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 43—Liberty or Death
I’m only slightly conscious when I feel him carry me to the bathroom. My hands and feet are bound when he sits me on the toilet. This whole weakness/dehydration thing is setting in faster than I thought. He leaves me there for several minutes and I have no idea why until I finally did business that I couldn’t do in a bedpan. Two days, huh, Brainiac? Maybe I should have done that in the bed, too. My subconscious mind is as crisp as a shiny new penny. My conscious mind can’t put two and two together. I do have enough brain function to clean myself. Who wants to sit in that all day? I flush the toilet and lay my head on the basin. I guess he figured the gag was of no used since I can’t even hold my head upright.
He finally comes back into the bathroom after several minutes, picks me up from the toilet and put me in the bathtub. It’s one of those beautiful, old deep tubs with the clawed feet. I would have really appreciated this experience had I not been bound hand and foot, in the presence of my psycho-lying-cheating-ex-boyfriend-kidnapper. My head is pounding like the devil and I just lay on the side of the tub. He begins to wash me and I’m too tired to fight.
“Rosie, please. Please, eat,” I hear him say, but I’m tired. I want to go back to sleep so I can see Christian.
“You peed the bed. Why didn’t you call me?” Because your fucking rabid dog partner was manhandling me at the time. He literally scared the piss out of me.
“I won’t let that happen again, Rosie. I’ll check on you more often.”
Oh, joy! My life’s dream has come true!
“Rosie, why are you hurting yourself? Why won’t you eat?” Because I’d rather die than be here with you, and if you’re fool enough to let that happen then I’ll be better off dead.
At this point, it really doesn’t matter what he does to my body. I’m not here… I’m with Christian. I’m going back to sleep to be with my beloved.
The video starts playing and it’s larger and much clearer than it was at the parking structure.
Thank. You. Barney. You’ll be getting a big fat raise for this.
The Cafe Man is still unidentifiable yet, but there’s my baby. She looks glorious… and she’s actually smiling. She feels better… felt better… after her trip to the aquarium. Cafe Man snatches her purse now. I still don’t recognize him, but Taylor is glaring at the screen with heavy concentration. Butterfly takes the asshole down—good girl. Too bad there was a second asshole waiting for her. These are some big guys—why the fuck are they picking on my little Butterfly? Blonde number two injects her neck with something. I knew she wouldn’t go quietly.
“Run that again,” Taylor says.
“Yeah, run that again.” I look over my shoulder and Allen is concentrating on the screen, frowning deeply. We run the video again and Taylor and Allen are deathly quiet.
“Something you gentlemen want to share with us?” I ask annoyed.
“Run it one more time,” Taylor says.
“I don’t want to keep seeing this…!” I protest.
“Then leave the room, Boss, but I need you to run it again,” he says forcefully. I run the fucking video again. As the video is ending, Taylor proclaims, “Fuck!”
“Taylor, what is it?” I ask. He doesn’t answer me. He just slams his hands hard on the desk.
“Goddammit, Taylor, what is it!?” I demand. He sighs heavily, wiping his hands over his eyes before he looks at me.
“Sir, that’s Harris,” he confesses. My face must have looked like death.
“What?” I ask, nearly dumbfounded. “Who?”
“That’s Harris, sir. His hair is different, but that’s definitely him.”
“How the hell can that be Harris? I thought we had him under surveillance,” I ask.
“We had him under watch, sir. That’s different.”
“How is that different?” I demand.
“Watch is where you loosely watch his comings and goings, and you watch his financials to get an idea of what he’s doing. According to our records, he was about ready to leave town. He’s out of money and he can’t find a job…” Taylor starts.
“Which means he’s desperate! Your intel says that he could be going out of town. He could have very well taken Ana with him!” I spit.
“Not without funding, sir.”
“Excuse me?” I gasp. Taylor sighs.
“You can’t just throw someone in the back of a car and take them with you. Kidnapping takes planning and planning takes money. He’s broke.”
“Well, where did he get the money?” Just then, Allen breaks into our conversation by exclaiming, “That’s the double dicker!” What the fuck?
“Huh?” Now I’m really lost. Allen is pointing to the screen.
“That’s the dou…” He shakes his head. “That’s Edward!” I turn and look at the screen again.
“That’s not David!” I exclaim.
“I’m telling you that is David. Take off that phony ass beard and dye that hair brown… that’s David,” Allen says definitely.
“How can you be so sure?” I ask. Allen puts his hands on his hips and shifts his weight to one leg.
“I’m a gay man—and that is Edward David,” he responds. Crab spins around and looks at Allen.
“Seriously?” he says, surprised.
“Seriously,” Allen answers. “He’s an asshole, but he’s a hot asshole.”
“Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! That’s more than I needed to know!” I say. I walk to the door with my hands in my hair trying to process this new information. “Can somebody please tell me how two people that we were supposed to be watching managed to kidnap my girlfriend?” I’m standing there with my hands out like somebody give me something because I don’t get this. I think Taylor was trying to think of something. He’s going on about how the “missions” can’t all be run concurrently that way. One guard needs to be able to accurately do his job and reporting while another guard does his and… I’m just not understanding how the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.
“They had to be meeting somewhere. No one thought this was strange?” I ask.
“Well, sir, they’re in disguise,” Taylor defends.
“You told me he’s been holed up in his apartment for the last several days!” I bark! “He can’t be in his apartment and at the aquarium kidnapping Ana at the same time!”
“They’ve been looking for a brown-haired, brown-eyed, clean shaven guy driving a BMW. They haven’t seen any brown-eyed, brown-haired, clean shaven guys and his BMW is still at his apartment,” Taylor responds. He’s borderline insubordinate.
“Taylor…don’t forget that you work for me,” I spit. He glares at me and his posture changes with that statement.
“Now, now, boys, we’re all on the same team and fighting is not going to help us.” Allen tries to salvage the situation. I sigh.
“Tell me why we are tracking Harris if it’s not to prevent something like this. How is it possible for two men that we are tracking—one under close surveillance—to kidnap my girlfriend in broad daylight and nobody saw this coming? Can someone tell me what’s so difficult about protecting this tiny little woman? Please tell me what—if anything—you can say that can make me feel better about this? I’d really like to hear it.” The room is silent. I think Taylor has fallen into name, rank, serial number. I almost expect him to take “the stance.” Great, now I’ve pissed him off and he’s in the speak when spoken to mode. This is not going to get us anywhere. I sigh and put my hands in my hair again. “Do we have any information on this mystery car?” I look directly at Taylor.
“No, sir. Barney couldn’t enhance the picture enough to get a plate,” he says flatly.
“So, we know who has her, but we don’t know where. Are we sure David didn’t sneak out and sneak an unconscious Ana back in?” I ask. Allen starts dialing his phone.
“There’s one way to find out.” After a pause. “Yes, my name is Marty and I think some harm may have come to my friend… Edward David. We were supposed to have dinner and I haven’t heard from him. He’s not answering his phone and one of his neighbors said that he hasn’t left his apartment all week… He runs his own company. He would have to leave his apartment. Is there any way that the police could go and check on him… just to make sure that he’s not lying dead in his apartment?… Thank you, ma’am.” Allen ends the call. “Done and done. So just tell your guy that’s watching the apartment to wait for the cops, let them get in, then run in acting like he’s Marty. If the double dicker is there in his brown coif, and Jewel is not with him, then we got the wrong guy.”
“Do I even want to know why you call him that?” I ask. Allen frowns a bit.
“I don’t think you do,” he responds. I shake my head and turn to Taylor.
“See if you can find anything in Harris’ intel, records, or personnel file that might help us.”
“Yes, sir,” he says curtly and leaves. Yeah, I pissed him off. I call Barney.
“Mr. Grey?” Barney answers.
“Barney, can you run facial recognition on the two guys in the video with pictures in the personnel files?” I ask.
“Yes, sir,” he responds.
“And do you have access to the DMV records and pictures?” I ask hopeful.
“No, sir, I don’t. But I think Alex does.”
“Good, then correspond with him and see if you can get a hit on these guys. We’re following a hunch.”
“Yes, sir.” I end the call. It’s nearly 6:00pm. I’ve been chasing hunches all day and I’m running out of things to do to keep me from believing that Butterfly may be gone forever. Allen must see the hopeless look on my face because he comes over to me and put his hand on my shoulder.
“Why don’t we try to get the word out that she’s missing?” Allen says.
“That might not be the best idea,” Crab interjects. “Without being sure who has her, going public might push their hand and they may do something drastic.”
“You mean like kill her,” I say dismally.
“Yes, sir,” he answers sympathetically, “like kill her.” I run my hands through my hair again.
“Then we wait,” I resolve.
I don’t know when or how I got back to the horrid brass bed. When I wake, my feet are no longer bound. I have wristbands under the handcuffs. The bedding has been changed. I’m wearing a long cotton nightgown straight out of the 1942 Sears catalog. I guess that’s better than nothing. My hair is sticky and stringy and it smells bad. Damn, you couldn’t wash my hair?
I’m truly a prisoner now.
My spirit falls a bit. I don’t know what time it is. I know today is sometime Sunday because two nights have passed. Does that qualify this as the second day since he kidnapped me on the evening of the first day, or is this the third day since two nights have passed? He’ll probably have to drug me to move me again because I would scream bloody fucking murder the entire way, no matter how weak I am… another reason why I refuse to eat anything he brings me. Granted, he could just give me a shot of whatever it was he gave me if he wants. I need my inner strength back… I’m fading fast. Where are you?
I’m right here.
Where did you go?
I never left.
I can’t do it. I’m sick and weak. I think he’s going to move me soon.
Yes, you can. Stay strong, Steele. Hold on. This is all we have now.
Can I go back to sleep?
Yeah, there’s nothing else you can do…
So, it’s back to sleep, I go.
“Mr. Grey, I’ve just gotten a call from the station. We’ve secured the subpoena. I’m going to get it now and notify CSI. It’ll be up to them how quickly we can get the videos into evidence and get them processed,” Crab informs me.
“Don’t worry about CSI. I’m sure they’ll make this a priority. Thank you, Detective Crab. I’ll call you as soon as we hear anything,” I respond.
“Call me Gerald, sir. I hate Crab,” he says. I kind of figured he would.
“Gerald. Call me Christian,” I say as I shake his hand before he leaves.
My blackberry rings at about 7:00. It’s Welch.
“Welch, what do you have?”
“Sir, I’ve rendezvoused with Barney and we have positive identification of the suspects. This is Robert Harris and Edward David.” I’m happy and pissed at the same time. Happy because I know who the hell has Butterfly; pissed because I don’t know what kind of incompetent idiots I have working for me that two people that we are supposed to be watching were able to kidnap my baby.
“Thank you, Welch. I need the pictures that you used to identify them. Upload them to the network.”
“Already done. And sir, I think you should know…” he begins.
“Know what?” I ask.
“I think we have a mole, sir,” he confesses. Oh, shit, this is not good news.
“Corporate or security?” I ask
“I’m not 100% sure, but the footprints indicate security.”
“What makes you think so?” I ask.
“There’s just some inconsistencies in some of the programs and protocol, sir. I’m not comfortable with it. It seems like some confidential information may have been compromised. So far, it doesn’t look like anything serious yet, but I think that’s only because I noticed it when I was corresponding with Barney and I may have nipped it in the bud.” I sigh heavily and run my hands through my hair again.
“Welch, I think our entire security may need a serious overhaul. This situation is not the work of one person. Harris was the weak link and I got rid of him. That should have taken care of David ever being able to get to Anastasia, and now he’s got her. Something is seriously wrong with this picture.”
“Well the good news is that if Harris is helping him, he only had level one protocol clearance so he doesn’t have a lot of information. The bad news is that we don’t know if someone may have been helping Harris from the inside.” This is really terrible news.
“I want all security and corporate clearances locked down effective immediately, except for you, me and Taylor. Corporate clearance to upper management only. I know this will mean a lot more work for the two of you for this moment, but if there is a threat, we have to identify it quickly and I’m sure that limiting security clearances will facilitate that, correct?” I ask.
“Yes, sir. I was going to suggest that, but I didn’t know how you felt about stripping GEH security of their clearances. This means that they have to get all information from Jason or me before they can do anything. That gives me time to trace these footprints and see where they lead,” he confirms.
“Good man. Let’s get started with that and I’ll talk to Taylor.”
“Yes, sir.” I turn to Allen after I end the call. “You two were right. My team has identified Harris and David.” Allen sighs heavily.
“That’s good news,” he says. How the hell is that good news? Before I get angry, I ask,
“Can you please tell me why that’s good news?”
“Because Edward is sick and obsessed, but he doesn’t want to hurt Jewel. He’s not going to willingly let anything happen to her. So, we know that she’s alive—we just have to get her back.” Well, he’s right, that is good news.
“So how soon can we get some media attention to this? Now that we know who it is and that wherever she is, she’s relatively safe…” I trail off. Relatively safe, unless something causes him to snap like he did with those two girls that he brutalized.
“Well, Chris, news channels are not going to televise this based on your word. You may be a very powerful man, but even you can’t stop a slander lawsuit on the very slim chance that you might be wrong… and the media won’t take that chance.” I sigh.
“So, second only to knocking on doors, what the hell can I do?”
“Do you own any media outlets?” Allen asks.
“Not outright. Not something I could control like that.”
“Well, your only other option until the boys in blue get the ball rolling on their end is the internet,” he says. The internet? What the fuck?
“The internet? You mean like Facebook and Twitter?” I ask aghast.
“Yeah, well, those too, but I was thinking more like a live stream.” I look at him skeptically. “Don’t knock the internet, Chris. Many a life has been made and broken from the world wide web. All we need is a few hours of rumor mill—if that long—that Christian Grey is doing a live stream with an announcement at a given time and you’ll have a nationwide audience… worldwide if you have any international fans.”
“Maybe I should get some of my PR people on this.” I say, skeptically.
“Okay… but who can you get from your PR department at 8:00 on a Sunday evening?” Oh, Little Al, come work for me and see how things operate in the big wide world.
“My PR department is available 24 hours a day. You never know what’s going to happen… or when… like now. So, if I’m going to do this streaming thing, I need to have the professionals here,” I say.
“That’s actually a good idea, Chris. I’m impressed!” Allen says.
“Yeah, I’m just full of ’em…” I say sarcastically, pissed that I wasn’t more careful about taking care of Butterfly. I make a call to Elva McIntyre, my PR department head. Once I brief her on the situation, I go in search of Taylor. I find him in his office, taking his turn staring diligently at the security video of Butterfly’s car. He’s leaning back in his chair, his fingers touching his lips, looking more introspective than focused. He doesn’t stir when I come into the office and my voice startles him.
“You know the whole idea behind taking shifts to watch that video is so that none of you suffer from MEGO,” I say. He sits up straight.
“Yes, sir,” he says curtly.
“Anything new?” I say, taking one of the seats nearby.
“No, sir, not since the cop ticketed the car, nothing.” I run my hands through my hair.
“This is not an apology. You are my employee, but I do understand that this situation is very stressful. We’ve had some developments and I need us to be on the same team, here.” A look of dismay comes over his face. He turns his chair to face me.
“Permission to speak freely, sir,” Taylor says, curtly.
“I mean, really freely, sir,” he adds. Oh, hell…
“Please, temper yourself. We don’t need to get into a fight but go ahead.”
“Do you think that you’re the only one that wants her back? Do you think that you’re the only one that feels like they have failed here? You introduced her into our lives and now she has touched us all. You’ve got a cop out there who hasn’t worked on another case all day, and he hasn’t even met her. You had a security guard who put her job on the line and let you access video that you shouldn’t have seen without a subpoena. She touches people that don’t even know her. So, imagine what’s happening right now with those of us who do. Gail is a twitching, fidgeting, crying wreck. I’ve seen Forsythe almost break down several times. The next time I see Harris—and I will see him again—I’m going to kill the fucker with my bare hands. She’s too old to be my daughter, but that’s the best analogy that I can give you to explain what I feel for her. My people were supposed to protect her, and they didn’t. This wasn’t a GEH thing. This was a personal security thing, and my people dropped the ball big time. So, I’m battling with some shit here, too. You’re not the only one who’s grieving the current situation… sir.” He looks me squarely in the eye as he finishes that statement.
“Logically, I understand what you’re saying. Emotionally, my heart and soul has been taken—by a man that I know brutalized two women to the degree that they had to be hospitalized. Nobody feels what I feel right now… and I need you to understand that.” I try to keep my voice from cracking and I think I’m successful. Taylor’s stance changes again—as quickly as it did when I reprimanded him earlier. His shoulders drop, and his face relaxes.
“I understand, Boss,” he says. I sigh heavily and fill him in on all the occurrences since he left the room. He immediately calls Welch after our conversation to formulate a plan of action with the restrictions on clearances. I take this moment to step away from the crowd for a bit.
I go into our en suite to splash some water on my face. I can feel myself falling apart and I can’t stop it. I almost make it to the sink when I spot her U-Dub shirt on the floor near the hamper. She must have tossed it there and it didn’t quite make it to the hamper. I pick it up and pull it to my face. It smells of lemongrass, some unknown perfume… and Butterfly. I inhale deeply, hoping her scent will calm and comfort me, but it has the opposite effect. I’m instantly flooded with the hopelessness of the possibility of never seeing my love again. I don’t know what they plan to do with her. All I know is that they have her and I don’t.
I sink to my knees, grasping her shirt, wailing with heart-wrenching sobs. The burning in my chest makes it feel like it’s going to explode. I cling to the shirt as if it were my Butterfly—as if it could hug me back, but it can’t. I can’t find her. I can’t save her. I can’t hold her. Somebody, please make this pain go away. I feel a hand on my back and I jerk away violently. It’s Grace.
Mom? Who called Mom?
I look up at her teary-eyed, begging her to make this pain go away… to rescue me like she did all those years ago at Children’s Hospital. Please, Angel Lady—make it stop hurting.
“I know, son,” she says, kneeling on the floor next to me.
“Mom!” I wail like a lost five-year-old. I hear my voice, but I don’t recognize it. “God, Mom, I love her so much! I can’t take this! Make it stop… Please, make it stop!” I cry. Grace takes me in her arms and holds me close to her—the way that she never could when I was a boy.
“I wish I could, Christian, but this is how it feels when someone you love is hurt or missing. We have to find her. That’s all we can do to make it stop,” she answers honestly. I cry into her chest for a little while longer. Then I realize that I must keep going, I have to keep trying if I’m going to find Ana.
“We had another fight, Mom,” I say, weakly. She sighs.
“What were you fighting about now?” she asks, trying to hide the exasperation in her voice.
“I don’t know if I can tell you without breaking her confidence,” I reply. Mom just holds me.
“Why don’t you just tell me what you did,” she says. My mom knows me so well.
“I dug into her past. I was trying to get her justice for something that was done to her even though she asked me to leave it alone,” I confess.
“Oh, Christian,” she sighs, “even when your intentions are golden, you can really do some stupid things.” We both chuckle a bit.
“She left angry on Friday and that’s the last time I saw her. I don’t want that to be the last thing I remember of her, or the last thing she remembers about me,” I whine.
“Then I guess you had better get up from here and join the flurry of people out there that are putting in all this effort to find her,” she encourages. She’s right. I’m sure as hell not going to find her sitting here on the floor like a blubbering idiot. I nod at my mother and rise from the bathroom floor. I take her in my arms and kiss her gently on the cheek.
“Thank you, Mom,” I say softly. She looks at me with tears in her eyes.
“We’re going to have to find this girl and soon. I have always loved you, son, and I always will—but I really like this new Christian.” She laughs a bit through her impending tears.
“Can you go find Gail for me, Mom? I think she’s having a pretty rough time with this and I’ve had Taylor tied up all day…” she nods.
“I’ll do that. You get yourself together. There are people waiting for you out there,” she says before she smiles and leaves. I splash some water on my face, which does nothing for my bloodshot eyes. I inhale her shirt and, this time, it has the desired effect. I will find my Butterfly, and I don’t care if I have to tear the state of Washington apart bit by bit to do it.
I’m awakened with a hard slap. I whimper from the pain. I can barely focus my eyes now. The sun has gone down and this is day three without food or water for me. I look up to identify my assailant. It’s Harris again. He’s hell bent on causing me misery during this ordeal.
“Not so high and mighty now, are you, Bitch?” he spits. “Or should I say Your Highness?” How the fuck does he know about “Your Highness?” Taylor is faithful to Christian almost to his own detriment. “What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?” he sneers. Somehow, I find a small amount of strength fueled by anger.
“You know what? I’m going to see you get yours. You do what you want to do to me, but rest assured, I’m going to see you get yours,” I say, glaring at this rodent.
“Well, tonight, I’m going to be getting mine out of your bank account,” he taunts, waving my wallet at me.
“How the hell do you intend to do that?” I smirk.
“You’re going to give me the pin numbers to all of your ATM and credit cards,” he answers cockily.
“The hell I am!” I respond.
“Oh, you are. Because if you don’t, I’m going to sit here and knock you silly until you do.” He holds up my Discover card and I say nothing. He hits me so hard that I see fucking stars. I’ve barely got my senses about me before he hits me again. He holds up the card again.
Give him the damn code. I’m certain that your stalker boyfriend is watching your accounts and that will only help him close in on these fuckers.
I wish I had thought of that before I was tasting my own blood.
“3147,” I say softly.
I’m smart enough to only carry three cards with me… one of them my ATM card, but it only has a daily limit of $1000. The others are even less. He rifles through my purse and wallet and takes what cash I have left in there. That is so sad… all of this to be reduced to being a lousy pickpocket. I wipe my mouth on my arm. I can feel my lip swelling.
“I see you don’t have your little toy with you. Pity—I would have loved a souvenir of our time together,” he says with a sinister laugh. I won’t answer. That’s what he wants. He wants a fight and I’ve already said what I have to say to him. He knows I’ve crossed some point since he hit me, and I don’t want to look at him anymore. I bury my face in my forearms. I whimper a bit as I inadvertently hit my lip and the tender spot on my face.
“I would feel sorry for you if you hadn’t cost me my job, you self-righteous twat!” Yeah, whatever. Feel sorry for yourself. Don’t feel sorry for me. I ignore him completely until he finally leaves the room with whatever bounty he pulled from my purse.
I don’t believe in knights in shining armor. I had that fairy tale beat out of me in Green Valley. But right now, I want to believe that Christian is looking for me; that he has forgiven me for being an unreasonable, ungrateful bitch and he’s combing the city trying to find some clue as to where I am. If he turned Green Valley upside down because of something that happened to me over a decade ago, he’s ripping Washington apart as we speak. I’m weak, and I’m tired, but I’m not broken. They would have to kill me first. But right now, I close my eyes and think of Christian—touching me, gently caressing my face, kissing my lips, and pulling me to him to cradle me in his arms as we fall asleep.
I have some pretty remarkable people at my disposal. I make it my business to hire those who are the very best at what they do—which is why it’s so important to me to secure Allen as part of my team. It’s roughly 10pm and not only does McIntyre have a plan of action in place, but she has already created quite the buzz on the internet. We’ve decided to record a statement and put it on a loop on an internet stream. I never knew how easy it was to do that. We quickly set up a temporary URL for the stream. Allen was right. It has gotten international attention in a matter of just under two hours. Granted, Barbara Walters isn’t broadcasting it, but internet users all over the world have taken an interest in what’s going on that has prompted Christian Grey to commandeer a live stream! We have also decided to put the statement on YouTube. Because YouTube is basically public domain, news outlets can pick up the story and broadcast the video without fear of legal action. All responsibility falls on me.
I can live with that.
“Mr. Grey, I must remind you that anything you say in this video makes you susceptible to a slander lawsuit if it turns out to be false.” McIntyre reminds me.
“I’ll deal with slander and anything else that those fuckers want to pin on me if they didn’t kidnap my girl, but if they did, I’m going to have their fucking asses on a platter!” I snap. McIntyre examines me carefully.
“No offense, sir, but that attitude is why we don’t want you on the mic. We can handle an emotional plea… but not an angry outburst,” she says. “Someone else needs to make the statement.”
“Well, that’s hardly newsworthy,” I say. “People are tuning in to see what I have to say. Nobody is going to pay any attention if I’m not the one speaking—plus the risk of slander will fall on whomever makes the statement.” The room falls silent.
“I’ll make the statement,” Allen speaks up. We all look at him.
“Allen, I couldn’t ask you to do that,” I say.
“You didn’t ask and I do this kind of thing all the time, Chris. I’m an attorney. And no offense to you, but this is my family! If he has anything to do with Jewel’s disappearance, you can have his ass on a platter, but I’m going to have his dick and balls.” Allen says flatly.
“Sir, we have to be sure about who we are putting in front of the camera.” McIntyre warns.
“I’m sure about Allen,” I say. “He’ll very soon be an integral part of my legal team. He can make the statement. The only problem is that everyone in this room knows that the press and the public wants to see Christian Grey.”
“So, let them see Christian Grey,” Allen says. “You get suited and booted. We’ll sit in your study. I’ll do all the talking and you sit there looking forlorn… like you are doing right now. We’ll put out a plea and since we don’t have police verification yet, we’ll just tell people to contact their local police department. We’ll also say that witnesses say that she was last seen with Harris and David as opposed to saying that they kidnapped her. That will further protect us from slander and they are most likely moving around more freely than Jewel, so if someone has seen them…” McIntyre debates for a moment then nods.
“Actually, that’s a clever idea,” she confirms.
With that confirmation, I change into a clean linen shirt and some black jeans and get ready for showtime.
“Taylor,” I say as I‘m coming out of the bedroom, “we’re going to need extra security on hand. With the breach in our ranks, I have no idea how to handle this, but we are going to be swamped by the paparazzi. I guess just call in reinforcements and don’t tell them what’s happening until the last minute.”
“I’m already on it, sir. Lawrence and Williams are napping in the guest rooms. They wouldn’t even consider being dismissed. Though we don’t know who our mole is, I would trust either of these men with my life,” he says.
“Then I’ll have to defer to your expertise on that. I’m tempted to fire the lot of them and start over, just to be on the safe side.” Taylor shrugs.
“Ultimately, it’s your decision, sir, but if you do that you will have 149 disgruntled employees and one disgruntled mole.” Good point. Not the best idea for now. We look up and Grace and Gail enter from the guest quarters. Gail looks like she’s been crying all day. Taylor takes her protectively under his arm and comforts her. I know, Taylor. I know.
“Mom, who called you?” I ask as she comes over and puts a hand on my shoulder.
“Jason,” she replies. I look at Taylor.
“Mr. Forsythe recommended that I call her, sir,” he defends immediately. Hearing our conversation, Allen comes over to us.
“Chris, I called Ray and Jason called your mom. Once this hits the wire, it’s live and there’s no stopping it. You couldn’t let her family or yours find out that way.”
Ray. Ana’s father. Shit!
“What did Ray say?” I ask, unable to hide my nervousness. Allen’s face falls and he frowns.
“Ray is upset and worried. He doesn’t want to drive tonight because it’s late, but he’ll be here first thing in the morning. I think you better prepare to be invaded because it doesn’t look like anybody is going to be getting any sleep tonight… and if we’re lucky, it’s only going to get busier tomorrow,” he says.
“And that gives me something to do,” Gail says, perking up a bit. “I have people to feed and refresh and possibly create some makeshift sleeping quarters.” Gail heads off to the kitchen. Grace looks at me.
“Here, Gail. Let me help you,” she says while looking at me, making it clear that she has no intention of leaving. I nod, and she heads off behind Gail.
“Sir, police have just confirmed to our guy on David that he’s not at his apartment and neighbors indicate that he hasn’t been there all week. His BMW is still in the parking garage.” Allen and I exchange glances.
“So… are you ready, Chris?” Allen asks.
“Absolutely. Let’s do this,” I say as we walk into my study.
There are loud voices somewhere in this place. Day has broken again. It’s Monday—day three or day four. I open my eyes and try to focus. It’s getting much harder now. My throat is sore, my arms are in excruciating pain, and there’s a leprechaun dancing on my skull. I just close my eyes and listen.
“Look, she’s sick and she’s only getting sicker. Now this fucker is all over the television telling people that she was last seen with us. You know what that means… we’re the suspects. We’re on a fucking island man. How the hell do you think we’re going to get off here with most of America looking for us?” Harris is livid. America is looking for them. Is it Christian?
“Will you stop screaming at me and let me think?” Edward sounds very nervous.
“Well, you do whatever the hell you want to do. I’m getting the hell out of here and I want the rest of my money.” Money. Edward paid him. Of course.
“You know the deal. When my car gets here tomorrow, and we’re gone, you get your money. Until then, quit your bitching and help me figure a way out of this mess in case we need a backup plan!”
“Dude, you can’t fucking transport her anywhere. If you try to drug her again, it just might kill her! She looks damn near dead already. The only way that we can get out of this is if she says we didn’t kidnap her, and that’s not going to happen. Things seem to be going so well between you two,” he says sarcastically, “that maybe you can sweet talk her into calling her boyfriend and telling him that we didn’t kidnap her—although that’s highly doubtful.” Boy, they didn’t really think about this, did they? The talking is muted now and then footsteps. I never thought I would pray for the approaching steps to be Edward, but at least I think he won’t hit me. When the door opens, Edward meets my gaze and he’s horrified.
“Rosie, what happened to you?” Boy, I really must look like shit. It can’t be that bad. “Have you been banging your head against the wall or something?” Oh—he’s talking about the fat lip and bruising courtesy of one Bob Harris. I don’t answer him and unsuccessfully try to stretch my neck. He comes over to me and touches my face. I wince and whimper. Fuck, that hurts! He sighs heavily and pulls out my iPhone. Oh God, it looks like the Holy Grail! Siri can fix anything!
“Here,” he says, turning on my iPhone. “Call him. Tell him that you’re not coming back and that we’re going to be together now.” I look at him like he has five heads. He is insane. Does he really think I’m going to tell Christian that I want to be with him—this monster? There’s no fucking way… but I need to get my hands on that phone.
“I can’t tell him that,” I squeak, my throat dry and scratchy. “He would never believe me. He knows that I love him. And he knows that I hate you!”
“Call him and tell him that I didn’t kidnap you and maybe I’ll let you go.” My eyes brighten with false hope. Does he really think I’m going to fall for that shit? I have to pretend to play along, though. This may be my only opportunity to get my hands on the phone. “Tell him that you came with me willingly.” Oh, my God, he’s so delusional. I give him the big defeated blue eyes and he hands me the phone. I slide to unlock it, but instead I touch the button for an emergency call. I have to mask the sound of the emergency operator’s voice on my phone.
“What do I say?” I ask, indicating compliance. “He knows that I wouldn’t go with you willingly.”
“Well, I know you well enough to know that somebody pissed you off and that’s why you were at the aquarium. Was it him?” Edward asks. The call is connected.
“Yes Edward, it was him,” I respond, deliberately using his name. Now I have to use as many names as I can and hope that the person on the other end is not a complete idiot. “But even though I was angry with Christian, he knows that I wouldn’t go with you willingly. I don’t know how he figured out that it was you that kidnapped me, but he knows it now. And when Christian Grey gets a bug in his butt, you can’t get it out with any old lie.” I’m trying to give them as much information as I can to tell them who I am and what’s going on.
“Why were you fighting?” Edward asks.
“It doesn’t matter. We had a disagreement and that was all. It’s nothing that would have made me leave him and he knows that. Please let me go, Edward. I don’t know what lies Robert Harris has been feeding you and how he convinced you to get in cahoots with him, but this can only end badly for both of you. Please, you haven’t hurt me—Harris did. I’ll make sure that they know you haven’t hurt me. But if you don’t end this soon, your life will never be the same.”
“My life will be fine as long as I have you.” Good God, man, wake up! Can’t you see I would rather die than be with you? That’s not a clue that this just may not work out!?
“But I could never love you, don’t you see that Edward David? I tried to love you, and you wouldn’t let me. And when I tried to walk away, you harassed me until I got a restraining order. And when I finally get on with my life, you kidnap me and try to force me to love you. None of that is going to work. You left me here alone with Harris when you knew he didn’t like me. He took my credit cards and has probably emptied out my bank account now, and when I didn’t give him the access codes fast enough, he beat me. That’s what happened to my face… he beat me—and you let him do it. You let him do this to me.”
“He did that to you!?” No, a little fucking birdie came in here and pecked me all night! “I did not let him do that to you! I would never just let him hurt you. He waited until my back was turned.”
“I’m tied up and defenseless! You left me here naked for three days! He could have raped me or anything. I can’t even piss on my own! And you left me here! You left me here with that asshole who thinks I cost him his job! And you have the nerve to say that you didn’t let him do this to me? I most certainly will not call Christian Grey and tell him that you didn’t kidnap me. I most certainly will not tell him that I went with you willingly because you had Harris attack me and then you drugged me and now you’re keeping me here against my will.
“I’m hungry, I’m cold and I’m weak and I’m using the last bit of strength that I have to tell you that I hate yoooooooouuuuuu! I hate you with everything that I have in me. And if I die in this room, I will still hate you. I will hate you until my last breath and I’ll hate you after that. I hate you! I hate you! I hate yoooooooouuuuu!”
And comes forth the adrenaline tears—or maybe they’re just tears-tears, I don’t know. All I know is that I hate this man, and it’s consuming me. I weep mournfully hoping he’ll just leave me alone… and of course the fool does. I think my words were too much for him, and he had to leave.
Idiot! I still have my phone!
I can’t put the phone to my ear, but I swear by Apple technology. “I have to talk fast, I don’t know when he’s coming back and I can’t hear you,” I say through my tears. “I’m in a house somewhere in a wooded area. I know that we’re on an island somewhere. I’ve heard planes fly by a few times, but I have no idea where I am. Please tell Christian Grey that Anastasia Steele is alive and I am being held captive by Edward David and Robert Harris. I don’t know what they want or why I’m being held. Harris has taken my bank and credit cards and beat me until I gave him the pin numbers. I’ll keep you on the phone as long as I can but please trace this call or something and get me out of here!”
I cover my face again and cry a little more—partially for the need for more tears once Edward gets back, but mostly because I hate him and want to be out of here and back with my Christian. Being angry with him for wanting to get justice for me now seems like the stupidest of stupidest things I could possibly have done. I swear, if I ever get back to my man, I’m going to jump in his arms and never leave him again.
I drop the cell phone down the sleeve of the 1942 nightgown. Unfortunately, I’m not producing as many tears as I would like to rally the sympathy that I need. Fuck it. The small amount of crying that I did—along with that conversation—has exhausted me, and even if I didn’t want to go to sleep I can’t keep my eyes open.
“Please help me… Butterfly needs you…”
Gerald has informed me that the videos from the parking structure on Alaskan Way have been gathered and are now in the police labs of the crime scene unit. Since my team has managed to get the word out about Harris and David, the main purpose that the tapes will serve is evidence against them in court. I’ve been awake all night. The major networks managed to pick up our YouTube video and continuous stream thanks to “anonymous tips.” The problem is that every police station in the contiguous United States—and some in Alaska—has been getting tips on every blonde man in America. Hide your face, Elliot!
I’m exhausted, but I can’t sleep. Every time I close my eyes, I hear Butterfly calling for me, begging me to help her and telling me that she will always be with me. Did they hurt her? Is she trying to comfort me from beyond? I know it sounds ridiculous, but I’m going fucking crazy here and I just want my Butterfly back. It’s about 8:00am when Gerald comes stumbling sleepily out of my study while I’m sitting at the breakfast bar not enjoying a cup of coffee.
“Christian, we need to go to the station,” he says, barely awake.
“What’s up?” I say, jumping out of my seat.
“We have a 911 call. It came from a cell phone, so they’re trying to track it now, but I need you to identify the voice. She claims to be Anastasia Steele.”
My knees go weak underneath me and I almost fall to the floor were it not for the breakfast bar right next to me. Before I can gather my thoughts correctly, Taylor is dashing out of his office screaming, “SIR, WE GOT A PING!”
“Huh?” I’m sure that I don’t know what he’s saying, and my head is swimming like crazy.
“We got a ping… on Ana’s phone, sir. We got a ping!” he’s saying hysterically.
“Where is it?” I ask frantically.
“Vashon Island,” Taylor responds.
“Vashon Island?” I repeat, confused.
“It’s the big island south of here in the Sound,” Gerald says.
“You got a 911 call when?” I ask Gerald.
“You got a ping this morning?” I ask Taylor.
“Yes, sir,” he responds.
“That’s Anastasia! Can we get the Vashon Police over to her location?” I’m walking and talking.
“Vashon doesn’t have any police,” Gerald says. I spin around and look at him.
“What!?” I snap.
“The Vashon police station is a P.O. Box. They’re served by Seattle PD and the King County Sheriff… and the sheriff is not there all the time,” Gerald warily informs me.
“Fuck! Are you kidding me? What if there’s an emergency on the island… like now?” I ask.
“If it’s a real emergency, they send in the chopper, but they wouldn’t do that for this. This is a hunch.” Fuck. Shit. Fuck.
“Okay. Options, please!” I bark. I’m twitching like crazy.
“What’s going on?” Allen says, rolling sleepily off the sofa.
“We found Ana!” I announce.
“We think we found Ana.” Gerald says. I look over at Taylor, who nods.
“We found Ana,” I repeat. “I have to go to the police station to identify the voice on the 911 call…”
“911 call?” Allen is wide awake now.
“Can you at least authorize a couple of black and whites to go to the location to check it out?” I ask.
“If you give me a location, I can,” Gerald replies. I look at Taylor and he goes back to his study.
“How long does it take to get to Vashon Island from here?” I ask.
“Vashon Island!? She’s on Vashon?” Allen exclaims.
“Yes, she’s on Vashon Island!” I’m getting a little perturbed with him interrupting me. Allen sighs exasperated and shakes his head. “What’s wrong with Vashon Island?” I ask.
“Besides the fact that it takes about an hour to get there by ferry, there’s like a house every five miles. If she’s on Vashon Island, nobody has seen her,” he says.
“Well, that’s the good thing about a house every five miles,” Taylor says coming out of the study. “You can pinpoint exactly where that phone is. Here are your satellite pictures and your street view.” Taylor hands me pictures of a farm house in the middle of nowhere with a bungalow nearby. I hand it to Gerald, who immediately puts a call into the station.
“Allen, you come with me to the station. Taylor, anywhere to land Charlie Tango on that island?” I ask.
“Vashon has a municipal airport,” Taylor responds. What the…?
“They have an airport, but no police station? How backwards is that? Do they have a hospital?” I ask.
“I can check, but I doubt it,” Taylor responds.
“Oh, I’m definitely taking Charlie Tango.” I respond. “Send Lawrence and Williams ahead now by ferry. I need you to get Charlie Tango ready for departure and meet me at the police station once you’re done. Allen, we’ll ride with Gerald.” Everyone has their instructions and Allen and I head to the station.
I listen as this waif-like, scratchy voice berates “Edward” and “Robert” for kidnapping her, but I can’t say for sure that it’s Anastasia, and neither can Al.
“What’s wrong with her voice?” I ask.
“We don’t know,” the 911 tech responds. “We’ve never heard her voice. We don’t know how it’s supposed to sound.”
Allen and I continue to listen. If this isn’t Butterfly, she’s saying everything to convince me that she is. She’s proclaiming her love for me and her hatred for David. Their conversation only lasts a couple of minutes and then she is giving as much detailed information as she can. When she mentions that Harris has beaten her and taken her credit cards, I’m immediately pissed, not only because he put his hands on her, but also because we checked her credit cards yesterday and we didn’t get a hit—which means if this is Anastasia, he took them right after we checked her cards last night. While the poor waif is crying on the phone, I put a call in to Welch to check her credit cards again. Just as I hang up from Welch, I hear something that erases all doubt…
“Please help me… Butterfly needs you.”
Allen gulps and I nearly jump out of my skin. “Play that again!” We both shout simultaneously. The tech rewinds the recording and we have to listen for a moment while she cries and then, there it is again:
“Please help me… Butterfly needs you.”
“That’s Anastasia!” I cry out.
“How do you know? You weren’t sure a minute ago,” the tech asks.
“I call her Butterfly. That’s not public knowledge.” I turn to Allen. I don’t care if they’re listening anymore. “Are you afraid of heights?” I ask just as Taylor enters the station.
“No. Why?” Allen says. I look at Gerald.
“I’m going to be in Vashon in no more than half an hour. Are you coming with me?” I ask him.
“Uh… I… guess so,” he says, no doubt noting that I asked Allen if he was afraid of heights.
Fifteen minutes later, Allen and Gerald are sitting mouth agape strapped into Charlie Tango. Charlie Tango is my luxury Eurocopter EC155 which seats seven comfortably or four and a medivac if necessary. Not many people are surprised that I own a $10 million helicopter. I think that most people, including the two gentlemen currently in the leather cream swivel seats in the back, are more surprised that I can fly a $10 million helicopter. I’ve been flying for eight years. I can fly this thing in the dark… literally.
As I’m completing my pre-flight checks and just about to lift Charlie Tango into the air, Allen proclaims, “I so want to fuck him right now.”
“Allen!” I scold. “We can all hear you!” I’m glaring at this man and he does not have the modesty to blush.
“I’m sorry!” he exclaims. “But this is hot!” He adds unashamedly. Taylor and I look at each other as Taylor tries to hide his smirk. You have to admire the man for his ability to add levity to the situation.
“Sit back and be quiet. We’re going to get my girl,” I say as I once again clear for takeoff and gently lift Charlie Tango into the air and over Puget Sound. “No chance I could land it in their front yard, is it?”
“Sure,” Taylor says, “That is, if you want them to flee before you get out of the chopper. Don’t worry, sir. The location is less than five minutes away from the airport and our guys should be at the airport by now.”
“Well, there is that. What about the black and whites?” I ask Gerald through the headphones.
“Still on the ferry, I’m afraid.” I shake my head. “Okay, gentlemen, we’re going down.”
Ten minutes after we take off from SeaTac, we’re landing at Vashon Municipal Airport… it’s more like Vashon Municipal Landing Strip. What aircraft flies out of here!? Doesn’t really matter. Charlie Tango is on the ground and I’m that much closer to Butterfly. As I shut her down and inform the “airport” that she will definitely be taking off at a moment’s notice, Lawrence runs over and whispers something in Taylor’s ear. I can clearly see Taylor mouth the word “shit” and I want to know what’s going on.
“What is it, Taylor?” I ask once I know that Charlie Tango is secure. Taylor looks at me sorrowfully.
“The ping… it stopped, sir.”
A/N: MEGO—My Eyes Glaze Over. When you’ve been reading or looking at something for so long that you drift off into your own mind and you are now staring at the book/screen/etc., looking but not seeing.
In laymen’s terms, a ping is a signal that one electronic device sends to another electronic device to verify that it is online.
FYI—E. L. James’ Eurocopter was an EC135. I saw the pictures of it, but I didn’t like it. I thought the 155 was sexier. Even though it is normally a medivac copter, I still liked it better. Pictures of it are on my Pinterest page at http://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/paging-dr-steele/
You can join my mailing list on the “Contact Me” page. Just click the link and it will lead you to a form to join the list.
Oh, my… what happened to the ping? Read the next chapter to find out! 😉