The night the trouble started Charlotte was in her room. She was brushing her hair when she heard a thump above her room. Going out to see if any one was hurt, she was met with an unpleasant surprise. Her father lay in a crumpled heap at the bottom of the stairs.

Apparently others had heard the noise and had come to help. Two of her father’s manservants lifted him up and took him to his room. Charlotte followed them but her mother wouldn’t let her in saying he needed rest and she should get some sleep as well.

She went to her room but she couldn’t sleep. So she decided to go back down, and when she got there, there were dishes broken all over the floor.  The maids didn’t notice her. Charlotte listened in on their gossip.

“So, I was right in front of the door and I heard that master Gillan had a brawl with a stranger. Some strange man who wasn’t part of the staff or crew!”

“Who let you in, Mira?” asked another maid.

She saw Mira  blush and decided to quit eavesdropping. Instead she climbed the steps to the top roof of the theater she lived in. Once at the top she looked for the secret entrance that lead down into the halls in the thick walls in the theater.

Those halls had been turned into rooms. She knocked on the first door. She heard him say “Come in.”

She entered and took a quick look around. The bed was covered in white comforters because it was quite cold in those walls. Paintings of roses covered the wall and what ever wasn’t covered by a picture was covered in white wallpaper. The room was basically empty except for a book shelf with many books and a man on the bed with a book in his hand and staring at her.

She walked over to him and sat down. She noticed a bleeding cut on his forehead.

“My father did get you good, didn’t he,” she said. He just nodded.

She look at a first aid box on the bed. Picking it up, she began to clean the wound. He winced.

“Sorry,” she said. He studied her eyes as she put a bandage on the wound.

She put her head back on the pillow and sighed rubbing her eyes. Her father hated Christopher. He had seen them walking together on the roof and had yelled at them. Her father had been looking for him without little success. When he did find him they would get into a rooster fight.

Christopher was bigger and much stronger so he was careful to not permanently damage her father.

She felt him shaking her shoulders. She opened her eyes and realized she must have fallen asleep. “They’re looking for you,” he told her in his deep, velvet voice. She took his hand and walked down the hall back to the secret door. When they got there, she reached on her tippy-toes and kissed his cheek.

“The Ghost” they’re calling him now. Coming only at night to bring trouble to Charlotte’s father and the whole theater.

Charlotte smiled as she walked down to the kitchen, but something was wrong. The food actually smelled good. She entered the kitchen and immediately regretted it. Wishing she could run, she walked into the kitchen. The table had two plates with steaming cakes on them; her father sat at one end of the table and there was an empty place,  one was for her.

He smiled at her. It was a triumphant smile, not a sweet one.

“We need to talk,” he said as if he’s won a long, enduring war. “I have realized that it is time to take action. You are old enough and I have taken the liberty to write to some wealthy young gentlemen to come if they would like your hand. Suitors you might say.”

“Father,” she said slowly, “I am in no way ready to get married.”

He raised his eyebrows. “Oh really,” he said. “You seem completely content with that man they call a ghost.”

“Dad,” she said in a complaining voice.

He shook his head and said in a patronized smile, “End of discussion.” He walked out of the kitchen. she sighed and looked at the food which no longer smelled so nice.

She ran back to her room and began to pace around. She had no idea of what to do.

Silently Charlotte dawned a cloak and quietly slipped into one of the trap doors hidden all over the theater. Only this one was in her room. It was a long way to his study, but she appreciated the solitary.

When Charlotte finally reached his study, I enter without knocking. It was a bad habit of mine.

Christopher was sitting at his desk. Unlike his room, this room was cluttered with papers and knick knacks. He turned at the slight squeak. She closed the door and walked over to him.

“Hi,” she said. She took the chair next to him uncomfortably.Christopher noticed her uneasiness, but only raised his eyebrows.

Suddenly a wave of fear and sadness washed over her and she put her face in her hands. A few tears betrayed her and slipped out of her eyes. Now Christopher had turned to her.

His eyes searched her in deep concern. He pulled her into his arms and rock her back and forth.

Holding on to him she whispered to him her conversation with her father. Rage soared through him like an eagle.

He looked down into her frightened eyes. He knew that he couldn’t let her go and already started making a plan.

“Don’t worry, Charlotte,” he said, her name only making his resolution stronger. “I’m not going to let anyone else have you. Just let me take care of it.”