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Chapter 7 Reveal
Raoul and Christine. Raoul, Philippe’s brother, helps Christine find Philippe, the man she once loved and who mysteriously disappeared a year earlier. They receive tips that he may be living in Italy, so they go to Italy to find him. However, they quickly learn that the search for Philippe is a perilous one exposing them to potential threats and extortion.
The area surrounding their meeting point with Reggi was every bit as steep and confusing as Raoul had read, but it allowed them time to enjoy Vernazza, offering some respite from the task ahead. The festival also allowed Christine to roam the streets with anonymity behind a pirate mask, allowing a level of freedom they had not enjoyed in a long time, reinforcing their bond and making Raoul regret how he’d treated Christine in their negotiations with Reggi. Raoul had shown too much faith in this stranger and little toward his friend. He would check his emotions, but he would spend the money required to find Philippe.
The evening was calm and uneventful, but Raoul and Christine expected that to change as they wound their way through the lanes to Bar La Torre. The cafe was perched on one of the highest points in the village, affording a hundred and eighty-degree view of the ocean and shoreline of Vernazza. Cool ocean breezes and the restaurant’s vine filled natural deck offered ideal shelter from the warming summer day, as did the refreshing local wines.
“You’ve never told me what you think happened to Philippe, even after all these years. Why not?” Christine asked.
Raoul caressed her hand, knowing she was right. He’d given up on finding his brother many years earlier, and sure he’d tangled with people who could make any debtor disappear without a trace. As a result, he’d returned to Italy more often than he’d wished, more to help Christine than himself.
“I never wanted to tarnish your good memories of my brother. You got to know the best side of him, the side I very much loved, too. But there was another side to him that only a few saw.”
“You mean his gambling?”
by Michael Leon
GENRE: Sci-fi/ Fantasy Romance
CHANDELIER is the genre-bending sci-fi/fantasy-romance novel follow up of Michael Leon’s 2019 fantasy-romance book, PHANTOMS. A century has passed since the fabled Phantom ruled the Garnier Opera House. Technology has advanced, and AI has evolved beyond human knowledge. They reside in a virtual Earth, free from the ravages of an environmentally damaged Earth where humans and post-humans live under AI’s qualified governance. CHANDELIER follows one AI sentient’s journey, Benny, whose loyalty for a famous opera singer, Madame D’Arenberg, sets him on a dangerous course, entangling him in The Phantom of the Opera’s deadly web.
A human whistling sound, distant but growing louder permeated the chill of the room. An unearthly chilled breath wafted over his face. He opened his eyes and looked up to its source, but he was alone, until light formed on the wall behind Gaston’s bed. Shapeless light swirled as if blown by that same breeze. The foggy disturbance slowed, allowing the swirling shape to take form. It was human but completely covered in black, bar the shape of a smooth ghost-like face. As the contours sharpened he realised it was a mask. Was he looking at the phantom? If he was, Gaston’s stories had all been real!
Fear gripped him to the seat. He wanted to flee but dared not move. Before the apparition suddenly looked Flynn’s way, turning his fear to terror.
“Who are you?” He asked feebly, but the apparition remained silent.
Flynn went to stand but a second shape appeared from behind him. A man dressed in white walked toward Gaston’s bed, making no sound as it glided across the room. Both apparitions studied the body for a time, ignoring Flynn before vanishing through the bedroom wall, leaving Flynn alone. He immediately stood and left the room, fearful they may return, not daring to look back. Whatever he witnessed, he didn’t wish to see again. Flynn was a scientist who staunchly refuted Gaston’s ramblings about ghosts as the product of a vivid imagination. They had spent many years arguing over their existence. Perhaps this was his friend’s final wish, to show him that everything he had written and said was true.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Michael Leon is an explorer, writer and author of the new novel, Sentient. Professionally trained in international trade, Michael has spent the last decade reading and writing SFF novels about new worlds to be explored in the future. His latest work, Sentient, imagines Earth in the year 2120. His next novel, Chandelier, will be released in 2022. Michael has travelled extensively around Europe, walking the paths of his characters, from the famous European opera houses in Phantoms to the mountain tops of Switzerland in Emissary.