"Christine?" His voice was husky and deep with passion. There was a wildness in his eyes that I realized must have been reflected in my own. I felt as though my skin was too tight. I could not find my voice to speak as he studied me in the low light. I knew what he was waiting for. Why couldn't I say the words, why did they lay dead on my tongue?
"Oh Christine." He nuzzled against my neck, the mask cold on my skin, his fingers a ghostly caress against the back of my neck. What did he think, in those moments, that I had somehow had mistaken, that my passion has suffered a fearful death?
Oh my Erik, I wish I were stronger, I wish I knew how to tell you what I needed.
I curled my fingers into the hair at the nape of his neck. I drew on it gently forcing him to raise his eyes and look at me. His gaze held such hope. Such desperate desire that I ached with it. I pulled his mouth to mine once more, having only the actions of love and none of the words. I poured everything I was into that kiss till I was sure he must be filled to over flowing with me, I can feel him shaking in my arms, before he finally curled his around me in acceptance.
His lips parted as though he meant to speak, but I could not resist the lure of deepening that kiss, of feeling him stiffen in surprise before devouring me in return. I trembled with pleasure at the warmth of his mouth, the sheer intimacy of this honeyed embrace. He held me tightly as enthralled by this new and exciting exchange as I was. He mimicked my actions timidly, as though he feared I might take this new secret from him. There were so many secrets I wanted to share with him. So many passionate mysteries I'd had no name for, but they were there in the promise of his touch.
It was wrong of course, it wasn't a woman's place to seek her husband's attentions, but Erik had always been unlike other men, and if I wished to be worthy of him at last I too would have to unlike other women. I would have to make my desires known, for if I waited for the Angel to finally take me, I feared I would be going gray around the temples. My loving Angel treated my love like a precious jewel, but seemed so certain his was a broken toy.
We clung to each other for a long endless moment, before he seemed to realize we were still standing between the worlds. My feet firmly planted on the floor of my dressing room, he was still in the damp passage beyond.
"Christine," he whispered my name again, his voice even darker than before.
I shivered in reaction moving to step through the threshold. As I moved by him, he curled his arms possessively around my waist, and tucked my body easily against his own, I felt the warmth of his breath on my neck and shoulder as he leaned forward to speak against my ear. "You appear to have forgotten something in your haste."
I glanced at him sharply, confused, still unable to think clearly. In answer his hands slid down my corseted front, lingering over the swell of my breast in proprietary fashion. A hot blush covered my face as I realized I was still dressed in my costume. I swallowed hard wondering what would happen if I asked his aid in removing it.
I moved slowly back into my dressing room, drawing him with me over the threshold. His fingers held gently in my own. I could feel the fine tremors that shook him, and I knew how very much he wanted to simply pull me back into his arms.
"Help me," I whispered, moving so I was standing in front of the mirror. I waited with bated breath as he moved to stand behind me. His hands fell lightly on my shoulders, before skimming down my back, his gaze on mine in the mirror before us. I trembled inwardly as heat spiraled through me at the sound of the silken laces being drawn from the eyelets. The soft rasp of silk against metal grommets, the slow loosening of the garment. His mouth brushed a ghostly kiss against my bared shoulder. His mouth lingered there for a moment, before he slowly slid the garment down my arms. I met his gaze in the mirror again, feeling my skin tingle in awareness.
His hands moved slowly over the buttons that held my skirts in place, loosening them and urging me to step out of it. I found myself reaching toward him to steady myself on his shoulder. His bowed head lifted and our gazes locked and the fire in his eyes was so welcome. So familiar and longed for. I would have my wish tonight.
I stood before him in nothing by my corset and garters and felt myself flush with pleasure at the unmistakable hunger in his beautiful gaze. He urged me to sit on the small stool before my dressing table. I gasped softly as he lifted on of my foot and grasped the sheer stockings that set next to my dress on the table. He slowly rolled the fabric along my slender legs, lingering over hollows and dips, before grasping the garter at my thigh and clipping it to the stocking. I was shocked by the raggedness of my breath, of my inability to form coherent thoughts as he continued to dress me slowly, provocatively.
The other stocking and garter, his fingers brushing lightly against my inner thigh, the feel of his fingers brushing fleetingly across my middle, along my breast, my arms, ghost caresses that left me hungry for firmer, deeper touches. What on earth was he doing to me.
By the time the last piece of clothing had been buttoned into place, I was a shaking mass of wild emotions, my body on fire, my mind hazy with pleasure and frustration. Catching his gaze as he took my hand to lead me toward the mirror once more, I was elated to see that he appeared in no better shape. He appeared to be in fine control, but I could see the brightness in his eyes, the hot hunger that lived there, that had frightened me so once.
"Erik." I whispered his name softly, watched as he turned his head to look at me. His gaze molten in the candle light. "Erik I love you." I said the words slowly, caressing each syllable savoring them because it was the first time they had passed my lips. How I loved him.
She loved me. I could still taste her on my tongue, feel the silken texture of her lips against mine, and she loved me. The intensity of that simple statement made me tremble. Her eyes met mine boldly, the innocent ingenue who had so enthralled me all those months ago, no where in evidence, this was my wife. When had that happened? When had she become so sure, and confident her in adore of me.
I no longer questioned the fact that she loved, and desired me. Her desire left me baffled, I had known she would come to love me, if given the chance, it might have been arrogant of me, but I was certain of that if nothing else. I had always feared she would never give herself the chance. Yet, she had without my knowledge. At some point in the weeks of our marriage, she had come to love me, or perhaps it was merely that she realized she loved me. The desire I had never even dared to dream of. Never dared to hope she might return my passion in such away.
Passion burned in her eyes, it was communicated through the shaking of her hand on my arm, the breathless quality of her voice as she murmured my name. I pressed my mouth to hers in response, drawing her warm breath into myself, sharing her soul.
"Take me home," she whispered against my lips, before wrapping herself around me ardently. Pleasure coursed through me at her words, her actions, I curled my arms around her in a brief embrace, before turning and drawing her to walk next to me.
This time the journey to our home was a haze of pleasure, soft caresses and stolen kisses, I was barely aware of the passages we walked. The closer we came to the lake, the more I forced myself to pay attention, least in our careless passion we fall prey to one of my many traps.
The boat swayed dangerously, as she settled herself before me, her slender legs peeking from beneath the long skirts I had arranged around them. She smiled at me, a brilliant blush coloring her cheeks as she caught the direction of my gaze. She shifted, showing more of her stocking clad legs as if to say, look your fill, all that I am is yours.
I helped her from the boat, and she clung to me for a moment, as if even that brief separation had been too long for her. Her mouth sought mine wildly, and I struck once more with the knowledge that in this she was truly the aggressor, the one who would teach me.
"Come." She whispered, her normally clear voice, husky and low in the cool air. I was surprised by how arousing I found the sound, of how very much I wanted to swallow the sounds that left her lips with my own.
Inside the house I was pushed against the door, her warm supple body pressed boldly against my own, she held my eyes with a look of fiery self possession. As if she were daring me to back away. As if she were challenging me to be her lover in truth.
It was a challenge I was more than willing to meet, her mouth tasted somehow sweeter here in our house, my hands wandered across her body with greater certainty, and any cloth that frustrated my quest to touch soon found itself removed, sometimes by my own shaking hands, other times by her impatient fingertips.
Our mouths met again, and again as if we could not get enough of the taste of each other, as if we were sharing some great secret that could only be told in the exchange of honey sweet caresses that left of both gasping for breath.
Her hands were everywhere, touching caressing, slipping beneath cloth, stealing my breath as surely as I had stolen hers. I lifted her in my arms, swept toward the bedroom we had never shared, and settled her on the gloriously soft linens.
Only than did I realize that these were new linens that the bed had been made, perhaps that very morning, that it was clean and appeared to have been waiting, even the air smelled fresh with warmth. She offered me a tender smile, drawing me to her.
I felt him start as he noticed what I had done to this room only this morning, I had chosen, and I had prayed that even if the words were left unsaid that the actions would reveal my intent. He trembled in my arms once more a mixture of fear and certainty and it struck me how very strange it was that it was my husband who was nervous. I was no more experienced than he in these matters, but I seemed to be taking the lead. I pulled his shirt from his trousers, a blush heating my checks as I pressed wanton kisses to the flesh I had revealed, aware of his fear, his uncertainty.
I thought I had understood all that kept him from me, but I realized as I unveiled his body, that I had only grasped a part of his fear. True the deformity went no further than his face, but his body with its lithe wiry frame and strong supple muscles was a patch work of old scares, that spoke of a life of pain I could never comprehend. I lowered my lips kissing each white mark that stood out in sharp relief against his skin. I laved my tongue over them. Hearing his breath catch, I lifted my eyes to his, caught his lips with my own when he would have spoken. I would have no regrets between us this night. I would not have him apologize for his face, for his body, I would simply have him love me.
He drew in a ragged breath as I pulled my mouth from his and allowed my hands to stray to the fastenings of his trousers, his hands caught mine before I could go any further. He lifted them to his lips, pressing passionate kisses to each knuckle. I shivered as his lips moved heatedly over my flesh, brushed lightly against the underside of my wrist. I gasped as his tongue flicked against the suddenly hyper sensitive skin. I felt heat spiral in my middle in reaction, the wild twist of pleasure that had been steadily building curled fiery fingers into me, reminding me of how desperately I wanted his hands, his mouth on me.
He kissed my lips than, down my jaw, along the length of my neck, beneath my ear. I trembled as his hands gathered my hair and he tugged gently arching my neck into his mouth, he suckled, and kissed, bathing me in the warmth of his breath and the pleasure of his kiss. He followed the line of my collarbone, down two where it met its twin, and lowered his mouth to brush kisses against the swell of my breast. I gasped softly as his fingers made short work of my laces, drawing the tight constricting whalebone garment from my tingling flesh.
I heard his sharp indrawn breath, he leaned forward suddenly, drawing my flesh into the heated warmth of his mouth, sampling my skin as if it was some sweet confection. I gasped harshly as his lips slid lower, teasing, turning me into a yearning mass of hungry skin, and wild heartbeats. I wanted to return the favor, I wanted to feel his arms crushing me to him as I moved my lips over his skin. He settled me back onto the bed, his eyes glazing with desire, his skin cast in a soft golden hue by the candle's wavering light. He knelt before me, taking my hand in his own with such reverence, such quiet and controlled passion.
"You must know that I love you." He whispered hoarsely, "You must know how I desire you." His voice trailed off weakly, and I realized that even after all this, there was still doubt in his passionate eyes, still uncertainty, even though I set before him all but begging him to make love to me. I reached forward, curling my arms around him, joining our mouths in a lengthy kiss, I allowed my hands to stray to the front of his trousers again, I pulled and tugged delicately at the fabric feeling his hands join mine after a moment.
We melded together urgently, hands, fingers, mouths blending together in a wild symphony of music and pleasure. I could not catch my breath, I didn't want to, I wanted to enjoy the breathless pleasure of his touch, the untamed passion that rose and fell between us, brought higher and higher by the wonderful magic in his hands. His body a welcome weight over mine, his fingers twined with my own as we moved together in a tender, erotic dance, that ruled my senses and locked us together in its ecstatic spell.
I lay curled around her, unable to sleep, though I had given her over to Morpheus at last. I was terrified I would drift into the darkness of sleep only to awaken alone. Her body was warm, a pleasant weight pressing me into the mattress beneath us. Her skin gloriously naked silk against mine, her breath a warm cadence on my chest. I could stay like this forever, lost in the warm pleasure of her presence, unconcerned with the passage of time.
This was what it was to be blissfully happy, no remorse stealing the contentment from me, only the beckoning call of sleep, drowsy and satiated, like one who had drunk too long and deep of a stout drought. I curled my arms around her, nuzzling her hair tenderly before allowing sleep to claim me at last.
Erik and Christine and their companions belong firstly to Gaston Leroux, who breathed life into them, and in later years to AL Webber, and numerous others.