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.
Oh, the things that man does to me. Last night’s orgasm left me so spent, I don’t even remember falling asleep. He was deliciously brutal with my body, and as hard as I came—both times—he always leaves me craving more of him. I wonder how his subs were ever able to leave him. Although I’m certain that none of them ever received the oral worship that I did last night, the man is nonetheless very talented and gifted at what he does. His silence was unnerving and exciting, but his words—oh, his words…
Marilyn’s disembodied voice reminds me that I’m at work and that I probably need to focus a little more on what I’m supposed to be doing. I only have three patients today, spread pretty far apart as Mondays still haven’t been filled yet. I get the feeling that people really don’t like to do therapy on Mondays. Christian sure hates having to see Ron in the evenings on Mondays, and I didn’t hear him mention anything about his regular therapist last week. It’s late morning now and I don’t have another appointment until after lunch.
“Ana, there’s a delivery out here for you.” Marilyn’s voice informs me. Strange… I wasn’t expecting anything.
“Does it say who it’s from?” I ask Marilyn.
“A florist, I would gather,” she says, with a giggle. Flowers. They must be from Christian. I go to the reception area to find the most beautiful arrangement of red, white, and pink long-stemmed roses—already vased—sitting on Marilyn’s desk.
“Oh my God, they’re gorgeous!” I exclaim. “You put them in a vase?”
“No, they came this way. They must have cost a fortune!” Marilyn responds. Fortune indicates only one person—Christian Grey.
“Was there a card?” I ask.
“No, there’s a note!” she says, handing me a sealed envelope that only says, “Anastasia Steele.” I open the note and find that, to my utter surprise, “fortune” does not just say Christian Grey.
Thank you for our talk last night. You put many things in perspective for me and I was able to decide what I really need to do with my life. Although I love Elliot and Roger, I think I need to take some time to figure out who I really am before I can give myself to someone else. The fact that I could so easily fall so hard for two completely different men says more about me than anything else. Hopefully, I can come out of this a little better and a little stronger instead of a complete basket-case bitch. I wish I had met you at a different time. I’m sure that we could have been friends. As for right now, I’m taking a sabbatical to Europe for a few weeks to recharge my batteries. Maybe we can have drinks when I return and start all over. You really are a good person, Ana—way too good for Christian Grey (but don’t tell him that I said that). Between me and you, watching you obliterate Elena Lincoln was the highlight of my night! Again, thank you for your help and I hope to talk to you again soon under better circumstances.
Get the fuck outta here! I have transformed the blonde bitch back into a human being.
“Who are they from? Your new, hot, rich boyfriend?” Marilyn says cheekily.
“Actually, no, they’re not,” I reply. Her face falls.
“Your hot ex-boyfriend?” she asks confused.
“Oh, hell, no. Don’t even bring him up!” I say, my voice dripping with disdain.
“Well, who then?” she questions.
“Yeah, who then?” A mellow male voice says from behind the hideously large bouquet of flowers.
“Elliot! How nice to see you! What brings you here?” I welcome him into an embrace. He hugs me like he is afraid to break me, but I realize it’s because he is wearing his dusty work clothes and I’m in a Vesper off-white high-waist midi dress with horizontal and vertical black panel stripes and pastel champagne pink panels. I must admit that my boyfriend’s brother looks pretty good in dirty jeans, a T-shirt, and work boots.
“I hope I’m not interrupting your day, Ana Montana,” he says, still eying the flowers. “Not Christian?”
“Nope! And you’ll never believe who.” I hand him the note and his eyes travel right to the signature.
“No way!” he says, a slight chuckle in his voice.
“Way!” I confirm.
“Hmmm, whoda thunk it?” he says a little melancholy. “That’s the Kate I fell in love with.” I rub his arm sympathetically.
“You wanna come in and talk?” I ask. He nods and I take him into my office.
“I… um…” He’s nervous as he sits down in the chair opposite my desk. I come from around my desk and sit in the chair next to him. He’s having a hard time getting his words out. “I want… to hire you, Ana.” He finally chokes the words out. To say that I’m surprised would be an understatement.
“Hire me?” I ask. “As your therapist, you mean?”
“Yeah,” he says, putting his hand on the back of his neck. “I don’t trust shrinks. I saw the effect they had on Christian and… I just don’t really trust them. The fact that you came in and became ‘Super Ana’ to everybody I love yesterday… well, I think you could be the one to help me,” he says nervously.
“Well, would you feel comfortable talking to me… knowing that I’m dating your brother?”
“As long as you don’t tell him anything what we talk about, I’m fine with it. As a matter of fact, it’s the reason why I am so comfortable with you. If ‘I don’t trust nobody’ Christian is with you, that says a lot to me!” he says. I smile.
“First of all, I would never tell anybody anything we talk about without your permission—on or off the clock. And second, it’s against the law if I do, so you don’t have to worry about that at all. It’s just that… you feel like family and I feel funny charging you to talk to me.”
“Well, I’m going to pay you because I really need to talk—a lot I think.” he says, rubbing his neck again.
“Does your neck hurt, Elliot?” I ask.
“No, why do you ask?”
“I had to be sure. I don’t know if you know this, but when you get nervous or uncomfortable, you rub the back of your neck. It’s your tell. A lot of times, it’s subconscious. A lot of people don’t even realize that they are doing it. Other people do it for comfort. That’s why Christian does it.” Now he’s curious. This helps to break the ice.
“What’s Christian’s tell?” I laugh. After all these years, he doesn’t know.
“He runs his hands through his hair when he’s exasperated, angry, or nervous,” I say. Elliot takes a moment to think.
“You’re right, he does do that!” he says in realization. “His hair always looks like he’s been gorilla wrestling. Do you have one?”
“Yes, I put my hands on my forehead. It’s comforting and an attempt to block out whatever is bothering me at that moment,” I answer. He nods.
“I didn’t even know that I did that. I have no idea why. Now I’m going to be paying attention to it.”
“It’s a good idea to know when you do it. Things like that tell people what you’re thinking… even when you don’t want them to know.” He smiles at me.
“I knew this was a good idea. So, will you take me on, Ana?” he asks, almost pleading.
“I’ll make a deal with you. I’ll take you on, but only our office time is billable. I don’t want to be sitting at Bellevue chit chatting with you and wondering if we’re technically on the clock. Remember, you can talk to me anytime and it’s always confidential… unless you tell me that you are going to harm someone. Deal?” I proffer my hand.
“Deal.” We shake on it.
“Do you need a session now?”
“Yeah, I think so.” He takes a breath.
“I record my sessions so that I can give you my full attention. Does that bother you?” I ask. He shrugs.
“It doesn’t bother me. Do you need to push a button or issue a voice command or something?”
“I record all day, every day, Elliot. You never know what’s going to happen in here.” He takes a breath.
“I guess you know that I broke off my engagement with Kate… or, she broke it off with me… uh, well, I think it was a mutual break-up. Yeah, that sounds right,” he says.
“Sounds right or is right?” I ask. “No rationalization allowed in this office.”
“Is right,” he responds. “I told her that she had changed and that I couldn’t deal with it anymore. She told me about being in love with this ‘Roger’ guy—which was probably why she changed. We agreed that we were just no good together anymore. There was no arguing or fighting, no name-calling, just… goodbye,” he says solemnly.
“At the risk of sounding very ‘shrink-ish,'” I make those quotes with my fingers again, “how do you feel about that?” He looks at me.
“I don’t really know,” he answers. “I feel a little hurt, but not because we broke up. I’m hurt because I’ll never get my Kate back. I feel confused because when I was with her, the thought of being without her terrified me. Now that we’re not together, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop—I’m not terrified. I’m not distraught like I thought I would be. I just want to get back on the horse!” He declares. “I think I may be a sex addict,” he says as he sinks back into his chair.
What the hell? Where did that come from?
“What makes you say that?”
“Because I really, really like sex!” he declares.
“That doesn’t mean that you’re a sex addict, Elliot. What else would make you say that?” I ask. He shrugs.
“I think about it a lot. As soon as Kate and I broke up, the first thing that I wanted to do is go find somebody to have sex with.” Still sounds kind of normal to me.
“Okay, what else?” He shrugs again. That’s all you got? “Do you have problems connecting with women?” I ask.
“Sometimes, except Kate.”
“What was it like when you met her?” His pupils dilate and he appears to go back in time.
“At the risk of sounding cliché, it was like a breath of fresh air had entered the room. She was stunning, beautiful, funny… She looked like an angel.”
“Then why were you still trying to date other women?” I ask.
“That didn’t come until later… until she started acting all crazy and I didn’t want to be around her anymore. I just reverted to my old ways, I guess. The only difference was that I was engaged. I never slept with anybody else though… not that I didn’t want to, I just couldn’t do it. I still loved Kate, I think.”
“You think?” This is new. He sighed.
“When we talked last night, and she told me about being unhappy and about this ‘Roger’ guy, I wasn’t angry, Ana. I was relieved. What kind of man who claims to love someone is happy when she breaks off their engagement and leaves him for another man?” I don’t tell him that Kate didn’t leave him for another man. I have already admitted to being a vault, so I will be a vault for Kate, too.
“I think it just ran its course, Elliot. Love affairs do that, you know. Even marriages sometimes. We want to believe that love lasts forever, but sometimes it just doesn’t. Things change, people change. Sometimes they grow apart and the love that they once felt just isn’t there anymore.
“I can’t tell you why you and Kate fell apart—why there was room for someone else to get in. I can tell you that I have all the faith in the world that you will love again. And I can tell you with a reasonable amount of professional certainty that you are not a sex addict. Sex addicts have no consideration for who gets hurt as long as they get their fix. You knew it would hurt Kate, so you didn’t satisfy the urge even when the opportunity presented itself. You’re just a full-red-blooded horny boy that likes women. There’s a big difference.
“You do, however, need to stop thinking with your joystick and decide exactly what you want. I think the Kate experience was a good thing for you. It lets you know that you are capable of love, not just a bottomless pit of hormones that needs constant satisfaction. It also lets you know that even though breakups hurt, they’re not the end of the world. You can connect with someone on a long-term level, but you do have to understand that people do change, and if you fall in love with someone, it needs to be for the innate person that they are—not just for certain qualities that attract you to them.”
“I think I love the attention,” he says. “Girls like the face, the blonde hair, the blue eyes—I use it all to my advantage.”
“Well, that just makes you a player, which isn’t much better,” I respond. “Like I said, get your head out of your pants and figure out what you want. You’re a big boy now, it shouldn’t be that hard.”
“You’re really smart, Ana. It’s a little scary. You and my brother together—good God, that’s even scarier. You two could rule the world.” I blush at his statement. I never thought about ruling the world with Christian. I just love him. “What drew you to Christian? How did you know he was the one?”
“We’re not here to talk about me, Elliot Grey. We’re here to talk about you,” I say firmly.
“Throw me a bone, here, Ana. I’m 31 years old. My dad is not going to talk to me; Christian’s a self-encased vault; Mia’s too concerned with Ethan, decorating, and clothes—I really need to put her to work for me—and Mom’s going to get all teary-eyed and give me the watered-down Mommy version,” he complains. I laugh.
“Okay. My initial attraction to Christian was the obvious—beauty and power. He’s gorgeous and he oozes power, but that wasn’t enough for me. I couldn’t stand him. He was the bane of my existence—and I mean that literally. Your brother drove me nuts. The first time he really let me see into his soul, I thought he was insane. I was certain that he was trying to pull one over on me. That didn’t end well. I read him the riot act and quit my volunteer job just so that I wouldn’t have to see him again.”
“You’re kidding,” Elliot says.
“No, I’m not. He finally got to me by crashing a date I was on and sending over an expensive bottle of wine.”
“Go Chris!” Elliot says with pride.
“Yeah, well, there’s a little more to it than that, but, once we got together, I realized that… we’re two halves of the same person. We’re connected in our souls, and we both tried to fight it profusely. He was the first to give in.” I laugh. “It wasn’t hard to convince me once he found his words. I’ll be honest with you. I would have been fine just being bed-buddies, but we knew almost immediately that it was more than that.” He looks longingly at me.
“I never had that with Kate,” he says, a little sorrowful.
“It’s not something that you trip over and it’s there… although that is pretty much how it happened with me and Christian. In my experience, we’re the exception, not the norm. It’s vital for you to understand, though, that even if it never happens to you that way, you can never diminish the value of the Kates in your life. You two loved each other, even if it was only for a moment, and that is a precious thing.”
“Yeah, I know you’re right,” he says, dropping his eyes. “A part of me will always love my Kate—not the person she became, but my Kate. I guess that’s why it’s not so hard to say goodbye. My Kate was gone a long time ago.”
“Well, well, well, I think the boy is growing up after all,” I say, playfully hitting him on his arm.
“The boy is Shane Hemstead. I don’t think you know his parents, but you know his grandparents. Robert and Martha Hemstead,” Welch says.
“Robert Hemstead is on the board of directors at Seattle General,” I say. That’s the hospital where Mom works.
“Yes, and his wife is a member of the city council.” It’s not bad enough that she victimizes young boys, but she also takes advantage of the people who know her and call her friend. “How old is young Mr. Hemstead and how often can we place her with him?”
“He’s 14 and from our surveillance, at least three times this week.” Fourteen… I think I’m going to be sick.
“Monday and Wednesday after school and Sunday afternoon.” It’s making me ill that those are all three days that she had encounters with me. “There’s more, Sir. It may be nothing, but it’s worth looking into.”
“Okay, what is it?” I ask.
“There’s someone else following Mrs. Lincoln.” He shows me a picture of another young man. He looks to be 19 or 20—21 at the most.
“How do you know that he’s following her?” I ask.
“Everywhere she is, he is. She doesn’t seem to be aware of it. I took the liberty of getting a background check based on his license plate.” He puts the file in front of me. Morgan Stampwell.
“Stampwell? Are you fucking kidding me?”
“I’m afraid not, Sir. Mr. Stampwell is 19 now and all evidence indicates that he was one of Mrs. Lincoln’s pupils about five years ago.” Five years. I run my hands through my hair.
“He’s still following her?” I ask.
“Yes, sir.” She might actually be in danger of this one, not that I care. Talk about karma—taken out by one of the young boys that you’ve victimized. Classic!
“He’s 19—what is he doing now? ”
“He’s a student at U-Dub. Apparently, he wanted to stay close to home.”
“Apparently.” I look at his atrocious college transcripts. What the hell are his parents doing that they can’t see that they’re paying for classes their son is obviously not attending? “Stampwell of Stampwell Manufacturing, right?”
“Yep. Big scandalous divorce a few years back, wife took off with half his money and a huge interest in his business; new trophy wife just a few months later…”
“Yeah, I remember the story.” The kid got lost in the shuffle as they do in most high-profile divorces—perfect picking for a predator like the Pedophile.
“Do we have anything concrete?” I ask. He produces pictures of the Pedophile kissing and undressing young Hemstead in her living room and leading him up the stairs half-naked by a collar.
“What’s the best way to handle this, Welch?” I ask.
“Well, exposure, blackmail, or turn her in to the authorities. The most reliable would be to turn her in—the others can be refuted. But I would really like to get some more evidence on her first—video hopefully, but a paper trail would be better.”
“How long would you need for that?”
“At least another week with around the clock surveillance. A closer look at her financials might reveal something, now that we have a point of reference,” he says.
“Do it. Be as thorough as possible. I don’t want her to be able to weasel out of this once I’m ready to set my trap.” Welch nods and leaves the office. This gives me a moment to review the conversation that I had with Ms. Amber Whitmore this morning, which turned out to be pretty informative…
“Whitmore,” she answers.
“Ms. Whitmore. This is Christian Grey. Our assistants spoke on the phone and arranged that I speak to you today.”
“Yes, Sir, Mr. Grey. How can I help you?” I know that she knows who I am because I advised that her assistant to Google me—like I always do—so that they could see that I was a legitimate businessman. I just didn’t tell them what it was concerning.
“Ms. Whitmore, I have to say that I am calling on a personal matter that is very important to me. I understand that you are no longer in contact with your family.” There’s a long silence.
“What is this about, Mr. Grey?” she snaps angrily.
“Please, Ms. Whitmore,” I say, turning on the honey voice. This would have been so much more effective had I flown to New York and met with her in person. “I’m really pretty desperate for information.”
“Well,” I can tell that the voice is working like a charm. “What does my family have to do with the information that you need?”
“I’m looking into something for a friend of mine and I’m just trying to find out as much as I can. It’s someone that may have attended high school with you. Did you know of Anastasia Steele?” Again, the line goes quiet.
“What the fuck is this?” she yells. “First, you ask me about my so-called family, and then you ask about Anastasia fucking Steele? Is this some kind of joke?” Oh, shit, I have truly stirred the cauldron on this one.
“Ms. Whitmore, I’m only trying to get information on my friend.” It’s the truth, but the honey voice is no longer working.
“Look, Mr. Grey—if that’s even your real name. I said I wouldn’t say anything and I won’t say anything. So, you can tell my father and my brother that their secret is safe with me and to fuck off!” Before I could retort, the line goes dead.
Welch is right. It was a payoff.
So, I know that Whitmore paid Morton for Ana’s silence on his son. The only question now is which son? While I’m pondering this development, my blackberry rings. It’s Grace.
“Hi, Mother,” I answer.
“Christian, I have a problem,” She says with no greeting, and I can sense the tension and anger in her voice.
“What it is, Mom?” I ask.
“Elena is spreading stories amongst our friends—stories about Carrick’s and my marriage, that we are having problems, that I’m having a nervous breakdown. She’s actually drawing battle lines, Christian, after all she’s already done to my family!” she declares angrily.
“Who has she told?”
“Only a few ladies that I know of, some of whom I really don’t care about their opinions, but my true friends called to warn me…” This bitch is now trying to destroy my mother in society, but she has apparently underestimated the name of Grey.
“What do you need from me, Mom? Anything you need,” I assure her.
“Mostly, be on guard for whatever may come your way. You know socialites can be vicious… Oh, and Elliot broke off his engagement with Kate last night. Did you know that?” I had an idea it would happen, but I didn’t know for sure.
“No, I didn’t, but I suspected. Do I need to worry about Ms. Kavanaugh, too?” I ask. I can handle her just like I can handle the Pedophile.
“I don’t know,” she says. “I wouldn’t put anything past her, so you can’t be too careful. I’m on shift until three, but after that, I’m going to start making some calls to take the wind out of one Mrs. Elena Lincoln’s sails,” she spits.
“I’m going to put a few things in motion on my end, too, Mom. Thanks for letting me know. I’ll talk to you later.” After I end the call with my mother, I summon Andrea to get me Halivant Mutual on the phone. They hold the Pedophile’s smallest loan, but big enough to cause her some hardship. A few moments later, Andrea informs me that the loan manager in on the line.
“Mr. Grey, this is Reginald Summers. How can I be of assistance to you?”
I give Mr. Summers the Pedophile’s financial information and let him know that I will no longer be backing her salon chain due to a conflict of interest. I don’t tell him that I am conflicted because I no longer have an interest to be in business with a pedophile.
“Mr. Grey, you do understand that this means that her loan with us will become due immediately,” Summers cautions.
“Yes, I do, and it would be a good idea to call her and inform her of this before she starts liquidating assets,” I inform him.
“Well, thank you for letting us know, Mr. Grey. We will be sending you the necessary paperwork shortly,” he says before I end the call. I figure it should take him about half an hour to call the Pedophile and inform her that I’m pulling my backing from her business. That means that somewhere in the next hour, the Bitch will be calling me. That’s enough time for me to call Landon Whitmore and see what his story is. Who is Amber protecting and why did she think I was calling her to test her loyalties?
“This is Landon Whitmore.”
“Mr. Whitmore, this is Mr. Grey from Grey Enterprises.”
“Christian Grey,” I repeat.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t know anyone by that name.” I catch him before he hangs up.
“No, you don’t know me, but you do need to know that I am a very powerful man and I’m looking for some information.” He chuckles a bit.
“Let me see if I can get this straight. You call a number that I know is unlisted, throw a veiled threat at me, and then expect me to give you information?” he says, incredulously.
“Pretty much… and the threat wasn’t veiled,” I say, flatly. For the second time today, the line goes dead. I expected as much. I go to the computer and separate the page of Landon Whitmore’s background check from the rest of the documents and send it to my email. I open my email on my blackberry and drag the document to a text message. I send the document to Whitmore with a message:
**I await your call. **
Imagine getting a document from some unknown person with all your personal information on it—from the hospital where you were born to the stuck-up snobby redhead that left you at the altar to your current salary as a sports commentator.
Needless to say, he calls back.
“What is this about, Grey?” he snaps. “I have enough information to have you investigated!”
“You could, or you can hear me out,” I say, coolly.
“I’m waiting.” Asshole.
“I want to know what you know about Anastasia Steele.”
“Who’s Anastasia Steele?” he asks, impatiently.
“She attended high school with you,” I reply.
“I don’t remember half of the people I went to high school with. I didn’t even go to the 10-year reunion. Why would I know who Anastasia Steele was? Was she an ex-girlfriend? How is she supposed to know me?” he asks.
“I don’t know yet. That’s what I’m trying to find out. In 2001, she was brutally attacked and branded by a mob of students from your school,” I inform him.
“Oh, that!” he exclaims. “Are you a reporter?”
“No, why would you ask me that?” I ask bemused.
“Because ever since I started reporting on the major networks, I’ve been getting calls from you guys trying to get dirt on my family—or trying to rile me so that you can get a quote or something.”
“I. Am not. A reporter.” I’m a little offended that he thinks I am.
“Then who the hell are you? And how did you get all this information on me? This is an unbelievable invasion of privacy,” he snaps.
“First of all, an employer doing a background check can get most of this information on you. Second, it’s like I told you. I’m a very powerful man.”
“Okay, fine. So, I didn’t know Anastasia Steele…” he begins.
“But you recognized the incident,” I cut him off.
“Hell, everybody in Green Valley recognizes the fucking incident! The girl was beat all to hell! Mothers and fathers were locking up their daughters for months because nobody knew what the hell happened to the kid. Even the cop that found her didn’t have any answers. The incident, as you call it, became urban legend and the stories got more and more gruesome every time you heard them. First, she was beaten, then she was burned, then she got her eyes gouged out… by the time the stories were done, she was nothing but a hand crawling like “Thing” from the Addams Family. You want to know what I remember about Anastasia Steele, since you tell me that’s her name?”
“What’s that?” I ask flatly.
“That due to whatever the hell happened to her by whomever did it to her, Green Valley boys couldn’t get laid damn near anywhere in Clark county for the rest of my goddamn senior year! I couldn’t wait to go to UCLA just so I could get some ass!” he shoots. Fucking asshole.
“A young girl was brutally beaten almost to death, and all you can take from the situation is that you couldn’t get laid?” I ask, my voice ominous.
“Look, man. I’m sorry your friend got hurt, but it had nothing to do with me. Tragedies are commonplace nowadays and although they are tragedies, I don’t mourn each one of them—only those that had to do with me. And like I said, most of the parents were so freaked out, they locked up their daughters. GV High didn’t allow anybody to leave campus for lunch anymore. The whole city went on high fucking alert. We were on lockdown—nobody in, nobody out. That’s all I remember until I left for college. Now I gave you all the information that I have. Can I trust that you won’t misuse my personal information in any way?” he snaps.
“Whitmore, I’m a billionaire. There’s nothing that I could with your personal information that could satisfy me.” I end the call. He’s a through and through fucking asshole—it takes one to know one—but I believe him when he says that he has nothing to do with Butterfly’s attack. So, that leaves one last person—Cody. This asshole is right up under Daddy, and I really want to see all parties Green Valley face to face. I’ll save that one for when I make my trip in that direction.
I’m working on some spreadsheets when I get a call from a blocked number on my cell.
“Well, I’m surprised you answered, Mr. Grey.” I’m feeling ill already.
“The sound of your voice burns the hair in my ears. What do you want?” I say to her.
“Our agreement was that you would not be associated with the salons and that you would still keep your backing with the banks. Have you forgotten that you have signed a contract?” she spits.
“So be my guest and sue me, but by the time you get any payout—if you ever do—you’re going to be penniless, friendless, and destitute,” I say, flatly. She’s quiet on the other end. “I’ve only contacted Haviland Mutual—the smallest of your lenders. Spread one more rumor about my mother and my father, and I’ll be calling Sound Community next.”
She doesn’t bother trying to defend herself. I would call Sound Community now, but there’s a method to my madness. I want to cause her hardship, but not break her completely—not until I can get the information on her that I need to put her away for a long time.
“You know I have to damn near sell one of my salons to pay back that loan, Christian. What am I supposed to do?” she says in angry desperation.
“Not my problem. You should have thought of that before you outed me in front of my family and the woman that I love and made me into an enemy,” I answer impassively.
“I’m sorry. I was desperate. I didn’t mean to break you and Anastasia up…” she lies.
“On the contrary, that’s exactly what you meant to do, but I’m very happy to burst your bubble, Mrs. Lincoln—it didn’t work.” The quick intake of air lets me know that she was sure Butterfly had left me after the crack-whore-mother-brunette realization.
“She must be after your money, Christian. No self-respecting woman would stick around after knowing that she’s the equivalent of a blow-up doll replacement for your dead mother!” she spits. Yeah, you were counting on that, weren’t you, you conniving cow? I chuckle loudly in her ear, something I’m sure she didn’t expect.
“What would you know about a self-respecting woman?” I laugh. There’s nothing else I need to add to that.
“You know, this is all going to blow up in your face one day,” she threatens.
“Not before it blows up in yours,” I say before ending the call.
It’s around lunchtime and I haven’t heard from Butterfly. I know that she had a few clients today, but as far as I can remember, it was supposed to be a light day. I wonder if I can surprise her for lunch? I tell Taylor to meet me out front so we can go to her office.
I’m surprised to see Elliot’s work truck in the parking lot when I pull up to Ana’s office. I know there are many businesses in this building, but nine times out of 10, he’s here to see Ana. I tell Taylor to wait while I go inside to get her.
I’ve never been to Butterfly’s office before. It’s very inviting. A perky young blonde greets me at the receptionist’s desk.
“Hello, how can I help you?” she says, losing her breath a little when she gets a good look at me. At first, I’m irritated by it—as always—then I see the poor thing fighting to maintain a bit of professionalism.
“Is Dr. Steele in her office?” I say, observing the grotesquely large bouquet of mixed roses on the receptionist’s desk. I recognize Fiori’s work anywhere.
“Yes, sir, she is,” she says, clearing her throat. “She’s in with someone right now.” Hmmm, I know Elliot is here. Why is he in with Anastasia? I look at the flowers again and turn on my illegal charm.
“These are lovely,” I say, smiling at this poor being that’s about to become butter in my hand.
“Um, yes, they are,” she says a bit breathily.
“Secret admirer?” I ask, flashing a smile.
“I… don’t know… they‘re not for me,” she says, nearly falling apart at the seams. Okay, now it’s taking all my will not to explode. My brother, who is known for being a man-whore and has just broken his engagement with his fiancée, is now at my girlfriend’s place of business closed up in her office in the middle of the workday after showing up with a huge, expensive bouquet of flowers, and he just met her two days ago!
“What’s your name?” I ask.
“Marilyn,” she says.
“Well, thank you, Marilyn,” I say with a smile and I turn to leave.
“You don’t want to wait?” She coaxes.
“Oh, no. I’ll catch her at another time.” I smile and leave. I get back into the car with a confused Taylor. “Back to the office.” I say as I take out my Blackberry and start to check emails.
My 1:00 appointment cancels on me due to illness and reschedules for next week. With nothing but time on my hands for the afternoon, I decide to call Christian. I’m shocked when his phone goes to voicemail. It never goes to voicemail. Ever.
“Christian. It’s Ana. My 1:00 canceled and I just wanted to see if you were available for lunch. You’re probably in some big board meeting so… give me a call when you get a chance. Love you.”
I hit “end,” then send him a message for good measure.
**Busy taking over the world? I miss you. No more appointments for the day. **
After a few minutes and no response, I figure he must be in a hugely important meeting. I go out to Marilyn.
“Hey, Marilyn. Can you see if Luc has any openings between now and 6:00 this evening?”
“Sure. Oh, some really hot guy came looking for you earlier, but he didn’t leave a name.”
“Really hot guy?” I laugh. “Can you be a little more specific?”
“Um, very tall, reddish-brown hair, gray eyes, looks like God…” My eyes pop out of my head.
“Why didn’t you call me or come and get me?” I say, a little frantic.
“Because you were in with someone. I never interrupt you when you were with someone. Why, was it important?” she asks.
“Important?” I get on her computer and go to Google images and type in Christian Grey. I pick a picture and turn the flat-screen monitor to her. “Was that him?”
“Yeah. Yes, that’s him,” she says in recognition.
“That’s Christian!” I exclaim, throwing my hands in the air and pacing around the office. Now I am wondering why he’s not answering my calls or my texts… and why he didn’t wait? Was he in a hurry? Was he angry? “What did he say?”
“Nothing. He asked if you were in. I told him that you had someone in the office with you. He asked about the flowers and then he left,” she answers.
“What did you tell him about the flowers?”
“That they weren’t for me and I didn’t know who they were from,” she answers like a scolded child.
“Well, did he seem angry?” I ask concerned.
“Not at all. He was very pleasant and charming. I invited him to stay and wait for you, but he said he would catch you at another time.”
Catch me at another time!? What the fuck does that mean? He comes to my office unannounced in the middle of the day, won’t wait and doesn’t even leave a message? We had a beautiful night last night. What happened?
“Call Luc,” I say before going back to my office.
At 3:00, I walk into the gym in a pair of yoga capris and a sports bra. It’s all I had in the trunk of my car. Two hours later and Christian still hasn’t responded to my message or my text. I have no idea what’s going on and he’s not talking. Needless to say, I’m a little pissed off.
Chuck sits in one of the chairs with a newspaper and I see Luc standing in the corner, looking at me with disdain again, no doubt not pleased about the yoga pants. Not today, you bastard. I walk right over to him and before he can open his mouth, I say, “Do we have an understanding now, Luc?”
He stands there staring at me for a moment, a little dumbfounded and shocked. Yeah, Asshole, I know you thought I was crawling back to you. Surprise! You’re wrong.
“This is what I’m wearing and I need my damn workout, but make no mistake. If I have to, I’ll still fuck you up and hire somebody else.” I can see Chuck’s reflection in the wall mirrors and he’s watching me curiously. Don’t worry about me, Chuck. I can take care of this guy—and I have the additional motivation of an angry, spurned girlfriend.
Not to be outdone, Luc retorts, “You’re here because I’m the best at what I do and you know this.”
“That might be true,” I say, “but I’ll still fuck you up if you try that shit on me that you pulled the last time I was here. Do we have an understanding?” I demand. He’s just looking around, trying to hold on to whatever manhood he has left in front of the other gentlemen at the gym. Since he hasn’t answered me, I keep going. “Standard takedown, standard combat, endurance, and technique. None of that macho bullshit you pulled on me, because if you try to make an example out of me again, I’m going to castrate your ass!” His eyes grow wide as he listens to what I’m saying and the two men that were standing with him discreetly take their leave and decide to be anywhere else but here. “Do you think you can train me within those parameters, or should I go and find the number two martial arts trainer in Seattle?”
Finally, he lays down his bravado and says, “We have an understanding. Twenty minutes stretching and bag and then meet me in room three.”
At 5:00 I am showered, saunaed, and back in my work clothes leaving the gym. I check my iPhone and still no message from Christian. Okay, this is starting to get a little ridiculous. I’m not going to grovel to this man when I haven’t even done anything wrong.
“Chuck, do you know if anything is wrong with Christian?” I ask as we’re walking to our cars.
“Uh, not that I know of. Taylor called during your workout to find out where we were. He didn’t mention anything wrong with Mr. Grey,” He answers matter-of-factly. Well, at least I know he’s not dead. I get into my car and drive to Chicken Valley for skewers for tonight’s dinner. I had a very serious workout and I don’t feel like cooking. By the time I get home and take off my shoes, I finally get a text from Christian.
**I met with Carlisle early today. I’m very tired. Going home to get some rest. Talk to you later. **
What the fuck is going on? He knew that I would be at my apartment—we agreed to meet here tonight. Is this another playroom test?
I call his phone and again, it goes to voicemail. I don’t know what he’s playing at, but I’m not going to chase him. I send him a text back.
**Fine. Have a good night. **
I compose myself the best that I can and go talk to Chuck.
“You can go home, Chuck.” He looks at me confused.
“I usually stay until Taylor and Mr. Grey gets here.”
“Well, it looks like you won’t have to do that tonight,” I say, still trying very hard to maintain myself in front of Chuck. He looks at me questioning. “Look, if you don’t believe me, call Taylor. I’m sure that he’ll tell you that it’s okay for you to go home.”
“Are you okay, Ana?” he asks. The care in his voice is almost more than I can take. He’s looking at me with the same questions in his eyes that I have in my head…
Why isn’t he coming?
“I’ll be fine, Chuck. I just really need to be alone,” I say with my last bit of conviction. I think he finally gets it and looks at me apologetically. That look, I can’t tolerate right now. I’m beginning to feel the same way that I felt the night I discovered that I was the ninth wheel. I turn away from him and face the breakfast bar. I refuse to break down in front of this man. “Please, Chuck,” I say, trying to keep my voice from cracking. “Go home.” I don’t turn around to face him, but I hear the door open and he says,
“Call me if you need me, and I’ll come back.”
I nod without looking at him and I hear the door close behind him. I let out a breath that I didn’t know that I was holding. I’m able to regain some of my composure now that he’s gone. I lock the door. This will be the first time I have slept alone in 11 nights. I don’t even think I know how to do it anymore. I look at the chicken that I bought for dinner. I’m not even hungry now. I put the chicken in the refrigerator and I spot the open bottle of Cabernet.
Wine for dinner. Sounds good to me!
I open the cupboard and pull out a deep-bowl wine glass. I pour what’s left of the Cabernet in the glass. Barely enough for a serving. I go to the wine locker and pull out a fresh bottle. I fill my glass to a proper serving… well, maybe a bit more than a proper serving. I go over to my iPod dock. Tonight seems like a good night for Kenny G. I open the playlist and put it on shuffle. And of course, the first song that I hear is “Don’t Make Me Wait for Love.” Fucking Kenny G.
I pace around my apartment. It’s been a while since I have been here for any extended period of time. I touch objects, furniture, and surfaces like I’m getting reacquainted with my space. Actually, that’s exactly what I’m doing. The cream and chocolate sofas in my living room, my formal dining table, my simple, sleek black breakfast bar, my stainless-steel appliances and glass cupboards. How convenient. My glass is empty and I’m back in the kitchen. I fill my glass again as “Sentimental” starts to play. Fucking Kenny G.
I’m sipping my second glass of wine as I continue down the hallway, running my hands along the muted walls. I wonder what made me pick this color? It seems really boring. Maybe I need an accent wall in here. Of course, the color that comes to mind is brown. That’s not an accent wall, Steele! That’s dirt! Red! Orange! Those are accent colors! I used to have an aquarium in my hallway when the lying, cheating double dicker lived with me, but I gave it away. I wasn’t taking care of those damn fish. I hated those damn fish!
My apartment is built in a circle except for the hallway that goes to the bedrooms. I now find myself in the small sitting room off the living room and the dining room. I don’t think I’ve ever used this room. I have a gold chaise in here and a little brown coffee table—like this room was just an afterthought. I sit on the chaise that has probably never been used and look at the ceiling. This room is completely white. Ugh, this is really ugly. I really need to do something with this space quickly! I could make this room look like the ocean.
You live right next to the water, Idiot.
She’s right, but can I deal with her tonight? No, I can’t. So, I turn her off.
Water. Blue. This room will look very nice in blue. Something tropical. Now Kenny G’s soprano saxophone starts to play “Alone.” Flipping Kenny G.
Okay, my wine is leaving entirely too fast. I return to the kitchen to fill my glass again, tossing the empty bottle in the trash. I love Cabernet. It’s my favorite. I travel down the hallway now to my second spare bedroom. Simple. Full sized bed, a dresser and a night stand with a table lamp and clock. I rarely have company that sleeps in here. Come to think of it, do I ever have company that sleeps in here? Hell, I don’t know.
I’m now in the main bathroom with the wood-look marble counters and the clear sink and walk-in shower. Really see no need to remodel the bathroom. I’m very rarely in here, except to do the occasional cleaning for Food and Libations.
That was fun… at Christian’s on Friday… until that bitch Belany… Britney? Bethany! Yeah, until that bitch Bethany tried to hit on my man.
My man. What the hell is up with him? Whatever!
I leave out of the main bathroom and go to Al’s room. I let him decorate this room when I moved in. He has great taste. A mixture of grays, reds, and burgundies. I wouldn’t have thought it would have worked well, but he put it together and it looks great. Kenny G is now serenading me with “In the Rain.” Frag-nabbit Kenny G.
I now bend the corner to my own bedroom. I walk straight through to my en suite. I love my bathroom—a wet room in a mixture of brown and black tiles with a double sink, rainwater shower, and built-in Jacuzzi tub that I don’t use nearly enough. I save the worst for last. My bedroom. Nothing spectacular in here except for the blue pinstriped Anderson Sheppard suit in the chair with the white shirt and the burgundy tie. I pick up the tie—it smells like Christian. It sends a painful jolt right through me straight to my chest.
What did I do wrong? I don’t even know… and my glass is empty again.
I put the tie around my neck. Just as I touch the luxurious material, Kenny G starts to play “The Wedding Song.” Gosh-darn Kenny G.
I’ve been away from this place for too long. I’m finding it a bit difficult to navigate back to the kitchen. And where did my wine bottle go? Oh, well… open another one. I probably left it somewhere in this strange apartment that I haven’t slept in for a week. I fill my glass again. Whoa—stood up a bit too fast… was I sitting down? Shit, I think I better sit down. I slowly find my way to the sofa while “Summertime” starts to play on the iPod. I like Kenny G.
“Your momma’s rich and your daddy’s good lookin’…” I sing along with the instrumental. Or is it your daddy’s rich and your momma’s good looking? Eh, I’ll Google it tomorrow. I drink some more of my wine and lay my head back on the sofa. I hold my wine glass up to the light—it looks weird with the light shining through it… kind of pretty. It tastes even better than it looks. I drink the last of it, then put the empty glass on the floor. I’ll go get some more in a minute.
I touch the burgundy tie around my neck. I tie it in a simple knot like Ray taught me… at least I think I do. I can’t really tell right now. My vision is a little blurred.
I wish I knew what was wrong. Everything was fine when we left Escala this morning. He said he had phone calls to make and may not be available for a couple of hours. I said I had two clients and then I would be free for lunch, hoping he would surprise me.
Boy, did he surprise me.
He surprised me by showing up at my office, talking to my receptionist, leaving without a word, refusing to speak to me for the rest of the day, then standing me up.
Is it standing you up when we were just going to sleep? Maybe? I don’t know.
All I know is that he is not here and I have no idea why.
Something drips in my ear… and I realize that I’m crying.
No sound, just tears. And my head is fuzzy as hell. I lay on the sofa and just let the tears flow. It probably wouldn’t be so bad if I knew why I was being punished. Even Chuck didn’t know he wasn’t coming. Taylor didn’t call him. Nobody knows what’s going on but the great Christian Grey.
The great fucking Christian Grey.
The beautiful, sexy, irresistible Christian Grey…
… who won’t speak to me…
… won’t return my calls…
… won’t respond to my texts… except to tell me that he’s not coming over…
And now I’m weeping, and I can’t stop. I hate not knowing what’s wrong, and he won’t tell me. So, I sit here trying to figure out why I’m lying on my sofa, alone, wishing there was more wine in my empty glass, and listening to Kenny G.
I love Kenny G…
I wasn’t thrilled to see Carlisle today, but I was glad to get it over early. Anastasia texted me once at lunchtime. I supposed her little meeting with my brother was over. I didn’t feel like facing her—asking her the questions and hearing the answers, no matter what they were—especially after I had seen the flowers. What was Elliot playing at? He knows how I feel about Anastasia. Would he really do something dirty behind my back? Would she?
I have Taylor contact Davenport and they’re at the gym. Back to kick Luc’s ass, huh? I remember when I watched her take him down the first time. Boy that was a sight. Sexy little thing in red and black short shorts clamped onto this monster of a man making him bang on the mat for mercy. I think that may have been the first moment that I felt like I loved her.
What’s happening now? I don’t have the heart to ask.
Once we get back to Escala, I close myself in my study. Taylor asks something about notifying Davenport, but I just wave him away. Work… that’s what I need… something to occupy my mind. I remember that I need to visit Mr. Billings at Noticon tomorrow. I check my schedule on my blackberry. Of course, nothing immediate, but I know things tend to pop up. I enter that I will see Billings at 10:00am so that it’ll show up on my schedule in the office and Andrea will know. I complete the paperwork for Haviland Mutual to start the ball rolling on Operation Pedophile Hardship. Mom told me that all the rumors started about her and Carrick seemed to magically disappear right after lunchtime before she even got the chance to make one call. I told her to make the calls anyway as I feel that this is not the last we’ll see or hear of Mrs. Lincoln. I also drop a hint for her to inquire about the children and grandchildren of her and Elena’s closest friends.
“I want to try to get as much information as I can without letting her know what I’m doing, so you have to be discreet Mom. If you can’t handle it, that’s fine. I’ll find another way,” I tell her.
“I can be discreet, son. I want to help in any way that I can,” she replies.
“Since we don’t know how long this has been going on, we need to consider boys and men at least as old as Elliot—maybe even older, but we don’t want to bite off more than we can chew.”
“I understand. I’ll let you know if I find out anything. How’s Ana?” she asks cheerfully. Actually, Mom, I don’t know how Ana is. You may want to ask my big brother.
“She’s fine, Mom,” I say curtly. No doubt noticing the sharpness of my voice, she asks, “Is everything alright, Christian?”
“Yes, Mom. Everything’s fine,” I say in a sad attempt to convince her. “I have to go, Mom. I have a few more things I want to do before it gets to be too late.” We end the call. I finally look at the text from Ana again inviting me to take her to lunch. I text back to her for the first time today:
**I met with Carlisle early today. I’m very tired. Going home to get some rest. Talk to you later. **
I don’t tell her that I’m already home. She really doesn’t need to hear that part. A few moments later, my phone rings. Across the screen flashes the word “Butterfly” and a picture of her sleeping on the floor in my closet in my blue sports coat and her tiara.
I can’t answer it. I can’t talk to her right now. I ignore the call. Moments later I get another text from her.
**Fine. Have a good night. **
Have a good night. Sure, I’ll have a great night without you, Butterfly, I say bitterly to myself. There is a knock on my study door a few minutes later. It’s Taylor.
“Gail wants to know if you would like for her to prepare something for dinner.”
“Whatever she has available,” I say, curtly.
“For one or two, sir?” I glare at him. I know what he’s asking me. Bastard.
“For one, Taylor,” I spit. He nods once.
“Oh, and Davenport called saying that Ms. Steele asked him to leave.” Asked him to leave? That sounds ominous. I look up at him and I’m sure he knows that I want more information. “She told him to go home… asked him to, as he said, ‘leave her alone.'”
“Did he leave her alone?” I ask, almost ready to wring Davenport’s neck. Why, I don’t know.
“Yes, sir. He said that she was very upset and he told her to call him if she needed anything and he would come back,” Taylor adds. Nice going, Grey. What did you expect her to do?
Call the girls for make-up night?
Throw one of her dinner parties?
Go see your brother?
You’re such an asshole.
“Tell him to stick around for another hour to make sure she doesn’t go anywhere alone,” I say.
“Yes, sir.” Taylor closes the door.
I eat in my office, then I work well into the night trying to exhaust myself. It doesn’t work. It never works. Somewhere around 2am I find myself at my piano playing “Going Home” over and over again until the sun rises.
I have calculated exactly 1,001 away from every place she frequents. I can pretty much guess the distance in places with which I’m not familiar. I couldn’t see anything at that house in Bellevue, even with my binoculars, so I just had to wait until she came back to the city. She’s at her apartment now. About time—she hasn’t been there for almost a damn week! Except for Friday, when the Faggot and the Rich boy came early in the day, then she left again and didn’t come back until a few minutes ago.
I miss her so much. Why can’t she just come back to me? I know I was wrong, but I swear I can be a better man to Rosie if she just gives me a chance.
I’m leaning on the car looking through my high-powered binoculars when a voice behind me says, “Good strategy.”
I turn around to see that same asshole that was in the parking garage standing behind me with a smug ass look on his face. His hair is different—it looks like he dyed it—and he’s not wearing the usual fucking undertaker clothes.
“I’m more than 1000 feet away from her, so leave me the fuck alone,” I snap.
“But technically, you’re still stalking her with those Oberwerks,” he responds. I turn to face him.
“Fine. I’ll fucking leave.” As I open the door to my car, he stops me.
“Look, I don’t work for the bastard anymore, and I don’t fucking care what you do. You got a light?” He puts a cigarette in his mouth. I don’t smoke, but I keep lighters for the ladies that do… when I used to care about the ladies… before Rosie recaptured my heart. I light his cigarette.
“If you don’t work for him, why do you care about what I’m doing?”
“Well, I really don’t. But that bitch caused me to lose my job,” he sneers.
“Don’t call her a bitch!” I snap.
“Oh, but you can call her a whore!” he retorts, not taking down. We get into a momentary standoff when he says, “Look. I don’t give a fuck what you call her, but to me, she’s a bitch. Now I can help you out if you want it, and if not, I’ll leave you and the bitch alone.”
“Stop calling her a bitch!” I say again.
“Why should I? I’m trying to help you.”
“Because I’ll send you on your way if you keep calling her a bitch and apparently, there’s something in this for you. And since I don’t know what you have to offer, I’m not missing anything by sending you on your way,” I respond. He takes a drag from his cigarette.
“You’re a smart man. Smarter than I thought. You should know that you’ve been followed and observed for over a week now. They know your every move. They know you’re standing here right now talking to me—they just don’t know it’s me. I’m just some guy that asked you for a light, making small talk.” What the fuck? Who are they?
“What the hell are you talking about, man? And why should I believe anything you say?” I challenge.
“Because until last Monday, I was the man that was following you. I was distracted, which is the only reason why you got close to her, but I can guarantee you that rich prick isn’t going to let that happen to you again. There’s somebody within 50 feet of you right now, and you don’t even know it. They know where you were yesterday, what you eat for breakfast, the color of your damn underwear, and when you last took a shit! And unless you know how they operate, you’ll never know how to get rid of them,” he says.
“And what’s in it for you?” I say, leaning on the car folding my arms.
The bi… she… cost me my job. I can’t even find another job in this state, so I’ll be leaving here soon, but not before I cause a little havoc in the lives of the Golden Boy and his little Butterfly,” he says with disdain. His little butterfly. Is that what he calls her? I hate that man. I really do.
“What can you do for me?” I ask, my interest piqued.
“Why don’t you come and have a beer with me and I’ll tell you all about it, Ed. By the way, my name’s Bob.”
Fiori is Fiori Floral Designs, a florist in Seattle
Yes, Going Home is another Kenny G song that was most likely playing sometime while Anastasia was asleep.
A couple of pictures are on Pinterest for this chapter at http://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/paging-dr-steele/
You can join my mailing list on the “Contact Me” page. Just indicate in the message that you would like to join the mailing list.
Love and Handcuffs!