Chapter One

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Paris, 1906

 Marguerite Roux was one of France's most celebrated and beloved sopranos. Many would flock to the opera house in Paris she had been performing in for years so they could hear that celebrated voice for themselves. No one ever left one of her performances unimpressed.

 The allure of Madame Roux was partly her voice and musical talents, and partly because of the woman herself. Try as they might, no one really knew what Madame Roux was like. Her personality was a mystery, as she almost entirely kept to herself and never spoke to anyone from the newspapers.

 To be honest, how she would react to people in entirely unpredictable. If someone from the papers or someone who was simply an admirer tried to get her attention, she might smile and nod, and then continue on her way. Or, she might ignore them completely and walked on without saying a word.

 As a younger woman, first rising to stardom, anyone who happened to know her then would have described her as a happy, hardworking young woman, newly married and filled with happiness. But now she was an older woman, and a widow, though she still had that same hardworking spirit. If anyone who had known her in the old days met her again in the current days, they may not even recognize her.

 Though no one knew why exactly Madame Roux was the way she was, most people said it was the death of her husband scarred her enough that she was never the same again, and perhaps that was it. But of course, no one really knew.

 The only person who may have known something was a Monsieur Pierre Blanchard, a well-known tenor who often performed alongside Madame Roux. However, if you asked him about her, he would simply wave his hand and say, "Ah, dear Marguerite. Yes, there are her good days and her bad days. We all have them, yes?"

 It was said that Madame Roux and Monsieur Blanchard each considered the other their closest friend, and there were, of course, rumors of a romantic relationship between them. But if had said so to either of them, they would have surely laughed at you for thinking such things.

 Given that Marguerite had no family and often seemed sad, angry and lonely, it is understandable that she would find herself attracted to a man who also seemed sad, angry and lonely.


 Marguerite Roux smiled when she heard Pierre's hard and quick rapping on the door of her dressing room.

 "Might I enter, Madame?" he asked.

 "Pierre, you know are always welcome to enter," she answered.

 Pierre Blanchard stepped into the room wearing his costume and a grin.

 "No one to assist you tonight?" he asked, looking around the empty room.

 "No. I wished to be alone tonight."

 "Except for me, it would seem."

 "Well, I do not mind your company, Pierre," said Marguerite. "However, there are some people whose company I do tend to mind. You know I can't stand the girls' gossip. What is the point of it all?"

 "Ah, Marguerite." Pierre placed his hands gently on her shoulders. "You are not like those other young women."

 "That would be because I am not young anymore. I know I am growing older. Within another ten years or so, it will surely be suggested that I retire."

 "Retire! The sublime Madame Marguerite? Now, you tell me who would suggest such a horrendous thing, and I will put them in their place, I assure you."

 Marguerite smiled. "Pierre, you know I cannot perform forever. I will retire someday, but for tonight, I still sing."

 "Well, then." Pierre held out his hand to her. "Are you ready, my Norma?"

 She took his hand. "Of course, my Pollione."

 The night's performance of Norma went well, or at least everyone seemed to think so. A few people did notice that Madame Roux seemed a little off, and noticed she kept looking up, where the stagehands would operate. No one could guess what would possibly be up there to attract her attention.

 During Marguerite's performance, she just so happened to glance up, and saw a man sitting up on the walks where the stagehands worked. Though there were other people up there, no one seemed to notice him. Marguerite couldn't see his face, but it looked like a man. The next time she looked up, he had vanished.

 As she didn't see him again for the rest of the performance, Marguerite thought that perhaps she had imagined it. She surely could have imagined seeing a man sitting up there. It could have just been one of the stagehands, and yet he wasn't dressed like one and just hadn't seemed like one.

 After the performance, Marguerite exited the opera house and went to hail a cab. When she got to the street, she realized there was a man standing next to her. When she happened to glance down and see his shoes she instantly recognized them.

 "It's you!"

 The man turned and gave her a startled look, and then he disappeared, almost quite literally. He moved so fast that she didn't even know where he had gone.

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