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Love That You'll Regret

By TMara

Romance

Prologue

Prologue

Christine Daaé was fretting. She nervously glanced at the rococo wall-clock again, probably for the hundredth time in the past five minutes, then sighed. Raoul had only left about an hour ago to check on the condition of the Opéra Populaire, to get an estimate of how much damage had been caused by last night's fire. He had also promised her to ask about her colleagues and friends like the Girys, to find out if they had survived the catastrophe unscathed.

She knew her fiancé could not possibly be back yet and that she should relax, rest a bit more after the almost sleepless night, but her nerves were on edge. So much had happened in such a short time, and to think that all the horror had happened because of her! Because two men had fought for her love, one disfigured, ugly, criminal, yet deeply alluring and a musical genius, the other one handsome, rich, respectable – the safe choice. She had handled the situation badly, she realized, and as a result she had broken one man's heart and had very nearly got the other one killed. Christine shuddered at the memory of the previous night's events. The man she had called her angel had been so unhinged, deranged, it had almost physically hurt to see him rage like that. And yet... she had been willing to stay with him as his wife, in order to save dear Raoul's life.

Christine nervously paced up and down her room, trying to put last night behind her, to concentrate on the present and on her future with her beloved Raoul. They had been sweethearts even as children. They were certainly meant to be together.

Two hours and a million glances at the clock later, Christine finally heard Raoul's carriage returning. She stormed out of her room to meet him in the foyer. The moment she ran down the marble staircase, her fiancé came in through the front door.

"Christine," Raoul yelled, his voice sounding jubilant. "You are free! He can't hurt us anymore. The monster is dead!"

Christine stopped dead in her tracks. She knew this was good news and she should be just as happy as Raoul was. After all, the man in question had been a criminal and had obviously received the well deserved punishment for his crimes. Then why was she suddenly experiencing this feeling of emptiness, as if there were a huge hole in her chest?

While she was still pondering her strange reaction, Raoul had reached her. He hugged her tight and kissed her on the mouth. "Is my Little Lotte speechless with happiness?" he teased. Christine nodded. She plastered a big, fake smile on her face and forced back the tears that had threatened to form in the corner of her eyes. "How?" she whispered.

Raoul smiled. "You can believe me," he said. "Your own friend Meg was one of the witnesses that saw him die. She is fine, by the way, as is her mother, I talked to both of them. Last night Meg was with a group of gendarmes and angry audience members that went in search of that beast. You remember hearing their voices, when we left, don't you? They found his lair deserted, but there was a secret passageway that had been covered up by a mirror. They entered, and soon saw the man running, not too far ahead of them, when suddenly the tunnel collapsed and buried him underneath. Meg and the others were far enough behind him so that they did not get hurt, but the monster was crushed. No man could survive such a cave in."

He interrupted himself when he noticed how silent the woman in his arms was, how unenthusiastic. "Are you not glad that he is gone, Lotte? We can get married now and never have to fear that he will come for you again!" he announced.

Christine shuddered. Dead. Her angel was dead. She suddenly realized how lonely she was. She had lost everything: her father, her angel, her home at the Opera Populaire, her job. Raoul was all she had left. "Hold me, Raoul," she begged, " hold me, I love you. Let's get married as soon as possible."

Raoul kissed her again, then picked her up and whirled her around. "My Little Lotte, I will arrange everything, we can probably get married within a fortnight. Would you like that?" Christine nodded. The sooner they would get married, the sooner she would belong to him, the sooner she would not be so lonely anymore. But while she smiled at her fiancé, her eyes burned with unshed tears.

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