When Christine woke in the morning her head was hurting and she felt oddly disoriented. Fragmented images played themselves over in her mind. Her Angel as a man here in her house, here in her bedroom, and here in her bed with her. She remembered quite vividly her evening with Comte Lecter. But it was everything after that that seemed dreamlike and surreal. As she stood from her bed she realized that she must have dreamt it. Her nightgown was on, her bedding was clean, no evidence of her Angel, her discarded clothing or anything else could be seen. It didn't seem like a dream, but it must have been. Either that or her mind was playing tricks on her. Not quite fully awake yet she was surprised to hear pounding at her door.
She opened the door, her dressing gown securely belted at her waist surprised to see le Comte Lecter at her door. "Comte Lecter," she said softly clearly surprised, wondering if his allowing her to call him by his given name had been part of her dream as well. She didn't dare commit that faux pas. "What brings you by so early this morning?"
"I was worried about you, Christine."
"Worried about me," she asked more than a little surprised.
"I just spoke with Monsieur Firmin at the Opera House inquiring about your health and he indicated he hadn't heard from you yet today."
"My health?" Christine was genuinely confused now. She hadn't been sick more than once or twice in her life and she surely wasn't sick now. "I'm afraid you have me at an advantage. I'm not sure that I understand what you mean."
Lecter was admittedly confused, something he wasn't accustomed to being. But Firmin had said that Christine had sent a message to him two days ago that she was ill. But she looked fine and genuinely seemed to not know what he was speaking of. "Well, Monsieur Firmin seemed to be under the impression you had taken ill. That that was the reason you'd missed the last two performances."
"Two performances?" No, it couldn't be possible. She slept for two whole days and nights? She'd never done that in her life. No matter how ill she might be. And who had told Firmin she had been ill? Her maid perhaps?
Lecter stepped inside not waiting for her to invite him in now. "Why don't you sit down," he said finally as he glanced around her flat. "You're not looking well at all. You're face is pale and you look as though you might faint."
She took his offered arm and allowed him to assist her to the couch. This was too much for her to bear. "I still have a job then," she asked finally. That was all she needed, to disappoint her Angel by getting fired just as He had made good on His promise to remove Carlotta from her position at the Opera.
"Yes, of course. Someone obviously was aware of your condition, because Monsieur Firmin was aware of your absence. I just grew worried that you had perhaps gone and gotten sick from something you had eaten with me."
"No," she said as she shook her head slightly despite the discomfort that came with doing so. "I don't think that's it. But I appreciate your concern." She brought her hand to her head. "If you'll excuse me though, Comte, I think I'm going to go back and lie down. I'm still not feeling overwell it seems."
"Three days is an awfully long time to be laid up in bed. What are your symptoms? Have you been ill? Feverish? Chilled?" He couldn't help but glance at the neckline of her dressing gown that had come undone slightly with her movements. Too bad she was wearing a typical nightgown underneath it. He wasn't sure why he found it amusing that a woman who dressed provocatively on stage would dress as she was now off stage.
She frowned as she tried hard to remember and nothing came to her. "I don't know, Comte. My head hurts at the moment that's all I know and I'm dreadfully tired."
He placed his hand against her forehead, pulling it back slightly when he saw the frightened look on her face. "I'm a doctor, mademoiselle. Surely you were aware of that," he paused, realizing she may indeed not be aware of his profession. "Forgive me. I was just attempting to see whether you felt warm to the touch or not. I assume if you've been sleeping as much as you have that you've not eaten or had much to drink?"
She shook her head her doe eyes looking at him with the affection and trust a child would bestow upon a parent. He would take care of her. She wouldn't have to go through this alone, whatever this was. His hand felt surprisingly nice as he touched her. "Not that I know of."
"Well, if you're in need of further rest, I don't see why you shouldn't get it. But I insist you eat and drink something before you do that. I'll make you some tea and make you something to eat as well. I wish I had known I'd have brought something from home for you."
"You're too kind, Comte."
"Hannibal," she smiled slightly her eyes watching him closely. "You're too kind. Just some tea would be fine. I'm not all that hungry."
"No, I don't imagine you are, but you should still eat, Christine. You need your strength. I will tell Monsieur Firmin that you will miss one more performance and hopefully a night of my staying here with you to ensure you eat and drink you'll be well tomorrow."
"But you can't stay here," her eyes were wide with terror. She wasn't sure exactly where the feeling was coming from, but something told her that his being here at all was not wise. She couldn't allow him to stay the evening or the entire night.
"Then I'll bring you to my home. I'm a doctor, Christine."
"Most doctors don't stay over night with their patients. And people don't know you're a doctor. At least not my neighbors. They just know you're a man I had dinner with a few nights ago. Those who saw us together anyway."
He sighed. She was right. Damn propriety to hell anyway. "Allow me then to hire you a nurse."
"I can't afford that."
"I can," he said persistently. "You need it, Christine." He had already guessed she could not. Her flat was sparsely furnished and what she did have was showing its age. She was obviously proud, not wanting to give way to the fact she could afford little by continuing to employ a maid.
She nodded her acceptance finally. She was frightened. If she had slept for two full days she must be seriously ill. To think she'd been by herself all this time. If something had happened to her, no one would know. Oddly, she had the feeling that she hadn't been alone this entire time. That someone had been here to care for her even as she slept.
Her Angel perhaps? She wasn't sure, but it seemed like something He would do. Watch over her. She never did get to find out if her father had heard her and been pleased with her performance the other night. She hoped he was. Hoped that he would watch her again.
Lecter stood then and went to the kitchen to see about her tea. Once the tea was made and she was comfortable on the couch with a blanket to cover her he left her flat in search of a nurse to stay with her as well as to inform Monsieur Firmin that she would be requiring one more night off.
He was genuinely concerned for the girl. Personal feelings, or lack thereof, for the girl had nothing to do with it. She had talent it would be a pity to have that talent lost so quickly, for her and for Paris alike. He'd traveled quite extensively over the years. Unmarried, no living siblings, and no known heirs. Once he'd paid for his medical training there was little left for him to do but travel. Opera and theater being a passion of his he rarely missed a chance to see a show. Christine had made an impression on him unlike any prima Donna ever had until now. She loved the applause and the praise that came with her position that much was evident. But she genuinely seemed so innocent, untarnished, and down to earth that it was hard to picture her truly becoming a star. He would like to find out how she had gotten the gumption to dethrone Carlotta from her position.
Lecter returned with the nurse, having left the door unlocked he was able to get into her flat. He did perform the courtesy of knocking first, but when no response was given he and the nurse he'd hired entered the flat. He observed that she slept on the couch still covered with the blanket he had placed on her before he left. That meant she hadn't moved. She had never really provided him with any symptoms, so he wasn't sure what ailed her. Telling the nurse to watch for any changes in her, he left.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com