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 fanfic in MY interpretation as a fan. I hope you—as a fellow fan—enjoy it, too.
Chapter 48—Back to the Grind
For a spur-of-the-moment getaway, this weekend has turned into one of the most wonderful and relaxing two days Christian and I have ever shared. It’s nothing like our trip to Anguilla, which seemed to have been riddled with arguments and disagreements and traumatizing moments. This trip has so far been fantastic from beginning to end.
Once the balloons land, we all return to the Marriott for a fantastic champagne brunch. We eat and converse with the other balloon passengers, this being many of their first balloon ride as well. Once we have had our fill, we are back in the Escalade for a bit of pampering before we return to Seattle.
Back at the Meritage, we soak in a private aromatic bath for two in the hotel spa, after which Christian sits with me while I get a Terra massage. He, of course, will not let anyone touch him in that way but me, so he just watches while feeding me fresh strawberries and champagne… through a straw!
After the massage, we both get a ridiculously long 80-minute facial that left my face feeling like my pores were dancing. Christian declared that he may hire someone to learn these facials at Miana’s as he feels like he will never shave again. Not likely, Grey. Shaving is a definite necessity—no rug burn here, Sir!
Exactly 48 hours after we left Seattle, we are back on the GEH jet headed home. Christian once again thanks me for the wonderful weekend that we had. I knew that we so needed to decompress after everything that has happened over the last months. I almost hate to go back.
However, back we are. I become more and more agitated the closer we get to Escala. I’m wringing my hands and trying to play it cool, but I’m nervous—very nervous. I can’t hide my anxiety from Christian.
“Baby, what’s wrong? We had such a wonderful weekend. Why are you so jittery?” he asks. I sigh.
“I don’t know. I guess it’s just getting back to reality and getting out of our little love bubble. I’ll be fine, really.” He squeezes my hand and pulls me over to him.
“I wish we could have stayed longer, too. Everything about this weekend was absolutely outstanding.” He kisses my forehead.
“Yes, it really was.” I sink into his warmth and try not to worry about what’s waiting for us back at Escala.
The elevator ride is torture. Christian squeezes my hand to calm my nerves again, but it’s not helping. When we get inside the penthouse, there is a bouquet of white roses on the dining table as a signal to me. I can’t stand it anymore. I feel like I’m going to vomit.
“Baby, I need you to come with me,” I say, taking his hand.
“What is it, Butterfly? Please tell me what’s wrong.” I lead him to the area where his precious grand piano sits. His face takes on an immediate sadness as he looks at his one-time late-night companion. He pauses, unwilling to come any closer to it.
“Please, Christian, sit down,” I beseech him. His shoulders sag heavily and he sits in on the leather bench in front of his piano. He caresses the cover gently, his face filled with regret.
“Open it,” I say softly. He looks up at me, then drops his head.
“I can’t.” His voice is heavy with remorse. “I haven’t had the heart to tell Mom that I destroyed it. I hope she doesn’t ask me.”
“It can’t be as bad as you think, Baby. Please, let’s have a look at it.”
“We’ve had such a wonderful weekend. I don’t want to ruin it by reliving this…” He’s almost breaking down.
“I just want you to open it this one time. If you never want to open it again after this, I promise I won’t ask.” Please, Baby, open it, I will him. As if they could, his shoulders drop even further and he is resigned to his fate. He places both hands on the cover and slowly lifts it. He does a double-take then gasps as he can’t believe what he’s seeing. Sliding the cover back into its slot, his eyes grow large as he examines 88 perfect ebony and ivory covered spruce keys.
“Is this my piano?” he asks incredulously, still caressing the keys.
“Yes,” I say softly.
“How?” His eyes never leave the keyboard.
“I had it restored,” I tell him. “Happy birthday.” He pauses staring at the keys. I know what he’s thinking. I only hope that I did it right. I hired four master craftsmen to do the work, each with a specific expertise. Not only did the machine have to look like new, but it had to respond to his hand the same way that it did before. In order for that to happen, the craftsmen had to measure the key height and weight of the keys that had not been damaged as well as the pads of those keys that were played the most—damaged or not. Christian’s skill level determined how “worn-in” the pads and hammers were, and a new piano simply would not do. His piano had to be restored to exactly where it was or as close as humanly possible if he were to ever play it again. The hammer travel, repetition adjustment, and back check had to be exactly what he had become accustomed to or at least close enough for him not to tell the difference.
It’s a pale comparison, but I wouldn’t drive a car that was restored almost to new because it was no longer my car. I secretly pray that I have done a good thing and not caused him any more pain.
Christian tentatively hits one key in the middle of the keyboard. Then he hits again. Without warning, he flattens both of his hands and begins banging on the keys back and forth up and down the keyboard. I immediately start to panic. This was obviously a bad idea.
Just as I am about to have a panic attack and Jason comes running out of the study, Christian stops banging on the keyboard and hits the same key again. A trace of a smile kisses his lips as his fingers hit two keys, then three, then four. Now he’s playing the four keys in fast succession and a few moments later, he is playing a beautiful rendition of Chopin’s Minute Waltz. I’m so happy that I am almost hyperventilating. He’s in his own little world for the two minutes that it takes for him to finish the song. He’s forgotten I am here with him. This is wonderful.
When he finishes the song. He caresses the keys again, then goes into another song. His fingers are moving so fast, but I swear he is playing the entire thing only on the black keys. A few minutes later, he breaks into yet another song, and another song, and another. I can only stand there mesmerized watching his command of this instrument as he attempts to recapture all the time that he has missed without his old friend. I begin to back away from him to allow him to bond with his piano, but as soon as I get a few feet away from him, he finishes his last song and breathes a heavy sigh. His head drops almost all the way down to the keys and he takes two more deep breaths. Without a word, he moves over on his piano bench and I know that he wants me to sit.
I silently take the seat next to him and he places his fingers on the keys again. He begins a soft, mellow tune and I remember the song from the movie Notting Hill. I’m a real Julia Roberts fan and I’ve often thought of Christian as my Edward Lewis and I was his Vivian Ward… although that was a different Julia Roberts movie and I, of course, am not a hooker. Nonetheless, after a bar or two I can tell that this song is She by Elvis Costello. I want to lay on his shoulder but I don’t want to disturb his beautiful playing.
As he finishes the last notes of the song, he turns quickly and takes my face in his hands. He kisses me deeply and nearly takes my breath away. When he pulls our lips apart, he rests his forehead on mine.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” he whispers, his eyes closed. He kisses me on the lips again and turns back to his piano. “It’s wonderful. It’s absolutely remarkable. I thought I would never be able to play it again. I thought that it would never be like it was before, and now…” He giggles happily—yes, giggles! He turns into a four-year-old and starts playing Chopsticks. I laugh through my tears and almost don’t notice that Gail and Jason were both standing behind us until they disappear quietly back to their apartment.
“Come on. This is a two-man job. I know you can play this,” he says as he coaxes me to the keys. Coincidentally, yes, I can play Chopsticks. I do a very simple version on the high notes and, of course, he adds all kinds of fancery to it by hitting all the low keys of the duet as well as some of the more difficult high keys that I am missing. He’s such a show off, but we have a fabulous time getting reacquainted with his grand piano. Though it’s a little early, it is a very happy birthday indeed.
Although we basically had sex all weekend, Christian still made love to me last night until we had both had our fill. Then he thanked me profusely for a wonderful weekend and a magnificent birthday present. Now, I must drink lots and lots and lots of cranberry spritzers to avoid any issues with my ladyparts as they have been thoroughly well used over the last three days.
My day is spent pretty much in a “CG loves AS” haze until our meeting with Reverend Martin that afternoon. We were both a little dismayed to discover that this was not just an ordinary meeting with the minister. This was one of seven premarital counseling sessions that are required before he would agree to marry us. Christian and I both look at each other and I can tell we are thinking the same thing—can we get someone else to do this?
“Is there something that you are afraid of?” Reverend Martin asks us, noting our hesitance. “Now is the time to reveal those dark secrets.” I sigh.
“Oh, you have no idea,” I lament. This elicits a strange look from the Reverend. I shake my head. “Reverend Martin, Christian and I are both knee-deep in therapy. I have heard all of his dirty little secrets and he is now holding my hand through regression therapy to confront my painful past.”
Hmm,” the Reverend strokes his chin. “That’s interesting. I’m curious. If you have heard of all his secrets, why is he still in therapy?” He turns his face to Christian.
“Because I’m still working through them,” Christian says with no malice. “I have never loved a woman before Anastasia, so this is still new to me. The emotions that I am feeling sometimes become overwhelming. So I need therapy—and Anastasia—to help me through them.”
“You’re not a particularly young man—young comparatively, but not young in terms of love. Why is it that Anastasia is your first love, so to speak?”
“She’s not my first love, Reverend. I’ve had feelings for someone before to the degree that I thought I loved them enough for me to say that she is not my first love. However, she is the first woman that I have loved. Does that make sense?” I feel like someone just hit me in the chest. He’s talking about her.
“Yes, actually, it does. How about you, Anastasia? Does it make sense to you?”
“Yes,” I respond, my voice small. “It makes sense to me.” I don’t want to feel this way, but knowing that he had feelings for that woman makes me want to vomit. I can’t blame him, though. He was young and confused, even more confused by what she was doing to him. Christian reaches over and tentatively takes my hand. I squeeze to let him know that I’m okay and I understand.
“What about you? Is Christian your first love, Anastasia?” I shake my head feverishly.
“No. No, he’s not my first love. I have loved another man before and I have to say that I am fighting not to become ill right now so I really can’t talk about him or I will become ill.”
“Why is this important for you to be able to marry us, Reverend Martin?” Christian asks. “We dredge this stuff up repeatedly during our individual therapies and with each other. I don’t think it’s necessary for us to have to relive it with you. It’s painful and very hard on us, even harder on Anastasia—and if it’s the only way that you will agree to marry us, I think we had better be leaving as we don’t have much time to find another officiant.” Thank you, Christian! Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you! He stands and I stand with him immediately.
“I just want to make sure that the two of you understand fully what you are getting into. Most young people think marriage is just an extension of dating, the next logical step, when it’s truly so much more than that,” Reverend Martin defends.
“I appreciate that you want to be sure that we know what we are getting into. Believe me, we are fully aware of what we are about to do. As Anastasia has told you, she knows all of my deep, dark past, probably more than any one person knows about me at all except for maybe my last shrink. I am now getting to know all the horrible things in the corners of her past and there is nothing that I could find out, now or ever, that would make me love her less or regret making her my wife. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we really must be going.” Christian gently pulls me out of the Reverend’s office and down the long aisle between the pews. As we get to the middle, I have a horrible feeling of dread.
“Stop, Christian,” I tell him and he freezes in his tracks. I’m fighting tears, fighting the familiar feelings. “Please just wait for a moment.” Christian takes my face in his hands.
“What is it, Baby?” he asks. “There are ministers and reverends all over Seattle. We can find someone else in no time. Seven more sessions of rehashing what we’re already doing—I can’t put you through that. I can’t put us through that. Working through it doesn’t mean we have to relive it over and over for every Tom, Dick, or Martin that thinks we need to prove that we are okay.”
“I know, and I agree with you,” I say softly without raising my head. “It’s just that… it feels like running. It feels like I’m running. When I get that feeling, I have to stop moving completely or God knows where I’ll end up.” I finally raise my eyes to meet his and his confusion changes to realization. He rubs my arms gently.
“Okay, Baby. We’ll stand here until you’re ready to move.” We stand there for a long time—I don’t know how long—just looking into each other’s eyes. I take a deep breath, and then another, and I finally feel better. I look around the church. It’s beautiful—typical stained-glass windows and rows and rows of highly polished pews. A regal podium stands in front of several high-backed throne-like seats flanking a wooden quarter wall. Behind the wall are more pews, most likely for the choir, and the baptismal pool can be seen through what looks like plexiglass behind the choir seats.
“If I wanted a church, this would have been beautiful,” I tell him. He looks around and nods.
“Yes, it would have. Do you want a church?” he asks. He’s serious. He would change everything at a moment’s notice if I said I wanted it. I smile and shake my head.
“No,” I tell him. “I want my castle with my prince.” I reach up and caress his face. He turns his lips to my palm and kisses it softly, holding it against his lips so that the kiss lingers there.
“You worked out that standing still helps to keep you from running away. I’m very impressed—beauty and brains, but then again, I always knew that.” He smiles sweetly at me.
“I have to be my best for you… for us. I don’t want anything threatening our future together.” I close my eyes. “Kiss me, please.” His lips are on mine before I have a moment to think, and the last of the flight response oozes out of me. He puts his forehead on mine. “I needed that. I needed to remember my home. My home is with you. We can go now,” I say. He kisses my hand again and leads me to the door.
“Anastasia, Christian, please don’t leave yet.” We turn around to see Reverend Martin walking slowly up the aisle towards us. “I see that you have an active flight or fight response, Anastasia, or is it just flight?”
“Reverend Martin…” Christian begins, and the Reverend put his hands up in surrender.
“Okay, okay, apparently one of the things you’re rehashing in your therapy,” he says. “Yes, I was listening,” he confirms, “you were standing in the middle of my church. I agree, too, that you don’t need to rehash your past since you are obviously already doing that and have made it quite clear that you know a lot about each other, but make no mistake. You do need to hash out your future together and I can almost guarantee that’s something that you’re not doing in therapy right now. We don’t have to relive your painful histories if you don’t want that, but every couple is in need of couple’s therapy before they marry. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a religious officiant that will marry you without it, and if he or she does, they will be doing you a great disservice.”
Christian glares at him for a moment then looks at me. “What do you think, Butterfly?” he asks. Hell, I don’t know. If we run around Seattle and we can’t find anyone to bless our union that won’t drag us through couples therapy first, then all of that looking will have been for nothing.
“Let’s see where it goes, I guess,” I tell him, not feeling the conviction of my words at all. He can tell I’m not 100% on the idea either, but he nods and turns to the Reverend.
“Fine, but if it becomes too hard for us, I’m still up for Vegas,” he whispers with a smile. That gives me a little more courage.
“It’s a deal.” I smile at him. He nods at Reverend Martin and we follow him back into his office.
“Let’s start with a generic relationship quiz. This will let me know where the two of you stand right now. They are simple yes and no questions, but I realize that some of them may require explanation.” He hands us each a two-page test and a pen and we take the test.
I am with a person who:
1) Is supportive of what I do—yes
2) Encourages me to try new things—absolutely
3) Likes to listen when I have something on my mind, understands that I have my own life, is not liked very well by my friends—yes, yes, and unfortunately, yes
4) Says I’m too involved in different activities—no
5) Calls and texts me all the time—well, enough, so yes with explanation
6) Is trying to spend too much time looking nice—he doesn’t even have to try, so no
7) Gets extremely jealous or possessive—yes, yes, a thousand times, yes!
8) Accuses me of flirting or cheating—there was that one time with Elliot, but that was before we knew each other and he hasn’t done it again since then, so no
9) Constantly checks up on me or makes me check in—that’s a no with explanation. I have a security detail so someone is always checking on me, but that’s more of a safety issue than anything.
10) Controls what I wear or how I look—he’s made a comment here or there, but no
11) Likes to control what I do or who I see—no, he would “adios” the Scooby Gang if he could, but he would never do that.
12) Tries to keep me from seeing and talking to my family and friends—definite no
13) Has big mood swings, gets angry and yells at me one minute but is sweet and apologetic the next—I actually circle yes and no for that one. Hell, we are both pretty moody right now. Look at all the shit we’re going through? That’s why we’re in therapy!
14) Puts me down, calls me names, or criticizes me—not in this life!
15) Makes me feel like I can’t do anything right or blames me for problems—nope
16) Makes me feel like no one else would want me—um, how about makes me feel like everyone else wants me?
17) Threatens to hurt me, my family, or friends—Daddy would have his balls in a jar… no
18) Threatens to hurt him or herself because of me—I have to pause on this one. He actually did hurt himself because of me. I have to leave that one blank.
19) Threatens to destroy my things—no
20) Grabs, pushes, shoves, chokes, punches, slaps, holds me down, throws things, or hurts me in some way—I have to say no on this one. I know what the question is getting at and Christian does throw things once in a while. He has grabbed me, too, but not in the way that this is implying. He only chokes me or holds me down during hot sex and that’s because he knows I like it, and the hurting—again, only during our kinky fuckery. Damn, is it hot in here?
21) Breaks things or throws things to intimidate me—nope
22) Yells, screams, or humiliates me in front of other people—nope.
23) Pressures me for sex or forces me to go further than I want to—mmmm… no, and yes it’s getting quite hot in here…
We finish almost at the same time and hand the papers back to the Reverend. “Wow, I don’t think anyone has ever finished that quickly or at the same time,” he says. We sit back in our seats and wait for his evaluation. “Well, let me start by saying that this is a preliminary test, just basic stuff, but it’s clear that Christian thinks you are a perfect angel, Anastasia. His only qualm seems to be that he thinks you spend too much time on your appearance and that you have mood swings. Would you care to explain that, Christian?”
Yes, would you care to explain that, Christian?
“Well, she likes to dress up. Everything she wears is impeccably matched, down to her jewelry. There’s never a hair out of place when she leaves the apartment…”
“You take that to mean that she spends too much time on her appearance?” the Reverend asks.
“Well, maybe not too much. I mean, she’s never made us late for anything or even been late herself that I know of, but she does spend a lot of time on her appearance.” Note to self—leave the house looking like a troll tomorrow.
“Anastasia, you’ve gotten quiet.” I shrug.
“I like to look nice when I’m out in public. I was into fashion and things before he met me. Am I supposed to change that now because we are together?”
“That’s not what I meant at all, Butterfly,” Christian defends. “I was only saying that you spend a lot of time on your appearance, which you do. There’s nothing wrong with that. I love it that you look good when you leave the apartment, especially when we are together. It’s a little maddening when we are apart, though…”
“Yes, that brings me to a question on Anastasia’s questionnaire. You say that he is extremely possessive and you circled ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in terms of his mood swings.” Oh great, now it’s my turn.
“Yes, he is possessive and I circled ‘yes’ and ‘no’ because, in general, he’s not too moody—but while we are both going through this therapy, we are on emotional roller coasters which could mean hot one moment and cold the next.”
“That’s what I meant when I circled ‘yes,'” Christian defends. “She’s a pillar of strength one moment and she a puddle on the ground the next. Sometimes, it’s hard to keep up, but I have to because I know what she’s going through.”
“So if both of you are moody, who’s the stable one in the relationship?” Almost like a slapstick comedy, we each point at the other. Reverend Martin breaks out in hearty laughter. “Look at yourselves. You still think you don’t need couples therapy?” He folds his hands. “First of all, couples therapy is not a litmus test to see if your marriage will succeed or fail. It’s a time where the two of you get to know what the other really wants without the rose-colored glasses. This way, if there needs to be some adjustment or compromise, you know before you say ‘I do.’ There are no trick questions or pitfalls. No one is setting you up for failure. However, if it turns out that you are incompatible, this is where you will find out. I have had couples demand that I marry them immediately while others called off their weddings. It’s still something very necessary before you decide to spend your lives together.” At our silence, he unfolds his hands and looks at my test again.
“Anastasia, this one is very serious. The question about threatening to hurt himself… you left that one blank. Why?” Shit, I forgot about that one. My eyes go immediately to Christian who is looking at me incredulously.
“I was going to come back to that one,” I say, weakly.
“What? You really think I would hurt myself?” he asks, almost appalled.
“No, it’s just… I was thinking about that time… you know, with Elliot…” Boy, this is going to hell fast.
“You know that I didn’t do that on purpose!” He sounds really hurt now. Dammit, I didn’t want that. “And you think I’d do it again?”
“No! I left it blank because it did result in you going to the hospital, not because I thought you would do it again.”
“But that’s what the question said—threatens to hurt himself because of you. When have I ever done that?” I drop my head like a scolded child.
“Never,” I respond, my voice just above a whisper.
“May I ask, if you want to share, what are we referring to? What did you do?” the Reverend asks. I’m fighting the urge to curl up in a ball while Christian sighs and explains what we are talking about.
“We had a disagreement—back in the very early stages of our relationship—and she didn’t speak to me for five days. I didn’t deal with it very well. I didn’t eat anything and I only drank alcohol for that time. I didn’t do it on purpose.” He cuts his eyes at me and I can tell that I have hurt him by bringing this up. “I wasn’t trying to hurt myself—I just wasn’t thinking. My mom ripped me a new as—behind for doing that and she made me promise never to do that to myself again.” He looks at me again with pure confusion and pain in his eyes. “Even when you were kidnapped, I made sure that I ate and drank properly because I knew that we would get you back and you would be angry if I didn’t.”
To say that I want to curl up and die right now is an understatement. I didn’t mean to hurt him like this or make him feel this way. I just wanted to explain myself and I moved too fast turning in my test. Don’t shrink, Anastasia. Don’t shrink.
“Anastasia, what are you thinking?” Reverend Martin presses. I just shake my head, once again fighting the urge to shrink. I don’t know why this situation is making me feel so small. His body language is saying it all. His legs are crossed and he’s turned slightly away from me. He has run his hands through his hair about five times. He’s sighing heavily and I can tell that he’s counting…
… and I want to run.
I cross my legs at the ankles and cross my arms in front of me, my hand going immediately to my forehead. I feel a headache coming on. We had a wonderful weekend, absolutely wonderful, and I had to go and fuck it up with this shit. Damn, why can’t we have just a moment of peace? I swear if shit keeps happening, I’m going to flip my fucking lid! How much is one person supposed to take? Every time it seems like things are going well, shit goes south. Now this guy in the collar wants to open old wounds… well, he really didn’t do that. That was my fault. I could have just answered the damn question ‘no.’ Christian doesn’t threaten to hurt himself and he didn’t hurt himself on purpose the first time. Hell, it was me wishing that Elena had shot me, too, once I thought she had shot Christian. If anything, I’m the one that’s batty, dangerous, and unstable here. I constantly have to convince myself not to…
“For fuck’s sake, Ana, stop it!” What the hell? I look up into the eyes of a horrified Reverend Martin and a determined Christian holding both of my hands, which are now balled up into fists. My forehead is on fire! Oh great, now I really look like a lunatic.
“No! He didn’t threaten to hurt himself! No, he didn’t do it on purpose the first time. I’m the one who wished I was dead when I thought that evil witch had shot him! Do you still question which of us is the stable one!?” I’m trying to get out of my seat, but Christian is holding me there. “Need to go. Need to go now,” is all I can get out of my mouth.
“No, Baby. You’re running. Stay, don’t run,” he coaxes.
“Need to go, Christian. Need to go now.” I’m starting to panic.
“Listen to me. Listen to my voice. I love you. Please don’t run. Please, stay with me. Don’t run away.” I’m shaking. The walls are closing in on me and I need to get the hell out of here, but I do what he says. I concentrate on his voice. “We have to do this. We really have to do this. I know that now. If we want to be together forever, we have to do this. Please, stay with me. Please don’t leave me.” His voice is beseeching and it’s serving to calm me down. “That’s my girl. Breathe with me.” He takes a deep breath in through his nose and out through his mouth. I mimic his actions, but I’m still shaking. When he’s sure that I’m not going to run, he kneels down in front of me.
“We have to do this, Butterfly. You understand that, don’t you?” No, I really don’t, but if he thinks we need it, then I guess we need it. I nod shakily. He just stands next to me holding my hand.
“Anastasia, there was a reason you left that question blank. What was it? I think Christian needs to know.” I think hard, really hard. Why did I leave that question blank? Christian never threatened to hurt himself… however…
“Because I left a little over a month ago and he did it again,” I say, my voice barely audible. I don’t want to look up at him. I don’t want to see that hurt look on his eyes again.
“Did what again?” Reverend Martin asks.
“He hurt himself,” I squeak. “He destroyed his piano with his bare hands and could have hurt himself really badly. It turns out that he only needed first aid. He didn’t sleep for several days—again—and ended up sleeping for two days straight. When he finally gave up hope, he wasn’t taking care of himself. He was pushing everyone away. He was turning into a miserable hermit. He may not declare that he is going to hurt himself, but he does things that aren’t good for him. That’s what made me pause.” Good God, it felt good to get that out. I still can’t raise my head to him, but he solves that dilemma for me. He falls to his knees in front of me.
“Baby, I’m sorry,” he says, cupping my face in his hands. “I didn’t realize, I really didn’t. I thought I lost you and nothing else mattered. I wasn’t trying to hurt myself, I just didn’t realize…”
“Then maybe you need some ‘don’t run’ exercises, too, because I can’t have you falling apart if something happens to me. One of us has to be strong.” I raise my eyes to him. I do need him to see that this is unhealthy behavior and whatever he needs to do to curtail it, he will have to do it. He nods.
“I do. Half the time, I don’t even know that I’m doing this stuff. I’ll talk to Dr. Baker, see what she recommends, okay?” he promises. I smile.
“That’s a start,” I reply. He sits back in his seat and takes my hand again. Reverend Martin examines us, then continues.
“Why don’t your friends like him?” he asks.
“I don’t know if they like him or not, but he doesn’t like them. They pretended to be his friends, too, and when the going got rough, they turned their backs on him—twice. Now, he wants nothing more to do with them, and I understand why.” Reverend Martin raises his eyebrows.
“I know why they don’t like him,” he says and we wait for him to let us in on the secret. “They’re not a priority anymore. You’ve changed what’s most important to you and they see their usefulness slipping away.” He turns to Christian. “And he’s the cause of that.”
“Well, tough!” I say in response. “This is my life and my happiness and they can either get with the program or move along. It’s that simple.”
“What do you think of that, Christian?” he asks.
“I’ve always told Ana that how she handles her friends is completely up to her. The only thing that I said to them was that if they didn’t stop being bitchy to her that I would take her away and we would elope.” Christian didn’t even flinch that the fact that he just cursed… in a church… at a reverend. Then again, the reverend didn’t react either. Hell, he said “fuck” a little while ago.
“That’s the way that it should be.” He stands up. “It looks like you two are off to a really good start, but even with this preliminary session you had bumps you didn’t even know that you had. Now, I want you to go home and reconnect. Christian, remember that you promised to talk to your doctor about what happened here, but don’t dwell on it more than that. Think of a happy time in your lives and go there in your mind with each other. By all means, don’t go to bed angry and I’ll see you two here again next Monday.”
Christian holds me close to him in the back of the Audi, stroking my hair and not saying a word. My shrinking response wants to curl up into him and disappear, but I resist the urge and start talking about anything but this session.
“Have you or Elliot heard from Kate again yet?” I ask him. He shakes his head.
“Not since last Wednesday. Elliot told me she stopped calling him, too. Of course, now we know why she was calling him in the first place. That ‘sneak attack’ option is off the table and now that we want a paternity test, she’s hiding. I tried calling her today and her phone went straight to voice mail. If I don’t hear from her by Wednesday, I’m calling her folks. If I don’t hear from her by week’s end, Elliot and I will get a court order for her to produce Kevin. He deserves to know if that’s his son.” I nod.
“I’m glad you two are speaking now,” I tell him.
“So is my mom. I’ll always have his back. It’s just going to be hard to trust him again like I used to.” He sounds sad.
“Do you think you will?” I ask. He shrugs.
“I don’t know. Who’s to say? Right now, he needs me so that’s really all that matters.” I put my hand on his chest.
“You have a good heart, Mr. Grey.” I look up into his darkening gray eyes.
“That’s what you say,” he says with a snort.
“That’s what I know,” I respond. He cups my face and kisses me gently. His kisses become more earnest and I sink into them, almost forgetting that we aren’t in the car alone until it comes to a stop in the parking garage. Christian doesn’t stop kissing me as Chuck slides quietly out of the SUV, closing and locking the doors behind him.
Christian lays me across his lap, never breaking our kiss. His hand roams my body and end up on my thigh, pushing up my pencil skirt and caressing the skin above my stocking. I gasp at the skin to skin contact and he groans into my mouth, working his way up to my pelvis. He teases me through my panties, driving me to embarrassingly feverish panting. He pulls his lips away from mine but only by a fraction, enough to watch me coming unglued in his hands. His fingers breach the barrier of my panties and now he is stroking and massaging that magical spot that belongs to only him.
“Oh God,” I breathe as his fingers stroke in and out of me, methodically taking me higher and higher. I grind into his hand and I can feel his erection digging into my back.
“You’re going to come for me,” he says, more of a statement than a question.
“Yes,” I whisper, throwing my head back and closing my eyes. He brings his mouth down to my cleavage and caresses the exposed part of my breast with his lips and tongue… and I detonate in his hands, bucking wildly against his unrelenting fingers. When I catch my breath, I move fast undoing his pants and releasing his bulging erection.
“Baby, no. You don’t have to do that,” he protests.
“Sssshh,” I silence him before taking him into my mouth and sucking hard.
“Sssssssssssss, fuck!” he hisses as he stiffens and throws his head back onto the seat. I bob repeated on him, up and down, up and down, occasionally stopping at the head to lick his slit and frenulum. He’s groaning loudly as I work my way out of my underwear. He laments momentarily when I stop but is back in his ecstasy when I straddle him and slide down onto his dick.
“Yes, Ana, Baby, yes!” he moans as I bounce up and down on his rod. His mouth his open and his breathing is erratic. He grabs my hips and pushes into me, matching my stroke and now making me rise again.
“Oh, yes, Baby, that’s it… right there… right there… so good…” he groans as I feel him getting stiffer inside of me. I bring his lips up to mine as I bounce, chasing yet another release on his quickly hardening member. He feels so good inside of me, hitting every sweet spot and driving me, driving me, again and again until…
“Christian…!” I barely eek his name out as my core convulses wildly around him. He growls loudly, bringing his arms under mine and clasping his hands over my shoulders, pulling me down hard onto him.
“I’m coming! I’m coming! Aw, fuuuck!” he groans, while he empties into me. We both take a second to catch our breath while we kiss each other madly.
“You beautiful girl,” he says between kisses. “You beautiful, beautiful girl. You’re incredible.” I have to say that I’ve surprised myself these last few days. Normally after one day of a fuck-fest, I’m down for a day or two, but these last few days I have matched Christian’s drive and stamina stroke for stroke. I’m really proud of myself—and having some great sex, too.
“We better get inside before they come looking for us,” I snicker. He chuckles with me.
“I think you’re right. Do you need some help?”
“I think I got it,” I say as I rise gingerly off of his now flaccid dick. We both wince at the separation and I retrieve my panties. After sliding back into them, I straighten my pencil skirt and check my hair and reapply my lip gloss in the rearview mirror while Christian readjusts his fly and zips his pants. “Do you really think I spend too much time on my appearance?” He looks at me and sighs.
“You just… you always look so go. I don’t know how you do it without concentrating on your hair and wardrobe every second,” he confesses. I shake my head.
“That’s strange. I thought the same thing about you when I answered that question. I said ‘no’ because I just thought it was effortless on your part. You even look good when you sleep.”
“As do you, Ms. Steele.” He closes the space between us and kisses me gently, then again. As his kisses become slightly more passionate, he pulls back a bit. “We better get out of this car before we end up fucking in here again.” I run my hand through his unruly hair.
“Okay,” I nod and take a deep breath before opening the door.
Like a good little tin soldier, Chuck is standing next to the elevator—several feet away from the Audi but still in clear view in case someone tries to walk up to it. He turns around and presses the call button when he sees us approach. I’m not even embarrassed around Chuck anymore. He’s the one that said we fuck like rabbits.
“I didn’t call you to debate this, Kavanaugh,” I say to Katherine’s father on Wednesday morning. There has still been no word from her about paternity testing.
“You can’t order me around, Grey. I’m just as powerful as you are and you don’t scare me—and you and your playboy brother aren’t going to bully my Katie into doing anything that she doesn’t want to do.” Playboy brother? Is he serious?
“You’re kidding, right? Your Katie doesn’t even know who the father of her child is and you’re talking about my brother’s philandering? Get your head out of your ass, Man! They were engaged, for fuck’s sake!” He scoffs.
“If men could get pregnant, your brother would have more children than he knew what to do with right now! He probably already does! How many women have the Greys had to pay off to keep quiet about a baby?” Actually, none, but I’m not having this argument with him. This is about his slutty little Katie who says that her illegitimate baby could be my brother’s, and that’s all that matters.
“Whatever, Kavanaugh. Throw whatever insults at my family you can to make you feel better about your daughter being a whorish little slut who’s trying to find the father of her baby. If your daughter hadn’t been such a lying, cheating, entitled little stuck-up bitch, she and my brother may have been married by now. Tell her that she has until Friday to produce Kevin. After that, she’ll be in violation of a court order.” I hang up the phone from Kavanaugh and immediately call up to McIntyre in Public Relations.
“The baby piece, run it—now,” I tell her. I’m not giving these fuckers the opportunity to spin this to their advantage. She won’t produce the child for paternity because she doesn’t know if it’s Elliot’s, so she’s trying to buy some time until she can come up with another plan. I’m not going to let her or her media family use this opportunity to make Elliot look like the man who deserted and dumped a poor girl after getting her pregnant. I hang up from McIntyre and call Elliot.
“It’s showtime, Man,” I tell him when he answers the phone.
“She’s not budging?” Elliot asks.
“I can’t find her. She’s hiding behind her father. The baby story is being released as we speak. I know you’ve been dealing with that paparazzi a bit since we made the first announcement, but you and Val need to be ready for the onslaught. Do you have your statement ready?”
“I do. Val deals with them all the time in her line of work, so she’s good to go. We’re ready for them, Bro.”
“Good, because I say that you’ll reach instant celebrity status in about 15 minutes and I know that the Kavanaughs are not going to take anything that we say lying down. You call Mom and Dad. I’ll let Ana and Mia know. It’s about to be a circus, but she needs to know that we’re not playing with her.”
“Thanks, Christian. I don’t know if I could handle this without you.” I hear him getting all melancholy.
“Aw, pull it together, Man. Your panties are showing,” I tease. This usually brings him out of the sulky mood before it starts. It works.
“That might be true, but yours are prettier than mine,” he shoots back. I laugh.
“Kiss my ass,” I retort.
“You first,” he fires back, and I know that he’s okay.
“Call Mom and Dad.”
“Yeah, okay,” and he ends the call. I immediately dial Butterfly.
“Well, hello, Handsome. To what do I owe this wonderful surprise?” she says over the phone.
“I just need to talk to my favorite girl. What are you doing?”
“Well, Grace is completely over the moon with this anonymous donation that she just got and she is about to have a meeting with the rest of the committee to figure out exactly how it should be budgeted. What about you?” I sigh.
“About to go to war, I think,” I say. She gets quiet.
“What is it, Christian? Tell me.” Her voice is subdued.
“Kavanaugh is hiding. She won’t answer her phone and she won’t return my calls. She drops a bombshell like this and then she disappears without a trace. This woman is truly Satan. I know she’s trying to use this kid as a bargaining chip. I know she is.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Go public,” I say. “She’s going to put some kind of spin on it that Elliot left her high and dry when he found out that she was pregnant and it’s going to cause my family hell. We’re coming clean in about five minutes and I wanted you to be ready for the media blitz that’s about to fall upon you.”
“What do you guys expect to accomplish by doing this—humiliate her into producing the baby?” It’s a genuine question and she asks with no malice.
“No, we’re getting a court order for that, but the media can make or break you. Her family is the media. We have to get there first.”
“Shit!” she says into the phone.
“What is it?”
“You might want to get to a television—your stories are running side-by-side.” Shit is right. GEH has put out a statement about the engagement and the break-up as well as the request to produce the child for paternity while the Kavanaugh media machine has released a statement about Playboy Grey who refuses to face his responsibilities forcing poor Katie into hiding to shield her son from the negative press.
“That’s it. We’re getting our court order today and we are making that public, too. The longer she drags this out, the harder it’s going to be on her.”
“Christian, what if it turns out that he’s the father?”
“He’s already said that he will take care of the child and be a father to him if that’s the case, but we’ll never know because she won’t present him for a paternity test. Andrea!” Moments later, Andrea is at my door. “Get Allen in here!”
“He’s not here. He left a few minutes ago and he left this message for you,” she says handing me a note.
“I heard that. What does the note say?”
“‘You’ll have the court order by the end of the day.'”
“That’s my Allen,” she says fondly into the phone. Things are moving so quickly that we now see Elliot on the screen.
“Turn to channel 9, and get my mom,” I tell her.
“She’s already here,” Butterfly says. I turn up the television to hear Elliot’s statement:
“I had a statement prepared for this, but then I had no idea that my ex-fiancée’s family would come out at me with all of these lies. I guess the normal response to something like this would be to lash out at her, but I’ve just had enough. If that’s how the Kavanaughs want to play it, that’s fine. I don’t really care. Everybody knows Katherine Kavanaugh and I were engaged to be married until we called off our engagement last summer for personal reasons. If they want to say that it was because I found out that she was pregnant, that’s fine—they can say that. The truth is that I didn’t even know that there was a baby until a week ago today. I told Ms. Kavanaugh that I had no problem taking care of my son—if he is mine. Unfortunately, there is a question about the baby’s paternity as Ms. Kavanaugh confessed to me that at the time, there was another man in her life.”
The flashes go crazy as Elliot continues his story. How did the news crew gather so quickly? Some of them were probably hanging around anyway. I quickly text him the news about Allen and the court order.
“At our meeting last week at my brother’s building, it was discussed that we would have a paternity test and then set a schedule where I would be a part of the baby’s life and have a very active role in his upbringing if it turns out that he is my son. We have been waiting for Ms. Kavanaugh to agree on a facility to do the paternity testing, but she has refused all of our calls and is now using her father and his media connections to make me look like the villain while she hides behind her family. I have only asked that she produce the child as I will be more than happy to own up to my own flesh and blood.”
He pulls his phone from his pocket and no doubt quickly reads my text.
“I have notice that we will have a court order by the end of the day demanding that Ms. Kavanaugh produce the child for testing. I will also be seeking a gag order against Kavanaugh Media and the Kavanaugh family until their daughter produces the child that could possibly be my son. So get all of your slandering out now, Mr. Kavanaugh, because I will be asking my brother and my father’s firm to put this in the works as soon as possible.”
I text him again to consider it done, then text Allen to get to work on a gag order while he’s at the courthouse. The reporters start firing questions at Elliot.
“Elliot, is it true that there is at least one other heir to the Grey fortune and that you father paid the young girl to go away?”
“No, that’s not true, and if you find that alleged young girl, you let me know.”
“Elliot, is Ms. Kavanaugh after your money and the fame of the Grey family name?”
“I don’t know what Ms. Kavanaugh is after. I had thought that she might have been trying to reconcile with me and I made it clear that I was madly in love with someone else and there would be no chance for us.”
“Were you seeing this girl while you and Katherine were engaged?”
“No, I wasn’t. I didn’t meet her until after we had called off our engagement.”
“Was she seeing this other guy while you were engaged?”
“We’re questioning paternity. You do the math.”
He’s holding his own very well, but I think his next answer is what made me the most proud of him.
“You said that you don’t know what she wants. Do you think she could be just another social climber trying to get famous off of the Grey name?” He’s quiet for a moment and this causes a hush to fall over the crowd of reporters.
“I loved this woman once, but it was not meant to be. She doesn’t need the Grey name, because she has a reputable family name of her own. I’m not a billionaire like my brother. I’m not even as rich as my parents. So I can’t see why she would be after my money when her own family has plenty of it. Again, I say that I am unaware of her motives, but I will not speak ill against her—especially something completely unfounded and based on nothing but speculation—because it may turn out that she’s the mother of my child, and I don’t want my son to grow up, look back, and see his father bashing his mother on camera! I believe what comes around goes around and I’m not sending that out into the universe to come back and bite me in the ass.”
“Katherine, Mr. Kavanaugh, produce the child. If he’s mine, I’ll sign the birth certificate today. Stop hiding behind these propaganda tactics because it will only make it harder for you, for me, and for the baby down the line. That’s all that I have to say.”
Elliot disappears back into the trailer on his work site while reporters still try to get more out of him.
“He did every well,” Butterfly says. Shit! I forgot that she was on the phone! I was texting and everything!
“Yes, he did.”
“Grace is not doing well. Something about wanted to kill a little blonde bimbo…” Yeah, that’s my mom.
“I can imagine.”
“Do you think they will come up with a surprise baby momma just to make you guys look bad?”
“Anything is possible, but whatever they do, it’s just going to make them look worse because Elliot has come completely clean. Are you okay?”
“Oh, I’m completely fine. I’m worried about Grace, though. She was going to have this committee meeting today but she called it off while I was sitting here. I think I had better go and check on her.” Andrea is buzzing me to tell me that my 1:00 is here and I certainly don’t want Butterfly to overhear this.
“No problem, Butterfly. Would you like to go to dinner tonight or just a quiet evening at home?” I ask her.
“Hmm, let me think about that. A date with my fiancé sounds fantastic, but a quiet evening at home has its advantages as well.” She is purring as she speaks. I smile.
“You are so naughty,” I say.
“What?” she replies, feigning innocence.
“Never mind, my little vixen. You let me know what you would like to do this evening and I’ll be ready. I love you.”
“I love you, too, Christian.” I end the call and tell Andrea to tell Lawrence to get his ass in here. I pull out the papers that I need and wait for Lawrence to come. Allen is at the courthouse and I don’t want anyone else on the legal team knowing what this is about, so Lawrence will have to serve as my witness. He steps into the door and I brief him on what is about to happen. He stands in the place that Jason usually stands—back by the bathroom and the bar. I’ve had the floors completely redone since the shooting and put a halt to the building of the quarters off of my office for now. I think I’ll just let Elliot finish it at a later date. I, of course, activate the recording device and tell Andrea that I am ready for my appointment.
She strolls in looking every bit of a cat on the prowl. This dress—if that’s what you want to call it—that she is wearing is nothing more than black asymmetrical straps of fabric barely covering her intimate parts and held together by more sheer material leaving nothing to the imagination. Exactly which of my security staff didn’t get the memo that this bimbo had to be wearing some clothes in order to get into my building? I don’t understand women. If I didn’t want you two months ago, what makes you think I want you now?
“I’m so glad that you agreed to see me,” she purrs. “I know that you wanted to teach me a lesson, and I’ve learned it… Sir. Tell me what you wish of me.” Oh, she is so pathetic.
“Have a seat, Ms. Hamilton,” I say, gesturing to the chair in front of my desk. She slides into the chair, pushing her barely-there mini-dress up her thighs a little further. I don’t even look at her. I suddenly want to get her out of my office and my building as quickly as possible. I hand the contracts over to Lawrence who hands the first one to her. She smiles widely, and I am certain that she is thinking that I am contracting her as a submissive again. She looks at the papers and her smile fades instantly.
“What is this?” she asks, horrified.
“This, Ms. Hamilton, is what happens to women who don’t know how to keep their mouth shut!” I snap. I’ve got her attention now. “I know that your business is worth nearly nothing now, and that only the fact that you are a subsidiary of Grey Enterprise Holdings has been maintaining your goodwill to this date. I know that local vendors and some national won’t do business with you and I know that you have lost most if not all of your clientele. I know that your overhead is more than your income and that you depend highly on your connection to my organization when you need additional funding. I know that your first quarter financial statements are dismal at best and that three banks have turned you down for a business loan unless you can get my signature. Having said all of that, I am exercising my buyout clause in the contract when I bought out Hildenbrandt LTD.”
“You’re buying me out?” she says, almost giddily.
“Oh, no, you’re mistaken. You see, when I acquired Hildenbrandt, you were one of the miscellaneous subsidiaries… but then again, you already knew that. What you didn’t know is that even an airtight contract is never airtight. You see, ever subsidiary has the option to buy out their interests from me at any time. So that is what I’m offering you—the opportunity to buy me out. You can walk away with your whole business—completely owned by you with no interference, support, or backing from me. That contract that you’re holding stipulates my conditions and my price.” She thumbs through it quickly. She not as air-headed as the Pedophile, so she knows what she’s looking at.
“Are you insane!?” she screeches. “There’s no way I can come up with that kind of money! Where did you even get such a ridiculous price if my business is so damn worthless?”
“Well, I had to factor in the years you have been a subsidiary of GEH and the amount of time you have piggybacked off of the company’s good name, not to mention the hit to our credit score when your loans go south—loans that you took out as a subsidiary of GEH which will, at some point, fall back into my lap. There’s also the fact that while under the GEH umbrella, you took full advantage of funds that were set aside for use for failing subsidiaries—even though you didn’t need the money and weren’t failing at the time. Don’t you wish you had waited for just such a moment as this before you helped yourself to those funds? Finally, I had to factor in the painful truth that you are just a class-A bitch that doesn’t know when to leave well enough alone!”
She narrows her eyes at me and I glare at her. She shrinks a bit under my glare. That’s right, Bitch. I’m still a Dom and you’re still a sub, even if you’re not my sub.
“I… I can’t come up with this kind of money… Sir,” she says. I realize that she’s either using that term to get to me or because she has no idea what to call me.
“Very well.” I gesture to Lawrence to hand her the other contract. “This is your other option.” She takes a deep breath before she looks at the contract. She can see immediately what it is and goes right to the dollar amount.
“You can’t be serious,” she says, her voice soft and laced with disbelief.
“Oh, I’m very serious. If I buy you out, there is all kinds of damage that I will have to repair before I can do anything with your name. Even your competitors don’t want your assets. Believe me, I’ve asked. As you well know, Tamara McDaniel landed the job that you threw away and even with the name that you’ve made for yourself over the years, she wants nothing to do with your shell of a company. If I buy you out, I would be doing nothing but spending my time repaying your debts and repairing the damage that you’ve done. You should be glad that I’m offering you anything at all instead of just requiring you to sign it over to me and walk away.”
“But $20,000! That is nothing, and you know it, especially since you’re the one that caused all of this damage in the first place!” she accuses.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I lie.
“Oh, give me a break! You badmouthed me to my vendors and suppliers, even the agencies that extended credit to me! No one would work with me because Christian Grey was talking shit about me! Even my clients fell off because of that. The ones that stuck around left because I couldn’t get what they needed. Are you actually going to pretend like you have no idea what I’m talking about?” I shrug.
“I saw a bad investment, so I pulled out of it in word before I pulled out of it in deed,” I say flatly.
“I’ll just bet you did!” she hisses. “You did the same thing to me that you did to that Lincoln woman! Is that what you do—use women up and throw them away when you’re done with them? I feel sorry for your little soon-to-be wifey!” And now I am seeing red.
“Oh, see, now that was the wrong thing to do. You just compared yourself to a woman that I would gladly see lying dead at my feet, so I suggest that you tread very carefully from here!” I hiss between gritted teeth. “You’ve made this bed, now you lie in it. And another thing, don’t you ever attempt to think you know anything about me and my little wifey. Never in a million years could you be half the woman she is on her worst day. So be glad that I haven’t snatched your tongue out of your mouth for even daring to refer to her!”
I didn’t know that I had come out from around my desk and am now bearing down on her so hard that she is almost bending backward in half. “Pick your poison, Ms. Hamilton, or I will liquidate your company and leave you with nothing!” I growl.
She reaches around me, careful not to touch me, and picks up one of the contracts. Backing away from me, she turns to the signature page and signs the contract. I don’t need to see which one she signed. I already know. She throws the contract and the pen at me.
“You think this is it?” she says. “I can go completely public with your story now. I’ve got nothing left to lose.” I smile at her.
“Ah, I so love hearing that statement. You see, you never know what you have left to lose until you lose it. Make no mistake, Little Darling, I can guarantee you that no matter where you go or what you do, I will find what you have left to lose if you cross me.” I lean close to her face again. “Ms. Hamilton, I know what car you’re driving, what you had for breakfast, and what color your underwear are right now and not because of that skimpy ass dress that you’re wearing. Do you honestly think there’s anywhere in the world that you’ll be safe from me?” She’s nearly shivering, holding back her tears.
“What do you expect me to do now?” she says, her voice laced with both hatred and fear.
“Leave,” I say with no feeling and wait for her to do as I ask. She looks at me again, waiting for further instruction. Receiving none, she turns and walks to the door. However, in the time that she was my sub, she learned me well. She knows there’s more. When she gets to the door, she stops and waits.
“Very good,” I say. “When I say ‘leave,’ I mean leave town. Take your $20,000 and get the hell out of Washington. Don’t mention my name or my wife’s name directly or even refer to us in the abstract ever again in your life. I have money to burn and I will do just that making sure that I know where you are every hour of every day until the moment you take your last breath. If you get married, have 16 children and dare to tell the 16th child about our relationship, I’ll know. So keep your mouth shut or I will make you regret the day that your were born. Now get the fuck out of my office.”
She drops her head without turning around. She knows that she’s defeated. Without another word, she opens the door and walks out, not bothering to close it behind her.
A/N: For the sake of argument, we will say that Ana only played basic Chopsticks and Christian played the rest. The demo on Pinterest would indicate that Ana had much better piano skills than she actually possesses.
Pictures of places, cars, fashion, etc. can be found at http://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/mending-dr-steele/
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Love and Handcuffs!