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 33—Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right
I’ve called her.
I’ve texted her.
I sent her flowers.
I sent her emails.
I damn near sent her a singing telegram.
I even enlisted Davenport and Allen to help me… after Al read me the riot act for being such an idiot. I had to give her phone to Davenport to return to her since she refuses to see me.
Ana has been on complete radio silence for nearly 48 hours. It’s now Thursday and I haven’t heard a peep from her since Tuesday night in the exercise room at her condo. Al explained to her what was going on, although I told him not to apologize for me—I need to do that myself—just to explain it to her so that she wouldn’t be in the dark.
Not sure that was the best idea. I think it pissed her off even worse.
She’s utterly livid that I even had the slightest inkling that she would cheat on me, much less with my own brother. I can’t blame her, either. In hindsight, the whole idea seems utterly ludicrous. I can only hope that she doesn’t inform Elliot of my foolishness, but right now, I just want to get my girl to talk to me.
Wednesday goes by in a blur. Curse out employees… wonder what Ana is doing.
Read background checks for Green Valley… did she eat a good lunch?
Submit the papers to Haviland to pull backing from Lincoln… can she walk in her stilettos again?
Bark at my staff for staring at me…”Haven’t you ever seen a man with a black eye before? My girlfriend gave it to me!” I didn’t realize I was stating that like it was a prize.
Go back to Escala and run until my feet hurt… then run some more. Taylor couldn’t keep up.
Sit in the bathtub until the water is cold and my skin is pruney.
I know that I should eat something, but there’s no room for food with the lump in my stomach.
Taylor tells me that Davenport has left for the night and that she seems fine overall. Still very angry, but fine.
No sleep for me tonight.
I miss her.
I’m sorry, Ana.
I love you, Ana.
I spend Wednesday night at my piano again, playing complex concertos—Brahms no. 1 and 2, Beethoven no. 1 and 73, Rachmaninoff no. 3, Tchaikovsky no. 1, Chopin no. 11… nothing shorter than 30 minutes and nothing soothes me. As I play the last notes of Mozart 21, Taylor’s voice interrupts my thoughts, inquiring if I would be going into the office. The dawn has crept up on my third day without sleep… the fourth day without Butterfly—the first was my doing, and she is making me pay for it now.
So, I sit in my office, after none of my sorry, feeble attempts at apologizing are successful. I haven’t shaved—just didn’t feel like it—and I have asked not to be disturbed unless the building is on fire.
I don’t know what else I can do. I know that I was wrong… and stupid. I just want the chance to apologize properly. I’m sure she’s doing this on purpose… giving me a taste of what I put her through. The difference is that I know why she’s shunning me; she had no idea why I was doing it to her. I open the liquor cabinet in my office and fill a tumbler with bourbon. I sit down at my desk and scroll through the pictures on my blackberry. I have lots of pictures of Butterfly in my phone that she had no idea I was taking…
Her sleeping soundly in our bed at Escala, her hair splayed sexily over the pillow…
Her in her sundress and slides cooking dinner in her apartment…
Her talking to Allen at the dinner party last week in that sexy purple and silver dress…
I take a sip of my bourbon and it’s not enough. I take a large swallow and it’s like fire going down my throat. Still not enough, but there’s really nothing I can do about it.
This hurts a lot.
I didn’t think I could hurt like this…
Is this what being in love feels like?
If so, I can never be without her… ever!
Does she still love me?
Did I fuck up the best thing that ever happened to me?
My lifeline? My soulmate?
It would serve me right—I was really shitty to her.
I have to see that fucker Carlisle tonight. I hope he’s prepared for me having a very bad day, because if he’s expecting sunshine and rainbows, he has another think coming. I try to convince Taylor to let me drive my RS7—just to clear my mind a bit. Driving usually helps. However, he kindly reminds me of my liquid lunch, which means that it’s probably not a good idea to get behind the wheel. True, I’m not drunk, but the lack of food in my system means that I’m definitely impaired. Fuck, I don’t care. Just get me there.
I admit to Carlisle that I’m under-the-weather because of a severe personal development. I assure him that I’ll talk to my own therapist about it and not go around the good city of Seattle punching out its citizens. My attempt at a joke doesn’t put his mind at ease.
“I can tell that you have made some major strides in your life, Mr. Grey, even in the short time that we have known each other.” he says. “I would hate to see all of that hard work suffer a setback because of some unavoidable personal issues.” Carlisle, if you only knew. I have no desire—or strength—to take any anger out on anybody. I just want to go home and sit at my piano and look at pictures of my Butterfly. I would much rather see my Butterfly in person, but right now, that’s going to have to do.
“I’ll be fine,” I explain. “I had some very painful truths hit me in the face this week and I’m dealing with them the best way I know how. No one has been fired or accosted, so I would say that I am doing pretty well so far, wouldn’t you?”
“What about that?” he says, pointing at my eye. “Were you on the wrong end of a fight?” I laugh, touching my bruised eye almost affectionately.
“Yeah, but it’s not what you think. Let’s just say this was an unexpected event involving a boxing glove and a punching bag.”
“Ah,” he says, nodding. “Well, at least you’re still taking care of yourself during this ordeal… whatever it is. I would recommend that you get some more sleep, though. You’re not looking rested at all.” I didn’t bother telling him that I wasn’t working out when I got the black eye or that I really wasn’t taking the best care of myself during this “ordeal.” He really didn’t need to know all that.
“I’ll do my best. Sleep seems to be evading me a bit lately,” I admit, sadly.
“Well, you might want to take a sleep aid of some kind. Your body—and your mind—can only function so long without enough sleep.” Don’t I know it. “Growing in a beard, are you?” Yes, Asshole, I know that I am sporting a little extra hair these days.
“I thought I’d see how it looks on me. I’m not really sure about it,” I lie. “What do you think of it?”
“I’m not the one that has to look at it,” he says. “What does your girlfriend think?”
I don’t know how to answer that question. I haven’t overtly told Carlisle that Ana is my girlfriend now, but I would put a wager on it that he knows or has some kind of idea. Nonetheless, I’m not going to fill in the blanks for him, especially not now.
“I don’t think she likes it,” I lie. “I’ll probably shave it off.” I throw my hand dismissively. “By the way, I have to go out of town on business next Wednesday which means I won’t be here for next Thursday’s session. I can’t reschedule this trip—I would if I could. Is there anything that I can do?” I ask sincerely. I’m still going to Green Valley to get the mother fuckers that hurt my Butterfly. “I can see you upon my return if that’s possible. I’ll be back on Friday evening and I can come in the following Monday…”
“I don’t think that’s necessary,” he says. “You come in every session without fail, and I can see that you are working on your anger issues—even in the midst of whatever is currently going on in your life. So why don’t you come in on Monday and we’ll see how you’re doing and make that your last session?” Thank fuck for that!
“I really appreciate that. Thank you.”
I’m relieved to get back to the seclusion of Escala. Gail has left dinner in the microwave, but the thought of food causes my stomach to churn violently. Maybe I’ll eat later when I’m feeling a little better. Instead, I pour a glass of Bourbon and set it on a coaster on my piano, like I have done every night for the past three nights. I drank it once; the other two nights, it just sat there. I don’t know it yet, but this glass will sit here, too. I start to play a familiar tune, my fingertips gliding effortlessly across the black and white keys. The song is very short… maybe two minutes… and I am amazed that it brings me such comfort as I play. I start the song again when it is finished… and again… and again…
It’s not until somewhere around the 200th or 300th time I have played the song that I realize I am playing “Moon River.” I close my eyes and I see her… asleep on the floor in my closet, wearing my blue blazer and her tiara and holding a blue rose. I play the song again… and again… and again…
Please don’t leave me, Butterfly. Please don’t leave me…
How fucking dare he think I was sleeping with his damn brother! And then cut me off without a word and don’t even give me the opportunity to defend myself! Asshole!
You love him. How long are you going to stay mad at him?
Until I’m not mad at him anymore. Now leave me the fuck alone because I don’t want to hear the voice of reason right now! I’m pissed!
For some reason, I end up in this little sitting room near the back of my apartment with this ghastly gold chaise in it. What the hell was I thinking when I put this thing in here? I’m being flooded with thoughts of blue. Before I know it, I’m online picking paint colors and furniture and hiring painters to get that room changed as soon as possible! I’ll give that awful chaise and table to charity. Hell, it’s so ugly, they might not want it either. What was I thinking?
Early Thursday afternoon the painters show up to paint the sitting room and I enlist Al to sit with me while I wait for them to finish.
“So how long do you plan on making Adonis suffer?” he asks.
‘I don’t know,” I answer. “I’m not trying to make him suffer. I’m trying to not be upset and hurt that he would think I would do something like that to him and then shut me down without a word.”
“Do you want to break up with him, Jewel?”
“No, I don’t want to break up with him!” I answer. ” I just… he can’t treat me like this, Al.”
“But it’s okay for you to treat him like this,” he says flatly. I glare at him.
“Al, whose side are you on?” I ask, a little hurt. I have to admit, I’m slightly offended.
“I’m on your side, you know that, but you have to see that you’re doing the same thing to him that he did to you. And you’re saying it’s wrong when he did it to you, but not when you do it to him.”
“It’s different. Our reasons are different,” I defend.
“Does that make it right, Jewel?” he asks. I sigh angrily at him. “He had a lapse in judgment. Granted, it was a huge lapse in judgment, but that’s what it was. He’s miserable, Jewel. How long are you going to make him pay for it?” I’m running out of steam here.
“Well, I was miserable, too,” I say, almost pouting.
“I know, Jewel. I was there. It was very hard to see you that way.” He put his arm around me. I lean into his chest. I miss Christian. I do. But he can’t do this to me again, and I don’t know how to tell him that so that he’ll understand. The best way for me to drive that point home is with my silence. “I want you to think about something, Jewel, and then I promise I’ll let it go.” I sigh again.
“You remember how you felt when you didn’t know what was going on? How much it hurt inside when you didn’t know what he was thinking or what he was going to do for a whole day? When you threw your phone in the bushes, do you remember how you felt right before you looked at the phone and saw that there was no contact?” Yeah, I felt like pure shit.
“Yes, it was pretty bad.”
“Christian’s been feeling that way for a few days… probably worse because he also has to deal with the fact that he hurt you.”
I don’t know what to say to that. I drop my head because I can’t really make eye contact with him right now. Whose pain is worse? And does that really matter if I’m hurting the man that I love? I don’t know what to think. Al kisses me on my forehead and wanders off into parts unknown, probably to flirt with the painters. He gets a kick out of flirting with straight guys because he knows how uncomfortable it makes them. He’s completely dedicated to James, but he loves to have fun at their expense. I go over to my window and look out over Elliot Bay.
I feel like I can’t just get up and go over there like everything is okay. He took a day away from my life—I drank until I was stupid, I couldn’t see my patients, I launched my phone into the bushes, and I was almost accosted by a punching bag. My judgment went to shit, my sense of self-preservation died. Hell, I tripped over nothing in the middle of the street cold sober and almost strangled myself with a $300 tie while wine drunk. How do you make someone see that it is unacceptable to make somebody feel that way?
By making them feel the exact same way?
I hug myself because of the chill that just came over me.
My new blue sitting room is very pretty. I can’t for the life of me figure out why I all of a sudden had to have a blue sitting room. Anyway, it’s done now. Federal blue walls—the deepest blue I could get without going navy or midnight. Cream furniture with blue, cream, and gray pillows and accessories are combined with deep brown oversized end tables, off-white table lamps, and a short-legged walnut coffee table. The neutral earthly colors against the contrasting blue walls gives the room an almost beachy color scheme—the tan and white area rug with blue designs reminiscent of light, sea-water-soaked sand. Bye-bye horrible gold chaise!
I only have two patients this morning and none this afternoon since Friday is usually a light day. It’s a good thing, too, because I sit in my apartment all afternoon, pondering what I’m going to say to Christian. I know it’s time that I say something, but I don’t know how to open the lines of communication.
Do I call him? Not sure I’m ready for that.
Do I text him? Too impersonal.
Do I show up at his door? Hell, no! I’m definitely not ready for that!
Send an email. I can get out everything that I need to say and I don’t have to look into his eyes and be tempted to kiss him.
I sit down at my laptop to type the words. I sit there for hours and there’s still nothing on the screen. What the fuck am I going to do? I don’t know what to say to him. I’m rubbing a fire into my forehead when there is a knock at my door. I look through the peep-hole to see who it is. What the…? I open the door.
“Taylor!?” His presence here without Christian sets off frightening alarms in my head. “Is he okay?”
“No,” Taylor says succinctly and without hesitation. “I’ve worked for him for seven years and I have never seen him like this. He hasn’t slept in four days—he’s on day five now. He goes to work, locks himself in his office and does nothing. Today, he only stayed there for a few hours and he’s been at his piano ever since. If he’s eating, I haven’t seen it. Gail wants to call his mother, but he has expressly forbidden it. If I didn’t know any better, I would say he just wants to fade away.” I sigh heavily and pick up my purse.
“Take me to him, Taylor.” I say as I follow him out the door.
I prepare myself for the worst, but I don’t think anything could have prepared me for what I see once we arrive. We ride the elevator to Christian’s apartment in silence. The great room is a tomb—an homage to happier days, it seems. I can hear broken notes being played on the piano in the distance, like a small child was randomly pecking at the keys.
“He’s through there.” Taylor points in the direction of the broken music. “If you need me, pick up any landline and dial 31.” I nod at him and head in the direction he pointed. The sun is setting on Friday night and Christian is sitting in a nearly dark room at the piano, the evening light shining in from the glass wall. An untouched drink of some alcoholic variety sits on a coaster on the piano. His hair looks longer. It’s always flopsy and unkempt, but it seems to be falling past his eyes now. It’s never been that long. What is normally designer stubble has filled in quite a bit to a nearly full-grown beard. He’s still wearing a three-piece suit, minus the suit coat, although I swear it looks like he slept in his clothes. Even by the slight light of sunset, I can tell that he looks like shit. I turn on the lamp near the wall and Christian stops his choppy playing.
“I told them not to call you, Mom. I’m fine,” he says without turning around. His voice is hoarse and dry and I can barely hear what he says. He tries to clear his throat and repeat his words, but they don’t come out any better. I walk over to him and stand in his line of vision, but he doesn’t raise his head. His hands are resting in his lap now like a child being scolded.
“It’s not Grace,” I say softly but sternly. He raises his head and I have to take a deep breath to keep from reacting to what I saw.
He looks like a ghost! His face is pale and drawn. There’s hair everywhere… I can probably pull it back into a ponytail! He hasn’t shaved in days—probably at least since the last time I saw him. His lips look dry and cracked. He has dark circles under his bloodshot eyes and the gray is almost white. They’re empty. Oh, and he’s sporting a black eye.
“Butterfly.” He says like it’s taking all of his strength to speak. What has he done to himself?
Probably the same thing you did to yourself when he did this to you, only you had a friend to come and help you… and an assistant… and a bodyguard that he gave you…
Okay! Fuck! Shut the hell up and let me figure this out!
“Hi,” I respond. “What happened there?” I ask, pointing to the black eye.
“You,” he responds softly.
“Me!?” I ask incredulously. I haven’t seen the man in five days!
“The exercise room,” He says, reaching for his drink, but setting it back down again without drinking it. I wonder how many times he’s done that?
“Sorry,” I say. I forgot about the exercise room incident.
“It’s okay. It’s kept me company,” he smiles faintly. It looks like it even takes effort for him to do that and his voice sounds like gravel! I step closer to him and lean on the piano.
“Elliot, huh?” I say. I don’t know what else to say about it.
“Yes. Stupid. I should have known better. I’m sorry,” he croaks all in one breath. He drops his head as if he can’t get any more out. He’s not doing well at all.
“You’re a real asshole, Christian, you know that?” I say, half joking and half serious.
“Yeah, I know. I’m sorry, Baby. I’m just tired.” And without warning, down he goes—he has fallen off the piano bench and onto the floor.
What the hell just happened?
“Taylor!” I run to Christian and turn him over on his back. He’s out cold! Taylor is not coming fast enough. I remember what he said when I came into the apartment. I look for a landline and the only one that I remember is in the kitchen. I quickly dial 31 and Taylor answers.
“Christian is passed out. I need your help, please!” I say frantically into the phone.
“I’ll be right there.” He hangs up. I run back to Christian and loosen his tie and undo the top button of his shirt.
“Christian, can you hear me?” Nothing. No eye flutter, no sound, nothing. Taylor comes from the other end of the room and Gail is right behind him, covering her mouth with her hands.
“What happened?” Taylor asks, opening Christian’s eyes and examining his pupils.
“We were just talking and the next thing I knew, he just dropped!” I say. Taylor picks Christian up and carries him to the bedroom.
“I’m going to call Dr. Grey,” Gail says before leaving the room.
“I think it’s exhaustion and dehydration,” Taylor says. I look over at Christian, lying in bed fully dressed and helpless. I take off his shoes and socks. The skin on his feet looks better than the skin on his face.
“Oh, Christian,” I say. Taylor’s right. He’s dehydrated and exhausted. Probably starving, too. I remove his vest and tie, then his shirt. He still hasn’t budged and he’s lying on the clothes that I have removed. “He’s concentrating very hard on the exhaustion part, so let’s worry about that until Grace gets here. I’m going to need you to help me here,” I say gesturing at Christian’s pants. Taylor looks at the pants and then at me.
“I have to draw the line somewhere, Ms. Steele!” he protests.
“Look. I’m praying to God that he’s not commando under there. That’s not his style. But I can’t get these off on my own. I usually have some help if I’m doing this.” Taylor scrunches his face.
“Oh! TMI! TMI!” Taylor says.
“Just please, help me. You roll the mountain and I’ll take the pants off. The first sign of bare ass, and you’re relieved!” Taylor accepts the terms and helps me get Christian out of his pants. No bare ass, thank God. Black boxer briefs. Sexy black Hugo Boss boxer briefs.
Damn, get it together, Steele. The man is nearly comatose!
Taylor helps me to get his other clothes off the bed and put him under the duvet. He didn’t even grunt while we were rolling him around and taking his clothes off.
“Dr. Grey will be here shortly. She’s pretty convinced that he most likely needs sleep and fluids, but we may need to get him to the hospital so that they can put him on an IV to rehydrate him. She’ll assess when she gets here,” Gail explains when she returns to the bedroom.
“I need water-based soup,” I tell Gail.
“I have some homemade chicken soup in the freezer. It can be ready in 20 minutes, but we may want to wait to see what Dr. Grey says,” she replies. I nod.
“You’re right. I’m glad we have it handy, though.” I walk over to the bed and sit down next to him. I run my fingers through his hair, brushing it off his face. “You’re a real asshole, Grey,” I say softly. I examine his features more closely now that he’s lying down. His eyes are sunk into his head and his lips are parted. He doesn’t look like himself at all—he looks dead. I don’t like this look at all.
“I’m very angry with you, Christian Grey,” I say, tears flowing down my face, still stroking his hair. “You accuse me of having an affair with your brother, you cut me off for a whole day, and then you slowly try to kill yourself,” I sob quietly. “And now when I’m finally ready to give you a piece of my mind, you’re all weak and feeble and needy and all I want to do is take care of you and love you. You don’t play fair, sir!” I say through my sniffles. “We’re going to have to talk about these things in the future because this is simply unacceptable!” I say, banging my fist on my knee. I brush his hair out of his face and kiss his forehead, closing my eyes and feeling the clamminess of his skin as I drag his hand into my lap. I look around to notice that Taylor and Gail have left the room.
“You don’t take rejection well, do you, sir?” I say to his unconscious form. “Well, if you can’t take it, you shouldn’t dish it out! You can’t do that to people, Christian. You can’t treat us like we’re one of your companies. If you do, they’ll leave, and you’ll look up and they’re wine-drunk on the sofa after having choked to death on one of your designer ties… or unconscious on the floor by the piano after no food, water, or sleep for five days.” I kiss him on the forehead again. “Please be okay, Christian, please…” I squeak, barely able to get the words out.
“He’ll be fine, dear,” a gentle voice says from behind me. I turn my tear-stained face to meet Grace’s gaze and I just fall apart. I bury my face in my hands and just weep. This man needs to learn the rules and play by them.
You are not allowed to accuse me of something without allowing me the opportunity to defend myself.
You are not allowed to cut me off and leave me wondering what the hell is going on with no explanation.
You are not allowed to hurt yourself or do things to deliberately cause yourself harm.
Number three is more important than the rest…
Grace puts her hand on my shoulder. “I need you to be strong for me, Ana. I need to check him out and see what’s going on. Okay?” I nod and move over to the dresser without taking my hands from my face. When he gets better, I’m going to kill him! Grace examines Christian’s face, hands and mouth, then shines a light in his eyes. After a few moments, she takes out her cell phone and hits some number on speed-dial.
“This is Dr. Grace Trevelyan. I’m bringing in an adult male, 6′ 2″, approximately 175 pounds, 29 years old suffering from severe dehydration. Please prepare a private room and have 0.9% sodium chloride solution ready for intravenous fluid replacement and let Dr. Fischer know that I need him on standby. This is a family member of mine.” After giving some additional information to whomever was on the phone, Grace calls for Taylor.
Things seemed to move in slow motion after that. I can’t remember hearing anything for a while… Seconds? Minutes? I don’t know. I remember Grace doing something to Christian and then seeing Taylor lift his limp form—blanket and all—and carry him from the room. I see Grace standing in front of me and she’s saying something, but I can’t hear her. Her mouth is moving, but there’s no sound. The room is shaking a bit and a few moments later, I realize that it’s not the room that shaking… it’s me. Grace is clutching my arms shaking me almost violently.
“Ana!” I can hear her screaming at me. “Ana! Come back to me, now!” Okay, where the hell was I gone?
“I’m sorry…” I squeak. Grace frowns.
“Sorry for what?” she says.
“I did this. We were fighting. I was angry…” She shakes her head.
“The only one who did this to Christian is Christian. Now, we can talk about this later. Right now, we have to go. He needs fluids quickly. Come on, dear… now!” She’s pushing me out the door. Taylor has already left the apartment and I’m assuming that during my little conscious blackout, he’s already on his way to the hospital with Christian.
I ride silently in the car next to Grace. I’m so angry at Christian for doing this to himself and so guilty for doing this to him. The opposing sides are fighting with each other and sending my head into a tailspin. Grace is trying to comfort me while she’s driving by telling me that Christian will be just fine after a few hours of a saline drip and some food, but I can barely hear her. He simply cannot do this again! I have to get him to understand that.
What is it about rejection that causes people to lose their ever-loving, rabbit-ass minds? She-Thing can’t control herself to save her life. Edward acts like he doesn’t have the good sense God gave a watermelon. Even Bethany decides that instead of leaving with part of her dignity intact, she would try to convince me that she gave my man a blowjob before he kicked her out of his apartment. For Christ’s sake, people, go out and buy some self-respect!
And Christian… beautiful, strong, powerful, dominant, rich Christian… reduced to nothing because I wouldn’t speak to him. Maybe She-Thing was right. Maybe I am weakening him… maybe I’m no good for him…
Seriously? You’re going to defer to her logic on this? Seriously?
Yeah… sorry… brain fart moment.
That wasn’t a brain fart! That was a brain crash-and-burn! What the fuck is wrong with you!?
Yeah… not quite myself right now.
Well, come the fuck back! That was some scary shit! Do you want me to move out!?
Okay, so I went in the wrong direction, but I just don’t know what to do right now. This man is sending me on a damn merry-go-round! I don’t have my wits about me, okay?
I would try to convince the Bitch some more, but Grace has pulled into the doctor’s parking at the hospital and we are now running full speed through the halls of this medical institution. As if they couldn’t see me running close behind Dr. Trevelyan, she had to tell four different people to back off because I was with her. By the fifth time, we were just screaming “We’re together” in sync without stopping.
Although I know it only takes a couple of minutes at the most, it seems like it takes forever to get to Christian’s room. Taylor had just gotten him there moments before we arrive and they only just started taking his vital signs and attaching the IV. Taylor and I aren’t allowed in the room while they’re doing these things, so I can only pace the waiting room until Grace comes to give us an update.
“Ma’am…” Taylor begins. I want to throw this man against the wall for calling me that, but I’m just too worried about Christian.
“Yes, Taylor?” I answer.
“If I may ask, what happened?” I’m confused.
“I told you what happened. He was sitting on the piano bench and then he wasn’t,” I answer bemused.
“No, I mean, what happened… between the two of you… that it got to this point?” he clarifies. I glare at him. “I wouldn’t ask, Ma’am, but I’ve just never seen him like this. I don’t mean to overstep my boundaries…” I’m horrified by this question.
“You have no idea?” I ask. You spend damn near 25 hours a day, eight days a week with my boyfriend and you have no idea why we’re not speaking!?
“I know that there was a misunderstanding about Elliot, Ma’am, but I thought that was cleared up.” That word is starting to make my skin crawl. I sigh.
“Yeah, your otherwise brilliant boss thought I was sleeping with his brother,” I say. “I was talking to Elliot in my office on Monday and instead of asking me what was going on, Mr. CEO jumped to conclusions and cut me off!” I say, throwing my hands in the air.
“Ooooh, that explains a lot,” Taylor says. “I wondered why he didn’t get out of the car when you threw your phone against the wall.”
He was there! I knew that was him! I knew it! Asshole!
“Well, I wasn’t ready to talk to him when he showed up at my apartment, so I pretty much told him to leave me alone… that was Tuesday…”
“So… no contact since then?” I shake my head. “You were trying to teach him a lesson?” I sigh. I want to say “no,” but I can’t in clear conscience.
“It didn’t start out that way,” I explain. “I was hurt. I still didn’t know why he shunned me because I didn’t give him a chance to explain—which turned out to be a good thing because when I did find out, a wine glass hit the wall and I can’t guarantee that it wouldn’t have been his head had he been present.” Taylor chuckles a bit, then I continue. “I just wanted to stop hurting, to stop feeling angry and betrayed.”
“Betrayed?” Taylor questions.
“How could he not believe everything I told him about how I feel? How could he let everything I’ve told him—everything we feel for each other—just fly out the window at a moment’s notice because of an insecurity? An unfounded insecurity?” Taylor rubs his 5:00 shadow and nods.
“Can I give you another perspective?” Oh, great! Another voice of reason.
“Sure. Why not?” I say, taking a seat next to him in one of those awful uncomfortable hospital chairs.
“How many times have you been in love?” he asks. That’s a highly personal question, but I guess no more personal than the conversation that we’ve been having this evening.
“Um, besides puppy-love, I guess it would only be Edward,” I answer.
“So, once,” he says. I nod. “Ended pretty badly,” he adds. I glare at him.
“I have a current restraining order against the guy! I’d say it ended badly!” I say stating the obvious. He scratches his stubble.
“Did you learn anything from that relationship? I’m not being sarcastic, it’s a valid question,” he says.
“Yes, how to duck a sucker!” I answer and he chuckles again. “I learned how not to treat someone. I got a full picture of what I didn’t want in a man. I learned to trust my instincts and not let my feelings blind me to the obvious anymore.”
“So even though it was a bad experience for you, you still got something from it… you got some kind of yardstick,” he points out. I nod.
“True, yeah. It was rough, but I learned something.” What’s his point?
“Well, that at least was worth the trouble, but let me ask you… what’s Mr. Grey’s yardstick?”
I fall silent for a moment while I try to process what Taylor just said. What’s Mr. Grey’s yardstick? Fuck, he doesn’t have one! He has no experience with relationships! And I’ve noticed that Christian takes great pains to predict what may happen next because he doesn’t like the unknown. Uncertainty scares the shit out of him. He had no idea what was going on with Elliot and he didn’t know how to handle it. Then, I shut him down… for days! He’s just like a child when it comes to relationships. I gave him a shiny new toy and he dropped it. So instead of teaching him that he needs to take better care of his toys, I just took the toy away… with no indication that he would ever get it back. I’m already balancing my very delicate sanity on the head of a pin. It doesn’t take much to set me off right now.
That did it.
I am bent over in my chair, face buried in my hands, hands buried in my knees… bawling! Christian could have really done some serious harm to himself and it’s all because I don’t have the good sense to understand that he’s following me in the darkness—I’m leading him down an unknown path and if I leave him there, he’s completely lost.
“How could I be so stupid?” I wail into my hands.
“You’re not stupid, Ma’am…” he begins. I sit straight up.
“Stop calling me that!” I demand through my tears.
“Wha…?” he begins, and I interrupt him.
“Call me Ana! Suzie! Carol! Pookie! Spot! Doctor Lady! Your Highness! I don’t care! Just stop calling me ‘Ma’am!'” I bark in my weepy voice. I take a moment to register his shock, then drop my face back down to my knees and cry some more.
“Fine, you’re not stupid, Spot.” My shoulders shake with my laughter-tears. “You say that he has some lessons to learn about being in a relationship. You’re right, and it’s moments like this where you have to remember that. And Doctor Lady, you have some lessons to learn, too. You need to learn how to be in a relationship with a man that’s never been in a relationship. True, you are going to have to teach him, but you have to remember that even though it may seem like common sense, it’s not common sense to him. When he thought you were having an affair with his brother, he was hurt, ashamed, and betrayed. He didn’t know how to face it… so he just didn’t face it at all. I’m not sure that he ever would have if he didn’t get the call on Tuesday morning that you were MIA. Anybody who has ever betrayed him, harmed him, hurt him, or disappointed him, he kicked them out of his life. He’s not prepared to do that with you.”
I’m still shaking with tears and I’m sure that Taylor doesn’t know quite how to handle me.
“I didn’t say this so that you can fall apart at the seams, but the two of you need to get it together. In the fight to protect yourselves, you’re hurting each other… and yourselves!” I have to pull it together. I’m going to have an unbelievable headache if I keep this up.
“Oh, good Lord, give me strength!” I cry as I sit up and Taylor hands me a handkerchief. “How did you get so smart?” I ask.
“I’m divorced,” he answers. I look up at him. I see an unnamed emotion hiding behind the strength that is Jason Taylor.
“Do you still love her?” I ask, wiping my eyes.
“No, but I still wish I didn’t have to go through the divorce. It was brutal on Sophie.”
“Sophie? Is that your ex-wife?” I ask.
“No, that’s my daughter,” he answers. What?
“You have a daughter? You work all the time. When do you ever see her?” I ask. He laughs.
“I don’t work all the time, Pookie. It just looks like I do.” Oh, he’s going to have his pound of flesh, I see.
“Pookie is cute. I like Pookie. Christian won’t, though,” I say. “How old is Sophie?” I ask, as I lay down on the sofa in the waiting room.
“She’s ten,” he says. “Very smart, but then I’m biased.” All of a sudden, I’m feeling homesick for Ray. I can imagine Taylor being a very protective dad to Sophie.
“Do you have a picture of her?” I ask with a yawn. Taylor scrolls through his phone and hands it to me. There is a picture of a gorgeous little girl with golden curls all over her head.
“Oh, she’s so pretty,” I say, I feel my eyes closing, but they dart open immediately when I see Grace enter the waiting room.
“Grace!” I sit straight up. Every bit of exhaustion gone from my body instantly. “How is he?”
“Still resting, dear. Come with me.” Taylor, Grace, and I walk down to Christian’s room. He looks a little better since he has been on the IV, but still very peaked. He’s still out like a light. His mouth is closed and his lips don’t look so dry. There’s a doctor looking at his chart when we enter.
“Hi, I’m Dr. Fischer. You must be Ana.” He proffers his hand to me. I shake his hand, confused. “Dr. Trevelyan has told me about you.”
“Oh, okay. I’m sorry, Dr. Fischer. It’s been a long night,” I say, rubbing my forehead.
“Well, I think this one will be okay now,” he says, pointing his pen at Christian. “His blood pressure is low, and he’s suffering from hypovolemia. It’s a fancy name for an advanced form of dehydration. He’s probably very fatigued if you said he hasn’t slept in five days, but he didn’t pass out from the exhaustion—he passed out from the dehydration. It’s a good thing you brought him in,” he said to Grace. “As you know, Dr. Trevelyan, the kind of rehydration that he needs can’t be done orally. It needs to be a slow process—reintroducing fluids and electrolytes to his body gradually. He needs to replace the volume of his blood plasma and doing this too quickly or simply by giving him water could result in osmotic cerebral edema.”
At my look of confusion, the doctor puts his arm around my shoulders and says, “Water on the brain. An IV drip overnight should be enough, but we’ll have to see how he’s doing in the morning. When he wakes, he’s going to be very thirsty and will most likely have a really bad headache. Page one of the nurses for painkillers and give him sips of water. Crushed ice is actually better.” He pats me on the back and smiles. “Dr. Trevelyan.” He nods at Grace.
“Thank you, Dr. Fischer,” she says before he leaves the room. I turn back to Christian. He looks like he’s sleeping peacefully now.
“So… from what he said… Christian didn’t fall asleep. He passed out,” I say. Grace nods.
“So, he’s not asleep right now… he’s actually unconscious,” I deduce.
“Yes, that’s right,” she responds softly.
“Why did this happen right when I walked in the room? Why didn’t it happen right before or sometime after? He said maybe three sentences to me, and then he was gone.” I snap my fingers to illustrate the speed in which Christian passed out.
“That I can’t answer, Ana. The only answer that I could give you is that this was going to happen whether you were there or not. The fact that it happened at the moment that it did could have something to do with a spike in adrenaline when he saw you and then the subsequent crash of not having enough strength in the first place. Again, I’m only guessing, but at the rate he was going, he was going to pass out anyway.” She brushes the hair from his forehead and I am fighting not to burst into tears again. I am sick of crying, dammit! I look around and see a sofa against the wall a few feet from Christian’s bed.
“I’ll sleep there,” I say, pointing to the sofa.
“Ana, why don’t you go home and come back in the morning? He’s not likely to wake up before then,” Grace coaxes.
“I’m not leaving him,” I say gently, “and if he’s going to wake up in the morning, then I’ll be here when he wakes up,” I say, standing next to his bed. Grace nods.
“Very well,” she says. “There is a blanket and pillow in that cabinet. I am going home because I have to be back on shift in the morning. You’ll call me if you need anything?”
“Yes, Grace. Thank you.” I smile and she kisses me on the cheek before she leaves.
“I’ll be outside the door. I’ll have another guard, Yancy Jackson, come in to relieve me shortly, but I’ll be back in the morning too. Let me see your phone.” I unlock my iPhone and hand it to him. He dials a number and his phone starts to ring. “Now you have my number in your phone and I have yours in mine.” He hands my phone back to me. “You know, Tuesday night, he had your phone until he gave it to Chuck to return to you the next morning. He called it at least 80 times so that he could hear that damn ringtone. What’s the name of that song?” Well, that explains all the missed calls. I couldn’t understand why there were so many when he had my phone.
“He called it 112 times and the song is called ‘Love All The Hurt Away,'” I say, softly. He nods.
“Call me if you need me,” he says.
“Thanks, Jason,” I say with a smile.
“You’re welcome, Your Highness.” And he’s gone.
My head is so heavy from the crying that I cannot resist sleep for one more moment. I get the blanket and sorry excuse for a pillow from the cabinet and lay them on the sofa.
“Goodnight, Christian,” I say before kissing him on his forehead, then his cheek. “I love you.”
I lay on the couch and I’m asleep before my head hits the pillow.
I feel like I’m floating. Strong arms are carrying me.
I can’t open my eyes. I am just too exhausted. I’m laying down again and strong arms wrap around me. Sleep takes me away again.
When I can finally open my eyes, I can tell that it’s morning, even though the sun hasn’t quite risen yet. I’m a little disoriented as I’m looking at the sofa that I know I fell asleep on last night. My head hurts and my eyes hurt and I’m not going to try to focus, but as I attempt to move, a very heavy arm holds me down. I lift my head just enough not to be painful to see a familiar hand clutching me around my waist. I feel the heat from his body on my back, and the warmth of his breath on my neck. His breathing is rhythmic, comfortable… and I don’t want to wake him. I have no idea how I got here, but I lay my head on the pillow and go back to sleep in the comfort of my man’s arms.
My throat hurts like hell and head weighs a thousand pounds! Where the fuck am I? The last thing I remember, I was at my piano and Butterfly was standing there. Now I’m here… wherever here is. And unless my ears deceive me, I’m in a damn hospital—and the conversation with Butterfly was probably the result of delirium. The hell if I’m staying here.
I try to lift my head and nothing happens. Like I said, a thousand pounds. “Taylor!” Nothing above a whisper. Shit! I’m stuck in this damn jail. And what’s with the fucking IV? What’s wrong with me anyway? I press the call button so that I can get some damn answers. I’m getting the hell out of this bed one way or the other. I roll over onto my side, painfully. Fuck… my head. Now, I can see a small form lying on the sofa about five feet in front of me. I can’t see her face or any part of her body. I can only see her hair.
“Butterfly…” Again, nothing above a whisper. I clear my throat and try again. “Butterfly!” Even less than before. At that moment, the nurse comes into the room with Taylor close behind. Thank God.
“Mr. Grey, how are you feeling?” I can’t even pay attention to her right now. I look at Taylor and point to Butterfly.
“How long…” I can’t get the words out.
“She’s been here since we brought you in. You passed out while she was talking to you,” he answers.
“Sleeping…” I croak.
“About an hour, sir. She spent more time crying than not. She’s exhausted.”
“Bring her to me,” I squeeze the words out.
“Mr. Grey, she can’t sleep with you!” Nurse Whatever-Her-Name-Is says. Taylor looks from the nurse to me.
“Bring her to me,” I repeat, what little bit of voice I have left leaving with each word.
“She can’t sleep with him,” she tries to tell Taylor.
“Nurse…” Taylor looks at her name tag, “Alexa. When did your shift start?”
“It just started,” she answers.
“And you have, what, seven or so more hours left?” he asks her.
“Nine, actually,” she answers, bemused.
“I can guarantee you that this is going to be the longest nine hours of your life if you don’t let me put that woman in the bed with this man.” She looks like she is about to protest again and I’m ready to get out of this fucking bed. If they won’t let my Butterfly come to me, I’m going to go to my Butterfly. “Sir, please, lie still,” Taylor says. I’ll do this for now because I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but they have about 60 seconds to rectify this situation, or I’m going to become a problem, weak or not!
“He’s weak and dehydrated. She’s exhausted. They’re only going to sleep. If you want him to get back to sleep, you better let me put her in the bed with him,” Taylor warns her. This is the last time I’m going to listen to him warn her, then I’m going to become the patient from hell. I can finally see the defeat in her eyes when she says, “Fine! But enjoy it while you can because I am going to fill your IV with painkillers. Your head must weigh a ton.”
“It does,” I croak and look back to Taylor and reach for my Butterfly. He picks her up from the sofa and brings her to the bed.
“Christian…” she murmurs. Oh, God, I need her next to me now. I hold my arms out to her and Taylor lays her in my arms. I cling to her, pulling her close to me. Oh, Butterfly! It feels like my chest is caving in. I inhale her smell deeply. My Butterfly. Suddenly, my head isn’t hurting anymore and I feel light as air. I lay my head back on my pillow and pull her as close to me as I can.
“I love you, Butterfly,” I croak as I fall heavily back to sleep.
My head isn’t any lighter when I open my eyes, and now I have to contend with sunlight. My throat is so dry and scratchy that it’s painful to even breathe. Fuck! This ridiculous! I’m a big, strapping man—brought to my knees because of a little thirst? I just doesn’t make any damn sense. I open my eyes a bit to see that Butterfly is no longer lying next to me, I momentarily panic until I shift my head slightly and see her sitting on the edge of the bed talking on her iPhone and yawning.
“I don’t know, five or ten… and some underwear… you know, like I’m going on a trip for two weeks or so…” Who is she talking to and why is she packing? Don’t panic, Grey. Just listen. If this little fiasco has taught me anything, it’s no longer jump to any conclusions when it comes to Butterfly.
“Oh, and don’t forget nightclothes… I love his T-shirts, but I’m not sleeping in them every night.” Okay this sounding better… I think. “Oh, I don’t know. It’s Saturday… A goddess dress and some wedges, I guess… and something to hold this hair off my damn neck. It’s driving me nuts!… Well, you know me… You know what to do.” She yawns again, rubbing her eyes. She looks like she’s only been awake for a few minutes herself.
“I don’t know how long I’m going to be here, so can you pack me an overnight case with the essentials just in case? And bring me some supplies. I’m on my period and I hate these hospital pads… how does anybody wear these things?… I know, I know. Can you please not berate me? I feel bad enough already… Yeah, sure, whatever. Security will meet you over there… Love you, too…”
Love you, too? What the hell?
“Oh, and Al? Get me another key made!” See? Conclusions…
Taylor walks in just as she is hanging up her phone. “Good morning, Sunshine,” he says. Sunshine? That’s a little friendly, don’t you think?
“Yeah, that’s a matter of opinion,” she replies. “Did you get any sleep at all?”
“Yes, I did, Pookie.” POOKIE!? What. Thee. Ever. Loving. Fuck!
“Do not do that! Unacceptable!” She’s waving a finger at him. You tell him, Butterfly. I’m going to fire his ass when I’m coherent. “Don’t even play like that!”
“Well, you started it!” The fucker is laughing. And what does he mean she started it?
“Yeah, well, stop it, Jason!” Jason!? Oh, hell, this is getting worse… “Gail is a wonderful woman. But if she heard you call me that, I have a feeling that she would serve me on a platter like Thanksgiving dinner,” Butterfly snaps. Oh, what the hell is going on here? “And I have a man here that I have to nurse back to health so that he can run his company on Monday. I don’t need him having a conniption because you’ve got jokes!” she adds. Well, that’s good news, but I’m going to ask her about this Jason/Pookie thing!
“Yes, Your Highness.” Oh, he’s got a million of them, huh?
“That’s better.” That’s better? No, it’s not! He’s way too comfortable with my girl. What the hell happened while I was out cold? “I don’t know if they’re going to be discharging him today, so bring him some pajama pants, a T-shirt, and some clean underwear. And bring him some clothes just in case—jeans, a comfortable shirt, his kicks…” Boy, she could run my company! “Bring his blackberry. If he doesn’t at least have it in arms reach, he’s going to flip out—although if he thinks I’m going to let him work anytime today he’s out of his mind!”
“Anything else?” Taylor asks.
“Yes, shampoo and a grooming kit. He’s starting to look like a mountain man,” she replies. Taylor laughs a little.
“Yes, Your Highness.” He’s smiling at her. Fucker.
“You know what?” she snaps. “That’s what you have to call me from now on! That’s what I’ll answer to… Your Highness. That’s your address to me from now on, Smart Ass!” Taylor’s laughing again.
“That’s fine by me, but you get to tell him!” he says. Oh, this should be good.
“Oh, I’ll tell him. Now go do what I told you!” Taylor pauses.
“You’ll be good for him,” he says to her. She drops her head and does that thing she does on her forehead when she’s stressed.
“Yeah, we’ll see, if I don’t kill him first.” Her voice sounds defeated. “We’ve got some talking to do. We cannot have this happen again.”
“Well, you’ve both got some lessons to learn. So now, you’ll learn them together.” He puts his hand on her shoulder. Down, Grey. Down, boy.
“Well, I’ve got a lot to do today. Al is bringing some of my things to Escala and I doubt that Christian’s closet can hold much more, so can you ask Gail to help him find someplace to put them? Maybe one of the guest closets or something?” The hell you will! Your stuff is going into our closet in our room… as soon as I find the strength and the voice to order someone around.
“No problem, we’ll take care of it.”
“Is Grace in the hospital yet?” she asks.
“I’m not sure, but I’ll find out.” He heads for the door.
“Oh, Jason…” That’s going to bother me. “Bring me some food!”
“What would you like?”
“Something quick and dead! I don’t care… as long as it’s not hospital food. In the commotion last night, I didn’t eat dinner. Now I feel like my stomach is eating itself! I have no idea how that man could do this for five days!” I can only see her profile, but a range of emotions flash across her face. “Then again, yes I do.” Her head drops again and the hand goes to the forehead. “When you get a chance, bring him some of Gail’s chicken soup.” She sounds defeated again. I see Taylor looking at her with sympathy in his eyes. It’s amazing that neither of them notices that I’m awake yet.
“Yes, Your Highness,” he says softly before leaving the room. She hasn’t raised her head yet. She rubs her hands over her whole face.
“I’m sorry, Christian,” she says almost to herself. She’s beating herself up for what I did? Oh, hell no, we can’t have that. I reach out and touch her hand and her eyes meet mine.
“Hi, Baby,” she says in a voice like she’s talking to a small child. She moves closer to me and brushes the hair off my forehead. “How are you feeling?” I open my mouth to say something, but nothing comes out. I think I knew this would happen. Christian Grey without a voice… that’s a first for me. “No voice, huh?” I shake my head. “So I could berate you all day if I wanted to and there’s nothing you could do but sit here and listen.” I try to laugh, but it comes out as a pathetic whimper. She leans down and kisses me on the forehead and then both cheeks before laying her forehead on mine and closing her eyes.
“Please don’t ever do this again,” she says, her voice cracking. I have to hold her. With the little strength that I have, I pull her close to me. She’s my medicine. I don’t need the IV or the painkillers or the monitors or the doctors. I just need her. Only her…
When I open my eyes again, Butterfly is curled into my chest and Nurse Whatever-Her-Name-Is is trying to wake her up. Shouldn’t your shift be over by now? I wave her hand away… leave my Butterfly alone.
“Mr. Grey, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to disturb you, but I have to change you IV bag and check your vitals. Please let me do my job and I promise, I’ll be out of your way in no time.” I sigh. Butterfly wouldn’t want me to give her a hard time, so I hold up a finger to her to wait for a minute.
I start to stroke Butterfly’s hair to wake her. Normally I would say something in her ear, but I have no fucking voice. I kiss her hair and gently rouse her from her sleep.
“Christian…?” she says, sleepily before opening her eyes. “Are you okay?” she asks, looking up at me. I nod and point to Nurse WHNI. Butterfly looks over at her and says, “Oh! I’m sorry!” and gently removes herself from my bed.
“That’s quite alright, Miss. I don’t think he would cooperate without you,” she smiles. Yeah, Butterfly has that effect on everybody… except the Pedophile… and Katherine Kavanaugh… although I’m going to have to ask her about those flowers. “So how are you feeling this morning, Mr. Grey?” I shake my head and hold my throat. “Yes, that’s normal for dehydration. We need to start getting some food in you, but before we do, you’ll need to get a little fluid in your throat. I’ll go get the doctor for you and I’ll be back with some crushed ice.”
When she’s gone, Butterfly climbs back in the bed with me and cradles my head in her chest. “I won’t be able to say this once you can talk, so I’m going to say this now while you can’t protest.” She’s running her fingers through my overgrown hair. Her hands feel so good on my scalp and I rest my head on her warm body. “I’m sorry, Christian.” No! I’m the asshole, here. I try to shake my head and she scolds me. “You’re going to listen to me. Do you understand?” she says, looking into my eyes.
I guess I’m going to listen…
“I shouldn’t have deserted you. You hurt me. You hurt me very badly. I have a lot of experience with being hurt and I didn’t like it. But when the time came for me to show you the same understanding that I needed from you, I shut you out. I ran away and ignored you. I should have explained to you that you can’t treat the people you love that way, but I couldn’t find the words. I just wanted to not hurt anymore and I didn’t take time to think about you and your feelings.” She pulls me close to her and combs my hair with her fingers.
“I know that you are new to this. There are still some things that I need to learn, too, but we can’t let this happen again, Christian. We have to talk to one another and get these things out in the open… even when we feel like we can’t talk to one another. You could have done irreparable damage to yourself with this stunt, and believe it or not, I could have, too.” What does she mean? I turn my head to look at her, questioning her with my eyes.
“I drank two large bottles of wine by myself, my phone was dead, and I tied your Anderson Sheppard in some kind of sailor’s knot around my bare neck. It had to be cut off of me! I could have choked to death and I couldn’t even call for help. What’s worse is that I don’t even remember tying the damn tie!” If it hadn’t been so dangerous for her, it would be funny. I remember yelling through the phone for them to cut the tie off of her neck—her biggest concern being if I would think she mangled my tie on purpose.
Please, Butterfly. Don’t blame yourself for this anymore. I’m the idiot who wrongfully convicted you of wanting my brother. I’m the idiot who shut you down without a word or an explanation, and I’m the idiot who didn’t have enough sense to eat and drink something for the past five days.
I pull her into me and bury my face in her neck and nod. Please. No more talking right now, Butterfly. I understand. I kiss her neck over and over, her cheeks, her lips, mouthing “I love you” in each area. She tangles her hands in my hair and wraps her leg around me.
“I love you, too, Christian.”
A small reminder, Audrey Hepburn sings “Moon River” on the balcony in Breakfast At Tiffany’s, which, of course, reminds Christian of Ana.
For the record, the moment that Taylor laid Ana in the bed with Christian, the nurse doped him up (remember, she said she would). So, that’s why his head stopped hurting and he felt like he was floating, but he doesn’t know that… he thinks it’s because of Ana. No doubt, her presence helped, though.
Ana’s new wine-drunk-inspired blue room is on my Pinterest page at http://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/paging-dr-steele/
You can join my mailing list on the “Contact Me” page. Just click the link and it will lead you to a form to join the list.
Love and handcuffs,