Taken by the Phantom
I appraise the Phantom of the Opera in shadow and light. For an eternity, he says nothing. Neither do I. There is no barrier between us, yet I can’t make myself move. I’m porcelain shot through with fissures—if he touches me I’ll shatter.
What if I want to?
Finally, he speaks. “Prima Donna.”
I stare at him. His one visible eye is dark, almost black. Set in his white face, against the pale of his mask, it is stark. Of course he is rendered in extremes. For the first time since our encounter here, he is less clothed than I am. He wears a white dress shirt, loose and open. He has a lovely body, finer even than it felt when pressed against mine. He’s more muscular than his tailored suits and sweeping cloaks would lead one to believe, with a sculpted chest, clear lines chiseled across his abdomen.
It’s then that I realize he is also young, probably only a few years older than me. If he were from my world, he might still be a student. He might go to Juilliard; an upperclassman who might tutor me or play me opposite in a musical.
Of course, in my world he probably wouldn’t wear a mask or live beneath an opera house.
He wouldn’t kill.
“I am not the Prima Donna,” I finally answer. My voice trembles, and I kick myself internally for showing even one crack in my facade. Still, neither of us have moved. I can see the hard plane of his stomach ripple when he breathes; his jaw is set, and a muscle ticks there. His hands are closed into tight fists. But he doesn’t move.
“Not yet.” At last: a step. I force myself not to retreat. “But after I am through with you…”
Through with me? Heat licks up the back of my neck. I’m grateful for the darkness. What would he make of me blushing? What do I make of me blushing? “Through with me?”
Another step. He’s framed in the doorway: a beautiful, horrifying portrait. Oils and lust and treachery all painted in broad strokes. “With my teaching.”
I bark out a laugh. “You’re not serious.”
He takes another step. We are toe to toe, and it takes everything in me not to run screaming through the Hall of Mirrors. I’m such an idiot. What was I thinking, coming down here? Staying when Charlotte left? Singing for him?
The Phantom looks down his nose at me, lips parted. “Deadly so.”
I snort. Narrow my eyes. “Oh,” I say, “so you’re funny now?”
“I have always been in possession of quite a sense of humor, Krissy Davis.”
“Even while you killed them?”
He cocks his head, eyes flaring. I’ve pissed him off. Good.
He lifts his hand, no longer gloved, but bare and plain as any man’s. Not monstrous at all. My knees shake, and I hope he doesn’t see. He touches his fingers to my jaw, tender as he might a kitten’s belly.
“Especially,” he murmurs, his eyes on my mouth, “while I killed them.”
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