This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
“Don’t worry about me, Daddy.” Christine Daae grasped her father’s cold, frail hand between hers as they waited for the doctor to return with the test results. “I’ll be fine no matter what happens.”
“I know Chrissy. I have but one wish for your future my child.” Gustave Daae wheezed. “I hope you will agree to it.”
“What’s that?” Christine raised her father’s hand to her lips, pressing a kiss to the bony knuckles.
“That you marry the man I’ve chosen for you.”
“You agreed to marry me off to a perfect stranger?” Christine stared into her father’s sunken eyes, shocked. The once clear, brilliant blue irises now dull with age.
Her father coughed into the handkerchief he always carried. “Erik Baxter isn’t a stranger. At least not to me. I knew his parents before they died in the plane crash.” Gustave defended his decision. “Give him a chance. For me.”
Christine stood from her seat, moving to the window. “I won’t do it.”
“Your inheritance is connected to this marriage,” He coughed into the cloth square. “I added the condition to my will that you won’t receive your inheritance unless you marry Erik and remain married for a full year.”
“How could you Father!” Christine never used the term ‘Father’ when addressing her sire, always using the terms ‘Daddy’ or ‘Papa’.
Gustave was taken aback by the use of this different name. “I’m only looking out for you Chrissy. Making sure you will be taken care of when I’m gone.”
“But behind my back?”
Gustave was saved from answering when the doctor pulled open the sliding frosted glass door and entered the room. No doubt with the test results.
“This never gets easier Mr. Daae. No matter how many times I do it.” The man glanced at Christine still standing by the windows. “I have the test results. And they’re not good.”
“You did a lot of tests.” Christine swallowed. “What are the results?”
“Pneumonia. Terminal. I’m so sorry.”
Christine felt an anxiety attack creeping up on her. On wobbly legs, she walked to the chair she had just vacated. Her lungs seemed to constrict, only allowing short bursts of air through. “How... How... Uh... How long...” She stammered, unable to finish the sentence.
Her father finished her sentence. “How long do I have left to live?”
“At maximum, four months.” The doctor’s eyes conveyed deep sympathy. “I would begin preparations for funeral and burial proceedings. I know it’s hard to think about, but do you have a Will Mr. Daae?”
“I’ve had a Will prepared since my wife died,” Gustave assured him. “Everything is taken care of.”
“Good. We’ll need to keep you here for the night Mr. Daae.” He hurried to add, “you can spend the night here too Christine.”
Christine nodded. “Thank you, Chase.”
The doctor nodded then quietly left the room.
Gustave watched his daughter as she fought for air. “Chrissy. It’s alright.” He took hold of her hand. “I’ve lived a fulfilling life.”
“I know Daddy. But I’m not ready to say good-bye.” Christine swiped at the tears sliding down her cheeks. “You’re all I have left.”
“Chrissy. Please do this last thing for me. Marry Erik. He will be good to you.”
“I don’t know Daddy. I’ll think about it.”
“Alright, Chrissy.” Gustave sighed. “It’s for my peace of mind.” He closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep.
“Okay, Daddy,” Christine whispered, watching her father as he slept. I don’t know if I can do this. She told herself. But it’s his last wish. That was a deciding factor.
Erik Baxter stood in front of the floor to ceiling windows in his office, watching the traffic on the street below him. He thought about the news he had received that day. Gustave Daae was gravely ill, and his daughter, Christine, had been told about the condition in her father’s will that she was to marry him to receive her inheritance.
He knew the young Christine. He’d been taken by her the moment he’d laid eyes on her as a teenager. Erik was only a few months older than her. He raised a hand to his snow-white mask. The porcelain hid the mangled side of his face from view. Only a few people had laid eyes on the scarred flesh. His parents had done their best to give him the best childhood possible. Until they died in a plane crash when Erik was twenty. Erik had been old enough to support himself and take over the company, but not without some help from family friends.
Now, he had a shot at a happy life with Christine. If she would just give him a chance. The elevator dinged and the doors slid open to the first floor. Erik exited the building and went straight to the black car with the tinted windows. “To my penthouse Roy.” He instructed his driver.
“Yes, sir.” The man pulled out into the traffic.
Erik settled back against the seat, pulling out his cell phone and tapping the screen for the music app. Digging the set of earbuds out of his briefcase, he plugged them into the phone and slipped them into his ears. Finding his favorite playlist of musicals, he closed his eyes and listened to the music of Broadway’s finest.
Raoul de Chagny watched the actors on the set of the movie, Speed Demon. Carrie cried yet again. “Cut!” He yelled. “Carrie, what’s up today?”
Carrie flinched at his sharp tone. “I’m sorry Raoul, I’m not on my game today. A lot’s been going on lately.”
Raoul hopped down from the director’s chair, walking up to the woman. “What’s wrong.” He asked.
“My parents are getting a divorce and my brother has been blowing off his weekly AA meetings.” Carrie’s brother, Aaron, was a drug addict. Her parents had been having problems with their marriage ever since Aaron was first arrested for driving when he was high.
Raoul looked at her sympathetically. “Would you feel okay if we did this scene tomorrow? I know it’s a difficult one.”
In this particular scene, Baker, played by Russ Campbell, was trying to convince Clover, played by Carrie, not to tell anyone about his secret life as the masked vigilante of Mason City. It was a very emotional scene, but not emotional enough that Carrie would cry. She’d burst into tears during every take so far.
“No, I can do it. I just need a minute to compose myself.” Carrie brushed the tears from her eyes.
“Alright. Everyone take five.” He said to the actors and crew.
Carrie accepted the tissue box her assistant held out. “Would it be alright if I made a quick phone call to my grandmother?”
“She’s very good at keeping me calm. It would help a lot.” Carrie explained.
Raoul sighed. “Alright. You have five minutes.”
“Thank you, Raoul.” Carrie took her cell phone from her assistant, walking to a corner of the stage.
“Be back on set in five minutes. No later.” Raoul called after her. This movie was hopefully his shot back to the top. He might even knock the top film producer Erik Baxter down a notch. That would be like Christmas morning to him. Putting that man in his place.
Christine sat on the cot someone had brought into her father’s room for her, listening to the various beeps and hums of the equipment he was hooked up to, an open book in her lap. Chase had said they would only keep him overnight. Well, that had been three weeks ago. She had barely left his side, only leaving when he urged her to go home and sleep or eat.
His health was declining fast. Faster than they’d anticipated. And as her father’s life faded away, she began to seriously consider agreeing to his last wish. All of the funeral arrangements were set. Now it was a waiting game.
She stared at the pages of her book, not really seeing the words.
“Chrissy.” Her father rasped from his bed.
She shot up from the cot, at his bed in a flash. “What is it, Daddy? Are you alright?” She looked at the monitors. Not being a doctor, she couldn’t make out the readings. But she knew that when the one monitor flat-lined, her father would be gone forever. He had filed ‘do not resuscitate’ papers.
“I know I’ve made mistakes with you dear daughter.” He rested his hand on her cheek. “But I know your mother would be proud of you.”
Christine’s mother, Rosie, had died in a car accident when Christine was six. So had her baby brother Carter. The crash had involved a drunk driver who’d run a red light and hit the car squarely on the driver’s side. Rosie and Carter had both died instantly, not suffering. Christine had cried for weeks, every little thing in their house reminding her of her mother and the brother she had just started to know.
She knew her mother wasn’t coming home.
Finally, her father put their farm house up for sale, moving them to the city. Her father took on the task of both father and mother. Now he was dying, and soon Christine would be all alone. Unless she married Erik Baxter. Which she had decided she would.
“I know Daddy. I’ve come to a decision on the issue of my inheritance.”
Gustave’s eyes lit up slightly. “What is that decision?”
She drew air into her lungs. “I’ll marry Erik. I realize that it is your last wish and therefore you deserve to have it fulfilled.”
“Chrissy, are you sure you’re alright with this?”
“I am.” Christine swept a lock of hair from her eyes. “As you said, Erik’s a good man. He’ll take care of me.”
“Alright. Chrissy.” Gustave watched his daughter’s face. “I love you.”
“I love– ” Christine was interrupted by loud beeps from the heart monitor. “Daddy? Daddy!” She called frantically. “Don’t leave me. Please!” He couldn’t die. Not yet. She hadn’t had a chance to say goodbye.
She raced out the door. “I need a nurse. Hurry.”
Two nurses rushed past her into her father’s room, she was close on their heels. “What’s happening?”
“Does he have a DNR?” One of the women, a petite brunette by the name of Abby, asked her.
“Y-Yes.” She replied.
Just as the heart monitor flat-lined.
Her father was gone.
“No. No no no.” She cried.
The nurses folded the sheet over her father’s head. “I’m sorry Miss Daae.” The one with the red hair said sympathetically, she wore a name-tag that said her name was Jane.
“What’s going to happen now?” Christine asked.
“Now you should proceed with the funeral arrangements,” Abby answered as she smoothed the sheet.
Christine sighed. “I meant where are you taking my father’s body now?”
“He will be sent to the mortuary. Then you will have to get a death certificate.” Abby patted Christine’s shoulder. “I’ll help you with all of it. It can be overwhelming.”
“Thank you, Abby.” Christine brushed away the tears that had collected on her cheeks. “There’s something I need to do first.”
Abby smiled. “Alright. The death certificate has to be filed within five days. Try and come back tomorrow and we can get that done for you.”
“I can do that.” Christine sighed, taking one last look at the sheet covered body of her father. “I have a question. He wanted to be buried with his violin bow. Is that allowed?”
“You’ll have to ask the funeral home about that. But I’m sure it will be alright. It’s a small object.” Abby led Christine out of the room. “You should go home and get some rest.”
“I need to make arrangements to have his last wish carried out,” Christine smiled weakly. “I’ll be back tomorrow.” She waved at Abby and Jane, then turned to the elevators.
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Alex Rushmer: This was not what I expected, but I enjoyed it a lot Malfoy was always one of the characters that I liked a lot, so I like that a lot of this happens between him and Colette. I read the first couple chapters, and I enjoyed your writing style and am excited to see where you take this story. My com...
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LouiseJ2: I enjoyed the detail you went into with regards to the case. It made the UNSUB appear believable. The crisis in the middle of the story was my favorite part, very dramatic but not over the top. I feel like sometimes pairings can be overdone but I liked that some of the relationships were a little...
star_powered: Off Pitch is a fun and sexy lesbian romance filled with incredible humour (one of the few stories that has ever made me laugh out loud), heart-wrenching drama, and lots of fluff. The story respects and normalizes the wlw experience and doesn't resort to victimizing the main characters for plot de...
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