Okay, so you guys are not crazy. The wedding planner’s name was Carrie Hamilton. However, at the last minute, I decided that I liked “Cassie” better and did a mass change in the document. The problem was that it only changed one “Carrie” to “Cassie.” So, for the entire conversation, we are calling her “Carrie” and at the very last line, its “Cassie.” That has been fixed now. Her name is CASSIE HAMILTON. If anyone sees a “Carrie” that I missed, will you please let me know? Thanks!
I do not own Fifty Shades Trilogy or the characters. They belong to E. L. James. I am only exercising my right to exploit, abuse, and mangle the characters to MY discretion in MY story in MY interpretation as a fan. I hope you—as a fellow fan—enjoy it, too.
Chapter 26—Rocky Waters
Christian asked me to meet him at Grey House for lunch on Tuesday and we talked with Vee about the best way to proceed with the “Faces of Abuse” campaign. She agreed with me that Christian has to be the anchor of the PSA. My ideal placement would be somewhere in the middle or near the end as the beginning has to be something that catches your eye and makes you want to watch it some more and me being somewhere in the middle or near the end would make people say, “Wait a minute… who was that? Was that who I thought it was?” That will make people want to continue to watch because they will want to see if there is someone in it that they recognize—hence, the everyday people mixed in with some well-known faces.
As they continue to pay attention to the people who proclaim that they’ve been abused, they’ll see some familiar faces but may also see themselves in the various ages, social statuses, and conditions of men, women, and children in the commercial. This will cause them to relate with what they’re seeing on a personal level. Is this you? Do you know someone like this? Suddenly, Christian Grey shows up as the ultimate face of abuse and you realize that from the smallest, seemingly insignificant child to the richest bachelor possibly in the Pacific Northwest, abuse reaches and affects everyone. That will certainly cause this commercial to stick in the head of the viewer. If they haven’t already written down the number to Helping Hands by the end of the segment, they’re either rewinding the DVR to see it again or they’re looking for it the next time it airs.
It’s brilliant in its complexity as well as its simplicity, and Christian couldn’t argue with that.
Vee also agrees that word of mouth and face-to-face meetings would be best. A public “casting call,” so to speak, would leave way too much room for speculation—especially in light of the fact that She-Thing’s case is about to explode in epic proportions. Christian has told me that she has basically fallen off the radar. He’s feeling a bit comfortable in her absence. I know that it’s because he has been under her thumb for so long that not having her in such close proximity is lulling him into a false sense of security. I, on the other hand, am on high alert. I don’t trust that woman for shit, and if she’s not in jail or in plain view, that bitch is planning something. Christian is certain that his top-notch security will be able to stop her if she tries anything, but I’ve looked into her eyes. I’ve seen the desperation, delusion, and obsession. This is the same woman who threatened me moments after I held a knife to her throat and then followed me around a BDSM club and insulted me a couple of days later. She’s not hiding or running away, and she has not admitted defeat. She’s plotting and lying in wait.
Christian begins to formulate his strategy for contacting the people that he thinks will be effective for the PSA—particularly Judge Yu and a few other people that he thinks may be suitable for the segment. I finish my lunch with Christian and head over to Helping Hands with instructions and information for Grace, including a stack of NDAs for anyone who may be interested in being a part of the PSA. I have about an hour to get to Helping Hands, loosely inform Grace of the plan of action and then get back to my office. When I arrive, I come around the corner and step into the office that Grace shares with about four other people. They rotate using the two desks in the room. I freeze when I see who’s standing in the office with her.
I don’t even remember the last time we were in the same room. Tuesday is definitely not my day to be here, so he’s most likely as shocked to see me as I am dismayed to see him. It’s amazing that we talked about him only this weekend and after not seeing him for several months, here he is. I must remember not to speak of him again if this is the result.
“I can come back later,” I say, making a hasty retreat from the office. That space is just not big enough for the both of us, not that any space would be big enough for the both of us as far as I’m concerned. Will I really be able to tolerate this man being present at my wedding?
“No. Anastasia, wait.” His voice is like nails on a chalkboard. “You don’t have to leave. I’ll go.” I try not to cringe as he walks by me, but I certainly have no love lost for him. He stops just as he gets to the door, not two feet away from me. What the hell is he playing at?
“I hear congratulations are in order,” he says to me. I try not to glare at him.
“Yes,” I reply coolly. No thanks to you, you pompous, stuck-up, bad faith asshole. He stands there expecting like I was supposed to say something more to him. His shoulders fall visibly. What is this?
“Give my regards to Christian,” he adds.
“Give them yourself,” I respond before I even know that I said it. I don’t regret it, though. I just didn’t mean to say it aloud.
“I’m trying to offer an olive branch, Anastasia,” he says. What? Are you drunk? An olive branch would mean that I would want to have some sort of interaction with you. Take your olive branch and shove it up your ass.
I don’t even bother to respond.
He finally walks through the door without a word.
“Ana,” Grace greets, though a little trepidatious.
“Grace,” I say shaking off the vision of Flynn and turning my attention to my soon-to-be mother-in-law.
“A little harsh, maybe?” she says, still exercising caution. I glare at her a bit.
“I don’t think so,” I say. “If Christian had been a weaker man with what John told him that day, we may not be planning a wedding right now.”
“Ah, the famous ‘what if’s.’ My life is full of them,” she laments before taking a seat at her desk. I can’t help but wonder exactly what’s behind that statement. Her life doesn’t seem sad and full of regrets. Neither does Flynn’s for that matter, not that I know him that well. Anyway, why should Flynn care what I think? That would certainly be a first.
“Why is my acceptance and forgiveness of any importance anyway? It wasn’t that important when he tried to sabotage my relationship. He’s been cynical and accusing since the day that I met him,” I say.
“It’s not, that I know of. I was just making an observation.” I just shake my head. “Ana, darling, has anyone ever told you that you can really hold a grudge?” I shake my head.
“This is not a grudge,” I point out. “This is way beyond a grudge. I don’t wish him any ill will, but I truly wouldn’t care if he disappeared off the face of the earth. He’s the only person in the world that I feel that way about. So, no, I wouldn’t call this a grudge at all.”
“I’m only pointing out that he appears to be trying,” she says, unassuming.
“Well, no offense, but there’s nothing that John Flynn has to say that I want to hear. I came to him for help and he threw me under the bus—viciously! What’s more, he was wrong! Completely, totally, and utterly wrong. So, no, I don’t want his damn olive branch. I want him to stay out of my face. What I feel against my mother, that’s a grudge. I feel like she owed me something as a child and she robbed me of it. I’m angry and I hate what she did, but John Flynn? He is absolutely nothing. He has been erased from anything significant—good or bad—in my memory, and when I see him, all I want to do it go the other way. Anyway, I didn’t come here to discuss John Flynn. I came because I have some more information to review with you about the PSA. I was hoping that I could snag a little of your time before I have to go back to the office. Next time, I’ll call first.”
I walk into my office on Wednesday morning not feeling my best. Flynn apparently contacted Christian and told him about our encounter yesterday. Although Christian had mentioned that he would be getting in touch with him some time back to see how he was doing, I didn’t know that they were actually speaking—even when he hinted at inviting Flynn to the wedding. I don’t care that they are “friends.” I just have no place for him in my life. Christian wasn’t upset or angry with me about my reaction to Flynn, but things were very tense last night. Even though we didn’t argue or fight about it, explaining my stance to him completely soured my mood. Couple that with the fact that the gossip rag Hello Magazine printed a completely false and fabricated story about the reason behind mine and Carla’s feud, making me out to be the gold-digger/small-town girl who hit it big and left her poor mother behind. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well and today, I feel like a bit of a bear.
I walk into my office to yet another bouquet—this one of multi-colored rhododendrons. I guess this is Christian’s olive branch. My man is so sweet. I lean down and smell the flowers.
“Hey, Marilyn,” I say, dreamily looking at the flowers.
“Hey, Boss,” she says, one eyebrow raised. I look over at her.
“What?” I ask.
“So that I didn’t get caught off guard like I did the last time, I read the card. Not that I’m trying to get in your business, but I saw that the last unknown bouquet of flowers that landed in this office resulted in a lost day of work and you having to be cut out of an Anderson & Sheppard tie.” Only one word in that whole statement stuck out with me.
“Unknown?” I repeat. She hands me the card.
Hoping these flowers are finding you well and brighten your day. They are quite beautiful, but not as beautiful as you.
“Fuck!” I head towards my office.
“What should I say if Christian wanders in?” Marilyn calls behind me.
“Tell him who they’re from and that his ass better not leave… those words exactly!” I yell back before closing my office door. Did I lead him on at Daddy’s wedding? No! I didn’t. I gave him no indication whatsoever that I wanted him. True, I was a bit loopy and I danced with him, but I danced with everybody that night—and they were all my friends. He knows that I’m with Christian, and he has to know about the engagement by now… or does he? It’s only been a couple of days and Daddy is not in Montesano anymore. I unlock my iPhone and dial the number.
“Hey Annie-Babe, what’s up?”
“Nothing much, Daddy. Are you busy?”
“Never too busy for you. Are you okay?”
“Oh, yes. I’m fine. I have something I need to talk about with you, though.” After a long pause, “What do you hear from Brian these days?”
“Oh, same thing as always. Nothing different much. We don’t talk as much since I moved to Kent with Mandy, but we still talk. He’s doing okay.” I sigh heavily.
“I need his number,” I say. Dad is quiet for a moment.
“Why, Annie? Doesn’t Christian have staff that can do for you what Brian does?” he asks cautiously.
“This is personal, Dad. I need to talk to him.” Now Daddy sighs.
“That might not be a good idea. You have to know that he holds a major torch for you,” Dad says. What!? How the…?
“You knew?” I ask, shocked.
“I always suspected, but the way that he looked at you at the wedding drove it home. I didn’t say anything because I knew that you were with Christian and it wouldn’t go anywhere, but…” he trails off. But, what? Does he think I’m trying to hook up with Brian? Is he insane?
“I need to talk to him, Dad. He made his feelings quite clear to me on New Year’s Eve, but I don’t think I made my feelings clear to him. Hell, he even made his intentions clear to Christian, and now he’s sending me flowers. I need to nip this in the bud.”
“I’ll talk to him, Annie. I’ll make sure that he doesn’t bother you again,” Dad offers.
“It can’t be you, it has to be me. He didn’t hear it from Christian and he won’t hear it from you. He has to hear it from me. Besides, I don’t want anything to affect your friendship with him. I just don’t want him to pursue me anymore.”
“Well, as long as he’s not trying to ruin my daughter’s happiness, nothing will affect our friendship.”
“And I’ll make sure of that. Now, may I please have his number?”
A few minutes later…
“Anastasia, what a lovely surprise. To what do I owe this honor?” Yeah, right.
“I think you know, Brian,” I say impassively.
“I assume you got my flowers. I know rhododendrons are your favorite,” he says, his voice as smooth as velvet.
“I did. That’s why I’m calling. I don’t know if Daddy told you, but Christian and I are getting married.” The line falls silent.
“Well… this is certainly a surprise. Have you set a date yet?” I can tell that he’s trying to hide his disappointment.
“We’re not revealing that information right now, but soon. We both feel that we have waited long enough and we want to move on with our lives.” He grunts at that statement.
“Long enough,” he says like he’s testing the phrase. “It’s not even a year yet, Ana. Are you being rushed?” No, Brian, I won’t let you do that—sorry.
“Honestly, that’s nothing for you to concern yourself with, Brian. I’m fine.” He sighs.
“But I am concerned, Ana. That man has a very dominant personality, and I don’t want you to feel forced into doing something that you don’t want to do.”
Shit! He knows.
“Let me assure you that I am very well acquainted with his dominant personality, Brian. So again, your concern is unwarranted and unnecessary.” He’s quiet again.
“Well, if this is what you want, then I’m happy for you,” he says insincerely.
“No, you’re not, but that’s okay. I understand, and I don’t hold it against you. I’m just calling you to let you know that I’m very much in love with Christian and I don’t want you to pursue me anymore.”
“Is he making you do this? Is he there?” he asks. Oh, good grief! Some people just can’t take “no” for an answer.
“Brian, you and I have a lot of history. I’m very fond of you as a person, but I don’t feel anything more for you. I don’t want to hurt you, but I need you to respect my relationship or we can’t even be friends anymore.” I’m having flashbacks of trying to let Edward David down easy.
“And you haven’t answered my question,” he says. I sigh.
“No, he’s not here. He’s at his glass fortress ruling the world like he does every day; and no, he’s not making me do this. He doesn’t even know that I’m speaking to you right now or about the flowers, but I plan on telling him all about it. For Christ’s sake, Brian, do I strike you as the type of woman who needs to take orders from someone? Do you think that I can’t think or speak for myself?” I’m getting angry.
“No offense, Ana, but you did say that you were well acquainted with his dominant personality.” I gasp. He has taken to veiled insults now? Is it so hard to believe that I’m in love with someone and don’t want his ass? I’m seeing Edward David again. What is it about rejection that makes people’s brains seep out of their ears?
“I’m hanging up now, Brian. Have a nice life…”
“Wait, Ana. I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying to offend you, really I wasn’t. I just want to make sure that this is really what you want,” he says, contrite.
“This is 100%, genuinely, without a doubt, definitely and whole-heartedly what I want. He’s everything that I’ve ever wanted in every way and I don’t expect you to like it, but you have to accept it. It’s that simple. This is the man that I love and nothing you can do or say will change that or make it not be so. I’m sorry. So please, stop undermining my relationship and my man. It’s not going to work, and it’ll only ensure that I don’t want to speak to you.” This is your final warning, Cholometes.
“Okay,” he sighs, “I get it. You will forgive me if I don’t come to the wedding.”
“I understand,” I say sympathetically.
“I, um…” Is he getting choked up? “You’ll always be in my heart, Ana. If you ever need me… ever…”
“I’ll remember, but honestly… he’s everything I need,” I say softly. Let it go, Brian. I don’t want to hurt you anymore.
“Take care, Ana,” he says.
“You too, Brian,” and the line goes dead. That was a tad bittersweet. I didn’t want to hurt Brian, but he had to know that I’m with Christian for keeps and that there’s no hope for him to come between us.
“He did what?” I’m fuming when I get this piece of news from Jason. Apparently, Mr. Colostomy has had a large bouquet of rhodies delivered to Butterfly’s office. This fucking jerk just will not learn. Butterfly hasn’t gotten there yet, and I want to see how she’s going to handle this situation. The last time flowers were delivered to her office and they weren’t from me, we didn’t speak to each other for several days. I can’t go all caveman right now as much as I want to, especially after the tension that we experienced last night after discussing her run-in with John.
Should I call this asshole? Is that what he’s waiting for? He would only egg me on and piss me off. Unless he has been living under a rock, he has to know that Butterfly and I are engaged now. Is this his last-ditch effort at trying to take my girl before we take the plunge? My fists are clenched, and I can feel knots forming in my shoulders. This man doesn’t understand that I’ll do whatever it takes to have Butterfly by my side, and no fucking GI Joe Wanna-be is going to change that.
My thoughts are broken by my blackberry buzzing. I don’t recognize the number.
“Grey!” I answer, a little more harshly than I intended.
“Mr. Grey, this is Judge Yu. I hope I’m not disturbing you.”
“No, absolutely not, Your Honor. Thank you for returning my call,” I respond contritely. “I’m hoping your response means that you are considering my proposal.”
“Certainly. I can’t think of a better cause that I would like to support. I’m really impressed that you’ve come up with this idea. So many people say that they care, but they don’t want to personally become involved.” Fuck. I’m presented with yet another reason I need to be the anchor for the PSA.
“Yes, I agree. As you know, my mother and fiancée work with abused families and children, not to mention that I was also abused beginning at a very young age. So, this situation hits very close to home.”
“You don’t have to convince me. I’m behind you 100%. In fact, I have even persuaded Senator Vanderbeek and Lu Saavedra to get on board,” he says. Now this pleases me immensely. The Senator was very verbal about her abuse and Saavedra is a well-known television and radio personality here in Seattle. Both of their voices will carry a lot of weight.
“Wow, Judge, you work fast,” I say with a chuckle.
“It’s easy when the cause is truly worthwhile. I know about you, Grey. You’re a discreet man and I can trust that this issue won’t become a three-ring circus. That’s why I’m throwing my backing behind you—as well as Susan and Luis.”
“It means a lot to me, Your Honor. Do you have contact details for Mrs. Vanderbeek and Mr. Saavedra?”
“I do. I’ll email them over to you and trust that this matter is being handled with the utmost discretion,” he says.
“All participants—including yourself—will be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement. The PSA or its contents as well as any personal details revealed in the making of it cannot be revealed under threat of full prosecution. I would have loved to have had a Superbowl spot for this announcement, but of course we missed that boat. Hopefully, we can have it launched by Easter,” I inform him.
“Very well. I’ll get those contacts over to you as well as my personal cell number. I would prefer that this doesn’t go through the office. My abuse is public knowledge but… Well, I think you understand.” You have no idea how much I empathize with you.
“Yes, I completely understand. Again, I thank you very much for your support and participation. I await your email and we’ll be in touch soon with the details.” We exchange pleasantries and end the call. The fact that I now have three celebrities without even really trying was enough to briefly distract me from Colostomy until my blackberry rings again.
I rid my voice of any hint of anger or frustration before I answer.
“Hey, Baby,” I say into the phone.
“Hey. Are you busy?” Her voice sounds nervous.
“Not just now. I just hung up from Judge Yu… are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m fine. What’s going on with the judge?” Distraction. Okay, I’ll bite.
“Well, he has agreed to do the PSA and he’s bringing Susan Vanderbeek and Luis Saavedra along with him.” Butterfly gasps.
“You’re kidding! Luis Saavedra? Oh my God, that’s fantastic! Do you know how popular he is with the kids?”
“Yes, I do. I think between the four of us, we have all the quote-unquote celebrities that we need. We should focus on who else would want to be in the PSA—everyday people from here on out,” I state.
“I think you’re right. We don’t want this to turn into a pretentious parade of famous people. It would totally distract from the message.” Okay, enough beating around the bush.
“Absolutely. Now, tell me what’s wrong,” I say, impassively, “and don’t try to deny it. I can hear it in your voice.” She sighs.
“That obvious, huh?” she says. I nod, even though she can’t see me.
“Yes, it’s that obvious. What’s going on?” She sighs again. Spit it out, Butterfly. I already know what it is.
“Brian sent me flowers. They were in my office when I got here,” she begins. I pump my fist in the air because I’m so happy that she told me straight off without sugar-coating it. That’s my Butterfly. “Before you go all thermonuclear and drive down to Montesano, I called him and told him to cut it out. I guess this was one of his efforts to win me over, but he wasn’t aware that we were engaged—although I don’t know how that’s possible.”
Don’t buy it, Butterfly. The fucking pygmies know that we’re engaged!
“I had to tell my father only to find out that he already knew.” Okay, now I’m lost.
“What do you mean you had to tell your father? He was part of the proposal.” There is silence on the line for a moment.
“Oh… sorry. I did jump around a bit, didn’t I? He knew about Brian’s feelings for me. I didn’t want to tell him because I didn’t want it to affect his and Brian’s friendship, but I needed him to give me Brian’s number so that I could call him and kill this shit. Dad wanted to do it, but I told him that it had to be me.”
Way to go, Ray!
“How long has your father known?” I ask.
“Since the wedding. He said that he could tell the way that Brian was looking at me. He suspected it earlier on, but the cat was out of the bag on New Year’s Eve.”
“So how did Colostomy take it?” The line goes silent, then there’s hideous laughter on the other end.
“Colostomy!? Are you serious?” She can hardly get the words out between the laughter. Damn, did I say that out loud?
“Um, yeah. I fucked up his name when I was drunk, and it just stuck. Quite fitting, don’t you think?” She’s suddenly quiet on the other line. “Butterfly?”
“He knows that you’re a dominant,” she says. What the fuck? How does he know that?
“What?” I ask, shocked.
“He knows that you’re a dominant. I don’t know how, but he knows. He tried to insinuate that I’m going into this engagement and agreeing to this marriage against my will. He even asked if you were in the room making me say those things to him.”
“That doesn’t mean that he knows I’m a dominant,” I protest.
“He knows, Christian. He used the word—strategically placed, more than once, enough for me to know what he was talking about but not to call you out verbatim,” she confirms. Fuck! What that asshole could do with that information…
“What exactly did he say?”
“‘That man has a very dominant personality, and I don’t want you to feel forced into doing something that you don’t want to do.’ Stress on the dominant. When I told him that I was well acquainted with your personality, he tried to use that against me later in the conversation when he suggested that I was being forced into something that I didn’t really want. He backed off when I threatened to end any further communication.”
“You didn’t?” I ask expecting.
“I didn’t what?” she asks.
“End any further communication.”
“Well, I didn’t tell him that I would never speak to him again, but I made it very clear that pursuing me any further and undermining our relationship would ensure just that.” Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.
“So, basically, he stopped ragging on me and our relationship because you told him that if he didn’t, you would never speak to him again.” Can’t you see what has happened here, Butterfly? She’s silent.
“Well… I wouldn’t say that. I mean, when he disparaged me about being acquainted with your dominant personality, I said ‘I’m hanging up now, have a nice life.’ Then he apologized, and I told him that his behavior makes me not want to speak to him. So, he apologized and wished me well and told me that he would be there if I needed him. I told him that I wouldn’t and that you were all I needed, and we ended the call.” Oh, I love every cell in her beautiful little body, but how can she be so wise one minute and so naïve the next?
“Butterfly, I hate to tell you this, but he’s going to be more determined now than ever,” I tell her. “He’s going to be watching every single little move that I make, waiting for me to fuck up—and he knows that I’m a dominant. You can believe that he’s going to use that against me when the opportunity presents itself,” I hiss more to myself than to her.
“Christian, he didn’t even know that we were engaged…”
“Carla Morton knew that we were engaged, Ana—less than 24 hours after the ring was on your finger! Don’t believe that! He knew!” The line is quiet again and as much as I want to know what is going through her head, the wheels are turning in mine faster than I can control them.
“My first patient is here. I have to go,” she says flatly. Now she’s pissy. I can hear it in her voice. I don’t even try to fix it.
“Okay. Call me later.” I leave the ball in her court. She mutters a quick “goodbye” and ends the call. How can she not see that this idiot is not going away? We didn’t hear anything from this guy since New Year’s Eve, except for when I did the background check. Now, a month and a half later—two days after we announce our engagement—he sends her flowers. Either this fucker is telepathic as fuck or he has a plan, and I can’t let Butterfly’s bruised feelings sway me from what I know to be correct.
“Andrea! Get Welch in here!” I bark into my intercom. How do I handle this without sending a fucking drone to shoot this fucker while he’s taking a shit?
A few minutes later, Welch enters my office, eying me speculatively. “Sir?” he says, cautiously. I must look like shit. I gesture to the seat in front of my desk and he sits.
“I normally bark an order at you and you just do it, but now I need some advice,” I tell him and his posture changes. “I’m not being paranoid. I know that I’m not. This Cholometes fucker is out to get me. He wants Ana and the simple threat of her not speaking to him made him heel. That’s how I know he won’t just tuck tail and run just because we are getting married. He’s given her the ‘if you ever need me’ speech and he all but told her that he knows about my lifestyle. He’s a fucking python waiting to strike. Every time we investigate him, he knows about it. In fact, he makes it seem like we shout it from the rooftops. I’m extremely careful with how I’ve handled my dealings with the BDSM community. All my subs have signed NDAs. All my transactions are done under a pseudonym. How could he possibly know that I’m a dominant?” Welch ponders this thought for a moment.
“Could he be a part of the lifestyle, too?” he asks. I never thought of that. He has all the quiet arrogance and outward confidence of a typical dominant, and I wouldn’t have noticed him in any of the clubs unless he made his presence known to me.
“That’s not impossible,” I say. “Is there any way that we can find out without leaving ‘breadcrumbs’ all over the place?” I use the quote marks with my fingers to illustrate my point.
“I could do some looking, but honestly, Sir, I think you could find out faster than I can. At your request, I do several checks on you per year to see if anything slips into mainstream that could expose your lifestyle. So far, nothing has. That’s something that has to be spilled or leaked from the inside. That has to be how Cholometes knows.” I shake my head.
“I don’t see how, but I’ll see what I can see.” I run my hands through my hair. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do here. This guy is a definite threat to my happiness and he may very well be a part of my circle? This is surreal. Welch usually knows his cue to leave but this time he stays in his seat. “Something else on your mind?” I ask him.
“If I can have another moment of your time, Sir…” This is odd. He never asks me for a moment of my time. He just comes in, says what he needs to say, then leaves. I nod, and he loosens his tie. He even appears to be sweating a bit.
“My parents died when I was seven years old…”
Hold the fuck up, this is a personal conversation?
“I went to live with my biological aunt and her husband. They had three kids… sons, all older than I was. Teenagers…”
I want to interrupt him, but something is telling me that I should listen.
“They were entitled little bastards and my mother and father had lived a very modest life. They treated me like pure shit, and when I say shit, I mean the shit that comes out of a horse’s ass and is stomped under his feet then scraped off when they change his shoes.”
Fuck, I guess he was treated pretty badly.
“The mental cruelty and emotional abuse started almost immediately,” and now we get to the thrust of it. He never raises his head or looks in my eyes while he tells his tale. “When I was nine, just before the oldest boy when to college, the physical abuse started. The fights and the beatings, the cruel practical jokes. I tried to tell my aunt and uncle, but it was three against one, and I was always the odd man out. I endured horrible abuse and there was nothing that I could do. I told the school counselor once, but my aunt and uncle were pillars of the community, so that didn’t do any good. About a year later, the sexual abuse started.”
“I was anally and orally raped several times by all of them… even the oldest one when he came home from school. We were caught once, and the fucker told my aunt that I initiated it and he didn’t know what to do. My uncle beat me until I couldn’t walk. A little while later, I was sent away to military school and the lie followed me. It was like something right out of that Brontë novel. I couldn’t get away even when I got away.
“I went right into the service after I graduated and developed a very special set of skills. I played a valuable role to my government both in and out of the service and I went right into private security and special investigations when my stint with government security was completed. I’ve never had a girlfriend, never been married, no kids, no one to mourn me when I die—and I don’t mind it one bit. I don’t have any personal connections and I really don’t want any. I was not born Alexander Welch. I was born Victor Handelson. Once I started working for the CIA, I made sure that Victor Handelson disappeared. Believe me when I tell you that the old saying ‘I could tell you, but I would have to kill you’ applies to this information.”
“Then why did you tell me?” I ask. I don’t need that kind of shit taking up mental real estate and I certainly don’t want it to lead to my fucking demise.
“I don’t want to be in the commercial, sir. I don’t want it publicized that way. I don’t even want them to know where I am now. I just wanted to tell you that if you’re still battling with whether you should participate in this segment or not, I really think that you should do it. I know that I’m just an employee and that my word really doesn’t mean anything, but I know the feeling of being a young boy and being the victim of circumstance with no way out. I went from a loving home with a good mom and dad and a happy life straight into hell. I had to stay there for several years and was then sent to military school where I was branded a child rapist when I was the one who was actually raped. I wish I had someone to talk to back then, somewhere to go, someone who cared. I’ve never been able to forge relationships, never been able to trust anyone—my love is my work and I’ll do that until I can’t do it anymore.”
I remember when I sent him the email on New Year’s Day and I was shocked that he was working that late in the evening.
“I’m truly sorry for your experience, sir. I had no idea that this had happened to you. Make no mistake, I didn’t have my head in the ground and I always knew that you were into some pretty kinky shit, but I don’t care what logic you attempt to apply to this situation, no kid should ever have to go through this.” I walk over to my bar and open the doors.
“Scotch or bourbon?” I say to him. He shakes his head and waves his hand. “Scotch or bourbon, Alex?” He pauses for a moment, examining my face.
It’s quiet in the penthouse when I get home. Jason and I both wonder why there’s no activity in the kitchen or anywhere else. It’s a little later than usual and I had Jason notify Gail that we would be delayed. I’m sure that she notified Ana… but I didn’t tell her. We didn’t speak after the Cholometes incident, so I don’t know if she’s angry or hurt or what. Gail wanders in from her and Jason’s apartment.
“Well, hello, gentlemen,” she greets us. “Sir, your dinner is ready. I can heat it for you if you like.” I look around for Butterfly.
“Has Ana had dinner already?” I ask.
“Yes, she has, not long ago, in fact.” So, she didn’t want to wait for me.
“Yes, Gail. Please heat my dinner for me,” I say as I go to the bedroom in search of Butterfly. She’s not here. I take off my suit jacket and tie and toss them on the bed. She’s probably in her office. I’m not going to run around the apartment looking for her. This has been a hell of a day and I’m just not up to groveling right now, if at all. I splash some water on my face in the en suite and dry it with a towel before going out to the kitchen.
My dinner is on the breakfast bar—roasted chicken with our favorite cheesy potatoes and crisp steamed green beans with shaved almonds.
“Would you like some wine?” Gail asks.
“Yes, please,” I reply. Moments later, she’s serving me a glass of Chardonnay.
“Is there anything else you need?”
“No. Thank you,” I say, dismissing her. I’m looking at my blackberry as I eat my dinner. I’m a little melancholy as I remember that I spent many nights like this pre-Butterfly—sitting alone in my apartment, eating my dinner and reading my blackberry. I push the maudlin feelings away and concentrate on the emails. McIntyre has already gotten four families to agree to be in the PSA. They must undergo the standard background check to see if their claims hold merit or are they just looking for some quick exposure. We spent hours this afternoon banging out the details once I finally agreed to be the anchor for the segment. Welch’s story still has me reeling!
“I don’t know where any of them are, sir,” he told me. “I followed them for a while, but then I realized that I didn’t want revenge and I didn’t want to reconnect, so there was no need for me to follow them.”
“I could never have been so understanding,” I revealed as I sipped my bourbon. “True, I was abused and molested by that blond pincushion, but it didn’t start there. I was horribly abused as a child—brainwashed and traumatized when I could barely speak. That’s why what she did to me was so much more horrible. She knew my story and she still did this to me.” I gaze out the window. “I think it takes a different kind of sick to be able to hurt a child and not feel convicted for it—much less to enjoy it. Who does that?”
“Sadistic teenagers and narcissistic blonds,” he responded flatly before taking a gulp of his scotch.
“Among others,” I mumbled, thinking of the crack-whore’s pimp.
“Mmmm,” he said as an afterthought. “Single malt. I guess I should only expect the best.” He admires his scotch. “I think I know why Cholometes found our ‘breadcrumbs.'” Okay, now you’ve got my attention.
“And why is that?” I asked.
“We’re both using some of the same sources,” he answered. “I have a few tricks up my sleeve that he shouldn’t know about, but I’ll have to check them out to be sure.” I nodded.
“Do that. I would love to have something on this guy that he doesn’t know I have or how I got it,” I admitted.
“It still doesn’t explain how he knew that you were… dominant,” he said.
“I’m never one to go with the obvious, but I’m tending to believe what you said—that he may be dominant himself and he just spotted it in me. He may even be a sub…” I hadn’t considered that until this moment.
“I thought you said he displayed confidence,” Welch asked questioning.
“Subs don’t necessarily lack self-confidence, Welch. They just have a need to be dominated, whether it be mental or sexual. Some subs get off on the pleasure/pain aspect while others have the need to feel protected or controlled. It’s honestly way too complicated to explain in one sitting but trust me, that arrogant bastard could be a sub.” I finish off my bourbon. No more for me as it’s the middle of the work day and Welch had the same idea.
“That vault is usually as tight as a glove, sir, but I’ll see if there is anything I can find out for you,” he said. I nodded.
“Whatever you can come up with,” I said. He walked to the bar and put his glass in the sink.
“You’re the only one who knows, sir,” he said without making eye contact.
“Knows what?” I answered without pausing. He nodded and left the office. Here we are, two very powerful men—each with a different kind of power, but both with a crippling secret. I’m starting to regret not having that second bourbon…
My blackberry rings and brings me back to the present. I focus on it to see a number that I don’t recognize. Who is this calling me now?
“Christian? It’s James,” the voice says. James? James who? “Flemings?” he says in answer to my silent question. James Flemings… James Flemings… oh! James!
“Oh, I’m sorry. I’m a bit distracted right now. It’s been a rough day. How are you? Is Allen okay?” I question.
“Yes, he’s fine, but he did suggest that I call you.” Okay, this is going to be interesting.
“Well, what can I do for you, James?” He pauses for a moment.
“You know that he and I talk… not about anything confidential or anything, but he is my partner and… well, we talk.” Out with it, Flemings. You’re making me nervous.
“He mentioned this public service announcement that you’re doing about abused children.” Dammit, Allen! You can’t go around telling everybody about this! This shit could blow up in my fucking face! I guess my silence alerts James that something is wrong with this scenario. “This wasn’t just conversation or pillow talk, Christian. He had a specific reason for telling me.”
“And what was that?” I say, a little chillier than I want. I can hear James sighing.
“I was raped and beaten by my babysitter for four years, from the ages of eight to 12.” He spit the words out like he was nearly choking on them… and now I feel like shit.
“James, I’m sorry,” I say, empathetically. He’s silent for a while.
“Thank you,” he says. “I’d like to be part of your project, if you’ll allow me. I feel like it’s something that I need to do.”
“Why?” I ask, bemused.
“Because I’m the direct reason that another kid got abused.” Oh shit, do I want to hear this story? I think Welch’s tale was traumatizing enough.
“Do you want to talk about it?” I ask, reluctantly.
“There’s not much to tell,” he says. “She beat me and she raped me every chance she got. My mother had to work two jobs and she lived with us. I knew at a very early age that I didn’t like girls, Christian, and it pissed her off that she couldn’t change me. She’s why I am the ‘masculine type.’ I never wanted anyone to know that I was gay. I even dated a girl in high school, but only because she was bisexual and hiding from her family, too. So, we both needed a “beard.’”
“Hiding from her family?” I ask. He had to hide from his family?
“You know that we’re still fighting for gay rights,” he tells me. “When Allie and I were asked if we wanted to get married—at Maxie’s wedding—of course we do, but the state is only just recognizing our union. We had to fight just to be able to publicly say that we love each other. I could kill myself in this state as a cancer patient, but until just recently, as a gay man I couldn’t marry the man that I love!” I hear the anger rising in his voice. “And Arizona? A black man has a hard-enough time in Arizona, but a gay black man? Then I come from one of those old-time, back home families who believe in putting Grandma away in a room in the back of the house and sweeping dirty little secrets under the rug—including the fact that Aintie Debra was fucking Jimmy in the basement when Mom got home from work!”
He is getting angrier and angrier. Shit, he needs to talk to somebody. He is really pissed. I can hear Allen’s voice in the background. He sounds soothing and I can hear James’ breathing slow.
“Have you talked to someone about this, James? Therapy really can help and, hell, I happen to personally know Seattle’s best psychologist,” I jest, trying to lighten the mood. I know that it worked when James chuckles softly.
“I have my own. I’ve been working on it, but it’s so hard. I don’t think I’ll ever forgive her… or them. It’s just too much. Going home this Christmas, taking Allie to meet my family—it was a nightmare. Arizona is as prejudiced as ever, and my family is even worse. I’m never going back. I love them dearly, and I‘ll be there if they need me, but I’m never going back.” I almost hate to bring this up, but I have to. He opened the door and now he has to tell me.
“What did you mean that you were the direct reason that another kid got abused?” I ask. He groans audibly.
“When she was abusing me, I wanted to die. Black families didn’t talk about this kind of thing and it was hard if not impossible to get anyone to believe me. I suffered for four years—four years straight in total silence. It stopped for a minute after Mom caught her… or us as Mom put it. I was a boy, so I must have enjoyed it, right? I hated it. I absolutely hated it.” He pauses for a moment and then starts again.
“My mother had a friend—Simone—from work who would pick her up when their shift started. She had a son and he was younger than I was. Simone needed a sitter and Mom suggested Debra. I still can’t believe that she did that. After she caught this woman raping me, she suggested that whore watch another child! Sure enough, Debra took a real liking to that kid. He wasn’t beaten but he was raped, and he didn’t like it any more than I did. I remember the look that he had on his face the first time he came out of the basement. He looked like he would vomit right there on the floor. Debra’s looking all happy and sated and he’s ready to lose his lunch,” he adds with disgust.
“I never said anything. I never did anything, and I never said anything. When they went to the basement, I either turned the TV up loud or I left the house. I was so happy that she wasn’t abusing me anymore that I left him to the dogs and I never said anything. He was three years younger than I was, and I don’t know how long she abused him. I didn’t care, I just didn’t want her to touch me. When I turned 17 and I was dating my fake girlfriend, that kid was found dead in his basement. He was only 14 and he ate his gun.”
Holy fuck. That’s something unbelievable to carry with you for so many years.
“What ever happened to Debra?” I ask him. He pauses again.
“Not a damn thing. One victim is dead and the other is eternally silent—at least the ones that I know of. She’s still living with my mother, just the two of them. She’s supposedly taking care of Mom, but I notice that the neighborhood kids avoid that house like the plague. When I went home for Christmas, she tried to hug me, and I actually growled at her. She never came near me for the rest of the trip. She wouldn’t even stay in the same room with me–lucky for her! I don’t know if anything is still going on with any other kids. All I know is that I won’t see any of my aunts or uncles, paternal siblings, or anyone in Tucson right now. They have to come to me because I’ll never go down there again.”
I want to know if this Debra bitch is still molesting kids and I plan to get Welch on it as soon as possible.
“You’ll have to undergo a standard background check, James,” I tell him, not mentioning that I have already done a background check on him, back when I thought that he and Butterfly may have been dating. How ridiculous I was…
“You won’t find this stuff in a background check, Christian. Like I said, down-home black families love to sweep things under the rug.”
“It’s just procedure. I’ll take your word for it. I’ve known you long enough to know that you’re not a serial killer and I’m certain that you wouldn’t make something up like this. Thank you for coming forward and being willing to do this,” I say.
“It’s the least I can do, and I mean the very least. I’d like to get more involved in causes like this. I know that your mother is active in the Helping Hands charity. Do you think that there is anything that I can do? Volunteer work or something?” he’s nearly begging.
“I’m sure that there is, James, but I want you to run this past your therapist first. I don’t want to see you do this as some sort of penance and find that it falls short of giving you absolution in the long run.” The line falls quiet.
“You know a lot about therapy, don’t you?” he says. I pinch the bridge of my nose.
“More than any one person should know,” I tell him. “It’s a long road, and I’m a witness that it only goes on as long as you let it. It’s time to let this go.”
“I’d like to do that, but I don’t know how,” he says. What is therapy doing for him?
“How long have you been in therapy?” I ask him.
“About five years,” he answers.
“I’ll tell you like I told someone dear to me. It might be time for a change.” The line goes silent again.
“I don’t know. I just don’t know where to go from here.”
“Well, here’s your answer. Talk to your therapist. If he or she can’t give you a concrete answer about what direction you should take from here, then it’s time to change therapists,” I tell him. “In the meantime, I’ll get your background check going and let you know when we are ready to start filming. Thank you again, James. I know how hard this is.” He sighs.
“Thank you, Christian. I appreciate being able to talk to someone else about it… someone who knows what I went through.” Oh boy, do I know.
“We’ll talk soon, James. Have a good night.”
I end the call and realize that what’s left of my dinner has gone cold. I’ve eaten most of it and I hate to waste food, so I quickly finish it and put the plate in the sink. My thoughts are all over the place and my conversation with James didn’t help much. Fuck! I know abuse is an epidemic, but I had no idea it hit so close to home. I thought I was alone. I really thought that no one would understand what I went through, that they would see me as weak. Welch, James, fuck—who else?
My head is literally swimming until I realize that I still haven’t seen Butterfly yet. I’ve been home for nearly two hours. What the hell?
I climb the stairs to her office and knock on the door… no answer. I open the door and it’s dark inside. She’s not here either. Where the fuck is Butterfly? I’m just about to go supernova when I hear jazz playing down the hall. I follow the sound to… the old sub room! What the fuck? I open the door and there she is, on the bed in the room that I once used to house my submissives. Did I ever tell her that was what this room was used for? I’m sure that I did…
She’s sitting at the head of the bed on one of the pillows and her laptop is on the other pillow. She’s quietly singing along with Michael Franks about empty cookie jars. The white duvet is covered with books and papers, envelopes and cards, pieces of material in various fabrics—different shades of silver and hues of royal blue. Her hair is pulled back into a messy bun and her glasses sit on her nose while she writes something on a sticky note then posts it on a page in a magazine. She then types something into her laptop and continues singing about the cookie jar.
I step into the bedroom. It’s been nearly a year since I’ve even thought about this room. I’m all the way into the room and at the foot of the bed before she even realizes that I’m there. She looks up at me over her glasses.
“Hi,” I say quietly.
“Hi,” she replies, softly.
“You look pretty busy.” She’s quiet for a moment, then she looks back down at what she’s doing.
“Yeah, I’ve got a few invitations that I want you to see. I want to pick our choices by week’s end so that we can get our save-the-date cards out. By next week, we’ll need to narrow down if we want a church wedding or a venue like Maxie did. Then we need to figure out what we want to do in terms of a registry. Do we want gifts, or do we want to buy everything ourselves and have a plan in lieu of gifts, like a donation to a charity or something?”
“I like that idea,” I tell her. She’s talking a mile a minute while she’s looking from her iPhone to her laptop, but not at me.
“The donation? Okay, so we’ll have more time to pick out our china patterns and things that we want that will mark our home as ours. I think I like that idea better, too. People never seem to get what you put on your registry. They get something else completely and swear that it was something that you chose.” She marks something on another sticky note and puts that one in another book. She still hasn’t made eye contact with me again. I pick up an invitation sample. It’s textured royal blue paper with silver calligraphy on it. There are other cards attached and they’re tied with a silver ribbon.
“These are nice,” I say, running my fingers over the lettering. “Where did you get them so quickly?”
“You like those? I do, too. You’d be surprised how quickly people will send you free samples just for the chance to be a part of your wedding. Those came from Invitation Consultants. These came from Exclusively Weddings.” She hands me another invitation and this one is more formal—white with royal blue writing and ribbon, a white envelope with royal blue facing. “I was looking at Pike Street Printers, but their samples were way too generic while other samples were just too over the top. I want beautiful, classic, sophisticated, and stylish—not boring and not ostentatious.”
“I like the blue one better,” I say sitting on the edge of the bed next to her. She picks up the blue invitation.
“Wow, that was easy. Blue it is, then.” She puts the blue invitation on the nightstand and starts typing into her laptop again, still not making eye contact with me. I start to fumble with some of the fabric pieces on the bed.
“You know this is the old subs’ room, don’t you?” She stops typing for a moment, then starts typing again.
“Yes, I know,” she replies.
“Why are you in here instead of in our room?” I ask.
“Because I can leave everything where it is when I’m done, and I don’t have to worry about having to move it to go to sleep.”
“Is that the only reason?” She falls silent again and I know that it’s not.
“What other reason would there be?” she says softly, unconvincing.
“You tell me,” I say, taking one of her hands in mine and drawing circles on her skin. She looks at that hand and finally looks up at me. Talk to me.
“I don’t know. I just needed more room.” I clearly heard the double meaning in that.
“You didn’t think I would look for you in here,” I confront gently.
“I… I don’t know,” she says again. I put my hand on her cheek.
“Talk to me, Butterfly.” Her shoulders fall.
“It’s just… last night with Flynn and today with Brian… I just wanted some time to myself to plan my wedding.”
“In the old subs’ room?” I ask, incredulously.
“I don’t know what that’s about. I just wanted to not think about anything but the wedding for a while.” I look at her unassuming blue eyes and kiss the palm of her hand.
“Come. Let’s go to bed. It’s late.” She closes her laptop and follows me to our bedroom. She puts on my pajama shirt and I wear the pants to the same set. We get into bed and I pull her to me and nuzzle her neck.
“Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about my day. Tonight, I want you to sleep.” I cradle her in my arms and she’s asleep in moments. As thoughts of the day scroll through my mind, it’s not long after that I join her in slumber.
Christian didn’t sleep well last night. For the first time in a long time, he had a nightmare.
I’m exhausted this morning as the plan was for me to catch up on sleep that I had missed from the night before. Yet, I’m ready to fall asleep at my desk since I was awakened in the middle of the night by Christian’s state of unrest, then found it hard to get back to sleep. What brought this on? Was it our disagreements? Something that happened at work? He said that he would tell me about his day, but he never did. Things are getting more and more tense around here it seems. Does he regret asking me to marry him?
Speaking of which, Val got me the appointment with Cassie Hamilton. So, after I go to Helping Hands and spend some time with the families there, I go back home and change into my tan off the shoulder sweater dress with gold metallic threading throughout and my Gianmarco Lorenzi stiletto boots with a chain attached to both sides that drapes under the sole near the heel and around the heel as well. I brushed my hair to fullness and could think of no better time to don my Cartier Love Collection jewelry than today. It actually compliments my engagement ring quite nicely. I’m putting the finishing touches on my makeup when Val arrives.
“Hot-chi-wah-wah! You look sexy, Steele!” she exclaims.
“Thanks. I have a feeling that I may need a bit of the feline today,” I tell her.
“Pussycat?” she teases.
“Tiger,” I correct, as I grab my black wrap jacket and head for the door.
I ride with Val to Cassie’s office and Chuck drives the Audi behind us. I was actually trying to organize the plans that I have for the wedding in the portfolio that I brought with me. I now have a bag with swatches, a notebook, and various samples that I carry with me everywhere in case inspiration hits me or I need to have an impromptu meeting with someone. I’ve seen this woman’s work and I’m hoping that she will overlook the obvious and take on the task. After all, the relationship she had with Christian is at least a year old and most likely older than that. However, I’m prepared just in case she turns out to be Catwoman.
“Do you want me to come in with you?” she asks me.
“Why?” I ask, bemused.
“You know, just in case.” Val doesn’t fool me. She’s hoping to see a catfight. I’m hoping that there won’t be one.
“No, I really want to see what she has to offer and if she can do this wedding. If she can’t, then I’ll leave.”
“No more tiger?” Val lifts her eyebrow.
“Oh, please. There was no way that I was coming to a meeting with one of Christian’s ex… exes not looking hot.” I throw a coy smile at her and get out of the car. “You can go grab a bite to eat or something and I’ll call you when I’m done.”
“Not a chance! I’m staying right here until you come out.” I shrug.
“Suit yourself,” I say. Chuck is by my side in a moment and we go inside.
Her offices are very chic—all white plush furniture and carpeting with bright colorful pillows and accent pieces and vibrant artwork all around. Her receptionist has stark shocking black hair—very long—and pulled into a ponytail so tight that I’m surprised her eyes aren’t bulging out of her head. There is no color on her pale face but her pink lip gloss.
“Hi. May I help you?” she asks in a friendly voice that doesn’t seem to match her face.
“Yes, thank you. I have an appointment with Cassie Hamilton,” I respond walking over to her desk.
“May I have your name please?”
“Anastasia Steele.” She looks at the appointment book and checks off my name.
“Please have a seat over there, Ms. Steele and I’ll let Ms. Hamilton know that you are here. Can I get you anything to drink? Water? Juice? Coffee? Champagne?”
Champagne? Wow, she really pulls out all the stops here, doesn’t she?
“No, but thank you,” I say with a smile as I remove my coat and take a seat on the white sofa in the waiting area. She returns my smile and goes off to the back through a set of glass doors. I open my portfolio and go over some of the details that I want to run by Ms. Hamilton. I make a few more notes about my vision and the sound of the doors opening startles me. Ms. Black Ponytail takes her seat and behind her, this curvy, brunette women is strolling my way. She’s wearing the Victoria’s Secret fuchsia multi-way dress—wrapped around her so tight that you can see every crevice in her body and tied up over one shoulder, holding her ample breasts in individual slings. Her nipples are clearly visible through the material as she’s not wearing a bra. She looks naked!
I look up at Chuck who’s staring at her gaped-mouth while discreetly attempting to adjust his pants. She never makes eye contact with me as she scans the waiting room, clearly looking for… someone. She turns back to her receptionist and her muscular ass moves so freely in this flimsy material that it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that she’s not wearing any panties either. Chuck looks down at me in utter awe and bemusement, speechlessly pointing at her like he can’t believe what he’s seeing either.
“What the fuck is that?” he whispers to me. I can’t answer at first as I’m just as stunned as he is. What bride would want her fiancé around that?
Fiancé… shit! She thought I was bringing Christian with me! I never specified that I wasn’t. That’s why she never looked at me when she came out. Her receptionist clearly didn’t tell her that I was alone, and she wasn’t looking for me… she was looking for him.
“That is a bitch on the prowl,” I hiss so that only Chuck can hear me.
I sit there watching her talking to her receptionist who gestures over to me. I cross my legs just before she turns around to see me on the sofa. A smirk comes across her face. She’s sizing me up. She employs that same confident stroll in my direction.
“Anastasia,” she purrs, “I’m Cassie Hamilton.” Why must they all purr? It’s like they’re perpetually in heat. I stand to greet her after I hand my coat over to Chuck.
“Ms. Hamilton.” I proffer my hand and she shakes it.
“Cassie, please. Follow me,” she says with a plastered-on smile, and I can already tell that I have ruined her plans. She would rather be anywhere else right now but having this meeting with me—namely having this meeting with me and Christian… or better yet, just Christian.
Careful, your insecurity is showing.
Insecure? Hmmm, maybe just a bit… before I got here, that is, but now that I see her—no, definitely not. She’s serving herself on a platter with the hopes of getting her claws into my man, and I simply cannot have that.
Let the games begin…
A/N: The Brontë novel that Welch speaks of is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.
Michael Franks—When the Cookie Jar Is Empty (the song that Ana was singing in the subs’ room while planning the wedding)
Please allow me to note here that I like a little conflict and drama with my love, happiness and sex. Nothing but smooth sailing all the time is cool to read sometimes, but most often it gets a little boring after a while. So, I put some spice and angst in my stories for that purpose. To make that happen, some character is going to have to do something that somebody doesn’t like, approve of, or agree with. So do me a favor and try not to judge my characters so harshly when they add angst to the story—when Ana seems weak or may be “looking for conflict” or when Christian seems to forgive her too quickly because he is well aware of his own flaws, or when it takes 24 chapters for him to propose (it took my husband five years), or when Ana didn’t slam Brian’s face into the concrete hard enough on New Year’s Eve or whatever the case may be. Try to remember that we are talking about very imperfect human beings struggling through a very imperfect relationship in light of horrendously imperfect events and circumstances—it keeps the story interesting. If you are looking for dull, boring, and perfect (happy housewife Ana is completely mentally and emotionally balanced and doing everything that happy dominant husband Christian wants—who by the way, proposed to her the day after they met), you’ve got the wrong story.
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