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 6—And Back to Hell
“We’ve decided that we want to get married on New Year’s Eve,” Daddy announces. “The little woman is already nine weeks along and has told me that she doesn’t want her wedding pictures to reveal that she has a bun in the oven.” We are having a brunch of Eggs Benedict with Canadian bacon, goat cheese with garlic toast and plum sauce, Brioche French toast sticks with maple syrup and fresh berries, Italian maple sausage, country hominy grits smothered in cheese and butter, buttermilk biscuits and honey, orange juice, coffee, and Mimosas. “Everybody is going to be partying themselves stupid anyway. We might as well make a night of it, and I sure as hell won’t ever forget my anniversary.”
Christian and I look at each other but say nothing. What my daddy wants, my daddy gets. My daddy also knows me better than anyone else in the world.
“What is it Annie?” he asks, seeing right through my facade.
“Nothing, Daddy. Really.”
“Don’t give me that ‘nothing, Daddy’ stuff, Anastasia Rose Steele!” Uh oh… “Tell me what it is.” I sigh.
“We were going to host New Year’s Eve at Escala, but that’s okay, Daddy. Seriously, I want you and Mandy to have whatever you want.”
“Oh my God… Escala… That place is beautiful,” Mandy looks over at my father and I have to love the way that they read each other’s thoughts.
“Do you think? We can’t impose like that,” Daddy says to her, thinking he’s speaking too low to be heard.
“Impose, Daddy!” I shout before I can think about it. Then I look over at Christian who is stifling a laugh and nodding at the same time. “I mean, we’d love to host your wedding at the New Year’s Eve party at Escala if you will allow it. It will only be who you’ve already seen over this weekend and Gary, Marilyn, and Phil… and of course, anyone that you want to invite.”
“Oh, Ana, that’s sounds wonderful! Ray?” Mandy says, hopeful.
“Well, it looks like we’re having a wedding at Escala on New Year’s Eve.” The whole room bursts into a cheer and again the drinks are flowing. There’s a lot that needs to be done between now and New Year’s Eve, but I’m going to make sure that my daddy and soon-to-be stepmother have exactly what they want.
Escala has private party facilities called Club Cielo and catering done by Columbia Hospitality. I made reservations for New Year’s Eve and set up a meeting for Mandy and me to check things out. I was quite shocked to see that no one had reserved the space by now, but all the better for us, right?
We’ve decided that the wedding and initial refreshments and dinner will take place in the club. However, bringing in the new year will be moved to the penthouse for a more intimate setting before sending Daddy and Mandy off to a special getaway that we have planned for them. I had to clear as much as I could with them without exactly telling them about the surprise. I want them to be happy and have fun, but I don’t want them to feel pressured into accepting anything.
It’s Tuesday afternoon and I am in my office having lunch and looking at emails. We’ve got a lot done in just two days. Mandy thinks she may have found someone to make the dress that she wants on short notice. Mandy and Daddy are easy to please, so Columbia was able to provide the perfect menu for dinner. Finding a minister willing to perform a ceremony on New Years Eve was a bit more of a challenge. However, we were able to get one of the judges that Mandy works for to perform the ceremony on the condition that she would be home in time to spend New Years Eve with her family. I can imagine that the fact that there would be a small amount of publicity involved in officiating the wedding of the father of Christian Grey’s girlfriend on New Years Eve didn’t hurt matters either.
Seeing that there are so many people to contact and so much to do for an impromptu wedding on New Years Eve, no matter how small the affair, I didn’t pay much attention to the addresses the mail came from. I mainly looked at the subject line. So when I say an email marked “Ana, This Is Something That You Need To See,” I immediately saw pictures of one of the vendors canceling for another affair in my head. The next thought that came to my mind was that She-Thing was up to her old tricks. I open the unmarked email, certain that it was most likely coming from that bleached blonde bitch.
I didn’t know how wrong I was.
I watched the familiar face snarling at the camera. It’s daylight, bright and shiny—and there is no mistaking who is in this video. Brown eyes laughing, cracking jokes like any other day of the week… any other bright and shiny sunny day.
“No…” My throat is closing on me. Young and beautiful, and walking up behind an unsuspecting victim.
“NO!” I scream! “NO! NO!” I attempt to throw my monitor across my office, but the cords prevent it from going too far and it shatters against the side of my desk, hanging black and useless by it’s cord.
“NO!” I’m weeping and screaming now. “NO! NO! NO!” I can’t say anything else. I can’t think anything else. I can’t believe this. Of all the things that I want to say right now, all I can think is “NO!” I see Chuck and Marilyn burst into my office and I want to tell them what is going on, but I can’t. I can’t bring myself to say it… to look at it. I can’t. All I can think is “NO!”
This company in Indiana is really giving me a lot of headache. They know I am eager to close the deal because a steel company in Indiana along with a rubber company in Ohio would be quite the coup for my manufacturing companies… but these bastards keep holding out on me. They think I’m desperate enough to pay nearly twice what the company is worth. They don’t know that I have two other steel companies flirting with me right now and if I acquired those two, I would certainly have the resources that I need at nearly the cost of the one in Indiana, and the benefit of being able to say that these bastards didn’t manage to break me down. I think I may just go that route. I call up to Ros’ office.
“Ros, find out what the companies in River Rouge and Russia are talking about. I’ve had about enough of these games from Felden Steele. I about ready to let them take their deal and shove it.”
“Are you sure about that, Christian?” Ros cautions. “Felden’s factories are already built out and prepared for the specs we need for the shipyards as well as the equipment that we will be using and building.”
“Yes, I know, but you know that I can’t let this bastard get me over a barrel like he’s my only option. We can retrofit the other two factories to accommodate our needs.”
“Yes, we can, but if we do, we will be spending even more than we would spend on Felden.”
“I’m aware of that, Ros, but this asshole is trying to gouge me. You know it and he knows it. He won’t even budge,” I state.
“So you’re going to pay nearly one and a half times as much to buy two separate factories and retrofit them for something that Felden is already equipped to do just to spite him?” I ponder what she’s saying.
“Not necessarily to spite him, but I’m not going to let him gouge me.”
“Okay, think of this. Word gets out that if you charge Christian Grey too much, he’ll pay another company more money just to spite you. You will have failing companies teaming up against you all over the world.” I rub my chin.
“Actually, it might be a better deal anyway and this is how we’re going to sell it if we can get it. With a factory in the states and a factory overseas, we are satisfying all of our manufacturing needs for steel without the import/export problems. You can probably work the price down a bit since we would have to retrofit the factories for our specific needs. Russia may not be that easy a fix, buy River Rouge will because they know we are looking at Indiana. See how far you can bring them down based on that information. If we play our cards right, we just might get all three.” Ros pauses.
“That’s why you’re the boss,” she says. “I was so focused on the Felden deal that I never even thought of that. I’ll get right on it.”
“Good deal,” I say before hanging up the phone. I’m looking over the numbers for Felden again when Jason comes into my office, a look of urgency marring his face. “What’s wrong?” I ask immediately.
“It’s Ana, Sir. I don’t know what has happened, but Chuck says she was hysterical and he had to basically carry her out of the office. She’s back at Escala.” I launch myself from my seat.
“Did someone die?” I ask grabbing my suit jacket from the back of my chair.
“I don’t know, Sir.”
“Is Allen still upstairs?” I ask.
“Yes Sir. Do you want me to call him?”
“No… Let me find out what’s going on first.” I breeze past Andrea with quick instructions. “Cancel all of my appointments today! Let Ros know that I had an emergency and she’s in charge.”
“Yes Sir!” she yells after me as Jason and I dash into the elevator.
I can’t move through the apartment fast enough when we arrive. Gail is coming out of the kitchen bringing refreshments to a pale Marilyn being comforted by Garrett. Davenport is close by and they all look in my direction when I burst through the door.
“What happened?” I say to no one in particular… and no one answers. “Somebody tell me what happened!” I demand, noting the desperation in my own voice.
“Nobody knows, Sir,” Davenport volunteers. “I heard her screaming ‘no’ so I went to her office and she had destroyed her computer monitor.” I run my hands through my hair.
“Have you checked on Ray? Did he make it back to Montesano okay?” I ask.
“Yes, Sir. I took the liberty to call him under just that guise. I didn’t want him to know that Ana was upset especially since I didn’t know why. So I just told him that I was checking on him to make sure that he made it back smoothly.”
“Good man,” I say. “What about Carla Morton?” I ask. I know that I’m reaching for straws here.
“Sir, in all honesty, I doubt that she would react this way to the demise of Carla Morton… a little grief and regret, maybe. This is full-on hysteria,” Davenport informs me.
“Well, what has she said? Anything?” I am really desperate now.
“Yes Sir. She has repeatedly said ‘no.’ All the way home, that’s all she said.” This is really bad. I look to Garrett.
“Is everybody okay?” I ask him about Butterfly’s closest friends.
“I haven’t spoken to everybody, Chris, but ever since Ana’s kidnapping, we are all a part of the ‘Contingency Plan’ now. If something was wrong with one of us, I would know… and Ana wouldn’t fall apart. She would at least activate the Contingency Plan,” Garrett responds.
“Do you have any ideas?” I ask the ashen Marilyn. She shakes her head slowly in a defeated manner. “Do you know what she was doing before this happened?”
“Most likely checking her emails. That’s what she does in downtime,” Marilyn informs us. I nod.
“Call Allen and see if there are any sudden developments in David’s case. If not, let him know what’s going on. He would want to be informed. Then call Barney. Go get him and take him to Butterfly’s office. Tell him to take a monitor with him and find out what was the last thing that she was doing,” I instruct Davenport.
“We’ll go with you. You can’t get into the office without me,” Marilyn says and Davenport nods. The three of them leave and I throw a look over to Jason before going into the bedroom to see what’s wrong with my Butterfly.
The sight before me is breaking my heart. She is curled on the bed weeping and still wearing her work clothes—a royal blue dress that fits her like a glove and some light blue patent-leather stilettos. I gently sit on the bed next to her and she turns around to look at me. She has the look of a terrified rabbit in her eyes just before she launches herself at me, clinging to me like her life depended on it and weeping even more heavily than before.
“Ssh,” I soothe, wrapping my arms around her. “I’m here now, Baby,” I say kissing her hair as her body shakes with sobs. I have truly never seen her like this. I am at a total loss of how to help her. “Butterfly, what happened? What’s wrong?”
In response to my question, she crawls into my lap and makes herself small, burying her head in my shoulders—still crying. She wasn’t like this when I found her after the kidnapping! I’ve got to find out what happened. Whatever it is, it’s pretty damn tragic. I gather her in my arms and rock her. It’s all that I can do right now. She nuzzles her head into my neck and shoulder and continues to cry.
“You don’t have to talk about it, Baby, but I need you to calm down or you are going to make yourself sick. I’m right here, Baby. I’m not going to leave you, okay? I’ll stay right here.” I gently stroke her back as I hold her so close to me that we almost feel like one person. I start to hum our song in her ear and after a few moments, her weeping begins to subside. I don’t know how much time has passed when there is a gentle tap at the door. Gail peeks her head inside and I just look at her. She brings in a tray with a cranberry spritzer and some pain killers. I mouth a “thank you” to her before she nods and leaves. I am enjoying Butterfly cuddled here in my arms but sick that I don’t know the reason for her distress. Again, more time has passed—I don’t know how much—and Butterfly’s breathing has become regulated. She has fallen asleep. I gently lay her on the bed and kiss her forehead as she stirs. She is my reason for waking up in the morning now, and I am going to find out what has upset her so badly.
“I love you, Butterfly,” I say softly. She whimpers her response and I leave the room, leaving the door cracked so that I can hear her if she stirs.
I walk into the great room… and the gang’s all here. Maxine, Phillip, Marilyn, Garrett, Allen, Valerie—even James and Elliot are here. I sigh heavily.
“Contingency?” I say, looking from face to face.
“Contingency,” Al repeats. “When one of us hurts, we all hurt.”
“What’s going on, Bro?” Elliot asks, concerned.
“I don’t know,” I say, bemused. I look over and Marilyn is crying while Garrett’s expression is a cross between horrified and pissed off. The rest of the group—I can’t even place their expressions. What the fuck? Jason comes out of the security office in complete official capacity—something is very wrong.
“We have a development, Sir,” he says. I look over at Allen who automatically knows what I am asking him and nods. I follow Jason into the security office. He gestures for me to take a seat at the desk in front of the largest monitor.
“This is the email that was open when we connected a monitor to Ana’s laptop, Boss.” Oh shit. He has reverted to Boss. This is going to be bad. I look at the email from an anonymous address entitled “Ana, This Is Something That You Need To See.” I take a deep breath, open the email attachment and prepare myself for the worse.
I still wasn’t prepared enough.
A pretty teenage blonde is talking about having some fun and taking care of things in her town. She is surrounded by a few other kids and they all seem to be just strolling down the street on a sunny day. The next two things that I see horrify me to no end.
First, I see Cody fucking Whitmore come into the screen and kiss the beautiful blonde girl hard on the lips. This couldn’t be what I think it is… it just couldn’t… but the second thing that I see tells me that it is. Even at 15, with her hair up in a ponytail and wearing jeans and a T-shirt, I’d know her anywhere.
They walk up behind her, not bothering to be quiet since it looks like they are walking down the street in broad daylight. I see one of the boys hit her in the head with what looks like a baton of some sort and she goes down. She’s so small—even smaller than she is right now—but I know it’s her. She didn’t have the muscle tone that she has now. An Impala drives up and they toss her in the back seat like a sack of potatoes.
“Now the real fun begins,” the blonde says before getting into the passenger seat of another car. They are talking through part of the video—just chatting like kids going to the movies on a Friday night. The video stops, then begins again after the sun has gone down. The blonde, who I am certain is Carly Madison now, is wearing all black clothes and a black cape. She almost looks like a Domme. Her friends have also changed into black clothing with hoods and capes. They are taking pictures like this is some kind of school field trip! No wonder everybody was quiet about it. From the looks of this video, everybody had something on everybody else. If one went down, they all went down!
Madison and a few of the others say something ceremonious into the camera before donning their hoods and masks. The camera goes right to the trunk of a car and once they open it, there’s my young Butterfly—terrified, crying, and naked. I know what’s coming next.
“Turn it off! Turn it off!” I growl. I can’t move. I feel a cold sweat forming on my skin and my fists are clenched. I feel nothing but rage—pure unadulterated rage. Jason reaches over me just as they are dragging my baby out of the trunk. Did she see this? Did she see this whole thing? Did Marilyn see it? Garrett? Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! I can’t think. I’m shaking. They took pictures and videos like this was a party! They tortured her and they treated it like any other social gathering.
“Boss!” I don’t know how many times he called me before he yelled, but I know it had to be a few because Jason doesn’t yell at me. I throw a look of death at him and he doesn’t even flinch. “I’m going to need you to come back, Boss, because if you don’t I’m going to douse you in ice water.” I must have completely zoned out for him to feel the need to resort to ice water. “I’m also going to need you to release your fists. You’re bleeding.”
Shit! I pushed my nails through my palms and now I’m bleeding on Jason’s desk. Gail is already standing by with the first aid kit and I allow her to quickly clean and dress my wounds. I have to get out of here. I have to get to my Butterfly.
I burst out of the office and walk straight to the bedroom. She’s not in bed. I check the en suite and the closet—no Butterfly. I come out of the room and find her sitting on the sofa flanked by Allen and Valerie. I make a bee-line to her, drop on my knees in front of her and take her in my arms pulling her close to me and burying my nose in her hair and she gasps.
“You’ve seen it,” she says so softly that I almost didn’t hear her.
“Only part of it. I couldn’t watch it all knowing that…” I almost choke a bit. “I couldn’t watch it all.” My hands move protectively to the small of her back and the nape of her neck. No one will ever hurt my Butterfly again. God help me not to kill these bastards. Butterfly’s hands tangle in my hair as she pulls me to her and I close my eyes and just hold her forever.
“What are we going to do now?” she asks, uncertain.
“We’re going to find out who sent it… Then we’re going to find out who’s in it,” I promise.
“The blonde is Carly,” she squeaks, and I can feel the tears falling on my shoulder again.
“I know, Baby.” The silence around us is so thick that you could cut it with a knife, which is pretty impressive considering the number of people in the house right now. I look around at all of our friends… Butterfly’s little family… then ask her, “Does everybody know?” She shakes her head. “I think it’s time to tell them. These are all of the people who love you, Butterfly.” She looks up at me, her eyes filled with tears, then she nods. Valerie surrenders her seat to me and I sit next to Butterfly, holding her close in my arms while she recounts the tale in its entirety to all of the people present—including Elliot and James. I could tell by the reactions who knew the whole story, who knew parts of it, and who had absolutely no clue. None of it mattered though, because by the time Butterfly had finished the story, all of the women were crying and all of the men were seething with anger.
“So after all these years, no one was brought to justice… and now a video just shows up out of nowhere?” Phil says, his voice a mixture of anger and incredulity. Butterfly nods.
“I knew what it was the moment I saw it. I’ll never forget that day as long as I live, even the events before they attacked me,” she said never raising her eyes. “I had a chemistry test, there was pizza for lunch, and I left my Calculus notebook in my locker and forgot my notes for my homework. I was just thinking that I should probably go back and get it when I got hit.” She shudders as she speaks and I tighten my hold on her. That’s when she gets a glimpse of the bandages. “Christian! What happened to your hands?”
“Nothing, Butterfly,” I say, trying to divert the conversation from my act of anger. I have been doing so well with controlling my emotions, I certainly don’t want her to think I have taken two steps back at a crucial moment. I was watching the introduction of the torture of my beautiful Butterfly. I think I did good not to kill someone with my bare hands. I look at her with pleading eyes and she lets the topic drop.
“Somebody has to watch that video,” Allen says. “The people that hurt Jewel and killed her unborn baby are on that video and we are not going to know who they all are until we watch it.”
“I can’t watch it,” Butterfly announces.
“Of course you can’t, Butterfly.”
“I’m the only one who knows who the people are,” she says, her voice full of defeat. Damn it, she’s right.
“I can’t let you watch that,” I say definitively. “I can’t. I’ll find another way.”
“How?” she squeaks. My mind is in super CEO mode now. There is no way in hell I would allow Butterfly to watch that damn video. No fucking way! … But she’s right. She’s the only one that can identify those kids because she went to school with them for two years.
She went to school with them…
I’ve got it!
“Jason! Barney has a copy of that video, correct?”
“Yes Sir.” I pull out my blackberry and type a message to Barney that I know he will get tonight even though he is not in the office…
I want clear pictures of every single face on that video, enhanced to its highest quality. Tomorrow, I will be supplying you with a yearbook. I want every single picture in that yearbook uploaded to the database. Use facial recognition to identify every person in that video. Most likely, they will all be in the yearbook. I’ll be in the office as early as possible with the yearbook. This assignment is your first priority over any other project. I want these people identified last week!
“I’ve come up with something. We used facial recognition software to identify Harris and David when you were kidnapped. We can use the same software to identify these assholes.” I announce.
“That’s right! That way Jewel doesn’t have to watch the video!” Allen exclaimed.
“I saw part of it though. It was taken with a cell phone. Do you even think the quality is good enough to recognize anybody?” Butterfly asks.
“Baby, the pictures that we used to identify Harris and David were taken by a camera attached to a parking structure across the street and beyond a parking lot underneath a viaduct… and they were wearing disguises. I think we’ll do just fine with this video.” I kiss her on the cheek and my blackberry buzzes.
I’m still in the office, Sir. I had a feeling that you might want to know who was on this video when I saw it. It’s pretty gruesome, Sir, but I think I have separated every unique person in this video. That blonde sure likes to be center stage, doesn’t she? I’m ready for the yearbook whenever you are.
“Jason! The Green Valley yearbook. It’s in the side drawer in my desk in the study. Barney is still at GEH. He was two steps ahead of me. Get it to him quickly.” I command.
“Right away, Sir.” Jason heads off for my office.
“See, Butterfly? You don’t have to look at it. You don’t ever have to look at it.” I squeeze her hand and she breathes a heavy sigh of relief. Then the tears start again.
“There’s a video, Christian. After all of these years, there’s a video. All of the asking why and wonder what I did to deserve this, and some disturbed bastard took a video to send to me over a decade later. What kind of sick twisted shit is this?” she screams. Her friends look on in horror as Butterfly breaks down into a mound of turmoil and anguish.
I awake to Christian gently stroking my hair. The sun is shining and I already know not to bother leaping from the bed in a futile attempt to go to the office and see patients. I don’t even remember most of what happened last night, so I know that I must have had some kind of breakdown. Since my therapist was present, I am assuming that there was probably some kind of sedative involved in my slumber which, judging by the highness of the sun, had to be more than 12 hours easily.
“What time is it?” I ask determined not to be shocked if he tells me that I have slept the day away.
“Just after noon.” Nope, not shocked. I lay on my back looking at the ceiling, the duvet pulled all the way up to my neck like I am just waking from a coma.
I slowly try to sit up, certain that I will have a hangover from whatever it is that I took… or was given, who knows. Christian puts his hand on my back to help me sit up, then gives me a drink of a cool cranberry spritzer.
“Do you remember anything?” he asks.
“You mean do I remember the fact that some sick fuck sent me a video of my attack? Yes, unfortunately, I do.” He rubs my hand.
“I’m sorry about that, Butterfly.” I don’t need pity right now. I need results.
“Any word from Barney?” I ask, still trying to bring my wobbly head into a sitting position. He examines me for a moment then says,
“He has identified all but two people on the video. He is double-checking to see if he has missed anyone. No one told him that he probably shouldn’t have identified you. It was quite a shocker for him. He wants you to know how sorry he is that this has happened to you, and that he will do anything in his power to help.” I think that is very sweet of Barney. I know I’m the boss’ girlfriend, but he hasn’t met me a day in his life and twice he has gone out of his way to help me. I must find a way to show my gratitude. “I think it’s time, Butterfly.” My eyes widen as I look up at him.
“Time for what?” I ask.
“To unleash hell on Green Valley. Now we can move forward without guessing. It was a horrid thing to see and I’m sorry that you had to see it. Hell, I’m sorry that I had to see it—but that video landed all of those fuckers right into our hands… and removed the guess work. I say we give those bitches and sons of bitches exactly what they have coming to them.” I glare at him for only a moment before I say,
“I think you’re right.”
The Nevada Office of the Attorney General says that a local police officer has been arrested on charges of obstruction, evidence tampering, and at least five other violations of the Nevada Revised Statutes.
Internal Affairs and AG investigators say that Henderson detective George Sullivan blatantly hid or ignored evidence and vital information while failing to investigate a vicious attack on a Green Valley High School student in 2001 for reasons that are currently undisclosed.
Authorities say that the current cold case involves a teenage girl who was brutally beaten and burned and left for dead when Sullivan arrived on the scene. Records show that the teenager was psychologist Dr. Anastasia Steele. Steele is currently living in Seattle with her boyfriend, Christian Grey, entrepreneur and CEO of Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. Dr. Steele has yet to be reached for comment.
Standing alone, any one of these violations holds a penalty of one to five years in prison and $1,000 to $50,000 in fines. Combined, Sullivan could be facing up to 15 years in prison and approximately $350,000 in fines. Although the case is more than a decade old, it is being reopened for investigation and possible prosecution of the offending parties. Channel 13 has learned that an unborn child was killed in the attack. We will keep you informed as this situation develops.
In related news, local businessman Franklin Whitmore is being investigated on several charges of corruption including but not limited to insurance fraud, embezzlement, and bribery. Whitmore is the owner of Rancher’s Insurance Company which serves several businessmen in the Henderson area.
Many of Whitmore’s illegal activities have been laundered through a separate holding company that would have gone completely unnoticed had it not been for an anonymous tip to federal authorities. Authorities are investigating a large transfer of funds to Steele’s mother and stepfather, Carla and Stephen Morton, shortly following the attack on Steele from Whitmore’s personal accounts and how this may relate to the crime. Sources say that Steele was living in Washington with her mother’s first husband, Raymond Steele who is not Steele’s biological father but gave her his name when he and Mrs. Morton married. Evidence shows that Dr. Steele most likely didn’t know of the transfer, but returned to Henderson shortly after the Mortons retrieved her from Washington even though she was registered to attend high school in Montesano in the fall. No doubt this story will have several more ugly twists and turns as it progresses. From Channel 13 News, this is Fallon Stypes reporting. Back to you, Warren.
I’ve watched the video at least three times since I got the Google alert this morning on both George Sullivan and Franklin Whitmore. I didn’t expect them both to fall so quickly much less simultaneously when I got that video last week. I still haven’t figured out who sent the video to me and we don’t know who shot it. Was it one person? Several people? Why did they send it now—after all of these years? Whoever was behind the camera most likely sent the video. It’s probably some feeble attempt to satisfy their conscience, but to me it’s just another fucker that’s going to get away with what they did to me.
It’s Thursday again, December 6, and I’m waiting to see if Melanie is going to make it to her session. She was a no-call-no-show last week and I can’t help but wonder if she has finally succumbed to her illness. I get my answer when her companion wheels her into the office for her appointment. She looks very bad, like she’s not going to hold on for much longer.
“You didn’t have to come, Melanie,” I say softly, stooping down to her chair. “You look like you really need your rest.”
“Yes, I did,” she protests, her voice weaker than I’ve ever heard it. “I told you, I have to get in what sessions I can while I can.”
“You don’t have to rehash your past like this,” I tell her. “You should be living the rest of your life in peace.”
“That’s what I’m trying to do,” she says. “I need to let go of all of this shit before I die, and today’s session is most important.” She looks at me with pleading eyes. I sigh and nod. I sit down while her companion wheels her to her usual position. “What are we talking about today, Dear?”
Melanie sighs heavily. “You’ve heard of the many things that I regret and even the things that I loved and enjoyed about my life, but there’s one thing that I have never told anyone—one secret that I planned to take to my grave. However, since my grave is in reach now, I realize that I can’t do that.”
“Are you sure that you want to tell me?” I ask. I know the whole doctor/patient privilege thing applies but I’m not sure I want to know this one.
“I have to. I have to tell you.” She coughs so that her entire body shakes and her companion rushes to her side and she just shakes her head.
Good grief, let her tell her story so that she can go home and rest. She’s dying right in front of you!
You’ve said a mouthful!
“When I was young, I always wanted to fit in,” she begins again and I make it a point not to interrupt her again. “I had this rich cousin who lived in the suburbs. As long as I was her flunky, she allowed me to hang around with her and her rich friends. Most of the time, we had fun. Other times, she made an example of me and made me do things that I really didn’t want to do. Some of the things, I hated. We lived in different towns and went to different schools, so luckily none of my friends got to see me doing some of the horrible, humiliating shit that she had me doing. Well, one day, she had me doing one of the worst things I have ever seen or done in my life and I will never forget it. If I take it with me to the afterlife, I’m certain that I will go to hell.”
Oh shit, do I really want to hear this? If she tells me that she committed a crime, I have to turn her in.
Don’t interrupt her, Steele. If that’s true, you can report it if you must. She’ll be dead by the time they can even prosecute her.
Well, yes, there is that, isn’t there?
“I was part of something that I will regret for the rest of my life. I’ll never be able to make up for it. I’ve suffered from this disease for years—the pain, the anguish, the loss—having hope that I would live and going into remission only to have that hope snatched from me so that I could die slowly and cause my family to suffer watching me die an agonizing, terrible, slow death. Still, if it is penance for what I did, I still don’t think it’s penance enough. I can only hope that when I meet my maker that He will forgive me for my sins and that one day, I can find forgiveness here on earth against those whom I have wronged.” I swallow hard at her words.
“Melanie, I have to ask… Did you kill someone?” I say, softly.
“No, I didn’t… but I watched while someone was killed.” Oh my God. How can I not alert the authorities that this woman was witness to a murder? Has the case been solved? If so, are the perpetrators in jail? Are the correct perpetrators in jail? Oh God, can I hear this? I have to. This seems the closest that she will ever get to a confession before she dies… which truly won’t be long now.
“G… Go on, Melanie,” I say quietly. She sighs heavily.
“I don’t know how to say this. No matter how I say it, it will be horrible,” she says. I don’t reply, so she continues. “I’m dying young. I believe that I am dying young because I watched another young life be ripped from this earth and I did nothing to stop it. I don’t think I could have stopped it anyway, not without possibly getting hurt myself, but I did nothing at all. I knew it was being planned. I knew who was involved, I was there when it happened, and I never said anything. I was witness to a murder and I never said anything. It was many years ago and I had plenty of time to say something and, instead, I stayed quiet.”
Oh Lord, who was this? Who died? What happened? Morbid curiosity has me wanting to know more, but fear and horror have me wanting to run away.
“She had been planning it for just a couple of weeks, like a dinner party or something. She told others and swore them to secrecy, and they just jumped on the bandwagon, like this was some kind of dance or something. I thought the whole thing was completely insane, but I was too damn scared to say anything. I saw what she could do and now that she wielded this power over this group of mindless lemmings, I was only too certain that had I said anything, I would be next.
“I’ll never forget the way that it started. She never saw it coming. Even when she did, she pleaded and begged only to be met with viciousness and cruelty. I didn’t know people were even capable of this kind of thing until I saw it with my own eyes. I mean, I saw things like this on television but never in real life. I knew that once this was over, I could never see my cousin again.” I can’t help but think of the cruelty that I suffered and how I thought nothing like that could ever really happen in real life either… but this was Melanie’s story, not mine.
“Ana, I witnessed a horror like I had never seen before and, little did I know, like I would never see again. It was heartless and inhumane and cruel and when it was all over, someone was dead. I went home that night and broke into repeated vomiting. I was never the same at the end of that experience. Part of me died that night, and more of me died every day since that night until I got to this point. I’ve lived a well-rounded life, so to speak, but I was never able to live a full life… not after that night… not after that baby died.”
“Oh my God!” I gasp. “You watched somebody do something cruel to a baby!?” I ask in horror.
“No,” she says, her voice small. “I watch someone do something cruel to the girl carrying the baby.”
Huh? Okay, now I’m confused. She said the baby died…
“I watched my cousin and a group of her classmates and friends beat a girl so badly that she lost her baby. I watched as they taunted her and tortured her while she begged and pleaded for her life. I watched pure evil unfold before my eyes and I’ve had to live with it for all of these years. I’ve had to live with looking into the very face of Satan and not being able to say anything about it,” she continues to confess.
“Why couldn’t you say anything? Why did you carry this for so long?” I interrogate her.
“I told you… I thought I would be next. I was afraid, ashamed. It was the worst thing that I had ever seen. I often still see it when I close my eyes. It was horrible.” Tears begin to fall from my eyes.
“Well… you said the baby died… Did the girl die?” I ask.
“No… she lived. She got away… barely.”
“So you can’t deal with the death of the baby?” I ask, still trying to get to the bottom of her confession.
“I can’t deal with any of it!” she responds sharply. “They did things to her that you shouldn’t do to human beings… under any circumstances! This was horrifying and brutal and evil and I can’t believe teenagers would do something like this!”
Teenagers. Teenagers? A baby died… but the girl lived. She didn’t see it coming… she begged while they tortured her…
Oh God. No.
“Wh… When did this happen?” I ask, as if I needed to. She blinks hard, and I already know.
“Over 10 years ago,” she confirms.
“Wh… Where?” I say, my voice barely escaping my throat. She pauses before answering.
“Green Valley… Henderson, Nevada.”
I feel all of the air leave my chest and I am gasping for air as I turn away from her and fall onto the sofa in my office. She said it. She said the words—the very thing that I was hoping I would not hear, she said it. Breathe Steele, breathe. In through your nose, out through your mouth. In through your nose, out through your mouth. I stand and turn around to face her, my heart and soul full of rage. My emotions must have registered on my face because she and her companion appear to shrink away in horror when I turn around.
“Who are you?” I say, my voice sharp and just above a growl.
“You know who I am, Ana. I’m Melanie Coleman.”
“You know what I’m asking you!” I spit. She sighs.
“My maiden name wouldn’t help you either. I didn’t live in Green Valley. I didn’t know most of the people at the bonfire that night. I knew what she was planning, but I didn’t know who you were. I swear I didn’t know they were going to do what they did. I didn’t know… I had no idea that they would take it that far. I was relieved when the beating stopped. I thought that would be the end of it… but then they took out the brands…”
“STOP!” I yell. I don’t need to hear this again. I was there. “Who is your cousin?” I ask and she doesn’t respond. “Who is your fucking cousin, Melanie!?” I bark and she and her companion jump simultaneously.
“Carly Madison.” Mo-ther-fucker! Carly Madison. Carly fucking Madison. I have been sitting here for months banging out the secrets of life with Carly fucking Madison’s fucking cousin? This is yet another piece of the tragic comedy that is my life! I can’t help but laugh. For a moment, I break into hysterical laughter. I’ve been sitting here chatting for months like it was afternoon tea with one of the people that was present at one of the most horrendous events of my life—and not just present. From what she tells me, she was front and center.
Wait a minute…
The laughter stops abruptly.
“You said you watched. Are you trying to tell me that you never took part in the beating? That you never touched me?” I ask incredulously.
“No… I didn’t, I…” she swallowed hard. Don’t get bashful now, Bitch. “I was the one… with the camera.”
What!? What!? She taped this shit? She taped this shit and kept it for 11 years then sent it to me like a YouTube video? Shit, is it on YouTube!?
“I know what you must be thinking, Ana.” I turn around and glare at her.
“Really? You know what I must be thinking? Well, please Dr. Coleman, educate me. What am I thinking?” I say, my voice dripping with contempt.
“I think that you must be thinking that I must be some special kind of crazy to keep that video for over 10 years and send it to you now,” she responds.
“Actually,” I respond, not wanting her to know that she was right, “it was more along the lines of ‘Who the fuck does she think she is disrupting my life this way by showing up as some lost soul looking for peace and trying to use me to help her set her crazy life right before she sheds this mortal coil after what she watched happen to me? I mean seriously, how callous can one human being be to seek out the person whose life she watched nearly be destroyed only to tell that same person that she was being used to make amends so that this sorry individual would have some hope of redemption when she came face to face with St. Peter?’ Yeah, I would say that would be more like what I was thinking!” I spit angrily. A feeble Melanie sinks back in her chair.
“I was the butt of your fucking joke, twice… twice! Once when you watched me begging and pleading for my life, and now – while you used me to make sense of your miserable life so that you could have some hope of dying in peace!”
Fuck anger management! Fuck dealing with things maturely! Fuck being a therapist and knowing that this is unhealthy behavior! I am pissed! I am genuinely, 100%, bona-fide, down to my very core, run the fuck up out of here and kill a motherfucker pissed the fuck off! I have been helping this bitch with her end-of-life therapy for months! I have been listening to her damn stories and helping her ass die with dignity, the whole time not knowing that this bitch was playing Polly fucking Polaroid while I was getting the life beaten out of me! Fuck of all ever-loving fucks, get this bitch away from me before I speed up her journey to the afterlife!
“Get! Out!” I scream at her.
“Ana, please. I’m so sorry…” Is she pleading with me? Is she actually pleading with me? Am I really hearing this?
“Are you out of your fucking mind!? What the fuck can ‘sorry’ do for me now? Take your ‘sorry’ and shove it up your sorry ass! At the end of your life, you want to come to me to be purged of the shit that you filmed 11 years ago? You’ve held this shit for 11 years. Just like you anonymously sent this shit to me last week, you could have anonymously sent this shit to the police! Oh, wait… that wouldn’t have helped! He was too busy pushing that shit under the rug like you and your cousin and her fucking friends! Now get the fuck out of my office before I do something we will both regret!”
It is now that I realize that Marilyn and Chuck have both come into the office. Marilyn has her hand over her mouth and Chuck is looking at me with nothing in his eyes but pure shame, but I don’t care. I don’t fucking care any fucking more. As far as I’m concerned, she’s one of those Green Valley fuckers that needs to be punished…even if all she did was hold the damn camera.
“Wipe those fucking judgmental looks off your faces! She’s the one who shot the video of me being beaten and burned damn near to death!” Marilyn’s expression changes to horror while Chuck’s changes to anger.
“No…” Marilyn breathes.
“Yes!” I hiss. “Now get her the hell out of my office and never let her back in here again!” Chuck walks over to Melanie’s companion’s who just stands there looking at him.
“Ana, please…” she tries to plead once more, but the sound of her voice burns my ears, my heart, and my soul.
“NOW!” I screech! Chuck puts his hands on the chair, and Melanie’s companion puts his hands on Chuck. With lightening speed, Chuck has this guy pinned against the wall by his neck with one hand.
“You don’t want to do that!” Chuck says to the guy who looks like he’s actually dangling in the air. “Now I’m going to release you, and you can move her, or I can move her. Either way, she’s leaving this office in 10 seconds.” He glares at Melanie’s companion for a moment before releasing him. Almost instantaneously, her companion grabs the handles of Melanie’s chair and hurriedly pushes her out of my office with Marilyn following closely behind them. I see Chuck turn to face me and I don’t know if he says anything to me before I turn around, take off my stilettos, fold my arms, and stare out of the window across the Seattle skyline.
“Today is the day. Today is the day that we send a message to everybody that doesn’t know just how we take care of things in our town. Today is the day that we show that little, broke bitch that she can’t fuck with me or my man and get away with it!”
“You tell her, Carly Babe!” An intimate kiss is shared between the Guy and the Girl. Several others are walking around the two of them, from behind the camera, in front of the camera, just everywhere… like teenagers do walking home from school on a sunny day. In the next few moments, a young plainly dressed brunette comes into the screen, her hair in a high ponytail and wearing a pink T-shirt and faded jeans. Off to the side, an assailant approaches. She is hit in the head with a club and she falls to the ground. Moments later, a silver Impala drives up to the curb and two of the boys throw her into the back seat.
“Now the real fun begins,” the Girl says and gets into the passenger seat of a waiting Malibu. The camera operator jumps into the backseat of the Malibu and several other girls join them. The girls carry on a conversation about other girls at school, boys, whatever comes to mind while the camera is rolling. A few minutes into the video, the camera operator protests, “Carly, I really don’t think we should be doing this. I mean, that guy knocked her out. She could be hurt.” The Girl glares at the camera and says, “She’s going to be a whole lot more hurt before this is over and if you keep it up, you’re going to join her. Now shut the fuck up and do as I say… and turn off the fucking camera. You’re wasting the battery.”
The camera goes black.
The camera comes back on and the Girl is front and center again. It’s night-time now and she has donned all black clothing and a black cape. There are others posing behind and around her, taking pictures in their black garb and capes like it’s Halloween. The Girl starts talking again.
“They say that the witching hour is that moment where dark spirits have the most power. Well, we’re not dark spirits and it’s not midnight, but this little whore is about to see just how powerful we really are.”
“Don’t fuck with what you don’t understand,” another girl says. “You just might get hurt.”
“You mess with one, you mess with us all!” a third girl proclaims.
“And you definitely messed with the wrong one this time!” a final girl declares.
“Let’s do this,” the Girl says when the camera comes back around to her. She puts on her mask and pulls the hood over her head before walking towards the fire and ordering someone in the distance to “Bring her.”
The camera now goes over to the trunk of the Impala. When it opens, there is the form of a young, brunette girl—bound, naked, and frightened. Although she isn’t saying anything at first, she is crying. She is pulled from the car and dragged across the ground to where the rest of the crowd is standing near a bonfire. Seeing the gathering, her eyes fill anew with tears and she pleads.
“No, please! Please! What did I do? Please!”
No one is moved by her cries. The Girl walks over to her where she hangs from the arms of the two boys who dragged her across the cold ground in the cold night.
“Oh, poor baby!” the Girl says to the quivering brunette. “Are you scared, you lying BITCH?” the Girl says before delivering a slap to the brunette so hard that you could hear it echo into the night. “This is what we do to slutty little lying bitches like you!” In a moment, several people descend upon the brunette, including the Girl. The camera continues to roll while the small naked brunette is brutally kicked and beaten repeatedly. The crowd is so wild in their attack that if the victim did cry out, no one heard her. The assault continued for several minutes with only the sound of the female holding the camera occasionally saying, “Oh my God,” or “this is horrible” or some other exclamation of disbelief or disgust.
When the assault is done, the Girl gestures to the camera girl to come and get a closer look. When she brings the camera in to survey the scene, her gasp is audible as she scans the damage of the once-pale-skinned brunette girl who is now lying face down on the ground, still bound, but bleeding and so badly bruised that one couldn’t even tell it was the same girl. She is whimpering, twitching, and barely conscious. Then the Girl spits on her. Another girl follows suit and spits on her as well. This humiliation is not enough, so the Guy urinates on her. Most of the girls and guys follow behind them, spitting and urinating on the beaten and broken brunette lying face down in the dirt. While this is happening, the Girl decides to make another speech.
“The Bedouin have a ritual called Bisha’a,” she says in the face of the brunette while she is being untied and held down in the dirt, again barely conscious. “I found it quite fascinating. It means trial by fire. It would require an accused liar to lick a hot, metal object three times to prove his innocence. If his tongue burned, he was deemed a liar.” She stood up straight and backed away. “Let’s see if the bitch burns.”
While three guys held the brunette down, a fourth took a barbeque branding iron from the bonfire and pressed it firmly to her lower back for several seconds. She screamed in agony and squirmed viciously trying to get away, but only for a few moments. Smoke rose from her skin and the sound of searing flesh could now be heard over the silence of the crowd as many watched in horror while this young girl was branded. She wasn’t moving or flailing or screaming when the iron was removed from her back. She lay there motionless… soundless… nearly lifeless…
The revelry that was taking place moments earlier had now been silenced as the violent horde of teenagers now examine their “masterpiece.” No one moves at first, the guy holding the first branding iron standing there stunned.
“Finish!” the Girl barked, and the guy dropped the first iron and picked up another. After he plants it firmly in the brunette’s back again, the crowd waits for a reaction.
She doesn’t whimper. She doesn’t cry. She doesn’t move.
The three guys holding her down now rise up and back away from her. No other sound can be heard but the crackling of the fire.
“Dude, I think she’s dead!” one of the guys declares, and the guy with the brand backs away as well. The Girl steps forward.
“She’s not dead, she’s still breathing. Move, you fucking pussy.” She pushes him out of the way and grabs the third brand, pressing it firmly and viciously into the brunette’s back while putting her foot on the brunette’s bare backside to stabilize herself.
Still no movement… no begging or pleading for her life… nothing—just a bruised, battered, bloodied, and now burned slab of meat. A flash of fear moves across the Girl’s face just before red and blue lights can be seen reflecting off of the faces of the attendees of this barbaric trial.
“Come on!” The Girl gestures to the camera girl to follow her and the sounds of several pounding feet and hasty breath of the escaping suspects can be heard. Very shortly thereafter, the camera girl and the Girl are in an unidentified moving car. “I want a copy of that,” the Girl says out of breath from off camera somewhere. “Is it still rolling?”
“Yes,” the camera girl is heard saying, her voice thick with tears.
“Turn it off,” the Girl commands. The camera goes black.
A/N: Now you know exactly what happened to Ana. Any clues about what’s going to happen next? I’m only too certain that you are going to be surprised, but I would LOVE to hear your theories.
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