Chapter 22-The Secrets Finally Revealed
Chapter 22: The Secrets Finally Revealed
“Señora?” Diego called into the parlor as he saw Beatrice sitting on the sofa working on some embroidery.
“Yes, Diego?” she called back.
“A letter has arrived for you,” he said, walking in and handing it to her. Beatrice’s face lit up and she took the letter quickly.
“Thank you,” she said and he bowed out of the room as she nearly ripped the envelope open.
It had been at least a week since she had written to Antoinette Giry and Meg, and she had been hoping for a response, but this had been rather quick, Beatrice wondered if it was a rejection. Still, it was better than no response at all. She made sure that Erik was no where to be found at the moment then turned to the letter.
I see you have not lost yourself completely in your travels. Yes, Meg has told me everything that you have gone through, and I must say that I am pleased to hear of your new friends and adventures. I had always wanted the best for you, and I am glad to see that Erik has been able to show you that.
As for your questions, I must say that I am surprised that you were able to make Krystal tell you what she did. She can be a rather hard person at times, as I am sure you have seen, although, she has been known to show feeling.
The answer to your question of why I kept all of you secret from each other was simple. You, my dear Beatrice, were innocent, and I could not have you fraternizing with a pirate! Much as I love dear Krystal, she had chosen her path, and at the time, I was not speaking to her. But after that tragic day which I am sure I do not need to mention about yourself, I was sure she could advise me on how you would feel.
As for Erik, I could not have him fraternizing with a pirate either. Krystal can sometimes be a bad influence on people, and thankfully she realizes this, which is part of the reason she is so cold. I did not think I would have to take in another child, but when I found you, I had to bring you in. As you already know, I did not try to hide Erik from you, however, when I took him to the opera house, I thought it best to keep you separate to keep you from harm. I had no idea of the kind of man Erik would turn out to be, and thinking back on all of this now, I know I should have let you visit him as often as possible.
There is a very good reason why I kept Krystal and Erik a secret from each other for so long. You see, petite, about four months after I had found Krystal, a woman came to my home, though I knew not who she was, and told me that she was looking for her daughter. She had been from house to house, even though she was with child, and asking if anyone had seen a little girl with ebony black hair and turquoise blue eyes.
Of course, I immediately fetched Krystal, and when the woman saw the girl, she began sobbing with joy and hugged her. I thought the woman would take her away, but instead, she told me to take good care of her and keep her safe, and that when she had her child, she would pray that it would find its way to me. When I asked her why she was speaking like one of the insane she told me she was going to die in child birth.
Krystal had been three years old at the time, and when she was thirteen, she had decided to leave my care and find a life of her own. That was when I found Erik, at ten years of age, abandoned and deformed. He had been as poor as a mouse, save a small piece of paper he clutched in his hand where ever he went. It was a picture, and when I finally got him to show it to me, it had an image of the very woman that had told me she was Krystal’s mother, and on the back of the picture there was scribbled a word. “Mother”
And so now you know, my darling, that Krystal and Erik are siblings separated when they were children. I never told Krystal until you were thirteen, and I told her never to reveal it to either of you when I asked her take you to Spain. Now, I beg you, Beatrice, tell him. He deserves to know that he is not alone in this world. He deserves to know that he has someone he can call his relative. I kept it secret because I thought it would be best for the both of them, now I know it was not. I beg you, tell him.
Beatrice stared at the piece of paper in front of her. Krystal was Erik’s sister?! That must have been why they seemed to have a strong connection as soon as she and Erik had walked onto the ship! Why they seemed to have a relationship without one knowing anything about the other! Now that Beatrice thought about it, Krystal’s personality reflected Erik’s. Hard, short tempered, and the resemblance was there, but unnoticeable at first glance.
“Oh, Lord,” she breathed when she thought of something else. “I must tell him.”
That shouldn’t be too hard if he didn’t get angry because Madame Giry had never told him and Krystal because she knew and hadn’t told him either. Hopefully, he would be calm if she told him while he was in a good mood and if she was being affectionate.
“Beatrice!” Erik called from the hall. She quickly shoved the letter back into the envelope and picked up her embroidery.
“I am in the parlor!” she called back, resuming her sewing. Erik strode into the room and placed a tender kiss on her cheek before sitting on the sofa beside her. “Where were you?”
“I wanted to ask Ruban something,” he replied simply. He was about to say something more but said nothing when he noticed the letter on Beatrice’s lap. “Did Antoinette write back?”
Beatrice glanced at the letter then rested it next to her on the sofa opposite Erik but still sewed as she replied, “Yes.”
“Well, what did she say?” Erik smiled reaching for the letter. Beatrice quickly yanked it out of reach and their eyes met, his filled with confusion. “What is it?”
Beatrice simply shook her head and Erik glared at her, his temper flaring as he snapped, “What did you tell her?”
“Nothing, Erik,” she insisted, truthfully.
“Then why will you not let me read the letter?” he demanded. Beatrice didn’t reply, and Erik’s blood began to boil. “Why will you not let me read it?!”
She shrunk back at his tone, and he took that opportunity to snatch the letter out of her hand and stand to walk away from her.
“No!” Beatrice cried slightly trying to grab the letter. She then reached out for him to bring him back to her but he strode out of reach.
She watched as he pulled the letter from its envelope and read it over. She prayed he would not go out control, but anything could happen. After all, it was Erik. She knew exactly which part he had gotten to when she saw his eyes widen and his mouth fall open slightly. Only when he dropped the letter to the floor did Beatrice stand and walk toward him. She picked up the letter then led Erik to the sofa and he sat down, his eyes still wide and staring into space.
“Erik?” she tried when he stayed still. She would have given anything to know what was going through his mind at that point, but she would have to let the shock dissolve before she would find out.
“Sh-She…She is m-my…sister?!” Erik stood up and began pacing in front of the fireplace. “This…This is…She is my…my---?”
“Sister, Erik,” Beatrice finished, standing and walking toward him. Erik stopped when she placed her hands on his chest. “She is your sister.”
He examined her face intently. He knew she was only trying to help, but this was too much! Madame Giry knew this whole time that Krystal was his sister and never told him. Krystal knew and never told him when he and Beatrice were on her ship. Now Beatrice knew, and she had been trying to keep it secret! Why?
“Why were you trying to keep the letter from me?” he demanded, his shock turning to anger.
“You were not going to tell me about Krystal being my sister. Why?”
“I was going to tell you, Erik,” she insisted. “I was waiting for the right time.”
“When you were in a good mood!”
Erik simply stared at her, and knew she was telling the truth then breathed in awe, “She is my sister.”
“Yes,” Beatrice whispered, placing her hands on either side of his head. “She is.”
“She wanted to tell me,” he said. “I could see it in her eyes.”
“I am sure she would have, if she could have,” Beatrice said soothingly, running her fingers through his hair.
“I have a sister,” Erik breathed with a slight smile.
“You are not alone,” Beatrice agreed.
“I was never alone after I found you, again,” he whispered.
Beatrice smiled and hugged him close. He was getting back to his old self again.
“What was it you asked Ruban about?” she wondered, wanting to change the subject.
“He was asking if you and I would like to go to the opera,” he said, kissing her cheek, softly.
“And what did you tell him?” Beatrice smiled in contentment as he continued to leave kisses to her cheek.
“I told him I would ask you if you wished to go,” Erik replied.
He couldn’t believe he was doing this. Blatantly lying to the woman he loved just to see the other woman he had loved was a new low for him. The truth was that he had gone to Ruban and told him that he had changed his mind about going to the opera to see Christine perform. Ruban of course had asked if Beatrice would like to go as well, and Erik had no doubt that she would want to. After all, she only new an approximate time of Christine’s performance, not an actual date. He could get away with this easily. He only needed to make sure she said yes.
“I do not know, Erik,” Beatrice sighed, breaking into his thoughts. Erik looked into her eyes and saw serious doubt in their golden depths. Not good.
“Beatrice, I want to take you to the opera,” Erik said, sincerely. “We have not been to a performance since we have left France. I want to share my love of the opera with you.”
At least all of this was true. He did want to share everything he loved with her, and he hoped she would do the same with the things she loved. Beatrice bit her bottom lip in thought, and Erik couldn’t help the small smile that crossed his lips at the sight. She was too adorable for her own good!
“Alright,” she nodded. “When is the performance?”
“The coming Tuesday,” Erik smiled pulling her closer. “The performance is Faust, and you must find a stunning dress so that I can show you off and be the envy of every man who sees us.”
Beatrice giggled and planted her lips to his but broke the kiss before Erik could try to deepen it.
“May I go shopping with Esperanza then?” she smiled innocently, and Erik rolled his eyes.
“Yes,” he whispered. “Buy whatever your heart desires.”
Beatrice giggled again and ran from the room toward the stables to get Ramses to go immediately. Erik sighed and leaned on the mantel of the fireplace.
“What have you done?” he asked himself. “As soon as Christine is on that stage, she will realize why you are really there. Could you not just leave well enough alone?! Why must you pursue Christine when you are in love with Beatrice?!”
Erik looked up to see Diego standing in the doorway.
“What is it Diego?”
“Don and Dona Castillo have arrived,” Diego replied. “Señora LaRouche is greeting them.”
Erik stared at the servant in horror. If Beatrice took the liberty of telling Ruban that they have decided to go to the opera, Ruban will surely tell her that it was Erik who went to him! Erik darted to the door and ran down the hall to the front door of the hacienda. There he saw Beatrice and the Castillos.
“We are so looking forward to seeing Faust on Tuesday, Ruban,” Beatrice smiled and Erik quickly came up behind her.
“Dear,” he choked, drawing everyone’s attention as he cleared his throat. “Why do you not let our friends inside? It is quite damp out.”
Beatrice frowned in confusion at his sudden nervousness but moved from the doorway to let their friends in. Beatrice quickly took Esperanza’s hands and grinned at the Spanish beauty.
“Erik has agreed to let me shop for a new dress for the opera,” she giggled.
“May we go now?” Esperanza wondered excitedly. The two women looked at their husbands who then looked at each other, shrugged, and nodded to their wives.
“You may take our carriage,” Ruban smiled, and the girls darted toward the door, hand in hand. Erik breathed a sigh of relief and Ruban looked at him with a frown. “Are you alright, amigo?”
“Somewhat,” Erik groaned. “I lied to Beatrice.”
Ruban stared at the masked man in disbelief and asked, “What did you tell her?”
“I told her that you came to me about the opera earlier,” Erik replied, leading Ruban to the study and shutting the door behind them.
“Oh, Erik, you gave me a start!” Ruban sighed in relief. “I thought it was something severe.”
“It is severe,” Erik replied, sitting at his desk.
“It is true that a man should not lie to his wife, but this is so small---”
“Ruban, it is serious,” Erik interrupted. “If you only knew, you would understand.”
Ruban sighed and sat on the edge of the desk, and wondered, “So why do you not tell me about it? Then I could fully understand.”
Erik looked at Ruban with wide eyes, seriously debating on that question that always left him baffled. To tell, or not to tell.
“Oh, Beatrice! It is stunning!” Esperanza smiled, as Beatrice emerged from the dressing room.
“You do not think it is too…revealing?” Beatrice hoped, looking at herself in a mirror.
“Absolutely not!” Esperanza laughed, walking toward her friend. “What is so revealing about it that I cannot see?”
“The neck line,” Beatrice replied. Esperanza examined it through the mirror then shook her head.
“It is perfect! Erik will be holding his head high with pride at your beauty.”
Beatrice shrugged and examined herself in the mirror. The dress she was wearing was an emerald green floor length gown of taffeta with black sequins shaped into flowers on the bodice, and black lace lining the square shaped neckline and elbow length sleeves. Around the waist of the dress was a layer of black organza that fell the length of the skirts and flowed behind her when she walked. The reason she was worried that it was too revealing was the fact that because she pulled her corset so tight at all times, it made her breasts look as though they were going to spill over the top, and it was why she wore high collared gowns most of the time.
“Are you sure, Esperanza?” Beatrice frowned, trying to pull the collar up.
“No! Do not do that!” Esperanza cried and quickly stood in front of Beatrice and pulled the collar back down. “Your husband would be disappointed if he saw you doing that,” she murmured with a smirk.
Beatrice’s face flushed a dark crimson at Esperanza’s words making the other woman giggle as she whispered, “E-Esperanza! You should not say such things!”
“Oh, come now, Beatrice. We are both married women! We know what our husbands want.” Esperanza finished fixing Beatrice’s collar and stood away from the mirror to allow the woman to see herself.
“There! I am sure Erik will think you look good enough to eat!” Esperanza giggled, making Beatrice’s complexion turn an even deeper shade of red.
“Stop that!” she pleaded. “We should not talk of such things!”
“Why are you embarrassed?” Esperanza wondered, and Beatrice simply shook her head and ducked back into the dressing room to change. Esperanza could not imagine what Beatrice was going through, and why she seemed so ashamed of speaking of things that were natural between a husband and wife. Realization suddenly hit Esperanza like a brick, and she ran to the door and knocked softly.
“Beatrice?” she called.
“Yes?” Beatrice called back.
“Let me in a moment, please?” The door opened and Esperanza ducked in and shut the door quickly and whispered, “Beatrice, tell me the truth.” The Spanish beauty took Beatrice’s hands in hers and stepped as close as she could so as not to be heard by anyone who may be outside. “Have you and Erik consummated your marriage yet?”
Esperanza needed no reply of words to answer her question because Beatrice’s face turned red again. She pulled away and tried to unlace her bodice quickly to change back into the gown she had been wearing.
“I…I am not sure what you mean,” Beatrice shuddered.
“Beatrice, it is alright,” Esperanza said, walking in front of Beatrice. “I will not judge you.”
“I am not worried about judgment,” Beatrice replied, turning away from her again, but Esperanza followed.
“Then what is it? Are you afraid he will not find you pleasing?”
“No!” Beatrice gasped, once again turning away. Esperanza followed.
“Are you afraid he will hurt you?”
Esperanza grasped Beatrice’s shoulders when she tried to turn away and looked her in the eyes.
“What is wrong?”
“We are not married!” Beatrice whispered finally.
Esperanza stared at her friend in disbelief and pulled her hands away as if burned.
“What?” she breathed.
“We are not married,” Beatrice murmured again. “I am sorry, but we had to leave France without questions, and the only way we could do that was to say that we were married.”
“But why say ‘husband and wife’ why not say ‘siblings’?!” Esperanza wondered.
“Did we look like we could be passed off as siblings, Esperanza?” Beatrice retorted, and she felt guilt sweep over her as the other woman looked at her in total betrayal. She sighed and took her hands in hers. “I am sorry, Esperanza. And believe me when I say that I hated having to lie to you and Ruban, but it was the only way we could start a new life here.”
“Why did you have to leave France?” Esperanza wondered, still in shock. Beatrice sighed and sat Esperanza in a chair in the corner of the room then knelt down next to her.
“It is a long story,” Beatrice replied. “And I will tell you, but you must swear not to say anything about it to Erik.”
“There is my sunshine!” Ruban smiled as Esperanza and Beatrice walked toward the entrance of the house. “Did you have fun shopping?”
Esperanza nodded with a wide smile and threw her arms around her husband’s neck as Beatrice walked toward Erik and hugged him.
“We found marvelous dresses,” Esperanza smiled and glanced at Beatrice.
“I cannot wait to see how the two of you look in them,” Ruban smiled then turned to Erik and Beatrice. “We shall see you the night of the opera, si?”
“Yes,” Erik nodded. “See you then. Have a good night.”
“You also,” Ruban nodded.
“Good night!” the girls called to each other and Erik pulled Beatrice into the house and quickly shut the door.
“Erik, what is wrong?” Beatrice laughed as Erik pulled her toward the parlor.
“I have to tell you something,” Erik said in a near whisper. “I think I just ruined everything.”
“Why would you say that?” Beatrice frowned, standing in front of him.
“I told Ruban everything,” he confessed. “I told him about you and me and Christine and Raoul, and…everything.”
Beatrice stared at Erik in disbelief and amusement.
“I told Esperanza everything as well,” Beatrice smiled slightly. “I do not think we have ruined anything.”
Erik looked at Beatrice for a long time then couldn’t help but smile then wrap his arms around her waist, pulling her close.
“She asked me something rather embarrassing to get me to tell her everything,” Beatrice murmured, running her hands along his arms.
“What did she ask?” he wondered. Beatrice swallowed as she looked into his curious sea-green eyes.
“She asked me if we had…if we had…consummated our marriage yet,” she finally said. Erik’s eyes shot wide in shock and she looked away from him.
“She asked you that?” he wondered in disbelief.
“Believe me, I could not believe it either,” Beatrice laughed slightly. “She is so forward.” She looked into his eyes and frowned when he simply stared at her. “What?”
Erik said nothing and simply leaned forward and softly kissed her lower lip. She looked at him again and he still said nothing then leaned into her again. This time he kissed her fully and Beatrice moaned in approval as she wrapped her arms around his neck and they pulled each other closer. As much as they pulled each other close, he kept his kisses soft and tender. He ran his hands up Beatrice’s back to pull her closer and she lifted her head and he ran a trail of soft kisses down her neck.
“Erik…” she breathed.
She felt her knees begin to shake from his soft touch and he seemed to sense it. He scooped her up into his arms and laid her on the sofa, kneeling next to her and still leaving kisses on her neck. His lips trailed to the neckline of her bodice, but he hesitated between kisses, wondering if she would protest as she had before. When she didn’t, he became more enthusiastic. He trailed his lips back up her neck and began nibbling at her ear lobe.
“Erik!” she gasped in ecstasy when his tongue ran along the skin of her neck.
“You taste sweet, mon ange,” he breathed against her neck making her shiver.
“W-We cannot…” She trailed off and Erik looked at her with slight disappointment in his eyes.
“I understand,” he nodded and stood up, helping her up as he did. “I will be in the music room.”
He walked toward the door and Beatrice frowned in confusion at his tone. Was he upset?
“Erik!” she called, but he kept walking. She sighed in despair and sat back down on the sofa.
“That was nicely handled, Beatrice!” she growled at herself. “You bring up something like consummating marriages, and then you push him away when he is trying to---?!”
She cut herself off. She couldn’t even say what he was trying to do. She wasn’t really sure what he was going to do when he began their lip-locking sessions. She had to admit, if it was not for her sense of morality, she would let him go as far as he wished.
“Do yourself a favor,” she told herself. “Next time, just let him have his way with you. You know you want it as well!”
Erik growled in frustration and slammed the door to the music room shut. He stomped around the room angrily. Why had he tried to do that?! He knew very well already that she wouldn’t want to lie with him! It was stupid to even try to persuade her to! She had feelings for him, he knew that, but he had no idea how far those feelings ran. He doubted that she felt for him enough to consummate their fake marriage.
“Sex-crazed idiot!” he growled at himself. “It is pitiful the way you try to make women you love, love you in return!”
He wasn’t upset with Beatrice. He could never be upset with her for this. He was upset with himself, and he was afraid that he would, in fact, end up alone again. He refused to let himself end up alone. He wouldn’t let it happen, not when Beatrice was just beginning to mean everything to him.