The next morning I woke up to find Antoine still lying next to me. Why was he still sleeping beside me? Usually he is gone by morning but this time he was still there? Did that mean he was not finished with me yet? I just hope he wasn’t staying for several nights here because I know he will want my ‘services’ and I don’t know how much more I could take before I crack and refuse to serve them. But I had to keep going because if I didn’t I would lose my only source of income and I would be starving on the streets and selling myself in order to survive. Just as I thought about getting up for the day I felt someone embrace me from behind and I tensed immediately.
“Oh come on why are you so scared of me? I haven’t hurt you; you do know that don’t you?” He cooed. Is it me or is he really arrogant or ignorant or maybe both? He took my innocence and acts so arrogant around me simply because of the fact he believes I enjoy his advances when in reality I don’t enjoy them at all.
“I better get ready for the day; there is so much to do today. There is cooking, washing and cleaning to do today. I’ll leave you to get ready monsieur.” I said matter of factly. I then left out of bed towards the bathroom so I could get ready for the day.
“Angélique!!! Get down here immediately!!!! I need you to take Antoine and his father to town and you need to do some shopping!!!” I heard Carlotta yell. I sighed a little and ran downstairs to get the carriage ready. After setting up the carriage I got hold of the list of groceries we needed to buy and went back out of the door to get myself in the carriage; Antoine and his father then followed close behind.
After half an hour we eventually arrived in town and I immediately went to the store as Carlotta doesn’t tolerate lateness of any sort. When I got back to the mansion I proceeded to unpack the groceries then began the hard task of cleaning and laundry.
It was part way through the day and I had finished my tasks for the day so decided after lunch to have a walk around the gardens. But just as I finished my lunch and went for the back door handle I heard Carlotta screech my name. Great what did she want this time? I questioned to myself.
“Yes Madame!? What is it?” I yelled in reply.
“I want you to get dinner ready!!! We have guests this evening!” I groaned; to be honest I was rather hoping to have the rest of the day off but my hopes are dashed now. I went to the pantry to get some ingredients to form a meal for our guests. I wonder who was visiting us today. I hope it won’t be Antoine again; I really don’t like that man or trust him for that matter. He seems to make it a habit of regularly using my ‘services’ and I have to obey his instructions otherwise he will be deeply displeased with me and he could complain to Carlotta about me. That means I could get my pay docked or worse.
“Angélique!!!! The guests are here!!!! Get the best wine we have and serve them dinner, now!!!!” I heard Carlotta screech. I rolled my eyes a little and obeyed her instructions since I would lose my pay if I didn’t obey her. I found a vintage bottle of wine in the cellar and took it into the dining room to give to the guests. When I got to the dining room I almost dropped the bottle and I had to bite back a gasp to ensure none of our guests including Antoine knew I was scared of him. It wasn’t just Antoine and his father there but also the managers and the patron from the opera house. What were they doing here? Do they know Antoine or his father in any way?
“Ah Angélique what a pleasant surprise; I have just been getting acquainted with the managers and the patron of the opera house. Maybe you can show them some of your ‘services’ later.” Antoine said slyly and with that he winked at me cheekily. I saw a slightly confused look on the manager with the curly grey hair and was glad he was naive in nature. However, the patron and the other manager looked very interested when Antoine mentioned about the ‘services’ I provide and it made me realise they would most certainly ask for them tonight. I decided to myself I will keep serving Carlotta’s guests to the best of my ability and I will not think about what could happen tonight. I then went about serving the food to our guests whilst ignoring any suggestive looks from Antoine.
After they finished dinner I served them dessert and as I dished it up I could hear the managers talking about the opera house again; there was especially a lot of talk about the Opera Ghost and it made me all the more intrigued.
“Angélique!!! Where’s that dessert!?! Bring it out right now before I dock your pay for making my guests unhappy!!!” I heard Carlotta screech and I quickly bought out the dishes on a tray.
“Here are your desserts. Would there be anything else I can do for you Madame Carlotta?”
“Yes! Go and get some brandy out of the cupboard! We will be serving the guests with it in the drawing room.” Carlotta demanded and with that I walked quickly towards the cellar again to find our best brandy available. I then took it on a tray along with some glasses in the direction of the drawing room. Just as I put the tray down and proceeded to set the glasses out I heard the door open; I saw the managers, the patron as well as Antoine, his father and Carlotta come into the room.
“You may go my dear; we have many things to discuss. I will call for you when I need the glasses cleared.” Carlotta asked politely; but why was she being so kind to me? Usually she demanded everything from me including things I only wanted to give to my husband. Was something going to happen and that was why she was being polite to me or was it a facade to get on the right side of the managers of the opera house?
“Angélique!!!! Clear these glasses immediately!!!! I have something I want to ask of you!!!” I guessed her politeness towards me was short-lived. I knew she was being way too polite for her own good and I knew it was uncharacteristic of her too.
“Yes Madame I’ll do that immediately.”
“Once you’ve cleared those glasses I want you to come back here immediately; there is a ‘favour’ I want to ask of you.” She explained demandingly. I then picked up the glasses and placed them along with the empty bottle on the tray before quickly proceeding out of the door. After putting the glasses in the sink to soak and throwing the empty bottle into the trash I quickly went back to the drawing room. I knocked on the door and when I heard her say enter I opened the door and waited to see what she wanted from me this time.
“Ah Angélique you’re finally here. The managers and the patron here would like to use your services this evening.” I just looked on in shock and anger. How dare she allow these men to use me in such a way without saying anything about it to me first? Does she presume I am now naive about such matters after what Antoine did to me?
“Well, instead of just standing there why don’t you just get yourself ready for these gentlemen over here?” Carlotta questioned sarcastically.
“No.” I replied emotionlessly.
“What was that?!?” Carlotta yelled.
“I said no!” I yelled in reply.
“How dare you!!! I give you shelter, food and a job and this is how you repay me you ungrateful brat!” She yelled and I flinched when she called me an ungrateful brat; I have never been called a brat by anyone before.
“Get out!!!! If you ever step foot in this house again I will call the police! Now get out before I call the police!” I didn’t even stop to gather belongings or a cloak but just ran out of her house as fast as I could. For a moment I was elated as I realised I was free from that dreadful woman but then fear hit me when I realised I had no way of supporting myself now. I didn’t really have any qualifications and I know I won’t get a reference from Carlotta so the only way I could actually earn money was by selling my body at some seedy brothel in Paris. I didn’t stop running until I reached a large building and realised I was at the world famous Opera Populaire. Isn’t this where Carlotta and the managers as well as their patron worked? I know I would never get a job here since I met the managers and my first meeting with them probably didn’t leave them at all pleased with me; especially after rejecting their advances the way I did. I decided to rest my weary head somewhere hoping a good night’s sleep might help me gain better spirits in the morning. I then found myself in an alleyway behind the Opera Populaire and hoped no-one who worked there would find me here and turf me off the premises. As turbulent thoughts went through my head I didn’t realise the fact my life would change dramatically that night......