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 44—If It Ain’t One Thing It’s Another
Ow, fuck! Why can’t you leave me the fuck alone?
“Hello, Sunshine,” Harris jeers at me after slapping me violently across the face. “Just wanted to let you know that I’m hitting your credit cards once more before we say goodbye.” Goodbye? What does he mean? I thought we had five days… did I lose count? My eyes must have let him know that I was questioning what was going on. “Your lover boy has decided that we need to move sooner rather than later since your boyfriend somehow knows who has you. You see, I set up a new identity before I took this job, so I can just disappear. I don’t know what Ed’s plans are for you, but hey—maybe you’ll get lucky and he’ll slip up. Then the mighty Mr. Grey can find you guys,” he taunts.
“You’re such a fucking coward,” I croak. A mask of anger covers his face.
“What the fuck did you just say to me, Bitch?” he snaps.
“I said you’re a fucking coward! So, I’m tied to a bed and I can’t fight back. You can beat me within an inch of my life. Does that make you feel better? Make you feel like a big man because you can beat a woman tied to a bed? Swing away! I had you pegged right all along. You’re a useless piece of flesh, and if it makes you feel better about yourself, you go right ahead. Like I said, I’m going to see you get yours. My man just went after someone who did something to me 11 years ago… he’s going to chase your ass to the ends of the fucking earth!” In his anger, he snatches me off the bed as far as my binds will let me go. I yelp in pain and my phone falls out of my gown. He looks at me then at the phone. He drops me on the bed and picks up my phone. He holds the button down, but Siri doesn’t respond. The phone must be dead. I can only hope that the 911 call was tracked, and someone knows where I am by now.
“Did you make a call?” I don’t respond. He slaps me again. “Bitch, did you make a fucking call?”
“Fuck you!” I say… Lights out.
When I regain consciousness, I hear rumbling and wrestling in the room. It looks like a tidal wave ran through here! What the hell?
“Keep your fucking hands off my woman!” Crack! Okay, Edward and Harris are fighting. What a joke!
“The bitch had it coming!” Bam! Did I now? I’d like to know why.
“You’re a fucking asshole—beating a woman while she’s tied up!” Slap! Are you serious!?
“You should talk! You tied her up!” Wham! Good point, Asshole.
“I’m not giving you another fucking dime!” Smack! Oh, this is getting boring.
“You don’t, and I’ll have the police here before you can unlock those cuffs!” And before he gets another swing, I croak, “The police are probably already on the way.” Both men freeze.
“See? I told you the Bitch made a call, you stupid fuck!” Harris accuses.
“No! You took my credit cards!” Edward’s eyes widen as he turns to his accomplice. “Ten will give you 20 that they traced them here.” I turn to Edward. “He wanted the pin numbers. That’s why he beat me the first time… or was it the second time? I’m losing count.” I say as I drop my head. Edward now turns to Harris.
“Is she right?” he asks, a little too calmly for my taste.
“About what?” Harris spits, nursing a sore jaw.
“Everything, Fucker! Did you take her cards, did you beat her to get the numbers, and can they trace them!” Ed shouts.
“Yes! She’s right about all of it,” Harris replies.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Edward says. “Besides the whole beating a tied-up woman thing we just discussed, why would you fucking use her cards?”
“Keep your shirt on, man. I went back to the mainland and used them there. They can’t trace them to the island,” Harris replies casually. Suddenly, both men pause.
“What is that?” Harris asks. Edwards starts looking around.
“What is what?” Ed responds, but Harris holds up a finger. I listen, and I hear it too. It’s a helicopter.
“That’s a fucking chopper,” Harris says.
“So?” Ed responds.
“Choppers don’t land here, you idiot! How many choppers have you heard since we’ve been here?” Harris is livid now. Ed just smirks at him.
“I guess you weren’t so clever with those credit cards after all,” he says to Harris.
“I guess you were dumb as fuck handing her the phone!” Harris spits back before leaving the room. Edward looks at me then leaves behind Harris. Could he be right? I haven’t heard any choppers before now either. A plane here and there, yes, but no choppers. Is Christian coming for me? Oh, God, please let Christian be coming for me. Please don’t let Edward take me away.
A few minutes later, Harris comes back to the room. Oh, hell, he’s going to hit me again. One for the road, eh? Instead, he does something much worse. He pulls out a gun—a revolver. My eyes get as big as saucers. Oh, Lord, is he going to kill me!? I close my eyes. There’s nothing else I can do now.
Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name…
“I should shoot you right in the face!”
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done…
“I should just blow you away right now. But I won’t.”
On earth, as it is… wha…?
“I’m getting the hell out of here, and if you hear gunfire, that will be because I’m putting one right in your boyfriend’s miserable skull! And I don’t mean lover boy downstairs, I mean Grey! I’m going to take his ass down the moment I see those creepy eyes!” I look at him in horror.
“No!” I gasp. “Please… don’t…” I whimper. I feel the last of my strength starting to leave me. No food, no water, the beatings, and the stress are finally taking a toll on me. I lie down because I’m really feeling the exhaustion now. “Please… don’t hurt him.”
Harris laughs. “As much as I love hearing you beg, Bitch, you think you have the right to ask for anything from me? You cost me everything! I have to start all over because of you. The only reason why I’m not killing you now is because I want you to hear when your boyfriend drops!” I feel the need to cry, but the tears won’t come. The wailing and weeping comes, but the tears won’t. Harris just sneers at me and leaves the room. Now, I’m praying again, not for me this time, but for Christian.
Our father, which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done…
I don’t know how many times I repeat the prayer before I hear the sound that nearly rips my soul from my body… gunshots.
“What does that mean?” Have we lost her again? Did they turn off the phone?
“It means that the phone is off again. They could have turned it off or disabled it, or the battery could have died,” Taylor responds.
“How long?” I ask.
“Not ten minutes, sir.”
“So, ten minutes ago, the phone was still live at that location?” I ask.
“Let’s go.” We hurriedly get into the waiting SUV and Lawrence drives like a bat out of hell. I swear, we’re floating down the road. We arrive at this bungalow in the blink of an eye. The black and whites have already arrived and just as we get out of the car, I hear gunshots in or near the house.
I take off in a mad sprint before anyone can stop me. I can hear Taylor calling behind me, but I have to get to her… I know she’s here… somewhere… I can feel her. I’m coming, Baby! I burst through the door of the house and it’s like I’ve stepped into a time warp. Everything here has to be from at least 40 or 50 years ago. I don’t see my Butterfly.
We spread out and furiously start searching the house. After an eternity, I hear rumbling upstairs. I don’t remember touching one stair as I rise from the first floor to the second. There in the hallway, Williams has David in an unrelenting choke hold. I bend down and get right in his face.
“Where is she?” I growl at him. Before he can speak, Taylor calls from the room at the end of the hall.
“She’s here!” I look at Williams.
“Bring him!” I say before sprinting down the hallway towards Taylor’s voice.
And there she is. My life. My love. She looks so tiny curled up on this antiquated bed, her knees in her chest, mumbling to herself. I have to touch her. I have to touch her now.
“Butterfly!” I gently touch her hands and she’s still mumbling, her voice hoarse. She’s cuffed to the bed with wristbands under the cuffs. “Get these off her!” I bark. Taylor snatches David from Williams’ grasp and lifts him off the floor, his feet dangling in the air.
“Give me the fucking key right now or I’ll beat it out of you!” Taylor growls at a petrified David, who quickly reaches into his jeans pocket and retrieves the key. Taylor drops him on the floor like dirty laundry and quickly unlocks the cuffs from one of Ana’s wrists. I gather her into my arms before he has the chance to unlock the second one.
“Baby? Baby? Are you alright?” I push her dirty, stringy hair from her face and she looks up at me like she has seen a ghost. Her face is badly bruised, her lip is swollen and there is blood on the wretched cotton gown that she’s wearing. After a look of realization comes over her face, she clamps her arms around my neck and squeezes like her life depends on it.
Oh, my Butterfly. My beautiful, beautiful Butterfly.
“Harris said he was going to kill you…” she croaks. “I heard gunshots…”
“It wasn’t me, Baby. I’m here.” She pushes back from me. What’s wrong?
“Edward, where’s Edward?” she asks. Why does she want to know about him?
“Williams has him, over there.” I point to David. She looks frantically for him, like she’s looking for a loved one.
“Edward?” she calls out to him. Her voice is almost clear! A moment ago, she could barely speak!
“Rosie?” he wails. What the fuck am I seeing? She wants him!? She dashes out of my arms and over to a waiting David, who smiles at her while he gently holds her waist, her hands on his biceps.
I am not seeing this. I am fucking not seeing this.
With lightning speed, Butterfly’s knee comes up and meets him square in the balls! As he doubles over in pain, every other man in the room has the same reaction.
As he lay curled on the floor protecting his family jewels, Butterfly unleashes a fury of blows and kicks to every exposed part of this man. He had already looked like he had been in a fight, but by the time she’s done, he will surely look like he lost.
“You guys see anything?” I ask my security team.
“Not a thing, Boss.”
Even Gerald responds, “Nope, nothing.”
We all stand, lean, whatever, while Butterfly beats the hell out of this man.
“You fucking, sick, psychotic bastard!” she screams as she mercilessly punishes this guy. “I should have killed you when I had the chance. What would ever make you think I would want a demented fuck like you in my life ever again? I swear to God, I’m going to kill you! I’m going to kill yooooou!” She rolls him over on his stomach and positions herself on his back. Now I have to jump into action.
“Grab her!” I yell. If she gets him into position, he’s a dead man. I can’t have that on Butterfly’s conscience. Taylor quickly grabs her arms. I pick her up from behind while Williams has his firearm trained on a groaning David. I let her flail a bit until she realizes that it’s me.
“Calm down, baby.” I say gently as she continues to fight. “Calm down, baby.”
Her arms drop and she’s trying to look over her shoulder. I place her gently on the floor and she starts to pat me down, like she’s checking for injuries. When she assures that I am whole and healthy—imagine that—she plants a firm, hard kiss on me with her swollen lips.
Oh! I’m in heaven…
“Are you real?” she breathes as she looks me in the eyes. “Are you real? I’m not dreaming this time…you’re here?” she says, longingly and my heart breaks.
“Yes, Butterfly, I’m real,” I say, gazing into her eyes. They go instantly from a hopeless, empty, glassy blue to a deep, beautiful sapphire, and she smiles a crooked smile because of her swollen lips.
“Oh, okay, that’s good,” she breathes before she goes limp in my arms. I feel a shooting pain in my chest as my heart clenches.
“Butterfly!” I yell as I pick her frail motionless body up in my arms. “Ana!” I cry. Nothing. Again, I don’t remember touching a stair. I’m in the SUV before anyone can catch me. I’m sure that they know I’ll leave them behind if they don’t move their asses. The crew stumble into the SUV. “Get me to my helicopter now!”
“Sir. You can’t fly in this condition…” Taylor begins to protest. I glare at him.
“WATCH. ME!” I don’t think there is any doubt that I’m going to fly in this condition. We’re back at the helicopter in no time flat.
“Call my mother. She’s at Seattle Gen. Tell her that I’m landing on the roof. Then get a pilot there to get her back to SeaTac,” I say as I carry Butterfly to the helicopter.
“Jewel!” Allen gasps as we approach. “What happened?”
“I don’t know,” I answer. “We found her bound to a bed. David was there, but we don’t know where Harris is.”
“Oh, my God,” Allen breathes. I need to stay calm.
“Allen, I need you, Buddy.” He looks from Ana up to me. “I have to fly us back to Seattle. I’m doing everything that I can to hold it together. Please don’t fall apart on me.” He looks at me with sad eyes then straightens his back.
“Okay, Chris,” he says.
“I need you to look under those seats. There’s a backboard under there…”
Allen removes the backboard from underneath the row of seats in the helicopter. I lay her on the backboard and secure her to the back row of seats while Allen fishes out the ice pack from the first aid kit.
“You’re a regular boy scout, huh, Chris?” Allen asks nervously. I smile, thinking of when I said the same thing to Butterfly.
“No, I’m just a stickler for safety,” I say, still trying to calm my frayed nerves. Gerald decided to stay to deal with the arrest and the crime scene saying that he would meet us at Seattle Gen later. I hear my Butterfly whimper before I take the pilot’s seat. I squeeze her hand.
“We’re on our way to the hospital, Butterfly. I’ll get you there as fast as I can,” I promise. She nods without opening her eyes. I take a deep breath to settle myself. It’s time to get down to business.
“Everybody buckle up. Allen, I need you to stay harnessed or I can’t take off. Seattle Gen is 20 minutes away. Is everybody ready?” With affirmative answers from everyone, I run through the pre-flight checks and lift Charlie Tango into the air, headed for Seattle.
Things are moving at the speed of light when I land on the roof of Seattle General Hospital. My mother is running to the helicopter with four other people—doctors and nurses I presume—before I can get the engines turned off.
“Don’t shut it down!” My mother yells. What the hell does she mean, don’t shut it down? What does she think, I’m going to leave it running like a double-parked car? As they scramble to get Ana out of the helicopter and onto a stretcher, Mom comes to me in the pilot seat.
“I’m sorry, son,” she says over the sound of the blades, “but you can’t leave it here. This helipad has to stay clear for other emergencies.”
“We have a pilot coming,” I yell back to her.
“It can’t stay here, Christian. Not even for a little while,” she presses. I look at Taylor.
“Is the pilot here? We need him now!” I ask. Taylor gets out of the helicopter and gets on the phone. If the pilot isn’t here, it’s going to take at least two hours to get Charlie Tango back to SeaTac, get it docked and logged properly, and get back to Seattle Gen.
“Christian…” my mother begins to protest.
“Mom,” I interrupt her, my eyes begging, “I can’t leave her again. Taylor is checking on the pilot. Please just give me a minute.” She looks at me and nods. Moments later, Taylor comes over to us.
“He should be here any minute!” he shouts over the copter blades. Mom nods.
“If he’s not here in ten minutes, Christian, you have to take it out,” Mom warns. I nod.
“Ten minutes, Mom. Please… go to Ana,” I implore her. She looks at me for a moment, then turns to go into the hospital.
He’s here. He came for me. I knew that he would. I must be in an ambulance because I feel one of those hard boards on my back. I try to call Christian’s name, but it only comes out as a weak whimper.
“We’re on our way to the hospital, Butterfly. I’ll get you there as fast as I can.” It’s him. His honey sweet mellow voice soothes me, and I nod. Okay, Baby. I know you will.
“Everybody buckle up. Allen, I need you to stay harnessed or I can’t take off. Seattle Gen is 20 minutes away? Is everybody ready?”
Take off? Are we flying? That pilot sounds a lot like Christian! Al is here? I try to stay awake, but consciousness keeps coming and fading. I know we’re in a helicopter—I can hear the blades. Christian rented a helicopter to come for me! I must still be groggy because the pilot is talking to someone about landing and he still sounds like Christian. Hell, maybe I’m delirious. I’m so glad to be away from Edward and Harris. I gave that psychotic fucker an ass-whipping he’ll never forget… but what about Harris? He’s still out there and he threatened to kill Christian. Well, not if I see you first, you sorry ass bastard! I have to sleep again… I close my eyes.
Now I see those horrible fluorescent lights going pass before my eyes—you know, like you see in the movies when they are rushing someone to the O.R. I know they’re not rushing me to the O.R. I know that I’m going to be fine, but they don’t know it yet. I reach for the first arm I see. The young uniformed woman looks down at me. I move the oxygen mask from my mouth. “Stop!” I hear her yell.
“I’m dehydrated.” I squeak, my voice almost completely gone. “No food or water. Nothing else,” I tell her. She smiles and nods.
“Thank you,” she says, squeezing my hand. “Rest, now.” I nod and close my eyes.
I don’t know how much time has passed when I open my eyes again. I’m lying comfortably in a hospital bed wearing one of those not-so-comfortable hospital gowns and an even less comfortable IV. Christian is on my left side rubbing circles into my hand and Al is on my right typing into his phone.
“My two favorite guys,” I whisper, and they look up simultaneously.
“Baby!” Christian darts from his seat and leans over me, holding my face and putting his forehead to mine. “I thought I lost you.” I put my hands in his hair.
“I thought I lost you, too,” I whisper. I try to kiss him, but a pain shoots through my lip and I wince.
“Careful, careful. You have a badly swollen lip. What happened to you?” he says, his voice tortured.
“Not now. Please, not now,” I beg, pulling him closer to me squeezing him in my arms, inhaling his scent deeply to replace the smell of that room and the mildew in the pillows. “Hold me, Christian, please…” I squeak. He gathers me in his arms and presses me to him. I bury my face in his neck. This is home. I am home.
“I’m so glad that you’re okay,” he breathes. “I couldn’t bear it if I lost you.” He kisses me gently on my cheek as he pulls back from me to look at me. I’ve missed him. And I’ve missed his eyes. Al takes this time to step closer to the bed. I reach out and grab his hand, pressing it to my cheek.
“Jewel,” he says, his voice strained. I smile up at him.
“Contingency?” I squeak.
“Contingency,” he confirms. I nod and squeeze his hand.
“I told you it would save my life one day.” He nods, then holds his head down, his shoulders shaking with sobs. Christian rises from the bed.
“I’ll go tell the others that you’re awake.” Others? What others? I just nod. When he clears the door, I pull Al down onto the bed and into my arms while he weeps. Allen is one of those big, beautiful men—not as big or as beautiful as Christian, but still big and beautiful. Brownish-blonde hair cut short and very neat; beautiful hazel eyes; 5′ 11″ tall; stocky—solid square-shouldered and well-built; very metro-sexual—prefers cargo pants and slacks over jeans but looks good in all of them; he’ll go with you to the spa for a mani/pedi/facial in a second and not care who’s looking. A full eight inches taller than me, this man is curled up on my hospital bed sobbing his heart out. I would do the same if the tables were turned.
I don’t know who’s here, but I don’t want anyone to see Al this way. I cradle him in my arms and hope that he pulls himself together soon. I start to sing a little of our song to him to try to bring him back:
Keep smiling, keep shining
Knowing you can always count on me, for sure
That’s what friends are for
For good times and bad times
I’ll be on your side forever more
That’s what friends are for…
He starts to pull it together a bit as I sing to him.
“Your voice sounds awful, Jewel,” he says through his tears. I laugh.
“Christian’s was worse, remember?” I croak.
“Of course, I remember. It was just last weekend. Geez, you two are going to be the death of me!”
“I know. I’m sorry.” He sits up on the bed. Taking my face in his hands, he kisses me squarely, but gently on the lips.
“Thanks for not dying.” His eyes are full of pain. I touch his cheek.
“Anytime,” I whisper.
“Hey! I saw that! Get your lips off my woman, man!” Christian jests coming into the room. Allen is drying his eyes and face now. I laugh again.
“I think you’d have a better chance with him than I would,” I croak. I take Al’s hand and look into his eyes and add, “But just marginally, because I love him with all my heart.” Al smiles a big toothy smile at me and kisses me on the cheek.
“Excuse me while I go do something about this,” he says, gesturing to his face before he goes into the bathroom. Christian takes his seat next to me on the bed and takes my hand.
“How do you feel?” he asks gently.
“Weak. Still a little tired,” I begin.
“That’s not what I mean…how do you feel?” Oh, you mean, how do I feel… I sigh.
“Angry. Relieved. Scared. Happy. Everything.” I hold my head down, examining the bandages on my wrists. “How bad are they, do you know?” I ask, holding up my wrists. Christian runs his hand through his hair.
“I didn’t see them. They were wrapped by the time I came in,” he replies. I have long since noticed that it’s dark outside.
“What time is it, Christian?” I ask.
“It’s about a quarter past midnight,” he answers. I gasp.
“It’s a what?” I croak. Now the dryness of my throat is starting to bother me. I hold my throat as I say, “Didn’t you say there were people out there?”
“I couldn’t get them to leave!” he says as he pushes the button and calls for the nurse. “It’s a little depressing. If it weren’t for you, I would have only had my mother and my security here when I got sick. There’s a whole gaggle of people here waiting for you!” Allen finally comes out of the bathroom looking much better than when he went in.
“I’m going to see if I can have the troops go home and rally back here tomorrow,” he says with a smile.
“Thank you, Al,” I say. As he leaves the room, he almost knocks over the nurse coming in.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” he says as he goes past her and as he clears the doorway for her to enter, who walks into the room but none other than Nurse Emily Oh-My-God-He’s-So-Yummy Johnson. I make the realization the moment her eyes clap on Christian.
“Oh, hell, no!” I say in the loudest voice I can muster. “She’s not coming anywhere near me!” Christian turns around to see about whom I am speaking. When he sees her, he immediately starts waving his hand in a “shooing” motion.
“Go. Go. Now. Go. Get the doctor. Now,” Christian says monotoned. She’s momentarily stunned by his actions and then hurt as she leaves the room. I would feel sorry for the bitch if she hadn’t been so disrespectful to me when we were last here with Christian. “She must have just come on shift. I haven’t seen her,” he says.
“As long as she doesn’t come near me, we’re fine,” I croak, my throat still feeling like sandpaper. Christian looks at me with longing.
” I missed you so much. I didn’t know what was going on. I thought you were angry at me and cutting me off again… Oh… by the way… you may get… a few perturbed messages. Please ignore them.” He drops his head. I run my fingers through his hair.
“It’s okay.” I whisper as it’s becoming harder and harder for me to talk. I realize that I’m suffering from the same ailment as Christian and I need to save my voice. I pick up the pen and pad on the nightstand next to my desk and write, “I think I need to stop talking now.” He reaches behind the lamp on the other nightstand and unplugs my iPhone from the charger.
“I had a feeling that you might need this,” he says as he hands it to me. Now I’m the one texting.
**Thanks. I want to kiss you so badly, but the lips won’t let me. **
“But I can kiss you.” He says as he cups my face with one of his hands, his fingertips in my hair. He gently kisses the corner of my mouth and I close my eyes. His lips move to my cheek, my temple, both eyes, and back down my cheek again. I’m lost in his touch and his kiss. I’ve missed him so much. It has only been four days, but it seemed like so much more—maybe because he was out of town before all of this happened and I didn’t get a chance to heal that longing, I don’t know. I have to kiss him. I turn my face to meet his and gently brush my lips against his—the only way I can stand to kiss him thanks to the repeated facial blows Harris inflicted on me. He returns my gesture and I relish in the feeling of his lips on mine.
“Butterfly, I have to stop,” he says, leaning his forehead against mine. The feeling was so deep, so intimate. Why did he want to stop? When he opens his eyes, my eyes must be asking that question.
“I’ve been without you for too long. Then, I thought I would never see you again. Now, I just want to bury myself in you and never come out, and it’s taking every bit of my self-control not to do that right here and now,” he breathes. Oh, good Lord, that was hot. I can only nod as his words make my breaths come in short pants. “Breathe, Baby,” he coaxes as he puts his hands on my waist and scoots me closer to him. I put my fingers in his hair, once again melting into his touch. How am I supposed to breathe while he’s making me hot? Oh, Christian…
Our moment is interrupted by Al clearing his throat in the doorway. Christian and I look at each other, both attempting to control our breath and our hormones.
“I love you,” he whispers to me, and I mouth, “I love you, too.” Allen comes into the room and announces that he convinced everyone to leave but there were two that refused to go without seeing me. When he escorts my visitors into the room, I exclaim,
Ray pauses for a moment, examining me. I don’t know why—maybe it’s the lip—but he quickly recovers and walks to the other side of my bed.
“How’s my Annie?” he says, sitting on the bed.
“I’m fine, now, Daddy,” I croak, throwing my arms around him. He hugs me gently.
“I’m so glad you’re okay. I was so worried,” he says, his voice cracking.
“I’m okay now that I’m back home… well, you know what I mean,” I croak. Daddy gets my voice, not a text.
“Christian here really pulled out all the stops to find you. I’ve never seen anything like it! He even took his helicopter to that island when they found out where you were,” Ray says. I do a double take.
“Took his helicopter?” I ask in disbelief, looking at Christian—who’s actually blushing!
“Yes, Honey,” Al pipes in. “Your boyfriend here owns a luxury helicopter—and he can fly it!” I wasn’t delirious! The pilot’s voice was Christian’s.
“Get outta here! Seriously?” I say, giggling.
“Girl, yes. It was the hottest thing I’ve ever seen.” Ray and Christian both look over their shoulder at Al. “I’m a gay man! If this was a girl standing here saying this, you wouldn’t be looking at me funny. Gimme a break!”
“He’s right. Let up off my gay boyfriend,” I croak. Ray and Christian both turn to me now, and I give them the same glare they are giving me. Yes, I said it. What—do you expect me to take it back?
“Well, um, I… just wish I was able to meet Christian under better circumstances,” Ray chastises.
“I know, Daddy. I’m sorry. But, remember—I didn’t meet Mandy until you guys had been dating for six months.” Almost on cue, a throat clears behind Al and out comes Amanda. Figures.
Keep your shirt on. She’s here for Ray and probably for you, too.
I growl at the Bitch. I really hate when I want to be catty and she’s being the fucking voice of reason.
“Yeah, um, Mandy, you’ve met Allen, and this is Christian Grey,” Ray says.
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Grey,” Amanda says, shaking Christian’s hand for a respectful amount of time. Yes, I was paying attention I’m ashamed to admit.
“Please call me Christian.” Mandy nods and walks over to Ray’s side.
“And guys, this is Amanda Herring… my girlfriend.” There’s a momentary silence in the room and I feel the need to fill it.
“Thank you for coming, Mandy. It’s so late and I know you probably have to work in the morning. I appreciate you being here for my dad,” I croak.
“Don’t mention it,” she says sincerely, her eyes full of sympathy. She takes my hand. “Ana, how are you?” she says softly.
“I could be better,” I say honestly, squeezing her hand, “but I’m away from those monsters, so I guess I’m no worse for wear.”
“I’m out of my realm with this kind of thing, I’m sorry,” she admits, “but I can say that I’m so glad that you’re safe and I really hope you feel better really soon,” she adds with a sad smile. I put my other hand over hers.
“Thank you, Mandy. That really means a lot to me,” I reply.
“Well, we promised the doctor that we wouldn’t stay long, so we’re going to go, and we’ll be back tomorrow… if you’re still here,” Ray says with a smile.
“Thanks, Dad. I’ll see you tomorrow. And thanks again for being here, Mandy,” I add. She smiles as they leave.
“Oookay,” Christian says. Yeah, I feel the same.
“Wait a minute. That’s Mandy!” Al says like he has just discovered Plutonium. Yeah, I nod, and your point? “No, that’s Mandy. The one that had you cursing in French a few weeks back.” Oh yeah, I forgot about that. I nod.
“Cursing in French?” Christian asks. “I thought you only did that during…” My hand flies up to his mouth. Yeah, no, don’t tell my best friend that I speak French when I’m coming, thank you! Al ignores the implication and continues.
“She’s hot! What the hell…?” he says. Yes, I know. I love my Daddy, but what does this tart want with my cantankerous father? I send Christian a text.
**I want you to do a background check on her. **
“You do?” he says after he reads the text.
**He’s my daddy, Christian. Please? **
He reads the text and nods. “I’ll get Welch on it first thing in the morning.”
**Thank you. Now why did Daddy pause and flinch when he came into the room? **
Christian looks at his phone and his jaw stiffens. Even Al notices it and looks at me. So, I send him the same text. He looks at Christian and they are both debating something without words. Just then Dr. Fischer comes into the room, followed by Grace, still in her hospital scrubs. Grace pauses, too, but longer than Ray did. What the hell is going on?
“Ms… Ms. Steele. I thought I recognized you,” Dr. Fischer says as he looks at my chart. “Mr. Grey, how have you been?” he says to Christian.
“Medically, I’ve been fine,” he says. “I’m better now that I’ve got my girl back.”
“We’ve got to stop meeting like this,” he says with a half-smile as he comes over to take my pulse. “Is she texting or talking?”
“A little bit of both, but mostly texting,” Christian answers for me.
“Less talking, more texting. Just for the next few hours or so…which shouldn’t be hard since you’ll be going to sleep very soon.” He breathes warm air on his stethoscope then puts it to my chest. “Deep breath for me.”
I take a few deep breaths, then he looks in my eyes. “Any ice chips yet?”
“We were going to and then we saw who her nurse was. I don’t want her anywhere near Anastasia, Dr. Fischer. And Anastasia has made it clear that she doesn’t want her in here either.” I’m shaking my head feverishly.
“Who are we talking about?” Grace asks.
“I don’t know her name, but she was staring at me like a steak sandwich the last time I was here, and Ana was standing right in front of me.”
“Thanks, Butterfly. Emily Johnson.”
“Was she behaving inappropriately?” Grace asks.
“Ask Dr. Fischer. You remember, she was staring at me and Ana tried to tell her to stop…”
“Oooooh, yes! I do remember,” Dr. Fischer says after realization dawns. “Yes, she’s been reprimanded. She shouldn’t even want to be in this room!”
“Well, I’ll get you some ice, Butterfly. I’ll be right back.” He squeezes my hand and leaves.
“Look up at me, Ana,” Dr. Fischer says, and he shines a light in my eyes. He touches my face and eyes, and everything is very tender. “Well, you should be able to go home first thing in the morning. I don’t want to discharge you in the middle of the night and I think you’ll only need one more bag of solution, so I do want you to eat some of those ice chips because you’re wheezing a bit and I’m thinking it’s because your throat is irritated. We’ll check again in the morning when we check your saturations. It’s probably too late tonight, but you can eat in the morning—soup, water-based then we’ll see from there. The bruising should go down in a few days and you’ll be right as rain, okay?” I nod. He smiles at Grace then leaves.
“Well, Ana. A fine mess, huh?” Grace says, sitting on the edge of my bed. I can only nod and hold my head down. Allen gives her his phone so that we can chat.
**Psycho ex-boyfriend. **
She looks at me. “He’s the one who kidnapped you?”
**He wanted to get me alone. Thought he could convince me to come back to him. He had help from a guard Christian fired. **
“So, he’s the one that did this to you?” she says, pointing at my face. I don’t react to her pointing at my face, but Al does. They aren’t telling my something, but I’ll wait until Grace is gone.
**Harris did this. Christian’s ex-guard. He thinks I got him fired. **
“What a brute!” she exclaims as she touches my face and I flinch. Okay… now I know there’s something they’re not telling me. “You’ll be good as new in a few days, Dear.” She says smiling at me. I force a smile back at her as Christian returns with the ice. “I’m going to leave you with these two now. Don’t keep her up too late. She needs her rest.” She squeezes my hand and rises from the bed. Christian hugs his mother and she leaves the room. I immediately begin typing before Christian sits on the bed.
**Daddy paused and flinched. Grace paused and stared. The doctor says the bruising will go down, but Grace called Harris a brute as she looked at my face. How bad is it? **
Again, Christian’s jaw tightens, and he’s not forthcoming with information.
“Somebody better tell me what the hell is going on,” I croak. Christian runs his hand through his hair, and Al just wants to run.
“I… heard the 911 tapes, baby,” Christian begins. “How many times did Harris hit you?” I shake my head and shrug. I don’t even remember how many times he hit me. Why is he asking me about this? It must be horrible.
**Give me a mirror. **
“Baby…” Christian begins. I throw the covers off and swing my legs over the edge of the bed. Both Al and Christian dash to stop me.
“Okay, baby, I’ll get you a mirror. Please, just stay in bed, okay?” Christian coaxes. I climb back in the bed and Al takes my phone. After pushing a few buttons, I realize that he set it so that the lens is reversed on the camera and the phone is reflecting my face.
I don’t even recognize the person looking back at me.
I thought he was showing me a picture of someone else until I move the phone and the picture moves with me. My face ranges in color from red to black—a huge black and blue scar on my right cheek, a dark circle around my right eye. My left eye is almost swollen shut and I can make out at least two purple hand prints on my left cheek. My lips are both horribly swollen, the top worse than the bottom.
I touch my lips and watch the reflection. I look like a damn monster. Seriously, you couldn’t make movie effects that look this bad! I can’t stop the gasping tears that burst from me as I drop my phone on my lap and my hands on the bed. In a moment, Christian has me in his arms, rocking me gently and trying to comfort me.
“Don’t cry, baby. It’ll all heal, you’ll see.”
“I look horrible!” I wail. “I look deformed! Why did he do this to me?” I cry, clinging to Christian. I’m full of hatred right now, more hatred than I have ever felt in my life. Even with the beating in Green Valley, I was only 15—I really couldn’t figure out what was going on there. Now, I know the full meaning of hate, and my cup runneth over.
“I want them dead. I’ve never wanted anyone dead in my life…not even Cody fucking Whitmore,” I weep. Christian tenses. I don’t know if he’s reacting to me wanting Edward and Harris dead, or to my mentioning Cody’s name. Right now, I can’t even comprehend how Christian can look at me.
“He was an asshole and a monster, and he got what he deserved.” Huh? Who? I was just talking about three different people and he’s talking about somebody in the past tense. I pull myself back to look at him, then quickly turn away.
“What do you mean? Who got what they deserved?” I croak.
She’s turning her face away, like she can’t look at me. Does she think I did something to those bastards? I now realize that she was asleep when Gerald came back with the news.
“David was taken into custody. He’s being held right now without bond because of the severity of the crime, the fact that he broke a standing protection order and with his resources he’s a flight risk. Harris… got into a gunfight with the police behind the house just as we were arriving. He was hit several times. He didn’t have the benefit of helicopter transport… he died before they could get him to the hospital.”
She doesn’t even flinch. She doesn’t turn to look at me either. “Well, I won’t even lie and tell you that I’m sorry,” she croaks, disdainfully.
“Jewel, are you okay?” Allen asks cautiously. She just nods. “I’m going to go now, okay? It’s like two in the morning and you know what I look like without my beauty sleep,” he says, his voice full of mirth. She just nods again, never raising her head. Allen kneels on the floor and forces her to make eye contact. “I love you, Jewel, and I’m so glad you’re okay.” She embraces him around his neck tightly and I can tell that she’s crying again as he rubs her back. He pulls away and gently kisses her cheek. He squeezes her hand and rises to his feet.
“Goodnight, Chris. I’ll be back in the morning.”
“Okay. Goodnight, Allen. I’ll see you then.” I turn back to Butterfly. Her head is still bowed. Her face horribly bruised and her hair is stringy and dirty…and she’s the most beautiful sight that I’ve seen in days.
“Butterfly,” I whisper, hoping that she will look at me. She doesn’t. “Butterfly, please look at me.” She still won’t raise her head. I scoot closer to her on the bed. I put my finger under her chin and raise her face to look at me, I gently take her hands in mine and look into her eyes, loving gray to broken blue. Without closing my eyes, I kiss her badly bruised face, her swollen eye, her other bruised eye, and her black and blue cheek until I get back to her tender, swollen lips… brushing them gently like I did earlier and looking in her eyes.
“My Butterfly,” I whisper against her lips as I ache to kiss her, to show her what she means to me, how beautiful she will always be to me no matter what bruises she wears. My lips travel down her jaw to her neck peppering soft gentle kisses. “My beautiful Butterfly… I thought I lost you… I don’t know what I’d do without you…”
“Christian, I look like hell…” she whispers.
“To me, you look like heaven,” I respond, gently rubbing my cheek against hers. “If you looked like this for the rest of your life, I’d still love you forever.” Our moment is interrupted by a gentle knock on the door. Dr. Fischer enters with yet another nurse.
“But she won’t,” he says, gently, smiling at Butterfly. “Ana, these bruises will go down and you will be back to normal in a few days. Don’t you worry, okay? I promise you that this is nothing permanent.”
Butterfly gives him a small strained smile. Thank God. My poor baby has been through enough!
“I’m sorry to interrupt you, Mr. Grey. I just wanted to check on Ana one last time before I take a nap…I’m on call tonight. I also wanted to introduce you to your new nurse. This is Nurse Christa.” A beautiful caramel-colored young woman steps up to Ana and takes her hand.
“How are you feeling, Sweetie?” Nurse Christa asks.
“As well as can be expected, I guess,” Butterfly whispers.
“Well, that’s good. I’m gone take real good care of you, now.” Nurse Christa has a bit of a southern sound to her as well as a warm southern mannerism. Dr. Fischer stands back and lets her tend to Butterfly, checking her vitals and changing her IV bag. “Are you feelin’ any discomfort, Sugar?” Butterfly shakes her head to tell her no. “Do you think you can sleep okay?” Butterfly shakes her head again. “Now we need you to sleep, Darlin’. You want me to give you somethin’ to help you rest?” Butterfly smiles and nods.
“You’re staying, aren’t you?” she looks at me with frightened, hopeful eyes.
“Baby, wild horses couldn’t drag me from this room,” I say, gently stroking her hand and she smiles again.
“Well, alright then. I’ll be back with a little sleepy-time to put in your IV, okay?” Nurse Christa smiles and leaves the room.
“I like her,” Butterfly whispers. “She’s pretty, too.”
“I’m sorry, baby. I only have eyes for you,” I say with a smile.
“Alright, alright, doctor in the room,” Dr. Fischer says playfully while updating the chart that Nurse Christa just handed to him. “Now, Ana my dear, I’ll check on you in the morning. I think with your resting your throat overnight, you should be okay tomorrow, but we’ll see for sure. Unlike when this happened with Mr. Grey, you got a lot of rest during the ordeal; that means you came out of the situation marginally better than he did with the exception of the bruising. The rest did you well. For your swelling, ice packs as often as you can stand them. The bruising will go in its own time, but don’t worry, it will go down. Do you trust me?” Butterfly nods. “Good. Take some of that ice on your throat… do it now.” I give her a little ice for her throat, then a little more.
“Oh, that’s good,” she moans.
“See, I know what I’m talking about. It’s the whole doctor thing,” Fischer jokes. Okay, Doc, you’re getting a little friendly. I didn’t get this kind of bedside manner when I was laid up in here! Then Taylor’s words come back to me…
She touches people that don’t even know her.
I guess I can’t fault the good doctor. He’s making her smile and she affects everybody… but don’t get too cozy, Doc! Nurse Christa comes back into the room with Ana’s cocktail. “Okay now, this should hit you in just a couple of minutes and it’s nighty night for you, okay?” Butterfly nods.
“Thank you, Nurse Christa,” Butterfly whispers.
“Call me, Crissy, Sugar. Everybody does,” she says.
“Thank you, Crissy.” Butterfly whispers with a yawn.
“Okay, she’ll be asleep shortly, so we’re going to leave you guys. Goodnight Ana, Christian.” Fischer says with a nod before leaving, Nurse Christa right behind him. I look at my Nodding Beauty.
“Can I sleep with you?” I ask.
“Please,” she whispers, quickly losing the fight against the meds. I remove my shoes and socks and crawl in bed behind her. I kiss her on the shell of her ear.
In no time flat, she‘s asleep, safe and warm in my arms. I follow her into slumber a few minutes later.
It’s my turn to take care of Butterfly. I wake well before she does. It’s about 7am. I step out into the hallway and Lawrence and Davenport are there.
“When is Taylor coming in?” I ask them.
“He should be here in about an hour, sir,” Davenport responds.
“Good. That’s perfect.” I nod as I take out my blackberry and step away from the two guards.
“Sir,” Taylor answers on the second ring.
“Taylor, can you bring some things for Ana…” I begin.
“Gail has already taken care of it, sir. I have a fresh change of clothes and a couple of changes of underwear, nightwear if she’s required to stay another night, grooming supplies, and Gail’s chicken soup for her first meal. Did I forget anything, sir?” he says.
“Did you get her lemongrass citrus body wash and shampoo with her grooming supplies?” I hear him ask Gail. “I’m not sure, sir, but I’ll make sure that we have it.”
“Can you bring a change of clothes for me? Anything will be fine,” I say.
“Are you going into the office today, sir?”
“Not likely,” I reply. I turn around and see a woman and a young boy trying to get into Butterfly’s room. “That’s all for now, Taylor. I’ll call you if we need anything else.”
“Yes, sir,” he says. I end the call and walk over to the woman and young, but tall, child.
“Can I help you with something?” I ask the woman who shies behind the boy a bit at the sound of my voice. He turns to confront me, then his face softens with realization.
“You’re Christian Grey,” he says. Yes… and…?
“Is there something I can help you with?” I repeat.
“I saw you on TV… looking for Ana. Dr. Grace told us Ana was here…” he starts to explain. Dr. Grace… my mother.
“How do you know Ana?” I ask cautiously.
“Well, I just met her. I just wanted to make sure she was okay. My name is Marlow.”
Marlow… Marlow… oh, Marlow! Ana told me about him, the kid from Helping Hands. Who is the woman cowering behind him?
“Nice to meet you, Marlow,” I proffer my hand and he takes it. “Ana has told be about you. And who is this?” The woman looks small compared to the boy, but not in stature. I can see some faded bruising on her face.
“I’m Marcia, Mr. Grey,” she says, slowly coming from behind the boy. “I’m Marlow’s mother.” I don’t know why I didn’t see it before… Well, I do know why I didn’t see it before… but they have the same eyes.
“Marcia,” I say, extending my hand to her as if I am approaching a scared stray dog. “It’s nice to meet you as well.” She timidly takes my hand and shakes it gently before releasing it. “Why don’t we go wake Ana? She’s going to need some ice chips before her breakfast gets here,” I say as I lead the way into Ana’s room.
She looks like an angel sleeping soundly in her bed…a battered angel, but an angel nonetheless. Marcia gasps at her appearance. Marlow’s jaw stiffens. No doubt he has seen this kind of thing with his mother countless times.
“Who would do such a thing?” Marcia says quietly. Marlow looks at me accusingly.
“She was kidnapped,” I tell them, “an ex-boyfriend of hers and an ex-employee of mine. The only explanation that I’ve been able to get so far is that the ex-employee wanted the pin numbers to her credit cards and…” I open my hand towards Ana to demonstrate what happened next. Marlow’s fists are clenching, and his jaw is becoming still tighter.
“It’s okay, Marlow.” I say, and his head snaps over to me. “He won’t ever touch her again.” He glares at me for a moment then looks back at Butterfly. “Why don’t you go wake her for me… but don’t touch her face. It’s very sore as you can imagine.” Marlow looks back at me and nods. Then he swallows hard and walks over to Butterfly.
Marlow stoops on the floor next to Butterfly’s bed. “Ana?” he says softly while gently shaking her arm. “Ana?”
Butterfly’s eyes open slowly, and she takes a few seconds to focus.
“Marlow,” she says sleepily. “Well, you’re not the face I expected to see when I opened my eyes,” she says with mirth.
“Gee, thanks,” he responds.
“Hey, you’re a cute kid, but you’re no Christian Grey,” she says, still groggy. That’s my Butterfly. “I wasn’t supposed to see you until Thursday,” she says forcing herself to sit up. “You comin’ to give me a hard time?”
“It looks like somebody already did that,” he says, sitting on the edge of her bed. Butterfly drops her head. Nice going, Kid. He leans in and says, “Do you need me to take care of somebody, Ana?” He’s very serious, but Butterfly bursts out laughing. Whew! Nice recovery.
“No,” she’s says. “I’m cool. I got backup.” And she smiles at him. Okay, who is this and what have you done with my Butterfly? “Why aren’t you in school?”
“Well, um… I… um…” Young Marlow fights for his words until Marcia steps in.
“He refused to go until he saw you… to make sure you were okay,” Marcia said.
“Mooooooooooooom,” Marlow said, singing the word. “You gone ruin my rep.”
“You’re only 16, you don’t have a rep yet,” Butterfly says. She puts her hand on Marlow’s cheek. He flinches at first, then settles into her touch. I know that flinch only too well. He’s been abused, and his face was often one of the targets. “Anyway, it’s kinda cool to have people want to look out for me that way. Thanks for having my back.” Having her back? Yikes! This is a new language for me.
“It’s all good,” Marlow says, and I can see his entire body relax.
“Now listen, I probably won’t be at the center for a little while because…” She gestures to her face. “I’ll most likely take some time off until some of this bruising goes down, and as you can hear my voice sounds like crap.” She sounds better than yesterday, but she’s still quite raspy. “But if you need me, Dr. Grace knows how to get in touch with me, okay?” Marlow nods.
“I think I’ll do okay now… since… I know you’re okay, but I’ll talk to Dr. Grace if I need you.”
“Good. Now get your ass to school,” she says, punching him in the arm.
“Ow! Why you always hittin’ me?” he whines.
“‘Cause you’re hard-headed… but I wouldn’t have you any other way,” she smiles. “Now, go… and thank you.” He walks to the door with his mother. He turns around and looks back at her.
“I’m glad you’re okay, Ana,” he says before walking out. Marcia mouths “thank you” to Butterfly before following her son. I turn to look at the remarkable woman looking so small in the big hospital bed.
“Hello, Beautiful,” I say, and I stride slowly to her bed. She looks at me with hunger in her eyes. “Oh, baby, please don’t look at me like that.”
“Why not?” she says softly.
“Because I want you,” I say, rubbing her leg over the cover, “and I need to make sure you are fit and that you have everything that you need before I ravish your body.” My hands move up to her thigh. So as not to torture her, I skip past her stomach and kiss her neck. “Okay?” I breathe into her neck. Her breath catches as her fingers entwine in my hair. No fair.
“Okay,” she breathes. We both jump a bit as Taylor enters the room.
“I’m sorry, sir. I thought Her Highness might want her soup while it’s still hot,” Taylor says, looking at Butterfly.
“I missed that,” she says, smiling at Taylor.
“Me, too,” he says, smiling back and setting up her tray table.
“Not too hot, I hope,” I say.
“No, sir, I don’t think so,” Taylor says, pulling out the carrier with the soup and fresh French bread.
“Oh God, please feed me, please feed me, please!” Butterfly begs, and I can’t help but laugh. Taylor hands her the spoon and she tastes the soup. She moans in ecstasy at the flavor.
“Sir, a word,” Taylor says. I nod.
“Make sure you get some of those ice chips, too, Butterfly.” She nods as she continues to devour the large bowl of soup. Taylor and I step outside of the room.
“Sir, I have bad news and worse news,” he says. I sigh.
“Give it to me.” I brace myself. Just don’t tell me that David fucker made bail.
“Paparazzi is outside. They are deep. We won’t get out of here without them seeing us.” Shit! They can’t get pictures of Butterfly like this and those vultures are relentless. I knew this would happen once I went public about our relationship. We just have to find a way to get pass them. Butterfly has never been subject to the press that I know of. This may be a bit much for her. We’ll get through it.
“Was that the bad news or the worse news?” I ask.
“That was the bad, sir.”
“What’s the worse?” I bark.
“As I came into the hospital, I saw someone at the front desk. I wouldn’t have known who it was, but they’re trying to get in to see Ms. Steele.” I frown.
“Who are they?” I ask.
“Stephen and Carla Morton.”
A/N: Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, & Elton John—That’s What Friends Are For
“You’re only 16, you don’t have a rep yet.” – DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince – Parents Just Don’t Understand
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