[center]Josephine wished to spend more alone time with Johan in hopes that he would choose a life with her when they were approached by a stranger. Turning to look at the woman in black curiously, she fell silent as she wondered what she could want. Johan was an attractive man, no doubt. Would it be harder to keep him than she thought? Listening to the woman’s words, the dancer had no idea what was being offered to them. Johan explained that he had no money…but Josephine came from money. She had plenty of her own as well as the option of asking her father for more. But what did this woman want with them? Stepping closer to Johan, she offered a smile as she nodded once “Perhaps we ought to go somewhere and speak privately?”
Flicking her eyes to Johan, she then leaned in and whispered “Do you understand what it is she is asking? Can’t we just run away together?”
(changed Malise’s fc to Olivia Wilde cause she has the exotic look I’m going for)
Malise frowned slightly as a contract was thrust in front of her. But she did agree to appease the jubilant man. Scrawling her name across the bottom, she then looked up and raised an eyebrow “My name is Malise Barishnikov, as you can see on your little piece of paper. I’d like to have a moment to myself, if you don’t mind.” Now that she belonged to the Opera House, she expected a room of her own to find comfort in.
Glancing around for Josephine, she let out a long sigh. The dancer must have found her lover and was now having her happily ever after. But what was in store for the siren now? Stepping along the stage, she drank in the sights of her new home. Had she made the right decision? But it didn’t matter anymore. She had sold herself to the life she once feared. Glancing towards the conductor, she smiled slightly “My room, please?”
The woman behind the veil, seemed so intent on making this strange deal with the pair, that Johan actually took a step back. He reached for Josephine’s hand, and then with eyes that showed indecisiveness he replied to the Countess.
“As much as I am honored that you would think to offer us such a generous gift, I am afraid that I must decline. I have only just found my love again.” Here he paused, and brought Josephine’s hand up to his lips, kissing it softly – his eyes only for her. “I want to speak with her and discuss our future. If you could excuse us both.”
That said, he led Josephine away from the Countess, who stood silently. One could not see the flash of anger that swept across her veiled features, and just as well.
Taken behind one of the long curtains that were to the left of the stage, Johan pushed Josephine up against the stage wall, and kissed her neck lovingly. How he had missed her delicate scent, and the suppleness of her flesh. Bringing his face out to the light, he asked.
“I did not trust that woman, and I didn’t want to put you on the spot, my love.” Gently he raised a hand to her right cheek and caressed it.
“But what are we to do? Where are we to go if we run away together? How will I support you?”
It was an honest series of questions.
The Dressing Room
One of the stage hands – a dwarf named Bertie, ambled out and tipped his hat to Malise whilst wordless gesturing for her to follow him down to where the dressing rooms were. He was dressed rather simply. Woollen pants, shirt and bracers, with a tiny andy cap on his head. Bertie walked with a slight limp, turning back only to wave to her to follow him down.
Deep within the bowels of the Opera house was a long corridor with all the dressing rooms and design rooms, rooms for the dress makers and for props. Coming to the end of the corridor, there was one room, that had to be opened with a special key, that hung on a chain around Bertie’s neck. He took it off and over his hat, then placed the old key in the lock. The door creaked open, and the dwarf stepped back and ushered for Malise to enter.
If she was to enter the young Siren would be in for a shock. The room had not been used for so long, that there were cobwebs and other nasty things hanging from the ceiling. Oddly enough however, the candles were lit and on the dresser was a scroll that had tied around it a red bow and a single red rose.
There was a note tied to the parchment, that said.
“Welcome to my home.”
Who could have left it, and what was written on the scroll?
Josephine watched silently as Johan brought her hand to his lips. She instantly felt eased by his touch and the wariness she felt towards the lady in black seemed to melt away. Letting out a calm sigh, she smiled encouragingly to her lover, showing she would back him up no matter what he decided. However, it seemed like he was keen on having a moment alone with her.
Allowing him to lead her away, she was then pleasantly surprised when he pressed her against the stage wall to kiss her neck. Closing her eyes, she favored the feel of him and let out a soft sigh “Mmmh…” Her mind became cloudy and muddled by his touch and she had to take a deep breath to collect herself. They had much to talk about, after all…despite the fact that she’d rather touch him than speak with him.
As Johan expressed his concerns, she nodded her head thoughtfully and murmured “Mmh…she was rather forward, wasn’t she? Though I can’t possibly imagine what she would want with the likes of us. We are complete strangers to her…and with enough problems of our own.”
Reaching up to touch her hand to his on her face, she let out yet another sigh as her eyes searched his face. What he was asking was fair, and the questions really did need answers.
Was she willing to leave her father and comfortable life behind to dance here? She would be close to Johan…but could very well lose her father. Was it all worth it? But as Josephine looked into Johan’s eyes, she found it hard to believe she had to make such a choice. She wanted the happiness her mother had given to her father. Would Reginald understand?
“No…we will not run away. We can make a life for ourselves here. Me…you…and this opera house.” Josephine smiled up at Johan, all innocence and hope shining through her eyes.
Malise turned towards the dwarf and quirked an eyebrow, a look of curiosity flashing from her bold blue eyes. She did not look down on the dwarf as though his status was beneath her own. Instead, she looked at him with keen interest as she took in his clothing. Wrapping her black shawl tighter around her shoulders, she bowed her head politely towards him before following him to her dressing rooms.
As they walked past various rooms, the siren looked long enough to take a quick look without prying. There was no need to poke her head around and cause waves in her new surroundings. However, she was a bit surprised when they were at the end of the corridor. The dwarf needed a special key to get into her room and this sparked even more interest. She watched silently as he pulled the key from his neck and let her inside.
However, when Malise stepped inside…she stopped short and took in her surroundings. Seeing all the cobwebs and bleak disarray, she let out an amused smile and shook her head briefly.
“Well…this place has a charm all its own, doesn’t it?” Though she no doubt would be sneezing from all the dust for days, the mess did not alarm Malise in the slightest. Her own room at the Bizarre Circus was nothing fancy and needed a complete make-over with her first month’s earnings before she was even remotely comfortable.
Turning towards a flicker of light, she then noticed the scroll on her new dresser. Walking over cautiously, she gazed upon the writing and squinted her eyes to read it better. After reading it, her blue eyes flicked to the rose. Picking it up slowly, she held it to her nose and smiled, breathing in its perfume scent. She did love roses…
With the rose still close to her face, she spun around slowly and regarded the dwarf “Pardon me…but did you see who left this?” After a moment or so, her eyes then lifted to the ceiling as her smile turned friendly “And could I perhaps have a broom?” She certainly had a lot to do in her room…
Countess Sassoon swept out of the entrance of the Opera house, enraged by the antics of Johan and Josephine. How dare they refuse such a noble gesture from a lady such as herself to help the up and coming dancer and his sweet girl. Waiting for her on the street, was a dark carriage that was at least a hundred years old if not older. Drawn by a team of four horses. Black in colour. The driver was a masked man, that was waiting to open the door for the Countess. He snapped his heels together and bowed, as she entered the buggy, closing the door with a light click before going to take his place in the driver’s seat.
Inside the buggy, the Countess began to remove her veil, and what one would see was a woman of absolute beauty. Perfection. As though created by the very angels themselves. She didn’t look a day over twenty one, yet her clothing bore the distinct era of one much older. The Countess was not alone in the buggy, for sitting directly opposite, was a man whose entire face and hands were bandaged. He wore dark tinted spectacles, and on his head was a large black hat. His coat was a long one that went full length to the floor, with dark tanned riding boots that matched his pants. In his hand, a cane with a jeweled top. He was clearly a man of wealth and power. He grumbled darkly at the Countess.
“Where…is the boy?”
The Countess let out a sigh as she banged her gloved hand on the side of the carriage, to alert the driver to go. With pursed lips she then inhaled sharply through her nostrils. Having to explain her failings was going to be unpleasant.
“I almost had him, but that damn girl got in the way and he slipped through my fingers.” A light snarl in her voice as she took out her purse, and started to powder her face lightly. The man that sat opposite her slapped the compact out of her hands, and gripped her her wrist menacingly.
“Have I not given you what you dreamed? Are you not the toast of society, while I must remain hidden behind these bandages? DID YOU FORGET OUR AGREEMENT?!” The bandaged man bore down on her, as the Countess cried out.
“Ouch…you’re hurting me.” She squealed, trying to shake free from his grip. He released her but pushed her at the same time. The carriage had now pulled away, to head to the Countess’s estate as the man leaned back and stamped his cane on the floor.
“You…WILL get them into the house, by any means necessary. And when you do…I will skin him alive myself.”
The Countess shivered at the cold words of the Master. “Give me time. That is all I ask.” The woman now begging to be given more time to carry out the deed. The Master snorted angrily as they passed the seedy part of town on the way to the Estate.
“A week…if you fail, you know the punishment.”
Johan could only gaze at his beloved with adoration for allowing him the chance to find his feet and be the dancer for the Opera house trope. But that didn’t give them a place to live, all it was was employment, and what of Josephine’s dreams? Surely she had those too. He gripped her hands in his and brought them to his lips.
“We need to find an apartment, something small. I want you to continue with your ballet just as you had planned. There has to be a way we can both have what our hearts dream.”
His eyes were so full of hope and promise, and he believed in her and their love.
“Shall we go and start searching today?”
The dwarf kindly returned to Malice with a broom in hand and a small shovel. He peeked his head in and gave a sniff, before sneezing loudly. So much dust and cobwebs. But the room had a great deal of potential. This room was once the dressing room of a star that graced the boards of the Opera house some fifty years before. As to why the candles were lit and there was a rose tied to a piece of parchment, the dwarf could not fathom.
“The room was locked for the longest time, Miss. Perhaps…it is the Ghoul of the Opera house that has graced this room with his presence.”
If Malice opened the scroll, she would see that it was in fact a song, that had been written by a man who only signed the music sheet with an “X” Another mystery indeed. Not only were the notes all written, but the lyrics as well. It was a love song, penned by one that had the gift to put his emotions into the words, the notes so soulful and sad.
Would she dare to sing it?