Erik's blood coursed so hard the pulse pounded in his throat. He caught himself before he leaned too far out of his shadow. Caressing the velvet of the armchair, he imagined stroking her sensuous form, whispering his adoration into her ear, and proclaiming his love for her in ways he only dreamed.
Yes, I gave you it all, Christine. I would have lassoed the moon for you.
"And you gave nothing in return?" Anna said. "He loved you."
The memory of how he'd shunned Anna wrapped around his heart like a rope of thorns. The raw passion he felt for her tightened those binds until he swore his heart would puncture. He forced such passion away. He didn't want it. Not now. He clamped his teeth in an attempt to govern the thoughts tumbling drunkenly in his mind. The velvet shredded beneath his fingers.
Damn it, you little minx. Stay out of my mind.
Christine wandered the empty stage staring out across the seats. "There was nothing I could give. Least of all love."
Ridges plowed into Anna's brow. "Why?"
"He was horrifically deformed. He frightened me. I was put through so much horror."
"Then why did you continue with the lessons?" Anna demanded sharply. "If you knew he loved you and you couldn't give that in return, why torment him?"
"I wanted to know the music for I had never experienced anything like it. I deeply respected the Angel of Music and cared for him, but I could never truly love him. Not in the way he wanted. His affections were so powerful—they frightened me." Christine shook her head. "A woman such as you could never comprehend the situation. He was a distorted soul, a madman. I couldn't be expected to look on that with love. No one could."