Chapter I: Help me say goodbye
November 16th, 1870
I knew that this was the one night that would be ours, just my Angel’s and mine. There she lay beneath me in her angelic glory that she was willing to offer me. The shimmering bliss in her eye was like the light of the first dawn to me as she gasped in pleasure at my touch. Her heart and soul went from a soft warmth to a wild hotness by the fiery passion from within her, and skin just as heated and drenched with sweat. The sweet ecstasy flowed through my veins and flooded my entire body as she writhed beneath me in pleasure. I loved to ear her call out my name every time I gave myself to her. I tasted the warm saltiness of her milky pale flesh and every last inch of her. She tasted so divine and so bittersweet like Holy wine soothing my throat with every drop. Oh God, she was beautiful! Never in my life had I been so lucky to have someone like my own darling Christine. That very night, I had given my own innocence to her as she did to me. She was mine. I know not if you, reader, are familiar with such a love, but I can only assume that there may be no greater love for anyone who walks on this earth than the love I had and always will have for my Christine.
But that was long ago, reader, and the past is the only happiness I have left of her. Since she had the Vicomte’s eye on her, she could only but accept him for my sake for he’d never stop hunting me down if she refused him to be with me. He’d demanded her hand in order to “save” her from my apparent “dominance” over her.
Poor fool could not even bother to see what was right in front of him. Christine was with me all along and he was too vain for his own good to see that the woman that he loved was already with the man she loved. I knew all too well that she loved me for I could never forget the smile on her angelic face when we made love. We made a promise that we’d never leave each other no matter what the cost. We had promised each other that we would never under the face of God leave one another.
But it is probably most wise never to say never.
Taking great happiness in our affair behind the Vicomte’s back, we were too careless to take care in our bliss. It was not long when Christine became with child with my child and we knew that if anyone was to discover that she and I had sinned against society, we’d both be caught and hanged for sure. Thus, I knew that we could not remain together. After so much that I’ve done, I’d surely be thought to stealing the innocence of the primma donna against her will. As for her innocence, it would never be spoken of again but for how she weakly threw it away. Knowing this, Christine and I both knew that until the child was born, we would only have this time left until we were to leave each other. After that, God only knew where or when we would see each other again.
Within nine months, our child was born. Our beautiful baby girl was born on the date of November 6th, 1870. You cannot imagine the happiness that filled my soul when my daughter was born. She was so little! So very little! I shan’t ever forget her pretty little face that bore her papa’s eyes and her maman’s smile.
“Oh, Erik!” Christine sighed happily as a joyous tear fell from her eye. “Look at her. She’s beautiful!”
“Just like her mother,” I said, kissing her forehead.
“And her father,” she added and kissed my chin.
I smiled down at my daughter and felt something so new and so bright that I could not describe. As if it were the first time ever that I had something that was mine. Perhaps this was what I was meant to live for. This was my family. I traced the silky smoothness of her chubby cheeks and nearly choked in tears when she wrapped her tiny little hand around my finger.
“That’s right, little one,” I said to her. “I’m your papa. And you’re my little cherub.”
“Our little cherub, Erik,” Christine corrected me. “Our daughter.”
“Of course,” I agreed. “Our very own child.”
I enjoyed saying that she was our child and still, I do. It warmed my heart to know that I had a daughter with the one woman that I had loved and obsessed over for years on end. This was the other woman whom my Angel held in her new motherly arms that I would love and obsess over. She was so sweet. With the pale, porcelain flesh that her mother had along with her smile, and with my blue eyes and a tiny little tuft of black hair on her little head, she was everything that I had imagined her to be.
“And our child,” Christine said to me, “needs a proper name, don’t you think?”
“True,” I said, thinking of the perfect name for my daughter. What name would be good for a little cherub? Monique? No, too fancy. Josephine? No, too plain. What was the perfect name for this little princess of mine? Something lovely as to compare to the little angel that she was, but not too rich as to deem her a spoiled little brat.
But then, a perfect name shot in my head. Claudia. What a lovely name. It sounded like the name of a heroine from a wonderful book that I might have read long ago.
“What about Claudia?” I said without a second thought. I liked the way the sound of her name rolled from my lips.
Christine’s face lightened and smiled at the sound of that name.
“Claudia!” she repeated. “What a lovely name!”
“Then that’s her name?” I asked her and she nodded happily.
“Yes,” she said. “It’s the perfect name for her.”
“Alright then. Claudia.”
Claudia. It really was a perfect name. A very Bronte-like name that I imagined telling stories of her adventures in a fine book. I could just see her as wonderful artist one day. She’d make a great artist one day.
My heart was weighed down with the floor of heaven as I looked upon my daughter, but angels fell as tears formed in Christine’s eyes. It was a great shadow in the light that I was so used to seeing in her eyes that now shaded into darkness. They were not the same tears of happiness as that she had shed any longer; they fell from her deep sorrow that her daughter would never again see her father. She knew that this day would come and here it was. Our final day together. After tonight, I would never see her again. I tried to hold her in comfort, but the tears that she had shed were infectious and poisonous against my fallen strength. The same tears that she had wept passed on to my own eyes and fell heavily, victorious against my will.
“Why did this day have to come so soon?” she sobbed. “A day like this should have been happy. Why do I have to leave you when this child is ours?”
“I wish you could stay,” was all that I could stay, and I did. Nothing else in my mind was thinking otherwise. I desired for nothing more than for Christine to stay with me.
“Maybe I can,” Christine said with a small inch of hope. “Maybe we could run away together and we’d never come back again. It’d be just the three of us: you, me and Claudia. We’d run away and never look back here again and we’d live happily ever after like in the Fairy Tales.”
I cannot tell you, reader, what this meant to me. I could tell that there was very little hope in her voice and I could see why, for it could never be true. Not with the Vicomte on our backs. I tried to smile, but the truth stopped me from doing so ad I could only but shake my head.
“No, Christine,” I said. “Claudia can’t stay here. She can’t stay with me and nor can you. If you do, half of Paris will be on our tails, trying to find us. After all I’ve done, there’s no doubt that they’ll hunt me down and accuse me of kidnapping the both of you.”
Christine only sobbed with heavier tears than she could hold. She leaned her brow on mine and felt as our tears almost mingled together. I held her face in my hands and kissed her again and again, knowing, but wishing not to, that every kiss would seal closer to the last one of all.
“I wish this moment could last forever,” she mused.
“As do I,” I said to her. “If only this were a Fairy Tale, mon ange. Then the Beauty would live happily ever after with her Beast turned into a prince.”
“You are my prince, Erik,” she said. “Funnily enough, I always thought the Beast was far more beautiful than the prince.”
She kissed me again and I kissed her again passionately and longingly.
“Is this the end for us?” she asked me. “Does it truly have to be this way?”
“I wish it weren’t,” said I. “But perhaps through some strange fate, we shall meet again. I know not how, but I can only hope that we’ll find each other some day.”
Christine smiled and stroked my cheek, which she had desired to be unmasked. She claimed that she wanted the first face that her child would see was mine. I suppose that was the first time that I had ever wanted to leave my mask off.
“Yes,” she sighed. “Someday, though fate, I’ll find you. I believe in fate, Erik. I’ll pray that it shall bring us together. Until then, we must never speak of this to anyone. Not a soul may ever know of this, especially Raoul. But Claudia may know who her father is in the future. I only pray that that day comes soon.”
“I shan’t tell a soul,” I promised and kissed her passionately for the last time.
For a reason that I knew not of, I believed deep in my heart and soul that her words were words of truth. She spoke of fate and how it would reunite us and I believed in her with every fibre of my being. I write this tale now to tell the finder and reader of this journal that I do have faith and to tell them and myself that no matter where I am to go or what I to happen to me or my love and daughter that I will find them. I will not rest until I am back with them one last time. I was not a man of God, and nor did I know much of Him, but I hoped that He had a little pity for us and brought us back to each other through fate. Yes, fate was soon to bring us together somehow.
And fate, thy name is Claudia.