Diana: A Night at the Opera, 1889, France

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A Night at the Opera

1889, France

I fastened my green glass earrings to my ears. I looked at myself in the large oval bronze mirror in the hotel room's dressing area. I looked the part. As I came out of the room, I saw Violette sitting on the bed, swinging her feet. She looked all of fourteen years old, in a dress fit for a young girl. She tugged her dark blue bow thoughtfully.

"Beau outside?" I asked, twisting a stubborn curl on her head. 

"Oh no, he's with the dresser still," she said, fumbling with the duvet.

I shot to my feet. "You left him with the--" I took a deep breath, held it, and could feel my face turning red. I squeezed my fists together and let out my breath. I took another breath and let it out slowly. 

I walked in a controlled way to the adjoining bedroom. I stood at the doorway, and could hear Beau's girlish giggle from behind the closed door. 

"Hee hee hee, oh, Michel, sir, not that finger. That finger. Oh yes, that one's good."

I kicked the door open. I heard him gasp and felt him look up before I even saw him.

I opened my eyes and there he was: sitting in the middle of the room, the dresser man's head in his lap. Beau was wearing a red satin dress of mine, red lipstick all askew. His black hair piled on top of his head fashionably. His red gloved hand in the air, holding the dresser man's middle finger, the rest of his hand on the floor somewhere behind the bed no doubt. 

Beau's expression changed to an obvious "ooh~ you caught me~!" look. "Oh~!" he guffawed, covering his smile with a cupped hand, as if I had walked in on him naked and not with a dead man's head in his lap. 

I couldn't take it anymore. "Who do you expect to help you get ready!" I shrieked. "The opera starts in less than an hour!"

"He made fun of me," Beau said, looking to the side and pouting his lips.

"Oh, oh I see! He made fun of you!" I said mockingly, like this was all the reason he had to give me. But something was wrong. He looked at me like a puppy who had piddled on the carpet. 

"He said a man can't wear a dress," He said, looking down, serious as a sad child. "He said I was a fool, touched in the head. He wouldn't touch me..."

This sudden seriousness on Beau's part stopped me cold. Beau was suddenly my Beau again. I got on my knees and crawled to him. I got behind him and cradled his pretty head to my chest. 

"You know you are beautiful," I whispered in his ear. I wrapped my arms around his waist. "You make women cry and men cower in places in their heads where they didn't even know they had. All with your beauty."

I helped him to his feet. I took him to the mirror and fixed his lipstick. I laced his dress. Luck was with us since I knew this dress inside and out. I pressed my face to his cheek in the mirror. "There," I said, when all was done, "pretty as painted peonies."

Violette heaved the man over her shoulder and looked around. "Where's the hand and the finger," she said, looking around, knocking over a vase of lilies as she turned around in search. 

"Got it," Beau said, grabbing the hand which was behind the bed after all and the finger on the floor. He put the man's hand in the coat pocket. He looked unsure with the finger for a moment, then his face brightened. He popped the finger in the man's mouth.

I narrowed my eyes. "Classy," I said sarcastically.

This made Beau laugh and I felt relief wash over me like slipping into a warm bath. 

"It makes the police think," Beau smiled. He opened the back window and helped Violette slide the man outdoors. I heard the thud as the man landed in the alley below. 

It was going to be a great night.

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