Chapter 9: Surprise

“So, what line of business are you in, Monsieur Fulcanelli?” Cornelia asked. “Gunther rarely mentions work to me, but since you have called on us this evening…” She left the sentence trailing delicately, noting the heightening colour in Gunther’s face. He glanced at her, his expression registering annoyance, then looked away. He was still looking at M. Fulcanelli as if the man was about to drop a bomb on the house. Lies, lies, lies. They surround him, and he is the only honest person to be found.

Read the chapter here, then please return to this post if you have feedback.

10 responses

  1. I loved that. It was great! I like the well-cultured Valois and how forceful he got at the end. I hope he gets more forceful. Can’t wait for chapter 10!

  2. I think chapter 9 has 404ed or something. I went back to look at it because of… reasons, and a 404 error message pooped up:

    Not Found
    The requested URL /089html was not found on this server.
    Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

    It could just be my pc but you might want to check it just in case.

    • That’s my bad. I cocked up the HTML in the chapterlist, because I copied and pasted from the Chapter 08 bit, added the link to 09 but didn’t remove all of the original link. It’s fixed now, Thanks for letting me know!

  3. Awww, T_T Gunther’s crying at the end. Poor guy, Valois probably just told him a truth about himself that he either didn’t realize, or didn’t want to believe was true. Hmm… Valois charm effect on Cornelia, I can’t decide if that was him working his illusions over her, or if she just found him attractive and irresistible because of his mannerisms like kissing her hand and being all French. LOL.

  4. I’m really sorry to seem stupid, but I have to ask since I have been wondering for some time now; was this rape, or is it me misunderstanding the situation?

    // Elin

    • Hey there :) It’s not a stupid question at all! That chapter is a controversial one, so I knew I may have to explain it a little further to my readers.

      The clue comes in the lines that Valois speaks toward the end of the chapter – “You do not even fight me. You simply take it. Is this what you need, after a long day of being in charge at work? To let go and simply do another’s bidding?” – and the fact that, during the two paragraphs before that, Gunther is responding (he’s hard and panting) as well as the fact that he does exactly what Valois predicts: he lets go and allows Valois to do it. His resistance (the shaking of his head) is countered by his tightly-clamped-down need to submit (the whining around Valois’s fingers in his mouth). So, while it appears to be dubious consent at the very least, it is consent.

      Gunther’s fear comes from the fact that his deepest secret desire has been found out by someone who can do something about it. Prior to this, he’s been able to cope with it by ignoring it and just fantasising about it. Now he has the chance to actually live it, and he’s fearful of stepping into that world because—by its very nature—it’s a world where he has to let go of his control. Given that the only thing holding him together through the utter mess of his home life at the moment is sheer will and self-control, he’s frightened to let even a small crack appear, in case his whole carefully constructed façade comes tumbling down in the form of a very embarrassing and damaging public meltdown.

      The bookseller was a character that Valois created purely to shatter through Gunther’s tight self-control and get him to open up that tiny crack. Let him freefall under the bookseller’s rough domination (chapter 10: Shit. I’m falling. I’m falling and I can’t stop and I’ve got nothing to hold onto.) and then step quickly back into Gunther’s life in his usual form (chapter 12) to pick up the pieces and begin to put him back together again. It was very calculated, because Valois knew that Gunther’s self-control was wire-taut thanks to his mess of a marriage and his overbearing wife, and drastic measures were needed to show him that he could let go.

      I hope that helps :)

  5. Thank you so much for explaining this, it is hard to understand Valois (and Gunther) sometimes. Thank you for being kind about it too, I did not mean to sound accusing, I’m sorry if I came across that way. You are an amazing writer, and I really enjoy this story :-)

    • You’re more than welcome. And you certainly didn’t sound accusing :) The last thing I’d want is for my readers to feel uncomfortable about my writing. While I’m not going to sugar-coat things when they need to be written a certain way for effect, I’m always happy to explain anything a reader is unsure about.

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