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The Return of the Phantom

The Loyal Heart

a novel by Etienne de Mendes


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The tale of the Phantom of the Opera did not end in the labyrinth beneath a Paris theater. A wealth of secrets lay in the shadows of the convoluted tunnels. The story continued to unfold...love and madness, a painful triumph over the damage of ridicule and cursed rejection. A determined soul, one capable of enduring an unholy journey, managed to find its way back into the arms of the mate Destiny had ordained for it.

For those hungry to know what followed the disastrous events occurring at the Opera House, here lie the keys to the treasure crypt of answers. Our story begins two years after Christine Daae leaves the theater and marries Raoul de Chagny.

Image the woman discovering, almost too late, the identity of her true love, a man she’d let slip through her fingers. Would she not ignore pride and seek a way to get him back? Yes! Christine Daae clawed a path to Erik, and he in turn mastered a demented part of himself in order to affect a degree of sanity and possess her. But were these two sets of glorious arms enough to hold a love spawned in hellish mystery?

Let us see, brave soul, let us see.



(from Chapter 15)

For the time being, Mondays were spent visiting Dr. DeVille and practicing swordsmanship at the ballet studio. On Fridays, in the private confines of her father’s tomb, she rejoiced over her true treasure. When next she entered the darkness of the garret, two strong arms lifted her off the platform. She melded into the clothes surrounding the man who enfolded her and brought her to him with strength and decision. Happily she shed her composed aristocracy and slipped her hands under the lapels of his velvet jacket. Softness over chiseled muscle, no confusion now, only bliss. As her feet touched the floor she laughed into his chest. God, how I love the smell of him!

His left index finger played with her ear and traveled along her jaw, sending a shiver down her back. “I have a New Year’s present for you,” he said and lit the candle. He sat down on the stool and withdrew her father’s violin from a case that rested on the floor. His graceful fingers placed the instrument beneath his chin and drew the bow across its strings as if he wooed a lover. The well-tuned violin surrendered the depth of its soul to Erik. ‘The Resurrection of Lazarus’ filled the tiny space, the notes vibrating off the stone and cement in glorious adjuration. She had not heard him play this piece since the winter of 1871, when she had knelt in prayer on the steps outside – a confused teenager still mourning the loss of her gentle father. The Angel of Music, hidden within this very sepulcher, had made the violin soothe her grieving soul. And now the magic of the tune swirled around her once more, like a mesmerizing anesthetic, compelling her to listen, sedating her into a spell from which she wished never to revive. The music swelled upward, like the sound of the surf on the rocks it became her only reality. All else lay enshrouded in a pale, hardly recognizable mist.

When he finished he looked up at her, glitters of umber lights dancing in his expectant eyes. In the glow of the flickering candle he seemed mystical, transcendent, a luminous being from a higher plane. She blinked in disbelief. Who are you? In her astonishment the sole accolade that issued through her dry throat seemed barely to suffice. “That was magnificent.”

“Wait, I have something else for you.” He stood, clearing his throat.

Thinking he was about to sing, she raised her hand to stop him. “What if someone hears your voice?”

“You’re worried about the neighbors? They’re all dead and if they hear, ‘tis with spirits ears. We are completely alone in this part of the graveyard, Christine.”

“How do you know that?” And eerie sense of deja vu veiled her thoughts. Have we had this conversation before?

“There’s a funeral later in the east section of the cemetery. It’s winter. The only workers willing to work in this cold are over there preparing, and I dare say, my humble efforts will not carry far outside this mausoleum.” He cleared his throat again, this time for emphasis. “Do you remember that it is difficult for me to tell you in words how I love you?”


“Well, Madame, please ask me to tell you.”

Inamorato, please reveal your heart to me. Tell me of your love that I might rest assured.”

His voice rose up from deep within him, its impossible beauty carrying her past care into a paradise of joy. And his words, oh his words – were those of a saint pledging loyalty to the very throne of God. If the angels dared to listen, they would weep in wonder as he spoke.

  “I do not love you as a gentle breeze,
Though I would be one if you wished it.
And I love you not as the wind of the tempest,
Though I would be that, too
If you but say it should be so.
No, I love you with the constant air that passes through me.
With every breath I take I love you,
And with each breath I love you more than I did with the last.
I will love you ‘til I cease to breathe
And if there is a way beneath the stars,
I shall love you even after that.”

It seemed to her that the air in the tomb had vanished. The space between them became a vacuum – absorbing all she was into him. Lost! I am so lost in you.

He stood with his arms at his sides. His expression one of near embarrassment, like a schoolboy who’d openly given his heart’s pledge before thinking. His dark wavy hair was long and tucked behind his ears. It curled down to just inside his shirt collar. How endearing that he needs a haircut. His amber eyes caressed her with their dreams, their sure knowledge of life, their acceptance of her even though she had ripped his heart into slivers of excruciating pain with her repeated rejections at the opera. If she had known of his years of celibate devotion, would it have changed anything inside her? She doubted it. You are a cruel, witch of a woman, Christine de Chagny, to have wounded this glorious angel like you did. Your rightful desserts are to have him always just outside your grasp. What did he call it? The grand dichotomy of life!

Erik listened to his own heart beating steadily within his chest and watched in disappointment as her eyes glazed over in private thought. This was not the reaction he had hoped for, she was not in a rapturous state of ecstasy begging him to put his manhood inside her, and he was aching for exactly that. What is she thinking when she regards me so strangely? She never looked like that as a little girl. Is she sifting the sands of regret through her fingers? What is it she regrets?

“Tell me a secret,” he declared with the voice of a celestial being.

“I have fifty-three little ivory skulls in my bedchamber, one for each grave at the estate. I line them up in correct order and recite their names from memory.”

He waved his hand in dismissal of her morbid words. “Cemetery games to fill the times of boredom.”


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