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 5—Stepping Out Tonight
I awake to Butterfly sleeping peacefully next to me in my childhood bedroom. She fell asleep on my lap last night during the conversation with our families in the great room. It was very late by the time the evening ended—nearly 3am in fact. I didn’t know how long she was asleep in my lap, but I knew that she was troubled about something. I was a little put off that she wouldn’t tell me what was wrong, but that she ran to Ray when he came out to comfort her. I have to understand that is her father and their relationship is very different. It’s just a little painful to realize that there’s something that she could say to Ray that—after all of this time—she couldn’t say to me.
Luckily I have learned to deal with these sort of “mini-rejections” a little better as I am so accustomed to getting what I want when I want. However, I understand that even though my ego tends to believe otherwise, everyone and everything does not bend to Christian Grey’s will.
I don’t think she realized last night that she was shrinking and withdrawing until Valerie brought it to her attention. I have no idea why she was withdrawing last night. She seemed so happy about Ray and Mandy’s engagement as well as Mandy’s pregnancy. Then, all of a sudden, she wasn’t so happy anymore. In fact, she was quite devastated it seemed. What changed? What was the problem? She begged me not to ask her, but I would really like to know.
I love her very much and I only want to make her happy, so I guess I’ll just be patient and wait until she’s ready to tell me. I know that she had problems earlier yesterday with the horrible women at Miana’s. She’s taking everything in stride like a real lady. She is the picture of class, elegance, grace, and sophistication no matter who approaches her, when they descend upon her, or why they have interrupted her day. I know how difficult it is being in the spotlight and I’m a veteran. My beautiful Butterfly is a novice—only recently being exposed to the attention. I know that it can’t be easy… There are many times when I have just wanted them to leave me alone, but she’s doing very well and I am very proud of her.
I stroke her hair and brush it out of her face. Even asleep, she looks like she’s shrinking a bit, but she is curled into my chest so I can’t complain. We are all supposed to meet downstairs for brunch around 11 before we start making preparations to go to the Greater Seattle Adopt-A-Family Affair. I don’t want to wake her just yet. Not only do I want her to rest some more because we were awake so late last night—or this morning, I should say—but I also love to watch her sleep. Hell, I love to watch her do anything. I remember the first moment that I saw her and my life changed forever.
She had walked into room 239 in that God-forsaken community center. Even though she was wearing this sexy black dress and those unbelievably high stilettos, the most striking thing about her were those big, blue eyes! I swear, the moment I saw those eyes, I was a goner… even though I didn’t want to admit it. I don’t know how she felt about me the moment she laid eyes on me—we’ve never talked about it—but she took my breath away. I know she couldn’t stand me later on, but that’s because even though I was immensely and hopelessly attracted to her, I treated her like a sub from the first word that I heard from her.
In my own defense, the first word I heard from her was “Sir.”
We all now know that the lovely Dr. Anastasia Steele was certainly not having that. We’ve come a long way since that day nearly six months ago. I bet absolutely no one would have thought we would be here now… least of all, me.
I gently stroke the curve of her hip and inhale her Ana smell. I trace the outline of the letters of her brand, which now looks quite different than the first time I saw it.
After one of her sessions with Maxine about a month ago—one that she admits was quite intense—she disappeared for an entire weekend. She assured me that she was not running and that Allen would be with her, but there was something that she needed to do for herself and she would explain everything to me on Sunday evening when she returned. I was quite hesitant. I—we—were at a crucial point in my therapy and I felt like it was not a good time for either of us to be withholding secrets from one another. However, I could see in her eyes that it was something that she really needed to do, so I begrudgingly agreed.
Sunday evening, she came home barely able to walk. I was furious!
“What happened to you!?” I barked. She shushed me and told me to follow her to our bedroom. I reached for her and she flinched. Now I’m really pissed.
“Anastasia…” I said in my warning tone.
“Just follow me, Christian!” she ordered. Oh, there will be some restitution for this, I had thought to myself. I followed her into the bedroom. I closed the door, expecting. She took a deep breath and turned to face me. “I’ve done something. I realize that I probably should have consulted you first, but I had to do it.”
I frown. “What have you done?” I asked. She sighed and took off her dress. She was completely naked underneath. That didn’t make me happy—where the fuck were her underwear and bra? She turned around and her whole lower back was covered with a large bandage. I couldn’t even take a breath. She pulled her long brown locks over her shoulder.
“Take it off,” she says, her voice small. I slowly began to remove the bandage and I am floored by what I find underneath.
Ana got a tattoo.
A very large tattoo! She couldn’t cover the brand because they are burns and the ink wouldn’t cover the scars… so she incorporated them into the tattoo. The letters are quite grotesque, so the closest thing that she could find to match were Gothic letters. The branded letters are outlined emphasizing their shape and there are two more letters distorted to imitate the branded letters as closely as possible:
Around the letters and covering at least one-third of her lower back is what looks like the scene of a garden… Beautiful flowers and colors and butterflies—lots and lots of butterflies—in all shapes, sizes and colors. The top line of the “E” actually morphs into a butterfly flying off to the right of her body. You would think it would be gaudy or busy—so much work and so large—but it’s not. It’s delicate and beautiful and I gasped. Butterfly’s shoulders fell.
“You don’t like it…” she breathed. “I had to do it, Christian. I had to do it for me.” She was almost crying.
“No, Butterfly… It’s breathtaking! It’s the most beautiful… Butterfly…” I was at a loss. I couldn’t find the words to say what I felt at that moment. “I need to hold you. I need to touch you but I don’t want to hurt you. Tell me how to hold you…”
“Like this!” She spun around and rushed to me, taking my face in her hands and kissing me feverishly. I reciprocated, cupping her small face in my large hands and devouring her lips and tongue. I’ve heard that tattoos are painful, but this one had to be agony. Couple that with the fact that she has allowed no one to touch her back except for me. No wonder Allen had to go with her.
“Make love to me, Butterfly,” I said between hungry kisses. “I need you…”
We had spent that Sunday night in unending passion. Butterfly took complete control and with the exception of that one night in Anguilla, those were some of the most powerful orgasms I had ever had.
I look at the tattoo now and remember the promise that I made to her that day while she lay in my arms: “I can’t wait until it’s healed. I’m going to kiss it every chance I get…”
I outline the letters of the brand, still amazed that she was able to make something so horrible into something so beautiful. It makes me think how she was also such a huge part of my transformation—a rich, attractive, dominating, curmudgeonly recluse now a man hopelessly in love and a bit of a social butterfly.
Butterfly… Interesting choice of word.
True to my word, I move to her back and kiss her brand and that beautiful tattoo. She squirms almost immediately.
“Christian…” she breathes, her voice thick with a mixture of sleep and arousal. I didn’t mean to wake her, but I should have known that I would have. I don’t know what was in that ink, but the moment I touch her brand—whenever I touch her brand—she is on fire! She hasn’t been touched there since the beating and I would only gently caress it every so often. Now, it’s like she hungry for the contact that she missed and I am only too happy to oblige. I call it “skipping through her garden.”
I continue to caress her letters as I kiss her navel, the skin over her sternum, the soft mound of her breasts. Her hands tangle in my hair and I wrap my arms around her, rolling her on top of me. Her hair falls over both our faces like a veil.
“Make love to me, Butterfly,” I breathe, holding her so close to me that we share the same air. “I need you…” She pauses for only a moment, then shifts her hips expertly taking my erection inside of her without separating us.
“Ah!” I gasp, a little surprised by her alacrity and ability—though at this point, I have no idea why I was surprised. She moves with such skill and knows my body like no one else. She whimpers as she covers me and I hold her close to me, pressing her against me and still fondling her back as she grinds her hips into me.
“Ah… yes!” she breathes, closing her eyes and steadying herself against my chest. This is my goddess, my Butterfly. She is exquisite, and the things that she does to me are indescribable. Her nails sink gently into the skin of my chest and she pushes her body away from mine, forcing more weight and pressure onto her hips… and my dick.
“Oh, fuck! Baby!” I grunt as she rolls around on my erection, her body trembling as she tries to control her stroke.
“Let go, Baby,” I plead, trying to control my tone as she mercilessly massages me with her hot, wet pussy. Hold on, Grey—easier said than done while I’m watching her perfect body flow on top of mine in a beautiful lyrical dance.
“No,” she breathes, never opening her eyes. I’m normally not so quick to come, but she is driving me fucking insane! Her hands are now placed solidly on top of my abs, her fingers wrapping around my sides and she is concentrating on her task. Her head drops and her hair tickles her my stomach as she intensifies her stroke, moving nothing but her hips—back and forth, up and down, and around—meticulous, deep, hard, grinding, burning movement.
“Fuck, Ana!” I can’t take much more of this. She is relentless. I can smell her sweat and her arms are trembling violently, but her hips remain in control.
“Wait!” she demands, maintaining the same controlled, fluid motions though her voice and the rest of her body—and mine—suggests uncontrolled passion and abandon. “Not yet!” she reinforces. I’m about to lose this battle. Her insides are clenching around me and I can’t even feel the stroke anymore. All I feel is clench and burn. My mouth is open and I am panting. I grab her hips to try to stop the inevitable, but it’s of no use.
“Anastasia!” I grunt. I try to warn her, but it’s too late. Her head swings back and her hair flies in a perfect windmill up the front, over her head, and down her back as she squeals out her release, mercifully dropping down onto my erection and grinding hard as her pulsing pussy drains every bit of my orgasm from my balls. I feel like my head is going to explode and I am not getting enough air. It was fast—and hard! Intense as fuck! And then…
What the fuck!?
We both look to the door to see a smirking Valerie along with a dumbstruck and spellbound Elliot and Jason standing inside the doorway to my childhood bedroom. Butterfly and I are stunned at first, both looking at the door and wondering what the hell is going on. Elliot and Jason are mindlessly gawking at my girlfriend’s beautiful ass and round shapely breasts and it’s at this particular moment that Butterfly realizes that she’s naked. She screams and I shout a few expletives as she scrambles off of me, taking the duvet with her. Thanks, Butterfly! I just came with about 600 horsepower and my dick is still throbbing, standing impressively at attention if I do say so myself, and she runs off with the duvet!
“Good God, Bro!” Elliot exclaims. I don’t think we’ve ever seen each other naked as adults, much less with an erection. I don’t know how he’s hanging these days, but I know that I’m hanging long… and right after orgasm, I’m hanging really long—and quite fat! Valerie’s eyes go conspicuously to my dick. Let’s face it… it’s not like you could miss it. I mean seriously, there’s a naked man lying in front of you. Where is the first place your eyes are going to go?
“Oh, fuck…” is all she could say. Her voice is a little more wistful than I am comfortable with, and this doesn’t get past Butterfly, who is now glaring at her friend. Jason is now finally snapped out of his stunned silence and gets a look what all the fuss is about.
“Whoa! TMI! Way TMI!” he’s yelling. Ana turns to me.
“Christian!” she scolds. What the fuck?
“Why are you yelling at me? You took the duvet!” I defend. She crawls over to me and covers us both with the duvet. I turn my ire to the trio at the door. “Why the fuck didn’t you knock? Don’t you know to knock when you see a closed door?”
“Dude, the door wasn’t locked! I didn’t think you were in here!” Elliot defends. “Everyone else is up and dressed. You’re the last ones still in bed. We didn’t know you were still in here!” Note to self—never everforget to lock the fucking door!
“You should still fucking knock when you see a fucking closed door!” I spit.
“… And you should learn how to lock a door when you are fucking… especially in your parents‘ house… with your girlfriend’s father not far away. Shit, Christian. What if it had been Mom or worse yet, Ray?”
“Ooohhh,” Butterfly groans almost as if she were in agony. Now I’m getting angry.
“Why are you here?” I seethe. Valerie and Elliot both look at Jason who replies, “I brought your attire for the fundraiser and Dr. Grey told me to bring it to your room. Apparently nobody knew that you two were still in bed. Like Elliot said, it’s a good thing that Elliot and Valerie came up instead of Grace.” Oh good God, yes. That would have been an utter disaster!
“Put the clothes in the closet please and then everyone get out,” I demand quietly.
“What’s your hurry, Bro?” Elliot taunts. “We’re just getting started and it looks like you just finished.
“Elliot, I swear to God, if you don’t leave right now, I’m going to get up and beat your ass, naked, in front of your girlfriend, and I already saw her looking at my package.” Both Ana and Elliot glare at Valerie.
“What?” she defends. “It was hanging out there looking at me! … And you should talk,” she says accusingly to Elliot, “like you weren’t looking at Ana’s tits and ass!” Both Ana and I turn our glare to Elliot. Yeah,Bro, how about that? Ana has finally had enough of the floor show and points to the door.
“Just get the fuck out! Get the fuck out now!” she orders, clearly pissed off. Valerie’s eyes get large. Apparently, the Tiger has surprised her.
“Okay, okay! Sorry!” she relents, forcibly turning Elliot around and pushing him out of the room. Jason now emerges from the closet and simply says, “Getting the fuck out now, Your Highness,” before turning the lock on the doorknob and closing the door behind him. Butterfly and I stare at the door for a moment, then at each other, and out of nowhere, we simultaneously break into fits of uncontrollable laughter.
The ladies finally descend the stairs so that we can proceed to the Adopt-A-Family Affair. Although they are all beautiful in various jewel-toned dresses, my eyes are locked on my exquisite girlfriend wearing a Terani Couture emerald green one shoulder ruched gown with a cut-out back along with gold jewelry and a nude clutch with a large jeweled peacock. She looks as if she’s floating and as she holds her dress and glides down the stairs, I can see her Christian Louboutin latticework platform glittered stiletto sandals. I take her hand when she reaches the bottom stair, as does each gentleman in the room when his date approaches.
“You look stunning,” I breathe in her ear as I place a chaste kiss on her cheek. She smiles shyly as I tuck her hand into my arm and lead her to the door. I drape her in her Calvin Klein Gothic 90s long black velvet formal trench coat and the 10 of us head for the three limousines I have procured for the evening. About half an hour later, we arrive at the Marion Oliver McCaw Hall where the event will be held. Butterfly and I rode in a separate limo than the rest of the family to avoid them having to face the media fodder that follows us everywhere we go. I could have just ridden in one of the Audis but hey… why not a limo?
As expected, the media go bananas when we step out of the car. We are both wearing overcoats as it is the end of November and quite cold in Washington, but they ask Butterfly what she is wearing nonetheless. She rattles off her designers then waves with a bright smile and we go inside.
Although this is not one of my family’s events, I’m actually excited about being able to adopt a family this year. Every other year, I just went in with my folks and helped out with the family they adopted. This year, Butterfly and I will be adopting a family ourselves. When she suggested it, it didn’t take much convincing for me to agree. Just another thing that we could do together, I felt, which is always a plus. I know that Marlow and his mother made the list this year and I have no doubt that Butterfly is hoping that we get to sponsor them. However, I had to inform her that the likelihood of that happening is very slim since the sponsors and families are all chosen quite randomly by a drawing.
The “Family Affair” is in the Grand Lobby, one of the most opulent spaces in the building. Beautiful red carpeting deck the floors while multi-storied high ceilings are supported by large round steel beams. Impressive walls of windows boast the Seattle cityscape and night-time sky. While we are mingling among other sponsors and fending off nosy wives desperate to befriend Butterfly simply because she is my girlfriend, I notice a commotion just outside the entry that causes me to look up and investigate. I don’t quite know how to react to what I am seeing.
Draped in a floor length black velvet cloak with a menacing hood and looking like Satan himself is Elena Lincoln. She is obviously trying to get into the venue and the doorman apparently doesn’t see her on the guest list. I’m assuming that her name was removed to avoid the stigma that is following her upcoming trial. I watch carefully and once I see that she is admitted to the venue, I immediately excuse Butterfly and myself and take her to a quieter area of the room, not once taking my eyes off of the ominous Elena Lincoln floating around the lobby dressed conspicuously like Death.
“Elena is here,” I warn Butterfly. Her eyes wander around the room and land on the Grim Reaper before she comments.
“This is a public affair and I will not have a scene. She knows that we are here and that’s why she came. She has very little money left, I know, so she can’t be sponsoring a family and I am sure that no one here would sponsor her! As long as she stays away from me and leaves me alone, we will not have a problem. However, if she causes me one bit of grief, I will exercise the restraining order, call the police, and have her removed.” Butterfly is smiling the entire time she is talking so as not to draw attention to us. I lean down and kiss her gently on her lips.
“Agreed,” I concur before offering her my arm and leading her back to the party.
Wouldn’t you know that blonde bitch would show up. Why in the hell did they let her in here? Well, I know one damn thing for sure. I’ll be mindful of where she is all night, but I won’t give her the satisfaction or respect of even looking in her eyes.
“That’s a plastered smile. I’d know it anywhere,” a familiar voice says from behind me. I turn around to see my best friend and his boyfriend standing there in gorgeous matching Bottega Veneta tuxedos.
“Oh my God, I’m so glad to see you,” I say in relief as I give him a hug. “You look stunning.”
“Thank you, Jewel. Is the affair that bad? It just started…” he quizzes.
“Lincoln is here,” Christian informs him. Al quickly scans the room until he locates She-Thing then looks down at me.
“Are you okay?” he asks.
“I’ll be fine as long as she honors the restraining order and stays the fuck away from me,” I answer with that same plastered smile.
“Don’t worry. I have a feeling that she wants absolutely none of you tonight,” James comments. I lean in and kiss him on his cheek.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude. I was distracted by the Evil,” I say to him apologetically.
“You should have seen her when she was outside. She came in a cloak… an actual cloak. She looked like Death. Anybody in the room over the age of 60 probably had a heart attack at the sight of her!” We all break out in laughter at She-Thing’s expense.
“Well, let’s hobnob with the snobs. I’ve already had enough of her monopolizing my night.”
“I so agree!” I say as we return to mingling with the other sponsors.
After the mingling and the insincere woman all appearing to vie for my attention, I gravitate back towards my boyfriend and my father. Daddy seems a little out of place as he isn’t accustomed to these kinds of events. However, I was surprised when he told me that he had an Issey Miyake tuxedo that he purchased the moment that he discovered I was dating Christian… well, maybe not the moment he discovered, since I learned this happened while I was in the unwanted kidnapped company of one psychotic Edward David and his now deceased sidekick, Robert Harris. Nonetheless, Ray seemed to know that there would be a need for a good tux in the near future. Are you sending me hints, Daddy?
“Annie, who is that woman?” Ray asks, pointing in the direction that I know she standing in. I turn my head in time to see She-Thing looking over at us, her face impassive.
“She is Elena Lincoln, Dad. Without saying too much, she a long-ago ex of Christian’s who has recently been arrested for pedophilia.” All of the color leaves my father’s face. “Christian and I both have restraining orders against her because her behavior has turned into stalking. She shouldn’t even be here since she’s supposed to remain 1000 feet away from both of us.”
“Hmmm, well that explains it,” he comments.
“Explains what?” I ask.
“She doesn’t seem to be really comfortable in this crowd. I was coming back from the men’s room and she approached me while I was looking for Mandy. She was hanging onto me like laundry, talking about nothing in particular and laughing like we were together.” I look back over to where she was standing and she has disappeared into the crowd now. “I just kind of looked at her strangely and excused myself telling her that I had to go and find my date.” Oh, fuck!
“Dad, were there any photographers around? Did anybody get a picture of you?” Ray shrugged.
“I don’t know, Annie. There have been photographers all over the place. I don’t know if they got a picture of me or not.” Shit, this situation just became an international incident.
“Dad, I need you to find Mandy and meet Christian and me on the mezzanine, okay?”
“Is everything alright?” he asked concerned.
“I don’t know, but I do need you to do this for me, okay?”
“Okay, Annie. I’ll see you in a minute.” He wanders off in search of Amanda and I tap Christian on the shoulder. He is talking to two other couples who are no doubt sponsors as well.
“My apologies,” I say to the couples flashing my brightest smile. “May I steal him for just a moment?” Christian looks at me questioning but smiling as well.
“Of course, Dear,” one of the ladies says. “Hopefully, I’ll get to talk to you later?”
“Sure. Please excuse us.” I take Christian’s hand and lead him away. Still smiling, I say, “I think we may have a slight development.”
“What’s going on?” he says, leaning into me like we are sharing some special little secret. We are aware that cameras are everywhere and we must be careful.
“Elena approached my father. From what he says, there could be a picture in the paper tomorrow of them hanging out like old friends, or worse yet, lovers.” Christian is unable to maintain his facade anymore. He scans the room, no doubt looking for Cruella Deville. When he finds her, he takes my hand and start walking toward her.
“Where is Ray now?” he asks.
“Probably waiting for us in the mezzanine with Mandy. I don’t want to talk to that woman, Christian.”
“You won’t have to say a word, Baby,” he assures me as we march right up to She-Thing. She’s been a wallflower for most of the night since no one will spend any time with her, leaving her presence almost immediately when she approaches. Christian is glaring at her and she appears to shrink. She is wearing an Alyce from Paris Black Label black velvet super long gown with a sweetheart neckline and sheer silver sleeves and back, covered with black sequined designs. As much as I hate to say it, the dress looks gorgeous on her, but she certainly spoils the scenery.
“It’s a public place. I haven’t done anything wrong. I haven’t bothered you or even approached you,” she defends, her gaze only on Christian and never meeting my eyes once.
“No, but you did approach Ana’s father,” Christian replies. Total shock registered on Elena’s face.
“Yes, the handsome man with the salt-and-pepper hair that you latched onto because he’s probably the only man here who doesn’t know who you really are—that would be my dad!” I spit, breaking my own rule not to speak to this rodent. How dare she touch my father, like he would want anything to do with a bleached, painted, twisted, nipped, tucked monster like her!
“How do you know he didn’t approach me?” she defended, her voice lacking the conviction I know she was hoping for.
“Because not only did he come to me asking me who the hell you were, but also you clearly haven’t met his beautiful, young, pregnant fiancee!” I barked. I said I didn’t want to make a scene, but I will fuck her up if she talks about my daddy! She blanches.
“Let’s just nip this in the bud,” Christian says, not allowing the conversation to go south. “Let me make one thing perfectly clear. I know who you are and I know how you play. If any pictures come out of you and Ana’s father, I’m going to let you handle it and appropriately diffuse the situation. If you don’t, I promise you that I am going to personally skin you alive—slowly—and watch you bleed to death! Not a judge in the state would convict me!” There is so much hatred and disdain in his voice that one could make no mistake that he was dead serious.
“I didn’t know he was her father,” she says, her voice shaking.
“Well, now you do!” Christian spits. “And you should really hope that if there were any pictures taken that they don’t make it to the press because even though I sought you out, right now you are in violation of your restraining order, and you were in violation when you spoke to a member of Ana’s family. Since an arrest of any kind will result in revocation of your bail and will land your ass back in jail, you should want to stay as far away from us as you can.” He sneers at her and takes my hand, gently leading me towards the mezzanine to Dad and Mandy.
That’s my man.
We approach a confused Ray and Mandy, concern etched on their faces.
“Have I done something wrong, Annie?” Ray asks concern.
“No, Dad, no!” I say, taking his arm and squeezing gently. “I just wanted to get you and Mandy alone so that we explain to her what was going on in case pictures of you and Catwoman come out tomorrow.” Ray nods acknowledgement.
“Catwoman?” Mandy asks bemused. I take a deep breath and explain as much to her as I can about the conniving Elena Lincoln without telling her any of Christian’s past.
“Her arrest has been quite the scandal so she has been pretty much shunned from all of the social circles,” Christian adds. “I saw her at the door earlier. She couldn’t even get in. I’m surprised that she even got past the doorman.” Mandy sighs heavily.
“It’s hard being you, isn’t it?” she says, looking at me sympathetically. I shrug.
“Hey, I adjust. It’s harder being him,” I say gesturing to Christian, who smiles adoringly at me. “Being with my father may bring you into the spotlight a bit, too. Not as much as me, of course, but you may see it sometimes. I just wanted you to be prepared.” She smiles.
“Thank you, Ana. I appreciate that.” She clings to Ray’s arm and looks lovingly into his eyes. “Don’t worry, Baby. Cameras don’t scare me, and neither will Catwoman.” She and Daddy share a sweet kiss and I can’t help but cling to Christian’s arm. Noticing my grip, he lifts my face by my chin.
“Are you okay?” he asks softly, and I smile.
“I’m perfect,” I reply.
“Yes, you are,” he says before planting a chaste kiss on my lips. Then, he and my daddy lead their ladies to dinner. We sit down to dinner and we are all at the same table except for our parents, who sat at another table nearby with friends of Carrick and Grace. Again, I take note of where She-Thing is sitting and she is at a table near the door. To be honest, although there are four other people sitting there with her, the table looks as if it was set up quite hastily—you know, like an afterthought. There are only the five place settings and they aren’t as elaborate as all of the others in the room. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that her presence here was not only unexpected, but also unwelcome. I turn my head before she gets the chance to see me spying her, happy that she is not in my direct line of sight. If anything, I just want to know where she’s situated to avoid any interaction with her.
We chat with our friends while we enjoy our choice of seared halibut or grilled crusted sirloin with seasonal vegetables. Also during this time, pictures of the families are shown in a slide show on various screens across the room. They are on a time delay and run repeatedly, different pictures on different screens. They are pictures of the families at different events sponsored by different agencies or just family pictures that were submitted. I take a moment to look at the pictures then continue with dinner and conversation.
“Jewel, is that you?” I look over at Al who is pointing to one of the screens. I follow his finger and do a double-take as I see Marlow and me talking on what looks like the first day we met. That would have been months ago—when Christian was in Green Valley! Who could have possibly taken this picture?
“I thought you said this event wasn’t sponsored by Helping Hands,” I say to Christian.
“It’s not,” he says, spellbound looking at my picture traveling across the screens, leaning in talking to this angry troubled teen. “That’s Marlow,” he says in recognition.
“Yes. I have no idea who took this picture. Everybody was leaving when we started talking. Nobody was in the room until…” That’s when I remembered that Grace and Marlow’s mother, Marcia, were standing in the door when we finished our conversation. I look over at Grace who is engaged in conversation with her supper-mates. I will have to ask her about this later, I think to myself as a smile threatens the edge of my lips. “I think it was your mother… or his mother,” I say to Christian.
“See? You affect everyone that you meet,” he says, bringing my hand to his lips and kissing it softly.
During dessert, we thumb through the program to see the names and stories of all of the families. I know that it is literally a 1 in 100 chance that we will get to sponsor Marlow, but a girl can hope. I have become very attached to him since pulling him out of his shell. I can understand how Flynn would have become attached to Christian in this way. The difference is that I would never try to enforce my will upon Marlow in the unprofessional way that Flynn tried with Christian.
There is a speech givin by the director of the Greater Seattle Family Assistance Group as well as an acknowledgement for the mayor who is in attendance. Finally, the drawing begins. The pictures that were being displayed on the screens have now been replaced by an empty list. Two spinning baskets are rolled onto the stage by two young blondes who look a lot like Vanna White. Each one takes a position on either side of the master of ceremonies and the drawing begins.
“Our first sponsor is…” Vanna #1 pulls a tiny scroll from the rolling basket. “… Carl and Martha Ulmand.” The Ulmands name pop up on the screen in the first line on the left side of the list. “Mr. and Mrs. Ulmand, your adopted family this year will be…” Vanna #2 pulls a tiny scroll from her rolling basket. “ … The Moore Family; Sheila and her two boys, Michael and Charles.” A picture of a young woman and her two young boys flashes on the screens surrounding the room and the crowd applauds politely.
This goes on for quite some time since there are 100 sponsors and 100 families. The waitstaff is sure to keep various wines and champagnes flowing to keep the grumbling to a minimum. Somewhere around #36, I turn to see that She-Thing has deserted her seat in the exile section. Good! Maybe she’s gone back to her casket! I’m lost in thoughts of one Pedo-Bitch-She-Thing being buried alive in an unmarked tomb, scratching at the sarcophagus screaming for her very life when I hear, “Number 41—Christian Grey and Dr. Anastasia Steele.”
Okay, I’m awake now. Christian takes my hand and smiles at me.
“Mr. Grey and Dr. Steele, your adopted family this year will be…” Please say the Whitehead Family. Please say the Whitehead Family…
“… The Martin Family; Rashon and Joseph and their three children, Kimberly, Johnathan, and Ronald.” My heart breaks a little. I plaster a smile on my face and clap. I am very happy to be a part of this event and to be able to help a family in need, but I was hoping too much that we would get Marlow’s family. Christian notices my obvious disappointment and I feel so childish for acting this way. I really need to get it together.
“I’ll be back. I need the ladies room,” I say, standing.
“Are you okay?” he asks as he and the other gentlemen at the table stand as well. Oh, good grief, I forgot about that. So much for sneaking away quietly.
“I’m fine,” I say squeezing his hand. “I won’t be a minute.” I smile at him and scurry off to the ladies room. I can’t help the disappointment that I feel that we didn’t get to adopt the Whiteheads. I don’t know why I’m feeling this way. It’s not the end of the world. I see them every week and I told him and his mother to be sure that I know if they ever need anything. I haven’t met the little sister, Maggie, yet but I look forward to the day that I can. Okay, Dr. Steele, stop acting like a toddler who just got her favorite toy taken and get your ass back out there before your boyfriend storms the bathroom. I touch up my lipstick and proceed out of the bathroom.
“The nerve of these people! I’ve been on the committee for 11 years, and they couldn’t find me on the list?” Oh shit, I thought she had left. I stay pressed against the bathroom door until I can determine which direction her voice is coming from—so that I can go the other way.
“Then they sit me in the corner with the Jeffersons. The Jeffersons…of all people!” Apparently she doesn’t like the Jeffersons… and her voice is coming from the right. I look to the left to plot my exit.
“I’m in the corner while the Greys are front and center, Christian sitting with that sawed-off, pretentious little social climber.” Social climber? Is she serious?
“I never got that impression,” I hear another woman say. “She seems very genuine to me and Christian is completely smitten with her. Why would you be concerned about it anyway?” … Because she fucked him when he was a teenager and she’s angry because I’m fucking him now!
“I’m a very close friend of the family,” She-Thing purrs. “I have known them for years—since the children were very little. Christian was quite the troubled child,” she whispers like it’s a secret that needs to be kept, which it is.
“Was he?” I can’t tell if this other voice is actually interested in what She-Thing is saying or just humoring her, so to speak, but she doesn’t sound sincere at all.
“Oh yes,” She-Thing continues. “He was quite the ladies man once he found his fortune. This girl is probably some arranged girlfriend to make him appear more settled,” she accuses. Oh, this vindictive, spiteful bitch!
“That’s strange. I’ve never seen Christian with any women—not in the paper, not at fundraisers, nowhere.”
“Well, he couldn’t very well bring those types of women around his family or proper society, could he?” she continues with her lies. “Why, just a few moments ago, her father came on to me!” Oh, no the fuck she didn’t. Now, I’m ready to charge out there like a bull until I hear her companion’s response.
“You must have been mistaken, Elena,” she says in disbelief. “I’ve met her father and his fiancee. Christian introduced us. Have you seen that woman? Gorgeous, young, and pregnant… and undeniably smitten with Mr. Steele. I’m sorry to tell you this, but none of us could hold a candle to her, not even you with all of your… work.” Ouch! “So, like I said, you must have been mistaken.”
“Well, I don’t know. A woman knows when a man is coming on to her,” She-Thing purrs. She just doesn’t know when to quit. “They both have the Greys fooled, but I can see right through them. They are nothing but filthy little opportunists. Of course, you know that she’s only after his money.” … And there it is. The serpent is spitting the ultimate venom. I stand close to the door just out of sight, but I can see that the woman that she is talking to is wearing a beautiful royal blue evening gown, holding her purse in her hands in front of her regarding She-Thing rather impassively. “She’ll probably end up pregnant and trap him with a baby. She has him completely brainwashed. Poor Grace is beside herself wondering what is going on.”
How can anyone be so damn spiteful? After everything that she is currently going through, she still hasn’t learned anything? This is so beyond my level of comprehension.
“Really?” the Blue Gown responds to She-Thing’s claims. “I hadn’t noticed. Grace seems very happy these days. In fact, all she talks about is ‘Christian this’ and ‘Anastasia that.’ She says the girl is a Godsend.” Grace says that to people about me? No wonder so many people were clamoring to meet me.
“It’s all an act, Dear. She can’t tell anybody that her son has been trapped by a worthless gold-digger. It would completely ruin their reputation. Can you even imagine?”
“No, I can’t,” Blue Gown retorts, “just like I can’t imagine being arrested and dragged away in handcuffs on the six o’clock news.” She-Thing’s eyes narrow and she continues with her campaign.
“You know that I’ll be cleared of those charges,” she says. “I mean they are ridiculous! Me with children? That’s sick! I’m obviously being framed and I don’t doubt that Christian and his little tart have something to do with it!” She is losing her cool, a point that doesn’t escape Blue Gown.
“I see,” Blue Gown says shifting her purse to her shoulder. “Well, I’m sure that justice will prevail and the truth will surely come out in this matter. When the trial is over, come by and see me and we’ll have lunch and catch up.” Blue Gown makes to leave.
“Tina!” She-Thing calls behind her and she stops. “What do you mean when the trial is over? The trial could take months… or even years! We’ve been friends for more than a decade! Doesn’t that mean anything?” Blue Gown, erm, Tina walks back to She-Thing.
“That may be true, Elena, and I have valued your friendship over the years, but right now you are persona non grata. You have a bad reputation and anybody seen with you will have a bad reputation as well. I have no idea if the allegations against you have any merit, but in the social circles, you have been tried and convicted. There is no reason whatsoever that pornographic pictures of children would be in your mansion except that you put them there or like you said you were framed. I am certain that the authorities will get to the bottom of it, but until they do, no one wants to be associated with you or anything that has to do with child pornography. What I find so strange is that this time last year, you were the Greys’ closest friend, Christian in particular. I would often see you at lunch with him. Now you are spreading horrible things about him and his family, and the only thing that I can see that has changed is that he’s got a girlfriend now. You act like you…” The dawn of realization comes over Tina’s face. Shit, this is not good. This can go either way… and either way could be catastrophic. “I have to go now, Elena. Take care of yourself.” Tina moves quickly away from Elena but stops to land one final blow. “By the way, you weren’t on the list because you’re not on the committee anymore. April Caldwell is taking your place. We deal with families… with children. We can’t have someone on the committee that is being accused of engaging in child pornography. I’m sure you understand.” With that, Tina turns and leaves Elena standing in the hallway.
Now I come out of my hiding place. I have nothing to say, but I want her to know that I heard the whole conversation. I stand there, glaring at her. She meets my gaze, but her eyes are unreadable. I can’t tell if I see anger or fear or anguish—maybe even hurt—but I don’t linger. After a few seconds, I return to the Grand Lobby.
“Now is the time,” I say to Christian as I return to my seat.
“Time for what, Baby?” he asks after he pushes my chair in underneath me. The drawing is now on #79 and I don’t know if the Whiteheads have been drawn or not.
“You need to make her leave.” His pupils contract.
“Did she say something to you?” he asks.
No, but she said something about me, and you, and my father, and Grace…” I pointed out Tina to him and relayed as much of the conversation to him that I could remember. “She’s still not in her seat, so I am assuming that she is standing outside of the bathroom ambushing anyone that will listen. What’s worse? I’m 90% certain that Tina put two and two together and knows that you and Elena had a relationship.”
“Shit!” he hisses, before standing from the table and walking towards the door. Carrick tries to get his attention before he leaves, but Christian is a man on a mission. Grace looks over at me questioning and I try to tell her what I can with my eyes, but I know that it’s no good. Instead, I look to the screen and see that #63, Mr. and Mrs. Little, are the lucky sponsors of the Whitehead family. I should be happy that there are people out there that are willing to do something like this and I just don’t worry about it anymore. A few more drawings and this part of the event is over. I nearly fall over myself trying to get out of the Grand Lobby to see what is going on, but Grace calls to me—no doubt also wanting to know what’s going on. Damn it, I can’t ignore her.
“What’s going on?” she says, a little demanding.
“Elena is here, and she’s been causing problems,” I say a little perturbed.
“What do you mean?” Grace presses.
“I’ll have to tell you later. I need to find Christian.” I try to make another getaway.
“Ana! What kinds of problems?” she says, demanding again. I sigh.
“Grace, I have to tell you later. I have to find Christian. He was angry when he left. I don’t know what he’s going to do.” I see the pleading look in her eye, but I have to go and find him before he kills her. I turn around and bump into someone so hard that it knocks the wind out of me and I nearly fall down.
“Baby! I’m sorry! Are you okay?” It’s Christian. I’m a bit stunned and he’s holding me up. I’m sure if he lets go, my legs will fail. I can’t say anything because I’m literally trying to catch my breath. Someone brings a chair behind me and Christian sits me down gently, kneeling in front of me.
“Please don’t fuss over me. I’m fine,” I say, trying to avoid unwanted attention.
“You’re not fine. You can barely breathe,” Christian protests.
“Christian, please make everyone go back to their seats. Please…” He sees the pleading in my eyes and waves everyone away from me. “Thank you.”
“Are you okay?” he asks again.
“I’m fine. Is she gone?”
“Any second now.” Almost on cue, I see She-Thing don her Cloak of Evil before being escorted from the premises by security. She didn’t even look back. I take a deep breath and let it out. “Better now?” he asks. I nod.
“Much better now,” I respond.
“Sweet Child, are you okay?” I look up into the face of none other than Blue Gown Tina.
“Yes, Ma’am, I’m fine,” I say with a forced smile. “I just need to watch where I’m going.” We both laugh insincerely.
“While I have you both together…” oh shit, here it comes. She takes a seat in an empty chair nearby. “I need to tell you that that spiteful witch Elena Lincoln is spreading terrible rumors about you and your family.” Hmm… she’s on our side? Pretending to be? I don’t know any of these people.
“Like what, Mrs. Franklin?” Christian asks. She regurgitated the story nearly word for word that I told Christian. Maybe she is on our side. Christian runs his hands through his hair.
“We just had her removed for approaching Ana’s father. There is a no-contact order outstanding against her. She should have left the moment she knew that we were here. Then again, she probably knew that we were her before she got here.”
“A no-contact order? Is it that serious?” Mrs. Franklin asks.
“Yes, it is unfortunately. Being that she was a friend of the family, I was partial owner of her Esclava Salons—a decision that I made when her husband left her all those years ago since she and my mother were so close,” he lies. “Since I participate in many philanthropic causes, most of my business contracts contain morality clauses that in some way wholly or partially nullify the contract in the event of arrest or amoral behavior. Considering that an arrest on child pornography qualifies under both of those conditions, GEH enforced the morality clause and seized the businesses. Since she had business debts, the banks got word of the seizure and exercised first lien rights. I bought the businesses from the banks.”
“Well, why not just give the businesses back to her?” Mrs. Franklin asks.
“So that she can use it to pay for her defense against young boys and young men looking for justice against her?” Christian questions. Mrs. Franklin nods.
“I see what you mean. So the no-contact clause was to keep her away from the salons?”
“That, and to keep her away from my girlfriend. She’s been malicious to Ana since the day they met,” Christian says. Mrs. Franklin shakes her head.
“Well, she sure is a piece of work,” she says. “A grown woman and little boys… and she had the nerve to mention ‘proper society.'” Mrs. Franklin is thoroughly disgusted. “Thank you for sharing that information with me, Christian. I don’t know how many of the other ladies she has gotten to, but you may want to look for her at functions from here on out—at least until she’s blackballed completely, which I will work on in the morning. I’m a terrible snob. I’m not ashamed of it. However, rich or not, I want nothing to do with a child molester.”
“Oh she’s not rich anymore,” Christian says and Mrs. Franklin’s interest is piqued. “Well,” he continues, “she doesn’t have her house anymore because it’s been seized by the police. She doesn’t have her businesses anymore because they’ve been sold by the bank. Her liquid funds were used for her bail. Where she’s living and who is taking care of her, I have no idea, but she doesn’t have any money left.”
“Oh good Lord!” Mrs. Franklin exclaims. “So why was she even here? This was the Adopt-A-Family Affair. She couldn’t adopt a family—was she hoping someone would adopt her?” I break into laughter that Tina had the same thought I had earlier in the evening.
“I’m thinking that she was hoping to save some of her social standing, but I think that’s all gone now.” Christian said. Mrs. Franklin’s shakes her head again.
“I’ll say it is, and what’s left will be shattered by this time tomorrow.” She stands and takes my hand. “I knew him when he was a child, too, Dear. I wasn’t as—prominent—in his life as Mrs. Lincoln was, but I know where he came from and I’m very happy to see where he’s going. I’ll take care of Mrs. Lincoln. You take care of him.” She winks at me, then kisses Christian on the cheek. He surprises her by pulling her in for a hug. She gasps and returns his embrace, then looks at me with the same grateful look I saw in Grace’s eyes the first time Christian hugged her, before beating a hasty retreat.
“Christian, who was that woman?” I ask him.
“To everybody else, that’s Mrs. Franklin. To me, that’s Aunt Tina. Whenever I wanted to hide, I hid under Aunt Tina’s huge porch. She found me there one day and brought me lemonade and cookies. Nearly every day after that, she left lemonade and cookies on the table on the porch in case I wanted to come and hide. She would sit on the steps and talk to me while I hid under the porch. She couldn’t help me. No one could until…” He trails off and I know what he was about to say. “I stopped going over there when I was 15. She knew something wasn’t right. She even told my mother, but nobody knew what was really going on… nobody except me and the Pedophile.” He looks wistfully at Mrs. Franklin. “Every so often, I still sneak over for lemonade and cookies.”
“You do?” I say, my voice full of wonder. He nods. What a wonderful gesture. “If it’s okay, can I sneak over once, too?” He smiles at me lovingly as he touches my face.
“I think she’d like that very much,” he says, softly before kissing my lips gently and bringing my forehead to his. “I love you, Butterfly,” he says, his eyes closed.
“I love you, too, Baby,” I say softly. We share a moment together, then I have to break the silence. “We need to talk to Grace. She’s concerned about what’s happening and I may have been a bit short with her earlier when I was about to go and find you.” He nods, takes my hand, and leads me over to the table where his mother and Carrick have been sitting alone. I sit next to Grace and Christian sits next to me.
“Grace, I’m sorry if I was short with you earlier. I was just so eager to find Christian and make sure that everything was alright…” I begin.
“I know, Ana,” she says, covering my hand with hers. “I have come to understand that nothing stands in your way when it comes to my son, not even his mother.” I don’t know how to take that. I’m not trying to take him away from her. “Don’t read too much into it, Dear Girl. Had he had someone in his corner like you a long time ago, a lot of the things that happened to him may not have happened,” she says almost mournfully.
“Mom, you can’t blame yourself for any of that,” Christian tries to tell his mother. She looks at him wistfully.
“When you have children of your own one day, you’ll understand. It was my job to protect you, and I didn’t. Even though some things are out of my hands, and I understand that, Dr. Steele,” she says, throwing a knowing look over to me and squeezing my hand, “I will never get beyond the feeling that I failed to do everything in my power to protect my baby boy.” Christian drops his head.
“I hate that woman,” he says, through his teeth. “I hate that woman for what she has done to my family.” I don’t know what to do with him right now. Luckily, he does. Music begins to play and he stands and walks over to Grace.
“Dance with me, Mommy,” he says, holding his hand out to her. I swear that I see years of hurt and pain instantly wash away from her face as she takes her son’s hand and follows him to the dance floor. I watch Christian and his mother glide across the floor as the band plays “Take The A-Train.” Grace looks like a teenager, smiling with a twinkle in her eye that I am sure that I’ve never seen. I can’t help but smile as I watch them, both so light on their feet dancing to a lively tune.
“I don’t ever remember him dancing with her.” Carrick’s voice breaks me from my thoughts.
“Never?” I ask, in amazement. Carrick shakes his head. Oh my God. No wonder she looks so wistful right now.
“Ana, I can’t begin to tell you how much you mean to this family. You have turned Christian into a new man. We can hardly believe it.”
“He means a lot to me,” I say watching him on the floor with his mother.
“I can tell,” Carrick says looking at me. I turn to look at him and can’t really read what’s in his eyes. I see the questions but I don’t really know what they are. “Be careful with his heart, Anastasia. He’s a strong man, but yet so fragile.” The questions I saw have now turned to pleading. He and Grace are trying to so hard to right a wrong that was truly not their fault, and I know that I just have to let them work through it. His words go straight to my heart and I can feel his pain, that same pain that he felt when he wept in Christian’s arms at the breakfast bar at Escala. It’s a bit overwhelming and I fight back most of the tears that threaten to fall because of his pain.
“I will,” I squeak. I wish I could convince them that they are not at fault and that they truly did everything that they could, but unfortunately there are some demons you have to get over on your own while others never seem to leave you alone.
“Daddy?” I hear Mia’s voice behind me. “Are you okay?” Carrick quickly pulls himself together for his daughter.
“Maybe just a bit jealous of Grace right now since she’s dancing with her son,” he says with a smile.
“Oh,” Mia says, playfully. “Well, we can’t have that, now can we?” She smiles at her father, takes his hand and leads him to the dance floor. I watch the Greys and their children spin around the floor as the band starts another Duke Ellington tune “It Don’t Mean A Thing.” The next thing I know, there are fathers and daughters and mothers and sons taking the floor all over the place. No one wants to be left out. It’s a very touching scene.
“Well, I’d like to dance with my little girl, too.” There’s my daddy. I didn’t want to put him on the spot because I’ve never seen him dance. When he holds his hand out to me, I gladly take it and allow him to lead me to the dance floor and guess what?
My dad can dance!
One more thing I get to learn about my remarkable daddy. He’s an awesome lover, I’m told—though that may have been too much information—he’s going to be a husband and a father again, and I’m going to have a whole new family to love. My daddy spins me around on the dance floor as the band starts to play Glenn Miller’s “In The Mood,” and away we go…
… Kids dancing with their parents to old time Big Band music and having the time of our lives until our feet hurt and we all had to be poured into limousines, riding happily and exhausted back to Bellevue.
Check out Duke Ellington and Glenn Miller on YouTube for some great Big Band music like they don’t even play anywhere anymore. I have the three songs mentioned above on my Pinterest page and you are very likely to recognize at least one of them if not all of them when you hear them even though they are upwards of 70 to 80 years old.
Pictures of places, cars, fashion, etc. can be found at http://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/mending-dr-steele/
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Love and Handcuffs!