The week finally came to a close and everyone gave a prayer of gratitude for the upcoming weekend. All of the performers had been grumbling about what a tyrant Erik was being, except for Carla who had taken every opportunity to be close to him. As they were released that Friday, she had stayed behind with a ‘gift’ for the composer. If this didn’t make him send the ginger bitch packing…
“Erik, how well do you know your fiancée?”
“Why do you ask, Carla?” Erik, suspicious about the concern in her voice, wondered where she was going with this.
“Well…you know how I like to have a bit of…entertainment on the weekends. And, you know, guys like movies…” A single brow raised in impatient inquiry told her to get to the point and quick. “Anyway, I was at the video store to pick up a few to put us in the mood when…well, when I found this.”
As she handed him the DVD case, she hoped she sounded suitably reluctant and concerned instead of the malicious glee she truly felt. Erik took the case from her without taking his eyes from her face. He knew she was up to something, but what? Looking at the cover, he felt as if he’d been kicked in the gut. There, on the front of the X-rated movie, was his Alexandra with her head thrown back in ecstasy as she straddled some unknown male. Entitled Frat Party Fiesta, the movie gleefully boasted that one got the chance to watch her satisfying three men at the same time and dubbed her the ‘Amateur Sensation of the Year!’ Dragging his eyes from the filth in his hands, he speared Carla with a glare.
“Where did you find this?” His growl caused a shiver to run up her spine, partially from fear and partially from excitement. Part of Erik’s allure for her, other than his bank account of course, was that aura of danger he sometimes had.
“You know that video store on the corner of Fifth and Jackson? It was behind the curtain, you know.” Pulling out a Tony Award winning performance, Carla laid a hand on his arm and looked at him with pity and sadness. “I’m sorry, Erik, but I thought you should know.”
Part of being an actress, she thought, was knowing when to perform and when to leave the stage. It was definitely time for her exit; time to let him seethe and confront his precious Alexandra. She’d come back in the morning to check on him and offer her own special kind of consolation on the ending of his engagement. As she sauntered out of the theater, she passed Blankenship in the lobby and gave him a seductively welcoming smile. Until she had Erik in her clutches, the CEO of a major electronics corporation would do nicely. Let the games begin.
Staring down at the video cover, Erik felt heartbreak and fury warring for supremacy. Was this how Alexandra paid her way through college? He slipped through one of the passageways only he knew of and entered his office. Locking the door, he put the DVD in the player and watched in growing horror and fury. There had to be at least ten different men in that frat house; all were naked and waiting for their turn with his fiancée, who wore nothing but a pair of high heels and a sash that read ‘party favor.’ Fast-forwarding through most of it, Erik paused the movie at the point advertised on the cover and let the anger grow to a white hot rage. How dare she play on his sympathy with her pitiful story of a home movie being shown at a bachelor party when she was doing this! Pulling the movie from the player, he stalked to his apartment.
Placing the disc in the player in his room, he searched through the scene selection until he found the damning three-on-one segment. Erik paused the movie and turned the TV off, waiting in the darkened room for Alexandra to come home. He heard her enter the living room to drop off her coat and purse and call his name; he remained silent. When she opened the door to the bedroom, she jumped at the faint glow of his eyes and reached for the light switch.
“Why are you sitting in the dark, love?”
“Leave the lights off.” Erik’s voice was feather soft but cold as ice; his amber eyes reflecting his rage.
“Ok, sure Erik,” confused, Alex closed the door before approaching her fiancé, wondering why he seemed so angry. “Is something wrong?”
“I don’t know, Alexandra. Is there? It seems there is something you failed to tell me about your college days, my dear. Perhaps you’d like to enlighten me as to how you funded your degree.” The totally bewildered look on her face nearly stripped him of his anger but the feel of the movie’s case biting into his hand as he clutched it served to fuel it once more.
“My degree? I took out a student loan, Erik. You know that. Hell, you repaid it for me! What’s going on?”
“Oh yes, I repaid the loan but I truly doubt you needed the money for your tuition when you were working so very hard. I just want to know why you didn’t tell me; why you let me believe that you were so upset over that video of you and Blankenship. Care to answer that, my dear?”
“What the hell are you talking about, Erik? I needed the loan because I wasn’t making enough at my job to pay for myself and Sammy and tuition. And I told you about the video; I was upset! What’s going on?” He could hear her voice shaking with fear…but was it fear of him or fear of discovery?
“I’ll do better than tell you; I’ll show you.” Hitting the button on the remote, the oversized TV lit the room with an eerie glow. Erik pressed play and the horrible scene played out in front of him again, more painful than any torture he’d ever endured. “Who are they, Alexandra?”
“What? I don’t know! Where did you get this?” She was shocked at seeing her face on what was obviously not her body. Was this Erik’s idea of a joke?
“You don’t know?!” Standing, he loomed over her and she knew in an instant that Erik believed that was her in the film. “You fucked them in front of a camera and you didn’t even know who they were? Dammit, Alexandra, I had thought better of you than doing cheap porn for money!” The sting of her hand as it connected to his cheek gave him a moment’s pause and began to work its way through the angry red fog that enveloped him.
“How dare you?” Tears coated her words but she faced him squarely, appalled by his accusations. “I don’t know where you got this…this trash, but I can’t believe you! That you would think me capable of…of… Weren’t you the one lecturing me about trust just days ago or did that only apply one way?” When he said nothing, Alex turned and walked out, slamming the front door behind her.
Alone in the dark room with the offensive movie still playing in the background, Erik didn’t know what to think. The evidence was damning and yet he couldn’t believe her shock, her pain, and her outrage were all an act. What hurt most was that she offered no excuses, no reasons; she made no effort to convince him of her innocence. With a roar of despair and anger, he picked up the lamp from the bedside table and threw it at the TV. Sparks and glass flew as both it and the lamp shattered. When the door opened and the light chased the comforting shadows from the room, he turned to look into the furious eyes of Angelique Giry just seconds before her hand struck the same cheek as Alexandra’s.
“Putain de merde, Erik! What have you done? Your fiancée is in my room with Megan crying her heart out but refuses to say why. And then, then when she finds out I’m on my way to find you, what does she do? She gives me this,” she brandished Alexandra’s engagement ring before his face, “and begs me to return it to you. You will tell me what’s going on and you will apologize to that girl or answer to me.”
“I fear you are misinformed, maman. It is not what I did to her,” picking up the discarded DVD case, Erik hands it to Angelique, “but rather what she did that I discovered.”
“What did Alex have to say about it?”
“She refused to offer any explanation at all.”
“And you just accepted that and let her go? You need to talk with her, Erik. Let her explain and actually listen to what she has to say with an open mind. She gave you that courtesy, the least you could do is return it.”
Before he could respond, a flurry of steps was followed by his front door once again being wrenched open by an upset female. This time it was Megan who entered, slightly breathless from her run and with drying tears upon her cheeks.
“Alex is gone, maman! She said she needed to get her purse from Erik’s office but when she didn’t come back I went looking for her. The door to the office was locked and I’ve checked everywhere and can’t find her.”
“Gone?” All the color drained from Erik’s face as he stared at the ring still gripped tightly in Angelique’s fingers. Sinking onto the bed, his unfocused eyes saw nothing but the stricken expression on Alex’s face when he’d accused her of filming that atrocious filth. She was gone, alone and unprotected, and it was all his fault. Covering his face with his hands, Erik wept.
Outside the Metropolitan Opera and Ballet, a shadowy figure in a dark sedan watched as a woman left the building hurriedly. She was poorly dressed for the frigid January weather and, from the movements he could see in the dim light, was quite upset. Chuckling softly, he put the car in gear and drove slowly past the red-head. He kept her in sight as he parked a block down the road. The dull metallic grey of a gun barrel betrayed not a single glint in the muted light as he aimed for the crying woman. The muffled thud of a body hitting the deserted sidewalk was the sweetest of sounds and he smiled at the ease of his success. Scooping up the girl and placing her in the backseat of the car, he quickly bound her wrists and ankles before placing a gag over her mouth as a precaution. Covering her with a blanket to hide her from prying eyes, Stanislav Zakharov formerly known as Raoul de Chagny and now using the moniker of Robert Chaney returned to the driver’s seat and pulled back onto the street. Ah yes, revenge would be sweet indeed.