Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chapter 16

Chapter Sixteen:
Vengeance is Mine, I Will Repay, So Sayeth the Lord
          As the carriage rumbled down the dark city streets, Christine felt more and more of her hope fading. She’d not seen Erik since he’d left her in the tunnels. Was he hurt? Had he deserted her? Across from her sat the most evil man she’d ever met in her life and she’d walked right back into his clutches in the hopes of a rescue. A shudder traveled down her spine as she felt his evil eyes on her. Erik said that he was a monster, but he was wrong. A face didn't make a person a monster. Jean-Louis Gachot was a handsome man by anyone’s standards; athletic of build, with dark brown wavy hair and doe-brown eyes that on another man would be nearly irresistible. And yet…Erik was the one who’d taken her in, cared for her, held her while she cried, and wiped away her tears. Gachot had abused her mind, body, and soul to the point she felt worthless. If Erik’s face made him a monster, then Gachot must be the very Devil himself. 
          A shift in the seat beside her had Christine cringing closer to the door even as his fingers twisted painfully in her hair to hold her still. Without saying a word, Gachot removed the hairpins one by one and then loosened her braid so her curls flowed loosely down her back. Keeping a tight grip on her hair, he leaned forward and started on the buttons of her shirt, relishing her whimper of terror and her elevated heart rate. Desperately, she tried to push his hand away but he merely tightened his hold and pulled her head back until she cried out in pain. Satisfied she’d learned her lesson, he returned his attention to her shirt and then to the band she’d wrapped around her chest to conceal her womanly figure. 
          “Do not even dream of covering yourself, my dear.” His murmur was coldly whispered into her ear even as her hands were rising to her breasts. Her tears flowed harder as she dropped her hands back to her lap. Christine captured her bottom lip in her teeth hard enough to break the skin to keep from screaming when he grabbed one of her breasts in his hand and cruelly and painfully fondled it. “These past two years have been good to you. You’re now a woman instead of the child I remember. How many have had you since, my dear? How many have you spread your legs for?” Abruptly, he released her and moved to the seat opposite. “Undress.” 
          “Wh…what?” Her face, already pale with fear and pain, turned a sickly shade of white. “No! I can’t…please don’t…” 
          “What did you say?” One dark brow arched in disbelief and Christine whimpered at the anger building in his eyes. “I thought I heard you tell me no. I’m sure I was mistaken… wasn't I?” 
          Terrified, Christine dropped her eyes and began working on the ties of her trousers. Her hands shook so badly she was having trouble with the knots. Gachot, running out of patience, pulled a knife from his jacket and sliced through the laces. With her trousers cut nearly in half, it wouldn't be long before she was naked and totally at his mercy. Even as she slid the ruined cloth down her legs, she prayed fervently that Erik was nearby.


          Carefully hidden, Erik prayed to the god he never truly believed in to keep his angel safe. He had no way of knowing what was happening inside and it ate at his soul; Gachot didn't seem like a man who cared to wait to slake his disgusting lusts. The thoughts of what Christine had to be suffering at that monster’s hands made him curse this fool of a plan even more than before. Before his anger could cloud his judgment, the carriage pulled up to a run-down warehouse whose bay doors were already open and waiting. The sound of their closing echoed throughout the building and sent fear into his heart. He would have to act soon; he’d not have his angel violated again. 
          The coachman climbed down and opened the door for his master and his plaything; lustily and openly ogling her now-naked body. He and Gachot laughed at some shared joke before Christine was dragged over to the far wall and shackled hand and foot. He gave her an order too quiet for Erik to hear and, when she didn’t obey immediately, the Comte slapped her hard across her face and split her already bleeding lip even more. The darkness very nearly stole away rationale and Erik was hard pressed not to reveal his presence and rescue his Christine. With great effort, he reigned in his murderous fury; if there were more men in the warehouse, he’d do his angel no favors by getting careless now. While Gachot was distracted, Erik slid silently from beneath the carriage and caught the coachman with an expertly thrown lasso. Quickly pulling him close to cover his mouth, he whispered a question in the man’s ear and received a quick shake of denial. There were no others in the building. Unfortunately for the coachman, Erik had seen the way the man’s eyes had darted towards one of the doors and his punishment for the lie was a quick tug that left the man on the floor quite dead. 
          Sparing a glance at Gachot and Christine, he nearly gave away his position at what he saw. The man was touching his angel in places he had no right to. Already there were bruises forming on the fair skin of her breasts and thighs. Desperate now to hasten the man into eternal torment, Erik hugged the shadows as he crept towards the door the coachman had indicated. Once more he gave a silent prayer, this time that the hinges were well-oiled, and was rewarded when the door swung open silently. There were two men at the window watching Gachot; one was leaning against the wall with a cruel smile on his face while the other had pulled up a chair and lowered his trousers to bare his throbbing manhood. He even had the temerity to stroke himself as he watched his boss violate the girl. Erik smiled maliciously as the lights inside the small room went out. His evil laughter, though too soft for anyone outside to hear, was the last sound the two men heard. Erik turned to stare out the window as the last of the two bodies hit the floor. 
          Hold on, my love, the Angel of Death has come to free you.


          Every part of her body ached; her wrists were cut and bleeding from the shackles that held her upright, her breasts were stinging from his constant pinching and harsh groping, her face throbbed from his slap, and the area between her legs burned from his torturous probing fingers. Christine hadn't seen Erik and was sinking further and further into despair. 
          “You don’t seem to be enjoying yourself, my dear.” Gachot’s cruel chuckle sent a frisson of pure terror down her spine which increased exponentially when he began removing his clothing. “I suppose what you’re waiting for is a repeat of our first glorious night together, hmm? Oh, but let’s not be dull, my little whore. Variety is the spice of life, you know, and I’m sure you've learned much in the last two years.” Mute with fear, Christine watched as his jacket and waistcoat were joined by his shirt, shoes, and trousers. Once more he stood before her, naked and aroused. Once more she was helpless and at his mercy. 
          Placing a chair between her splayed legs, Gachot sat and ran his hands up her thighs to cruelly probe her once more. Her desperate cries and attempts to avoid his painful touch only served to arouse him more and he continued his assault while stroking his aching erection. 
          “Do you know what, my dear? Though I want nothing more than to fuck you until you beg for mercy, I have thought of something even better. Something that will break you, destroy you, and make you mine forever.” He smiled up at her and she shook with fear at the mad glint in his eye. “I’m going to make you enjoy it.” 
          Holding her hips in an iron grip, Gachot leaned forward and ran his tongue up the abused and stinging flesh and savored her gasp of shock. Oh yes…this was going to be even better than strangling that little ballet rat while he fucked her, watching the life fade from her eyes as he exploded inside her tight body. This would be destroying a mind. Spreading her open with his thumbs, he lapped at the tiny bud that was the key to a woman’s pleasure. Chuckling evilly when he felt her shudder, he inserted one long finger deep inside her. 
          “Can you feel that, my little whore? You’re so wet. You want me now, don’t you? You want…” 
Suddenly, Gachot was jerked away from her and, after a brief moment, the shackles were being removed from her ankles and wrists. Daring to open her eyes, she nearly fainted when she was wrapped in Erik’s coat and held close to him. She clutched at his shirt desperately; scared he was a figment of her imagination and would disappear if she let him go. He held her close, stroking her hair with the lightest of touches while his heart broke as she dissolved into tears. 
“You’re safe now, mon ange. No one will ever hurt you again, Erik swears it. You’re safe.” 
“Is…is he dead?” Christine’s whisper was ragged from her tears and ordeal as she kept a tight hold onto his shirt. 
“Not yet.” She shuddered at his grim tone and dared to glance down at the man she hated with every fiber of her being. She felt something within her freeze and harden as she realized he was now in her control. 
“He’s mine, Erik.” 
Pulling back from her slightly, Erik studied her face for a long, silent moment before nodding. He ached to think of his angel willingly flying towards damnation but knew she needed closure and she deserved to have her vengeance. Smoothing her hair from her face, he lightly caressed her cheek. 
“What do you want me to do, mon ange?” He followed her gaze to the shackles and nodded. It took slightly longer to place the unconscious man into the restraints than it had to remove his angel. 
By the time Gachot was limply hanging against the wall, Christine had searched for and found the dagger he’d used to cut her trousers in the carriage. Though the knife shook in her hand, it was clear what she had to do. Because of him, her life had been ruined at sixteen. Because of him, she’d become a murderer. Because of him, she’d never know love or have a family because he’d tainted her body with his filthy seed and no one could ever want her now. 
“Are you sure you want to do this, my angel?” Erik’s soft voice broke into her muddied thoughts. “No one will think less of you if you do not.” 
“I will, Erik. He took everything from me. Everything! My innocence, my happiness, my future, all destroyed at his hand and for what? Physical pleasure? Power? No, I have to do this.” Her tears were silent rivers on her cheeks but she held his gaze steadily. With a small nod, Erik stepped back and out of her way. He fully understood her need to destroy the monster that’d haunted her dreams for two years. Hadn't he done the same once upon a time?


          Pulling the coat tighter around her naked body, Christine inhaled the lingering scent of incense that so intrinsically belonged to Erik. The knife felt cold and foreign in her hand. Could she do this? Beauvais was killed out of blind terror for what was to come. The child…she was barely more than a child herself at the time. She knew she never could have supported it without resorting to the most unsavory of professions. She wasn't sure she could have ever loved it as it deserved. But this? This was cold-blooded murder. Closing her eyes, she thought of her father and could feel his disappointment. She heard his sweet voice asking what she hoped to accomplish by such an evil act. Killing him wouldn't bring back her innocence or her happiness; it wouldn't stop the nightmares. What kind of peace did she hope to gain? 
          She looked over at Erik, the man others would call monster but who was more of an angel than she ever was, and knew that Gachot wouldn't leave this warehouse alive regardless of who delivered the fatal blow. Christine knew she loved him and that he felt some affection for her. Could she let go of the past and pray for happiness? Could he love her even though her very soul was tainted? Could she forgive herself if she refused to even try? When Gachot stirred, she made her decision and prayed it was the right one. Turning towards the man she’d hated for so long, she delivered the greatest injury she could think of. 
          “Two years ago, you took something from me, monsieur. In the time between then and now I believed you had succeeded. Well, no more. I finally understand that what I thought you’d taken was the one thing I, myself, gave you. My hope. Every day since that terrible night, I have prayed for this moment. To have you at my mercy, to know your very life lies within my hands, was the greatest thing I’d ever hoped to accomplish. It was all I believe I had to look forward to. I now know that to be untrue.” She looked down at the blade in her hand and then back up at Gachot. 
          “Oh really, my dear. Do you think you’ll ever be free of me? Even in death I’ll haunt you for the rest of your days; in your nightmares, whenever you seek a lover’s touch, in every shadow that follows you down a deserted street. There is nothing you can do that will ever change that.” Even in the face of certain death, Gachot felt he had the upper hand. His brave fa├žade faltered at her gentle laugh and he wondered what she had in store for him. 
          “I can change that, monsieur, and very simply, too. You see, I’m not going to kill you; I’m going to do something even better. I am going to take back my life and allow you no part in it. So, Monsieur le Comte de Lancival, I’m going to forgive you for what you've done to me. And then I will forget you.” Placing the knife on the seat of the chair he once occupied, Christine walked over to her Phantom and wrapped her arms around his waist. Her soft whisper was meant for his ears alone. “He would have forever had control of me if I had lashed out in blind anger and hatred.” 
          “I know, Angel.” Erik placed a soft kiss to the top of her head while glaring at the man who’d very nearly broken her forever. “I simply cannot be so forgiving, Christine.” 
          “I know, Erik, and I will not stop you. Just…be quick. I want to go home.” 
          “Then let us go home, mon ange. I can return to take out the trash later.” 
The smile he gave Gachot at that moment sent a jolt of terror through the shackled man. A few whispered words in Christine’s ear sent her towards the carriage, knowing better than to look back. In order to keep from giving in to her curiosity, she began to unhitch one of the carriage horses. There was no way she was getting back into that coach. The gleam in Erik’s golden eyes unnerved the captive even more than the smile and, as is typical of most who try for power over another, he pleaded for the mercy he’d never shown to others. The masked man merely shook his head. He stuffed one of Gachot’s socks into his mouth and secured it with his cravat. Retrieving the dagger Christine had left on the chair, Erik made several slices into the man’s flesh while carefully avoiding major veins or arteries. 
“I will return in the morning, Monsieur le Comte, to see if the rats have enjoyed their feast. If they have gorged themselves and you yet live, then the pain you've inflicted upon my angel will seem like the faintest brush of a butterfly’s wing when I am through with you.” With a final mocking bow, Erik turned and joined Christine where she waited with the unhitched carriage horse. Helping her onto the horse’s back, he mounted behind her and headed for the Palais Garnier and his house on the lake.

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