Mending Dr. Steele: Chapter 16—Opening New Doors

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 16—Opening New Doors

STEELE

Why is Christian here? It’s just the shooting range. He drove all the way from Grey House—from work—because I’m here?

“How long has he been here?” I ask Chuck.

“I don’t know. They were out there when I came out from washing my hands.”

“When did you call him?”

“I didn’t actually call him. I texted Jason to let him know our whereabouts before we left the apartment. I don’t know when he told Mr. Grey and I have no idea how long they’ve been sitting out there.” I look at my phone. There are no missed calls or texts from Christian. What did he think I was going to do out here? I shake my head and hand my gun and case to Chuck before walking out of the gun club. Christian emerges from the SUV the moment he sees me. He leans against the car and looks at me bemused. I stop in my tracks.

“What?” I ask. What’s wrong? What did I do now?

“I… just want to know that you’re okay,” he says tentatively. I sigh heavily and shake my head.

“Christian, why wouldn’t I be okay?” I ask softly.

“Because you haven’t been okay all week, Anastasia.” Oh shit, he’s frustrated. “You clean your gun more than you eat. I can’t sleep because you’re having these terrible nightmares. Now you’re at the shooting range and I’m not going to lie—I didn’t know what to think. You haven’t been to the shooting range since you and I have been together and coupled with the gun-cleaning, I didn’t know how to categorize this particular behavior.” He hasn’t raised his voice, but I can hear the tension. I don’t know what to say to him because, quite frankly, I don’t know how to categorize it either.

“I have an appointment… with a possible new therapist,” I tell him. He only stares at me for a moment. “Dr. Avery. My appointment is in twenty minutes.”

“This doctor is in Bellevue?” he asks, obviously calculating the time to get back to the city.

“Just outside of Seattle, on the other side of the bridge.” He looks down at his watch then walks over to me. He takes my hands and I flinch a bit. He looks at me then looks at my hands.

“Ana! What is this?” My hands are red. If I had known that I was going to be shooting for so long, I would have worn gloves. The recoil from a Glock is very powerful and, even with my strength, repeated fire over a few hours is not recommended without gloves.

“I’m strong, but the Glock is stronger. I’ll be okay,” I try to assure him. He examines my hands further.

“This is what happens when you shoot?”

“This is what happens when you shoot for several hours without gloves. Please don’t tell my father. He’ll have my ass because I know better than to do this.” Christian shakes his head and examines my hands again.

“Those are going to be some nasty bruises, Butterfly,” he laments. I smile at him.

“Don’t worry, Baby. It’s nothing that a little Arnica cream won’t cure,” I say clenching and flexing my sore hands.

“Why didn’t you stop?” he asks.

“I couldn’t feel it.” He opens my hands.

“You couldn’t feel this?” he asks in disbelief as I try not to flinch again. I shake my head.

“When the gun is in your hand, your hand is numb. It’s not until you release the weapon for an extended period of time that you realize that you’ve been firing the gun for too long. That’s why I should have been wearing gloves.” Christian looks over at Jason, who nods and then back at me. “I won’t do it again, I promise. I know this is all new for you and probably pretty scary. I won’t forget my gloves next time.” He runs his hand through his hair.

“Can I come with you next time? As much as I don’t want to admit it, it was fascinating to watch you clean that gun and I would like to see you in your element at least once.” I cock my head at him.

“Really?” I ask.

“Yes, really.” This elicits another smile from me.

“Okay. She’s gotten quite a workout, so she will need another cleaning, but she has to cool first and my hands are really going to be hurting tonight. How about I show you how to do it for me when I get back home?” Now he smiles.

“You’re going to teach me how to clean your beloved Glock?” he teases. I nod. He puts his hands on my hips and pulls me to him. “I think I would actually like that,” he says, seductively before placing a gentle, suggestive kiss on my lips. All of those cells that had been asleep all week awoke at once. “You’re going to be late for your appointment.” Shit! Dr. Avery! I forgot about him.

“You shouldn’t have distracted me. I’ll be home right after.”

“I’ll be waiting,” he says, his voice full of promise. He kisses me again, then releases me to walk my wobbly legs to the car. I toss Chuck my keys.

“My hands hurt. You drive.” He looks knowingly at me. “My hands do hurt!” I whine. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

“Mm-hmm,” he says as he opens the passenger door for me.

——————————————————————————————–

 

Dr. Avery is an extremely handsome, older, fair-skinned, African American gentleman with beautiful naturally kinky and wavy hair. He reminds me a bit of Marlow, except his eyes change from green to gray… gray, like Christian’s. This could be a problem.

“Ms. Wilson, I’m glad you could make it.” He greets me and extends his hand to me. I almost shake it and remember the bruising. I pull it back and reluctantly show him my hand.

“I can’t, I’m sorry.” He examines the bruising in my hand, which is starting to look worse than it did at the shooting range.

“What is this, Ms. Wilson?” he asks, almost accusingly. I know, it looks really bad, especially if you don’t know what it is.

“This is called ‘angry shooting.’ I own a Glock G19C and I went to the shooting range today. This is a few hours of shooting with no gloves—a very foolish thing to do. My hands are going to be raw in the morning.” He examines my hands the same way Christian did earlier. Why am I comparing this man to Christian so much?

“I have a first aid kit if you would like to use it,” he offers. I look over at Chuck and he nods.

“Thank you. Yes, please.” I gesture to Chuck. “This is Charles Davenport. He’s my bodyguard. Chuck, this is Dr. Lordis Avery.” He and Chuck shake hands.

“Well, I know your bodyguard’s name, but I don’t know your name,” Dr. Avery says. At that moment, his assistant gasps. I turn to face her and see the look of realization in her eyes. I point to her.

“She knows,” I say, impassively.

“Would someone like to tell me?” he says coolly. Amber points at me.

“AnaChris!” she says. My hand goes to my forehead.

“Ugh! Please never use that term again. I hate that term,” I lament.

“AnaChr… what is it? Who is she?” It’s actually refreshing to have someone who doesn’t know who I am… but not for long.

“This is Anastasia Steele,” she looks from me to Dr. Avery.

“Oh, okay. You answered the phone ‘Dr. Steele.'” I nod. “I’m sorry. I still don’t know what that means, though.”

“Are you kidding?” Amber exclaims like he just told her that there’s no Santa Claus. “AnaChr—” she stops mid-phrase. “Ana and Christian. This is Christian Grey’s girlfriend.” Dr. Avery’s eyes sparkle with realization.

“Ooooohh! Christian Grey! I understand the need for privacy now. You’ll have to forgive me. Sometimes people are just neurotic!” Oh great. He rushed the meeting because he thought I was neurotic.

“Is that why you rushed our meeting?” I ask, a bit put off.

“Well, I hate to hurt your feelings, but in a way, yes. I still don’t know who you are. I just know of Christian Grey. I don’t really keep up with the gossip columns. However, when Amber tells me that someone doesn’t sound right, I pay very close attention to what she says. The last time I didn’t listen to her, a young girl attempted suicide. I won’t take that chance again. Now you give an alias, Amber tells me you don’t sound quite right and you come in with raw hands. I think she was right on the money on this one. Amber, would you bring the first aid kit please?” Amber nods and goes off down the hall. “Would you like for Mr. Davenport to accompany us in our meeting?” I look over at Chuck. I don’t want him to be present while I talk to the good doctor, but I don’t want him too far away either. He reads my expression immediately.

“I’ll be right outside the door,” he says. I sigh and instantly relax.

“Okay,” I say, relief flooding my voice. Dr. Avery leads me into his office. The space is quaint with his desk facing a large archway window with wooden shutters on the bottom half and an orangy-brown leather couch with lots of pillows, a sitting area with two armchairs with pillows and a small round glass table between them, and a wrought iron glass top coffee table in the center of the room.

“Please, Dr. Steele, make yourself comfortable,” Dr. Avery gestures to the sofa. I sit down just as Amber brings the first aid kit and smiles politely before leaving. Dr. Avery sits next to me on the sofa and gestures for my hand. “Do you mind?” he asks.

“Um, no, please,” I give him my hand and he examines it again, making a “tsk, tsk” sound as he observes the rawness already setting in. “This is not going to be pretty, Dr. Steele,” he says as he begins to rummage through the first aid kit.

“Please, call me Ana,” I say, looking forlornly at my now aching and stinging hand. He pauses for a moment and then proceeds to treat my hand with some antibiotic ointment.

“Do you think we should be so familiar before we have gotten to know each other? You may decide that I am not the person suited for your treatment.” He gently massages my aching hand and I can’t help feeling the tenderness that I feel from Christian in his hands—not the affection, but the tenderness.

“Only people that I don’t like call me Dr. Steele because I insist on it. I only hear Anastasia when I have pissed someone off or upset them,” namely Christian, “and everyone else calls meAna with the except of my best friend who calls me Jewel.” Why did I feel the need to tell him that.

“And why is that?” he asks, his voice caressing my ears and comforting me.

“It’s a long story,” I tell him. “Maybe we’ll get into that if I decide that you are suitable for my treatment.” I smile.

“Touché.” What the hell? Why does he have so many of Christian’s mannerisms—and why is he so damn handsome? “I would like to know—if it’s not too personal—why you are so cautious about your bodyguard being outside the door?” I shrink a little at his question. “Your relief was palpable, Dr… Ana.” He puts a square sterile bandage over my raw palm and starts to wrap it with gauze.

“I… was kidnapped last year… by a psycho ex. I don’t go anywhere without Chuck now, or some other members of our staff.” He nods.

“I see Mr. Grey takes your safety quite seriously,” he says as he secures the bandage with medical tape.

“Yes, he does,” I say, a little more breathy than I intended. He moves on to my other hand.

“You’re right-handed.”

“Yes, I am,” I confirm as he examines my left palm.

“The damage to this hand is not nearly as bad.” He applies the medical cream to my hand and begins to massage it gently. It feels so good, I try not to moan. He doesn’t make eye contact with me. He is concentrating on making sure the medicine is absorbed in my hand. “You don’t need the bandage on this, but I’ll wrap it anyway to allow the cream to sink in, okay?”

“Okay,” I respond. It was truly breathy that time. He chuckles.

“That good, huh?” he asks, facetiously.

“It was really sore,” I say embarrassed. He smiles as he wraps my hand. Reading my thoughts, he says, “Don’t be embarrassed. My wife says I have magic hands.” His wife! Yes! Yes, this is good. He’s married. Put a reign on it, Steele.

“Well, you do, and I hope it doesn’t hurt for long because I’m feeling pretty stupid right now. Would you happen to have any naproxen or ibuprofen in that kit?” He looks up at me.

“Have you eaten yet?” Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Stop acting so much like my man!

“No, I haven’t,” I confess. “I’ll wait until I get home.” I relax back on the sofa and take a cleansing breath. Dr. Avery replaces all of the items back into the first aid kit, then sits a safe distance from me on the sofa.

“So, Ana, tell me what brings you here today.” I sigh.

“I don’t really know where to start,” I say nervously. “I have quite a few emotional issues that need to be addressed and I don’t deal with them very well. I can help other people when they are in a bad situation, but I can’t seem to take my own advice. According to my boyfriend, I shrink and shut down every time an adverse situation presents itself…”

“According to your boyfriend? You don’t agree?” he asks. My shoulders drop.

“I agree. I should have said that he brought it to my attention,” I say begrudgingly. “I was raped and brutalized as a teenager, neglected and ignored, and it has caused me some problems later in life. Now add to that having been rejected and scorned as well as kidnapped by a psychopathic, obsessed ex and brutalized—again—by his accomplice, and you have one pretty screwed-up nutcase doctor on your hands.” I throw my hands up and smile.

“Wow! That’s… some summary you’ve done there,” Dr. Avery says, scratching the designer stubble on his face.

“Yeah, wait until we really dive into the nightmare that is my life,” I say with a smile, “assuming we both agree that this is doable.”

“Well, what brought you to me?” he asks.

“My former therapist quit with no notice. She is one of my closest friends and has been helping me for years, but felt that she could no longer help me with my growth because she couldn’t be objective anymore.”

“Do you agree?” he asks. I shrug.

“I don’t know if I agree or not. I knew that we weren’t moving forward in my therapy, but that didn’t necessarily mean that she needed to quit. We could have reviewed my treatment plan and taken a different route, maybe, I don’t know. I didn’t have a say in this decision. She just quit, so here I am.” He cocks his head to the side—another damn Christian move.

“You’re angry about that, aren’t you?” Dammit, I don’t want to say that.

“Yes, I am!” I blurt out. “I feel like she deserted me. She even promised to help me find another therapist and then she doesn’t call me all week. I’m planning her wedding for Christ’s sake…”

“You’re planning her wedding?” A look of near horror comes over Dr. Avery’s face. What’s the damn problem? “Ana, I don’t know how this didn’t happen sooner. There is no way that this doctor…”

“Maxie.”

“Okay, Maxie, there’s no way that Maxie could have helped you beyond being the kind ear and friend that she is. You are way too close. Honestly, you have to know that. With the intensity of the circumstances that you have been facing, there is absolutely no way that your friend would have been able to give you the tough love that I know and you know that you need to overcome these emotionally destructive thoughts and behaviors. You’re planning her wedding…”

“I’m the maid of honor,” I confess.

“Oh for the love of God!” He throws his hands up in the air. “Hell, Ana, I want to take your case just to see how far you’ve come since you started and how far you can go from here. Amber is concerned that you may not have made it sanely to the 21st. Knowing now that you are a doctor, I know that Monday is the worst possible day for you to have a standing appointment, and you come into my office for an impromptu session with friction burns from your gun because you were shooting for several hours without gloves—and you have already confessed that you know better. You are a ticking timebomb! I am itching to dig into this case, but I won’t take any crap from you, Doctor. I can see that you need help and I would like to see your records and go over some possible treatment options with you. What do you say?”

Oh, good hell, he sure takes the bull by the horns, doesn’t he? Well, I picked him off of the site and Dr. Baker recommended him, too. He’s the only one who was available and passed both of our screenings, and he just read me like a book and we haven’t even talked for 30 minutes yet. I guess I should give it a try, but…

“I want to ask you a couple of questions first, Dr. Avery,” I say.

“Ace.”

“Huh?”

“Call me Ace,” he says.

“Why Ace?”

“What’s short for Lordis?” he says, twisting his lips. Lord. Yeah, no. I nod.

“Okay, Ace. Why don’t you have a picture on your professional profile? The rest of us do.” He nods.

“It became a problem. I’m an attractive man and I know it. I’m not modest about that. Men avoided me because of the pretty face—it was either intimidating or they thought I was gay. Women flocked to me because of it, looking for a hookup instead of a therapist until they discovered that I was married. Others saw a black man and just kept scrolling. Look at that name—Lordis Avery. Did you expect to come in here and find a black man with a brown two-inch curly Afro?” Very good points.

“Okay. So why do you take on doctors when so many won’t? I haven’t been approached to treat another doctor, but I don’t even think I would.”

“And why is that?” he asks.

“I’m asking the questions, Doctor,” I say firmly, “but to answer your question, for the obvious reason—we’re the worst patients.” He nods.

“That’s the exact reason why I take them on. I like a challenge, and I love showing you arrogant elitists that you don’t have all the answers,” he replies.

“Elitists?” I gasp. “That’s a little harsh, don’t you think?”

“No, I don’t,” he answers calmly. “Doctors are stuck-up, condescending, know-it-alls, and shrinks are the worst. You seem pretty young to be a doctor, so I don’t know how long you’ve been practicing, but if it’s been more than two years and you have had any kind of diversity, you’ve had that one patient that went to several doctors and everybody misdiagnosed him simply because they refused to listen to him. Three sentences into his session, they already knew what was wrong with him when in all honesty, they didn’t have a damn clue.” I gasp and my mind immediately goes to Stoley. “Yeah, you’ve met him. Did yours live?” Whoa! Yeah, right to the point, huh, Ace?

“Yeah, he lived. He’s fine now,” I say.

“Well, then there’s hope for you yet, Dr. Steele. Mine died.” I gasp again at his revelation. “I was one of the arrogant assholes who misdiagnosed him. He was my Waterloo, and I swore never to let that happen again.” Ace sighs heavily and I know that this is something very hard for him to discuss. I couldn’t imagine what I would do if I lost one of my patients that way as I can only assume his patient must have killed himself. “He made me think that he was okay, but I should have known better when he gave me this.” He reaches into his shirt and pulls out a shark tooth attached to a leather necklace. “Harmless enough, right?”

I nod.

“Wrong. This is real.” Oh shit, a real shark tooth necklace? Those are illegal! Why is he wearing that? “It came from a Great White Shark in South Africa. It was one of the things that he wanted to do on his Bucket List, and he did.” This conversation is becoming difficult for him again. He drops the necklace back down in his shirt. “He told me that the damn thing was fossilized. He knows that I never would have accepted it otherwise. It was a gift to thank me for helping him ‘see the light’ as he put it. Three days after he ate his own gun, I got a letter telling me that the tooth was real—that he paid a lot of money to be able to rip the damn thing out himself. He knew that it would repulse me, but his last sentence in that letter stuck with me. It read, ‘There’s always blood in the water.'”

That statement has so many interpretations, I can even begin to analyze them all.

“Why do you still wear it? It clearly sickens you and it seems like you’re only punishing yourself. What purpose does it serve?” I ask. He smiles at me.

“It serves the very purpose of proving why you are here right now—to show that we are not omnipotent; to prove that we have to fall and bump our heads to realize that we are human and that we make mistakes; to remind me that we don’t know everything and that we have to be able to admit when we don’t; to prove that there is an answer to every question, but that you had better damn well listen thoroughly to the question before you start trying to provide an answer. That’s why I treat doctors, Ana. You give me hope—hope that we are not all arrogant bastards; that we can admit that we don’t know all the answers and that we need help. So I will never turn down a doctor looking for help.” Well, I’ve heard enough.

“Okay, so… what’s next?” I ask. He sighs.

“I need you to sign a release so that I can get your records from Maxie!” He does the finger quotes and sarcastically stresses Maxie’s name.

“Careful, Doctor, she is still my friend,” I warn.

“Which is why she is no longer your doctor,” he points out with a wink. “Fridays good for you?”

“Fridays are fine, earlier though, please… like 2 or 3.” He nods. He stands and reaches for my elbow.

“I’m assuming your hands still hurt,” he says when I don’t move immediately. I relax and allow him to help me up. “Let’s get some paperwork signed.”

I complete several forms and answer several questions about my life, family, and medical history before we finally emerge from the office into the lobby. Amber looks up at me as Chuck immediately rises from his chair.

“Oh hell,” he says under his breath, but not low enough.

“What?” I ask.

“The boss is going to shit bricks when he sees that,” he says pointing to my hands. I examine my bandages.

“Yeah, I know. It doesn’t help that they hurt like hell,” I lament. Ace just shakes his head.

“Baby, pencil Ana in for next Friday at two. You can remove the Monday appointment for now and keep that Friday slot available.” Baby? I look at Ace expecting. “Oh. Yes, Amber is my wife,” he says with a smile. I smile back.

“Which explains why you trust her implicitly.” I lean down to Amber’s desk. “Thank you, Amber.” She looks up at Ace who simply smiles.

“You’re welcome, Dr. Steele,” she replies.

“Ana,” I say, before leaving the office.

—————————————————————————-

GREY

I’ve showered and changed by the time Butterfly and Davenport get back to Escala. She looks a little miserable when she walks into the apartment. I guess we are in for another long night.

“How did it go?” I ask cautiously.

“Pretty good,” she says, her voice a little strained. Davenport is walking behind her carrying a small black attaché case. Butterfly points to me and Davenport hands me the case.

“What’s this?” I ask her.

“My Glock,” she says. Um… okay. “You said you would help me clean it.”

“Oh! Yeah! That’s right, okay. Should we do it now?”

“In a while,” she says. “I need to eat.” She goes past me and I see her rummaging in the cabinet for meds. That’s when I see it.

“Butterfly!” I walk over to her and take her bandaged hands in mine. I look up at her waiting for an explanation.

“I won’t lie. It’s pretty bad and it hurts a lot, but please don’t lecture me. I know it was a dumb thing to do,” she says softly. I put the case down to examine her hands and she bristles a bit. “That’s really sweet of you, Christian, but please pick that back up.” I frown.

“It’s right here at my feet, Ana,” I say bemused.

“I know, but I’m always nervous when it’s not in one of its usual places. I don’t want any chance that it will be left unattended,” she explains and I nod.

“I can understand that. I’ll take it up to your office, then.” She smiles.

“Thank you, Christian.” I go to her office and place the case in the safe until we have time to clean it later. When I come back to the kitchen, she is struggling with a carafe of orange juice, trying to pour it with her bandaged left hand and becoming a bit frustrated.

“Do you need some help?” I ask.

“Please?” she relents with a small smile. I pour her a glass of orange juice. “Thank you.”

“So, how did it go?” I ask. She nods.

“We’re going to give it a try. He seems like a good doctor. We’ll see what happens.” He? She takes a card out of her pocket and hands it to me.

“Lordis Avery. Lordis?” I’ve heard some strange names, but that’s the weirdest.

“Yeah, I’m going to have to ask him where that comes from,” she says, drinking more of her juice and flinching a bit in pain.

“Why are you giving me his card? You could have just told me his name.”

“Yes, I could’ve, but I figure that this should be a good amount of information to start your background check. He’s listed on Network Therapy and Dr. Baker could probably give you more information on him.” I raise my eyebrow.

“This was one of Dr. Baker’s suggestions?” I ask. She nods.

“One of only two doctors that passed both of our screenings,” she says.

“And why do you want me to do a background check on him?”

“Oh, I don’t care if you do a background check on him, but I know that you will anyway,” she smiles. Again, she knows me so well.

“Yes, I will,” I say, tapping the card on my fingers. “You should really take something for that,” I add, noting the discomfort in her hands.

“I know. I have to eat something, though. I thought I would at least put some orange juice on my stomach so that it wouldn’t bother me so much.” I walk over to the oven and pull out the dinner that Gail has made for us.

“Let’s get you fed, then,” I say, putting healthy servings of roast beef with potatoes and carrots in front of us. Butterfly licks her lips and I smile to myself knowing that she is hungry. I refill her orange juice and give her a fork only to realize her bandaged hands are pretty useless. So I take my time cutting her food and feeding us both.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t do this to myself on purpose, Christian. Honestly, I didn’t,” she says between bites.

“I know, Butterfly, but you often do things without thinking. You’ve been reacting on impulse quite a bit lately, and it’s beginning to cause problems in your life… and ours.” She drops her head. I put my hand under her chin and lift her head. “I haven’t been having sex with you because I knew that you have been having a hard time this week. You’ve been emotionally drained and you haven’t said much to me about it. While I appreciate that you haven’t shut down on me and I am aware that you have searched diligently for another psychiatrist, you are still holding a lot in—keeping quite a bit to yourself—and that’s not healthy either. Have you spoken to Maxine this week?” She shakes her head. “Are you angry with her?” She nods. “Are you angry with me?” She shakes her head. I can’t begin to express how relieved I am that she didn’t hesitate answering that question. “But you are angry?” She nods. “I know I’m not a shrink, but can you tell me why you’re angry?” She sighs and takes a drink of her orange juice.

“Can you give me the ibuprofen while we talk? My hands are killing me,” she says. I reach in the medicine box in the cupboard and find the ibuprofen. I put two pills in her mouth and she swallows them with orange juice. She takes another deep breath. “No one before you knew everything about me. You are the only one that knew absolutely everything—David, Cody, Green Valley, Carla and Stephen, the baby, everything—but besides you, Maxie knew the most, even more than Al. I wasn’t able to discuss the beating until I met you. Even before we were together—when I found out that someone was looking into my past—I was finally able to open up to Maxie about what happened because of you. No one knew before then, except for the people who did this to me.” She takes another swallow of her orange juice and drops her head.

“I feel like she deserted me, Christian. I feel like I poured my heart out to her and all of my secrets—maybe not all of your secrets, but all of mine—and when she felt like the heat was too much, she just left. I haven’t done anything for her wedding this week; I’ve let Marilyn handle it, because I wanted to see if she would at least call me with suggestions or even just to talk. Do you know when she called me? Today. It took her five days to call me, and all of those five days I’ve been battling bad dreams and trying not to take my frustrations out on other people. I have been making a conscious effort not to shut you out, not to be cold towards you…” and she’s right. She hasn’t shut me out and she hasn’t been cold towards me, but…

“You haven’t been completely open with me, Butterfly,” I tell her.

“I don’t know what to say, Christian,” she says, her voice squeaking. “I can’t even identify what I’m feeling right now. My logical mind is battling with my emotional mind and neither of them is winning.”

“Well, let’s start with what they are saying,” I say. She stares at me and I can’t read her eyes again. The only thing I can get from them is… confusion.

“You and Maxie had a conversation and after that conversation, Maxie dumped me. She literally dumped me. On Sunday, I felt like my therapist dumped me. By Thursday, I felt like my friend dumped me. Here I am trying to plan her wedding and she can’t even call and say ‘Hi, Bitch, have you found another doctor yet?'” Her hands are flailing in the air and I come to realize that I like emotional Ana much more than stoic Ana.

“On top of that, my psyche has somehow fallen the fuck apart because this fucker Harris has shown up again and I can’t get a good night’s sleep to save my life…”

“I know, neither can I.” Oh shit, did I say that out loud? I look over at a frowning, gaped-mouthed Butterfly and I realize that it’s time to let the cat out of the bag. I sigh heavily and take her injured hands in mine. “Sunday night, when you had your first nightmare about Harris, I stayed up with you all night. Your nightmares are… brutal, and I have to wake you the moment I know that you are having them. So I stay awake. Monday, I got to GEH and I was worthless. I was making mistakes and saying things that I shouldn’t have… I closed myself and my office, and I slept. I slept the whole day—I didn’t even eat. I had canceled three appointments that day and I had deals to save. So I worked at night when I was awake, when I could wake you from your nightmares.” My eyes drop when I say this part. “We weren’t really sleeping together. I worked while you rested. When you had your nightmares, I woke you, and I held you until you went back to sleep. I promised you and Mom that I wouldn’t go without sleep, so I had to sleep during the day. There wasn’t really time for sex.”

“Christian,” she says, squeezing my hands, then flinching, “why didn’t you tell me?”

“Honestly, you’re dealing with a lot and I see you trying to cope with it all. You still don’t cope with it very well, but I do see you trying. I found a way to deal with the worst of it and still help you. Now that you’ve found another therapist, I’m hoping that things will look better for you… and for us.” She squeezes my hand again, this time without flinching.

“They will. I promise that they will,” she says with sincerity. “I won’t be this weak, weepy mess for long. I can’t promise you that everything will change overnight, but I will do everything in my power to do better, to get better… okay?” I nod and feed her another forkful of her food.

“Okay.” I smile.

——————————————————————————

This gun is pretty fascinating, but it has me nervous as hell. We have dismantled it again and it lay in four parts on Butterfly’s desk. I swear I just saw her clean this thing, maybe two days ago, but the parts are full of dust and dirt. She guides me while I clean the bottom half of the gun with a nylon brush, cotton swabs and some cleaner. It is a meticulous process and luckily, I am a meticulous man. She even jokes about how she thinks her gun has never been cleaner. I finish cleaning the barrel, recoil spring, and slide and she instructs me while I oil the parts and reassemble the firearm. We test it by firing it—empty—in a safe direction, and I can’t help but admire my handiwork. I am startled from my thoughts when I feel her lips gently kiss my cheek and brush my hair from my face. I turn to look at her and her eyes are full of love. We don’t say anything for a moment. We just gaze at one another. She finally breaks her gaze and kisses me on the cheek again.

“Put the gun away and go wash your hands,” she says, softly. I nod and put her gun in the safe in her office and go to the guest bathroom and wash my hands. She opened up a bit tonight. That’s a good thing. She knew I would want to do a background check on this doctor, even though Dr. Baker recommended him. It’s a guy. Guys always seem to want my Butterfly. I’ll have to check him out. If he can help her, I’m all for it. I step out of the bathroom, not expecting her to still be in her office, but she is. I come back to my seat next to her and sit. She looks at me with those big, ocean blue eyes again.

“I love you so much,” she says, tears threatening her eyes. “I never want to hurt you or push you away. You are everything to me and I just want to get past all of the bullshit so that we can get on with our lives. I swear I don’t blame you for Maxie… I blame Maxie. Whatever was said, I know that she left that conversation and made a decision about my life without consulting me—much like she did when she got that court order. I don’t blame you for that. I know you tolerate so much from me. I know how volatile I can be, how unreasonable I can be, but please… please, don’t give up on me, Christian. I’m trying. I really am…” I put my hands on her cheeks and my thumbs over her lips to silence her.

“I don’t tolerate you, Butterfly. I love you. I know what you are going through because I see it with my own eyes. I won’t give up on you, but only if you remember that we are in this together. You don’t have to suffer alone. You never have to suffer alone, and I won’t do anything behind your back. I’ve learned my lesson with the Green Valley/kidnapping snafu. That was enough for me. I will be here for you, I promise. Even if you go completely batshit crazy and lose your fucking mind, I will still be here. Do you understand?” She closes her eyes and nods feverishly, tears falling down her cheeks.

“I feel broken, Christian,” she weeps. “Every time I think things are getting better, that I’m going better, I fall apart again. Something always happens to drag me back down and I can’t handle it. Now, Maxie just dumps me and I’m feeling abandoned by her on top of everything else. I don’t know how to deal with all of this. Everybody thinks because I’m a therapist that I’m supposed to be so well adjusted, but damn! How much can one person take?” Her shoulders shake with sobs.

“I understand, Butterfly. I know it’s not easy, but you are not alone and you need to remember that, okay? It’s so important that you remember that I am here for you and that we are on the same team. I will tell you everything that I said if it will help you understand why Maxie made her decision.” She shakes her head.

“It doesn’t matter what you said,” she says, wiping her tears with her T-shirt. “This was Maxie’s decision to make. Maybe she was right. Maybe she couldn’t help me and the best thing for her to do was quit. I mean, if she could just drop the ball like this and walk away, she certainly couldn’t really help me.” She takes in a shuddering breath.

“So where does this leave you two?” I ask. They have had a very long-term friendship and I would hate to see it end. If it does, that conversation that she and I had was all for nothing.

“I don’t know. I love her—that hasn’t changed—but that trust that I once felt for her, I think that’s gone. It’s not because she quit; I can partially understand why she quit. It’s because she left me hanging and because she didn’t allow me to have a say in the decision. She can let me plan her wedding, but not my treatment?” Butterfly shakes her head.

“Well, I hope you guys get this settled before the wedding. I know how much you are looking forward to it.” She nods, then looks up at me. She takes my face in her bandaged hands and kisses me softly, over and over again.

“I love you, Christian,” she whispers, her eyes closed and rubbing her nose against mine. “I thank God that you are in my life, that you love me. I don’t know what I would do without you… where I would be without you…” I feel her shiver and I wrap my arms around her and pull her into my lap.

“And you’ll never have to find out,” I breathe against her lips.

“Thank God,” she gasps as she captures my mouth with hers.

—————————————————————————————————

STEELE

We lose ourselves in each other the entire weekend. I had no time to think of Harris or Maxine or Pedo-Bitch, or any of the other fucked up shit that was going on in my life. I spent the weekend paying attention to my man and his needs. By Saturday morning, my hands were much better thanks the Arnica massages and Gail’s miracle tea requested by Christian and left behind when he gave her and Jason the weekend off. Ibuprofen eased the pain and I was able to cook for my man, prepare his bath, and brush and dry his hair even though I couldn’t wash it. He wore silk pajamas all weekend—very Hugh Hefner. I wore lingerie that he chose or nothing at all—and my aluminum collar.

My God, I loved it!

I was at his beck and call—his version of total power exchange. I didn’t have to call him “Sir” unless I chose to and I only spoke when given permission. I fixed his drinks, cooked his meals, fetched his phone and papers and anything else that he needed from me, sucked his cock on demand and kneeled quietly at his feet when he didn’t need me to do anything, my head lying on his lap while he stroked my hair. When he first suggested this, I thought he had lost his mind, but when he dressed me and put on the collar, I seemed to fall right into the role—allowing him to make the decisions and give the orders. I didn’t have to think or make any choices, and when he had no instructions for me, he quietly comforted me while I lay in his lap. At one point, I knelt at his feet for so long that I fell asleep in his lap. He punished me by blindfolding me and binding my hands behind me while he slowly fucked my mouth until he exploded down my throat.

I’ll take that punishment any day!

He kept me in white lingerie the whole time—a long transparent “cover” over sheer white thongs on Saturday and a very short halter stretch nightie with no back that nicely framed my tattoo and only covered the very tops of my ass cheeks. At one point, while I was making his lunch, he commanded me to grab the counter and fucked me fast and hard from behind. I loved having him take me. I loved him being in total control. It was what I needed. I was very sad when Sunday evening approached and we had to get dressed before Jason and Gail returned to the apartment.

“This weekend was outstanding, Ms. Steele. You were exquisite,” Christian purrs in my ear after we are both dressed.

“Thank you,” I answer, feeling shy. He slips his arms around my waist from behind.

“You are adorable,” he says, kissing my ear and my neck. I put my arms over his and sink into his warmth, his comfort, and his protection…

We’re back. Thank God, we’re back.

————————————————————————-

Maxie shows up at Escala on Monday afternoon to discuss her wedding plans and inform me that Ace had sent her a request for my medical records. She tries to further explain her behavior and her decision to me, but I don’t want to discuss this with her at all. I just let her off the hook and move on. I had spent the entire weekend healing from that particular hurt thanks to Christian and I no longer want to dwell in it.

If she feels that this was the appropriate plan of action—to dump me and leave me struggling with no assistance and no contact for five days—then she’s right. She’s not the therapist for me and I won’t speak with her about my issues or my treatment. In retrospect, she probably did me a favor. The logical me feels that way anyway. The emotional me feels like she’s a selfish bitch who can’t be trusted on that level anymore. I won’t cut her off, dwell on this, hold it over her head, or even treat her differently from this point on. However, I won’t discuss anything that has to do with my personal life in terms of my treatment with her ever again.

Mandy’s due date is in June, so I decide to get with her friends that I met at the wedding and plan a baby shower. Maxie’s shower is in a couple of weeks and her wedding is about a month away so that gives me plenty of time for Mandy’s shower afterwards. It will be much easier than either of these weddings.

In the midst of the wedding planning for Maxine and the baby shower planning for Mandy, I got word the following Tuesday morning that Stephen Morton had in fact passed away. She has a prearranged funeral set up for him so she left the message with the arrangements for this coming Friday. I can just see her now bragging to her quickly waning high-society friends that her daughter and my rich boyfriend may be coming to the funeral. I won’t let her know that I am coming and I will only go to the funeral home for a quick viewing and then to the cemetery to make sure that they put his ass in the ground.

As promised, Christian has the GEH jet ready for takeoff at Sea-Tec promptly on Thursday afternoon as the funeral is early in the morning on Friday… well, not early, but too damn early for a funeral. I had to reschedule my appointment with Ace back to our original appointment the following Monday. Wearing my jeans and a sweatshirt, I board the plane to travel to the place that I said I would never enter again.

At 6:42pm on Thursday, January 17, 2013, we land at McCarran Airport and I am instantly ill. I’m here. I’m really fucking here. I want to vomit—this dry, barren fucking land lay before me and I’m here again. I almost feel faint. Christian grasps my hand.

“If you’re not ready for this, I can have this bird back in the air before you even blink.” I blinked to be funny. “No fair,” he says with a smile.

“No. Let’s get this done.” I sigh heavily and descend the stairs back into hell.

I’m able to sneak into the funeral home to view his body only momentarily, which is all I really needed. The fucker is dead. Now, I will see him to the ground tomorrow and get on with my life.

There are a few paparazzi waiting at the Bellagio when we arrive. How the hell did they know we were coming? They take pictures and shout questions at me, but I choose not to answer this time. I don’t have anything prepared for them anyway. They will have to wait until I am ready or until I get the hell out of Nevada. As far as they know, I am in mourning after all—I’m here for a funeral.

In the entire time that I lived in Nevada, I had never been to the Bellagio Hotel. Hell, I had rarely even been to the Strip, come to think of it. Then again, I never really had a reason to go now, did I? The hotel screams opulence from the moment you step out of your vehicle. The roof to the entrance where the cars drive in for valet parking looks like a great hall, complete with elegant hanging light fixtures and skylight-type glass. After entering one of three revolving doors, we are in the lobby—a statement in pure luxury. The lobby is massive! In the middle of the ceiling is an artistic creation of transparent stained glass flowers bursting in every color of the rainbow. Beautiful, intricate designs grace the marble floor along with the largest luxury area rug I have ever seen. Columns and archways are everywhere you look and the place is utterly fabulous! If I had to come back to Vegas, I’m glad Christian picked this place to stay!

“You’ve never been to the Bellagio?” Christian asks breaking my stupor.

“Oh, yes. Dear old Mom and Stepdad brought me here often,” I answer flatly. He chuckles.

“I guess that was sort of a dumb question, huh?” he asks. I put my index finger and thumb together.

“Little bit,” I respond. He kisses me on the cheek.

“Look around, Baby. I’ll get us checked in.” He walks over to the front desk while I look around a bit more. Various shops are spread around—Hermes, Omega—but directly in front of me through more massive columns and archways is a beautiful indoor botanical flower garden. Ironically, it was set with giant colorful mushrooms and plastic flowers surrounded by ladybugs, bumblebees, snails, and butterflies—all sculpted out of real flowers. I take a seat on one of the marble benches and just let the colors and nature surround me for a while… a beautiful oasis in the middle of the desert. Why can’t I just stay here in this beautiful place instead of having to go out there in that barren land and face the evil, selfish people that I know are waiting for me there? My mind drifts to many places and thoughts as I sit in this room.

We’re in Vegas. We could get married here if we wanted and nobody would know. We could go back to Vegas as Mr. and Mrs. Grey and quietly sneak back into Escala. I wouldn’t even change my name yet, so as not to arouse suspicion. Who am I kidding? I’ve got so much damn baggage, Christian is probably waiting for me to settle my issues now since he’s doing so well with his. Just four months ago, he seemed like he was out of control with his emotions. They had him in a vise grip and he could not function when they took over. Then he started seeing Dr. Baker and, even though he got off to a really bumpy start, he has come a very, very long way. Even with my trip to El Nido, he handled his emotions very well. He discussed his issues with Dr. Baker and took me on a magical wild ride in the Playroom that night.

I had been missing my Dom and was glad to see him back. Even though initially he had frightened me, I knew that Christian would never hurt me—but have I frightened him now? Have my issues become too much for him such that he doesn’t want to marry me? I did clock out after I saw that video. Good God, I’m such a fucking basket-case. Who would want to marry me?

That copper-haired god that told your father that he would take care of you when he thought that you were asleep.
Maybe he was just saying that to pacify Daddy.
Be serious. You don’t believe that any more than I do.

She’s right. I don’t. I’m just ready to move forward and as long as all of this crap is hanging over my head, I feel like I keep moving backwards. Now I’m in this fucking state again, trying to draw strength from these damn flowers…

“Butterfly, are you okay?” His voice brings me back to the here and now. His beautiful, baritone voice…

“Tell me again why I’m here,” I say, looking up into his eyes and pleading for him to infuse me with his strength. He squats down in front of me and takes my hands in his.

“… To make sure that he’s dead and to turn in that video so that the bastards that tortured you can pay for what they did.” He squeezes my hands and I nod. “Come. Let’s get you to the room so you can relax and I can feed you.” He stands and pulls me to my feet leading me to the elevator.

We are in the penthouse suite which has a separate quarters for Taylor and Chuck. I am surprised to discover that there is an even more luxurious suite in the hotel than this one—several, in fact. However, the executive suites didn’t have enough bedrooms while the grand lakeview, presidential, and chairman suites didn’t have enough beds. I really don’t care. I want him to lead me tonight because I don’t want to think.

“What would you like to eat, Butterfly?” he asks as I stand in the middle of the living room.

“I don’t know,” I answer, staring out the window at the view. “You pick.” He’s quiet for a moment, then I feel him take my hand.

“Come with me,” he says softly and pulls me into the master suite. He leads me over to the bed and instructs me to sit. He removes my boots and my socks and gently rubs my feet. I take a deep breath and relax a bit. “Stay here,” he says before disappearing into the bathroom. I don’t move. I fold my hands in my lap and examine them like they are the most interesting thing that I’ve ever seen. I hear the bath running and moments later, my man returns.

“Stand up,” he beckons me and I rise to my feet. He pulls my sweater over my head and throws it on the bed. Meticulously, he undresses me—my sweatshirt, my turtleneck, my jeans, my bra, my underwear… He even takes my hair out of the herring-bone inside frenchbraid that I was wearing. He leads me to the bathroom and guides me into the luxurious bubble bath that is running for me there. It’s not citrus lemongrass but the bubbles feel like silk. He turns off the water and now I can hear jazz music coming from… wherever it’s coming from. It’s mellow-tone smooth jazz, not too slow and not too fast—drums, synthesizers, electric guitar… contemporary jazz.

“You relax and I’ll be right back,” he says as he turns off the water running in the bath, his voice like honey.

“Umm hmmm,” I purr as I close my eyes. This is heaven. My man is taking care of me; the music is soothing; I feel like all of my troubles are going to wash off of me into this wonderful scented bathwater and flow right down the drain, and for a moment, I forget it all. I forget all of the problems that are facing me and the issues hiding in my subconscious, my shattered hopes that I’ll ever be whole enough for Christian to ask me to marry him again… None of it matters right now in this moment while the water embraces me and the music takes me away.

I don’t know if I fell asleep or if the music transported me or even how long I’ve been in here, but when I come back to myself, my man is gently washing my hair. I purr again at the feeling of his fingers on my scalp. I want to tell him how wonderful that feels, but I don’t want to hear my own voice right now. He somehow rinses the soap from my hair without me having to move and I don’t question how he did it. I just enjoy it. He gently squeezes the excess water from my hair and wraps a towel loosely around my hair.

He comes around to the side of the tub and I see that he is only wearing his T-shirt and jeans now. He soaps a bath sponge and slowly starts to wash the exposed parts of my body—my arms, shoulders, chest, legs, feet…

“Lean forward, Baby,” he says softly. I lean forward and he gently cleans my back. He rinses the soap from my body by filling the bath sponge and squeezing the water all over me. He beckons me to stand, lathers a washcloth, and begins to wash my most intimate parts. It’s not sensual at all, although it could be. It’s delicate and caring and meticulous. He never looks into my eyes—or I into his—while he is doing this. He’s paying close attention to what he is doing, and I am paying close attention to him. He is taking his time, cleansing me, rinsing me, and when he’s done, he puts the washcloth on the side of the tub and now he looks into my eyes. They are full of gentle concern, care, and love but no worry. It seems like we stand there forever just looking at each other, saying nothing and everything with our eyes.

He stretches his hand out to me, still saying nothing. I take it and he helps me out of the tub and starts to dry my skin with a bath towel. Again, he doesn’t look into my eyes, but pays close attention to his task…

My arms, hands, and fingers…
My chest, stomach and back…
My legs and feet…
He saves my intimate places for last.

He wraps a warm terry cloth oversized bathrobe around me and leads me back to the bedroom. The jazz is still piping through the room from whatever magical place it is coming—still contemporary, but it has slowed now and is soothing and even more relaxing. I hear pianos in the mix with light drums and maybe some soft horns.

“Get comfortable. I’ll be right back.” He leaves the room and I climb on the bed. The towel falls off my head and I feel that my hair is nearly dry. I cross my legs on the bed and drop my head, damp strands of hair falling over my shoulders. Again, I have drifted off somewhere in my own thoughts because the next thing that I know, my man is gently brushing my hair off my face and it is somehow completely dry. I sigh heavily. He has seduced me into such a state of peace and comfort that I barely know what’s going on.

The bed is covered with a selection of food—sliced exotic fruit, chocolate-dipped strawberries, truffles, gourmet antipasto, and chilled shrimp, and two tall flutes of some bubbling beverage are on the nightstand… champagne, I think. My man begins to feed me off of every platter on the bed—the antipasto, the shrimp, the fruit. It’s divine. He hands me the champagne flute. It’s absolutely delicious. He takes the flute from me and continues to feed me the celestial foods from the platter, indulging in the flavor sensations himself as well until we are both thoroughly satisfied and full. He leaves truffles by the bed, but takes the rest out of the room after he hands me the refilled champagne flute.

I am thoroughly relaxed. I can’t think of what else he could do at this point to make me feel more content. Yet he still had something else in mind. He comes back to the room with two large candles and what looks like a bamboo bucket of some kind. He puts the candles on either side of the bed and lights them before turning off the lights. He takes my hand and I stand from the bed. He removes the duvet and leaves nothing but the sheets on the bed.

“Lie down,” he instructs me. I lie on my back and wait for instruction. I really don’t feel like sex tonight. It just doesn’t seem to fit right now, but if that’s what he wants then I will oblige willingly. He opens my robe and leaves it lying under me on the bed. “Take your arms out,” he says, and I obey. He removes his clothes except for his boxers.

“Relax, Baby,” he says, and I close my eyes. My body is his and he can do what he wants with it. I feel gentle, smooth hands start at my neck and float rhythmically over my body. They are oily, and he’s rubbing the warm oil into my skin. Oh yes, we’re in Vegas. The water here is very hard and it dries out your skin. He is replenishing the oils in my skin. He thinks of everything. I close my eyes again and allow him to care for me. Even when he oils my breast, he is careful and gentle… not sensual, but caring. When he has coated the front of my body, he instructs me to roll over. I lie on my stomach and he continues the procedure on the back of my body only this time, he takes his time on my back massaging away my concerns and worries. Just like that, I slip into comfort and rest and forget all of my problems.

——————————————————————————————-

A/N:

Ace speaks of the patient who died being his “Waterloo.” The Battle of Waterloo was Napoleon’s last battle that he lost which ended his reign as Emperor of the French in the early 19th century—1815 to be exact. Whenever someone refers to something as their “Waterloo,” they are either referring to a huge weakness, and ginormous underestimation, or a colossal defeat.

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!
Lynn x

79 thoughts on “Mending Dr. Steele: Chapter 16—Opening New Doors

  1. Lourdes *GroovyExcel* says:

    I like Ace. He seems pretty cool so, I hope he sticks around.

  2. jjgoldmann says:

    How sensual and loving can one man be. There should be a school for men to learn how to be that attentive, marriages would be so much better and last.

  3. Susan Blakeley aka Suzecues says:

    Well I know I am late to the party here but Ace does seem just the ticket he and Amber are the right team at first meeting. I finished Paging Dr Steele on FF last week. I moved to hear frankly I refused to read the reviews your author’s note where enough to make me not want to go near them. All I can say is IT’S YOUR STORY where do they get off! Your Ana is a women not a coed Thank you very much ! She has grown up issues. I have loved reading this so far and I am sure to continue. Christian being the caregiver allows to she his strengths while still experiencing his issues brilliant path to take. I hope to catch up before you finish but I really want to follow the journey to your publication. All I can say is Thank you for sharing.

  4. Nicole Desilets says:

    I really like Ana’s new therapist even if sometimes changes are difficult, often it’s for the best.

  5. Meena says:

    Totally enjoyed reading Paging Dr Steele, I’m not an author on FF and it didn’t allow me to post αѕ a guest but I’ve still been following the story, you’re an amazing writer, and I absolutely love this sequel so far. I hope ιτѕ not finished yet and that I catch up before you finish 🙂

  6. Chanty says:

    I’m so glad Ana could find a new shrink. I like “Ace”. He seems very good at his job. I’m sure he’ll be able to help Ana. And he surely will have a lot to do with her 😉

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