Hey guys! This is a continuation of Love Never Dies starting at the Before the Performance scene. This is the first book I have ever felt comfortable enough to publish. I hope you like it! Trigger Warning: Physical and Emotional Abuse
Christine felt so confused. She loved Erik, but she had to think of her wedding vows. Could she break them so easily?
She couldn't ignore what she felt for Erik. She had promised to sing for him.
"One last time," she had said. She didn't want it to be the last time.
Why had Raoul been so adamant about leaving so quickly? Why didn't he want her to sing? It would help them. They needed the money. It was quite a generous amount and it could help pull them out of their debts.
Christine was happy he wanted to try to fix things between them, but she had to think about Gustave as well. Did she want to keep telling him the lies about his father's identity? Did she want to start fresh and live a happy life with Erik and Gustave in New York as a true family? Could she believe Raoul would stop drinking and gambling for the sake of his family? Would they truly be able to mend their relationship and create a happy home for Gustave to grow up in?
So many questions and feelings were running through her mind as she looked at herself in the mirror. She reached up to adjust some of the pins holding her wild chestnut curls in the elegant bun.
Her eyes drifted down from her hair to the diamond earrings she had just put in before Raoul came in. Raoul had given them to her as an engagement present all those years ago. He had spent a great deal of money on them so she could live up to her title as Countess De Chagny.
Her job was being his trophy wife. Attending fancy events at his side, looking nice, making good conversation with Raoul's friends and business partners, and taking care of Gustave.
When Christine found out she was pregnant, she was thrilled. She had always wanted to be a mother. The first time she looked at him when the nurse handed him to her, she knew he was Erik's child. It filled her heart with happiness.
Raoul was so proud when he looked at Gustave. Oh, how she wished it had been Erik standing beside her instead, coaching her and holding her hand through the birth. It should be him holding her close and admiring their beautiful son with her. If only she had a way to tell Erik the good news. She wanted him to know his son.
"He left you. Things are better this way." The voices in her head reminded her.
Christine couldn't tell Raoul the truth. She would lose everything. She would let him believe Gustave was his.
Raoul had money and could provide a good life for them. If he knew the truth, he could kick her and Gustave out. They would be living on the streets. They wouldn't survive. Christine needed to stay with Raoul for the sake of Gustave.
When Raoul had lost his fortune gambling, she began to worry. He began staying out later than usual and coming home extremely drunk. When Christine looked into his eyes, there was none of the gentleness and understanding that once defined her childhood sweetheart who became the sweet boy from the opera box so many years ago. Now, all she could see in them was sadness and anger.
She had tried talking to him, tried to tell him it was unhealthy to drink like this. It was bad for both the health of himself as well as the health of their relationship. He hadn't wanted to listen. Instead, he took all of his anger out on her and became physically violent. He grabbed her by the arms with a vice grip and pushed her up against the wall using his body weight to pin her there. She could smell the liquor on his breath when he spoke.
"Do you not appreciate everything I have done for you? I am allowed to have a few drinks when I've had a bad day. I have been so stressed, and you are only contributing to it! Why don't you just shut your mouth and leave me be? Go take care of the boy."
"Raoul… please…" Christine quietly cried, placing a hand on his shoulder.
"Please what?" Raoul yelled, jerking away from her touch. He turned around quickly and faced her. His eyes were filled with rage as he glared at her. "Did I not tell you to leave me? Let me drink in peace! If I hear one more word out of you, I swear you will regret it!"
Christine shrunk as she watched his hand swing back and winced as she felt the sting of it hitting her cheek. It would most definitely leave a mark. She reached up and rubbed her cheek before rushing out of the room. She covered her mouth with her other hand, trying to conceal the sobs that threatened to come screaming out of her.
She hadn't wanted to wake Gustave. He was only 5 then. She couldn't expose him to such horrors life could wrongfully bring.
This became a normal happening in the De'Chagny household. If Christine didn't do everything exactly as Raoul wanted, he would hit her. She cried herself to sleep most nights.
She wished she could leave him and get out of the vicious cycle of abuse. She needed to do what was best for her child. But she had to stay strong for Gustave. He was her life.
He had seen her cry once before. She and Raoul had a big fight on the way home from a dinner party that night. Gustave was 3 and had woken up for a glass of milk. Christine had been in the kitchen getting something cold for her sore cheek. When Gustave heard her sniffling, he tugged on her skirts looking up at her with the most innocent face.
Christine had told him she had just been hit by the carriage door by accident. He placed his hand on her sore cheek and gave it a sloppy, wet, but adorable kiss. This warmed Christine's heart and brought more tears to her eyes.
Gustave had Erik's heart. Even at such a young age, he took after Erik so much.
If only he were here with them.
Christine held him close to her chest and kissed his forehead. She carried him to bed and stayed with him, combing her fingers through his hair until he fell asleep.
When she saw Erik again for the first time in ten years, she felt her soul come alive again. She tried to keep her distance from him, knowing that if she didn't, she would fall under his spell once more. She was angry at him for leaving her and she wanted him to know it. She had wanted to make a life with him. Maybe she still did.
He said he had been ashamed of himself and was afraid of being rejected by her once more. She felt her heart clench at this. He had been rejected so many times. She had made it worse by adding herself to the long list of people who had betrayed him.
And oh poor Erik. Gustave had seen his face and screamed. Her heart ached at the thought. She understood that it could scare a young child, but she had hoped that her son would have been more accepting of it. Would have been able to see past it to the man underneath.
Christine thought back to when Gustave was younger. He reminded her so much of Erik. He had always had a fascination with the darkness and what it held. He loves music and created the most heart-wrenching melodies. Just like Erik. He always wanted to know all the mystery and uniqueness of the world.
But Raoul was her husband and the man Gustave knew as his father. She was legally bound to him. She couldn't tell Gustave about Erik. Erik had specifically asked her not to tell him with such a desperate tone. She needed to respect his wishes and move on. Despite all of their differences, Christine and Raoul needed to sort their lives out and make it work.
She blinked a few times, bringing herself back into the present. She felt the sting of tears in her eyes.
As she looked at herself in the mirror, she wiped away a stray tear falling down her porcelain cheek knowing what her decision needed to be.
Christine stood, taking her earrings out and putting them in the beautiful mahogany box on the vanity. She quickly made her way to the door to find Raoul to tell him her decision and so they and Gustave could make it to the Atlantic Queen on time.
As her hand touched the doorknob, she felt a familiar chill radiate through her body.
Sorry if this seemed a little short and backstory-y. I hope you guys liked this chapter. Not too bad for my first published chapter, I hope. Please let me know if you would like me to continue updating this story.