If you are coming over from Fanfiction and have already read “Paging Dr. Steele,” please know that the version of the story on this site has been updated and many events and names have been changed. You may want to start over from the beginning.
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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 20—NOT A Victim of Circumstance… Anymore
Jason is standing over Johnson and I make my way to the counter.
“Where is she?” I asks the waitress behind the counter.
“Where is who?” she asks, truly bemused.
“African American, curly hair…”
“Bring me Angie.”
“Angie! Somebody out her to see you!” Angie comes timidly from the back.
“I ain’t got nothing to say to you, Mister.” She is quite frightened, as well she should be.
“You don’t have to say anything to me, but I hope you’re satisfied. You called that man because that boy was here. That man has a restraining order against him which he just broke because not only did he come within 500 feet of that young man, but he just injured him. The police are on their way and they will most likely want to know how he knew where to find that young man!” It’s a terrible bluff and scare tactic, but it appears to be working.
“You can’t prove that I called him,” she says, her voice shaking.
“I don’t have to prove it—you’re shaking like a leaf. I’ll let the police deal with you.” As I’m walking away, I hear someone ask, “You called him?” I have a feeling this is not the last that Angie is going to hear of this matter. I know that she hasn’t broken the law in any way by calling this bastard, but hopefully this incident will at least give her something to think about.
I sit at the table with Marlow who is sitting in front of a massive sandwich and not eating a bite. After what happened to him, I won’t press him to eat it. I wave at the first waitress I spoke to behind the counter.
“Can you please wrap this up so that we can take it with us?” I ask her.
“Sure thing.” She looks sympathetically at Marlow before taking his left over sandwich away to wrap it up. Marlow is rubbing his arm where his father squeezed it.
“We’ll get you some ibuprofen for the ache,” I say. He nods, looking at the table. “What are you thinking, Son?”
“I want to know why he hates me so much,” he says loud enough for his father to hear. “I don’t do drugs, I get good grades, I’m not a bad kid. I do everything that he tells me to do. Most of my friends don’t even know who their fathers are… and I’m jealous of them, because at least they’re not getting beat up all the time!” he barks, his eyes filled with tears. I look down at Johnson who only seems to have disdain in his eyes as he glares at Marlow.
“Some people are just broken, Son,” I say to Marlow but still looking at his father as the police arrive. “He needs help, and until he gets it, he’s going to always be as hateful as he is right now.” I turn back and look at Marlow. “Never let your guard down when it comes down to him… never.”
“Yes, Sir!” Marlow hisses, still rubbing his sore arm. The police walk in and examine the man on the ground with the bloody nose and the bodyguard guard standing over him.
“He assaulted me!” is the first thing that came out of Johnson’s mouth.
“Is that true,” the first officer asked.
“Well, I don’t know. Angie, is that true?” I ask the loose-lipped waitress that alerted Johnson of Marlow’s whereabouts. She looks from me to police, and then her shoulders fall.
“No,” she says, her voice full of defeat, “he wasn’t assaulted. He grabbed the boy by the arm and that man hit him to get him to let go.” The officer frowned.
“Why am I having a hard time believing her?” the officer asked pointing at Angie.
“I would, too,” I say, and he turns his sour face at me. “She’s just deflated because she contacted this man and alerted him that this young man was here having lunch with me. I’m assuming that she was unaware that there is a standing protection order against him saying that he must stay 500 feet away from that young man.” The officer’s eyes rise.
“Were you aware of the protection order, Sir?” the second officer asks.
“No!” he lies. “No one told me anything about a protection order!”
“Oh?” I say to Johnson. “You mean when they released you from jail for breaking his mother’s eye socket, they didn’t tell you that there was a permanent protection order in place against you?” I ask, mocking surprise. The first officer just shakes his head.
“Stand up, please,” he says to Johnson, more as an order than a request. Johnson gets to his feet and is cuffed by the first officer. The second one comes over to me.
“Sir, until we can straighten this out, I’m going to have to restrain you as well.” I obediently stand and put my hands behind my back. Boy, Hammerstein would get a kick out of this!
“No!” Marlow is out of his seat now. “What he’s telling you is right! That’s my dad. He beat my mom and they put him in jail. We left and my mom got a protection order against him. Mr. Grey asked him three times to stop squeezing my arm and he wouldn’t stop.” Marlow is undoing his tie and unbuttoning the first two buttons of his dress shirt as he is saying this, then subsequently pulls it over his head. “Look!”
The once red bruise has started to turn a little purple. It looks really bad. “Anybody in here can tell you—anybody can! If Mr. Grey hadn’t stopped him, he would have dragged me out of here and God only knows what would have happened to me!” Marlow is nearly screaming now and I sincerely want him to calm down. “You can’t put Mr. Grey in cuffs for trying to protect me! You can’t do that!” The second officer looks at Marlow and then around the diner.
“Can anybody else vouch for this kid’s story?” A few people nodded though not all of the patrons of the establishment, but none of them know that I’ve already seen my saving grace.
“That can,” I say, gesturing to the eye in the sky. They both look up at the camera as does Johnson.
“Shit!” he says once he realizes that he has been caught on camera. The officers simultaneously turn to Johnson.
“Something you want to say?” The first officer asks. Johnson is sweating just a bit.
“I… I wasn’t trying to hurt him. I was only trying to talk to him!” he defends.
“You call this trying to talk!?” Marlow shrieks thrusting his arm out in front of him. “This is your idea of trying to talk!?” Marlow lunges at his father but Jason catches him around the waist just in time. “Why do you hate me so much? What have I ever done to you? I didn’t ask to be here! I didn’t ask for Mom’s eyes!” He’s struggling the entire time to get away, but Jason has a good hold on him as he continues shrieking at his father. “If you hated us so much, why didn’t you just leave? Why did you stick around? Why do you keep begging us to come back? You beat us until we leave and then you beg us to come back so you can beat us some more! What’s wrong with you? If you hate us so much, why don’t you just leave us alone?”
Angry tears are burning down Marlow’s cheeks as he struggles uselessly to free himself from Jason’s grasp. I think we’re all a little stunned by the scene that is unfolding before us. All of his repressed anger is coming out on his father at this moment in this public diner and no one is trying to stop him. My arms fall to my sides as I am shocked at the barrage of insults and accusations flying out of this young man’s mouth towards his father. He berates this man for—hell, I don’t know how long, until he is a useless mound hanging in Jason’s arms, exhausted and sobbing.
“Get him out of here. Take him to the car,” I instruct Jason who all but carries a sobbing Marlow out of the diner. I turn to the officers. “What do you need me to do?” I ask them. If they still want to cuff me after that display they’re insane, but hell, I can’t do anything about that.
“Sir, do you still maintain that this man assaulted you?” the first officer asks Johnson. He dropped his head halfway through Marlow’s tirade and hasn’t raised it since. He just silently shakes his head. I put my suit jacket back on and pull a business card from the card case in my inside pocket.
“That young man is Marlow Whitehead. This is Damon Johnson, his father. His mother is Marcia Whitehead and she has the PPO to keep him away from her and the kids. I only got parts of the story as Marlow was telling me when Mr. Johnson walked in.” I tell them.
“How do you know this family?” The second officer asks.
“My girlfriend is his therapist and I’m mentoring him. We were just sitting here eating when all of this happened. I work in the business world so I bought Marlow some clothes so that he can be presentable when he is at my office. His father is not pleased with that, though I don’t know how…” I have a sinking feeling in my stomach. “How did you know that I was buying things for Marlow? You’re not supposed to be near them.” He still doesn’t raise his head. Shit, is he stalking them? Does he already know where they are staying now? Where is Marlow’s mother? A million thoughts roll through my head and I was ready to beat this bastard until he gives me answers. I hand my business card to the officer. “Is there anything else that you need from me?” I ask.
The officer looks at my card then does a double take. “Christian Grey,” he says in disbelief. I nod. Johnson’s head flies up. “Christian Grey as in Grey Enterprises Christian Grey?” the officer repeats.
“Yes?” I say a little annoyed. How many “Christian Greys” are there in Seattle?
“Well, okay. We probably won’t need you unless Mr. Johnson protests the charges that will be filed against him, but we’ll be in touch if we do, Sir,” the officer says. “The fact that he violated a standing protection order is enough to take him in.”
“Can I leave now? I really want to get Marlow home to his mother,” I say.
“Yes, of course.” That’s my cue. I retrieve the wrapped sandwich for Marlow and leave the diner.
I have managed to secure Club Cielo again for Maxie’s bridal shower. They were only too happy to appear in the social section of the newspaper as the club that hosted AnaChris and the private wedding of my father and Mandy, even though it was a relatively small column and it was after the fact. This time, I didn’t dare employ an outside decorator. Mia, Val, Gail, and I did the decorating ourselves, all in Maxie’s colors of baby blue and champagne.
The one thing that I discovered while we were trying to find our decorations is that a lot of people can’t seem to tell the difference between baby blue and Tiffany blue. Tiffany is a lot more turquoise that baby blue. However, items labeled “baby blue” still appeared Tiffany blue to me. Maxie still thought the colors were close enough—on some occasions—so we ended up with a baby blue, Tiffany blue, and champagne bridal shower.
Nonetheless, the decorations were still quite beautiful. Blue and champagne balloons float in various areas while streamers in the same color are tastefully draped from the ceiling over tables and the bar combined with blue round paper lanterns. Individually wrapped and labeled blue macaroons are placed at each setting to welcome each invited guest. We decorated half glasses with rounded bottoms with intense blue glitter, added a ribbon and a candle and voilà! You have a dainty little centerpiece.
The dessert table is insane—cake, candies, cookies, more macaroons, and cupcakes, cupcakes, cupcakes! The dinner menu was chosen by Maxie and consists of an avocado, papaya, and watercrest salad followed by chicken cordon bleu, herbed basmati rice, and crisp green beans. For the “libations” part of our soirée, we have opted for two modest Riesling wines—the locally grown Château Ste Michelle Eroica for dinner and Dr Heidemanns Bernkastel Auslese of German origin for dessert. We also have blue sparkling cider in champagne glasses for those who opt for something non-alcoholic as well as blue martinis for those who wish to have something a little stronger.
Christian is having the guys up to the penthouse for drinks. All of the pre-Christmas drama seems to have all but disappeared completely. We actually hosted our first F&L of 2013 this past weekend and it was fantastic. The Scooby Gang is back in full force… plus one! I couldn’t be happier.
Even Christian and Maxie’s relationship has weathered the proverbial storm and come out a bit stronger than before. That’s a huge surprise since I look at Maxie slightly differently these days. Christian is quite active in helping with the final planning and setup of the reception. Maxie and Phil have even made changes to long-standing plans at Christian’s suggestion. Christian and Elliot are even taking charge of Phil’s bachelor party. It’s like they are new best friends. I wouldn’t have thought he would have been interested in planning their nuptials, but he actually seems excited about the event.
The wedding in on February 16—two days after Valentine’s Day and 15 days away. The girls and I have just finished decorating the club when Christian and Elliot decide to make an appearance. Christian looks a little worn.
“Nice. Very nice,” he says, looking around the club. For some reason, I get the feeling that he’s teasing me. “Tiffany?”
“You tell me,” I say jabbing him in the ribs. “You practically stole my job planing the reception. You know what the colors are.”
“Yeah, but I was too late to get in the wedding, so now some loser will be escorting you out of the church and into the reception.” He pulls me roughly into his arms.
“Does it matter since it will be you who will be escorting me home?” I smile seductively.
“Not one little bit,” he says, leaning in and kissing me on my neck. “As long as he doesn’t try to put the moves on my girl.”
“It wouldn’t work anyway. I’m all yours, heart and soul, Mr. Grey.” His expression suddenly becomes serious.
“I’m going to hold you to that, Ms. Steele,” he says softly, and I see uncertainty in his eyes.
“Christian… what’s wrong?” He normally has his impassive face locked on and I have to guess what’s going on, but these past few weeks his emotions and thoughts are written all over his face—except in those rare moments when I see him running his business. Then, it’s poker face as usual.
“Nothing, Butterfly. Being around a jittery groom is just getting to me, that’s all. I never thought I would be glad to see someone else’s—anyone’s wedding day come.”
“Oh, come on, it can’t be that bad,” I say. He shakes his head.
“It’s a tad bit taxing—the planning, the anticipation, hoping everything goes smoothly…” I’m quite surprised.
“Christian, I never pegged you for the hopeless romantic. You surprise me more and more every day! However, you wouldn’t be having these concerns if you had allowed me to plan my friends’ reception as I had intended.” I flutter my eyelashes at him and kiss him on the cheek.
“I’m going to surprise you,” he says. “Everyone is going to have a fantastic time and it will be the talk of the town—’Maxie and Phil’s fabulous wedding reception, were you there? No? Then you missed the event of a lifetime!” He mimics gossiping girls—hand waves and all—eliciting a giggle from me.
“Bro, is there something you want to tell me?” Elliot asks, doing Christian’s little wave.
“No, you simple fuck,” Christian says, “and even if I were gay, I have still divided and conquered more pussy than you.” What the…?
“Okay! Okay! TMI!” I announce, waving my hands in the air and leaving the room. For fucks sake, Grey, what woman wants to hear that her boyfriend was once Seattle’s greatest pussy-parter? Geez! Way to make your girl feel shitty. I’m going to make him pay for that statement.
I’m walking to the other end of the club when Val runs face first into me. “Oh, good. I was just coming to get you. You need to come here and see this.” She pulls me over to the side of the bar area. What the hell is wrong now? We’ve got everything decorated the way that we wanted. What could possibly be the problem?
Gail is sitting on a bar stool drinking a soda and gazing at the television screen above the bar. There were installed for someone’s Super Bowl party this Sunday. Mia has disappeared and the three of us are staring at a commercial.
“You rushed me in here to see a computer-generated polar bear commercial?” I ask bemused.
“No. It’s coming up next. You better sit.” Val informs me. Oh shit, what’s about to happen? Another commercial plays about pizza in the office and I try not to get perturbed as a wait for whatever bomb is about to drop. Why doesn’t she just tell me? A few moments later, I realize why she didn’t.
KING5 has learned that Seattle billionaire Christian Grey has a link to a suicide in downtown Las Vegas on Christmas Day. Franklin Whitmore, a Nevada insurance executive, was found hanging in the Placid Motel last Christmas. Grey’s girlfriend, Anastasia Steele—one half of the now-trending “AnaChris”—was in Nevada last month attending her step-father’s funeral. Sources say that she paid a visit to the Nevada attorney general’s office in Las Vegas. The Nevada AG is currently investigating a brutal attack on Ms. Steele in 2001, in which Whitmore was implicated for possible witness tampering and obstruction among other charges.
Another turn of events in the case involves Henderson Detective George Sullivan. Sullivan is currently incarcerated and awaiting trial for obstruction and other charges related to the case. It appears that two videos concerning the night of the attack on Ms. Steele have surfaced that will prove to be quite damning to Sullivan’s defense.
This is a video of Melanie Coleman recorded last month in her Kent, WA home. In the video, Coleman confesses to filming the incident involving the torture and beating of Seattle psychologist Anastasia Steele which resulted in the death of her unborn child.
“There’s no reason for me to lie about this or keep it a secret any longer. I am dying and I don’t have much time left. I was afraid for my life which is why I never came forth sooner. That’s no excuse, I know, but there is absolutely no reason to keep this a secret any more.”
Melanie’s voice is labored and her breathing sounds like she’s going to fall over and die any second. She submitted the video and a confession. This had to be recorded weeks—if not days—before she died.
Although Ms. Coleman submitted the original video of the incident which is now in analysis to verify its authenticity, Investigator Herbert Larson says that Ms. Steele has also submitted a copy of the video in question to the Nevada State Attorney General’s office, identifying all but two participants in the assault and murder. Due to its graphic nature, KING5 has chosen not to air the video.
“We are taking this case very seriously. It is a tragedy and a huge blemish on the justice system when one of our own fails to uphold the law in any case, but especially in a case where one child was brutally assaulted and beaten and another unborn child was murdered. We are very close to establishing the validity of the first video. Once that is complete, this case is pretty open and shut and we will begin making arrests of the other perpetrators identified on the video.”
Coleman has since passed away from Stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, making her video a deathbed confession, which is taken very seriously by police. It is believed that people feel they are going to meet their Maker, so their confessions just before death are done to purge their souls of hidden secrets and sins before they go to the afterlife. Coupled with the video submitted by Ms. Steele, Ms. Coleman’s confession could very well be the nail in Sullivan’s proverbial coffin as well as many other people in the Henderson community.
The now Mr. Sullivan, who has been discharged from the Henderson Police Department, was previously a 17-year veteran on the force but has now forfeited his tenure and benefits in light of the charges against him. Mr. Sullivan remains in protective custody at the Clark County Jail for fear that his safety will definitely be in danger if he is intermingled with prison population.
Sullivan maintains that he performed his job duties to the best of his abilities. However, sources say that Sullivan had the motive for hiding the evidence as his little brother, Vincent Sullivan, appears to have been among the attackers that evening.
Well, I guess Val couldn’t very well deliver that message to me, now could she? I turn to walk away from the screen and, as always, bump into the wall of man that is Christian Grey. Of course he would be standing behind me during this announcement. He gently strokes my arms.
“Are you okay?” he asks. I shrug.
“Yeah. They’re not saying anything I didn’t already know, except that Melanie submitted the confession.”
“The only difference now is that it’s here. The story is in Seattle, and of course they always want to make it about me and not you. Either way, paps are going to be on alert again. They’re probably already outside, and we have a wedding shower happening here in about an hour.” Shit! I forgot about that.
“Have someone out there to guide guests to the garage. They can come in through the elevator. The garage is private property, so the paps can’t come in there.” I say. Christian nods and gets on the phone, most likely to Jason. I fold my arms and sigh. This is what I signed up for… let the mayhem begin.
“Are you sure you’re okay, Steele?” Val asks, putting her arm around me. I nod.
“Yes. I’m fine, really. I’m more concerned about the paparazzi blocking Maxine’s bridal shower than I am about that,” I say gesturing to the television. “I’m going upstairs to change. Who’s coming with me?”
“I am,” Mia appears, wiping her hands on her clothes.
“Me, too,” Val says. “I just need to freshen up a bit.”
“Gail?” I ask.
“I’ll stay here in case any guests show up early,” she says. “Maxine will be coming to the penthouse, right?”
“Yep,” I say, heading for the door. “We’ll be right back…”
Every time I hear something or see something or do something involving Green Valley, I feel the need to wash… profusely! After a nice, hot shower, and shaving all of my necessary parts, I go to the closet to find something to wear. I should have done this sooner. Now I have to think fast. I choose my Paper Dolls mirrored lace cream and black dress with a plain pair of black Louboutin peeptoe stilettos. I style my hair in a simple Eva Longoria French roll and decide on a plain pair of diamond studs. Christian comes into the bedroom and nearly falls onto the bed, releasing a heavy sigh just as I am applying my lip gloss.
“Christian, what happened today?” I say turning around to face him. He raises his head and frowns.
“You know me a bit too well, Ms. Steele,” he grumbles.
“Yes, I do. Besides the fact that you are not being very subtle, I’ve known that something was wrong from the moment you walked into the club. Now, what is it—something with Grey House?” He shakes his head, looking down again.
“I wanted to wait until after the shower to tell you. I didn’t want to ruin your night.” Okay, now I’m scared.
“It has to do with me?” I ask, my voice squeaking on the last word. Shit, I don’t need any more bad news.
“Well, not directly, but yes. Marlow and I were having a late lunch at a diner and we had a major run-in with a guy named Johnson,” he says. Johnson. That’s a common name. What does that have to do with me? He looks at me waiting for me to connect the dots. In a quick mental review, I go over the facts. He and Marlow were having lunch. Some guy named Johnson shows up. I still don’t see—oh, fuck! Marlow! Johnson!
“Damon Johnson!?” I nearly scream. Christian nods. “Fuck! Fuck! Where’s Marlow?” Now I am screaming. Christian jumps up and grabs my arms.
“Calm down, Baby. That’s why I didn’t want to tell you. Marlow is fine. His arm may be bruised a bit the next time you see him but he’s fine,” Christian tries to assure me.
“Bruised? Why? What did that asshole do to him?” I want to find this fucker and rip him limb from limb! I am so damn angry that I’m shaking!
“Tiger, settle down!” Christian says firmly. “If you don’t, I’m never going to be able to be truthful with you again because I’ll be afraid that you’ll react like this.” I take a few deep breaths and glare at him.
“What. Happened?” I say through clenched teeth. He takes a deep breath and lets it out.
“He came into the diner where we were having lunch. Apparently, he has hotlines all over the city. Whenever one of his PPO’s run out, he comes looking for his family. One of his hotlines tipped him off that we were at the diner and he came in trying to take Marlow with him. I subdued him and Jason kept him… safe… until the police got there,” he says. I feel my body relax a bit.
“So he’s back in police custody then,” I ask, but it’s more of a statement than a question.
“For now, yes, although I don’t know for how long. I did let him know that I would kill him if he came near Marlow and his family again without getting some help and that they will have covert surveillance with instructions to take his ass down on sight.”
“You’re actually putting surveillance on them, Christian? All of them?” I ask and he nods.
“I want to try to get Marlow into one of the college prep schools—maybe SeaPrep or Clearwater. He wants to go to college and he’s really smart. I think he would have an excellent chance of getting into a good college, but he has to go to a better high school.” Oh no, you’re not getting off that easily.
“Don’t change the subject, Grey!” I say. “I want to know if you are serious about surveillance for Marlow’s family. That guy is volatile, unpredictable, and unstable. I don’t know what would have happened to Marlow if you hadn’t been there.” I shudder at the thought.
“Well, I’ll see if I can find out how long he’ll be locked up and yes, I do plan on having surveillance for the whole family. They won’t know it, except for Marlow, I think. He’s being seen a lot with me and I think he may need close personal protection anyway. I’ll have to talk to Jason about it and see what he says about how we should handle it. How do you think Marcia will feel about all of this?” he asks.
“About the surveillance?”I ask, sitting on the bed next to him.
“Yes, and the schooling… I’m accustomed to telling people ‘do this’ and they do it or ‘take that’ and they take it. I’m not sure how I would feel if someone wanted to mentor my son and give him all of the things that I can’t.”
“Well, you have to remember that you and Marcia are two different people,” I tell him. “Marcia has spent many years in a violent relationship with an oppressive man who often took his frustrations with his shortcomings as a husband and father out on her and Marlow. No doubt, it feels great to step out on her own and finally be away from him, but she is having a hard time of it. I would say that she wouldn’t have a problem with you affording Marlow every opportunity to grow, except for the fact that Maggie may be overlooked in this process.”
“Yes, I had considered that. I’m not really sure what to do about that. Maggie is much younger and would certainly benefit from attending a private school early on, but I’m not trying to traumatize her. I know that she is most likely aware of what is going on with her family, but maybe not so exposed as Marlow. Ignorance may be bliss when it comes to Maggie. If we make her change schools, her bliss may be broken.” He falls back on the bed. “Shit, this is fucked up.” I lie next to him and run my hands through his hair.
“You are a wonderful man, Christian Grey. I am certain that you will find a way to work this all out. Would you like for me to talk to Marcia and see how she feels about all of this?” He raises his head.
“Would you mind? I know that you have a better rapport with her, so she certainly might take this better coming from you.” I nod.
“I’ll talk to her next week. I’m most likely going to be tired after this shower. I’ve got a lot planned and I want everyone to have fun.” He pulls me into his lap.
“I’m proud of you, Butterfly. A lesser woman would have just let this whole thing go after Maxie quit on you, but you stuck with it making sure that she got everything that she wanted. I know that your sessions with Dr. Avery are a little rough. Is that getting any easier?”
Well, first, Maxie is my friend and I love her very much. I hate what she did and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to confide in her that way again, but I still love her—that hasn’t changed and I don’t think it ever will. Second, the session are going… better. We’re addressing some of my deep-seated issues and he’s helping me explore more conducive ways to respond to stress and fear. It’s a slow process, but I really think he’s going to help me.” Christian grunts. “What is it, Christian?”
“He’s a good-looking guy,” Christian says.
“Yes… and he’s married and I’m taken,” I state. He looks up at me with searching gray eyes.
“I’m trying to deal with my jealousy, but it’s hard,” he says, sitting up. “It was a big thing for me to step back and not have a conniption while you spilled your intimate secrets to a handsome, distinguished, older man.” I sit in his lap and kiss his cheek.
“You’re the only handsome, distinguished, older man that I want. You’re the only one for me, Christian. Don’t let anyone make you think differently.”
“Promise?” he asks, he eyes clearly longing. I kiss my promise ring, then his key, and then his lips.
“Always. Only you, Christian, only you.” He slides his arms around me and holds me close to him, burying his face in my neck.
“You mean so much to me,” he breathes, and I feel uncertainty coming from him. I thrust my hands in his hair.
“I love you with everything, Christian. If I ever gave you reason to doubt that, please forgive me. I am yours only and always,” I beseech him. I don’t know why he feels like I would go anywhere else, want anyone else, but whatever the reason the only thing important to me right now is making sure that this man knows that he is my life and my love. He’s holding me so close and so tight that I am sure I will have his handprints in my skin.
“I want to make love to you so badly right now,” he whispers.
“Not now, my love, but later. There are people waiting for us, okay?” I say softly, brushing my lips against his.
“I’m going to hold you to that,” he says, his voice oozing promise and seduction.
“I certainly hope so,” I breathe.
The paparazzi never cease to amaze me. The story is now all over Seattle—Washington, maybe—about how I was beaten as a child and lost my baby, and these bastards are huddled outside of Escala trying to get a comment. Notwithstanding the fact that I can’t talk about it because it is now an open case all back over again, but why would I want to say anything about it on the air on the sidewalk in front of Escala? What is wrong with these fucking people?
Sure enough, we had to escort the guests into the garage and then have them escorted to the club to avoid being mobbed by the paps. I was utterly humiliated, but Maxie seemed to take it all in stride. Sometimes, I don’t mind the publicity. Other times, I hate it. However, today is about Maxie.
I have taken time to catch up with so many people from CCFW, including the bitch from adolescent care who never liked me and always thought that she could snatch Phil away from Maxie if given the chance. I so didn’t understand why Maxie invited her to any of the festivities, but I discovered that it had something to do with wanting her to be front and center and seeing that Phil is taken, once and for all. I miss working for CCFW. I’ve helped a lot of people in my own practice, but I still don’t feel like I’ve helped as many people as I helped at CCFW. I truly miss that lot, and I was very happy to catch up with them at Maxie’s shower.
After about 40 minutes of mingling and catching up over drinks and hors d’oeuvres, we sit down and start the shower games. We played a game called “toilet paper bride” where three teams got to dress Maxie up as a bride using toilet paper while she was blindfolded. We took pictures and she chose the winner from the pictures. The winning team received gift certificates to Miana’s for a spa day. It was really fun to see how creative these ladies could get with toilet paper. Not surprisingly, Adolescent Care Bitch sat this one out.
We play “quick-fire questions” where the guests fired questioned at Maxie and she had to answer them in five seconds or less. That became lots of fun when the questions got naughty. We discovered that Maxie has a birthmark of some kind of bird on her ass. She and Phil once spent five days fucking and sleeping and had it not been for the ice-cream in the freezer, they would have starved. They actually have a safeword for sex. I almost choked on that one. It doesn’t have the exact same meaning, but when one of them is definitely not in the mood for sex, they use the safeword. She didn’t tell us what it was, but the fact that they have one blows my mind.
Maxie starts to open her gifts as we play the “timer” game. This is one of the prize games where we set a timer and the person whose gift she is opening when the buzzer goes off gets a prize. Maxie got everything from wine to bath baskets to fun journals, sex journals, lingerie, a stamp with her married name on it, kitchenware, his-and-her robes, personalized items of all shapes and sizes, and gifts certificates to various stores. I thought that the blue sheer panties that say “The Mrs” were quite funny. The timer went off when she was opening Mia’s gift of luxury champagne flutes for the wedding night. However, Mia politely declined the gift because she felt she should be disqualified since she helped to plan the shower and passed it to the person whose gift was opened before her. It was a ladies charm bracelet with a bell on it as the first charm.
We had a wonderful time during dinner. We had eaten so many desserts and hors d’oeuvres that I am completely surprised that we had any room for dinner. The drinks were flowing, the food was outstanding, and the company was fantastic. Little did I know, it would get to be more fantastic before the evening was over.
“So, Ana, when will we be hearing wedding bells for you?” Sylvia asks. She’s one of the doctors from CCFW. I try not to appear uncomfortable when she asks the question, but to be honest, I’d like to know that, too.
“In due time, Sylvia, in due time. I’ve only just completed my dad’s wedding and now Maxie’s. My plate is a bit too full at the moment to be thinking of my own trek down the aisle,” I lie. The truth is that I think about it almost every day. Mrs. Anastasia Grey. I adore the sound of that.
“Well, don’t wait too long, Honey. With the way he looks at you and the pictures of you guys in the news, I’m only too sure you won’t be too far behind Maxine.” She winks at me and I smile. A girl can hope, right?
We all sit around the bar and the community sitting area again and decide to play another game since we all have a bit of alcohol in our system and have lightened up a little more. This time, we play a game called “Who knows the groom?” This should be kind of easy since Phil has been doing document services for CCFW for years and everyone in the room knows him well. What we didn’t realize is that Adolescent Care Bitch has stalker tendencies. She yelled out the answers to the first nine questions before anyone else had the chance to answer, including the question “boxers or briefs.” Maxie glared at her when she answered that question, so I politely told her that she couldn’t answer any more questions as we are all quite aware that she knows everything there is to know about Phil. Hell, she probably knows his damn birth weight. The party took a turn when the question was asked about Maxie and Phil’s first kiss.
“May 14th.” All heads turn to the sound of the male voice coming from the doorway to find Phil gazing at Maxine. “You were wearing a green dress with gold sandals and I watched you walk to the food truck in the parking lot.” He starts to walk slowly towards her and the room falls into total silence. “I remember thinking that you had the best legs that I had ever seen as I watched that dress brush up against your thighs.”
Oh shit, is it getting hot in here?
I look over at Maxie and her lips are parted as she gazes at Phil in a stupor. “I walked up behind you as you were paying for your turkey wrap and you turned around and bumped right into me.” He continues, standing right in her face now, looking down at her seductively. The rest of the guys are all standing inside of the door watching Mr. Guest at work. “I put my arms around you, and all I knew was that I wanted to kiss you.” He slid his arms around her waist slowly and I could feel Christian touching me, watching me, even though he was on the other side of the room. “I didn’t care if you slapped me or never spoke to me again. I had to kiss you… just… once…” He puts his hand on her cheek and gives her the most sensual kiss I have ever seen in my life… well, at least that I didn’t receive anyway.
After about five seconds, the room erupts in thunderous applause and cheers—and that was the women! Everyone except of Adolescent Care Bitch, anyway. She sat silently in the circle, brooding and no doubt sick to her stomach that it wasn’t her locking lips with Phil right now. But good God, Phil, talk about a Christian Grey move. Holy. Cow. Batman! That was hot!
A few moments later, I feel a kiss grace my neck and I turn around. “What are you guys doing here?” I ask him.
“The game is over and the beers are gone. We thought we crash your party for doggie bags,” Christian says pulling me into his arms. To be honest, I’m glad they did. All of the fun stuff is about over and there is a boatload of food that will just go to waste if no one eats it, so why not feed it to the hungry men? The bridal shower turned into a Friday night party with drinks still flowing, music playing, and people laughing, dancing, and having a good time. We had only booked the club for a few hours, so we ended up moving the party back up to the penthouse. The caterers were kind enough to bring the food up and everyone else grabbed whatever they could—decorations, presents, even trash. We had the club clean—as promised—in less than 20 minutes before going up to the penthouse to party the night away.
I am so proud of Christian. A year ago, no one could breach his palace in the sky, but last night he hosted one of the biggest parties this apartment has ever seen—for my friend’s bridal shower. We were both exhausted after it was over and, after a hot quickie, fell into a coma-like sleep.
I am more than a bit hung over and the sun is not being nice to me at all. Christian is not in bed next to me and I don’t bother trying to figure out where he is. I put the pillow over my head and moan as my head is pounding relentlessly.
“Wake up, Butterfly.” Oh, good Lord, is the sun even higher in the sky? What time is it?
“Nooooo… lemme alooooone…” I moan from under my pillow. Why do I have to wake up? There’s nothing to do today.
“Come on, Butterfly. You can’t sleep the whole day away. I let you sleep for longer than I should have now wake up.” I roll over looking at him.
“Why do I have to wake up?” I protest. “I don’t have anywhere to be. What’s the problem with me staying in bed all day if I want to?”
“Because it’s late, you haven’t eaten, and I’m lonely. Now get up.” He slaps my thighs hard and leaves the room. Ow! Fuck! What the fuck, Man?
I get out of bed and go to the shower. Oh my God, what did I drink? Wine, champagne, those damn blue martinis… shoot me now. I wash my hair and brush my teeth and I only feel marginally better after my shower. I blow-dry my hair and walk back into our bedroom where two ibuprofen and a cranberry spritzer await me. I gladly take the ibuprofen and almost drink all of the cranberry spritzer. I turn around to find Christian standing behind me.
“You might want to hurry. The Whiteheads are here.” My eyes get large.
“Marlow? Is something wrong? Are they okay?” I fire questions at him one after another.
“Everything is fine. It was a last-minute decision. Marlow was coming anyway to help me with some things and I just wanted to see him to gauge his state of mind. I asked him to bring the rest of his family so that we can discuss his plans for the future and, in light of yesterday’s incident and my desire to give them surveillance, I thought it would be a good idea to have you present,” he says.
“Way to prepare me, Grey!” I hiss at him. “I thought you were going to let me talk to Marcia next week.” He shrugs.
“I know. I’m sorry. I should have done better. Please don’t be mad at me. You know how I am. I wave my hand and things happen. I’m still trying to understand that doesn’t happen in everybody’s world,” he says apologetically. I sigh.
“Bring me some orange juice and crack a raw egg in it. Blend it thoroughly. I’ll get dressed.” I go into the closet and don’t even wait for his reaction. I grab a pair of soft pink skinny jeans with a boyfriend cuff with a pink tank top and a white off-the-shoulder blouse. I am brushing my hair when Christian comes back in with my orange juice. I down the whole glass before the egg gets a chance to separate. That’s when I realize how hungry I am. I finally take a moment to look at the alarm clock. Shit! It’s nearly one in the afternoon. I can’t be too angry with him for demanding that I get up. I dab a little lip gloss on and go greet our guests.
“Hello everybody,” I say cheerfully as I enter the great room. Marlow and Marcia stand while Maggie waves from her seat.
“Ana, hi,” Marcia says as I embrace her. “This place is really something!” she gestures around the room. I smile.
“I could say ‘thank you’ but he actually decorated it. I just moved in and now I enjoy the pretty!” We laugh and I look over at Marlow. “Hey.” He smiles weakly.
“How are you doing?” I probe.
“Okay, I guess.” He shrugs.
“How’s your arm?” He looks down at his arm, covered by a long-sleeved sweatshirt.
“It looks pretty bad—hurts some, but it’s okay.”
“Does Maggie know?” I whisper to him and Marcia.
“Some of it,” Marcia answers. “She knows that he father is out of jail,” well, not anymore, “and that we have to watch out for him and why, but she doesn’t know that he hurt Marlow again.” I sigh and shake my head. That asshole.
“Well, I just realized how hungry I am. Anybody else?”
Thirty minutes later, I have prepared fast patty melts on rye with grilled onions, swiss cheese, and steak sauce and baked french fries for lunch. We are all sitting around the dining table with lunch, snacks, drinks, and fruit as Christian lays out his plans for the family, asking how they feel about the changes and requesting Marcia permission to proceed.
“I appreciate everything that you want to do for us, Christian, but there’s no way I could possibly pay you back for all of this,” Marcia protests.
“I don’t expect to be reimbursed for any of this,” he says, “except that Marlow and Maggie will have to keep their grades up in school and college, and that Marlow will have to agree to work for Grey Enterprises for a specified period of time after he completes his education.”
“Okay, but why? Why my little family?” she asks. Christian sighs.
“Without going into too much detail, I had it rough as a kid, too, and someone looked out for me. I don’t know if you know this, but I’m adopted. Things could have been a lot different for me. While I can’t save every struggling family, Ana took a liking to your family and to Marlow… and he came to see her at one of the worst times of her life, to make sure that she was okay. He was even ready to challenge me had I been the one that did that to her. I won’t forget that. He has strong character and a brilliant mind. Even though I realize my actions are philanthropic, they are not completely selfless. I see a real diamond in the rough here. I would like to be able to reap some of the benefits of what he could become while hopefully assisting him to fulfill his greatest potential.”
“Okay, then, so why Maggie?” Marcia is inherently mistrusting, much like Flynn but for good reason this time. A kind face reeled her in, gave her two children, and then terrorized them constantly.
“I don’t want her to feel left out. I don’t want her to be left out. I just don’t want her to be shell-shocked either, which is why I am of course asking what you think is best for her, for them.” Marcia looks from Christian to me and back to Christian.
“I’ve moved them around so much. I think Maggie should at least finish out the school year where she is because she’s so young. If you plan on moving Marlow, it should be soon. That school is doing nothing for him and he fits in nowhere. I don’t know about the bodyguards, though…”
“Marcia,” I interject, “it would be covert surveillance. You wouldn’t even know that they are there. They are only there to protect you from Damon. You already know that he can find you anywhere and he clearly hasn’t changed. Please… for you own safety, for the kids, please…” She still looks skeptical.
“They wouldn’t bother me?” she asks.
“Only if you need them or if you wanted them to help you,” Christian responds.
“And how would they know to help me?”
“They’re highly trained professionals. Believe me, they’ll know,” he reinforces.
“But he hurt my boy yesterday, and nobody stopped him…”
“I stopped him,” Christian says. “I should have moved faster, but I didn’t know who he was and I didn’t know that there was a restraining order against him. By noon Monday, I will know everything there is to know about him and he certainly won’t be back out of jail by then since he violated the PPO. I promise you that he won’t hurt you or your children again if you agree to have protection.” She is still pondering the idea. Maggie is a little confused by the whole conversation, but Marcia looks to Marlow for guidance.
“Do it, Mom,” he says. “I don’t want to ever have to see him again… ever. He won’t bother us this way.” She nods.
“And what about this school thing?” she asks him. “Fancy prep school? Do you think you can do it?”
“I really want to go, Mom. I can take getting ragged if that happens. It happens where I am all the time, but I really hate it there. Nobody there ever goes to college. They always end up unemployed or living back with their momma—no offense—and I just want more than that. I know I can do it, Mom. Please?” Who can say “no” to that face?
“Okay, Christian. We’ll try this, but if ours lives get turned upside down, I’m pulling the plug on this whole thing,” Marcia relents. I silently breathe a sigh of relief.
“That’s all I can ask,” Christian replies and Marlow smiles the biggest smile I seen from him all day.
“Thanks, Mom. You won’t regret it.” He’s very excited about the new course his life is going to take and clearly relieved about not having to see his father again.
“Well, now that that’s settled, Marlow, will you please help me clear these dishes?” I ask.
“Sure thing, Ana.”
Marlow and I are in the kitchen, clearing the dishes and putting them into the dishwasher when I take the opportunity to feel him out about what happened yesterday.
“So, Damon found you yesterday,” I begin. He shakes his head.
“You’re not very creative, Ana. ‘Marlow, will you help me clear the dishes?'” he says mimicking my voice.
“Okay, so I’m not creative. So start talking.” I lean against the sink. “What’s up? What did you feel when you saw him?” He sighs and leans against the counter, folding his arms.
“Scared. Mad. He’s like… everywhere! How does a guy like that make so many friends?” he hisses.
“I don’t know. People like him prey on others in many ways. You never know what he has told them. He is most likely making Marcia out to be the villain, you know, which is why it is a good thing that she agreed to the security. He will still have people everywhere keeping tabs on you guys and he will try again to get close to you guys. I think I want you to take some self-defense classes. How do you feel about that?” I ask.
“Hell, that would be great!” he exclaims.
“You wouldn’t have a problem hitting your own father if he attacked you?” He glares at me.
“Are you serious? With all of the hits that I took at his hand, I think I’ve got some catching up to do!” He says as he rubs his sore arm. I point at it.
“Can I see it?” I ask him.
“Are you sure you want to?” he says. “It looks pretty bad.”
“Yes, I want to see it.” He pauses, then takes his arm out of his sleeve. It is literally black and blue… and purple—a huge bruise where I can vaguely see the shape of Damon’s hand but it is more of a large contusion now.
“That fucking bastard!” I say before I think about my words. “I ought to kick his fucking coward ass!” Marlow glares at him.
“Whoa! Back up, Ana,” Marlow warns. “He’s way bigger than you and besides, Mr. Grey kicked his ass anyway.”
“Size doesn’t mean a thing. I can still kick his ass.” Marlow’s face fills with worry as he pulls down his shirt sleeve.
“Ana, please, don’t go after him. I don’t want to see you in the hospital again… please…”
“The only reason I was in the hospital is because I was attacked from behind and drugged… and that asshole hit me while I was handcuffed!” Marlow’s is horrified. I don’t remember if I shared that information with him or not, but it is clearly too much for him to hear. I need to put this fire out, now. “Don’t worry, Marlow. I won’t go after your father. I will leave that to the professionals, but I can’t guarantee that I will be on my best behavior if I ever run into his ass!” I say pointing in his face. Marlow’s eyes are large and he swallows hard.
“They handcuffed… and beat you, Ana?” he says softly. My shoulders fall. I never should have told him that. He is so protective of the women in his life and now, he feels that way towards me, too. I sigh.
“Yes, Marlow. Harris beat me while I was handcuffed—but he’s dead now, okay? He took five bullets in return for what he did to me, so you don’t have to worry. I have my bodyguard now, and my guns—both of which I didn’t have with me when I was abducted, so it won’t happen again, okay?” He drops his head and nods. I see a tear fall from his eye and I walk over to him. “Talk to me, Marlow.”
“Why do guys do that?” he asks, his voice just over a whisper. “Beat on women and kids—why don’t they pick on somebody their own size?”
“Because they are weak and it makes them feel strong,” I reply.
“My dad’s not weak. He’s as strong as a bull,” Marlow protests.
“But he’s weak here,” I put my hands on his chest, “and he’s weak here.” I put my hand on his temple. “He has physical strength, but he’s weak in his heart, his mind, and his soul. Promise me that you will never let that happen to you.”
He nods. “I promise.”
“You will take care of Marcia and Maggie, get good grades, never do drugs or turn to crime, and I will always be here for you whenever you need me. We will always be friends, right?”
He nods again. “Yes, ma’am,” he says his voice cracking.
“Good, and if you feel like you can’t talk to me or your mother about something, promise me that you will talk to Christian… okay?” He laughs a bit and I can only imagine some of the conversations that he has had with Christian.
“Yes, ma’am, I will.”
“Good, now give me a hug.” He bends his tall body down and embraces me. The moment his head hits my shoulder, he begins to weep bitterly. All of his anguish picks this moment to release. He has been so angry, so tormented for months, and even though he has opened up more and more to me and his mom, I think he was never really able to let his guard down until now. Christian told me that he really let loose on Damon in the deli yesterday and I really think he needed that. Even though he didn’t get the answers that he needed, he was able to let his father know what was inside him. He was stewing in hatred and he had to let it out. Now, it’s time to let it go, but that will be a much harder, much longer road for him.
He cried for several minutes and I just let him get it out. I heard someone come into the kitchen a little while ago and I think it may have been Christian, but he wisely left us alone. Marlow cried himself into exhaustion and I led him to the sink to wash his face. I fixed him a cranberry spritzer and told him that everything was going to be okay, now.
“Ana… I never blamed Mom for any of this,” he began. “I know that she was going through a bad time and trying to figure out what to do, but… I was going through a bad time too, and… nobody was there for me. I never had anybody to… well, thanks, Ana.” He drops his head again. I put my hand on his shoulder.
“Anytime,” I say with a smile.
I watch the door after Marlow and his family leave. Christian steps cautiously over to me, eyeing me curiously.
“Butterfly?” he says trepidatiously.
“What have you found out about Damon Johnson?” I say, impassively. I feel the energy change in the room. I know you’re checking him out, Grey. What have you found?
“He’s still in jail for violating the protection order, not sure how long he’ll be there. His background check hasn’t come back yet, but I’m pretty sure that it won’t say much except that he’s an asshole. I’ve seen his kind before.”
“You swear to me… swear to me that he will never get within 10 feet of that young man again.” The conviction in my voice startles even me. My eyes shoot up to him. “Swear it, Christian!” He steps back from me.
“I swear it. If I have anything to do with it, he will never see or touch Marlow again,” he vows. I try to nod, but my body seems to not be cooperating. Before I know it, Christian has me cocooned in his arms and I am weeping. “Please, Baby, please don’t cry. I hate it when you cry.”
“It’s not fair!” I wail. “He’s a good kid! He’s a really good kid! It’s not fair!”
“I know, Butterfly. We’ll take care of them now, okay? I promise you, Johnson won’t be able to hurt them again.”
“Thank you, Christian,” I say, clinging to his neck. “Thank you so much. You’re such a good man.”
“I have a good woman,” he says, kissing me on my cheek as I continue to weep. Some people are just so damned evil and I just don’t get it. Carly Madison-Perry, Robert Harris, the Mortons, the Whitmores, Elena Lincoln—how do you live being so damned evil inside? Not just bad, evil! I don’t even understand how you survive surrounded by so much blackness. I’m so glad that there is redemption for some people—like Melanie… and Christian… and even Kate—but still a bit forlorn that there seem to be no hope for the Damon Johnsons and Edward Davids of the world.
Dear Lord, whatever happens in my life, I will never allow myself to fall into that sort of darkness. I will fight tooth and nail to always see the light at the end of the tunnel, to always find the good in a bad situation, and to never lose hope no matter how hopeless a situation may seem. I survived Green Valley, Edward David, and Robert Harris. I’m ready to live—really live. I’m ready to enjoy my life and my love and my friends. This man holding me has shown me what real love is, and I’m going to bask in it every day of my life.
Ace told me that we make our own bed in life, that we can’t control all of the circumstances that come our way, but we can control how we react to them and what we do with them. At the end of the day, it’s our attitude, actions, and interpretations that make all the difference—not those of others or of people around us… ours! That young man has showed me through his pain that I truly need to make every day count… and that’s what I plan to do.
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Love and Handcuffs!