I do not own Fifty Shades Trilogy or the characters. They belong to E. L. James. I am only exercising my right to exploit, abuse, and mangle the characters to MY discretion in MY story in MY interpretation as a fan. I hope you—as a fellow fan—enjoy it, too.
Chapter 27—Tiger Lioness Leopard Cougar
I am as giddy as a teenager. Tonight I am having my first dinner party with Christian! And only a week after we’ve consummated our relationship. I know it seems fast—hell, it’s a whirlwind—but I love him and I know without a doubt that this is where I want to be.
I’m trying to figure out my menu for the party tonight. I know that we will definitely have ten people in attendance and no concerns of do-drops at Escala—thank God. I usually have a menu planned well in advance, but since this is so spur of the moment, I have to come up with something quick, efficient, and delicious. Thank God for Gail—she is magnificent! I call her to discuss some meal ideas since we are pressed for time and between the two of us, we came up with:
Lamb and shrimp kebabs
Sun-dried tomato and ricotta bruschetta (you know I have to have my bruschetta)
Deviled eggs with cilantro and curry
Orzo salad with grape tomatoes, feta, and mint
Asparagus and snow peas sautéed in a lime vinaigrette
Butter garlic cheesy crusted potatoes (of course)
Honey-Vanilla ice cream sandwiches (which is just butter cookies and honey-vanilla ice cream)
Caramelized plum pound cake
Ginger Iced Tea topped with sparkling Moscato
Carolina Peach Sangria
And whatever libations are brought
I shut the office down at 1:00pm and Chuck and I go to the Marketplace to meet Gail. She is a joy to shop with—she knows that place like the back of her hand. She introduced me to her favorite spice stand that has exotic concoctions from all around the world. I didn’t even know the stand was there, and I come to the Marketplace almost every weekend!
“Apparently, I’m to ask you for your recipe for butter garlic cheesy crusted potatoes,” Gail says to me as we are picking the flowers for the centerpieces. I sink into myself a little. I remember that although it was a source of humor for me and Christian, it could also have been a slight point of contention for Taylor and Gail. She smiles kindly at me. “Don’t worry, anything that I can do that keeps these men happy is fine by me. Do you mind sharing it with me?” I let out a breath I didn’t know that I was holding.
“Of course, I’ll share it with you, Gail,” I say, returning her smile. “We’ll be making it tonight. They’re really easy…”
Gail and I get lost in our conversation about dinner and my crazy friends. She mentions that Christian has never had people over to the apartment en masse like this—no one besides his family and that “awful woman” as Gail calls her. I find it strange that she can be best friends with his mother, but no one else close to Christian seems to like her—no one I’ve met anyway. It makes me question what I’m going to be facing tomorrow.
“Can you tell me anything about Christian’s family?” I ask. “I’m going to be meeting them tomorrow and I just don’t know what to expect. To be honest, I’m a little afraid. I mean, if Elena is any indication…” Gail smiles at me.
“I can’t tell you much,” she begins. “I can tell you that his parents are wonderful people and I am just as bewildered as you are that Mrs. Lincoln is a friend of the family. It just doesn’t fit.” She puts her hand on my back. “I wouldn’t worry if I were you, Ana. Besides having to deal with that vulture, I think you’ll do just fine tomorrow.” Our conversation is interrupted by Chuck.
“Ana, I think we need to wrap things up here and leave,” he says with urgency.
“Why?” I say with a frown. I’m enjoying my outing with Gail and getting the supplies for our dinner party.
“I just received word from Manchester. He’s David’s new tail. David is somewhere in the Marketplace.” Shit! Are you kidding me? Is he here for a purpose or is he still stalking me? This man had better leave me alone if he knows what’s good for him. I do a quick scan of the general vicinity. No Edward. I sigh deeply.
“Chuck, you will protect me if Edward comes anywhere near me, correct?” I ask.
“Absolutely, Ana,” he says, definitively.
“And I have my little friend,” I say patting my purse. Chuck nods his acknowledgement.
“That’s good to know,” he states matter-of-factly.
“Okay, so Gail and I are going to finish our shopping. Please keep your eyes open as will I and call the police immediately if he violates the restraining order. Once the authorities have been contacted, do whatever you need to do to keep his ass away from me, because I will lay him down. Are we in agreement?” I state.
“Total,” he agrees.
Gail and I continue with our shopping while Chuck keeps a watchful eye on both of his bosses’ most prized possessions. Once we have completed our perfectly delightful outing without incident, Gail heads back to Escala while Chuck and I head to my apartment so that I can pick my wardrobe for the weekend.
It’s about 3:30 when I get to my apartment and I notice that Al’s car is there. What the hell? Poor Al, he’s so confused. I shake my head and warn Chuck not to panic as someone will be in my apartment. I open the door to find Al leisurely sitting on my sofa watching some dreary program on the news channel. He flicks it off when I enter. I walk over and hug him.
“Al. Baby.” I begin, chastising. “Way too early and wrong apartment,” I say shaking my head.
“Oh no, darling,” he says, kissing me on the cheek. “I was summoned.” He smiles. My head jerks back in surprise.
“Summoned!? By whom?” I yelp. He takes my hand.
“Come with me.” He leads me back into my bedroom and into my walk-in closet. It has been revamped and rearranged—masterfully, I might add—to make room for what appears to be a white princess-style armoire.
“What is this?” I say, my voice squeaking with surprise.
“Open it,” Al says, releasing my hand. I open the doors and immediately know who the culprit is that invaded my closet. I drop everything in my hand as they both fly up to my mouth and I gasp loudly. Shelf after shelf of red and tan soles are staring back at me. What looks to be a harmless armoire is really a floor to ceiling shoe closet filled with countless pairs of Louboutin stilettos. My heart nearly stops!
“Girl, I don’t know what you’re doing to that man, but you must teach me!” Al says while Chuck looks on, laughing. I look at him shaking my head, my eyes filling with tears as my adrenaline has shot off the Richter scale and there is no avoiding them.
“I said I wanted a pair of Louboutins…” I say, my voice squeaking like a little girl, “and he bought me this!” I gesture to the work of art standing in front of me. Al laughs.
“Wow! I’m glad you didn’t ask for a car! We may have had to clear out the parking garage!” he says facetiously. I laugh through my tears.
“So he enlisted you as his partner-in-crime?” I say, trying to ebb the water flow from my eyes.
“Hey, somebody had to let him in,” Al says. “He really likes his shrine over there in your chair, too.” I look over at the chair. I had forgotten that I had left his pin-striped suit where we had undressed him a few nights prior. I feel a tightening at the apex of my thighs remembering that night. I’m only too sure that Al and Chuck notice the color change in my cheeks. Oh well, c’est la vie. I rush to Al and embrace him.
“Thank you, Al,” I say, kissing him on his cheek.
“Hey, don’t thank me. Thank your fairy godfather,” he says with a chuckle.
“Yeah, I guess I better, huh?” I say as I pull out my phone and instruct Siri to call Christian.
“Grey,” he answers in his normal brisk tone. I assume he didn’t look at the caller ID.
“Christian Trevelyan Marcus Michael John Arnold Richard Matthew Grey!” I bark into the phone through my tears. He bursts into laughter.
“When did I get all of those names!?” he says through his own laughter.
“It’s a quirk of mine it happens sometimes!” I nearly yell all in one breath. “I ask for A pair of Louboutins… a pair!” I stress the word “a” both times.
“Ah, ah, ah… I beg to differ. Your exact words were ‘I would love some of those Louboutins platform stilettos.’ That is what you said, Ms. Steele,” he says finitely. I replay the conversation in my head. I don’t know if that’s what I said.
“You know what I meant,” I say, weakly, wiping away my tears and admiring the gorgeous collection of shoes in front of me.
“Yes, I know what you meant. Then I took what you said and did what I wanted,” he says softly. I take out a pair of strappy purple bandage sandals. I know just what to wear these with—it’ll be perfect.
“They’re exquisite, Christian. I could wear a pair every day for a month and still not run out. I don’t know how to thank you,” I say, my voice full of gratitude.
“Try three months, and I can think of a few ways you could thank me,” he says, seductively.
“Make a list,” I reply, just as seductively. I hear a sharp intake of breath and Christian gets quiet for a moment.
“Are you trying to make me come in the middle of my office?” he asks, his voice strained.
“In the middle of your office… hmmm. I hadn’t thought about it, but that’s an idea,” I purr.
“Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Other people in the room here!” Al waves his hands maniacally. I have to admit—I did forget there were other people in the room. For a moment, it was just me and my two Christians—Grey and Louboutin.
“I’m sorry, you guys.” I look from Al to Chuck. “I get carried away sometimes.”
“Yeah, I love you, Jewel, but that’s a picture that I don’t need in my head.”
“Honestly, me either,” Chuck adds. I raise my eyebrow at him and Christian questions what he said. “Hey, you guys are my bosses! I know what you do, but don’t need that visual!” he defends and Christian laughs.
“Okay, I’ll let them off the hook. What time will you be back at my place?” Christian asks. I look at my watch.
“Within the hour. I just need to grab a few things from here and I should be on my way,” I answer.
“Okay. I should be leaving here shortly. No more than 90 minutes, I promise.”
“Okay, Baby. I see you later then. Love you.”
“I love you, too, Butterfly.” I end the call and look back at the shoe closet.
“Can you believe this?” I say to Al, gesturing to the closet. “Does this happen in real life!?”
“Hey, I was here for the assembly,” he jests, taking a pair of jeweled heeled tan-soled Louboutins out of the clothes.
“Oooo, I’ll wear those tomorrow!” I exclaim. “I’m going to meet his family.” Al eyes me carefully.
“So soon, Jewel?” he says, his voice dripping with caution. I take his hand.
“I know,” I answer, understanding. “But no, it’s not too soon. This is the real thing, Al. It really is,” I say with certainty. He smiles at me.
“Well, he can’t be too bad. Watch your step, I might snatch him from you.” He laughs.
“Sorry, Babe. As irresistible as you are, you don’t have the equipment.” We laugh.
Luckily the Algona situation was handled without too much fanfare and I haven’t heard anything from the Pedophile in a couple of days. Welch hasn’t found anything definitive on her yet, but he has put a tail on her nonetheless in the hopes that we will find something out from her comings and goings. I have a few small things to handle, then I can go home to this dinner party that we have planned. I’m a little nervous. The boardroom, I can handle. Large charity events with nameless, faceless crowds, no problem. Little intimate soirees with eight people who are all coming to “get to know” me… scares me shitless. I’ll be taking cues from Butterfly tonight and doing my best to acclimate instead of being the usual recluse I have become. Step one of my transformation… or is it step two? Step three? Twelve? Who knows?
My thoughts are interrupted by my ringing blackberry. I answer it without looking at it and I am greeted with a string of strange names—and I think I heard mine somewhere in there. I can’t contain my laughter or my surprise.
“When did I get all of those names!?” I ask. Butterfly can barely string together a coherent sentence. She got the shoes. Good. I wish I could have been there to see here face when she opened the shoe closet, but that would have ruined the surprise. She protests only slightly until I explain that 90 pairs of Louboutins is my idea of “some.” After some of our usual sexual banter and a heart-felt “thank you” from the most beautiful woman in the world, we end the call and I go back to finishing my workday with a smile.
I enter my apartment—or what I think is my apartment—a couple of hours later and I am completely surprised. It has never felt like this. A fire is going in the fireplace—I expected that. The balcony doors are open and there are various candles and lanterns strategically placed inside and out. There are two arrangements of wild flowers—one on the dining room table and one on the coffee table in the great room. There’s the distinct smell of citrus and jasmine in the air along with the delectable fragrances emanating from the kitchen. Gail and Butterfly are laughing and interacting there like two old friends, and they don’t even notice our arrival.
“She’s making those potatoes, sir. I can smell them,” Taylor says quietly.
“I know, so can I,” I say almost nostalgically. We watch as Butterfly instructs Gail to remove the potatoes from the oven and place them on the cooling rack on the counter.
“Beautifully done, Gail,” Butterfly praises. “They look perfect. We’ll let them cool and see how you did.”
I look over at Taylor, who smiles slightly knowing that his girlfriend now knows how to make the coveted cheesy potatoes. There are various attractive dishes spread across the breakfast bar and some on the dining room table. There are about four wine buckets filled with ice as well as the beer bucket on the balcony—again, only ice. I see wine in the cooler, so this confuses me a bit.
“Honeys, we’re home,” I announce our arrival to the two oblivious women in the kitchen. Butterfly emerges, still in her work clothes and stilettos, wearing her chef’s apron.
“There’s my Santa Claus,” she says, wrapping her arms around my waist and kissing me gently on the lips.
“Santa Claus, huh?” I say, enveloping her in my arms and brushing my lips against her cheek.
“A tiara and the shoes? Yeah, Santa Claus… what is that tiara made of anyway?” she asks.
“Platinum and diamonds,” I respond. Her mouth falls open and her eyes almost pop out. I put my finger on her chin and push up. “Close your mouth, Baby.”
“Platinum and diamonds? Where in the world can I wear that?” she asks.
“Oh, I can’t think of a few places,” I say, but I won’t elaborate right now. “I’ll make the suggestions when the time comes.” I kiss her gently. “You haven’t changed yet. Should I wear this?” I gesture to my suit.
“Absolutely not! You’ll scare my guests away with that CEO garb!” she chastises. “I never change until Al gets here. He’s my alarm and he allows me to work until the last minute while he greets the guests. Although with you here, I may not need Al.” She squeezes me closer.
“Oh, no, we need Allen. I’m new at this remember?” I protest.
“Oh yeah, I forgot about that. Well, Al will be here shortly and Gail has saved me an immense amount of time! I never would have gotten all of this done on such short notice without her.” Butterfly smiles at Gail.
“Happy to be of service, M’lady,” Gail curtsies.
“Madam.” Butterfly returns the curtsy before they burst into giggles. Like I said, Butterfly is quite personable.
“I smell those potatoes, don’t I?” I ask.
“Yes, you do,” Butterfly announces. “But Gail made them this time. Why don’t we see how she did?” She winks at Gail.
“Yes, I’m so anxious to see if they measure up,” Gail says. “And don’t sugarcoat it—I want the truth, you two.” Gail shakes her finger at Taylor who holds his hands up in surrender. Butterfly goes over to the cooling potatoes and puts a small amount on a little plate. She takes a fork and gives a fork to Gail. They each take a small amount of the potatoes to taste for themselves.
“These are very good,” Gail says, proudly. Butterfly closes her eyes to savor the flavor.
“Gail, they are perfection,” she says, as she takes a forkful and gives it to me. She’s right. They’re delicious. Taylor takes a taste from Gail’s fork and mimics the face Butterfly made before kissing Gail reverently on the cheek. I’d say the potatoes are a hit.
Butterfly informs me that we have about twenty minutes before Allen gets here, so that gives me time to take a quick shower and freshen up before I go into “host training.” As I come out of the shower, Butterfly is in the bedroom taking two dresses out of a garment bag and hanging one in the closet.
“I’m going to have to make some room for you to put some things in my closet, aren’t I?” I say coming up behind her and putting my arms around her. She stiffens a bit and turns around to face me.
“Do you want to do that?” she says softly. “I don’t want to appear to be invading your space.”
“I absolutely want to do that, Butterfly,” I say. “I see that my blue Anderson Sheppard has taken up permanent residence in your bedroom.” She blushes.
“I like having it there… and your shirts…” She pauses. “I guess that means I should make some room for you, too, huh?”
“Only if you want to,” I say, my voice a little more hopeful than I want to portray.
“I absolutely want to do that.” She repeats my words to me, her eyes ocean blue and longing.
“Don’t look at me like that, Butterfly, or we’ll never get to our guests,” I say, gently pulling her against me and closing the space between us.
“Okay,” she says wistfully before closing her eyes. I take her mouth with mine and savor her flavor. My Ana. My Butterfly. I could never get enough of her. Our kiss goes from touching to yearning and lustful as she tangles her fingers in my hair and moans into my mouth. I clutch her tightly—possessively.
I run my hands down to her ass and forcefully push her against me.
I reluctantly break our passionate exchange and pepper her lips with tender kisses. “I would love to bury myself in you, but we have guests coming and I assume by your presence here that Allen has already arrived.” She reluctantly pulls away from me.
“You assume correctly,” she says. “I’ll try to control myself,” she adds with a smile.
“What should I wear for this event, Ms. Steele?” I ask. She puts her hand on her chin and eyes me carefully, then goes to my closet. I trust her completely—her taste is impeccable. She returns with my Ralph Lauren black label long-sleeved cotton jersey button down shirt and my Boss Dr. Hook tan pleated trousers with my Salvatore Ferragamo Faraone black leather dress shoes and matching Salvatore Ferragamo Italian leather Plaque belt. I’m glad she picked for me. I would have gone for something dressier and ended up overdressed.
“This will do nicely, Mr. Grey,” she says seductively.
“Cut it out with that Mr. Grey shit. It’s taking everything in me not to take you right now, woman,” I threaten and she raises an eyebrow.
“Fair enough,” she says as she pulls some jewelry from a travel case and one of the Louboutin boxes left behind for just such an emergency. “Oh, I asked Gail and Taylor to join us for dinner. She did so much work helping me with the dinner and she was so excited that you were having people over that it just seemed criminal not to ask them to stick around. I hope you don’t mind,” she adds.
“Well, I’m new to this whole thing myself, but I can’t say that I care one way or the other if they join us. They may not feel the same, though. Gail has always been so professional…” I say.
“You doubt my powers of persuasion, Mr. Grey?” she says before sauntering into the en suite. I lick my lips after her.
“Not at all, Ms. Steele,” I say to myself. “Not at all.”
Allen is sitting on the sofa in the great room when I return. Alex Bugnon is playing from the sound system. My girl has great taste in music.
“Allen.” I extend my hand to him.
“Christian.” He shakes my hand rising from the sofa. “Lovely place you have here. Quite over the top, I must say.”
“Yes, I know,” I say. “I have to admit, I’m a little out of my element. I’ve never entertained before now… well, not more than one person at a time anyway, so I’m kind of being thrown into the deep end of the pool here.”
“I got you. Well, social skills are something that you just have to let grab you. I have the advantage of knowing everyone that’s going to be here tonight. You know no one, so yeah, you’ll have to play it by ear. All of our friends are laid back and relaxed. The stuffiest amongst us is probably my James, and even he’s pretty laid back by most people’s standards. Just loosen up, relax. Try to enjoy yourself. Open up as much as is comfortable for you. You’ll be fine.” I hear the phone ring in the kitchen and I know it’s Marc. He’s probably shell-shocked from the amount of new faces he’s seen just in the last week and it’s only just begun.
“Mr. Grey, it’s Marc at the front desk. There are some people here that say they are expected.”
“Just a moment, Marc. Allen, can you come and talk to my doorman, please?” I hand him the phone. As he talks to Marc, I notice that the beer bucket on the balcony is now full and one of the wine buckets has a bottle of Cabernet chilling inside.
“You first guests arriving, Mr. Grey,” Allen says.
“Allen, I have to ask, what’s with all the buckets and ice? I have plenty of wine.” He smiles at me.
“Jewel didn’t explain Food and Libations to you?” he asks.
“No,” I say crinkling my eyebrows.
“She supplies us with a fabulous meal, we all must bring libations—either to be consumed tonight or at a later date. She has a guest bedroom in case anybody drinks too much and we do the dishes so she doesn’t have to,” Allen responds.
“Not in my kitchen!” Gail announces facetiously as she and Taylor return from changing. Gail is wearing a beautiful blue A-line flowy tea-length short sleeved dress with nude sandals, her hair pulled neatly into a bun. Taylor has changed into a simple dress shirt and some black slacks. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the two of them look so… normal.
“Sir, Ms. Steele insisted… profusely!” Taylor defends.
“I know. It’s okay, Taylor. Could you please help Allen here make sure that no riff-raff gets into our little party?” I say with a smile. I think I have shocked my head of private security. “I’m trying, okay?” I add. He smiles at me and heads off towards Allen. “For her, I’m trying…”
I emerge from the bedroom in my Herve Leger purple and silver bandage dress with matching jewelry and of course my brand new purple Louboutin Tinazata suede strappy stiletto peep-toe ankle boots. I am frozen in my steps by the picture of Christian with a beer in his hand, sitting with Taylor, James, and Phil having a heated discussion about the terrible season the Mariners are having.
“You’re crazy, man. Hernandez hasn’t done anything for that team. They’ve never been to the World Series and this year is no different,” he says very animated to Phil.
“Come on, you’re not even considering Ackley and Ichiro. Something’s gotta give this year, Chris.” Chris!? “Season tickets cost a fortune and I have to get my money’s worth sooner or later.”
“Well, I hate to tell you, but you just threw your money down the drain! They won’t even make the playoffs,” Christian says before swigging his beer and sending the other two men into laughter. I turn and look at Al who just shrugs. I walk over to the girls, my presence clearly not needed to assist dear “Chris!”
It’s well into the evening and I’m on the balcony talking to Gail, Val and Maxie before Christian comes looking for me.
“How’re you ladies doing out here?” he says like the quintessential host. I’m impressed.
“Just fine, Christian. You have a very lovely home here,” Val says.
“Thank you,” Christian replies. “I didn’t mean to interrupt you. I just wanted to steal a kiss from my girlfriend,” he says as he bends down and plants a chaste kiss on my lips. I flutter my eyelashes at him and he smiles and goes back inside.
“Oh my God, Ana. How do you resist him?” Maxie says.
“It ain’t easy!” I exclaim. “He’s sex on a stick, but I must manage to refrain from jumping his bones ALL the time,” I laugh.
“Where’s Bethany? Why hasn’t she come out here with us?” Maxie adds. “Is she attached to Gary by the hip?”
“I guess so,” Val responds.
“She seems like a lovely girl for the most part,” Gail adds. “How long have you all known her?”
“Not long actually. We only met her a couple of weeks ago when Gary brought her to one of our get-togethers. He’s completely stricken with her, though,” I respond. Gail makes a face.
“Oh, okay. Excuse me for a moment, ladies. Ana, Dear, can I see you in the kitchen for a moment?” She rises and goes to the kitchen. I shrug at Maxie and Val and follow Gail to the kitchen.
“Is everything okay, Gail?” I ask with concern.
“It could be nothing, but I just thought you should know. Your friend, Bethany, has not stopped looking at Mr. Grey for more than five seconds all night. Now I am certain that he has gone to the wine room for more Bollinger because I saw him headed that way. Your friend Bethany has gone in that direction as well,” she says. I frown. “I don’t doubt Mr. Grey’s commitment to you one bit, Ana. He’s a completely different man in one week than I’ve ever seen and I’ve worked for him for six years. But since none of you really know this Bethany girl, I think you should really go to the wine room.” She points me in the direction. I nod at her and head towards the wine room.
The door to the wine room is slightly ajar. Sure enough, I stand on the wall between the kitchen and the wine room and I can hear their voices.
“No one would know,” she says. “It would just be me and you, a cozy private hotel room somewhere…”
“And what about your boyfriend?” Christian says. What? Is this really happening? My heart starts pounding hard in my chest, so hard I’m sure they can hear it and will come out any second. Thank God the wall is holding me up or I would be on the floor by now. Christian is at my dinner party negotiating a rendezvous with another woman. This cannot be happening!
“Don’t worry about him. He believes anything I tell him. I have him wrapped around my little finger,” she says seductively and laughs. Christian laughs with her.
“How fortunate for you, Ms. Shepherd,” he says, smoothly. Fucking bastard.
“Bethany,” she coos.
“Bethany,” he repeats. I am just about to end this cozy little exchange when he says, “Here’s the thing. You say nobody would know, right?”
“Absolutely,” she purrs.
“But I would know, Ms. Shepherd!” he says, his voice now cold and piercing. “I would know that I reduced myself to being seduced by a woman—and I use that term loosely—who was invited by her boyfriend to the party of one of his closest friends, only to come on to that friend’s boyfriend. First of all, do you think I would stoop that low to sleep with someone who has such deplorable moral character? I’ve done some pretty dirty things in my life, but that would be pretty detestable,” he says in that CEO voice that can cut anyone down to size.
… And now I feel like shit.
It was reasonable. You had to hear the rest.
Yeah, I know, but I shouldn’t have doubted him.
“Well, excuse me!” she scoffs. “What makes you think you’re so high and mighty? You’re just a man with the same equipment as the rest of them,” she says, affronted.
“You mean besides the fact that I’m a billionaire and you’re currently standing in my multi-million-dollar penthouse propositioning me and drinking my expensive champagne from crystal stemware? Well, besides that, the fact that I’m turning you down. You’re a very attractive woman, Ms. Shepherd, and I don’t know why you’re offering yourself like a dress on the sales rack, but I’m not buying. Why would I want you? Do you see what I have? That woman is exceptional! She’s everything that you should strive to be! Her beauty, kindness, and intelligence are unparalleled, and her bedroom skills would make you blush. Why in the world would you believe for one second that I would invite her closest friends to my home and then try to sneak off with one of you? Are you insane?”
“We’re not friends!” she snaps as if that makes it any better.
“Well, thank God for that!” he exclaims. “While I trust my girl implicitly, I was beginning to question her judgement in choosing you as a friend. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong in my life! I regret even letting you in my home, and I’d like for you to leave!” he snaps and she gasps.
“Stuck up asshole!”she hisses as she walks out of the wine room and runs face-to-face into me. At first, she’s pretty expressionless, but then becomes horrified by something behind me. I turn to see Gary standing there.
I don’t know how long he’s been there, but his face is completely impassive.
“Gary, I can explain everything,” she begins, her voice shaking.
“I’m sure you can,” Gary says impassively. Christian comes out of the wine room and his face goes pale. He knows how this looks, but he doesn’t know that Gary and I heard the whole exchange—or at least enough of it.
“I think I’ll be going now,” Gary says calmly. Fuck, he’s hurt. I know this voice. I can’t let him leave like this. He walks around Bethany and me to Christian, who straightens—apparently preparing for a confrontation. “It’s been a pleasure, Chris. I hope to see you again soon. You have a very lovely home.” He proffers his hand to Christian who takes it, bemused.
“Don’t mention it. I hope to see you again soon as well,” Christian responds.
“I’m sorry about that!” Gary spits, gesturing his head towards Bethany. “Had I known…”
Christian visibly relaxes. “Don’t worry about it,” he says. “I understand completely.” Gary nods and comes over to me without acknowledging Bethany.
“I’m really sorry, Ana,” he says, contritely. “I never would have brought her, if…”
“I know, Gary,” I say taking his hand. “Would you do me a favor?” I ask.
“Anything,” he says with a smile.
“Would you go out on the balcony with Val and Maxie for a moment? Don’t leave yet.” He looks at me for a minute then nods.
“Sure.” He squeezes my hand and goes to the balcony. I turn my attention to this Bitch Bethany.
“I believe my man told you to leave!” I spit between clenched teeth.
“Of course he did after I sucked his dick!” she snaps. Before I could think, my hand flies so fast and hard across her face that she yelps in surprise and drops Christian’s crystal champagne glass. It shatters into pieces on the marble floor.
“How do I taste?” I hiss, leaning into her face and daring her to say another word. She’s holding her cheek, pure fear in her eyes. “Since your ride will be staying, I suggest you go and find a taxi—now!” I growl. She runs around me and heads straight for the door. I don’t know if she had a purse, but if she did, she left it behind on her way out. I turn to Christian and jump into his arms, kissing him feverishly. He holds onto me like I am his life’s breath, devouring my lips just as earnestly—my feet dangling from the ground.
“I’ll replace your champagne glass,” I say breathlessly between kisses.
“Don’t you dare!” he responds.
“I love you!” I say, continuing my oral onslaught.
“I love you, too, baby,” he says, pressing his lips harder into mine.
I wish I could say that the party went off without a hitch, but apparently there were some wolves in with the sheep. I thought my life was ending when I stepped out the wine room and saw Butterfly and Garrett standing there facing off against this little blonde bimbo that had propositioned me moments before.
How did she know we were back here? Has my redemption ended before it even began? I feel all of the blood leave my face and I am ill.
My fears are soon calmed by Garrett’s words to me and Butterfly. Apparently, they heard the whole thing. Thank God for that! Ana convinces Garrett to stay, but continues with my efforts to remove the bimbo. Then the little bitch made the mistake of trying to say that something had happened between us. Oh… you’re dealing with the Tiger…
Wrong move! Duck! Run, Bitch, run! Oh, too late.
The wrath of the Butterfly sends one blonde bimbo running to the door with a sore face and one Mikasa crystal champagne glass broken on the floor. Thank God it wasn’t the Waterford.
After an impromptu make-out session by the wine room, Ana and I go to the balcony to have a talk with Garrett. Thankfully, their relationship had only just begun. He admitted that he was fond of her, but not in love with her, and very happy that he saw this side of her before it got to be too late. Once we said our goodbyes to everyone later that evening, I offered the guestroom to Garrett just in case, but he assured me that he was fine to drive home instead. Except for the one fox in the hen house, I would say the night went pretty well.
Saturday is now upon us and it’s time to meet the family. I’m wearing black Canali pants with a navy blue Tilford Samuelsohn Herringbone blazer and a lightweight cashmere sweater underneath. I find my Butterfly in my room wearing a basic black dress that hugs her curves perfectly with a pair of sky high Louboutin stilettos—black suede with rhinestone encrusted heels. She’s wearing silver flower earrings and a matching silver medallion. Her black clutch purse has the same silver flowers on it and she’s topping the ensemble off with a stylish short white fitted jacket. Her hair is in a twisted chignon style that I have no idea how she did on her own. She looks stunning. Any man would be proud to take her home to meet Mom and Dad.
“Are you ready to meet the folks?” I say as we pull up to my parents’ house.
“As ready as I’ll ever be,” Butterfly responds.
“Last chance to back out,” I say kissing her hands. She smiles sweetly at me.
“Not a chance.” I let go of her hand and get out of the car rushing to her side to open her door. To my dismay, I see the Pedophile’s Ashton Martin is already here. I smile at Ana and take her hand as we walk to the door.
“Chri—” My mother stops short after she opens the door and looks at me like I have two heads. I can only guess she is astounded by the fact that I’ve brought someone with me. Remembering herself, she proceeds, “Christian. It’s good to see you, son,” she says sincerely as she kisses me on the cheek.
“Hello Mother,” I greet. “It’s good to see you, too.”
“And who is this lovely flower?” Actually, she’s a butterfly, Mom, but I’ll let it slide.
“Mother, this is Dr. Anastasia Steele. Anastasia, this is my mother, Dr. Grace Trevelyan Grey.” Mom takes Butterfly’s hand and smiles widely.
“It’s so good to meet you, Dr. Steele,” she says sweetly.
“Please, call me Ana. It’s wonderful to meet you, too. Dr. Grey,” she responds.
“Now, if I’m to call you Ana, then you’re to call me Grace.” Ana smiles.
“By all means, Grace.” Mom leads us into the living room where everyone is seated and my baby is ready to face the firing squad.
Christian gave me one last chance to make a run for it before we got to his parents’ doorstep, but like hell am I going to let She-Thing prevent me from meeting his parents. I was almost scared back to the car when Christian’s mother stood gawking at me momentarily. Is there something stuck in my teeth? She snaps out of her thoughts and greets Christian and me, insisting that I call her Grace, as I insisted she calls me Ana.
“I’m sorry… crash course in 15 seconds.” What the hell? “I’ve never brought a girl home to meet my family, so they may look at you like an anomaly.” Now why didn’t I figure that out for myself? He’s only had subs before me. Of course, none of them would meet his folks.
I walk into the living room and do a quick scan. There are a few women scattered about; some are clearly mother and daughter. The daughters (and some of the mothers) are glaring at me like I am an extraterrestrial being come to suck out their souls. I see only a few other gentlemen present and of course, She-Thing is sitting on one of the love seats. She doesn’t show any signs that we were in a fight five days ago, but I smirk at the thought anyway. Most of the younger women are looking at me like a leper, but one in particular is clinging to the attractive blonde guy and looking at me very distastefully. I don’t know who she is, but already she rubs me the wrong way and I haven’t even met her yet.
One of the gentlemen comes over and shakes Christian’s hand—gorgeous older gentleman, tall and handsome, impeccably dressed in summer linen with salt and pepper hair—mostly pepper.
“Son, glad you could make it!” he says.
“Ana, this is my father, Carrick Grey. Father, this is Dr. Anastasia Steele… my girlfriend.” There’s the magic word that makes whole room fall silent. Even Grace pauses for a moment.
“Methinks you have the floor now,” I whisper loudly to Christian, causing a few chuckles here and there. The handsome blonde leaves his little blonde bracelet on the sofa and makes a bee-line to Christian, Carrick and me.
“Dr. Steele, you’re a lovely girl.” Carrick takes my hand like a gentleman. “Do you prefer Dr. Steele or Anastasia?” he asks.
“Actually, Ana, please.” I return his genuine smile.
“Ana, then. And please, call me Carrick.”
“Wonderful to meet you, Carrick.” So far, so good.
“Bro!” The handsome blonde says. “You snagged a doctor! How did you manage that?”
“Fuck off, Elliot!” Christian says, softly. Elliot punches him lightly in the arm and I immediately recognize the brotherly banter.
“I’m Elliot,” he says, taking my hand, “Christian’s older and much more attractive brother.”
“I’d have to disagree with you on that one, Elliot, but it’s lovely to meet you.” I say with a smile. Christian slips his arm around my waist at that statement. I think I did him proud. I guess Elliot’s blonde bracelet didn’t appreciate being left on the sofa so she bounces up and quickly latches onto his arm. She’s wearing a lovely leopard print silk halter dress. It has a sweetheart neckline trimmed in cream satin that continues up around the neck into cream straps, mid-calf with a split in the back. She is also wearing cream Louboutin peeptoe stilettos. Her hair is pulled back in a style like Princess Grace Kelly. She’s wearing way too much foundation and blush and her lips are way too red for a family function. I’ll say this for her, though. The girl has great taste in clothes. Christian immediately tenses and Elliot does the introductions. “Ana, this is my girl, Katherine Kavanaugh. Kate, Ana.” I proffer my hand, and she takes my hand with her three fingers as if she were offering her hand to me to be kissed.
“Enchanté,” she says, lacking any sincerity and promptly snatches her hand away from mine. I shoot a look over to Christian and then back over to Kate, who is smiling smugly and still clinging to Elliot’s arm. Oh, you want to play, huh? Okay, let’s play. I look at my hand as if I had something nasty on it and wipe it on my dress. Christian clears his throat and Kate looks clearly affronted.
“Enchanté? Elle ne me semble pas enchanté,” I say to Christian. Pull my language out on me, Bitch…
“Ne t’inquiète pas. Personne ne se soucie vraiment ce qu’elle pense,” he responds. I look over at her and she is a bit flushed now.
“Je comprend pourquoi. C’est une vraie salope!” I snap. Christian chuckles a bit.
“You know, it’s rude to speak in a different language around other people. They might think you were talking about them,” she snaps. My head whips around to her.
“You probably should have considered that before you greeted me in French,” I say calmly. Trying to save face, she says,
“It’s an expression!” Who does she think she’s talking to?
“Yes! In France! What you probably meant to say is enchanted, which is the English translation for enchanté. ‘How do you do,’ ‘hello,’ and ‘nice to meet you’ would have all worked as well,” I say matter-of-factly. Duly chastised, Ms. Kavanaugh turns her attention to Christian.
“Grey,” she says in a haughty, unwelcoming voice.
“Kavanaugh,” he responds. These two can barely tolerate each other, it seems. I look from Kate to Christian and start laughing. Christian is looking at me strangely and I say, “You affect everybody that way, huh?”
“Affect everybody what way?” Elliot pipes in.
“Well, when I first met Christian, he insisted that I just call him ‘Grey.’ That soon turned to ‘Mr. Grey.’ Then when we started fighting, it went back to ‘Grey.’ We had this whole battle of wills going on for a few weeks. So when your girlfriend…”
“Oh, no, hon,” Kate interrupts me. “You’re a girlfriend. I’m a fiancée,” she says very nasty. I glare at her. Christian takes my hand because he sees the look on my face. I look gently over my shoulder and put my hand up to him so that he knows I have control and he releases my hand. I lean in to Kate and I say between clenched teeth with all the ferocity I can muster without making a scene:
“Don’t. Call me Hon. We are not. Friends… fiancée!” I spit the last word hard at her. She’s now glaring back to me. Challenge me if you want to, Bitch. You will lose. I turn my attention back to Elliot.
“So when she…” I spit “… called him Grey that’s when I said ‘You affect everybody that way, huh?’ Now I realize that in this case, however, it may not be his fault.” I finish looking Kate up and down and turning my back on her to go find a drink of some kind.
“Elliot,” I hear Christian say behind me.
“Christian,” Elliot responds and Christian is by my side in moments. Just then, I hear Carrick’s voice sarcastically say, “Looks like Kate’s made another friend.”
I’m already exhausted and the night is just getting started. Cougar-from-Hell-She-Bitch’s presence makes my skin crawl and now Christian’s brother’s fiancée turns out to be a leopard-clad socialite who hates me already for no apparent reason. He catches me and escorts me into the kitchen. There we find a few staff and yet another woman around my age throwing the evil eye at me while smiling lovingly at Christian.
“Christian!” The older lady in the apron calls to him. “It’s good to see you. How have you been?”
“I should be asking you that, Mrs. Thompson,” he says, taking her hand. “I take it that your husband’s surgery went well?”
“Oh yes. He’s doing much better, thank you for asking. And who is this lovely young thing?” she says, gesturing to me and causing me to blush a little.
“This is Ana Steele, Mrs. Thompson. She’s my girlfriend.” The blonde in the corner gasps and turns away from us. Now, what was that all about?
“It’s lovely to meet you, Ana. Christian never brings ladies home to meet his family. This is a real treat.”
“I’m getting that impression, Mrs. Thompson,” I say looking at the blonde in the corner who appears to be having a nervous breakdown. “Is she okay?” I ask.
“She’s fine, dear,” Mrs. Thompson says. “She just needs a few moments to swallow a pill.” Christian clears his throat again and I now identify it as his attempt not to laugh.
“Ah, I’ve made another friend,” I say under my breath. Mrs. Thompson looks puzzled from me to Christian who informs her, “She just met Katherine.” Realization dawns on her face as she says,
“Oh mon pauvre chose! Quelle tragedie pour vous!” Another one?
“Oui! Oui! Tres tragique!” I exclaim, my voice dripping with mock despair. Mrs. Thompson laughs heartily.
“I like her!” she says to Christian, patting me on the back. “You hold onto her. She’s good people.”
“I intend to, Ma’am,” Christian says, taking my hand. “Please excuse us.” He smiles as he leads me to the dining room. I let out a huge sigh as I lean against the wall.
“Exactly how many of the women currently in this house had their sights set on you?” I ask defensively. “I feel like I’ve been thrown into the lion’s den!”
“I’m sorry, baby,” he says putting his arms around me. “I didn’t think it would be this bad. I mean Kate’s always catty, but I’ve never shown any interest in any of those women whatsoever, including Liona.” I look at him confused. “The blonde in the corner swallowing the ‘girlfriend’ pill.”
“Oh.” I nod.
“We can come up with a headache and leave right now if you want. Heaven knows being around Kavanaugh is enough to make anyone physically ill.” I want to take him up on his offer so badly. I want to just take him home and make love until we fall into a coma-like sleep, then wake up in the morning and do it again. But I won’t be selfish.
“No, I can stand one dinner with a few harpies. I just don’t know how many more of these I can stand in the future,” I state looking up at him through my eyelashes with exhausted eyes.
“I’ll try to be more informed on the guest list in the future. I’ve spent so much time ignoring them, I didn’t consider how it might affect you. Forgive me?” he says sincerely.
“Of course I do. I know you didn’t plan this.”
“No, I didn’t. I didn’t even know there would be this many people here,” he states. I am so ready to go home. Instead, I let him peck me on the cheek and lead me back to the living room. Grace hands me a glass of wine when she sees me and smiles sympathetically. Carrick must have been talking to her when he mentioned that Kate had made another friend.
She-Bitch makes her rounds in the room, but is careful to avoid Christian and me. She’s talking to the women in the room who subsequently throw a look at me. I know they’re all talking shit about me—especially her—but this is not my circle of people, so I really don’t care. I mean, I care what his parents think, but that’s about it. I decide to piss off every yearning female and hopeful mother in the room. I look lovingly into Christian’s eyes, silently letting him know that I plan on focusing solely on him the entire night unless someone says something nice to me. Almost on cue, Carrick says, “So, Ana, what’s your specialization?”
“I’m a psychologist.” He nods.
“Strong practice?” he ask. Why does Carrick look familiar to me?
“Very strong. I’ve done pretty well for myself. I own a condo overlooking Elliot Bay… no pun intended, Elliot…” He laughs, Kate sneers. “I have a practice downtown. I was doing part-time, but I’ve recently gone back to full time to accommodate patients on my waiting list.”
“Why were you part-time if you don’t mind my asking? Continuing education?” he asks. Kate seems to be getting increasingly uncomfortable with this conversation. What is her fucking problem?
“So to speak,” I answer. “I was doing volunteer work for a while, but it turned out not to be my forte.”
“What kind of volunteer work?” he asks. He’s nice for engaging me in conversation.
“Group counseling at the international community center.” Carrick nods, then realization shows on his face. He points to me and looks at Christian. I look over at Christian who is nodding his head. I put the confused look on and Carrick breaks out laughing. I know where I saw him now! At the courthouse on the stairs talking to Christian.
“I guess that worked out for you, huh, son?” Carrick says, raising his glass to Christian.
“It did indeed,” Christian replies.
“The Courthouse.” I say. Christian and Carrick both look at me. “That’s where I saw you.” I say, pointing to Carrick.
“Most likely,” Carrick responds.
“He is a lawyer,” Kate says almost under her breath and Elliot nudges her slightly. I ignore her.
“You were there, too.” I point to Christian. At first confusion shows on his face, then realization.
“You were there,” he says. “I thought I was seeing things.”
“Nope. I was there,” I laugh.
“I knew I wasn’t crazy,” he states.
“Well, yes, you are… but not in this case.” His eyes shift… playful Christian is lurking behind them.
“Oh, you are so going to pay for that later,” he vows.
“I look forward to it,” I retort.
“Oh please…” Kate just keeps them coming… only loud enough for me to hear.
“So Elliot, what do you do?” I ask. Before he gets to say anything, Kate answers proudly, “He’s an architect.”
Acknowledging her words, but not her presence, I continue, “An architect. Impressive.” I nod at Christian and he nods back. “So what firm are you with?” Again, Kate pipes in.
“He owns his own company,” she answers for him.
“Entrepreneur! Even more impressive. Good for you.”
“Thank you,” Elliot says a little sharply, directing it at Kate, who isn’t paying any attention to him. Let’s see how far she’s willing to go.
“How long have you been in business, Elliot?” I ask.
“Grey Construction has been in business for seven years,” Kate shoots off again.
“Elliot, do you need a PR person?” I question.
“Why would he need a PR person? He’s in construction!” Kate snaps, as if the answer is obvious—which it is.
“Because you keep answering all of his questions for him,” I shoot back. “Are you his representative?” She’s glaring at me again, but won’t answer. “Elliot, do you need an interpreter?”
“No. I do not,” Elliot answers even more sharply at Kate, now gaining her attention. “Knock it off,” he says quietly to her.
“Good. So what’s your latest project? Did you work on any of the restorations in the historical district or is your specialty smaller, more intimate projects?”
Elliot and I are finally able to speak without interruption and he tells me all about his business and how he got started. I’m a psychologist, so I am trained to engage the speaker. Christian knows exactly what I’m doing and he graciously lets me have the floor for about 25 minutes to talk to Elliot and get to know him. He’s a really good guy. I wonder how he ended up with a barracuda like Kate? He’s got a cute, but twisted sense of humor and I really like that. If he wasn’t engaged to Kate, I could see couples dates in our future. Unfortunately, I don’t want to be around this harpy any more than absolutely necessary! And I know that Christian would agree with me. So that’s out!
“Ana, if I may ask,” Grace joins the group on the family side of the large living room. “Where did you study?”
“Well, I started at Bates, but then I got a full-ride scholarship to U-Dub. So I finished there and did my internship at the Center for Child and Family Well-Being while I was in grad school.” Graces face lights up.
“Did you like it there?” she asks. Kate is again getting the look like she ate something bad.
“I loved it there! I made most of my friends in college except for my best friend whom I have known for 14 years. It was a good experience. But I think the best experience was CCFW.”
“What makes you say that, dear?” Grace asks. Christian perks up next to me as does Elliot, who looks over at Kate who is rolling her eyes. This girl needs an attitude transplant.
“It’s hard to explain, Grace.” I cross my legs and turn my attention to her. “I had some difficulty of my own as a child. So I wanted very much to not only handle my own issues, but to help other people handle theirs, too. My problem is that I expected everyone to be like the people who came to CCFW—people who really needed help. They had real problems that needed real solutions. When I got into the real world, not so much.”
“Do you take joy in other people’s calamity?” Kate says snidely.
“No, Katherine. Do you?” I say just as snidely. Again, she has been temporarily shut down. Grace takes this opportunity to continue our conversation.
“Your name just seems so familiar to me. I’m sure I’ve heard it somewhere,” Grace says.
“America’s Most Wanted?” Kate zings again under her breath. That’s it. I’ve had enough of this shit.
“Do you have a problem with me, Ms. Kavanaugh?” Using her last name got her attention.
“Whatever do you mean, Anastasia?” she asks, a very bad attempt at faking innocence.
“She means all the snide remarks you make every time she says something,” Christian adds. “You think nobody can hear you?”
“I don’t know what you mean,” she contends.
“Well, maybe you’ll know what I mean,” Elliot pipes in. “You’re embarrassing me in front of my family. Stop it!” She looks at Elliot completely aghast, stands up and storms out of the room. I fully expected Elliot to follow her, but he doesn’t make a move. Grace puts her hand gently on his shoulder and he takes her hand in his with a smile.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to cause any trouble,” I say looking at each of the Greys.
“Nonsense!” Carrick says. “It’s clear that you were not the one causing the trouble.”
“Maybe I should just go. I don’t know why I’m making her so uncomfortable,” I say.
“You will do no such thing!” Grace says. “You’re my son’s girlfriend and you have just as much right to be here as she does.” The poise that Grace has exhibited throughout the evening has been pulled back and the mother lioness has her claws out ready to strike. Does Kate bring out the worst in everybody? And how long is she going to hover wherever she’s hovering before she realizes that Elliot is not going to follow her?
“Grace, dear. We’ve just about wrapped things up for the planning of the fundraiser. We just need your input on a few things.” Her voice is like nails on a chalkboard.
“Of course, Elena. I’ll be there in a moment,” Grace answers. Christian suddenly stiffens next to me. I look over and see two manicured hands with long red nails rubbing his shoulders and traveling down his chest.
“Christian, dear. How have you been?” she purrs. Elliot looks on in disgust while Christian’s parents are simply confused.
“Mrs. Lincoln. You’ve been friends with my mother for a long time.” He’s speaking through clenched teeth. “I am sure she has told you about my dislike for being touched.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, Christian,” she coos insincerely. “It’s just that I saw Anabelle here put her hands all over you and I thought you had been cured.” Without turning to look at her, he says,
“First, I can understand how, at your age, you may be prone to forgetfulness, but her name is Anastasia.” I can tell that statement cut her to the quick. “Secondly, I owe you no explanation. Get. Your hands. Off. Of me!”
“I don’t understand what the issue is. Only Appalachia can touch you? No one else? Not even your dear mother?” She’s trying to push him—to touch him as long as possible and hopefully break him down.
“Mother?” Christian says flatly, asking the assistance of his mother to remove this parasite from his shoulder.
“Elena, you’ve known for years that Christian doesn’t like to be touched. Please get your hands off of him,” Grace says in a commanding tone.
“I don’t see what the problem is,” She-Thing protests. “I’ve known him most of his life. If Alameda can touch him, why can’t I?” Christian’s breathing is labored. I have to do something. I stand up in front of Christian facing She-Thing, who is wearing a victorious smirk.
“Get. Your hands. Off of him. Now!” I snap. The room has gone so silent again, you can hear a mouse pissing on cotton.
“Listen, Alexandra…” she starts.
“I don’t care what you call me! Get. Your hands. Off of him!” I warn again. She stands there smiling at me. Christian is basically immobile. He lets no one touch him that way but me, and if he were anywhere but at his parent’s house, he would have decked her by now and she knows it. And she’s using it against him. Sorry, Grace and Carrick, but this is my man. I take off my jacket and lay it on the sofa. I wouldn’t want to get any blood on it. Noting that there is only a wall behind her, I start counting.
“One.” I never break eye contact with her.
“What is she doing?” I hear someone whisper to my left.
“Two.” I’m still glaring at her.
“What are you supposed to be doing?” She-Thing sneers. Christian is starting to sweat, tendrils of hair sticking to his face.
“Three… don’t let me get to ten.”
“Somebody better put a leash on this rabid dog!” she shoots. Behind me, I hear that Kate has come back into the room and is now snickering at this comment. FLAME ON!
“TEN!” I push that bitch with so much force, I don’t think her feet touch the ground before she hit the wall. Some of the women jump from their seats and I hear Kate gasp behind me.
“So unladylike!” she exclaims.
“Don’t you start!” I whip around and point in Kate’s direction. She silences immediately. Christian lets go of the breath that he was holding, gasping for air and panting wildly. I hear Elliot explaining to the Barbie bitch that Christian has a phobia of being touched a certain way because of his childhood, but he doesn’t go into any details. I kneel in front of my man who is grasping at his collar to get air.
“Baby? Baby? Baby, listen to me.” I’m trying to get to him but he is panicking. I put my mouth right next to his ear. “Listen to me, baby. You’re fine now. You’re fine now. You’re safe, okay?”
“Ana…” His voice is raspy.
“Yes, baby. I’m here.” Carrick and Grace watch in awe while the rest of the party in the living room isn’t sure what to do.
“I’m sorry,” he says, his voice hoarse. “I froze.”
“I know, baby,” I say, holding his face in my hands while I wipe the sweat off his forehead. “You’re fine now, okay? I’m here.” He grabs me fiercely and pulls me to him, holding on for dear life. What’s amazing is that not one person in the room comes to the aid of She-Thing. I don’t know if she hit her head on the wall and passed out or what, but it takes her a long time to get up.
“I wanted to hit her,” he says softly in my ear, “but I couldn’t, not in my parents’ house…”
“I know, I know,” I say, stroking his hair and rubbing his back.
“Christian!” Grace gasps, but he just clenches tighter to me.
“He’s fine, Grace. He’s going to be fine,” I say, trying to comfort his mother. I’m fighting back the adrenaline tears and my voice is cracking a bit. The tears dry up like the desert when I see She-Thing rise up like a zombie from the grave and reach out for Christian.
“Are you reaching out to touch my man?” I growl at her, aiming every molecule of hatred at her that I can muster in my body. I must have gotten through to her because she freezes in her tracks. As if he could hold me any closer, Christian squeezes tighter. I think I hear him whimper and I see the little boy begging me to keep the monster away from him. I have to take care of him. He is mine. MINE, Bitch! And I have to take care of him. I’m cradling his head in my arms in the protective hold that he has become accustomed to, and he rests his head on my shoulders. I’m looking at this predator with pure venom in my eyes. I want to kill her. I want to rip her apart with my bare hands. She hasn’t moved from her spot, still poised to touch my man.
“Go ahead. Touch him. I dare you. I dare you to touch him. One. More. Time!” I growl. There’s nobody else in the room right now, but the Tiger and the Cougar… and the cub that I’m protecting… and I will rip her to shreds.
“Christian,” she whimpers.
“He can’t hear you!” I snap. “You touched him in his no-go zone, and he can’t hear you now!”
“Why is it that you can touch him and I can’t?” she cries.
“Go ahead,” I say fiendishly, “touch him. Go ahead and touch him. And when you do, I’ll beat your ass into next week.” I spit. “I’ll beat you until I get tired, and then I’ll lay down, take a break, get up and beat you some more!” I hear Elliot snicker behind me, but he stops abruptly. I think Grace or Carrick must have shot a look at him to make him stop. She-Thing’s hand is still poised for action, and Christian’s breathing is becoming more regulated. I can’t let her near him. I can’t let her touch him.
“Elena Lincoln!” The next voice I hear is Grace’s. “What is wrong with you? Do you have some kind of unhealthy infatuation with my son?” Lady, if you only knew. I know Christian is hearing this unfold, but he still clings to me for comfort. She-Thing doesn’t answer Grace, but stares at her in horror, not knowing what to say, I’m sure.
“Meeting is adjourned. Everybody out!” Nobody moves. “Everybody out!” Grace screams. “Get out of my house, now! I need to be alone with my family!”
A gaggle of astonished women begins to move towards the door. She-Thing is still caught in suspended animation, her arm hanging longingly in Christian’s direction while her questioning gaze rests unmoving on Grace. Carrick moves between her and Grace, breaking her line and sight. She now raises a questioning glare to him that changes to chastisement sprinkled with a bit of fear when she sees unforgiving, angry blue eyes staring down at her. She rises to her feet with as much dignity as she can muster in this situation and, while attempting to straighten her hair and clothing, marches out behind the rest of that cackling women with Carrick on her heels.
“Ana!” Kate says sarcastically, denoting that I am not part of the family. Bitch, you may be wearing a ring, but you’re not a Grey yet. Get a fucking grip. I reach back without moving my head and flip her the bird.
“I’ve had about all I’m going to take from you tonight, Katherine!” Grace snaps.
Gracious Grace has left the building.
An astonished and embarrassed Katherine Kavanaugh falls completely silent. Carrick returns to the living room and announces that everyone is gone. Grace turns her attention to me and Christian, who is shaking in my arms now. She kneels on the other side of him, feeling helpless that she can’t comfort her baby boy. She looks at me and I nod slowly. He needs his mother’s touch; he’s never really had it.
“Christian?” she says, her voice thick with tears and reaching out to touch his face. As if he heard my thoughts, he releases one of his arms from me and snatches Grace into his grasp. Everybody in the room except for Kate gasps… and Grace begins to weep. I can only imagine that this is the first time her son has held her like this. Her hand is flailing behind him because she doesn’t know what to do with it. So I grab it and lay it flat on his back and put my hand on top of it. She wraps her other arm around me and she just loses it. This woman is crying from her soul. I soon lose my battle with the adrenaline tears. The last time I kept it in, it exhausted me—so I’m going to let them out this time.
So here we all sit, clustered together, holding each other, crying. The Lioness, the Tiger, and the cub.
French Translation (as close as I could get with my French):
Ana: “Enchanté? Elle ne me semble pas enchanté.” – “Enchanted? She did not seem enchanted to me.”
Christian: “Ne t’inquiète pas. Personne ne se soucie vraiment ce qu’elle pense.” – “Do not worry. Nobody really cares what she thinks.”
Ana: “Je comprend pourquoi. C’est une vraie salope!” – “I can see why. She’s a real bitch!”
Mrs. Thompson: “Oh mon pauvre chose! Quelle tragedie pour vous!” – “Oh, poor thing, what a tragedy for you!”
Ana: “Oui! Oui! Tres tragique!” – “Yes! Yes! Very tragic!”
There is LOTS to see on the Pinterest page this time! I only just discovered that Louboutin has shoes that don’t have the red soles. I picked the shoes for Ana’s outfit to meet the folks and didn’t even know that they were Louboutins—how about that? I have great taste. 😉 Shoe and clothes of course can be found on my Pinterest page at http://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/paging-dr-steele/
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Love and Handcuffs!