This is a work of creativity. As such, you may see words, concepts, scenes, actions, behaviors, pictures, implements, and people that may or may not be socially acceptable and/or offensive. If you are sensitive to adverse and alternative subject matter of any kind, please do not proceed, because I guarantee you’ll find it here. You have been warned. Read at your own risk.
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 52—Grey Reflections
I get to the door of the back patio just in time to hear what sounds like two bickering women. What the hell is going on?
“Wait a minute! We can’t both talk at the same time,” I hear Butterfly say. “Tell me, what is this?” I peak around the corner just in time to see Gail hold up her left hand. I really have to stop eavesdropping on these women.
“Jason’s asked me to marry him,” Gail answers with a girlie giggle. Butterfly gasps and grabs Gail’s hand. Shit! Did this just diminish my promise ring in Butterfly’s eyes? I sure hope not. Butterfly carefully examines the yellow gold and diamond creation before asking, “What is that, a carat?”
“One and a quarter,” Gail corrects her. Butterfly smiles openly at Gail and sighs heavily. I can tell that she is genuinely happy for Gail.
“Gail, it is beyond beautiful,” she says holding Gail’s hand. “Congratulations!”
“Thank you, Ana. You’re the first person to know,” Gail squeals happily. Butterfly and me, that is.
“Well, I am very honored!” Butterfly says bowing slightly in her chair. Gail now reaches for Butterfly’s hand. Uh oh, moment of truth. I make sure they can’t easily see me.
“So… have I jumped the gun in my assumption, or is there a specific meaning behind that very beautiful butterfly on your left hand?” Gail asks.
“Well, yes and no,” Butterfly responds. Huh!? “You may have jumped the gun just a bit… but not too much. It’s a promise ring.” I see Butterfly extending her hand so that Gail can get a better look at it.
“Oh Ana, it’s exquisite. I know Mr. Grey… this is platinum and diamonds!” she says.
“It is,” Butterfly confirms, proudly. “We agree that announcing an engagement this soon into the game seems like an unwise decision for both of us, but we are certain—even now—that this is forever. So, we exchanged gifts to solidify our commitment.” It sounds so wonderful coming from her lips. I’m glad to know that Gail’s happy moment didn’t dampen Butterfly’s news.
“So, you two planned to do this,” Gail says.
“Actually, no, we didn’t. The gift that I gave him, I had in my possession for something like seven years. I just felt like this was the time and he was the man that deserved it. My ring, he just had it commissioned a couple of days ago with no advance knowledge of my intentions. We exchanged commitment symbols yesterday on the beach.”
“Yesterday? How did I not see it?” Gail asks.
“I don’t know, but it was there… maybe you were a bit distracted.” Butterfly says, pointing to Gail’s ring. Gail laughs.
“Maybe… and then that little tart had the nerve to pick that day to try to sway Mr. Grey. Not that there’s ever a good day to do that but oh boy, was her timing awful!” Gail jests.
“Truer words have never been spoken, M’lady!” Butterfly laughs. “I can’t help but wonder if I’m going to be beating them off with a stick for the rest of my life. I mean, I can’t be upset that they look at him—let’s face it, he’s gorgeous—but these women are just plain disrespectful. It’s insane, Gail. They get caught in the stare and when you bring it to their attention, they get angry because you broke their concentration! They don’t even have enough sense to feel ashamed! Not to be vulgar, but I could be standing there sexing him and they would still be staring at him.” Wow! Very candid, Ms. Steele! Gail gasps.
“Oh, Ana, it can’t be that bad,” she exclaims.
“Oh, but it is that bad. When he was in the hospital, the nurse looked at him and was stupefied! She was completely struck dumb… not even stutter-dumb, just dumb. When my presence was brought to her attention, she was actually offended that I dare interrupt her ‘Yummy Mr. Grey’ gawking time.”
“You are not serious!” Gail says in disbelief.
“Very serious. It’s actually really sad, but very true,” Butterfly confirms, pouring a cup of coffee. “Supposedly, she was reprimanded, but when I came back eight days later, she was my nurse!”
“Oh my God, what did you do?”
“Nothing. Christian kicked her out.”
“Go, Mr. Grey!” Gail exclaims. I guess now would be a good time to announce my arrival. I do a fist pump from behind the patio doors accepting my unexpected praise from Gail.
“Christian Trevelyan Grey, are you eavesdropping on us?” Butterfly demands.
“If I were eavesdropping, you wouldn’t have seen my fist,” I say, laughing, emerging from my hiding place. “I just didn’t want to interrupt the conversation.” I bend down to kiss her.
“Mmm-hmm,” she answers skeptically allowing me a chaste peck before I take a seat.
“Is Jason hiding back there, too?” Gail asks.
“No, I haven’t seen him,” I respond. Just then Taylor and Davenport emerge laughing at some private joke.
“Would you like to share with the rest of us?” Butterfly says, acting affronted.
“Actually, no,” Davenport replies. “It’s not something that should be said in front of ladies.” I follow the strange glare on his face to Butterfly’s, and she’s examining him very closely. I look from Davenport to Butterfly waiting for someone to let me in on it when Davenport says, “Earth to Ana, are you okay?” Turns out he’s just as baffled as I am by her behavior. Butterfly shakes her head as if she is trying to rid herself of a loose thought.
“I’m sorry… daydreaming,” she says. For some reason, I don’t think that’s completely true. She didn’t look far away or lost in thought. She looked like she was concentrating. I may need to ask her about that later. “So, Mr. Grey, do we have anything on the agenda for today?”
“No, nothing in particular today. I thought we might catch a beach walk, so you’ll need your bathing suits,” I say just as the chef staff is bringing out breakfast.
“Oh really?” she asks. “So, I may actually be able to catch some sun today.” I throw a knowing look at her. I stopped her from catching sun yesterday in that tiny little bikini she was wearing. She looked so hot, I just had to be inside her. Apparently reading my facial expression, Taylor clears his throat to break the conversation. Butterfly just smirks and shakes her head.
“I hear congratulations are in order, Jason,” Butterfly says. I have to act like I don’t know as I heard the news while eavesdropping, which I have decided this moment to stop doing… unless it’s utterly necessary.
“Oh?” I say faking ignorance of the matter and looking from Butterfly to Taylor. I look over at Taylor who looks at Gail who then announces, “Mr. Taylor has asked me to marry him.” I throw a look across the table at Taylor.
“You sneaky bastard,” I say playfully, extending a hand to Taylor.
“Thanks, Boss,” Taylor says, accepting my hand and shaking vigorously. Davenport extends his hand as well.
“You son of a bitch,” he says to Taylor, who laughs heartily and shakes his hand. Gail and Butterfly are just looking at each other, completely confused. I guess they’re trying to figure out the banter between the men. I don’t have time to explain it.
“Don’t try to figure it out, Honey. You’ll hurt yourself,” Gail says to Butterfly before taking a bite of her toast. Butterfly just shakes her head.
“So, you’re going to make an honest man out of him… when’s the big day?” I ask before taking a sip of my coffee.
“Um… Friday.” Taylor says calmly. I had to turn away from the table to keep from spraying coffee all over Gail. You could catch flies in Davenport’s mouth and Butterfly is choking on pancakes. She and I prove once again that we’re perfectly in sync with one another as we manage to compose ourselves at the same time and exclaim,
Gail looks a little shocked, but probably not as shocked as we are. “Well, there’s no reason to wait. I mean neither of us are really particularly sentimental about the wedding. We’re more sentimental about the marriage!” Gail says sweetly as she gives Taylor’s hand a squeeze.
“Well, yeah, but…” Butterfly sighs, whining like a little girl. “What about the wardrobe and the flowers and the bridal shower? Do you even have a white dress?” Gail laughs.
“Ana, dear, I’m hardly a virgin bride,” she chuckles.
“Well… I… know… but… look! My friend is getting married and we don’t have a dress and we didn’t get to plan anything, and… and… I feel slighted!” she spits. I wonder if she realizes how ridiculous that sounds? She’s acting like someone just stole her cookie! This time Taylor lets out a laugh.
“Well, Your Highness, the next time we get married, we’ll be sure to run it past you first.” She folds her arms and sits back in her chair.
“It’s not funny, Jason! Stop teasing me.” She turns to Gail. “Okay, we don’t have much time. There’s a million things to do.” She gulps down the rest of her orange juice as Gail takes the last bite of her breakfast. Butterfly has hardly eaten any of hers. “I have a dress that’ll work wonderfully. Come on, you should try it on.”
“Ana,” Gail protests. “There’s no way I’m going to fit into one of your dresses. What are you, a size six?”
“Four, but don’t worry, it’s a maxi, and since you’re…” Butterfly pulls her from her seat and examines her closely, “…5′ 9”, it will hit you about mid-calf.” Gail looks from Taylor back to Ana.
“How did you do that?” she asks, surprised. She looks at me. “How did she do that?”
“It’s a gift,” I say taking a fork full of eggs. Butterfly begins to drag her away.
“You’ll need jewelry. Do you have any pearls? No, wait, you can’t wear pearls with this dress. Do you have any diamonds? Don’t worry about it, you can wear mine. What about shoes? Do you have any white shoes? Or sparkly shoes? We may have to go shopping. You should definitely tan before then. It’s a good thing we’re doing beach walk today, but don’t burn. Just tan…” Butterfly is talking a mile a minute. I don’t think she took a breath.
“Um… Butterfly?” I call out to her before she clears the door. She turns around to face me. “That’s all you’re going to eat?” Butterfly narrows her eyes at me. She defiantly walks back to the table and takes a full-sized, thick pancake from the plate, rolls it up like a burrito and effortlessly slips the entire thing in her mouth before cocking her head sarcastically at me and folding her arms. No gagging, no choking, no chipmunk cheeks… just… gone. Now I know her mouth is full but looking at her now and the way that she just sucked that pancake in her mouth, you would have no idea.
…And there are three awestruck men sitting at the table now.
Without a word—or a chew, she does a near perfect military about-face and walks into the villa with Gail. The three of us sit silently for a few moments before Taylor says, “She didn’t just do that, did she? Did she really just do that?” I finally tear my gaze from the patio doors that Butterfly just cleared and look at Taylor, his eyes saying everything the three of us are thinking, but only I know.
“Don’t you say it!” I threaten.
“I wouldn’t dare!” he defends quickly.
“I feel dirty,” Davenport says dropping his head. I want to be mad at him for saying that, but I can’t because he sounds so defeated—like someone had taken complete sexual advantage of him. I just burst into laughter.
“We are not having this conversation,” I say between my chuckles.
“No sir,” both gentlemen say simultaneously. I look at them sarcastically and continue with my breakfast.
“Taylor, why so quickly? You don’t want to take the time to plan the wedding?” I ask.
“Why wait? We’re on this beautiful island, it’s convenient, we want to get married… it’s perfect,” he responds.
“You don’t want to take the time to think about this decision? It seems kind of sudden.”
“What is there to think about?” His voice is becoming defensive. “And what do you mean by ‘sudden?’ We’ve been dating for years.”
“Taylor, you’re in this romantic setting. You’ve never mentioned anything about marrying Mrs. Jones before now…”
“Oh… now she’s Mrs. Jones. She’s been Gail at least as long as ‘Butterfly’ has been around, but now she’s Mrs. Jones,” he says curtly.
“Taylor… careful,” I warn.
“Oh, I see. We can talk about my girlfriend, but we can’t talk about yours,” he spit.
“She’s not just your girlfriend, Taylor. You are both my employees. I just want you to be sure because marriage can complicate things if it turns out to be the wrong decision,” I state. Oh, now he’s on fire.
“What?” he barks. “Complicate things? Are you kidding me?”
“Watch your tone!” I spit.
“No! I will not! This is my life you’re talking about, and the woman that I love! From what I’m hearing, it’s okay if I fuck her but not if I marry her!”
“Taylor!” I yell! “That’s not what I meant, and you know it!”
“Well, exactly what did you mean… sir?” I don’t think I ever heard him spit that word with that much venom in my entire life. Davenport sits silently waiting for one of us to make another move, but the ball is actually in my court. I think we’re both too angry and I better defuse this situation.
“We should probably calm down and talk about this at another time,” I say, flatly.
“You’re right about one thing… we should calm down,” he says impassively. “But we won’t be talking about this.” I glare at him. “There are a lot of things you can tell me, sir. You can tell me where to be, when I need to be there, who to watch, what to drive, who to follow, and in some cases, what to do. One thing you can’t tell me is who to marry, and I am marrying Mrs. Gail Jones. If you don’t like it, don’t be there. I really don’t care.” He stands from the table pushing his chair back so hard that it falls on the floor and leaves it there as he storms back into the Villa. Davenport follows him two seconds after he clears the door. No way he wants to be outside alone with me.
Nice going, Grey. What the fuck is my problem? Taylor is right—they’ve been together for years. Why shouldn’t they get married? First, I’m afraid that Gail’s engagement will overshadow mine and Butterfly’s commitment exchange and now I basically tell my head of security that he shouldn’t marry my housekeeper. What is wrong with me? I stand and walk to the end of the patio, looking at the beach slightly in the distance. What does it mean that I would take any offense whatsoever to Gail and Taylor getting married? They’re both very good people. And what does it mean that I called Gail Mrs. Jones while we were having this conversation? I don’t know what the issue is. I don’t know why I did that. Why wouldn’t I want them to be happy? I’m happy, but I don’t want anyone else to be happy? Could I really be that big of an asshole?
Butterfly’s uncertain voice breaks me from my self-interrogation. I turn around to face her questioning eyes.
“What’s going on?” she asks. I sigh heavily.
“Sit,” I say and we both take a seat at the table. “After you left, I questioned Taylor concerning his certainty about marrying Gail.” Her face falls.
“Don’t sugarcoat it, Grey. What did you say to him? He’s furious!” she demands. I glare at her.
“What did he do?” I ask.
“Well, he came to our suite and snatched Gail away without a word. There’s steam coming from that man’s head and I know that I left him here with you. So, what did you say?” she repeats.
“I just told him that the decision was very sudden, and I wanted him to think about it,” I reply. She narrows her eyes at me.
“Is that all that you said?” she asks skeptically. “Is that exactly how you said it?” Good grief, this woman knows me well. I run my hand through my hair.
“I told him that I wanted him to think about it, that they were both my employees and that marriage can complicate things if it turns out to be the wrong decision,” I say.
“Oh my God, Christian, you didn’t,” she says in horror.
“Yes, I did. I have a right to be concerned about this,” I say, trying to defend myself.
“That’s not concern. You’re trying to exercise your authority as his employer over his personal life! You just turned their engagement into an executive decision. Don’t you see that?” Oh, good God, it’s not that horrible… is it?
“I did no such thing.” I don’t even sound convincing to myself. “I could lose one or both of them if this turns sour and I don’t want to see that happen.”
“It could have turned sour way before now, Christian. They’ve been dating for years and you didn’t have a problem with it until now?” God, she sounds like Taylor now. “Do you not want Jason to marry Gail?”
“That’s not it at all.” At least I think that’s not it.
“Do you have a problem with them being together?” She continues her interrogation.
“Of course not.”
“Then what is it? What happened between the handshake with the crazy-backward man jargon and now that made this an issue?” I don’t know what happened. All I know is that when it sunk in that they were getting married, something felt very wrong. I felt a chill down inside of me where I should have been happy for two of my longest-standing most faithful employees and—dare I say it—friends. I felt like a total shit.
“Did you say something else to him? Something has really set him off,” she asks.
“The only other thing that I said was that we were on a romantic island and I didn’t say this, but I did insinuate that he might have jumped the gun because of the romantic atmosphere. I had told him that it did seem sudden to me because he had never talked about marrying Mrs. Jones before and now…”
“Whoa! Whoa! Whoawhoawhoawhoa!” She cut me off. “Did you say that? Did you say Mrs. Jones?” Okay, what am I missing that’s so wrong about calling her Mrs. Jones?
“Okay, that’s the same reaction that Taylor had! I’ve called this woman Mrs. Jones for years. Years! And nobody had a problem with it. Now, in this context, it’s a problem. Somebody really needs to tell me why.”
“Oh my God,” she groans again with her head down. I’m beginning to lose my patience.
“Anastasia, just spit it out!” Her head shoots up and she glares at me. Bad choice, Grey.
“Hey! Don’t take that tone with me, Grey! You fucked up!” she spits pointing at me like an errant child. At that moment I knew that not only was I dealing with Dr. Steele, I was dealing with an angry Dr. Steele. “You have fucked up in ways that you can’t even fathom. Do you know anything about Mr. Jones?” she asks. I couldn’t let on that I knew the whole story because that would have meant I had to admit to eavesdropping. I’m batting a thousand today.
“I know that he died in a car accident,” I say truthfully.
“Well, there’s a lot more to that story, and I don’t doubt that Jason knows it. In the process of you trying to make whatever point you were trying to make, you have aggravated an already sensitive situation by calling her Mrs. Jones to the man who plans on marrying her in five days. You haven’t called her Mrs. Jones in, what, a month or so?” I nod. “And now… at this moment… you remind him that she actually is Mrs. Jones, because they weren’t divorced—he died—and if she could have her way, they would still be married right now.”
“Well, don’t you think that was reason enough for pause?” I ask. If she’s still holding a torch for her dead husband…
“Is that why you called her Mrs. Jones? Is that the point you were trying to make? Are you really that blind or are you just making this up as you go along?”
Fuck, I’m arguing with the shrink. I’m not going to win this one. Plus, it does feel like I’m making this up as I go along.
“She lost her husband and her baby in that accident—her first love. If she didn’t still feel something of that loss, feel something for them, I would think something was seriously wrong with her,” Butterfly scolds. Oh fuck, I didn’t think about the baby when I put my foot in my mouth.
“She lost a baby,” I say so that it sounds more like a question than a statement.
“Yes, and now I’ve betrayed her confidence.” Butterfly’s hand flies to her forehead again. I take her hand from her forehead.
“I swear I won’t say a word,” I assure her.
“I know that you won’t Christian, but I still betrayed her confidence. I just don’t do that, but you can be so insufferable sometimes!” She shakes her hands and sighs. “She has learned to live with it which is all you can ask, but you never get over that. First of all, you hardly ever get over your first love. Mine cheated on me incessantly and I still wanted him back. Mr. Jones was ripped from her in a cruel and untimely way along with her baby that she didn’t even get a chance to hold. I’m sure Jason knows all about this, and you took that situation and cheapened it to try to make some point about why they shouldn’t get married and you can’t even tell me why. You’re trying to use her ability to love against them. You’re lucky he didn’t hit you!” she spit.
Taylor wouldn’t hit me… I think…
“I see that this is making everyone emotional and I understand why, but Taylor wouldn’t hit me,” I declare.
“No, Taylor—head of personal security for and employee of Christian Grey—he wouldn’t hit you. Jason—fiancé of Gail Jones who had to sit and listen to you insult the woman that he loves and their relationship—he would knock you senseless!” At that moment, I realize why Davenport stayed at the table until Taylor left when, at any other time, my employees know to leave when a personal conversation ensues. I’ve managed to piss everybody off.
“Where exactly is this coming from, Christian? I know you to be a hardnose—even skeptical and cynical—but this is too far even for you. What’s going on?”
At that moment, I hear a commotion in the stairway just off the great room. From where we are sitting, I can just see the curve of the staircase and Gail and Taylor having a heated conversation. Oh no, don’t tell me I’ve caused a fight between them.
“Let me go, Jason. This is ridiculous, and I won’t have it!” She is warm. I want her to stop struggling on the stairs. If he lets her go at just the wrong time, she going to fall.
“Gail, love, please,” Taylor tries to comfort her. “You’re going to hurt yourself. Please calm down.”
“Calm down my ass!” Ooooooh, I don’t think I’ve ever heard that woman curse in my life. “He has no right, Jason. No right!” She is screaming! Butterfly sighs heavily and drops her head into her hands with a pronounced “oh fuck.”
“Christian, you have hurt this woman,” she says, her mouth partly covered. “You remember that, no matter what she says right now, do you understand me?”
I look from her to a struggling Gail trying to get out of Taylor’s grasp. When I close my eyes and nod, Butterfly turns around and faces them.
“Please let her go, Jason,” she says in a controlled voice loud enough for him to hear. They freeze on the stairs at the sound of Butterfly’s voice and Jason quickly releases Gail who storms out to the patio.
“Do I need to tender my resignation, Mr. Grey?” She’s nearly screaming.
“No, of course not,” I respond, already feeling chastised.
“How dare you tell him it could be a mistake to marry me!” Ses barks. Butterfly’s hand flies to her forehead and she groans almost painfully.
“Ugh!” she groans while shaking her head. “My God, Christian,” she says almost inaudibly.
“Butter…” She puts her hand up in my face.
“Don’t talk to me! Talk to her!” she snaps, pointing at Gail. She rises from the table and begins pacing on the other side of the patio, still within earshot. I turn to Gail who clearly has steam coming out of her ears.
“When did you become the expert on relationships? I’d really like to know!” Gail barks folding her arms and shifting her stance. “I understand that you have fallen in love with a wonderful girl, but before that your track record was shit! Where do you get off trying to dictate what’s right for us? How could you possibly think that you could say anything—anything at all—about what we choose to do!? You with your trail of brunette Betty-Boo-Bucketheads parading through our lives all these years—you now have the audacity to suggest that our getting married might be the ‘wrong decision?'” She does the finger quotes to indicate that she knows this is exactly what I said.
“Gail, I’m sorry,” I say, trying to show some contrition, but she’s unreachable.
“No, it’s Mrs. Jones, remember?” she spits. For some reason, I feel daggers in my chest when she says that. I would never hurt Gail. I really didn’t mean to do any of this.
“Okay, Mrs. Jones. I’m an idiot. I am very sorry. I had no right to say those things. It was cruel and insensitive of me and right now, I have no idea where they came from. I have the utmost respect for you and as I value you as an employee and a person, I’m positive that any man should consider himself fortunate to have you.” Although I observe that Taylor could see and was shocked by my sincerity, my tone still sounds too clinical to me.
“Mrs. Jones… Gail… I’m sorry,” I add, my voice considerably softer.
Gail just stares at me for a bit. I don’t know if she wants to hit me or run away screaming. After she looks over at Ana and back at me, she takes option two—though there was no screaming, but a lot of weeping. Taylor’s eye narrow at me before he goes off behind his fiancée. I really, really fucked up this time… really, really fucked up. Outside of Butterfly and my family, these are the two people who I trust most in the world, and I’ve managed to piss them off to the highest level. Ana walks over to me but doesn’t say anything.
“I supposed you’re pissed at me, too,” I say defeated.
“No, Christian, I’m not pissed. I’m disappointed. It’s not the first time I’ve been disappointed in you and it’s not a feeling that I like,” she says, a little sharply. I don’t even want to think about all the times that I’ve disappointed her.
“What just happened?” I ask her. She’s the psychologist, maybe she can explain this to me. “I said that I was sorry. I don’t expect it to instantly wipe the slate clean, but she ran from the room in tears. I don’t follow.”
“She has to sort all of this out. She’s feeling angry, hurt, betrayed and disappointed. I don’t think you understand the impact that you have on people when you go from one extreme to the other in a matter of moments. No one can keep up with you. Although I don’t doubt that gives you an incredible edge in business, it’s shit when it comes down to personal relationships. One moment you’re trying to convince Jason not to marry her and the next moment, you’re contrite, remorseful, and repentant. She’s full of fire and no doubt ready to quit because as your employee she crossed a line talking about your array of brunette bimbos while I was still in earshot… but as a woman, she went easy on you. No doubt when you’re penitent and regretful, she now sees the line that she has crossed. So now, she’s like a shaken soda bottle ready to explode.”
She explained that so clearly. I sigh heavily.
“Why, why, why do I keep hurting the people who mean the most to me?” I say shaking my head. She walks over to me and puts her hands in my hair. I almost swat her hand away again, but I learned my lesson from the last time I did that. She noticed the impulse and uses her other hand to gently brush the hair out of my face.
“Because you’re just learning to feel, and it’s new for you. It’s confusing and foreign and scary, and with all my education, it’s something that I couldn’t even imagine. You need to understand this and think before you speak and act. You also need to let those people who mean so much to you know that you are fighting with this or you are going to be introduced to another new emotion—complete and utter heartbreak.”
I look into her unassuming blue eyes and lean into her touch. I need the comfort right now.
“I’ve felt that pain, Butterfly, both of the times that I thought I lost you,” I say just above a whisper. She climbs into my lap.
“But you didn’t lose me, so you haven’t felt that pain. You only felt a hint of it. The second time, you held hope that you would get me back or you never would have found me. What if there was no hope? What if I and your unborn child had died in a car accident?”
My chest clenches with an almost unbearable pain when she says that. Butterfly and my unborn baby… I could imagine us buying a house somewhere. She would have picked it out and had it decorated. We would have already been decorating the nursery for our new son or daughter… then one rainy or snowy night, I have it all snatched away from me. My happiness right there in my grasp—Mrs. Anastasia Grey and a bundle of love that we created—and then it’s gone in an instant.
“No!” I squeak, and I don’t recognize my own voice. I pull her tightly to me and bury my face in her chest. I can’t lose her, not now… not ever. She can’t die. I rub my hand over her stomach as if it already carries life inside… our child. Losing her and our child. It feels like every part of me hurt at the thought.
“Christian!” I hear the shock and concern in her voice as she looks down at me. “Ssshhhhh.” She is running her fingers through my hair, and I start to calm. It isn’t until now that I realize that I had been crying—sobbing is more like it—and I didn’t even know that I was doing it. I just wrap my arms around her until the shaking stops. Just the thought of something happening to Butterfly… to our unborn child when that day comes—it feels like a vise squeezing my whole body and I can’t breathe.
“H-hard limit. Hard limit, Ana,” I squeak, my face still buried in her chest.
“Okay. We’ll talk about it later,” she says.
“No! No! Hard limit!” I’m not where I can talk about Butterfly dying at all. I don’t know if I ever will be, but I’m not there now.
“Okay, okay. I understand,” she says cradling my head in her arms. I take deep breaths trying to calm myself, relaxing in the comfort that she’s here now… not dead, here in my arms, warm and safe.
I open my eyes and the morning sun is blazing. I try to stretch, but Butterfly in curled into my lap sleeping peacefully. I look at the table and the breakfast dishes have been cleared and replaced with a sweating pitcher of ice water and two glasses. How long have we been sleeping in this blazing sun? I look at my watch… 10:30. An hour maybe, I look at Butterfly’s exposed skin. She has definitely caught some sun, but she hasn’t burned yet.
“Butterfly?” I gently rouse her. “Butterfly?”
“Hmmm?” she says sleepily.
“Wake up, baby.” I say rubbing her arms. She groans in protest and then makes to stretch her legs.
“Whoa! Where are we?” she says sleepily as she realizes we’re not in bed.
“We’re on the patio. We fell asleep.” She looks around and realizes that we did, in fact, fall asleep in one of the chairs on the patio. She stands up and stretches, then immediately checks her skin. “You haven’t burned, baby, but I think you may need a little moisturizer,” I say, stretching my back.
“I think you’re right,” she says, getting in one last stretch while I pour us each a glass of water. She drinks it down quickly then says, “I’m going to go and see where everyone is. This is going to be a difficult week if we all hide out from each other.”
I nod, and Butterfly disappears into the villa. I scratch my scalp and go inside. I’ve been in the open sun long enough. The villa is graveyard quiet. I walk straight to the elevator and push the button. Exiting at the master suite, I almost feel a sense of freedom. No one will come up here except for Butterfly. I go into the sitting room and pick up my Blackberry charging on a side table. I haven’t been in touch with anyone since late Friday evening and there are a zillion emails on this thing. I forward many of them to Ros as they are things that need attention for GEH. Butterfly makes her way into the suite. Her face looks a little solemn.
“What is it?” I say as she drops on the bed.
“Gail and Jason are gone for the day,” she says.
“Gone for the day?” I ask. What the hell does that mean? Technically, they’re both still on duty.
As if she were reading my thoughts, she said, “Chuck’s message to me was—and I quote—’I am taking the day off and spending it with my fiancée. She wants to go shopping and try to forget what has happened this day. This should be one of the happiest times of her life and it’s been ruined because of a selfish bastard who is only just finding out what love is. You are on Grey today and if he wants to fire me, he can. Just let me know.'”
I sigh heavily and have to keep myself from launching my blackberry across the room. I look over at Butterfly who’s lying on the bed staring at the ceiling, her hands behind her head.
Is she mad at me, too? She said that she wasn’t, but I can’t tell. I need to touch her, not fuck her, just touch her. I go to the en suite and find her lemongrass body lotion. She looks at me questioning when I crawl on the bed and lay her arm across my lap.
“How do I fix this?” I ask as I apply lotion to her arm and hand.
“You have to grovel,” she says, closing her eyes and enjoying the massage as I move across her chest to her other arm.
“Um, Ms. Steele. I think you know that Mr. Grey does not grovel.” She opens her eyes and looks at me.
“You have insulted—deeply insulted—two of your most trusted employees. Jason did not ask you if he could have the day off. He did not send a message and wait for a response. He left. And Gail, who is also your employee, didn’t even leave you a message. Those two could find a flight back to Seattle, go to Escala, pack their shit and leave you cold and not blink an eye. They don’t give a fuck about you right now, Christian.”
There’s something she’s not telling me. It’s all in her language and demeanor.
“There’s something else… what is it?” She looks at me for a moment and doesn’t answer. “Anastasia, what is it?” I ask, a little demanding, a little desperate. She sighs and sits up.
“Jason found out the hard way just how far in advance you have to book a suite here. They were going to just leave, but Jason is determined to go through with the island wedding that he promised Gail when they got engaged. This meant that he needed to find out what was the fastest time that they could get married. His next plan was to apply for the license tomorrow and get married tomorrow. He would pay for two witnesses if I and Chuck were not available, but after very little research, he discovered that the license takes two days to process. So, they can’t get married before Wednesday.
“Gail agreed to wait that long but only if she didn’t have to stay here. So, Jason went about trying to find them a hotel. As you know, it was impossible. He even went so far as to try to find someplace on St. Maarten. So, they have begrudgingly agreed to stay here until Wednesday so that they can get married. However, because they would rather spend their wedding night on a plane than to spend it here with you, Jason is making arrangements tomorrow for them to fly out of here after they say ‘I do’ on Wednesday. They know that the flight will most likely cost them two weeks salary each, and they don’t care. So, Mr. Grey, although you may not be accustomed to groveling, if you want any hope of keeping these people in your life, you fucking well better learn.” I move behind her and put lotion on her shoulders and back.
“So how does one do this groveling?” I ask. She turns to look at me while I am finishing her shoulders and back.
“You want me to teach you how to grovel?” she asks incredulously.
“Well, yes. Can you do it?” I ask. She laughs at me.
“Well, hell, you have to feel it. You have to be sincere.”
“Well then I’m screwed!” I exclaim. “I’m just learning about all of this feeling shit and unless it’s you, I usually get it wrong!” She throws her hands up.
“Wait here.” She leaves for a moment and comes back with her iPod. She puts the earbuds in my ears and starts searching for something on YouTube. After a few moments, I hear James Brown lamenting in my ears.
“What the hell is this?” I ask her.
“That’s groveling,” she says.
“You want me to sing to them?” I ask incredulously.
“No, I want you to listen to that song. That’s groveling at its very best!” she replies.
All I see in my mind’s eye is James Brown falling down onstage, his backup crew coming to pick him up and throwing a cape over his shoulders. I fail to see how this is supposed to help me.
“The woman that he loves is about to leave him. He can’t do anything but cry and beg her not to go. You can hardly hear him singing over the cheering of the crowd because they get it… they feel what he’s singing. They know the words to the song, but…”
She hands me her iPod and sure enough, there’s a young James Brown—his face is contorted, and he looks like he’s crying. His head is thrown back and he drops to his knees in mournful lament.
“They feel what he is portraying. He doesn’t even sing the entire song in this performance—it’s just six minutes of ‘please,’ and the crowd is going wild.”
I get a better idea of what she means by watching the YouTube video, but I still don’t think I can do this.
“I’m not that good of a performer, Butterfly,” I respond.
“Well, that’s good because you can’t perform this, you have to mean it.” I sigh in frustration. “Christian, you’re going to lose these people and they’re not going to look back. You’ve really crossed the line this time, like never before, and it’s going to take a huge gesture that not even your billions can buy to sway them back to your side.”
I still must have a look of utter confusion on my face because she got down on her knees in front of me.
“Do you remember how you felt when I talked about losing me and your unborn baby?” she asks. What the hell?
“I told you that this was a hard limit! Why would you bring this up again?” I snap.
“Christian, you just need to listen and let me finish my thought…” she begins.
“No! They are not the same thing! I accept that I crossed the line with Taylor and Gail, but they are not the same thing. How could you do that, Anastasia? How could you use something that I clearly told you was a hard limit just to try to make a point?” One of the basic rules of my lifestyle and she’s breaking it.
“Because there’s a difference between a hard limit and something that is just difficult and painful, and I don’t think this is a hard limit for you! I think you’re just using that term so that you don’t have to face it. If I really felt like this was a hard limit for you, you would never hear about it from me again!” she says strongly before taking a deep breath and letting it out.
“You don’t want to talk about it… fine. We won’t talk about it. I’m not going to fight with you, Christian, because this is not my fight. You asked for help, I tried to help you. You can’t grasp it and I understand that. You’re stumbling over new feelings and you don’t know what to do with them, but you’re about to lose two of your closest friends—whether you admit it or not—and apparently, there’s nothing that you can do about it.”
She turns around and walks out of the room. Great! Now she must be mad at me, too.
There’s nothing in the room to throw and I don’t want to damage someone’s villa, so I think the best thing for me to do right now is exercise. I would normally go for a run with Taylor… but he’s mad at me, too. So, I just go to the gym on the third floor. I set the treadmill for a punishing pace and almost began to feel the burn immediately from all of those days that I fobbed off working out. This is what I need… to run and try to figure this shit out. I’m pounding on the treadmill for quite some time before any answers come to me.
They’ve been with me for so many years. I’ve always feared that their relationship would go sour and they wouldn’t want to be around one another anymore, meaning that someone would have to resign. I’ve always feared losing one of them. Now I might lose them both.
Listen to yourself, Grey. Listen to what you’re saying. You don’t lose. People may leave but you don’t lose.
And that’s the thinking that got me here in the first place… but why does she keep trying to get me to think about losing her? I understand how she’s relating it to Gail’s situation, but I don’t see how it relates to their situation as a couple and my concerns about the marriage failing. I just can’t connect the two. I’m pounding the treadmill more when a question comes out of nowhere, though it’s been swimming in my head all day…
What’s your problem, Grey?
I’m an emotionally cut-off man who has recently had a bombshell of a woman introduced into my life who has completely turned it upside down and I don’t know what to do with myself.
What’s your problem, Grey?
I’ve opened myself up to all these different people and all these different feelings that I don’t know how to handle or express.
What’s your problem, Grey?
I’m still fighting with the intimacy of having people around me, this close to me, in my personal space mentally and physically when that space previously was only occupied by very few… if anybody. Nobody knows how I function. Nobody knows how I work. Nobody knows what makes me tick except for those people who are closest to me. Taylor and I are like a well-oiled machine. Gail knows all of my preferences and how I operate from day-to-day. Losing that would be devastating. It takes years to train someone to that level of perfection.
Losing that would be devastating…
Losing that would be devastating…
“Fuck!” I say, as I turn off the treadmill and sit on the bench press bench. I don’t so much hate when she’s right... I just hate when I’m wrong. And still…
What’s your problem, Grey?
Well, it’s obvious that I don’t want to lose them, so I’m going to do what I can to keep from losing them… but losing them was always a risk if they broke up. I knew this, and I never said anything. So…
What’s your problem now, Grey?
Now, they want to get married. If they get married, they’re clearly not breaking up, and neither of them mentioned anything about leaving after they were married… until I put my foot in my mouth. So, in the big scheme of things, as long as I let them keep their apartment, their getting married would actually work out better for me in terms of them staying on. I mean, no fear of them breaking up and going their separate ways if after all of these years they now want to make it official. This is not rocket science… why didn’t this come to me sooner?
I saw the way that they looked at each other yesterday. I saw the way that they were looking at each other today. I watched him when she talked about her feelings for him… he’s completely smitten. I listened to Butterfly tell Gail about the way he looks at her. I’ve seen this, too… well before now. I knew that there was no issue with their feelings for each other or concerns about the longevity of their relationship or a potential marriage so…
What the hell is your problem with them getting married, Grey?
“Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” More and more, I realize how much of an asshole I really am. I go to the master suite to sit in the jacuzzi for a few minutes since I’ve given my muscles the workout from hell. I don’t know how I allowed so much time to pass between workouts or why I was trying to kill myself on that damn treadmill. I take some ibuprofen and sit in the jacuzzi for a little longer than I should, still pondering the fucked-upedness of this whole situation.
It’s about 3:00 when I emerge from the jacuzzi, my tightened muscles feeling much better than when I left the workout room. I put on some shorts and go in search of Butterfly. I find her doing laps in the pool. I watch her for a moment from a perfect vantage point of the second-floor balcony. Her body moves so fluently across the pool and she looks just luscious in a two-piece blue halter bathing suit with boy shorts. It looks like one of those bikinis that the pin-up girls in the 40’s used to wear. I’m so glad that I brought her to Anguilla if for no other reason but to see her in these divine bathing suits. When she finishes her laps and decides to rest on the side of the pool, I leave the balcony and join her at the pool’s edge.
Her feet are still in the pool as she wrings the water out of her hair. I sit next to her and put my feet in the pool.
“I’m sorry,” I say contritely.
“You don’t owe me an apology, Christian,” she says softly.
“Yes, I do. I accused you of something that you didn’t do. Respecting hard limits is detrimentally important to me, and even though I don’t fully take part in the lifestyle anymore, it’s still something that I take very seriously. Disregarding a hard limit in a D/s relationship is cause for termination of a contract, so imagine the impact that it could have on us. For me to insinuate that’s what you were doing to avoid talking about a difficult topic—very difficult, mind you, but just a difficult topic—was very insensitive of me and I’m sorry. It seems like I’m doing a lot of that today.” Butterfly looks at me in awe.
“Apology accepted,” she says, still awestruck. “Boy, that must have been some run.”
“You saw me?” I didn’t even know she knew I was on the treadmill.
“Yeah. I came looking for you after I hadn’t heard from you for a while. The fact that you didn’t know that I was there confirms that you were really gone, and I was right not to disturb you,” she says, drying the excess water from her hair.
“So, you decided to do some laps?” She’s a very good swimmer. I didn’t know.
“Well, I have to keep my girlish figure and I haven’t been to the gym since before… well, you know.” She drops her head. “I didn’t want to disturb your run, so I thought I would take advantage of this lovely pool.” She’s toying with something on a heavy silver link chain around her neck. It takes a moment for me to notice that it’s a ring… my ring!
“Why is your ring on that chain?” I ask, controlling my voice and trying not to sound panicked.
“So that I wouldn’t lose it in the pool. If it’s not in my sight, I get nervous and if I lose it in the water, call an ambulance!” she says, instantly lightening up my mood. Keep calm, Grey. I put my arm around her waist and kiss her neck.
“Can you tell me when the day will come when I’ll stop being an asshole?” I say, laying my head on her shoulder.
“Probably never, but what’s this about?” she asks. I sigh.
“I wanted it to be us. I want us to move at the right pace… everything on our time, when it’s right for us. I want to make sure everything is perfect, that when we are ready to take that step we know everything that there is to know about each other—or at least the really important stuff—that everything is right for us… the timing, where we are in our lives, everything. I don’t want to rush anything. I want us to enjoy our courtship and then our engagement and then our wedding and then our marriage… but when I looked at them and the love in their eyes and how they looked at each other, I saw us. I wanted it to be us and I resented the fact that it wasn’t.”
“But you know that I love you, Christian,” she protests. “When the time is right, it will be us.”
“I know you do, Butterfly, and please don’t take this as a reflection on our relationship. This is just me being a jealous asshole—wanting all of the happiness in the world for myself.” I run my hands through my hair again. “I’m still new at this, you know. My mind can’t comprehend that there’s enough happiness in the world for everyone. I’ve seen so much heartache and pain that I keep thinking that there’s a limited supply of peace and joy and I don’t want everybody to take it before I get mine.”
“You do realize how ridiculous that is, right?” she says, kind of laughing at me.
“It’s not that ridiculous,” I defend.
“Oh yes, Mr. Grey, it is,” she corrects me. “Luckily, your girlfriend is a therapist and I understand why you feel that way, but the whole world doesn’t think like I do. Except when I was dealing with those idiots in group therapy who didn’t know what the hell they wanted, I’m a damn good therapist and I know it. I’m a good therapist because I have an uncanny ability to put myself in other people’s shoes. You’re just being introduced to empathy… I’m swimming in it.”
She’s right. Before now, empathy was something to which I could barely relate if at all. I couldn’t have given less than a damn about how the next man felt, as long as I got mine.
“People can’t read your mind, Christian. They can only go by your actions and what you tell them. You don’t have a full staff in your home. This is not GEH. If that were the case, then it would be understandable for you to have such a formal relationship with those people who share your home. However, these people know you more intimately than even your parents. They know all of your idiosyncrasies, how you function from day-to-day. Hell, Christian, they even know how you fuck! You can keep that ‘staff-separation’ line with Chuck… and Ben… Williams, whatever his first name is, but just like you’ll never be able to draw that line with Al, you can’t keep that line with Gail and Jason anymore. Three people on your staff that I am certain cannot be replaced are Gail, Jason, and Welch—Welch because he’s invaluable to you and Gail and Jason because they are your friends! They’re your second skin. You need to admit that, and you need to understand that when people are valuable to you, you can’t just assume that they already know it.” This is beginning to be a bit more than I can chew. “What made you realize what the problem really was?”
“I finally understood what you were trying to tell me when you told me to imagine losing you and my baby,” I respond. “Of course, the feeling would be nowhere near the same as losing you—I don’t know if I could go on living—but I would be pretty handicapped without Gail and Jason.” She leans back and looks at me strangely.
“What did you just say?” she asks. What did I say now?
“I said I’d be pretty handicapped without Gail and Jason.” Which I would… did I say something wrong? She just smiles at me.
“Yes, you would. Now I think you should tell them that… and make sure that they believe you.” she replies.
“Do you believe me?” I asked hopeful.
“Well, yes, but I’m a sure thing,” she says with a coy smile.
“Oh, are you?” I say seductively.
“Yes, I am,” she responds before I close my lips over hers.
A/N: So, do you think Christian is capable of groveling to win his newest “friends” back to his side? I read someone’s fanfic… I can’t remember which right now… but they said that there’s a definite line between employer and employee and it should not be crossed. Do you feel this way about CG, Gail and Jason? If that is the case, should he even bother begging them to stay?
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