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.
I do want to address the guest that found it ironic that Ana has anger issues. You’re probably right in that she probably shouldn’t be so angry. I would go into the MANY reasons that this version of Ana is SO allowed to have anger issues—you know, beating, branding, and kidnapping to name a few—but instead, I’ll just say this. If I were in this particular situation, and I have had two direct encounters with this guy (Flynn) and one indirect encounter and that final encounter resulted in my boyfriend getting flawed information from him and subsequently coming home and taking it out on me, I’d be throwing a lot more than dishes. 😉
Chapter 3—Still Thankful
“Oh my God!” What the hell? Mia is screaming like the house is on fire.
“Ana! Christian! Come quick!” Christian has released me and has slammed the patio doors open to find out what is going on. I am scrambling behind him afraid of what I will see when I clear the door. My boyfriend freezes the moment that he clears the doorway that leads to the great room and I run into his back. His face is impassive.
“Oh God! Christian! What is it?” I ask, afraid. He reaches back and grasps my hand. He smiles and pulls me around in front of him.
Mia is sitting on the sofa, tears streaming steadily from her eyes and her hands covering her mouth. Ethan is on his knees in front of her, sitting on his feet, trembling a bit and smiling nervously. In his hand is a black velvet box and his eyes are trained on Mia.
“Oh. My. God!” I whisper as Christian pulls me to him and wraps his arms around me again, my back to his front.
“Mr. and Mrs. Grey,” Ethan begins, never taking his eyes off Mia, “I am desperately and hopelessly in love with your daughter. If she consents, I humbly beg for your permission to ask for her hand.”
I look over at Grace and Carrick. Grace reaches for her husband’s hand and tears fall down her face. Carrick smiles at her and she nods.
“Yes. Of course, Ethan,” Carrick says. “You have our blessing.” Mia whimpers again under her hands. Ethan opens the box and Mia gasps and closes her eyes. Ethan takes a deep breath and says,
“Kitten, I do not have the words to tell you how much I love you and how much you mean to me. I am so full of adoration and wonder when I look at you—who you are, what you are, your kindness to others, your genuine beauty inside and out. I don’t want to waste one more day pondering or considering if I want you to be mine forever. I love you and I know that I want nothing more in my life than to spend the rest of my days with you. Please say that you want the same and consent to be my wife. Marry me. Please, Mia.”
Mia begins to weep almost uncontrollably. “Oh, Ethan, I love you so much!” She throws herself into his arms on the floor. “Of course! Of course, I’ll marry you!” Her voice is muffled into Ethan’s shoulder. He cradles her in his arms and peppers kisses on her cheek. I almost feel like a voyeur watching this tender exchange, but I am also very honored to be a part of it. Ethan releases Mia and puts the ring on her finger. She kisses him once more and starts to fan herself to stop her tears. Val dashes over to her and Ethan starts laughing. I kiss Christian’s cheek and go over to Mia.
“See?” I say to her. “You were worried for nothing!”
“I told you he adores you, Mia!” Val exclaims.
“I feel so silly!” Mia says between tears.
“Man, why were you going to ask her before I came back inside? Were you just trying to take my sister away without even telling me?” Christian inquires, half playfully and half serious.
“Okay, that’s kind of my fault,” Val says raising her hand. “I think I may have caused poor Ethan to jump the gun.”
“No, it was me,” Mia confesses. “I came in crying like a damn fool after I heard Cwis and Ana’s story and Val told Ethan that I was falling apart. So Ethan came in to see what was wrong…”
“… And I can’t stand to see her cry,” Ethan says, “much less to feel like she was crying because of me. I had planned to ask her at dessert and coffee when everyone was around, but my Kitten was in pain.” He squeezes her hand and she smiles at him. He looks over at Christian. “Sorry, Chris, but tears trump brothers,” he says with a shrug and the whole room laughs.
“Forgiven,” Christian says, without missing a beat. I know he will turn the city upside-down to stop me from crying so he couldn’t argue with Ethan’s logic.
“I’m so sorry that I ruined your surprise, Ethan,” Mia apologizes.
“Oh, Mia, it was lovely!” Grace says, “I think we need to open some champagne. This is a reason to celebrate!”
“It’s only 3:00 in the afternoon, Mom!” Christian says with a smile.
“Yes! Three in the afternoon on Thanksgiving and my baby girl just got engaged. Oh, and don’t think for a moment that I don’t know that you boys have been drinking beer in the entertainment room. Who do you think put the ice bucket in there?” Grace says. I smile at Grace and turn to Mia.
“Let us see the ring, Mia.”I say.
“Oh yes, of course!” She holds her hand out for me to examine her engagement ring. It’s a beautiful single prong white gold ring with a round diamond—about 1.5 carats—flanked by two rolls of baguettes on each side of the ring.
“Oh, Mia! It’s beautiful!” I exclaim.
“Thank you,” she says shyly. Christian comes over to us and examines the ring.
“Not bad, Kavanaugh,” he says nodding. Oh my God. The Christian Grey stamp of approval. That has to mean something. Mia playfully hits him on the arm. “Ow! What?” he says, feigning injury.
“It’s perfect, Kavanaugh!” She says, before sticking her tongue out at her brother. He smiles and pulls me into his arms again.
“Does it make you feel a little envious?” he whispers in my ear. I look over my shoulder at him. I know he is anxious for us to move on with our lives and every time he sees someone else take the next step, he starts to feel a little melancholy. I have to admit that I’m starting to feel it a bit, too. I put my hand on his cheek.
“Our time will come, Baby, don’t worry. I’m very happy and I am wearing a lovely platinum and diamond ring on my left hand that tells the world that I belong to you. So I am not envious of Mia’s happiness at all,” I say, which is partially true, though I’m convincing myself that it’s entirely true. I turn to face him. “… And you don’t have to be envious either, because I love only you and I will be with you always. Our day will be beautiful when it comes.” I smile at him and he leans into my hand.
“I love you, Butterfly,” he says.
“I love you, too, Christian.” I smile.
Moments later, bitter-pill-swallowing Liona comes out of the kitchen with another server following her—a gentleman that I’ve never seen before. They are both carrying trays of champagne. Liona walks straight over to Christian who takes two glasses and hands one of them to me. She doesn’t linger this time like she usually does, noticing that Christian has me cuddled in his arms. Maybe she’s finally getting the hint. I certainly hope so.
“Hey, you started the party without us?” I hear a familiar voice from behind me and turn around to see Ray and Mandy coming into the great room through the foyer.
“Daddy!” I say, handing my glass to Christian and hurrying over to greet my father. He grabs me in a big bear hug while I giggle, telling him how happy I am that he made it. He has been much more approachable since he and Mandy have been together and I have made a pact to be closer to him ever since the kidnapping. I plan on making the most of every moment. It’s part of my therapy—and my recovery.
“You look wonderful, Annie,” he says, looking into my face.
Thank you, Daddy. You look great,” I say softly, and he really does. He looks at least ten years younger since he’s been with Mandy. Speaking of which, I kiss my father on the cheek and send him over to Christian and the Greys while I greet Mandy.
“Mandy, I’m so glad that you could come. You look fantastic!” Mandy is wearing a ribbed cashmere gray dress with a cowl neck and she is complimenting the dress with boots that I would literally kill for!
“Oh my God, are those the Balmains?” I say quietly.
“Yes!” she whispered conspiratorially. “Do you know how long I had to save up for these boots?”
“Yes, I do. Girl, I just gave up!” We laugh. They really are lovely boots—lovely, embroidered, black, gray, and gold Lurex $2000 boots, that is. I really did give up saving up for them!
“So…” she says. “Our first Thanksgiving…” I can tell that she’s nervous as she examines the opulence that is the Grey family home. I take her hand.
“Don’t worry. The Greys are wonderful people—very genuine. Just be yourself. Everything will be fine.” I squeeze her hand and lead her in to meet the Grey family. She and I have also gotten closer since Ray and I have vowed to keep up with each other more closely. Since she lives close to Seattle, we have gotten together for lunch or a manicure so that we can get to know one another better. She really is a sweet woman and from what I can tell, she really cares a lot for my father.
“You’ve all met Mandy,” I say, leading her into the great room. As always, Gracious Grace welcomes her with a hug and the nervousness fades immediately.
“So,” Dad says jovially, “besides the obvious, what are we celebrating?”
“Ah, you are just in time.” Carrick says as the male server returns with two glasses of champagne for Dad and Mandy. Why does he make me so uncomfortable? “We are toasting the engagement of this young man to my beautiful daughter, Mia.”
“Well, congratulations, Mia,” Daddy says.
“Thank you, Mr. Steele,” Mia says blushing.
“Please, Mia. Call me Ray, and may I meet the lucky fiance?”
My dad is interacting very well with the Greys, which is really a change for him since he’s usually such a private person. Christian stays close to Ray, who engages in conversation with Mia and Ethan with Mandy close by chatting with Grace. I’m very happy that they are all getting along so well and look so happy conversing with each other. I take a sip of my champagne and notice the male server from before lurking just beyond the dining room door. I take a moment to observe his features. He has brownish-red hair with green eyes and he’s quite pale. From a distance, he looks to be 5’10” and I can tell that he works out a lot. What’s most striking about him is that he’s currently staring at me. I take a sip of my champagne and frown a bit. Is he new on staff here? Is he temporary just to help with Thanksgiving dinner? Why is he staring at me and why is he giving me the creeps?
“It’s good to see him loosen up, isn’t it?” Val snaps me out of my thoughts.
“Yes. Yes, it is,” I say, shakily taking a sip of my drink. Noticing my demeanor, Val asks, “What is it, Steele?” I look beyond her to her the dining room door where the male server once stood, but now he’s gone.
“Have you seen this guy that’s passing out drinks and serving? Pale ginger, about 5’10”?” I ask.
“I haven’t paid much attention to him, but I’ve noticed that there’s a new guy serving. Why?”
“He gives me the creeps,” I say. “Every time he comes into the room, I get the fucking willies and just now he was staring at me!” I say sternly and quietly.
“Well, what do you plan to do?” She says after eying the same empty spot that I am as if waiting for the creepy guy to reappear.
“I don’t know yet. I don’t want to get some guy in trouble because I’ve got the willies, but after the David fiasco, I trust my instincts before anything. It could be nothing, so for right now, I’ll just keep my eye on him.”
“I will, too, okay?” She winks at me. Just as we make our deal, Creepy Guy comes out and announces, “Dinner is to be served in the formal dining room in 15 minutes.”
Dinner was fantastic. Mandy was able to bond a bit with Val as well as with the Grey women. Christian stole several glances at me through dinner as Mia and Ethan discussed the biggest event of the day—that being their engagement. I want Christian to learn to deal with emotions a bit more before we take the next step. He, of course, wants things to happen immediately—not only because he wants me, but also because he has the same fear that I have. He fears that he is going to wake up one day and this will all have been a wonderful dream—well, the wonderful parts of it anyway. I understand that, so I am constantly reminding him that he means the world to me and that I love him dearly.
Things have gotten so much better since he started seeing the new psychiatrist. Her name is Sherrill Baker and she came highly recommended by Maxie. That was a difficult experience. I had to tell Maxie the basic framework of Christian’s situation as well as give her more details into our relationship than I was ready to share. I know more than anyone that this sounds a little odd to say the very least. After all, the woman is my therapist. However, Christian and I are both trying to define our relationship as well as find our own trail through the confusion. So having to explain it to someone else—particularly someone that you consider a friend—can be very difficult.
Even though Maxie has to be open-minded about different lifestyles, her first concern as my friend and as my therapist was that I was being abused or taking part in activities against my will. I understand that concern since so many people already have the wrong idea about a BDSM relationship and because my closest friends would probably never see me as a submissive in any way, especially after David kidnapped me—which led to the second issue. Maxie expressed concern that my relationship with Edward as well as the horrendous branding experience as a child could have had a masochistic effect on me—or at the very least, could have stamped a masochistic vision in my head.
This time, I felt that she was grasping at straws. We are taught to question, which is why I initially gave Flynn the benefit of the doubt, but we are not to draw conclusions based on our own biases. Our patients are already fragile, so we must be careful not to lead them in the wrong direction. Based on her prior knowledge of me, Maxie could not see me in a subservient position. She assured me that she would ask this question of any person who not only had such a tragic occurrence in their life, but also who practiced a BDSM lifestyle of any sort. She admits to not knowing enough about the lifestyle to be able to make any kind of judgment on it whatsoever and I appreciate that. Admit that you are out of your realm and then we can delve deeper and come back with a plan of action if we need one. I have always trusted Maxie’s judgment and treatment, which is why I sent Christian to her for a referral.
To avoid any miscommunication again, I went in with Christian for his first appointment with Dr. Baker. We explained the reasons that we were there to see her and why he had fired Flynn. The hardest thing for me was discussing our fallout. I felt so betrayed that he thought I would do something like that to him and I really didn’t know how to handle it in context. Christian was more concerned with me not talking to him than he was with why I wasn’t talking to him—something that Dr. Baker informed him that he had to correct and understand. She and Maxie are both helping me with this “get-angry-shut-down” reaction that I have. Christian and I still have a bit of a ways to go, but our journey is well underway now. I know he wants us to move along more quickly, but we have really made some impressive strides in the last two months.
Various family members are wandering around the great room, the foyer, the den, the dining room and other parts of the house just celebrating the laziness of the day. Mia has cried herself into a need for a short nap and has left her fiance at the mercy of her father and brothers. I wander into the kitchen for some water and I find Liona there working on something on the far counter. She doesn’t hear me come into the kitchen, so she doesn’t turn around. At first, I just turn to leave and opt to return for water later. Then I realize that I am allowing someone to chase me out of the kitchen of my boyfriend’s family home. Now I could care less if this is kitchen help or the fucking Queen of England—nobody is chasing me away.
“Excuse me,” I say politely to gain her attention. She turns around to see who is speaking and her original pleasant expression is quickly replaced with a snarling glare. Bitch, I will beat you like a thief. “I would like some water please. Do you mind helping me?” She sighs heavily as goes over to the cabinet that holds the glasses. After removing a tumbler from the cabinet, she goes over to the refrigerator, fills the tumbler with ice and then water from the dispensers, then slams the glass down on the counter in front of me—not hard enough to break the tumbler, but hard enough to spill some of the water. Then she turns around military-style and marches back to her station, continuing with her duties.
Dear Lord, please bless me with the strength not to leap across this counter and commence to beating a hoe down.
I clear my throat to get her attention, and she ignores me. I clear it again, loudly and rudely. Don’t let me have to do it a third time… She gets the idea and turns around to meet my narrowed eyes.
“Look, I’m not going anywhere. I’m here to stay and I’m going to be around a lot. I’m sorry if I crushed your ambitions, but whatever little Cinderella hopes and dreams that you had, you need to do away with them and get on with your life because that little ‘gimme’ earlier is the first and the last time that I’m going to cover for your rudeness.” She looks down her nose at me.
“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean,” she says in a pissy little voice. Is she facing off against me? Seriously? She must think I want to play. I have nothing to prove to her.
“No? Okay.” I turn around to march out of the kitchen. I don’t need to play this game. I already have the prize.
“Ms…” she calls out to me before I leave the room. “Dr. Steele, I apologize.” The words come out of her mouth like Jalapeño peppers mixed with grapefruit juice. I generally have a thing about insincere apologies, but I know what it took for her to do that.
“Listen to me,” I say walking back over to her. “Know that I am not trying to make you heel!” I hiss at her softly. “I have no desire to see you grovel. It does me no good and that’s not the type of person that I am. I just will not allow you or anyone else to disrespect me. I feel bad for you that the man that you placed your hopes on fell in love with me, but I don’t apologize for loving him and I will not be treated badly for it. I did nothing to deserve it.” She drops her head.
“I understand,” she says, sounding chastised. I sigh heavily. “No,” she begins, looking up at me, her gaze pointed and sharp, but non-threatening, “I understand. I don’t like it—but I understand.” Her voice was a little sharper than I liked, but I got more than I expected.
“So, we won’t have another problem?” I ask.
“No… we won’t,” she concedes, her voice still firm, but sincere. Her head drops immediately and I know he has walked into the kitchen. I must ask him…
“Butterfly?” he says, his voice suspicious. “Everything okay?” He looks from me to Liona.
“Everything’s fine, Christian,” I respond. Liona never lifts her head. She just goes to the far end of the kitchen and proceeds with her work.
“Is she giving you a hard time?” he asks, glaring at her back before he turns to me. “Mom says if she gives you a problem one more time…”
“Everything’s fine, Christian,” I repeat, “though I do have a question for you.”
“What’s that?” I pull him to the edge of the doorway away from Liona’s ears.
“Was she ever your submissive?” His eyes get large and now he’s glaring at me.
“She was never my anything!” he spits. “Why would you ask me that!?”
“She takes that submissive stance like a pro every time you’re around,” I say without hesitation. He has that aura that screams Dominant and I’ve seen it bring many women to a submissive or semi-submissive state of mind, but none like Liona. Once in a while, she’ll smile fondly at him, but most often she’s in sub mode when he comes around. “Could she be someone else’s submissive?” I ask. He looks across the kitchen at her while she’s working at the counter.
“I suppose she could,” he says, examining her, “but I doubt it.”
“Why do you say that?” I say, my curiosity piqued by his observation.
“… Because the way that she salivates over me ever since she’s been working here, her Dom would be beating her ass every night.” I frown. Good God! That sounds horrible!
“What? How would he… or she… even know about it?” I ask horrified. Christian sighs.
“The way a true submissive is trained, a Dom would know,” he says matter-of-factly.
“Do you think that she has been without—or even with a Dom—but she recognizes you as a Dom…” which would be why she keeps dropping her head when she sees you? He looks at her again and shrugs.
“I guess she could be. It’s certainly not impossible, but I still don’t think so.”
“Why not?” I ask.
“She’s too pretty,” he responded. Huh!? What does that mean—only dog-faced girls are subs? He must have read my expression because he had to clarify. “Okay, first of all, let’s face it—she’s pretty. We can agree on that, right?” I nod reluctantly. Get to the point, Grey. “That pretty, she would definitely have a Dom—unless she did something so horrible that no one wanted to be her Dom, in which case, I would know about it. I don’t, so she’s not between Doms. Second, she’s been ogling me for years. If during that time she had a Dom, he would have known who she was working for, he would have known that she was ogling, and he would have asserted himself over her on a regular basis. She would know who was Master and it wouldn’t have been me. She may have exercised the submissive demeanor in my presence, but there would be no flirting, no eye-fluttering, no smiling, none of that. She would spend every moment acting as if her Master was watching, because he is. Her eyes are his eyes and she sees everything she does so he sees everything she does, and she wouldn’t dare lie to him. She would dress in a plain and professional manner unless he instructed her differently. There would be no make-up, none of that low-cut uniform shit, and those big, blonde curls that you see every time we come over wouldn’t be there. Her hair would be in a simple style—probably a ponytail or a bun—and that top would be the right size instead of two sizes too small, and buttoned up to her neck. That skirt would come down to her knees and you just may get a look at what her real skin tone is. Every time she knows that I’m coming to my parents’ home, she looks like a super model, not a member of our staff. How do I know this? Because if it were you, and you were my submissive working for the family of a young, handsome, billionaire businessman, I’d have you dressed like Ma Kettle.” He doesn’t flinch or blink when he says this whole spiel and I just glare at him for a moment.
“Ma Kettle, Christian?” I say disgusted.
“Hell, yes. Ma. Fucking. Kettle. With those plump round tits and that delectable ass, you better be glad I didn’t say a nun’s habit.” He turns around and leaves the room without a word, again, without flinching. What did he come in here for anyway? I look over at Liona who is still tending to her duties at the counter with her back to me.
“Ma Kettle!” I say to myself as I leave the kitchen, completely forgetting my water.
I’m taking a quiet moment alone in the library next to the fire. Everyone has somewhat disappeared in different directions and Christian went to his father’s study to address an urgent overseas issue. I am sending emails to Maxie and Al about the plan of action for Black Friday and reading the emails about their Thanksgivings. I’m remembering Thanksgiving from last year as I watch the fire crackle. It was kind of special, but pretty much the same as prior years. The Scooby Gang got together at Maxie and Phil’s and ate and drank ourselves senseless before going home very late and falling into a food stupor. Then of course, Maxie, Val, Al and I hit the Black Friday sales at 6:00AM the next day and spent our Christmas Club savings, after which we always had a late lunch at Matt’s In The Market followed by a spa day at Ananya Spa Seattle. Since we are shopping with the Grey family, our locations will be a little more controlled and closely monitored and our spa day will be at the now under new management Esclava Luxury Spa and Salon.
I love the fireplace in this room. It’s so cozy and warm. I have my legs thrown across the arm of one of the big armchairs, my bare feet swinging and occasionally catching the warmth from the fire on my toes. I’m lost in the flames, in the thoughts of last Thanksgiving and shopping with my friends, in the anticipation of making new memories with new friends and—dare I say—family. His voice interrupts my thoughts.
“Is there any particular reason why you are lurking in the shadows staring at my girlfriend?”
I sit up and turn around to see Christian glaring accusingly at Ginger Creepy Guy who is positioned off to the side in a dark corner next to one of the bookshelves. I never would have even known he was there. How long was he there, anyway?
“What the fuck…?” The words are out of my mouth before I had a chance to catch them.
“What’s your name?” Christian asks, his voice eerily cold.
“Louis, Mr. Grey,” Ginger Creepy Guy answers.
“Well, Louis, I know from having been raised in this house that staff is not supposed to occupy the same areas as the family unless they are on duty and have a purpose for being there. This is especially true on holidays since we normally have guests. Since you are kitchen staff, I am certain that you have no reason to be in the library—and judging from Ms. Steele’s reaction, I’m also certain that you weren’t bringing her a snack! So I’ll ask you again—what are you doing here and is there any particular reason why you are lurking in the shadows staring at my girlfriend?”
I’m curious to hear his answer myself, but all he manages to give us are some stuttering half sentences and jumbled words.
“Sir, I… No, I… I was just… I didn’t…” Christian sighs heavily.
“I suggest that you go and find out where you should be right now and what you should be doing. In the future, it would serve you to refrain from sections of the house that you should not occupy unless you are specifically instructed to do so, but more importantly,” Christian is in his face in three long strides. “…It would be most beneficial to your employment and your health to stay the fuck away from my girlfriend… Louissssssss!” Christian’s voice and glare are so sharp that they even scare me. Any other time, I would say that he really is overreacting. This time, I say that he’s spot on.
Louis looks from him to me and back to him and attempts to mumble something like an apology. Seeing that Christian is unmoved, he walks quickly out of the library and off to parts unknown. Christian looks over at me.
“Is there some kind of hiring process for new staff in your parents’ home?” I ask him. He looks at me strangely.
“I’m not familiar with the hiring practices for staff here. Maybe I should talk to my parents about it,” he says.
“I want you to check him out, Christian. Run a background check on him or whatever you do to make sure that someone is cleared to work for you.” I say. His eyes get large. “Something’s not right about him. He makes me nervous and the fact that he was all stalkery in the corner just now… I don’t even know how long he was standing there!” His expression darkens.
“Do you know him from anywhere? Does he look familiar to you at all?” he asks.
“I’ve never seen that man before in my life that I can remember,” I say and he nods.
“Alright. I’ll talk to my parents and see where he came from. Then I’ll have Welch run a background check and see what comes up.”
“Good. I don’t know what’s going on with that guy, but he’s been looking at me weird all day,” I confess. Christian’s gaze sharpens.
“Why didn’t you tell me before now?” He barks, walking over to me.
“Because I didn’t want you to go all psycho!” I respond.
“You know how I feel about your safety, Butterfly, especially with the publicity of the trials being prepared. I wish you would tell me about these things,” he scolds.
“Yeah, so that you can harass everyone that looks at me for more than a second? No thanks. I wanted to be sure before I said anything, and now I’m sure. So run a background check,” I say finitely. He growls under his breath.
“Woman…” he says menacing.
“Man…” I say mimicking his tone. He shakes his head and pulls me into his arms.
“One day, Ms. Steele. One day.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Promises, promises,” I say before pressing my lips into his.
“Why would you want to know that, Christian?” Dad says, sitting back in his recliner in the den and taking another puff of his pipe.
“You’re a high profile family, Dad. Even without my influence and exposure, you and Mom are well known in the social circuits and on the red carpet. Couple that with a rich, influential son and you can get any number of cuckoos trying to get close to you… to us. I would just rather be safe than sorry.”
“We’ve been using the same service for many years to acquire our staff,” he tries to assure me. “We’ve never had a problem before.”
“There’s been a lot going on with the people close to me, Dad. Us, Ana… Elena…” I hiss her name as it burns my mouth while departing my lips. “We could be targeted by anybody. We can’t do things the same way that we have for years. If we stay predictable, we become a target. I need you to humor me on this one. If nothing comes from it, then we’re all set. If something does come from it, then we can nip it before anything happens.”
“What do you think will happen, Christian?” My father, the attorney.
“I really don’t know exactly. He rubs me the wrong way and I don’t take any chances since Ana’s kidnapping.” My father is a hard sell. I’d like to do it with his knowledge but there are ways to do this behind his back if he doesn’t help me.
“I don’t want you harassing and defaming this man because of a traffic ticket, Son.” Good grief, who does he think I am? Have I really been that bad?
“Really, Dad? Do you honestly think I would do something like that?” I ask, clearly affronted.
“When it comes to Anastasia, yes—I think you would do anything.” Um… okay.
“I wouldn’t let anyone cloud my judgment, Dad, not even the woman that I love—but you are correct in that I am fanatical about her safety. Why would you say this was specifically about Ana? This is about the family.”
“Be that as it may, you get a specific demeanor about you when it comes to her, much like the specific demeanor that you get about you when it comes to business, but different, and make no mistake, Christian—your judgment is completely clouded by the woman you love. You think it’s not, but it is. Don’t fool yourself and don’t take what I say with a grain of salt because I speak from experience.” He casually puffs on his pipe and waits for my response. So… he’s speaking from experience—not from anything to do with Ana. It makes me wonder what has happened to make him say that. I have strange visions of my father getting into barroom brawls over a young and very attractive Grace Trevelyan. Very well, Father, I won’t play games.
“Since you read people so well, Counselor, I’m sure that you have drawn an independent conclusion about Anastasia.” He looks at me curiously.
“I have,” he says.
“Your analysis?” I ask. He frowns.
“I don’t know what you mean. Would you care to clarify?”
“Her judgment—do you trust it? Would you trust it?” I ask impassively.
“Yes. She has impeccable judgment. She is wise well beyond her years.” I nod.
“I’m glad you said that… because she’s the one that asked for the background check,” I inform him and his face pales.
“May I ask why?” he says.
“She said that he creeps her out. She said that there’s something not quite right about him and that she can’t put her finger on it. I will openly admit that I planned on doing some kind of background check on him anyway, but she suggested it to me before I had the chance to take any action. One way or another, I’m going to get some information on this man, Dad, but it will be a lot faster and easier if you help me.” Carrick looks at me one more time, then beckons me to follow him to his study. I sit across from his desk in the wingback chairs that face him while he fires up his computer. He taps away at it for about three minutes and then goes to one of the half file cabinets behind his desk. He removes one of the papers and hands it to me.
There is a picture of Louis. His last name is Millfeld. The paper includes his address, Birthdate, height, and social security number—more than I hoped for. I type the information into my blackberry then take a picture of the picture and send it to Welch. I would have taken a picture of the whole form but I was afraid the information wouldn’t come out clearly. Welch will know to get on the background check first thing in the morning. I told him to put a rush on it since this guy is working for my parents and was hiding in the corner quietly stalking Ana in the library.
I haven’t told Butterfly yet but I’m going into the office tomorrow for a few hours while she and the ladies—and Allen—go shopping. I am finalizing the paperwork on the Esclava Salons. The bank got word of Elena’s arrest and the morality clause that GEH enforced, so they called in all of their loans. Since their liens took precedence over my contract—which I knew that they did—the salons were seized and auctioned. I bought the business from the bank at a discount since my large bid was more than the piecemeal bids. I sent someone to place the bid for me and once I won, I put Mia in charge of managing the salons. She is in a profit share agreement with Franco at her side, who has kept the salons running all of this time while Elena was unable to enter the premises. She is still unable to enter the business as I have enacted a no-contact order against her and she cannot come near me, Ana, our family or any of my businesses—Esclava being one of them. As originally intended, my portion of the profits are all diverted to Helping Hands. The banks allowed the salons to remain open while we solidified the deal, so tomorrow when my ladies and Allen go into the salon, it will officially be Grey-owned.
As I stayed downstairs for a while talking to Carrick about the progress of Elena’s upcoming trial, Butterfly has fallen asleep without me. I was very proud of her today. She was quite the semi-hostess when it came to Ray and Amanda. I know that she was nervous about our families spending the holiday together, but she is taking it in stride. I know that something happened between her and Liona, which is why she asked all of those strange questions. I might have been a little brusque with her when I left the kitchen. I think I may have taken the questioning a little personally. It’s a side effect of managing these newly-discovered emotions. I have no problem dealing with adverse situations with my business—even situations that others would consider emotional. However, these new feelings—with my family and Butterfly—that’s a whole different animal. Dr. Baker is helping me deal with my emotions—to understand them better. This is one test that I am anxious to pass as I am itching to ask Butterfly to marry me. Though I am aching to make her Mrs. Grey, I understand why she wants to wait.
I sit at my desk and watch her sleep. I can’t help but think about the last time she asked about someone being my sub. We were in the Marketplace—somewhere that I rarely go because I have no reason, but I went this time with Butterfly and who do we run into?
“Well, hello, Sir,” I hear a voice say from behind me. I turn around to see Greta standing there in a pair of jeans so tight that I can’t see how she can even breathe. She is also wearing a cutoff shirt and no bra, so you can see the naked mounds of the bottom of her breasts. I might have found this alluring inside my penthouse if this were Butterfly, but out in public it just looks tacky. What is she doing? She looks like she’s selling herself to the highest bidder!
“Ms. Ellison,” I say coldly.
“Oh, you do remember me,” she says seductively.
“I’ll admit that you are quite memorable. What can I do for you?”
“I was just over there examining the…melons…when I saw you and just thought I would come by and say ‘hello.'” She glances over my shoulder then gently touches my hand. “It’s been a long time,” she whispered. “I never got the chance to show you all of my talents.”
“… And you never will!” I say, slapping her hand away from mine. “…And don’t ever touch me again.”
“Oooo, testy! I see Elena was right… you’ve lost the touch,” she taunts.
“Quite frankly, I don’t give a fuck about what that pedophile thinks, and if you care at all about your standing in the community, you shouldn’t either. I suggest you find yourself a new pimp.” That hit her where it hurts. All of the color leaves her face. Looking over my shoulder again, she says, “I see you’ve downgraded… quite sad.” She is still trying to maintain some kind of upper hand.
“On the contrary,” I hear Butterfly say behind me, “it looks to me like he’s taken a lady over a hoe. I’d say that’s a definite improvement.”
“It would do you well not to speak that way about my girlfriend,” I say.
“What are you going to do… spank me?” she purrs.
“You wish!” Butterfly says.
“I won’t, but she might, and you won’t like it,” I warn Greta. She scoffs at the statement.
“That little thing?” she teases. “I’d squash her like a bug.” Butterfly hands me her wares and walks over to Greta.
“Make a move, Sub. Let’s see if Elena told you anything about me,” Butterfly says to her. Greta’s pupils constrict at the title.
“I see Sir hasn’t told you everything about me. I’m also a Domme!” she says in what I think is her Domme voice.
“Am I supposed to care? You’re not my Domme. Like I said, make a move!” Butterfly invites. She looks at Butterfly who stands there confidently waiting for Greta to react, then responds, “No thanks. I really don’t have time for a public brawl.”
“Oh, we can take it to the gym anytime you like,” Butterfly says with a smile. Greta laughs coyly.
“I’m too sophisticated for that,” she says wryly. Butterfly folds her arms.
“Oh, really? … But you’re not too sophisticated to walk around in public with your bare tits hanging out,” Butterfly counters. At her statement, several people turn to look at Greta. “Are you trying to find a man, Honey? If you are, there are plenty looking at you now. Just try to find one that doesn’t belong to someone else.” She possessively takes my arm and I cover her hand with mine.
“I can have any man I want,” Greta says seductively looking at me.
“Except me,” I respond, looking at her coldly.
“I can have you, Dear. You just don’t know it, yet. Once you’ve tasted this, nothing else will do,” Greta boasts.
“Is that why you’re standing here advertising yourself in the marketplace?” I ask, appalled. “What happened to all of the other men who have tasted that? Why aren’t you with them?”
“They bore me and I want something better,” she says reaching up to touch my face.
“Touch me and I’ll break your wrist!” I say using my Dom voice. It does the trick. Butterfly clenches my arm and Greta turns pale. “I’m going to take my girlfriend and go now. This conversation is getting old. Don’t come near me again.” I lead Butterfly away and we get to the RS7.
“So…which one was that?” Butterfly asks very coolly. I can tell that she is displeased about the public confrontation but it appears that she wants to hold me accountable for it.
“That one was Greta,” I answer just as coolly and my sarcasm doesn’t get past her as she turns to glare at me, a warning of caution evident in her eyes. “Greta was hoping to be my sub, but she was declined for a much better option.” This answer didn’t please Butterfly at all. I could see the questioning in her eyes and she finally made it verbal.
“Really? Do I even want to hear about the better option?” she nearly snaps, jealousy prevalent in her tone.
“You might. The better option was you,” I say flatly. Her eyes soften immediately and fill with obvious shame before she drops her head and stares at her lap. I pause for a moment to let it sink in a bit. I want her to feel that shame; I want her to feel the impact of the silent false accusation that she was imposing upon me. After a few moments, I put my hand under her chin and lift her head so that she could look at me.
“I am a Dominant. I have had women before you. They were all somewhere here in Seattle. My previous subs have all signed non-disclosure agreements, so I don’t expect any of them to say anything to you, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t. Greta never told you that she was my sub. She never even told you that she was vying to be my sub, but you figured out that something was up. What are you going to do when and if one of my actual previous subs approaches you?” She doesn’t respond. She just continues to stare at me with guileless blue eyes. “We are seeing a therapist to help me deal with my emotions. It seems that you may need to deal with something, too. You know how to handle Elena because you hate her and she abused me, but you don’t know how to handle a woman with whom I’ve had a relationship and it simply ended. That’s something that you may want to examine, because it may happen… and, please, if you’re going to feel anger towards me—repressed or obvious—please let it be for something that I actually did.” I don’t take my eyes away from hers. I can see them get a little glassy with the threat of tears before she softly says,
I press my lips gently against hers and move them to her cheek and her jaw.
“I love you,” I whisper in her ear.
“I love you, too,” she squeaks, her voice heavy with unshed tears. I kiss her cheek again, start the car, and drive back to Escala.
I knew when I said those words to Butterfly that day that I was both quite justified in my feelings as well as a big fat hypocrite. On the one hand, I didn’t want her to be angry at me for no reason when she should have been angry at Greta for her obvious display of tastelessness. However, my reaction to Louis this afternoon is proof that no one can even look sideways at my Butterfly without incurring my wrath. I think there’s a slight difference in the situations, though, in that I was not angry with Butterfly as a result of the undue attention that she was receiving from Mr. Millfeld. She, however, was quite salty with me about the unwanted attention from Ms. Ellison. So I stand by my original belief that I was completely justified in my feelings.
I crawl into the bed behind her. I want to make love to her, but I know that she will be rising early with the ladies to get a head start on the Black Friday shoppers. I move her hair away from her face and gently kiss her ear and her neck. She whimpers softly and snuggles back into me, her body fitting perfectly against mine. This woman is femininity incarnate, the composition of everything perfect about Woman… and she is mine…
… My Butterfly.
I made sure that the ladies were all gone before I went in to GEH. Maybe I could get in there and get back to Bellevue before they returned. My first meeting was with the members of the bank to sign the papers finalizing the sale of Esclava. Thankfully, that task was completed very quickly and the deal was done. Next, I touch bases with Welch about the background check on Millfeld, which he assures me that he will have by Monday. This makes me happy.
“Any more news on any of our developing situations?” I ask.
“I got the inside information that you wanted on Whitmore’s shady dealings. Your hunch was right. He could be selling insurance to the richest people on earth and still not be able to live the life that he’s living. You’re looking at embezzlement, insurance fraud, Ponzi schemes, elderly scams, ghosting… you name it, he’s got his hands in it. He’s worse than Madoff. The only reason why he’s so damn cocky is because he has never been caught. He’s been doing this for years. His entire fortune and legacy is built on being a crook. I’ve checked and double-checked where his money trails begin and end and luckily, there are no big players involved that can cause you any problems, but there are quite a few little players involved. If you time his exposure and downfall with Sullivan’s, you will see quite a few rats running from the sinking ship that is about to be Green Valley.”
“Excellent,” I say, almost wanting to rub my hands together like the villains in the old silent movies. “Butterfly will be very pleased to hear that. What about the names that I have given you?” Welch pulls out his iPad.
“You’re going to want to go to the network,” he says. I haven’t even checked the network for a couple of days. I’ve been too busy with the holiday festivities. I go to my file on the network where I have the information on the projects that I am working on…
“Third Quarter Projections”… then “Probabilities”… then “Information.” Inside that file are two very important projects—”PFB” for “Project Free Butterfly” and “PDP” for “Project Destroy Pedophile.” I open “PFB.”
‘Wow. You’ve been busy,” I say to Welch.
“No more than usual, Sir,” he says. The file now has the current whereabouts of Mary Wiseman, Rhonda Yick, Lane Mulligan, and Vesta Evans—all people that Butterfly indicated were sidekicks of the main girl. The last sidekick—Simone Pallister—was killed in a car accident a few years back. We already knew the whereabouts of “Michael and them guys”—Michael Underwood, Brian Maleham and Justin Roundy. Like Simone Pallister, Richard Swanson and William Wood have both gone on to meet their makers in violent ways. Swanson was shot in a robbery gone bad and Wood was stabbed several times by a woman scorned. The file also indicates that Cody’s flunkies—Randall Marshall, Timothy Leahman, Joseph Kulp, and Blaine Nelson—are all still among the living. Finally, we have pinned down the whereabouts of those who were definitely involved in Butterfly’s attack and the subsequent cover-up—Vincent Sullivan, Kevin Van Dyke, and Carly Madison.
I couldn’t be more pleased that we were able to lock down some, if not all, of the main players in Butterfly’s attack. I know that she will be pleased, too. We put this particular plan of action on hold while we were dealing with our personal relationship and since we are on much better footing now, I thought it was time to at least see where the vermin were hiding. With Butterfly’s blessing, I have already notified the Nevada Attorney General as well as Internal Affairs in the police department of Sullivan’s gross mishandling of Butterfly’s case. Let them figure out why he didn’t do his job. A veteran Henderson cop taking the perp walk will certainly make the news… even if it’s only local news. I have the Google alerts alive and waiting for his arrest at which time the FBI, IRS, and the Nevada Attorney General’s office will get evidence of Whitmore’s shady dealings and possible involvement in the cover-up of the attack on Anastasia. Again, the NAG may not be able to act on the evidence, but after arresting Sullivan they certainly can’t ignore it.
Being a man of means myself, I know that the worst thing that you can do to a wealthy person is to take all of their money away. They can’t function without it after having functioned with it for so long. So the first thing I plan to do to all of these entitled fucks is to bankrupt any of them that may still have money or have made their own fortunes. If they are still living off Mommy and Daddy’s money, then I will bankrupt Mommy and Daddy. My reach and power goes far. Short of tickling the feet of the mob, I will bring every one of these fuckers down.
I have wisely sent Lawrence, Davenport and Manchester with the ladies and Al today while Williams has come into the office with me. He doesn’t know my moves like Jason does which proves to be a bit troublesome when I get a call from him that there is an attorney in the lobby that refuses to leave until he speaks to me. Apparently, the attorney is here on official court business and will report to said court if any of my security team interferes with him in any way. Damn it! Allen is out shopping with Butterfly. I call up to legal to have Marshall come down while I see what this situation is all about. Once he is there, I have Williams bring this mystery attorney up to my office. Williams takes his place at the side of my desk in the same manner that Jason would if he were here.
“You seem to need quite a bit of security, Mr. Grey,” the tall, young man says while entering my office.
“That’s none of your concern. What do you want?” I ask flatly.
“Hmm, straight to the point.” He reaches into his jacket and Williams takes two steps forward, also reaching into his. I’m starting to like this guy more and more. The attorney looks over at Williams.
“Is he threatening me?” he asked.
“No. He’s protecting me. I don’t know who you are. Did any of you gentlemen hear this man introduce himself… or just come into my office talking about my security?” Who the hell is this guy? Did he just graduate from law school?
“Oh. I’m Elvis Stanford.” He slowly pulls his hand out of his jacket and brings some papers out with it. “I represent Elena Lincoln and you have been served.” He throws the papers down on my desk.
“You’ve got to be kidding!” I’m nearly laughing. After I have legally orchestrated her losing everything that she has, now she’s going to try to sue me? “Not that it really matters but, on what grounds?” I say as Marshall reviews the papers that Stanford dropped on my desk.
“Breach of contract,” he says rather smugly. I look over at Marshall who quickly scans the subpoena then shakes his head to tell me that the lawsuit isn’t worth the paper that it’s written on. I stand up from my desk.
“How did she manage to convince you to throw yourself in front of a charging bull, young man? Do you realize that you are about to go up against one of the most powerful men in the country?” I ask.
“Yes, I do, and I plan to win.” His bravado is practiced, not earned. She has convinced him that she has a case against me, and I know that she’s only doing it to get my attention. Since I filed the restraining order against her, she hasn’t been able to contact me at all for months and now she is getting desperate. Her court date is drawing near and more evidence is piling against her. She’s pulling every card that she can and she knows that there is no way in hell that she can win this one.
“Let me educate you,” I walk around my desk and stand in his face. “I could go to court without a single attorney and beat this farce of a lawsuit all by myself. Luckily for me, I don’t have to, because I have the best team of attorneys that money could buy. Now, I don’t know if she has fucked you or whipped you into believing that you can beat me, but you are sorely mistaken.” His face turns pale and he has shown his hand. He’s one of her subs. Silly fool. “That contract was iron-clad and I followed it to the letter, and you will be hard pressed—and I mean very hard pressed—to find anyone anywhere that will testify otherwise. She was arrested and I enforced my morality clause, at which time her creditors exercised their rights as primary lien holders and called in their debts. I purchased the businesses free and clear from the bank. Anything beyond that is hearsay. Is there anything unclear about what I’ve said so far?” Stanford has started to sweat a bit, showing his hand even more, but has not responded.
“I will assume as an attorney, you comprehend what I have said so far,” I continue. “Now let me make something perfectly clear. I have paved my road to wealth with sniveling little opportunists like you who have tried to carve their name in stone at my expense. I never have nor will I ever be intimidated by your kind. I will drag you through the mud and my attorneys will make sure that this ridiculous lawsuit goes on for so long that even your grandchildren won’t be alive to collect a fee should the ground beneath me open up and swallow me whole and you manage to win. I will bury you and destroy your reputation with this frivolous bullshit and believe me when I tell you that I will be first in line to watch you ask ‘Do you want fries with that.'” This idiot is shaking now. “So if you like, we can go to court, Mr. Standford—me and my award-winning team of attorneys, and you… defending an accused pedophile who will most likely be in jail very soon with no way whatsoever of paying you your fee. Let that simmer on your grill for a while. My attorney has your summons. You can go now.”
I stand there glaring at him, waiting for him to move. He seems frozen to the spot and I am certain that he is another one that she has primed since his teenage years—attractive, dark hair, powder blue eyes that almost look white, younger than me. Another Christian clone. At least this one finished school, but he’s about to make the biggest mistake of his life. I would feel sorry for him if he hadn’t just walked in my office all cocky like he was about to teach me a lesson. He still hasn’t moved from his spot. I don’t think he can. I lean in to him and say in his ear,
“Did you know I was the favorite pet?”
A look of sheer horror comes over his face. He knows exactly what I’m talking about. “Look at you and look at me,” I continue. “Look at her accusers. Notice anything? No one could ever prove it and, again, I’d bury anyone who tried, but I’m telling you—get out. Get away from her, for your own good. You don’t want to be linked to a convicted pedophile because she is going down—and you don’t want her to drag you with her. Get out while you still have a chance, Kid.” He trembles a bit while looking at me, sweat now pouring from his temples.
“Mr… Mr. Grey… I’m sorry, Sir. You’ll never hear from me again.” He hightails it out of my office to the express elevators.
“Sir,” I look over to Williams who has called me, “the front desk indicates that Mrs. Lincoln is standing across the street watching the front of the building.”
“Is she now?” She wants a show, I’ll give her a show. I quickly make a copy of the summons giving the original back to Marshall. “Hold on to that in case young Stanford all of a sudden grows a set of balls.” I quickly take the express elevator down to the main floor and stride out the front door. There she is…standing across the street. Where is she getting the money to stay so well primped? Fresh dye job, yet more new funeral garb and she’s just standing there with her arms folded and a smirk on her face. I hold up the copied summons from my side of the street, place my hands together at the top of the pages, and rip the document in half just as Stanford is coming out of the parking garage and speeding off down the street. I dramatically watch him drive away, leaving the Pedophile standing across the street staring at me. When I turn back to look at her, she is paler than I have ever seen and that smug smirk has been wiped off of her face. I open my hands and let the November wind take the pieces of the summons into parts unknown, hoping that one would serendipitously land at her feet… but no such luck. It wasn’t necessary—she knew what it was.
“You’re violating a restraining order,” I say loud enough for her to hear me. “Leave now. I’m calling the police.” I turn around and walk back into GEH without another word. By the time, I get back to my office, I am notified that she had left.
The auction—when someone’s business assets are being auctioned to meet the responsibility of a creditor, there is first a large bid. The large bid is based on the total assets in the business and is usually less than what they are worth as a whole but hopefully more than what the assets would be worth individually. Then there is an auction of the individual items in the business. Usually, the real estate is auctioned separately, but for the sake of continuity, we will just assume that they were auctioned all together. If the piecemeal bid beats the large bid, then everyone takes their little items and goes on their merry little way. If the large bid beats the piecemeal bid, then the person with the large bid gets everything—winner take all.
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Love and Handcuffs!