chapter.

Enjoy, cause I sure did! :)

-----

Chapter Two

Realization of Life

It has been a month of slowly dying since Christine had made her departure with that boy, the Vicomte Raoul de Chagny. Before I had let him and Nadir out of the mirrored torture chamber my decision had been balanced precariously for a short time. Christine's decision to love me or die was the small pebble that if placed on one side would end with my greatest joy being realized. Drop the pebble on the other side we would all die in a blaze of glory. One humongous earthshaking explosion would end my suffering. If I took half of Paris with me I had thought at the time so much the better. They were mere dung beetles on this dung heap we call home. The world. Mother earth. Ha! It is nothing more than bits of rubble pieced together. Some colliding molecules churned together to create humanity as well as everything else noteworthy I dare say.

As I think this I know I sound bitter. Well damn it all, I am. I have every right to be angry and bitter. Who among men could tolerate this solitude for over twenty years that I had forced upon me by the very humanity I was a part of only in my own mind. The world certainly did not see me as anything God, that heretic, saw fit to spring forth from a mother's womb. I am comfortable referring to the God that so many believe to be perfection of soul, in this somewhat disrespectful manner. God has shown me no mercy even as I begged him as child to send me one person to love me. One person who was blinded to the horror that is my face.

Since that high deity saw fit to ignore my simple request we had parted company many years ago. Why should I pay homage to a god who put me on this earth to live apart in solitude? I have my physical comforts of course, but nothing of a gentler nature to sooth my longing for some closeness with another. What normal man of my age has not lain with a woman? The only bit of physical contact I have had with a woman was holding Christine's hand with my own gloved hand. I did not wish to taint her delicate hand with the evilness of my own. I had at that time after all had just taken the life of Joseph Buquet.

Later she had pressed her lips to my unmasked forehead. At the time I thought I would die from the bliss of that gesture. Later I saw how demeaning and shallow those waters of bliss went. When I think back on how I had knelt down and kissed the hem of her dress in reverence I cringe at the injustice of things. How had I convinced myself that my groveling at her feet, being allowed to touch a miniscule piece of her clothing, then placing my lips there, was in any way an honor?

I had degraded myself for her. I had lowered myself to the level of a servant, or worse, a slave, a dog, a cur dog. My consolation is I know I am dying or at least I had thought so. I am not quite so sure now. My damn traitorous body keeps demanding food and foolishly I weaken giving it the nourishment it demands. My heart will not fail me for sure. The pain in my chest has continued all day, every day for the last few weeks since Christine left. My lingering on has somewhat perplexed me. I was so sure this was the end I had even instructed Nadir to post that notice in the Époque to the effect that Erik is dead. Those three little words that summed up, and ended a man's existence. Those words put a period at the end of my life. I read the damn notice not from my coffin but from my comfortable chair by the fire.

It was becoming somewhat embarrassing to linger on when I had assured Nadir this was it. As the days passed my heart continued to feel the pain of rejection, but my mind had started to move on to other matters. Such matters as my salary should be in box five waiting for me to pick it up. After all I had not informed the managers of my impending demise, for that I am eternally grateful.

I have gone above to the shops and as suspected they had been surprised to see me while rubbing their hands together anticipating the many coins I would place in their greedy hands.

I had made the journey to my box and as was to be expected 20,000 francs awaited me in the chair I sat in during performances. Those managers know not to try to bamboozle The Opera Ghost.

Jules had placed a note for me where I would find it in answer to the missive I had sent to him. The genuine regard of his note touched me. He really is a kind and trustworthy fellow. He expressed his gratitude that I had not gone to heaven to meet my maker. Little did he know that my maker lived downward and not heavenward. I can only surmise I am a creation of that dark underworld as I have never encountered another of God’s creations that looked quite as horrendous as I myself do.

I have not yet informed Nadir that I yet live. I will keep that surprise for another day when I am somewhat bored and need entertainment.

It has come to my attention that Christine has yet to return to place the ring of our betrothal back on my dead hand as she promised. She had promised to bury me. It has occurred to me if I had truly died I would by now be somewhat decomposed as well as possibly vandalized by the rats in the cellars.

I am a bit disturbed and disheartened to know Christine thought so little of me when I held her in the highest regards.

I ask myself if I truly expected her to honor her promises. In my heart I did but my mind had that niggle of doubt that once she left she would never willingly return to the cellars.

I have heard the managers talking about asking her to come back. They do not know she thinks I am dead. I am equally sure they had never known quite what the connection had been between Christine and me. I surmise my demands for her advancement had been construed as good taste rather than any personal connection. I will not be enlightening them to the contrary.

Of course if Christine does come back I shall not have the pleasure to speak with her or have any personal interaction whatsoever. I can however torture myself from afar with her voice and beauty.

I have endured that sort of torture all my life so I suppose for a small measure of happiness I must suffer a great deal of pain. That is the way my life has been and I suspect it will always be so.

I wonder what I would do if that young noble comes back as well. Will I let him be or will his presence prove to much of a reminder of all I have lost? Well I suppose if he did come back it would only be for a short time as he did sign on for that expedition. Of course he could do the cowardly thing and buy his way out of the commission just as his father bought his way in.

I do not think I would feel half so much respect for the boy should he do such a thing.

Perhaps I will write a note suggesting that my managers do bring back Christine Daaé. After all why should all that training I gave her go to waste? Someone should reap some benefit from all the sacrifices I have made.

Pulling out pen and paper from my desk I search for the darn ink. Ah ha! I should have looked on my organ first. My ink always ends up there.

Tapping my chin with the quill end I compose the note in my mind.

Dear good Messieurs,

I have had time to consider who should be singing on my stage. Having gravely considered several possibilities I think our former diva should come back.

I thought her to be quite adequate. Actually her voice was sublime.

So if you would please, send the dear woman notice that she has been invited back with all benefits she demands. I suggest we give her back her old room. She will want something familiar.

Send her notice post haste please. I shall be checking in to see if my instructions have been followed. We all know what happens when The Opera Ghost is unhappy.

Your obedient servant,

O.G. or Phantom if you will.

Heating the wax I contemplate whether or not I am in the mood for a bit of amusement. Those two simpletons always give me a laugh with their fear.

Yes I rather think I would enjoy seeing them jump and shake a bit. It has after all been some months since I last made any demands. I am due some entertainment.

What else does a lonely ghost have to do? I must take my fun where I can.

A/N: Please give a review. Let me know how it seems to you.

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O.K., I just read both entries. It is awesome. Please continue. Please. You captured that version of Erik completely. You are a very talented writer. I love forward to more. Oh, I love the more deformed version of Erik. He tears at my very soul. Seriously, More, Please.

Love,

Tracy

Edited by JustCallMeTracy

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To make it easier for readers to enjoy each chapter, we should keep this thread for the author's chapters.

I have created a thread for Hot4Gerry's story in the Fanfiction Feedback subforum.

I will also leave a link for the feedback thread in the author's first post.

Heart of a Phantom

In that thread, readers can leave feedback, to keep this thread organized and easier to follow.

Enjoy!!

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Heart of a Phantom by Hot4Gerry

Chapter Three

Wolves in Sheep Clothing

Across the waters from France lay England. Traveling to the south and then a bit to the east there was a small little village of some hundred farmers and their families. As in every community there were those who had plenty all the way to those who had next to nothing.

Among these people Anna Lee Carlyle lived with her two maiden aunts Prudence and Charity. Anna Lee considered herself to be among the people in the middle.

She owned nothing other than her clothes and shoes and as circumstances were not likely to change more than likely this would always be so.

The kindest description for Anna Lee would be that she was a sweet natured girl. She had been blessed with a shock of unruly red hair that curled nicely on the best of days but frizzed and stuck out wildly on the worst days. She did have beautiful blue eyes. Not just an ordinary blue but a deep almost purple sort of blue. Freckles coated the bridge of her nose and across her cheeks. Her skin had a clear translucent quality that many women would kill to have.

The kindest observers called her a handsome woman from sturdy stock. Anna Lee suspected they meant because she had a milkmaids figure she was not acceptable as were those thin aristocrats that dined at the manor house.

Anna Lee had come to the conclusion she would never have the wherewithal to be a fashion plate and would have to be satisfied with being blessed with ample curves that would never be in fashion as well as simple frocks. As her aunts said and she could not disagree, what need had she for finery. The barnyard did not lend itself kindly to well dressed maidens or gentlemen.

Men enjoyed looking at Anna Lee from the chest down. Those men Anna Lee sent packing. Her aunts thought she sent them away because she had airs above her lowly station. Time after time they would ask young men and older men as well to come chat with Anna Lee over tea and scones.

The eyes of the gentlemen never went as far as Anna Lee’s face. She may be an old maid but she would not bed a man just to assuage a passion. Truth be told, she had not been at all excited by any of those fine gentlemen. They had left her as cold as the kitchen’s stone floor.

Her aunts were neither mean nor kind to her really. In fact they cared not one way nor the other if she stayed or went away. The only thing they might miss would be her much younger and stronger hands and back. For her keep Anna Lee kept house, grew vegetables, cared for the chickens, collected eggs for their own use and to sell at the market each morning. The household chores also fell to Carolyn as well. She also aided the three farm laborers with the butchering, feeding and care of the stock. Walk around in a pig wallow for a few minutes the muck out stalls and see if you do not come out smelling a bit like ripe waste.

Her aunts while not rich by anyone’s standards did have a certain bit of money and one hundred acres they had inherited from their father as well the prestige of their illustrious name. Anna Lee’s mother had drug the name through the mud when she ran off with that painter fellow who had left her high and dry financially as well as with a child on the way. As soon as he had found out Carolyn had a little one on the way he left her in Paris where he had gone to paint. He had used a portion of Carolyn’s own money to take them to Paris. Upon learning this Carolyn’s father had shut off her accounts. She got not one farthing more from her father.

Carolyn had not been of a strong constitution at the best of times. Bearing a child had been far too much for her body to bear. Her sisters had taken her in when she came knocking at their door pleading to be welcomed home. They had seen it as their duty to show Carolyn the errors of her ways. They had not let her forget her debt to them until the day she died. Upon her death her daughter had gained the lectures on prudence and gratitude for charities given to the undeserving.

Anna Lee marveled how many times her aunts incorporated their own names into a lecture while neither had any idea what the words truly meant.

If her grandfather had not been such a stickler for what he considered proper behavior and what he deemed wicked he would have left Carolyn her portion of the small estate. Things being what they were she had been disinherited.

As her aunts considered Anna Lee more servant than relative they paid her a small stipend to buy her clothing and shoes and personal essential items. They did complain about being embarrassed when she purchased clothing from the second hand shop. The clothing never really fit and had to be altered but the price met Anna Lee’s budget. She could buy two and sometimes three dresses for what one new one would cost.

The harvest this year had gone extremely well for everyone in the area so a ball had been planned. Prudence and Charity were in luck as their good friends the Grand Duke Roger Andrew Hanover and his wife Duchess Amanda Sterling Hanover would be staying in the manor house for a couple of months before going to live in France for a year so that Roger could negotiate business while his wife enjoyed the opera and shopping if fashionable Paris.

They were home in England looking for a woman to travel with them as companion to Amanda. It would not be seemly for Amanda to appear in society on her own. So far they had no luck. When Prudence and Charity had lunched with the Duke and Duchess they had wanted to shout hallelujah.

Upon discussion they felt it would be perfect for Anna Lee. After all what prospects did she have? She had already turned twenty and seven. With no looks to speak of and no dowry she had little chance of being anything but a burden to them.

They wished to travel a bit this winter to someplace a little warmer than the English countryside. They did not wish to take Anna Lee with them nor did they wish to subsidize her while they were away. They wanted to close up the house with only the caretaker coming in now and again to keep up the repairs.

Being a companion for Amanda seemed the perfect solution. Upon mentioning Anna Lee, Amanda and Roger said of course they would consider the woman. Any relative of theirs had to be a proper lady.

Oh but a proper lady would indeed have ran a mile had she known what the Duke and Duchess truly wished for in a servant. Too late Anna Lee learned what an awful mess she had gotten herself into. But of course that did not come about until she was already in Paris and far from home with no other means of support.

The Duke would prove himself to be a lecherous wolf hiding behind his kind gentle exterior. The Duchess would aid him in his quest for pleasurable pursuits.

Anna Lee’s aunts had invited the Duke and Duchess to dine with them. Anna Lee had been surprise when they had instructed her to join them.

Sitting at the table with the others she had felt out of place. She had neither dress nor manners to match them. She was a plain girl with plain tastes and manners. She did not have the funds nor the need really to dress fashionably. From what she had seen in the catalogues her aunts received from Paris and London the garments most women wore underneath were nothing but some contraptions designed to torture women while compressing them into unrealistic shapes Anna Lee had no need for those types of undergarments.

The Duke and Duchess seemed to take particular interest In Anna Lee which had taken her by surprise.

After the second dinner invitation within a week the couple had put forth their proposal. Anna Lee had been excited but also a little cautious. Why would they think her an appropriate companion for the likes of Amanda, as Anna Lee had been instructed to call her?

Everything had been rushed once Anna Lee had given her consent to become Amanda’s companion. Arrangements had been made so quickly it seemed as if Anna Lee lay her head down one night then woke up in Paris the next.

Little niggles of doubts and worries kept trying to sneak in to warn her that something was off. Things did not have the ring of truth. Anna Lee had been overwhelmed by their generosity and kindness even if at times it seemed forced. Once in a while Anna Lee would look at the couple and see disturbing looks passing between them, nothing she could put her finger on but some intuition was trying to give her warnings to keep up her vigil where those two were concerned.

Ah but Anna Lee allowed herself to be blinded for a time by the luxury around her. Pretty outer wrappings sometimes hid an inside filled with worms.

A/N: Please give me a review in the feedback section. I have a few comments on this thread but nothing in feedback. It is so empty I here crickets chirping. Chirp. Chirp. Chirp. See? Told you so.

Click HERE to leave feedback

Edited by Hot4Gerry

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I have taken a giant leap for me as I am technology challenged. I got a webpage. Nothing fancy. I don't know zip about posting picture or anything else on it. I posted the Prologue for a story that I can't post here as it is a little too risque.

This is the link I hope it works.

Visit My Website

Edited by Hot4Gerry

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The link works for me--and I read the prologue with the intention of reading more!! I don't know

if my heart can take reading two Erik fan fictions at once!! But I know I'm gonna love them.

Thanks,

J.

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