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. If something that I say displeases you, please, just leave. If you don’t like this story or me, please don’t spoil this experience for everyone. Just go away. For the rest of you, the saga continues…
Chapter 42—Calling in the Troops
“Butterfly! Butterfly, where are you?”
I’m here. Here I am, Christian.
“Butterfly, please, where are you? Come back to me. I can’t take this anymore.”
Christian! I’m here. I’m trying. I want to come home. I miss you.
“Please come back to me, Butterfly. Please don’t hate me.”
I don’t hate you, Christian. I love you. I love you with all my heart.
I can hear his voice, but I can’t see him. I’m reaching out for him, but I can’t touch him. I hear his pain, but I can’t comfort him. Oh, God, it hurts so bad. Wait for me, Christian, please. I’ll find my way back to you. Somehow, I’ll do it… even if I have to watch over you from Heaven, I’ll be with you.
Oh, God, help me…
I open my eyes and I’m still lying in this dingy yellow room. I begin to cry. I’m starting to lose hope already and it’s only been a day or so. If I don’t hold on, Edward will win, and I’ll never see Christian or Al or Val or any of the people that I love again. This can’t be my story, it just can’t.
You told that fucker that you’ve been through worse, now you suck it up and prove it to him!
Yes, Ma’am, but can I have this one little pity cry?
Yeah, I’ll give you this one…
After that, she lets me weep in peace.
When I open my eyes again, it’s not quite dawn. I’m feeling weaker today and the slight urge to pee, but not really pressing. It’s hard to focus, but I can see a shape in the room from the light that is threatening to invade the window. Get the damn bedpan, Asshole. At this point, I no longer care about sleeping in my own piss. He comes closer to the bed and I see that it’s not Edward… it’s Harris, and he’s standing there sneering at me.
Now, I’m afraid.
“Hello, Bitch! Fancy meeting you here,” he jeers. I move as far away from him as I can. I can’t move far—or fast—because I’m weak… oh, and the cuffs may have something to do with that, too.
“What’s the matter? Are you scared?” he taunts. “Not feeling the convictions of calling me a ‘piece of shit useless bad excuse for a rent-a-cop’ now, are you?” Boy, he remembered every damn word.
“I bet you never thought you’d see me again, huh? Well, here I am, standing over you while you’re here cuffed to a bed and naked. Quite serendipitous, isn’t it? Well, it is for me anyway.” He laughs. “For you, it’s just ironic… and a bit tragic.” He sits on the bed next to me and I shrink away from him.
“You got your wish… I lost my job, and thanks to your arrogant, piece of shit boyfriend, I couldn’t get another one. So, I had to find financing elsewhere. Luckily for me, you have a psychotic ex-boyfriend who needed my expertise. Boy, you can really pick ’em, can’t you?” he scoffs. This guy scares me. In his twisted way, Edward does have feelings for me—enough to keep him from hurting me too badly, I hope. Harris, on the other hand, would piss on my grave. So, I do have the good sense to be frightened right now.
“Oh, are you worried? You don’t have to worry about me. You’re my meal ticket right now so I wouldn’t do anything… serious to you yet. And I don’t know what the big deal is, but I wouldn’t fuck you with Ed’s dick.” He moves closer and grabs my face roughly. I gasp. “But I do reserve the right to come in here and torture you from time to time.” He releases my face, banging my head roughly against the wall before rising from the bed.
“He’s not going to let you go. He’s obsessed with you… he’ll die before he lets you go. He’s going to take you off to some little house somewhere in the middle of nowhere and keep you there until you see things his way. He could just keep you here. Hell, this place isn’t attached to either one of us and nobody would sure as hell find you here, but apparently even I don’t get to know where you’re going… not that I care anyway. So… now you know what your future holds. Dream about that for a while, Bitch!” He laughs fiendishly and leaves the room. I release a breath that I didn’t know that I was holding, and the water begins to flow—from my eyes and my bladder.
“I’m here. Here I am, Christian.”
Butterfly? Is that you?
“Christian! I’m here. I’m trying. I want to come home. I miss you.”
Where are you, baby? I’ll come and get you. I need you here with me.
“I don’t hate you, Christian. I love you. I love you with all of my heart.”
I know, Butterfly. I love you, too. Where are you?
“Wait for me, Christian, please. I’ll find my way back to you. Somehow, I’ll do it… even if I have to watch over you from Heaven, I’ll be with you.”
Ana! Ana! Ana, where are you? Are you hurt? Baby, please tell me where you are, and I’ll come and get you.
Her voice is fading away…
“Oh, God, help me…”
Ana! Ana, please! Ana, where are you? Ana! Ana!
I sit up in bed with her name echoing in my head. Is she in trouble? Could that be why she’s not calling me and I can’t reach her? No… that’s not it. My mind is playing tricks on me. I can’t accept that I fucked up again, not telling her about Green Valley and now she won’t speak to me. I throw the covers off and get out of bed. Fuck the routine—I’m going to my study.
I do manage to read some emails and review some of the preliminary information that Welch has uploaded to the network. I’ll just work—I’ll work until she decides to call me. This shit is just getting fucking ridiculous. How am I supposed to apologize and make it right if she won’t even talk to me? She won’t even give me a fucking chance. Of course, my blackberry rings now while I’m having a mini-inner-temper-tantrum.
“Grey.” I bark into the phone.
“Hey, Chris. Don’t sound so happy!” It’s Allen. Save the sarcasm, man. I haven’t fucked my girl in five days and I could really bite your head off right now and not feel bad about it. I’m sure you know that!
“Allen, what can I do for you?” I ask impatiently.
“You can let my girl up for some air. I don’t appreciate being ignored,” he says with a chuckle. What the hell is he talking about?
“Excuse me?” I ask. “What are you talking about?”
“I mean my girl has not called me this weekend and she’s not answering her phone, so I’m figuring that you have her in some kind of sexually-induced coma. Can I speak to her please?” He’s starting to sound a little irritated and I have alarm bells ringing loudly in my head as I rise from my chair so quickly that it slams on the floor behind me.
“Allen… you haven’t seen Anastasia this weekend?” I ask curtly.
“Of course, I haven’t, she’s been holed-up in your ivory tower since you came home from the hospital… hasn’t she?” His voice changes on those last two words. My hands are shaking, and I nearly drop my blackberry as I’m trying to control my own voice.
“Allen, I haven’t seen Ana since Friday afternoon,” I say as calmly as I can, my shaky voice betraying me. Allen is silent for a minute.
“What do you mean?” His voice is high and squeaky now and I know he is frightened because I’ve never heard him like this before. “Thursday, she was planning this big ‘welcome home’ fuck-fest weekend for you and I haven’t heard from her since! What the fuck is going on?” he barks. I would tell him to settle down, but I’m feeling the same burning, frightful uncertainty that he is.
“I went to Green Valley, Allen. I dug into Ana’s past to try to find the bastards that… I didn’t tell her why I was going and she found out. Now, she’s angry with me. But after last week, she swore that she wouldn’t disappear on me again…” I hear my voice cracking. I can’t fucking fall apart now.
“In 14 years, the only time that she disappeared on me was when her parents ambushed her in one way or another… or when she was living at the homeless shelter…” He trails off. We ponder the situation for about ten seconds and then simultaneously say…
“TAYLOR!” I feel my face get hot as I’m scrambling around my desk looking for something. For what, I don’t know. All I know is that my Butterfly is missing. “Allen, I’ll call you back…”
“The fuck you will!” he yells. “You’re not leaving me out of the loop on this one, Grey! I’m on my way!” He hangs up without another word.
“TAYLOR!” I scream again. He dashes into my office with his hand on his firearm.
“What’s wrong, sir?” he says, breathing like he has run a marathon. I’m angry for having to call him twice, but I can’t be concerned about it right now because…
“Butterfly is missing.” I can’t stop the cracking in my voice this time.
A look of fear, surprise, and concern falls over Taylor’s face as he straightens and asks, “How do you know she’s missing?”
“Allen hasn’t seen or talked to her since Thursday,” I say, controlling my voice, my brain springing to life with different courses of action running through at 100 miles an hour. “She hasn’t answered any of my calls and she promised that she would never do that to me again…even if she’s angry.” Taylor dials a number in his phone.
“Turn on the tracking software in Her Highness’s phone,” he says.
“The phone is off,” I reply, dismally.
“It’s a long shot, but we may still be able to pick up a residual signal from the battery, unless it’s completely dead.”
I feel completely lost. I have no idea where to even begin looking. I know it was around 4:00 when she left on Friday and I tried to call her at 6:00 and it went straight to her voice mail. I feel like an asshole now for getting angry at her for not responding. If I had faith that she would keep her promise and not shut me out, I would have known before now that something was wrong. I try to sit in my chair and forgot that I have knocked it over, so I fall on the floor trying not to disappear into hopelessness. Could she be hurt? Could she be hiding? Is that what the dream meant? This situation was so much bigger than I thought you were sleeping with my brother. I tap into my blackberry a futile attempt to reach her once more.
**You don’t have to speak to me ever again if you don’t want to. Just please let me know that you’re okay. **
I wipe away a single tear as I hit “send.”
“Mr. Forsythe,” Taylor announces. I don’t know how much time has passed, but I welcome Allen’s company more than I thought I would.
“Call me Al, Agent T,” Allen says rolling his eyes and brushing pass Taylor. He stops a few feet away from me. “You look like shit, and if you send yourself into the same situation that you did the last time this happened, Jewel is going to kick your fucking ass when she gets back…I guarantee it.” Taylor disappears into the kitchen for a moment. I’ve been eating…haven’t I? I had to think about it too hard.
“Sir.” I look up just in time to see Taylor launch a bottle of water in my direction. I crack it open and take several swallows. He subsequently tosses me an apple. Better safe than sorry, I think as I take a healthy bite…and immediately think of Butterfly splatting the Pedophile in the face with a nectarine. I look up at Taylor, who is hiding a snicker because he apparently had the same thought. “Thank you, Taylor,” I say as I swallow the bite of apple.
“Someone want to let me in on the joke?” Allen says, a little impatiently.
“Our girl accosted someone with a nectarine right there a couple of weeks ago.” I say with a snicker as I point to the breakfast bar. Could this bitch have something to do with Ana’s disappearance? I have absolutely no answers right now.
“Well, I have some news. I called Lojack and had them activate her theft recovery system,” Allen says.
“I thought she was the only one that could do that,” I say. Allen drops his head.
“Sit down, Chris. You’re about to get a little insight into the relationship that is Jewel and Al.” He gestures to the sofa, but I decline.
“I think better in my study. Follow me.” I guide him into my study.
“After my parents died, I really didn’t have anyone else to call family,” Allen begins as he sits in one of the seats across from my desk. I listen attentively as I finish my apple. “Jewel and I were pretty much on our own once she came back to Washington—and I discovered she was here. Boy, I could have choked her for moving into that homeless shelter instead of coming to me.” I can see that he recalls this time painfully, but he quickly shakes the thoughts from his head and continues. “Jewel has Ray, but I had no one…you know, in case of emergency. So, we became each other’s contingency plan.” I frown.
“Contingency plan?” I ask. He sighs.
“On every piece of paper that makes any difference anywhere, I’m listed as Jewel’s brother and emergency contact. She, in turn, is listed as my sister. We know each other so well that if anything out-of-the-ordinary occurs, we can tell instantly—and we have contingencies in place. This time I was off my game, because you’re an unknown factor.” I don’t like the sound of that.
“What do you mean I’m an unknown factor?” I almost snap. “I’m not some mystery molecule that’s been thrown into the equation here. This is my woman!”
“That’s the thing though, Chris. That’s exactly what you are! For years, she hasn’t been anybody’s woman! I knew exactly what her habits were, and I could tell by a flutter of her eyelash if something wasn’t right. Now twice, my girl has needed me, and I wasn’t there—and she didn’t call me! Twice something has happened in my girl’s life and I didn’t know anything was wrong until the next day or so and only because I spoke to you. That’s not how we roll, Christian. And the only anomaly here is you!” What is he trying to say…that I’ve come into Ana’s life and now all her perfection and order has been ruined because of me?
“What exactly are you trying to say, Allen?” I say, my voice crisp. He stretches his neck and closes his eyes, apparently trying to gather his thoughts before he speaks.
“I’m trying to say that you are the unknown in this situation,” he says, his voice even and methodical, “that things have changed since you showed up. And yes, her perfect little world—if you can call it that—has been shaken. I can see the question in your eyes. I’m good at what I do.” This guy makes me nervous. I can read the fuck out of people, but no one has ever been able to read me. I need this guy; I can’t afford to ever have him sitting across from me in any situation.
“This may not be the best time to ask this, but I want to ask before I forget. Would you consider coming to work for me?” I ask. He glares at me.
“Oh, you got jokes,” he snaps.
“I’m dead serious. You’ve got instincts like I’ve never seen, and I want that on my team. You can name your terms,” I say flatly. He examines me for a moment.
“You are serious,” he says, surprised.
“Yes, I am. Think about it and we can discuss it if you like after we find out what’s happening with Butterfly.” He nods.
“I will.” He breathes heavily and gets back to the business at hand. “Just before you saw her at that club, I followed her home in the middle of the night because I knew that something was wrong with her even though she tried to convince me that I was wrong. I found her in her car in the parking garage of her apartment knocked out from crying. She had tried to convince me that she was having one of her headaches when she left the bar, but I knew better. It turns out that she felt like the odd woman out that night. She was lonely and didn’t want any of us to know.”
Butterfly. Lonely. It doesn’t seem possible. She is magnificent and remarkable and all things good, beautiful, and whole…focus, Grey!
Allen sighs heavily, again trying to organize his thoughts. “Chris, you have come along and scrambled everything Allen and Jewel...and that’s okay, because I would have been completely shattered if I had found the remarkable and perfect love that I have with James, and my beloved Jewel was still on the outside looking in. But there appears to be some major changes going on in Jewel’s life and I don’t like being on the outside of that. The little—and big—mishaps that we have had could have been avoided if there had not been this invisible rift between us and I intend to fix that when Ms. Thang returns!” he spits. I think that was more for Jewel than it was for me. He takes a heavy breath—drenched with sorrow and some fear.
“She’s my split-apart, Chris. She’s my soulmate, and if I was a straight man, she would be my wife…not because I desire her, but because I can’t live without her. Do you understand me?” he says, his eyes glassy. I nod.
“Yes, Allen. I understand perfectly,” I say softly.
“So, since we obviously both love her very much, we’re going to have to work something out where we’re all informed on the contingencies. I don’t know how to fix this… but… I can’t… lose my Jewel.” He drops his head. I want to comfort him, but I’m not sure how. I step over to him and put my hand on his shoulder.
“You won’t. I swear you won’t. We’re going to find her and we’re going to get everything sorted out.” He nods, not raising his head to me. “What do you know?” I ask.
“Lojack activated the theft recovery system in her 300. They are supposed to call me back when they get a hit on it.” I don’t know why I didn’t think of Lojack, but without the codes and frequency of the device in Butterfly’s car, we wouldn’t have been able to track it anyway.
“Taylor.” I know he’s nearby. He appears a moment later. “Any luck?”
“Not yet, sir,” he says, sorrowfully.
“Track her credit cards and her bank account. See if anything has happened since Friday. Allen, have you checked her apartment?”
“Yes, that’s why I called you. It has been untouched since I brought her things here last Saturday.” I know she was there on Friday, but I don’t know what she did. Allen holds his finger up and looks at his phone. He puts it to his ear. “Allen Forsythe… yes… where is it…? How do you know…? Oh shit…” I don’t like the sound of that. “Can we avoid that? I’m her emergency contact and I can pay the ticket and move the car.”
They found her car. What the fuck? Where’s Ana?
“Oh, I see. I hadn’t considered that. May I request that until we determine that there is or may be foul play involved that you stick to basic gathering of evidence and do not destroy Ms. Steele’s vehicle? I’m also her attorney.”
Oh, shit, this is making me fucking ill. I look over at Taylor, who nods and leaves the room.
“Is it on the street or in the parking lot…? Will you be taking it to the police impound or to headquarters…? Has Ms. Steele officially been declared a missing person, or do I have to do that…? I’m her brother…I’m on my way.” He ends the call. I feel bile rise in my throat as I watch the color leave Allen’s face.
“Please tell me what it is,” I croak. I can’t even imagine my Butterfly being hurt.
“Obviously, they found her car. It was in the parking lot at the aquarium.” I frown. The aquarium? “That’s where Jewel goes to think about things. She says the water calms her. Her car was ticketed at 9:10pm on Friday night. The police have been contacted. It’s a crime scene now, Chris.” A crime scene. That can only mean that they have no idea where my baby is.
“What are they going to do with her car?” I ask flatly, trying to keep all my horrible thoughts at bay.
“They’re taking it in for preliminary processing. Without any further information right now, it’s just abandoned, so they won’t do a breakdown unless…” he trails off.
“Unless they find out that something bad has happened to her,” I finish, swallowing hard. “So, what happens now?”
“I have to go down there and establish that it is actually Jewel’s car. They know it is but…it’s like…” Even he has a hard time stating the obvious.
“Like identifying a body,” I finish.
“Yes,” he says, dropping his head. “So… we better get going.” I look up at him. I would have stalked him when he left anyway, but I’m so glad that he invited me along.
“I’ll drive,” Taylor says, having appeared in the doorway again.
I’ve seen things like this on television, but not in real life. Her car is taped off in a little square area of that horrible police tape that only makes me think that Butterfly is dead.
Pull it together, Grey.
Various items are lying outside on a tarp and all four doors are open. It’s a really sickening sight, only because I know Butterfly wouldn’t treat her things this way. Various odds and ends are on display—her briefcase, some miscellaneous toiletries, but what I see next chills me to the bone.
“Allen.” I call to Allen, who is talking to one of the officers. He turns to me, and apparently my facial expression causes him concern.
“What is it, Chris?” he asks. I point to the tarp.
“Somebody took her,” I say. Al follows my finger and tries to hide a quiet gasp. Her unloaded Glock and her Magnum are lying on the tarp. They don’t allow firearms in the aquarium, so she wouldn’t have taken her Magnum, and she leaves the Glock in the car. That means that she was completely unarmed because the Beretta stays at home. Someone had to ambush her at this spot or somewhere nearby because she wouldn’t have left the Magnum.
“What is it, Mr. Forsythe?” one of the officers asks. Allen is trying to inform her that something is wrong, but I think it hits him at this moment just how wrong it is.
“Ms. Steele has been abducted. Wherever she is, she didn’t go willingly,” I say.
“And what makes you say that?” she says, sarcastically and suspiciously. It’s taking everything in me not to tell this fucking cadet that I can have her job in my hand by midnight. I step pass Allen and get in her face. She’s only a couple of inches taller than Butterfly, but she doesn’t take down.
“Have you looked at your evidence?” I say curtly.
“No, it’s being bagged, Mr…” She waits for a response.
“Grey. That…” I point to the guns, “…is Ms. Steele’s .44 Magnum. She rarely goes anywhere without it. She has a license to carry a concealed weapon and that thing is usually in her purse.”
“Hmmm, you know an awful lot about Ms. Steele,” she says snidely, writing something in her little notebook. My cup boileth over.
“I should! I fuck her every night!” I spit, glaring at this sawed-off bitch with the Napoleon complex.
“Chris!” Allen is next to me in a moment. “We’re on the same side, Chris.”
“The hell we are!” I snap. “I’m trying to find out what happened to my Butterfly and this munchkin is treating me like a fucking suspect. She doesn’t even know who I am!”
“Well, right now, everyone is a suspect, Mr. Grey!” she says brusquely. “You show up on a scene we haven’t released to anyone and you know everything about the missing woman—and you’re right—we don’t even know who you are.” I glare at her again. Is she serious? Does the city of Seattle have it in for me?
“I’ll tell you what,” I snap. She seems to get a little shorter. “Why don’t you get on your little walkie-talkie there and get in touch with your boss, and have him get in touch with his boss, and have him get in touch with his boss. Go as far up as you need to go—all the way up to the governor if you need to—and find out if they feel the same about Christian Grey.” I leer at this little insignificant bug in front of me. How dare you try to flex your little nonexistent police muscle in front of me! My Butterfly is missing and I’ll crush you and anybody else that gets in my way to find her.
“Did he just say Christian Grey?” I hear off to my left somewhere. Someone is touching my arm. When I look down at the hand, I notice that it is unfamiliar. Efficient as always, Taylor is in my peripheral and the hand moves from my arm. I look up into the face of a suited cop—most likely a detective. “Excuse me, Mr. Grey,” he says as he leans in to Little Ms. Napoleon. “You’re about to piss off the most powerful man in Seattle. Do you want to be a meter maid tomorrow? Go find something to do!” He spit at her and nearly pushes her in the other direction. “I’m sorry, Mr. Grey,” he says, turning back to me. “She really shouldn’t be speaking to anyone that way.” The fact that he acknowledged that her behavior was unacceptable to anyone and not just me threw a little ice water on the raging beast inside desperate to get free.
“I was trying to tell her,” I begin, “that Ms. Steele is licensed to carry firearms, and she carries that Magnum in her purse. If that Magnum is here and she’s not, then she’s unarmed and vulnerable and has most likely been abducted.” He starts writing in his little notebook.
“And, please, Mr. Grey, can you tell me how you would know this?” I almost hate to answer this question because I know that it will most likely be all over the tabloids before I even make it back to Escala, but hell…I already told She-Napoleon that I fuck her every night.
“She’s my girlfriend,” I say, sealing our media fate. The detective’s head darts up to me quickly.
“She’s your girlfriend?” he repeats. I nod, and I know that this has just become a high-profile case.
“I would like to keep this as quiet as possible, Officer…”
“Crab. Detective Gerald Crab, sir.” Oh, boy, that couldn’t have been easy growing up.
“Detective Crab. Of course, I want Anastasia found as quickly as possible, but I would like that with as little invasion of our privacy as is possible under the circumstances,” I say.
“I’ll take it from here, Crab.” Another officer rudely interrupts Detective Crab just as he was getting information from me. I already don’t like this guy. First, he put undue emphasis on Crab’s name in the demeaning method that I know this guy has suffered his entire life. And second, he’s the epitome of the stereotypical, arrogant, potbellied, bullying, doughnut-eating flatfoot from the television cop series that is willing to pin the crime on the nearest suspect just so that he can make the collar. I drop my head immediately as I’m growing very weary of the situation.
“I’ve said the same thing to three different people. Now I have to say it to you, too?” I ask, perturbed. Oh, how dare I voice my opinion as a citizen of the city of Seattle and the State of Washington.
“I’ll ask the questions, here, and you’ll repeat it as many times as necessary!” Oh, no he didn’t. I take a moment to size him up and then I make my decision.
“Let me try to put this into perspective for you. I’m in love with this woman and she’s missing. I’m just about as rich as Walmart and I’m going to throw every resource that I can get my hands on behind finding this woman. Either you can help me, or you can get out of my way, but I can’t guarantee you that everything that I’m going to do you’re going to like. Now, since they all know who I am, I can call the police commissioner, the president of the city council, the mayor, the governor, whomever you need me to call to put some fire under your ass and make this a priority. And believe me, I completely understand that you are concerned about 20,000 crimes being committed in this city. I’m only concerned about one. So, watch your tone with me, because it won’t serve you well to piss me off!” I snap. He laughs loudly.
“Who the hell do you think you are?” he asks. Another smelling-his-own-ass cop who seems to think that I play by the rules. “This is an official police investigation! You don’t have any power here!” he spits. I look over his shoulder to see Detective Crab shaking his head. I run my finger across my bottom lip.
“Are you the leading officer on this case, Mr…” I wait for a name.
“Roach. Detective Sherman Roach.” Ooooh, another one. Where are these people getting these names from? I nod.
“Mr. Forsythe?” I call to Allen. He is beside me in a moment.
“Yes, sir, Mr. Grey?” He falls into professional mode very quickly. He’s good. Yeah, name your price, Al.
“This is my attorney, Allen Forsythe. You can talk to him.” I turn away from Roach.
“Lawyering up, are you, Grey? You’ve got something to hide?” he asks accusing. I turn back to face him.
“No. I have nothing to hide. I just don’t like you…Roach!” I spit his name with twice the contempt that he gave to Detective Crab. I actually see him flinch. I open my blackberry and search through my contingency contacts. I find the number I am seeking and dial.
“Charlotte… Christian Grey here… I wish I could tell you I was doing fine, but I’m not. I have a very severe situation on my hands and I need your help…”
A few minutes later, I go back to join Allen and Roach—well, I should really say to pull Allen away from Roach.
“Don’t leave town, Grey,” Roach barks. Silly little flatfoot. He still thinks he’s in control of this situation.
“I just got back into town, Roach! I’m not hiding from you!” I growl. Again, he flinched. General public service announcement—if you’re going to try to strut with the cocks, have some balls!
“It’s not a good idea to piss off the cops, Chris.” Allen says. “I just kind of got that guy on our side.”
“I don’t want him on my side,” I say. “I’m assuming you’re giving some serious thought to coming to work for me. I would give anything to have your expertise on my side.”
“I’m thinking about it, Chris,” he responds.
“In that case, you need to know that I do everything possible above board. I never dance with the devil unless it is utterly necessary. To prevent that from happening, I have friends in high and low places. I just put in a call to one of the high ones. I just want you to step back and watch the ‘Roaches’ run—pun intended.” I say. He frowns.
“Okay…and when will this running commence?” he asks.
“I’d say in about…ten minutes,” I reply, looking at my watch. Taylor steps over to me at that moment.
“Sir, would you happen to have a picture of Ms. Steele handy?” he asks. Not one that I would want other people to see. Oh, wait…I have that picture of her at the dinner party on my phone. I open my phone and scroll to the picture.
“Why do you need a picture of her?” I ask.
“The very capable officers of the city of Seattle failed to ask the aquarium staff if any of them have seen Ms. Steele. I thought I would assist them in their investigation,” he responds. I text him the picture of Butterfly.
“Good thinking, Taylor. Let me know what you find out.” He nods and heads back to the aquarium.
“What’s he doing?” Roach barks as I send Taylor away.
“None of your damn business. That’s my personal security!” I hiss.
“Need I remind you that this is an official ongoing police investigation, sir?” he scolds.
“Need I remind you that I don’t like you and don’t give a fuck what you say?” I retort. He opens his mouth for a rebuttal when his phone rings.
“Roach…! Sir… uh, yes, sir… yes, sir…” Ah… friends in high places. I fold my arms.
“That was faster than even I expected,” I say as I watch Roach pull nervously at his tie and sing several more “yes sirs” into his phone. Allen’s eyebrows rise as he attempts to discern what’s going on. I employ the stance, legs apart, hands clasped in front of me. Again, I look over Roach’s shoulder and see Crab answering his phone as well.
Much faster than I expected.
A few moments later, Roach and Crab make their way over to me.
“Mr. Grey,” Crab begins, “I’ll be the detective in charge of Ms. Steele’s case, sir,” he says confidently.
“Excellent,” I state. “Roach, I assume you’ll be giving all of your notes over to Detective Crab?” Twist the knife a bit.
“Yes, sir,” Roach hisses as he rips sheets of paper from his notebook and hands them to Crab. “My apologies, sir, if I offended you or treated you disrespectfully in any way,” he grumbles, looking in any direction but mine.
“Like my Butterfly, I don’t accept insincere apologies,” I say flatly, maintaining my stance. His head snaps toward me and he glares at me. “Unlike my Butterfly, I can’t handle things with the grace and decorum that she exhibits…get the fuck out of my face!” I spit.
“Mr. Grey…” Roach begins to protest. I have no idea what the look on my face said to him, but I can see the chill go through his soul before he turns around and walks away from me. I turn back to Crab who is shaking his head at a retreating Roach.
“Who did you call?” Allen asks. I look over my shoulder at him.
“The governor,” I say, matter-of-factly before turning back to Crab, who clears his throat.
“Mr. Grey, although their tactics were deplorable, there is some truth in what the two officers were telling you,” Crab says cautiously. “In a missing persons case, the first suspects to be considered are the people closest to the victim. The discovery process can be very invasive and uncomfortable, but I assure you that I’ll proceed with the utmost respect and discretion.”
“That’s all I ask,” I reply. “The sooner you eliminate me as a suspect, the sooner you’ll find my girlfriend.” He nods. “So, what can I do?” I add.
“Tell me about the last time that you talked to Ms. Steele.”
I explain to him about the Green Valley trip and the fight that we had on Friday which caused Ana to walk out. Allen and I both assure him that Ana would not have gone to Ray without her car and Allen repeatedly informs the detective that Ana doesn’t so much as buy shoes without telling him that she’s going to the mall. The longer we talk to him and give him information, the more dismal I begin to feel. I want to hold my Butterfly. I want to make sure that she’s okay.
Nothing makes me feel more separation anxiety than watching them load her car onto the flatbed. I feel like they’re taking the last part of her away from me. Before I know it, all the calm that I had stored up to help me get through the last several hours seems to release all at once and fly away. I feel like there’s a vise wrapped around my chest and I can’t breathe. My legs feel like jelly underneath me and before I know it, I’m on the ground at Pier 59 unable to catch my breath. People are reaching to help me, and I can’t hear them. I just see their hands coming towards me and I keep swatting them away, afraid that they’re going to touch my chest. I can’t find a familiar face in the crowd… but worse, I can’t find my Butterfly.
Out of the fog, I can hear Taylor’s voice. I call to him and, within moments, he’s on the ground beside me.
“They have to find her,” I say to him through my tears. “They have to find her,” I beg.
“We will, sir,” he tries to assure me, but all I can see is her car being secured to the police truck behind him. I clutch his arms and shake my head violently. “We have to get him out of here,” he says to someone.
“No!” I bark. “We have to find her. I don’t know where she is and we have to find her.”
“She’s not here, sir,” Taylor says sternly. “She left here Friday after the aquarium closed.” I look up at him.
“How do you know?” I ask. My head feeling a little clearer as we speak.
“The guard inside, he said that she was here after closing—that she lost track of time and he had to ask her to leave.” I rise to my feet.
“The aquarium closes at 6…” I begin. “Does he know exactly what time it was when she left?”
“No, sir. He does his walk-through at about 6:10. He says she was in the last exhibit he checked which was the viewing dome. He remembers securing the aquarium at 6:40 because it was on his report. So, she had to leave sometime in that last half hour.”
“She left in broad daylight and no one saw her?” I ask bewildered.
“Sir, you should probably see something.” Taylor says as we walk around the building. He takes me to the front entrance, which is mostly glass and clearly visible. Then he takes me over to the side of the building.
“Once you walk through the exhibits in the aquarium, the exit is there,” he says, pointing to a door that is down a long sidewalk nearly halfway to the back of the building and obscured from the street. Considering the fact that there’s a delivery truck parked on that sidewalk right now, a car could have been waiting for her when she came out of the aquarium. They could have taken her without drawing any attention to themselves—but she would have to be quiet, and Butterfly would not have gone quietly…
…if she was conscious.
The feeling of doom has returned as all the nickels keep dropping and the pieces start falling together. I run my fingers through my hair and frantically start looking around for surveillance equipment. No security cameras on the aquarium or the attached cafe. No traffic cameras. No other businesses close enough to get a shot of the door that I can tell. Across the street is the Alaskan Way Viaduct and all businesses that could be of any use are on the other side of the viaduct. There’s nothing for me to link to my Butterfly—nothing to give me an idea of what happened those last few moments she was here at this spot.
What if one of those Green Valley fuckers came back and got her? That’s not possible—none of them knows where she is. Even if they were resourceful enough to connect her to my location—which I doubt—all they would know is that she’s in Washington. There’s no way any one of them could have located her and orchestrated a kidnapping in such a short period of time—especially considering that the trip to the aquarium was unexpected. So that’s not likely.
What if someone has figured out that she’s my girlfriend and they’re holding her for some kind of ransom? Wouldn’t they have contacted me by now? We haven’t gone public with our relationship, but that doesn’t mean that someone couldn’t find out. If that’s the case, it had to be someone very close to her or very close to me. Still, they would have had to know that she was at the aquarium at that very moment.
Who would have known she was at the aquarium? If Allen didn’t know that she was going to the aquarium, nobody knew. Somebody had to be watching her. Or had to know her routines…but this wasn’t a routine. We fought, and she left in a frenzy. I need some help—my brain is going in too many different directions.
“Allen? Crab?” I call to them both. I’m pacing the walkway near the exit when they get there. “I need some help. My thoughts are in complete disarray.”
“Okay, what do you need?” Allen asks.
“This may sound strange, but when I do this, I usually have my assistant taking notes to catalog my thoughts. I just need someone to help me sort them out.” Allen looks at Crab who shrugs and takes out his notebook. Good…they don’t think I’m completely crazy.
“She would have come out of this door. It had to be sometime after 6 because that’s when the aquarium closed.” I run my hand through my hair again. “Somebody had to know that she was here…but I didn’t even know that she was here. She wasn’t supposed to be here.” Crab is scribbling feverishly in his notebook.
“What are you thinking, Chris?” Allen asks.
“This truck,” I point to the delivery truck, “is blocking the view from the street. So, a car or a van could have been here when she exited the aquarium.” I look around at the buildings again. Directly across the street on the other side of the viaduct is a parking structure. No doubt, additional parking for the aquarium and surrounding businesses. My eyes scan for surveillance equipment and I see two cameras facing the aquarium. They’re far away, and I don’t know if the view was obstructed by anything, but it’s worth a shot.
Next to the parking structure is the Seattle Antiques Market. The building has a large dock. If they don’t have security cameras, they’re just fucking stupid. Next to the Antiques Market is a large parking lot and then a storage facility. I know they will have surveillance cameras. Finally, there is an ATM express just under the viaduct that may have captured pictures of passing cars, but I don’t know how much help that will be to us.
I fill Allen and Crab in on my thoughts and plan of action and we all cross Alaskan Way. Crab isn’t too happy about it.
“No offense, Crab, but my heart and soul has been missing for more than 24 hours. If I don’t do something about this soon, I may just expire. And quite frankly, I really want to find her before the FBI gets wind of this, because if this does become a kidnapping investigation, they’re going to bureaucrat this shit to death. This is likely to become another Lindbergh baby situation, and we all know how that turned out.” He sighs heavily.
“I’m on your side,” he says, “but you have to keep me in the loop. Don’t do anything illegal or I will have to arrest you. Please keep me informed of what you find and what you are about to do, because I can help you if you let me… but if you cross me, sir, all bets are off and you become my number one suspect,” he warns.
“Well, what I’m about to do may not necessarily be ethical, but it’s definitely not illegal. As long as we are on the same page, you never have to worry about me crossing you, but you have to know that I do have resources that even you and the department don’t have. This woman is the love of my life. She’s my soul’s breath and I’ll tear this city apart to get her back safely. So, I’ll do everything I can to stay above board, because she would be pissed at me if I did anything illegal. But make no mistake, detective…I’m going to get my woman back.” He answers me with a curt nod and I text Taylor to meet me at the parking structure.
There’s a small office just inside the parking structure across from the payment booth. It’s made of glass and there are two security officers inside.
“May I speak to whomever is in charge, please?” I say when I enter the office. An older woman appears from behind a concave wall of monitors and says, “I’m Officer Burnett. How can I help you?”
“Officer Burnett, my name is Christian. Christian Grey. This is my attorney Allen Forsythe, my head of security Jason Taylor, and Detective Gerald Crab from the Seattle Police Department. Ma’am, my girlfriend is missing, and we have reason to believe that she has been abducted. She was last seen coming out of the aquarium on Friday evening. Now Officer, I know that there will most likely be subpoenas and all kinds of requests for this information once we get in front of a judge, but I will pay you any amount of money that you request to let us look at the surveillance video from the two cameras out front that you have pointing in the direction of the aquarium. She’s been missing for nearly two days and they just towed her car away from the parking lot. Please, Ma’am, I’ll pay whatever you ask… please.”
I want to use the Grey charm to my advantage, but I just don’t have the strength. I have to find my Butterfly and I am truly broken without her—including the charmer. I’ll get on my knees and beg if I have to. I don’t know what she saw in my face, but she just pulls the chair out in front of the concave wall and tells me, “Sit down.”
I sit in the seat and look at the numerous monitors in front of me as she asks, “What time?”
“Six o’clock.” She types into a keyboard for a few moments and then the four screens in the middle of the wall go black. Two monitors come alive. One has a view of the Alaskan Way and the front of the aquarium. The other has a straight shot of the aquarium exit and walkway, but it’s so far away. Something is better than nothing.
I watch the screens without blinking, Allen, Taylor, and Crab all looking over my shoulder. There is a gray car parked in the walkway in front of the aquarium exit. There is someone standing near the door of the cafe next door, but I can’t identify anything about him since he’s standing under an awning. At 6:17, a blurry figure comes out of the exit. I can’t see her face, but I’d know that body anywhere. That’s my Butterfly. Cafe Guy comes up behind her and there’s some kind of struggle. A second blonde exits the parked car and just as Cafe Guy goes down, the second guy steps behind Butterfly. I can’t see what happens next, but she must have collapsed because he is carrying her to the gray car. He puts her in the back seat and gets in beside her while Cafe Guy gets off the ground and gets into the driver’s seat. A few moments later, they pull out and drive off down Alaskan Way.
I sit there for a moment, staring at the screen, like it’ll give me more answers—like Butterfly is going to pop up and tell me where the gray car took her. I don’t know how long I sit there looking at the screen, but I feel someone touching my hand. I look up and it’s Officer Burnett—she’s putting a tissue in my hand. I look over at Taylor, who has this completely lost puppy look on his face and I’m having a hard time understanding what’s happening. As if to answer my question, Taylor says, “Boss, dry your face.”
I reach up to my cheek and didn’t know I had started to cry. I accepted the tissue from Officer Burnett.
“Thank you, ma’am,” I manage to say.
“Sarah.” I look up at her after I dry the water from my eyes. “Call me Sarah.” She smiles. I put my hands in my hair and try to pull myself together. Somebody took my Butterfly.
“What do we do now?” Allen asks.
“We have to enhance that video—see who’s on it,” Crab says.
“How do we do that?” Allen asks.
“We can do it in the lab, but we have to get a subpoena,” Crab responds.
“Barney could do it.” We all look at Taylor. Of course, Barney could do it! Why didn’t I think of that!? “All we have to do is get him the section of the video with Ms. Steele in it and he should be able to do it in a heartbeat.” I look over at Sarah.
“What do you need me to do?” she asks without pausing.
“I don’t want to get you into any trouble, but this is so important, Sarah,” I say with pleading eyes.
“I understand. What do you need me to do?” She says again. I open my blackberry and call Barney’s cell.
“Barney, I know it’s Sunday, but how soon can you be in the office?” I ask.
“I’m already here, sir. I’m working on the new access software for the PR department. I thought I would come in today so I could work in peace.” The gods must be smiling on me.
“I’m going to have some surveillance video sent to you. I need you to enhance it as much as possible so that we can see who’s in it. This is priority one. If you enhance it enough, you’ll see why we need it. What do you need from me?”
“What kind of system are they running?” he asks.
“Hold on.” I hand the phone to Sarah. “This is Barney. He’s my head of IT. He has some questions for you.” She nods and takes the phone from me. I turn back to Crab.
“What happens once we identify who took Anastasia?” I ask.
“We put out an APB—but I’m not going to be able to do that based on what your guy finds. The video has to be processed at Police Headquarters and the suspects have to be identified there. Once they are, then we can hit all of the media outlets and they won’t be able to move around so freely. But Mr. Grey, subpoenas can take days to get—we have to show probable cause. Then the techs have to come down and gather the evidence properly and it has to go through a process with the Crime Scene Investigation unit. That could take a really long time.”
“Like how long?” I ask.
“Anywhere from several days to a few weeks,” he answers.
“She could be dead by then! Or sold in human trafficking. Hell, she could be dead now!” The words burn in the back of my throat.
“Getting the subpoena is going to be the hardest part,” he admits. I drop my head and bang it lightly on the desk in frustration.
“How long after you get the subpoena should this take?” I ask, my voice muffled by the desk.
“It depends on CSI. I mean, they could get in here in a day and get what they need, especially since we know exactly where to look. How long it takes them to process it, well, that depends on the priority level.” He’s singing all my tunes right now. I’m going to do what I’m going to do behind the scenes, but I’m going to make sure all the correct chains are followed, too.
“Mr. Grey,” a soft voice calls me from my right. Sarah is handing me my blackberry.
“Thank you, Sarah.” I say as I take the phone. “Barney?”
“Give me about forty-five minutes, sir. I’ll have it enhanced as much as I can, but you’re going to need a computer to watch it,” he says.
“Thank you, Barney. Call me when it’s done.” I end the call. I thank Sarah again for her kindness and let her know that she will probably be hearing from the police about the case very soon. I wonder how much she likes her job and if she would like to retire? We go to the antiques shop next door and their surveillance equipment is so old, it’s of absolutely no use to us. The storage facility won’t even talk to us. There’s nothing else to do at this point but go back to Escala. I don’t want to leave this area since this is the last place that my Butterfly was seen, but there isn’t anything else that we can do here.
Barney calls while we’re at the storage facility to inform us that the video is complete. So, the four of us go back to Escala. Barney has uploaded the videos to the network—both the original version and the enhanced snippet. Taylor calls in Lawrence and Williams for extra hands on deck. The gentlemen agree to a schedule where each would watch a couple of hours of the video at a time to see if there may have been anything that we missed since Sarah provided the surveillance files from Friday through to this morning when the police acquired her car.
On the way back to Escala, I call Charlotte again to see which judges she has in her pocket this month that can get us a subpoena.
“Dear Christian, I can’t just wave my magic wand and make this happen,” Charlotte says.
“Oh, yes you can, Char,” I protest. “There’s a young woman’s life at stake here. We know that she has been taken and there has been no ransom demand. So, either they plan on keeping her, selling her, or killing her…if they haven’t done it already. I’m going to know who did this in about three minutes, but I need this stuff to go through the police chain of command, so we can go through the media outlets and catch these fuckers.”
“You know as well as I do that if you push their hand, they may kill her anyway.” I didn’t need to hear that.
“It depends on who has her. If I can’t identify them, we’ll take another course of action—but I need to get this ball rolling in case I can.” She sighs heavily.
“Have Crab call me in an hour. I’ll have your subpoena.” Again, the gods must be looking out for me.
“Thank you, Char,” I say.
“I really must meet this girl when you get her back, Christian,” she scolds.
“You will, Char. That’s a promise,” I say before ending the call.
While I was on the phone with Charlotte, Taylor confirms that according to Welch, Butterfly’s bank account and credit cards haven’t been touched. Not good news. All trails are running dry and the only leads we’ll have from here on out will be the two mystery gentlemen on the video and the gray car. It’s about 5:00pm on Sunday when we all sit down in my study and start making our various discoveries.
Lindbergh Baby Situation—The current FBI Federal Kidnapping Law (the Lindbergh Law) came into place in 1932 when famous aviator Charles Lindbergh’s toddler son was kidnapped. It’s been said that the FBI really messed this case up and were on a wild goose chase following false leads and the wrong suspects. A ransom was paid one month after the kidnapping, but it turns out that Lindbergh was fooled out of $50,000. His son’s body was found not far from his home two months after he was kidnapped – badly decomposed and mutilated. He was most likely dead when the money changed hands. Needless to say, this is why Christian is anxious to get Ana back before the FBI gets wind of her disappearance.
As usual, pictures on Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/paging-dr-steele/. There are also pictures of how I see most of my characters (actors and actresses) at http://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/paging-dr-steele-characters/
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Love and Handcuffs!