That's what he felt. It wasn't just because of the snow that swirled around him, turning the area outside of the Moulin Rouge into a world of black and white. Clouds hung low under the night sky, the rest of Paris that towered around nearly invisible. His polished shoes crunched with each step, his overcoat flapping in the freezing breeze.
No, it wasn't just the snow. He felt cold because he'd lost. He was the Duke, he never lost. If he wanted something, he got it. Always. But now . . .? What had happened?
He laughed bitterly, his breath puffing out as a white cloud in front of him. The noises from the Moulin Rouge were almost inaudible now, covered by the sound of the wind in his ears.
Now Satine was with the boy. She was with Christian. The last image he'd seen of the two of them, singing together and holding hands, made his stomach turn. It had just been minutes ago, but it felt like hours.
The boy had won, as repulsive as he found the notion. He had taken Satine under his spell, there was no other explanation. He'd charmed her with the beautiful words of his songs. The Duke couldn't pinpoint exactly when this had begun. Perhaps it had been a gradual process. And he'd been so blind! He was always so sure of Satine's affections, only seeing her time together with the boy as rehearsal for the play. She was, after all, the lead actress and he was the writer. The boy must have taken advantage of their time together.
Satine loved him, of that the Duke was sure. She'd said so herself. That night, inside her private courters, she'd practically been overwhelmed by the love she felt. It had been palpable. What was it that she'd said? "How wonderful life is, now you're in the world"? Yes, that had been it. Perhaps he'd been a bit possessive, but she hadn't shown any signs of dislike. He'd bought her a new dressing room, he'd given her a necklace made of pure diamonds! He was offering her everything she could ever want! How did the writer get her under his charm?
And yet . . .
A shadow fell over the Duke as exited the courtyard and came into the main street, grimy buildings rising over him. The snow speckled the black road in patches of yin and yang. Prostitutes and pimps could be seen lingering in doorways, bundled up in coats and eying him in disinterest.
And yet perhaps he'd been the one who had been played. Was it possibly that Satine had never loved him? Had she always loved the boy? Despite her seductive words and her confession of love that night . . . had it all been an act?
He ducked his head against the wind as his mind wracked with thoughts. That night, when she had been going to sleep with him, she had waved away her and the boy's relationship as nothing. But then, upon seeing him outside, she'd turned the Duke down. Perhaps he'd lost his temper that night; perhaps he shouldn't have tried to rape her. But he was the Duke, and he always got what he wanted. And he had wanted her.
He recalled what he had said to her, when she turned him down. "You made me believe that you loved me."
You made me believe that you loved me.
That was it. The realization made him feel small and pathetic. Satine was a courtesan. That was her job. To make men believe that she loved them. She had toyed with his emotions, drawing him on only to drop him without any foreshadowing.
You made me believe that you loved me.
She'd juggled him while having a secret affair with the writer. She'd taken advantage of all he was offering her, to promote herself, to promote the Moulin Rouge, while only pretending to feel love back. Had he been able to go back in time, he would have been more perceptive. He wouldn't have been blinded by her beauty and her lies. She had broken his heart.
Who was the real villain here?
He'd done things that perhaps he shouldn't have. But he was, after all, the Duke. He had money and he had power. He should get what he wanted.
As he walked further out into Paris, he had no intention of looking back. If Satine wanted that penniless writer she could have him. The boy could never give her everything that he could. And the boy, in turn, could have her. It was only a matter of time before she broke his heart, too.
Because Satine was a courtesan.
And she made men believe that she loved them.
That was her job.