THIS IS PART II OF PAGING DR STEELE. DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU HAVE NOT READ ALL 70 CHAPTERS OF PAGING DR STEELE OR YOU ARE ABOUT TO READ SEVERAL SPOILERS.
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 11—Merry Christmas!
She is tormenting me—ferociously taking me in her mouth and I can’t move my hands. I’ve been instructed to sit still and enjoy. My dick is burning as I watch Butterfly’s bobbing Santa hat in my lap. I don’t think I can ever look at another Santa hat the same in my whole life. She won’t let me touch her, so I am gripping onto the sofa for dear life. She is sucking me so hard that I growl with each draw, certain that I’m going to die from the intensity and just when I am about to blow, she applies a death grip at the base of my erection effectively halting my ejaculation. I cry out in pain, pleasure, and frustration at her magnificent and torturous skills.
“Ana, please!” I beg as she teases the head of my engorged penis while looking up at me with those wanton blue eyes through sexy eyelashes. She doesn’t say a word. She just goes down on me again and starts the process over… and over… and over… Three times more she brings me to my fucking wits end until I am begging her shamelessly to put me out of my misery. The next time she takes me into her mouth, she does just that.
I thought I would explode the moment her lips touch the base of my shaft and the head rubs against her throat, but she knows what she’s doing. She pauses, holding her mouth right there, wrapped around my dick and not moving. I don’t know how she can breathe! I dare not move. I’m panting like a fucking puppy. She pulls her head back slowly, all the way to the head which she caresses with her tongue, then slowly drops down on me again all the way to the base. I groan in agony as she is determined to draw this out. My dick is hot and throbbing and the last time I saw it, red and purple and angry! She repeats the move and I feel like I am tearing the stuffing out of my sofa cushion.
“Ana! God, Ana, please!” I beg. I can’t take anymore. She has truly pushed me to the very end of my sanity. I want to come, but she is controlling the fuck out of my pleasure, giving me just enough to keep me on the edge and not enough to push me over. Fuck, is she good.
She repeats the move twice and I can do nothing but groan in agony as she continues to torment me. The third time she drops she stays there again, giving me a moment to catch my breath—but only a moment. She pulls back again, only about an inch, and back down—beginning a slow deep rhythm on my aching erection. Oh God, she’s cruel! If she stops me from coming this time, I just might cry. Her lips and jaws tighten on my shaft and my legs start to shake.
She’s not stopping! Thank God!
She keeps the same rhythm, not changing—slow, deep, and short; my head repeatedly hitting the back of her throat and she swallows just at the right moment to flex her muscles against it.
“My God, Ana!” I croak as I rock into her mouth, only slightly, matching her stroke and rhythm against my eager hips. Again and again, she strokes me slowly, tightening her lips and jaws, swallowing. Just as I am sure that I can’t take anymore, her delicate hands travel up chest and viciously scratch across my pecks and nipples.
“Fuck! Ana, Baby!” I cry out as a mind-shattering orgasm rips through my thighs, hips, and groin. I thrust hard into her mouth and she meets me with equal fury, clamping down on my member and forcing juices and sounds from me in an event that I am sure I will never forget. My head digs back into the sofa and I wrap my legs around her, my body begging her not to let go until this episode is over—and she complies, rubbing my chest as much as her pinioned arms will allow and never releasing the rhythmic death grip her jaws have on my shaft. My eyes are shut so tight that they hurt! I don’t know if I’m still coming or not, but it feels magnificent! Don’t stop, Baby… please, don’t stop.
I don’t know how long we stay in that hold, but I finally drop my legs when the throbbing stops in my dick and I am now a useless mound of flesh on my white sofa. She gently releases my dick from her mouth and I feel it fall helplessly against my thigh. I am breathing heavily as she straddles me and kisses my exposed neck before she says, “Merry Christmas, Santa Baby.”
I jolt awake in my bed, hot and sweaty, my dream still vivid in my head—a perfect re-enactment of last night’s torturous activities as Butterfly once again proved that she will never cease to amaze me. Greystone is standing at full attention, morning wood in magnificent glory and ready for action—and what do I see before me? I see a beautiful butterfly garden leading to the most magnificent ass in the world, sleeping peacefully next to me. Oh, joy! Merry Christmas to me!
I lean down and caress, lick, and kiss the garden like I have many times since she got the tattoo. She stirs a bit, then responds almost immediately to my caress. Something about that ink…
“Mmm, Christian…” she purrs without opening her eyes. I roll on top of her and gently part her legs. She gasps softly as I enter her beautiful pussy from behind—already wet for me—and away we go…
The morning love was exquisite. We screwed ourselves into yet another stupor and I awake mid-morning to find that Butterfly isn’t in bed with me. I know that she is strong, but this is Christmas and she is still very fragile. My heart starts beating quickly and I do my best not to panic as I dress in a pair of sweatpants and T-shirt, step into my slippers and wrap my robe around me before I go in search of my Butterfly.
I find her in the great room on the floor in front of yet another fire. She is wearing a sexy cable-knit turtleneck long-sleeved sweater mini-dress and she is partially wrapped in the cream colored faux fur throw that is normally on the sofa. She is staring at the flames like they are telling her a captivating story and she simply can’t turn away. She has that dazed look in her eye that she had when she was stunned and I’m almost afraid that she has freaked out again sitting in front of the fire.
I enter the great room and quietly sit next to her at the fire with my legs bent and my elbows on his knees, looking at the fire with her. For a full 30 seconds, she says nothing. She doesn’t make a move or even acknowledge my presence. Now I am starting to freak out a bit, and just as my imagination starts to get the better of me, Butterfly says, “What do you think they are doing right now?” Strange question.
“Who?” I ask.
“All of those people who attacked me…” she said, flatly. “Those people who hid it… those people who knew about it or had something to do with it… What do you think they are doing right now?” What in the…
“Do you really want to talk about that on Christmas morning, Butterfly?” I ask softly but incredulously.
“Why not?” she asks, still looking at the dancing flames. “All of these years have passed. These people have lived their lives, gone to college, had jobs, made families, just lived their lives like nothing happened—like none of them ever brutally and maliciously left a young girl at death’s door all those years ago—whereas I had to live with it since the day Cody Whitmore raped me. I had to live with this whole horrible situation. There were years stolen from me where I couldn’t function because of what happened to me. Hell, I’m still losing days and going half-bat-shit because of it. Do you think any of them ever looked back on what they did to me? Do you think any of them ever had a point in their life where the guilt was so strong that they couldn’t function? Do you think any of them ever woke up on Christmas morning wondering what ever happened to Anastasia Steele? Or did they just go in with life and about their business like nothing ever happened in Green Valley—like this whole thing was a bad dream that would one day just go away?”
I just sit there and mull over what she said for a moment. I hate the fact that she’s having these feelings and thinking about this at all—today of all days—but I understand where she’s coming from, especially since I often wondered the same thing about the crack whore’s pimp—if it ever crossed his mind what he did to me and how it affected me.
“I wish that I could answer that question for you, Anastasia. I’m sure that not all of those people were horrible people to begin with and I’m sure that they are not all horrible people now, even though they did a horrible thing. Unfortunately, however, I know from experience that some people are just plain rotten to the core—just downright, deep down rotten to the core. They just don’t feel the things that they do to other people. There’s nothing that you can do about it, they are just plain rotten. You don’t want to believe that people can be that rotten and that they will always be rotten, but unfortunately, there are some times when some people truly are just plain rotten and they just stay rotten—and there’s not a lot that you can do about it. That’s just the way that they are.”
“There’s almost no use in anything if people are just rotten to the core. If they are just rotten all the time, I mean really—what’s the use? Why even bother?”
We watch the fire for a little while longer before she says, “Do you think I’m a bad person for not wanting to forgive these people? Am I a bad person for wanting revenge for what was done to me?”
“Again, I can’t answer that question in terms of good versus bad, but I understand how it feels to not want anyone to get away with doing something dirty to you and they never pay for what they’ve done. You’re not directly doing anything to anybody, Butterfly. If anything, we are setting into motion a chain of events that results in these people finally getting their just desserts. For example, those who have gotten their money unjustly, we are setting the stage so that these people cease from profiting from their illegal activities.”
We’re going after the people who have lived comfortably all of their lives after what they did to her—she didn’t get to live that comfortably with those memories chasing her. I’m just using my contacts and resources to make sure that these people don’t continue to live so comfortably and not have to pay for the things that they have done. The folks who have done things illegally, we’re simply shining light on their activities so that they can pay for their crimes. We’re not doing anything like having anyone physically assaulted or killed, which would actually be justice as far as I’m concerned. What’s happening to them is nothing like what happened to Anastasia… Anastasia almost died!
So she can sleep easily knowing what’s happening to them. They’re getting their just desserts—and it’s against their possessions, not their persons. I’m breaking these fuckers; making sure they can’t find jobs or get help; making sure that they’re getting blackballed in their specific industries; making sure that the stigma they thought they escaped when they left Green Valley and Green Valley High School follows them for the rest of their miserable lives. I’m going to ruin them, take the wind out of their sails, bring them down to absolutely nothing. They won’t even know what hit them—and they won’t be able to recover. Then once they have lost their fortunes, many of them will be revealed for their participation in the attack on my Butterfly and they may just end up having to go to jail.
Those that remain unscathed just may face a different type of wrath.
“I won’t continue to ask ‘why me,'” she says wrapping herself tighter in the fur wrap in an attempt to escape the chill. “I could never get the answer that I was searching for anyway. Nothing would answer that question to my satisfaction.” I slide behind her and wrap my arms around her.
“No, it wouldn’t,” I say softly, breathing in the scent of her hair. “But you have come out of this ordeal a remarkable woman and I am forever in awe of you… and in love with you.” Her head falls back on my shoulder.
“Hold me tighter, Christian,” she breathes, her eyes closed. I wrap my arms tighter around her and pull her so close that she can’t move. “Yes,” she whispers. She awakens the protector in me. She is so strong, so fierce—but when she needs me, her vulnerability comes out and I just want to shield and protect her from everything.
“Anything, Baby… Anything for you.”
“Ana, you look absolutely adorable!” Grace croons as I remove my coat to reveal a white Asos 90’s roll neck long-sleeved crop top and a taupe jersey maxi skirt with a sexy high waist that hugs my hips and then flares out mermaid style from just below the hip to the hem. I have finished the outfit with a pair of Jennifer Lopez taupe platform booties. My hair is blown flat and silky straight, falling over my shoulders and down my back much like Cher wore her hair in the 70’s. My make-up is light and with the exception of my promise ring, I am sans jewelry. The simplicity of the ensemble is what makes it look so chic!
“Thank you, Grace,” I respond, giving her a hug and a kiss. Christian greets his father and brother with one of those “man hugs” before kissing his mother adoringly on the cheek.
“Ana, you look fantastic!” Valerie exclaims emerging from parts unknown and giving me a hug. She is looking rather hot herself in a black Fendi jacquard body dress and a pair of tan and black Jimmy Choo stilettos with a strap around the ankle.
“So do you, Val! Adore the shoes,” I respond.
“Thank you… I’m not overdressed, am I?” she whispers nervously.
“Absolutely not! You look fabulous.” I reassure her and she breathes a sigh of relief. I see her and Christian make eye contact and the tension is still present.
“Hi, Christian. Merry Christmas,” she says inviting.
“Thank you, Valerie, and Merry Christmas to you as well,” he says, his voice friendly but with just a hint of a chill. He does give her a smile before kissing me on the cheek and excusing himself. Valerie drops her head for a moment but quickly recovers, smiles weakly at me and shrugs before joining Elliot on the sofa. I don’t know what to say about this predicament. I love my friends and I love Christian. He has been a little frosty to them since I had the breakdown a few weeks back, but I see him making an effort to at least be cordial with them. I won’t force him to do anything or to accept or forgive anyone against his will. Quite frankly, I’m still a little salty with my friends about that incident. However, I can’t deny that it would make my life easier if we could all just let bygones by bygones.
Ginger Creepy Guy is here again. Christian told me that they didn’t find anything on him, but he still gives me the willies—and not because he was being all stalkery staring at me in the library during our visit at Thanksgiving although that didn’t help matters any. Nonetheless, when I see him in a room anywhere, I either make a speedy exit or quickly find my man. No use in leading him to think that I am partial in anyway to anything that he has to offer.
To my surprise, Liona has tamed herself. Her dress is much more professional and in line with her duties, as is her hair and make-up. I don’t know if Grace may have said something about it or if she finally realized that she wasn’t going to get Christian and made the decision to dress more appropriately.
We all sit down for the present exchange right before dinner. Christian has, of course, showered me with half of the Cartier in all of Seattle before we got here and I in turn presented him with gifts that I thought he could use but didn’t already have. Again, it’s murder buying for a man who has everything. Even his family has the same problem when it comes to Christian. Elliot was easy—advanced Mariners’ tickets for the game of his choice. I’m surprised he doesn’t have season tickets by now, but he says that his schedule is so hectic that they would probably just go to waste. For Carrick, I got a 3D personalized crystal sculpture cube for his desk. It depicts the scales of justice, his name, and his company name. I bought Mia and Ethan the Waterford Elysian gold-tone ice bucket and rocks glasses for their new apartment—very young and chic! For the other women—jewelry, what else? For Grace, I found a beautiful vintage cameo brooch. I was shocked when she said that she had never had a cameo before. It seemed so much her style. I gave Val the Tiffany silver infinity bracelet—she’ll wear just about anything from Tiffany.
Christian got a lot of cufflinks, which of course made me laugh when I thought about the Sparrow cufflinks that I bought him. Carrick bought him a mahogany executive desk set. It was absolutely gorgeous and Christian really liked it. Besides the various items that I received from Christian’s family, Val bought me a gorgeous sexy dress that I intend to wear to our New Year’s Eve party and my father’s wedding. I am feeling a little melancholy about Daddy not being able to spend Christmas with me, but he will be here tomorrow to spend time with us and of course, with Mandy before they get married. Just as we are about to retire to the dining room for dinner…
“Do you have room for two more?” I turn around to see my father and his fiance being led into the room by Ginger Creepy Guy.
“Daddy!” I sprint over to my father, hug him and kiss him on the cheek. “I thought you weren’t coming until tomorrow.”
“There was no way that I was not going to spend Christmas with my favorite girls,” he says sweetly. I smile at him then over at Mandy.
“Hi, Mandy,” I say pulling her into an embrace and realizing that there is more of her to embrace. My eyes widen. “You’ve got a little baby bump!” I whisper.
“I knoooow,” she whines quietly. I see the look in her eyes and then say,
“The wedding’s in a week. You’ll be just fine, trust me.” I wink at her and her trepidation seems to ease immediately. I take her hand while Christian greets my father and we all go into the dining room and enjoy Christmas dinner.
We are all enjoying after-dinner drinks in the great room when Mia asks the million-dollar question.
“So, Mandy, Ray, are you guys going to live in the Seattle area after the wedding or will you be moving to Montesano?” Dad and Mandy look at one another.
“Well, it’s funny you should ask that, Miss Mia,” Dad says and I feel an announcement coming on. I turn my attention to my father. “We’ve talked about this a lot and we’ve decided that I’m going to move to Mandy’s house in Kent and relocate my business to Seattle.”
The entire table seems to be waiting for my reaction and I’m struck speechless. Dad’s moving. He’s lived in Montesano his whole life. Dad continues…
“Mandy has a lovely three-bedroom house that would be perfect for our little family and it just makes more sense to relocate closer to the city. I’ve got more accounts in the Seattle area now and Mandy can stay close to her job if she chooses to keep working once the baby is born.” They’re moving into Mandy’s house in Kent. Hmm…
“What are you going to do with the house, Dad?” I ask, solemnly. Dad looks at me, his eyes filled with caution.
“I’m going to sell it, Annie. There’s no reason to have two houses at this point.”
“Sell it? You’re going to sell the house?” I ask, horror lacing my voice.
“Yes, I’m going to sell the house. My life is not there anymore. My life is with Mandy.” He’s selling our house! He’s selling the place where I made all of my worthwhile childhood memories… where he whisked me away to recover after those bastards in Green Valley beat me damn near to death… where he taught me everything that I knew about anything… where I grew up because he brought me there after he married Carla… where he put his heart, blood, sweat, and tears into trying to build a life for us and trying to keep her happy… where she walked out of his life and into the arms of another man, ripping me and my daddy apart for years… where she returned and ripped me away from him once again…
My memories aren’t the only ones still in that house.
“It’s time to start over,” I say after almost an eternity of silence. “It’s time to make new memories and live a new life,” I look over at Christian, “and let the old life go.” The change in Christian’s gaze is unreadable. Although I don’t know what it means or what’s behind it, I turn back to my father and say, “It’s time, Dad. It’s time to sell the house. I’m very happy for you guys. When do I get to see your house, Mandy?”
It almost feels like the entire room breathes a sigh of relief, including the walls.
“I’ll give you the address, Ana. You are welcome anytime,” she says with a warm smile. Val moves the conversation on to other things.
“So, Mandy, I notice that the subject of your returning to work is open. Are you going to stop working once you have the baby?”
“I haven’t decided yet. I love my job, but I don’t know if I would rather be home with my baby. My mortgage is nearly nothing and I’ll be adding Ray’s name to the deed. I don’t have a car note since I don’t drive a fancy new car…”
“That may change,” Dad pipes in. Mandy throws a look at him. “I just don’t want you and the baby to end up stranded anywhere.”
“I… have to agree with Dad on that one, Mandy. What do you drive now?” I say. She sighs.
“It’s a 2007 Saturn. It’s the most reliable car I’ve ever owned in my life!” she declares. I snicker a bit.
“No offense, Mandy, but they don’t even make Saturns anymore!” I point out.
“I know, but I’ve owned my Saturn since it was brand new and I’m not getting rid of it. It’s one of the best cars ever made and that’s that!” Her heels are dug in and I see that my father is going to have one hell of a fight on his hands.
“Well, I’m going to let you two lovebirds sort that out,” I say with a wink as I sip more spiked eggnog. “You were actually talking about whether or not you would go back to work after you had the baby…”
Mandy basically made the point that she has ample savings and very little expenses since she lives a simple life, so she is not sure that she will go back to work after the baby is born. I can totally see why she would want to spend all of her time with her beautiful new baby. That’s going to be a tough choice to make.
I can hear my iPhone ringing in my purse as I didn’t turn off the ringer, so I excuse myself to go and answer it. I go into the foyer and look at my phone. I don’t recognize the number but decide to answer it anyway.
“Dr. Steele,” I say flatly.
“Dr. Steele,” the voice on the other end is filled with trepidation. “I know that I shouldn’t be bothering you, Ma’am, but my name is Michael St. John.” Doesn’t ring any bells for me.
“Should I know who you are, Mr. St. John?” I ask flatly.
“Well, maybe not since we’ve never spoken before. I’m calling on behalf of… someone else…” The hair on the back of my neck rises.
“On behalf of whom?” I ask cautiously. Mr. St. John sighs heavily.
“She’s dying, Dr. Steele. She doesn’t have long left. She’s suffering and she won’t let go. She won’t go until she talks to you.”
“Who are you talking about? Who’s dying?” I’m getting anxious and angry at the same time. “Spit it out, damn it!” This last phrase brings Christian into the foyer. I don’t make eye-contact with him even though I see his feet walking into the area.
“Melanie, Dr. Steele. She needs to let go. She’s holding on to talk to you. The doctors have no idea why she isn’t gone yet, but she won’t let go. Please, Dr. Steele, she’s suffering so badly.”
Are you fucking kidding me? Is this fucker really serious? He’s calling me with this bullshit about this bitch today?
“Have you lost your fucking senses? You must be out of your mind to call me on Christmas day with this bull! You must be out of your mind to call me at all! You’ve got some nerve!” I yell into the phone.
“I had no choice, Dr. Steele. This is a brutal, vicious, and cruel way to die—slowly and painfully—and she refuses to go quietly. She refuses to let go until she gets to talk to you one more time. Please, Dr. Steele, for her family… for her children… have mercy…”
I laugh aloud on the phone even though I didn’t intend to do it. “Mercy? You’re kidding, right? Mercy? Seriously? Think of her family? Ask poor Melanie how she was thinking of my family when she filmed her cousin beating the hell out of me. Ask her how much mercy she showed me when those bastards killed my child. How dare you ask me for mercy now! I don’t owe her mercy. I owe her nothing but to let her die! Leave me alone and don’t ever call me again!” I end the call and I am out of breath like I just ran a marathon.
Christian moves cautiously towards me, uncertainty etched in his face. His hands are clearly at the ready, poised to catch me just in case I fall. I won’t fall. I’m too pissed off to fall.
“Christmas Day!” I whisper to him harshly. “That bastard called me on Christmas Day… about her!” I hiss.
“Baby…” Christian is moving closer. I look at him expecting, like he will have the answers to my burning questions.
“I’m doing everything I can to let that cold-hearted, manipulative bitch die in peace and they keep bothering me.” I look up at Christian. “She wants absolution. She wants me to give her absolution. That’s what she wants from me. She and her cousin and her friends robbed me of a portion of my life… of a lot of my peace… and now, at the end of her life, she wants me to give it to her! Hasn’t she done enough? She was a part of one of the most horrific moments of my life. I’m still trying to deal with it—trying to find some sort of justice… redemption for it—but she wants me to tell her that it’s okay! Isn’t that the most ridiculous thing you have ever heard!?” I’m trying not to shriek.
“Yes, Butterfly,” Christian says, calmly, “it is.” I look at him trying to understand his coolness. Why isn’t he horrified by this? I am absolutely livid. Without a word, he opens his arms to me… and then I realize why he is so cool.
One of us had to be.
I run into his arms and he cocoons me in his warmth, kissing my hair and holding me gently but firmly against him.
“Do you want to cry?” he asks softly.
“No. I want to scream.” I lay my head against his chest and absorb his warmth. I want to hit something until I stop feeling this angry. Instead, I hold my man and pull from his strength to calm me, to soothe my wrath. He gently strokes my back, rubbing away my ire. I take deep breaths and begin to push the thought of St. John and Melanie out of my mind.
“Ana?” I hear Valerie’s voice come from the direction of the great room. “Are you okay?”
“She’s fine,” Christian says curtly but flatly, before tucking me under his arm and leading me to his mother’s library. He sits with me on the couch and holds me close to him. “Do you need a minute? Do you want to talk?” I shake my head.
“There’s nothing to talk about, really—not right now, at least. I just want her—them—to leave me alone. I’ve decided not to take the video to Green Valley until she dies and now she’s almost there. That’s all I’m giving her, because even I don’t think that a woman dying of cancer should spend those last days in jail. That’s all the mercy that she gets from me, and that’s more than she deserves.” Christian knows that statement means there is nothing else to be said about the matter and he doesn’t press it anymore. I take a deep breath and let it out, allowing my body to sink into his. “She wasn’t trying to ‘take me away,’ you know,” I say softly.
Christian pauses for a minute. He knows that I’m talking about the way he whisked me away when Val entered the foyer.
“Yes, I know,” he responds, and he doesn’t say anything else about it. I stand and straighten my clothes, then reach for his hand. He takes my hand and stands with me, following me back to the great room.
“Is everything alright, Annie?” My father is the first to speak. I wasn’t exactly quiet during my conversation with Melanie in the foyer.
“It’s fine, Dad,” I say, walking into the great room. “Unfortunately, Polly Polaroid’s caretaker seems to think that I owe her one last conversation before she dies, and I wholeheartedly beg to differ.”
“You can’t be serious!” Grace says, appalled. “He had the nerve to call you on Christmas day?”
“My sentiments exactly!” I respond sharply. “Maybe he was trying to appeal to my Christmas spirit or something, who knows? I’m hoping that’s the last I’ll hear of him.” I quickly scan the room and notice that Val is missing. I look to Elliot who responds, “the indoor patio off of the kitchen.” I look to Christian who nods and I go in search of Valerie.
She is standing quietly in the middle of the large glass room. It is very dimly lit and there is a beautiful view of the clear December sky. I walk over and stand next to her, silently examining the stars.
“We fucked up, didn’t we, Steele?” she asks, not making eye-contact with me. I look over at her.
“Yeah, Val, unfortunately you did,” I say softly. “He doesn’t trust easily, and he has a really hard time letting people in. No doubt he’s feeling a bit of betrayal from you all. I mean think about it—I was catatonic and he couldn’t do anything to help me. Maxie’s talking about taking me out of there with a court order and the rest of you are jumping down his throat accusingly. When he needed you, you all turned on him. That’s one of the worst things that you can do to someone. I’ve forgiven you all because I love you. I don’t think it’s going to be that easy for him.”
“So when you guys get married, we may not be invited to the wedding?” she says, impassively. I glare at her and she looks at me. “Oh, come off it, Steele. A blind man can see that the two of you are hopelessly in love and it’s only a matter of time before that promise ring is replaced with an engagement ring.” I roll my eyes at her.
“Well, Christian is not a vindictive man… at least not from what I’ve seen. Just… I don’t know, give him more time, I guess,” I say finally. Valerie nods and she’s quiet for a moment.
“We were scared, too, Ana,” she says quietly. “We didn’t react well, and I understand that now, but we were scared too, okay? I know where I stand. I know that Allen is your best friend and I never had a problem with that, but you’re my best friend, Ana. I love Maxie… and Phil and Gary and Al… I really do, but you’re my best friend.” Her voice cracks on the last few words as she refuses to let tears stain her face. I put my arm around her. She doesn’t need to say anything else.
“I love you, too, Val,” I say looking out at nothing and listening to the night as we just stand there for a while in silence again.
“I miss Food and Libations,” she said, speaking the same thoughts I had for the last few weeks.
“I know. So do I.” I lay on her shoulder and she leans her head on mine as we stand there quietly contemplating life. How am I ever going to balance my friends and the man that I love without having to sacrifice one for the other? Christian hasn’t asked me to do that, but he is still licking his wounds from the day that the Scooby Gang turned on him, and I don’t know when that’s going to change, if ever.
“How are things with Elliot?” I ask her. She doesn’t move her gaze.
“Good. He got a call from Miss Kavanaugh.” I lift my head from her shoulder. Why didn’t he tell me? Then again, why would he tell me? We officially stopped our sessions one week before Thanksgiving, so technically he’s not my patient anymore.
“Okay, and how did that go?” I ask cautiously.
“About as well as can be expected, I guess,” she answers impassively.
“When did Kate call? Why hasn’t either of you said anything?” I questioned.
“About a week ago and I’m saying something now. Anyway, it was really no big deal. She wants to have lunch with him or something.”
“Are you going to let him?” I ask, my voice rising to a higher pitch than I intended. She looks over at me puzzled.
“Let him? He’s a grown man, Ana. I can’t tell him what he can and can’t do.”
“You can when he’s talking about having lunch with his ex-fiancée!” I hiss.
“What’s that going to solve? I go all super-nova green-eyed monster on him and then what? If he needs to see her, then let him see her. If she still holds his heart strings, then he needs to be with her. If she doesn’t, then he’ll be with me.” I look at her puzzled. I’m having flashbacks of mine and Allen’s dinner at the New Orleans a few months back when James decided to have lunch with that Rodriguez guy and Al fell apart on the dance floor.
“That’s what this is, isn’t it? It’s your litmus test—to see if he’s still hung up on Kate,” I conclude.
“Honestly, no, it’s not. I don’t want him to see her. I don’t want him to talk to her. I don’t him to think that there is a possibility that he could still be in love with her… but I won’t stop him. He’s got to make that call all on his own, and I won’t interfere.” She pastes the impassive look back on her face. She seemed to have more emotion talking about me and F&L than she has for Elliot seeing Kate.
“Val, have your feelings for Elliot changed?” I ask her honestly. I would be freaking out if Christian came to me telling me that he was having lunch with his ex-fiancée. She sighs, annoyed.
“Of course not!” she snaps. “I just won’t be that girl, that insecure bitch that won’t let him near another woman because I’m afraid he’s going to run off with her!” Now we’re getting somewhere.
“This is not just ‘another woman,’ Val. This is Kate. They were engaged, and not for a short period of time either. This was a very serious relationship.”
“I know that, Ana. I’m not stupid… or blind, okay?” she spits. She’s getting angry.
“If this doesn’t bother you, then why are you getting so upset?” I ask.
“For the love of God, Anastasia! Would you let it go?” she shrieks. I must have looked like someone hit me, I’m sure. She falls into a nearby chaise, buries her hands in her face, and weeps mournfully.
Holy cow, Batman. I can’t even remember the last time I saw Valerie cry! What is it with the Grey Manor that makes women cry? Mia on Thanksgiving, Mandy the day after, and now Val.
“I’m sorry, Val,” I say softly, but no avail. She is sobbing her heart out and, almost on cue, Elliot appears in the doorway.
“Angel!” Elliot’s voice is just above a whisper. “What’s wrong?” He drops to his knees in front of her. She tries to compose herself to talk to him, but it’s no use. Her chest is heaving and she keeps her face covered. She’s weeping like someone has died. Elliot looks hopelessly up at me for answers.
“We were… talking about your upcoming lunch with Kate,” I say honestly, hoping not to try to analyze her feelings but give Elliot some idea of why she is crying. He turns back to Val.
“Baby, please move your hands,” he says softly while stroking her hair. She drops her hands into her lap but continues to cry. “I won’t go, Angel. I don’t need closure, she does. I know where I want to be, and won’t go if you don’t want me to.” Val raises red, puffy eyes to Elliot and throws her arms around his neck.
“Please… don’t go…” she weeps. “Please… I thought… please… don’t go.” She can barely speak. Elliot stands with his arms around Val, pulling her out of her seat while she continues to sob. He lifts her into his arms bridal style and takes her previous seat on the chaise, sitting her on his lap.
“Sssssh, hush now, Angel,” he comforts. “All you had to do was tell me. I don’t need to see Kate. There’s no unfinished business for me. I love you.” He gently kisses her cheeks where the tears are falling. Damn these Grey men! Who taught them so well? I watch as he strokes her hair and her back, cuddling her close to him while she releases her fears and anxiety—and now, I’m the intruder. I quietly walk out of the patio and I am a little shocked to see Christian standing just beyond the door with his arms folded, head down, and leaning against the opposite wall.
“Is she okay?” he asks. I sigh.
“I think she will be now. She’s stubborn and headstrong, and it would have ripped her apart if he had gone to lunch with Kate—but she wasn’t going to tell him.” He walks over to me.
“Just like you,” he says softly. My head jerks back and I look at him strangely.
“I tell you everything, Christian,” I say, confused, except maybe that I’m ready for you to propose to me again, and that…
“Except that I’m making you feel like you have to choose between me and your friends.” Fuck!
It’s not like I can deny it. I love them all so much, even though the love is different. The fact that they are at odds is not an easy pill for me to swallow.
“I know that you have to work through what happened when I checked out—how they treated you. I wouldn’t dare rush that process or ever try to make you feel bad or guilty for feeling betrayed, because you were. You were betrayed and abandoned when they should have been there for you. I understand that, and I know that they need to understand it, too.” I assure him. He looks up at Val.
“I think they do, Butterfly,” he says, not taking his eyes off of her. “I heard what she said. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop. I came to see if everything was alright and I heard you talking. You’re the glue that holds everything together. Think about it. Before any of us met each other, we all knew you.” This is the first time I have pondered that thought. With the exception of Phil who met me and Maxie at the same time, I’m the common thread between everybody. Shit, that’s a huge responsibility to carry, but I now see where Christian is going with his analysis.
“I see what you mean,” I respond. I sigh heavily and cover my face. “You always knew that I wouldn’t choose…”
“… But it’s hard for you that I am still a bit at odds with them,” he finishes my thought and I nod. “You know, besides Elena, Flynn is the only person that I ever considered my friend.” I tense up at the mention of both of those names. I wish Elena would go jump off of a cliff somewhere and Flynn… well, shit. He did the same thing to me that my friends did to Christian, only his accusation was more severe because he insulted me personally and professionally.
“You have to know that situation is different, Christian,” I protest.
“Yes, I know that it’s different. I’m just telling you because I plan on calling him soon—to see how he has been and to see if that part of the relationship can be salvaged.” I look into his eyes and I know that what he says is true. Elena and Flynn were his only friends. Elena is definitely a hard limit, but Flynn, not so much. I nod.
“Okay, I understand,” I relent with no malice.
“… And, I will work on being more sociable with the crew from here on out. You’re right, I feel very abandoned by them, but they are important to you and you are important to me.” I smile at him as a waterlogged Valerie emerges from the patio.
“Christian, please,” she begins, “what can I… we ever do to make this up to you? I know that I speak for all of us when I say that we are so, so sorry…”
“That’s the thing though, Valerie. You can’t speak for all of them. You can only speak for yourself,” Christian points out.
“Then speaking for myself, I was a horrid, horrid bitch and I’m so, so sorry. I swear to you that it will never happen again… unless you really hurt my girl, then all bets are off, Grey.” Valerie’s face doesn’t flinch when she speaks to Christian.
“First, you were not a horrid bitch. To be honest, someone else took that role for you.” I immediately know that he’s talking about Maxie. “You were in a protective mode and you wanted answers, and I understand that. All I ask is that when you get into that mode, that you remember who is friend and who is foe. You all made me feel like an accused criminal in my own home and that is simply unacceptable, but the worst thing of all is that you honestly thought I could hurt Anastasia. You didn’t have answers, so you picked the nearest, easiest target—which was me—even after I told you what was wrong. Can you see why a man would have a hard time getting over that?” He questions, his voice never rising once. Valerie drops her head.
“Yes, I can,” she says softly and sighs. Elliot puts his arm around her.
“Give her a break, Bro,” he beseeches his brother. Christian sighs and takes Val’s hand.
“I love that you love her so much,” he begins, “but please know this—she’s my whole world. I would never knowingly do anything that would cause her pain. I love her too much for that. If something like this ever happens again, please remember that we are on the same side.” Val shudders from her previous tears and I feel like my heart is going to burst with all the love I feel for this man right now. Val smiles softly and nods, looking up as Christian through long, wet eyelashes. Christian returns the smile, squeezes her hand, and kisses her gently on the cheek. No more words need to be said between them at this time.
One down, three to go…
As Elliot and Val disappear through the kitchen and into the dining room, I snatch handfuls of Christian’s hair and pull his lips down to meet mine. All of the emotion that is bubbling up inside of me explodes in our kiss. I hungrily take his lips and ravage his tongue with mine, attempting to devour as much of his essence as I can before releasing him. His arms snake possessively around my waist and his hands slide under my shirt and up my bare back causing me to shiver and eliciting a deep, yearning moan from Christian. My feet are dangling off the floor as we are consumed in this passionate and intense connection, each of us taking as much as the other is giving in the exchange. Christian finally pulls his lips from mine, completely spent and breathless.
“Oh, God, Baby, please, stop…” he begs against my lips, fighting to catch his breath. I feel his erection pressing against me. I kiss his cheek, his neck, his ear, anywhere my lips will reach. His eyes roll back in his head as he relishes my kisses against his skin. I lift my skirt and wrap my legs around his waist.
“Ana… no… not here, Baby!” he protests.
“Yes! Now! Please!” I beg. He groans deep in his chest and carries me to the darkest corner of the dimly lit patio. Still holding me up, he reaches around me and unzips his pants, releasing his massive erection. I only feel him for a moment against my butt before he uses the head of his steel-hard rod to move my panties aside and impale my sex. I gasp loudly as he fills me.
“Turn around,” I whisper, “you… against the wall…” He turns around and steadies himself against the wall, and I use my arms and legs to ride him while he’s standing.
“Ah, fuck!” he hisses as quietly as he can. I bounce hard, deep, and fast on his erection and he moans mournfully.
“Ana, slow down, Baby… I’m not… going to last,” he warns. I know this, and I don’t care. This is for him. I want him to feel good.
“Come for me, Christian,” I purr, still grinding onto his throbbing sex.
“Ana, please… slow… what about…” He can’t even finish a sentence.
“Come on, Baby. Come for me…” I hiss as I bite his earlobe and drop down on his erection again.
“Aaaah, fu…” I cover his mouth with mine as I feel him release violently into me. His groans become whimpers as he spurs me on, holding my hips against his and pouring himself into me. I wiggle slightly with him inside of me while flexing my muscles around him. He shudders deeply while sliding down the wall to the floor with me still wrapped around him. That’s it, Baby. Enjoy it. Give it all to me. When I hear him fighting for breath, I slowly remove my lips from his.
“Oh God… Ana… that was incredible,” he says, his forehead against mine. He takes a few moments to catch his breath before kissing me deeply again. “What about you, Baby?” I smile sweetly, satisfied in a way that I can’t explain right now.
“I’m just fine for now,” I purr. “Take care of me later.” He smiles a devilish smile.
“Oh, I so intend to,” he says before kissing me again.
We quickly rise from the floor of the patio before inquiring minds want to know what’s taking so long. Christian quickly situates himself while I sneak off to the restroom to freshen up before joining the family again. We finish our socializing and discussions before excusing ourselves for the night to retire back to Escala. Christian wants me to be at Grey House in the morning when Rashon and Joseph arrive to start work so that I can show Rashon around and he can take Joseph. I also have to finalize everything for the wedding/party next week and I want no mistakes. Mandy’s bitchy sister will be coming into town the day of the party and she is none too happy about not being in the wedding. Hell if I’m going to let her do anything to ruin it, though.
This woman is incredible… magnificent. I almost can’t believe how much I love her. When I hear Valerie speak about how the crew feel about her, I can see it so clearly. It’s actually pretty amazing, in fact, that one person can bring out such strong emotion in so many people. I shouldn’t be surprised. Butterfly is an extraordinary woman, after all.
I can’t believe what she just did—climbed up on me and made me come so hard and so fast that my legs went right out from under me! Damn—and she didn’t even come! She just got me off in magnificent fashion, then sauntered away to the restroom. I spend the rest of the evening just thinking about the many ways that I plan to make her scream.
… And make her scream, I did.
From the foyer to the great room to the kitchen to the hallway into the bedroom, I loved every single part of that woman—from her scalp to her toenails. Nothing was left unkissed, untouched, or unloved. I sexed and loved her so deeply for so long that she begged me to stop and fell asleep before I even finished… Poor thing.
I allowed her to sleep for as long as possible the next morning before I simply had to wake her. Grey House’s newest employees are starting today and I want us both to welcome them.
“Butterfly,” I whisper in her ear as I stroke her hair away from her face. “Wake up, Baby.” She whimpers a bit then rolls over to look sleepily into my eyes.
“What time is it?” She asks.
“It’s 8:00. We have to get dressed and get to Grey House.” She stretches then flinches and moans a bit. “What’s wrong, Baby?” I ask concerned.
“I’m sore!” she proclaims. “You fucked me within an inch of my life last night.” I snicker a bit.
“Do you want me to massage you, Baby?” She looks at me, sarcasm oozing from her pores.
“You can’t massage me where I’m sore, Christian. It will just make me more sore.” I frown at her. More sore? Then it dawns on me.
“Oh!” I laugh a little. “Well, then you have just enough time for a short bath… and I promise I won’t massage you.” I wink at her.
After our bath and a wonderful but quick breakfast, we are in the SUV on our way to Grey House. This is quite comfortable and I could really get used to it… Riding in to work with Butterfly. She’s looking at her iPhone and I am looking at my blackberry—two young professionals getting ready for the day.
“So how is your day looking?” I ask her.
“Well, I deliberately left today open so that Mandy and I could finalize everything for the party after I’m done at Grey House this morning, but I always expect to have an emergency appointment from one of my patients who had to maintain themselves from killing a relative over the holidays.”
“How’s that looking?”
“So far so good. No catastrophes ye… oh my God!” I guess she spoke too soon.
“What is it, Butterfly?” I ask concerned. She taps away at her phone and shortly after, by blackberry buzzes. I open her text to find that she has sent me a link. When I open the link, it is an article from the Las Vegas Review Journal:
Local Businessman Found Dead in Downtown Motel
I look over at Butterfly and then back down at my phone.
A Henderson businessman appears to have taken his own life after a bout of depression over his struggling business and a recent investigation into his possible involvement in corrupt business practices as well as a massive cover-up of a beating and murder 11 years ago.
Police found 57-year-old Franklin Whitmore, insurance executive and owner of Rancher’s Insurance, dead at 1:42pm yesterday at the Placid Motel on Main St. An anonymous call to 911 informed police that from outside of the motel, a body could be seen hanging in one of the rooms. Police arrived to find Whitmore’s body hanging from one of the exposed pipes in the ceiling in room 15.
At the time of his death, Whitmore was under investigation on several counts of fraud and embezzlement as well as possible witness tampering and bribery. It appears that Whitmore hanged himself wearing nothing but a pair of Silvano Lattanzi Italian leather designer shoes. The shoes retail at $5000 a pair. A note assumed to be a suicide note was left on his bed that simply read “And now my humiliation is complete.”
There is some speculation as to Whitmore’s involvement in a current case of obstruction involving the vicious beating that left a teenage girl in a coma for several weeks and resulted in the death of her unborn child.
Whitmore’s family has not been contacted for comment at this time.
“Oh, boy,” I murmur under my breath. Facing the possibility of losing his stature and fortune as well as the likelihood of landing in prison, Whitmore chose to check out instead. I look over at Butterfly who hasn’t commented yet. “Baby, are you okay?” I ask cautiously.
Butterfly twists her lips. “Yeah, I’m fine,” she responds coolly. “I guess I should have expected him to take the coward’s way out,” she added. This situation has hardened Butterfly, but only when it comes down to those Green Valley fuckers.
“How did you find out about it?” I question.
“I have a Google alert on Sullivan and Whitmore as they relate to Green Valley,” she answered flatly. “The shoes,” she turns to look at me. “You?”
My turn to twist my lips. “Yes. It was… a conversation that we had when I last saw him… about cheap shoes.” She looks back down at her phone and nods.
“Nice touch.” That’s the last she said about it.
After a more careful review of Joseph’s resume, my supervisor in warehousing saw that Joseph has a lot of untapped talent and should actually be a warehouse manager. This, of course, made Joseph happy since managers are all salaried employees with an excellent benefits package. Ros immediately found a spot for Rashon. She turns out to be very organized and efficient and, much like her husband, under-utilized. Butterfly showed her the daycare center, fitness center, massage therapy room, sauna, full-service dining area, yoga studio, and nap pods for those pulling longer hours before coming back to my office.
“Rashon was very pleased with the yoga studio. I didn’t know that you had one of those here.” she says as she sits on the sofa in my office.
“I didn’t either. I mean, I knew, I just didn’t remember. I never do yoga,” I laugh. She removes her shoes and flexes her toes. I sit next to her and put her feet on my lap.
“Mmm, that feels good,” she purrs as I massage her feet.
“Are you sure you’re okay, Butterfly?” I ask, watching her carefully. She raises her head and looks at me bemused.
“I’m fine, why do you ask?” she inquires.
“One of your tells that something is wrong is that you take off your shoes. I never forgot that you told me that you could do anything in stilettos—and you proved it to me, too.” I smile at her and she blushes. “Also, you know… the news about Whitmore.” She quickly throws her hand at me.
“Trust me, that doesn’t bother me. Look at the legacy that he has left behind. He’s a crook who tried to hide a rape, assault and murder and when it came time to pay the piper, he checked out instead of facing it like a man. Oh, and how did they find him—in a motel room wearing nothing but a pair of shoes. Who’s going to that funeral? No, I can guarantee that I’m losing no sleep whatsoever over that!” She stretches like a cat and I immediately want to fuck her again. “If you want to know why I took my shoes off, it’s because my feet hurt. I’ve been walking around for hours. Yes, I can do anything in stilettos, but I do occasionally take a break.”
Well, at least nothing is wrong.
“Do you have time to have lunch with me?” I ask.
I have the kitchen send up a chicken Caesar salad, bruschetta brushed with garlic olive oil, mozzarella and tomatoes, and cold lemonade. We enjoy a leisurely lunch together as well as each other’s time and then it is off to meet Mandy for my Butterfly. I give her a kiss and send her off with Chuck.
Butterfly hasn’t left my office five minutes ago and I get a somewhat frantic call from Jason.
“Sir! I think you should… shit, that had to hurt! Get down here, Christian! Fuck!” What the hell is going on down there?
“Jason, what the fuck?” I exclaim. I know he wouldn’t have me walking into danger, but he better tell me what the hell is going on.
“I need… I need help, Sir, get down here!”
“Jason, if you don’t tell me what the fuck is going on…” I stand and start walking to the door.
“Get her off of him! She’s going to kill him!” Shit! I know that sound. I take off in a sprint to the elevator, but I have to wait for it since Butterfly took it to the first floor before me. I put my key and code in, turning the elevator into an express elevator taking me straight to the lobby. The whole trip probably took eight seconds, but it still seemed too long. In the agonizing seconds that it takes for the elevator to open, I can hear Butterfly’s voice—low and dripping with venom—followed by the unmistakable click of her stilettos on marble. I bend the corner to see several members of my security silently standing around, looking at each other, the door, and something on the floor of the lobby.
“What the fuck happened here?” I bellow as I try to assess the scene before me. There’s lots of blood on the marble… and Butterfly is not here. “Where the fuck is Anastasia?”
“She left, Sir,” Jason says, calmly.
“She left? What do you mean she left? You call me in a frenzy and I come rushing down here to find blood all over the damn floor and no Ana. Why did you let her leave?” I’m nearly screaming now.
“Christian, not you or wild horses could make her stay in this building one more second with that!” He’s pointing to something—or someone, I should say—lying on the floor on the other side of the guards’ station. All I can see are slacks and feet, and I get a really bad feeling.
“What was Ana saying before she left?” I ask Jason. Very coolly, he responds,
“‘Tell Christian that my rapist is here.”
Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!
Sure enough, I walk around the guards’ station to get a good look at the man lying there bloody, beaten, and unconscious.
Cody fucking Whitmore.
A/N: For my beloved grammar folk, yes, the word is “hanged,” but only when you are talking about the past tense of hanging a human being. Otherwise, the word is “hung.”
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