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 51—You Want A What???
“Calm down, Man. No matter what happens, it’s going to be okay.” I try to calm Elliot’s nerves while we wait for his name to be called.
“I know. I know, Bro. I just want this to be over so badly. What if she doesn’t show up? What if this is another one of her…” Before he finishes his sentence, William and Katherine Kavanaugh show up with Baby Kevin. They both sit down without making eye-contact with any of us, but Valerie is throwing death glares at Katherine that could start a war. The silence finally prompts Katherine to raise her head and freeze. Valerie doesn’t blink.
Katherine is visibly uncomfortable. Ana battled Katherine with words well before she was driven to slap her. Valerie looks like she could lunge herself at Katherine’s milky white throat right now if she weren’t carrying that baby.
I look from Valerie to Katherine and back to Valerie. Elliot and I look at each other while Katherine nervously clears her throat. Kavanaugh looks up and clearly says, “Pay her no attention, Princess. Some people were never taught how to behave in public.”
“I wouldn’t worry about me if I were you, Pops,” Valerie retaliates before I even get the chance to scoff. “My father isn’t sitting next to me trying to discover my baby’s paternity.” Ouch! “So while you’re talking about how I act in public, you apparently failed to even teach your daughter how to behave in private!” Elliot hisses at the venom in Valerie’s voice.
“You have no idea who you’re talking to!” Kavanaugh barks.
“Likewise, you don’t know me either,” Valerie bites back. “We’re in the same line of business, Gramps, so don’t try that powerplay shit with me. I can spin a story faster than any of those second-rate pencil-pushers or weatherman wannabes that you have working at those B-rated cable shows of yours or those gossip rag tabloids that you dare call newspapers. So don’t try me, because I do bite!” Fuck me! Hell, after that speech, I don’t want to cross Valerie. Kavanaugh is trying to think of a comeback when a woman whom I assume is the court clerk appears from a door to our right.
“Elliot Grey and Katherine Kavanaugh,” she says with efficiency. Elliot looks over at me and stands. He squeezes Valerie’s hand and without looking at Katherine, he walks over to the clerk.
“Elliot Grey, Ma’am,” he says. She nods and gestures him inside. Katherine and her father stand and proceed behind him.
“Um, I’m sorry. Only the mother, baby, and potential father are allowed inside. You have to wait here, Sir,” the clerk tells Kavanaugh without flinching. He glares at her for a moment, but she just turns her head to Katherine. “Ma’am?”
“Katherine and Kevin Kavanaugh,” she responds indignantly. The clerk smirks a bit at her paperwork and holds the door open.
“Right this way,” she says, gesturing Katherine into the doorway. Katherine throws her head in that snobby, debutante fashion that she has learned and walks beyond the door. The clerk just shakes her head and closes the door after following Katherine inside.
“Christian, I’ll be outside. I need some fresh air. Present company makes it too hard to breathe,” Valerie says, looking directly at Kavanaugh.
“I’ll text you the moment that he’s out,” I say. She turns her steely gaze from him and looks to me with grateful eyes.
“Thank you,” she says before leaving the waiting room. I immediately pull out my blackberry and start going through my emails. I know that he’s watching me. I can feel his eyes on me.
“Are you waiting for my hair to change color?” I snap, looking up at him and catching his glare.
“No,” he hisses back, “there’s no full moon and it’s not midnight!”
“Good one, Gramps!” I say, purposely borrowing Valerie’s term. “So, tell me, any more ‘young’uns’ on the way? Will my people turn over some rocks and find that Baby Kevin is going to be able to grow up alongside his aunt or uncle?”
“Keep your fucking voice down, Grey!” he growls looking towards the door his daughter just walked through after my brother.
“And watch your fucking tone with me, Gramps!” I growl. “I’ve had just about all that I can take from you and your selfish, prissy, stuck-up, entitled ass daughter. So why don’t we just sit here quietly and wait to find out if the Greys and the Kavanaughs are doomed to deal with each other for the next 18 years?” He narrows his eyes at me.
“I hope to God that baby is not your brother’s!” he says. I chuckle.
“Is that supposed to be an insult?” I laugh. “You know, Bill, the only person in this world that is hoping that baby is Elliot’s is Kate! I am hoping on my lucky stars that Kevin isn’t Elliot’s. If he’s not, her problems have just begun. I spoke to Roger on her behalf when she showed up in my office two weeks ago and do you know what he said? ‘No way I’m being tied to that shrew for 18 years.’ So once this DNA test proves that your daughter is a lying, cheating little slut, my family and I will have a party celebrating the fact that your grandchild isn’t a Grey. Then, we’ll send her flowers and condolences that her son will grow up just like half of your children… without a father!” I glare at him again and his eyes are shooting daggers at me.
“Now, unless you want me to make the announcement about her extended family to Princess the minute she walks back through that door, I suggest that you find another fucking focal point in this room and stops fucking talking to me.” It’s my turn to stare him down. He breaks my gaze after a few moments and moves to another part of the waiting room. He is such an asshole.
I talked to him the moment that I hung up from Ethan yesterday and let the cat out of the bag about Jordan and the lovely little package I had set to be sent to Eliza Kavanaugh. Of course, I had no package ready, but the fact that I knew all of the details of his prenuptial agreement as well as the very hospital where Jordan was born was enough for him to convince Katherine to produce Kevin for paternity testing. I don’t know what he said to her to get her here and I don’t care. I’m just glad that she’s here and we can get this over and done, one way or the other.
My mind drifts to last evening when Butterfly and I had our second couples session with Reverend Martin. That certainly could have gone better. Ladies and gentlemen, tonight’s argument will be brought to you by child-rearing questions! Do we teach the little buggers who’s boss or let them run all over us and act however they want? During our questions about child-rearing, we discovered that I am a believer in corporeal punishments while Ana, not so much. She’s more of a “time-out, privilege denial” type of girl.
I never felt those methods worked. They didn’t work for me. I was a tyrant of a child! We argued all through the session, back and forth about this one thing—not the number of times we should have sex, not whether or not she would work once our children were born, not even how many children we planned on having, but whether or not we would spank our children when they needed to be punished. The car ride home was silent, but once we got to the penthouse, the gloves were off again.
“Don’t you understand that the kids will run over us if we don’t discipline them correctly? They are already going to have whatever their hearts desire. There must be a form of punishment or they will grow up being entitled little brats!” I argued.
“You just said it—they’ll have their hearts desire. Taking those things away from them and removing ready access to them will be just as effective if not more than beating them!” she retorted.
“Who said anything about beating our children??” I asked, horrified. “Did you forget that I was abused for the first four years of my life? Do you think I would allow that to happen to my kids?”
She didn’t finish her sentence.
“But, what, Anastasia?” I asked, waiting for her to finish her sentence. She never did. But what? Oh, God… she doesn’t think…?.
“But. What. Anastasia?” I asked slowly. Then I knew, and she knew that I knew. She thought that I wanted to punish my children because that’s what I do when I lose control. She thought that was the only form of discipline that I knew and that spanking meant some kind of cruel, control exercise on my children like it did on my subs.
My heart fell into my stomach. This is the same woman who, not two days ago, was proclaiming her never-ending love to me and then, she thought I was some sort of sick, sadistic fuck that would extend my BDSM practices in some way to my children! I wanted to vomit. I think she said something to me, but I was already on my way into my study before she could get her words out. I think I heard her say something about running, but I didn’t care. I slammed the door to my study and locked it behind me.
I remember leaning against the door, yanking off my tie. I couldn’t breathe. I think I was completely naked before I could pull in a whole breath. I sat on the floor counting, wondering how she could think I could do that to my children? To any child? Did she think I was a monster? How could she even suspect? I don’t know how high I had counted… 1000… 10,000? There was a light knock at the door.
“Sir, would you like something to eat? Or drink?” It was Gail. She was concerned, but I was crushed.
“Please leave me alone,” I said to her. That’s the last thing I heard before daylight this morning, when there was another knock at the door before someone tried the door knob.
“Christian?” Her voice cut right through me, both because she hurt me so badly with what she thought of me and because I could hear the pain and concern in her voice and I wanted to take it away, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t see beyond my own pain and I couldn’t even speak. “Christian, are you okay?” I couldn’t answer her.
Moments later, maybe minutes, hours… I don’t know… there was another knock at the door.
“Boss? You okay?” I took a deep breath and rolled my eyes. Clearing my throat, I answered, “I’m alive.” I heard her gasp, then sob as her heels quickly clicked away on the marble floor.
I’m sorry, Butterfly.
“Boss, I don’t know what’s going on, but I’ll be back at this door when she leaves. If you don’t open it, I’m calling your mother.”
Needless to say that when Jason got back to that door about 10 or so minutes later this morning, I was off the floor and dressed. Gail set breakfast in front of me, her eyes questioning. I was wearing the same clothes from the day before and I hadn’t showered. I ate because I knew that these snitches would call my mom if I didn’t, but the lump in my stomach didn’t allow me to each as much as I normally would.
“You may want to shower. Your brother called,” Jason said…
So now I’m here sitting across from this asshole waiting for Elliot to come out of the room so that we can get out of here. It took several minutes before Elliot was walking out of the same door he had gone into.
“Let’s go. Where’s Val?” he asks.
“She couldn’t tolerate present company,” I said, texting Valerie that we were on our way out. “She’s waiting outside for you.”
“Little girl can’t take the heat?” Katherine says under her voice. Elliot turns to look at her.
“You have no idea when to quit, do you?” he snaps at her. “Eat shit and die!” he adds.
“Not before you!” she hisses back. I expect him to get angry, but he doesn’t. He looks from Katherine to William, back to Katherine. He shakes his head at her in disbelief. This is the first time that I see any emotion in her or her father.
“There was a time when you meant everything to me,” he said softly. I could hear her gasp at his confession. “I loved you so much. I wanted to spend my whole life with you—waking up to your beautiful eyes every day. I can’t believe you’re that same woman. What happened to you?” His voice almost sounds tortured and Katherine looks like she’s going to cry. “If I did this to you, if I turned you into this, I’m sorry.” He sighs heavily and looks at the ceiling before saying, “Goodbye, Katherine,” and I know that he means it this time. He walks out of the waiting room without another word.
“Don’t speak too fast! You’ll be seeing plenty of her if this is your baby, Grey!” William spits to Elliot’s retreating back, but he doesn’t stop. He doesn’t even pause or look back. He keeps walking until he reaches the door. Once he proceeds through it, I turn back to Kavanaugh.
“I don’t think it matters anymore,” I say to him with no malice. It’s a statement of fact, not a cheap shot. Elliot’s done. “Did he do this to you?” I ask Kate. She shakes her head.
“No,” she whispers. “He didn’t.” She cradles Kevin close to her before looking up at me with tear-filled eyes. “Kevin is not his,” she says softly. “I can see it when I look into his eyes. He’s a beautiful, wonderful blessing… but he’s not Elliot’s.” Her words are breathy and pained, like she’s pushing them out. “He’ll get his confirmation in two weeks. After that, I’ll never bother him again. I’m sorry.” She quickly gathers Kevin’s diaper bag. “Let’s go, Daddy.” She walks quickly across the lobby and Kavanaugh falls in step behind her. This whole ordeal has given me a massive headache. I look at my phone again for the text or email that I hope is there, but I know that it isn’t. It’s my turn to walk the long trek across the lobby to the front door.
Kate is standing at the top of the stairs, looking down and across the parking lot. Elliot is holding Valerie close to him, kissing her tenderly and occasionally looking longingly into her eyes. You can feel their love in all directions. Even people on the street are stopping to stare, smiling at them.
“He used to hold me that way… look at me that way. I’ll never have that again. I could live a hundred years and I’ll never get it again.”
“You never know, Kate,” I say, almost feeling sorry for her. She looks up at me with a sad smile.
“I know,” she says, tears streaming down her face. “He’s one of a kind and I’ll never meet anyone like him again.” She starts down the stairs. She pauses only to watch Elliot lead Valerie to his truck by her hand. He kisses her again before he opens the door for her and helps her into the truck. Closing the door behind her, he walks around to the driver’s seat and climbs in. “I had my chance. I blew it… big time.” She looks down at her baby. “Now I need to concentrate on him.”
“What about his father?” I ask as Kavanaugh pulls up.
“Roger doesn’t want him,” she says. “I won’t force him to be a father. I can take care of him on my own.” She walks the few remaining stairs and to her father’s car. “I’ll stick around until he gets the results so that he doesn’t think I’m running away with his child. Goodbye, Christian.”
“Goodbye, Katherine.” That’s the most human I have ever seen her, except for those few moments outside of my parents’ house—the night that she broke off her engagement with Elliot almost a year ago. Kavanaugh drives away with his oldest daughter and grandson without throwing another glance at me. Elliot and Valerie drive away without looking in my direction either. Now, I have an aching need to find my Butterfly.
When I get home later that evening, there’s no Butterfly. Is she running again? She said that she wouldn’t do that anymore. I choke down some of my dinner alone, then call my mother.
“Hello, Christian. What’s going on?” Mom asks, and I already know that she knows something is amiss.
“Ana’s not home, Mom. Did she come to Helping Hands this afternoon?”
“Yes, she did. She said that she wanted to do some yoga in the community room after closing. Maybe she’s still there.”
“Can I get in there after hours?” I ask.
“You’ll have to go in the back. Security is there until 11. I’ll call them and tell them that you’re on your way.”
“Thanks, Mom,” I say before hanging up. I go to the garage and get in my RS7. Then I call who I should have called in the first place.
“Are you still at Helping Hands?”
“Is she okay?”
“It seems so, Sir, but she’s alone in the community room.”
“Where are you?”
“Standing outside of the door.” So she doesn’t want Davenport near her either.
“Okay. Thanks,” I tell him.
“See you in a minute, Sir.” Arrogant asshole.
A few minutes later, I’m pulling in next to Butterfly’s Audi and moments after that, security lets me into the back door and tells me where to find the community room. I find Davenport standing outside of the room guarding the door and I hear music inside.
“Sir,” he says with a nod.
“How long has she been in there?” I ask.
“Not long. Maybe 20 or 30 minutes. This is the first time she’s stayed around until the center closed.” I nod at him. When another song begins to play, I sneak into the room and hide in the shadows. She’s wearing yoga pants and a sports bra with short socks and sneakers. Her hair is in a ponytail and she is sweating. She looks beautiful. The lights are low and only one area of the room is well-lit—the area where she is dancing. I thought she was doing yoga. I watch for a while as she dances with free abandon like she did at the club the first night I watched her dance, lost in her own little world, her own little peace. Her hips sway from side to side and mesmerize me just like they did then. I fight the urge to go to her and hold her or to outline her body and feel her energy the way that I did that night.
Then the music changes again. A soft, beautiful melody begins to play. The music starts to swell slightly, and Butterfly removes her shoes and socks. She slides her ponytail holder out of her hair and onto her wrist. A solitary voice sings softly about a woman painfully and slowly making her way to Jesus. I watch as my Butterfly rises from her cocoon once again, her body and fluid movements telling the story of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and hair. I stand in awe and watch yet another talent that I didn’t know my fiancée possessed. Her hands paint the picture and her legs launch her from one pose to another, spinning her around as her arms flow through the air in beautiful lyrical twirls.
How did I not know that she could do this? When did she find the time to practice and I not know that she could dance like this? She moves across the floor beautifully interpreting Mary’s pain and shame as she pays tribute to her Savior the only way that she can. At that moment, I feel Butterfly’s pain. I feel her ache and my chest hurts. She dances, twirling and aching and beautifully spreading her pain throughout the empty room with her legs and hands and arms and feet and hair for a whole five and a half minutes. I counted. It seemed like eternity.
When the soft voice ends with a long, sad note about a box made of alabaster, Butterfly ends her dance, her body bent so that she is kneeling face down on the hardwood floor. One arm is stretched out in front of her and one is bent behind her. Her beautiful mahogany hair hides her whole head and face… and she begins to weep bitterly. I feel each of her tears as her body shakes and she sobs inconsolably. I can’t take it anymore.
I don’t know how I get to her so quickly or how she didn’t hear me coming. I don’t know how I fall down next to her on the hardwood floor without hurting myself. All I know is that I lift her into my arms and hold her close to me, so close that I feel like I’m going to squeeze the air out of her tiny body.
Let it out, Baby. I’m here. I’ve got you.
I can barely make out the music as song after song plays and Butterfly weeps in my arms. I don’t know how long she cries before she turns around in my arms and begs me to forgive her for what she thought. She can barely form her words and all I can feel is her pain and shame as she repeatedly begs my forgiveness.
“Sssshhhh,” I soothe her. “No more, please,” but she can’t stop. Her anguish is consuming her and she weeps and weeps. I take off my suit jacket and wrap it around her shoulders. Lifting her in my arms, I instruct Davenport to collect her things and meet us at her car. After gathering her purse, shoes, socks, and street clothes, Davenport unlocks the door to her Audi. I’ll send someone back for my car. She is still crying when I climb into her back seat with her still in my arms; when we get back to Escala and ride the elevator up to the penthouse; when I carry her through the great room under the watchful and confused eyes of Gail and Jason; when I lay her in our bed and hold her close to me, cradling her in my arms as she cries herself to sleep.
I wake in the middle of the night and she is lying on her back staring over at me. Her crying has stopped, but her eyes are swollen and tired.
“I’m sorry,” she breathes. I take her hand in mine and kiss her palm.
“I know, Butterfly,” I say.
“I know that you would never hurt a child. I know that you wouldn’t hurt our children. I’m so sorry, Christian.” I lean up onto my arm and stroke her face.
“Please, don’t do this,” I tell her. “I know that you know that I wouldn’t hurt our children that way. That’s all that matters. Please don’t apologize anymore. I can’t stand to see you hurt that way.”
“And I can’t stand to see you hurt that way… because of me… Christian, please tell me that you forgive me.” This is what she needs. This is what we need.
“I forgive you,” I tell her kissing her hand, her cheek, then her lips. “I forgive you, Butterfly.”
“Thank you,” she whispers, sliding her arms around my neck. “I love you, Christian. It was old fears and mistrust and… never you, Christian. You’re my protector. Never you…” I know what she’s trying to say in all of her babbling. “I love you, Christian. I love you so much.”
“I love you, too, Butterfly,” I whisper. She looks up at me with questioning eyes and I realize that she thought she broke us. My performance didn’t do much to dispel that theory. I was hurt and broken by what she thought I was capable of, but here she is begging for my forgiveness and aching to know that I still love her. I cradle her in my arms and kiss her with everything I have in me, with all the love that I can muster. This is not a sexual moment. This is Butterfly needing to know that I love her down to my core.
“Yes,” I say honestly, “it hurt like hell that you could think I would do something like that to our children, but even in my pain, I understand why that’s the first thing you thought. We never talked about this, never discussed how we would handle things, which is why it really is a good idea that we do this couples’ counseling. But Butterfly, we have to set some ground rules.” She looks at me with big, frightened blue eyes. I think I could ask her to walk on water right now and she would do her very best to make it happen.
“Okay,” she says timidly.
“First, we broke our rule not to go to sleep with unresolved issues… well, I broke our rule, so we have to remember not to do that again.”
“Okay, I can do that,” she says.
“Second, we have to know that there are going to be disagreements throughout this process and we are going to have to work them out. We have to know when to talk about them and when to call a time-out so that we don’t do or say anything to hurt one another.” She nods.
“That’s a good rule,” she agrees.
“And finally, even though you may hurt me, or I may hurt you—intentionally or unintentionally—you have to know, remember, and never forget that nothing can ever make me stop loving you. If you stopped loving me…”
“Never, Christian,” she interrupts me touching my face. I cover her hand with my own.
“But even if you did, I couldn’t stop loving you. I don’t know how. Do you understand me?” I implore her. Her broken blue eyes transform and are filled with love. She heard me. Thank God, she heard me.
“Yes,” she whispers with a nod. I gather into my arms and kiss her once more.
“I want to ask you something, but I don’t want you to get the wrong idea.” Butterfly and I are sitting next to each other at the breakfast bar eating bacon, eggs, and pancakes when I decide that I should approach the conversation that Ethan and I had on Monday. She raises her eyes from her plate and puts her fork down.
“What is it?” she asks softly.
“Have you thought about us signing a prenuptial agreement?” She freezes for a moment, then I think the logical part of her wins out over the emotional part.
“Why do you ask? Do you want a prenup?” she asks with no malice. I shrug.
“I don’t really give a fuck about the material shit,” I tell her, “but as much as you say that it doesn’t bother you, people do talk. My net worth is enough to buy a third-world country and I don’t want to see you get hurt.”
“Why would I get hurt?” she asks. “I’m not going anywhere and neither are you… are you?”
“Of course not,” I reassure her.
“Besides, a prenup is going to feed into everybody’s thoughts that I really am a gold-digger,” she reinforces.
“Having no prenup is unrealistic and everybody knows that, too. A prenup says that you’re not after my money, you just want me. No prenup says that you refuse to marry me without knowing for sure that you could walk away with half my assets.” She sighs.
“A prenup says that we aren’t secure in our relationship and we are taking out a warranty on our marriage. No prenup says, ‘fuck ‘em, we don’t care what they think,’” she says, dropping her head, “but I’ll do whatever you want, Christian. If you want a prenup, then we’ll sign a prenup.” I take her hands in mine.
“It’s not what I want to do, Butterfly. It’s what we want to do. If you are dead set against a prenuptial agreement, then we won’t sign one, but to be honest, I would like for you to be protected if I bump my head and turn into an asshole.” Her eyes shoot up at me.
“Don’t even play like that, Christian,” she scolds in a tortured voice. I squeeze her hand.
“Okay, I’m sorry, but you just never know what’s going to happen.”
“What brought this on?” she asks. “Was it because I thought…”
“No! No, that’s not it at all,” I say turning to her. “All this shit with the Kavanaughs. I found out that they have a prenup that would nail William to the wall if his wife knew what I know. I couldn’t understand how he could be such an arrogant fucking asshole all these years and she just… let him. I never want that to be us, ever, but I do want you to be protected if from some ungodly reason, I turn into an asshole.” She doesn’t make eye-contact with me. She shakes her head as if she’s trying to forget some horrible thought, then waves her hands in the air.
“Fine. Fine, draw up whatever you want, I’ll sign it,” she says, now staring at her food.
“Baby, listen. I won’t draw up anything if you‘re against it…”
“Just do it, Christian, please… I don’t want to talk about this anymore.” Now I hate that I brought this up. I don’t think I would ever do anything stupid, but this is a lot of money that we’re talking about. I don’t want anything to happen to Butterfly or for her to find herself at any disadvantage if I ever happen to take complete leave of my senses.
Butterfly stands and takes her plate to the sink. She knows how I hate wasted food, but she’s not paying much attention to that as she scrapes the remainder of her breakfast into the garbage disposal and places her plate into the dishwasher after rinsing it. She washes her hands in the sink, dries them, takes a deep breath, then looks at her watch. She walks out of the kitchen and back to our bedroom. I know that she’s going to brush her teeth, so I quickly call my accountant and tell him to get my portfolios together and meet me in my office in an hour. Then I fire off an email to Allen to do the same thing. I’m just finishing when she comes out of the bedroom with her purse and keys.
“I have to go,” she says. “Grace is expecting me. We have to decide what we’re going to do with this space at the center.” She kisses me quickly on the cheek then attempts to make a clean getaway. I catch her around the waist and pull her back over to me.
“I don’t want you to be upset about this,” I press.
“I don’t understand. I don’t see why we need one. I don’t want your money, I never have. I could have kept that evil woman’s 20 mil if that were the case, but you seem to think we do, so… do whatever you need to do.” She still won’t raise her head and look at me. I want to tell her why we should do this, but I don’t think she will understand. “I have to go, Christian,” she says again. “Really, Grace is expecting me.”
“I’ll call you later?” I ask, she nods and walks to the door. I hold her hand until the last possible minute, and then she’s gone. I put my elbows on the breakfast bar and thrust my hands into my hair. It’s always been me—just me. There has never been anyone else to be concerned about when it came down to my money, my assets, my company. Now, there’s going to be a wife and most likely children—and I have some of the most ruthless lawyers alive. Butterfly doesn’t know that there are so many loopholes and fail safes in place in my portfolios that my estate could be stuck in probate when our great-grandchildren are in college. I have to protect her… to make sure that there is a portion if not the majority of my wealth that can only be accessed and controlled by her. In order to do that, there has to be a prenup in place. I also need to update my will and my advanced directives as well as my declaration of trustee. I know that I’m doing the right thing for her and for us. I just need her to see that.
A prenup. A fucking prenup. I turn over $20 million to him that was in my name that I could have hidden and never told him about, and he wants a fucking prenup. My head has been swimming all day. He has to know that I don’t want his money. Now because Kate is a bitch and her father is a whore, he’s approaching me about a goddamn prenuptial agreement. It must be because of what I thought when he mentioned corporeal punishment. That’s the only thing that’s changed. Even when we had the press conference and I was being attacked by the press left and right for months about being a gold-digger—even then, he never once mentioned a prenup. Now, all of a sudden, we need a prenup because “you just never know what’s going to happen.”
I love him. I really do, but the thought that he thinks we need a prenup makes me wonder if I should even marry him. I mean, does he really think I’m after his money? Didn’t I prove myself with She-Thing Sr’s $20 million? I guess not. I want to cry. I really want to cry, but I think I’m too stunned and hurt to cry. Plus, I’m tired of turning into Weepy Wilma every time the proverbial sun goes down in my life. I just have to deal with it.
“Why don’t you all take the measurements over there and let me know if it’s going to be enough room for what I have in mind,” Grace says, dismissing some people who are looking into remodeling some unused areas of the center. Once they are gone, she turns her focus to me. “Okay, Ana, you’re a million miles away and not in a good place. What’s going on?” I raise my eyes to her, then shake my head.
“No offense, but you have to know that I can’t talk to you about it,” I tell her, dropping my eyes to the clipboard and nothing in particular.
“Ah,” she nods, “so it’s Christian.” She walks over to a window seat and wipes it of any stray dust before sitting down. She waits for me to sit without saying a word. “I think the third and fourth floor would work well as a shelter, but there’s so much involved in getting that off the ground.” She says nothing else and waits for my response. I sit next to her on the window seat and push my hair behind my ear.
“We would have to hire new staff, around the clock. We would need at least one social worker on staff…”
“Well, we have that, but I think we would need more. It’s a massive undertaking.” She looks around the space that we are occupying. “I want to use this space for classes—adult education and GED, tutoring, that sort of thing. Depending on what we decide to do, we would have to definitely drum-up our fundraising activities. Twenty million is a lot, but it can be gone in no time in renovations and salaries.” I nod.
“Yes, you’re right.” I’m again looking at nothing on the clipboard when I blurt out. “He wants a prenup.” Grace falls silent.
“Oh,” she says, her voice laced with shock. “Did he say why?” I shrug.
“Does it really matter?” I ask, defeat oozing from my pores.
“I take it you don’t want this,” she says.
“I just don’t see why we need it,” I respond. “I’ve never wanted Christian’s money. I thought he knew that,” I say looking at her. “We had a difference of opinion and the next thing I know, he approaches me about a prenup.”
“Is that really all that happened? I know my son can make some snap decisions, but this seems a bit ‘out of the blue’ even for him.” I look down again and push my hair behind my ear once more.
“He talked about William Kavanaugh and his wife and their having a prenup. Then he said something about protecting me in case he turns into an asshole.” I feel the dread coursing through my body and threatening to take over. I’m not going to cry. I refuse to cry. “It doesn’t matter. I love him. I’ll sign anything he wants.” It still hurts though. She cocks her head at me.
“You know, not many people know this, but Cary and I have a prenup.” My head snaps to her and I look at her like she’s a little green man from Mars. She nods and smirks. “We certainly do,” she reinforces. “Cary was considered to be from the ‘wrong side of the tracks,’” she continues. “He’s from a blue-collar family and I’m from a white-collar family. My father had no intention of letting his Bloomfield Hills debutante daughter marry the son of a Ford factory worker from Detroit without an iron-clad prenup in place. I was completely against it. I fought him every step of the way, but Cary just said the same thing you did…’I love you and I’ll sign anything he wants.’”
“But this isn’t you and Carrick asking for the prenup, Grace. This is Christian.” I put my hand on my forehead. “Listen, I don’t really care about a prenup. I really don’t want Christian’s money. I never did. True, we have fun and do great things because he’s a billionaire, but if he didn’t have a cent, I still wouldn’t care. It’s not the prenup that bothers me, because if we didn’t work out, I’d walk out of that marriage with nothing anyway. There’s nothing that I would want. What bothers me is that I don’t really know why he wants the prenup and that it came right on the heels of a very sensitive disagreement that we had—one, by the way, that we still haven’t sorted out.”
I sigh heavily. “I can’t help but wonder if I’m being ambushed, like if I don’t agree with him there will be some huge price to pay.” I look up at her. “The fact that he wants a prenup says a lot—that I’m not really certain about what he thinks of me… what he thinks I want of him. It makes me not want to spend another dime of his money on anything. We’re having this extremely extravagant wedding, and I haven’t paid for anything—not even my underwear… well, yet. But every time a payment or a down payment or a delivery is needed, out comes the Amex Black. You would actually probably shiver at the cost of my dress. And this?” I thrust my hand in her face and show her my exquisite engagement ring. “This probably cost more than my damn condo… but we’re talking about a prenup.” I laugh sadly and shake my head. She takes my hand and squeezes it a bit.
“You know, my father nearly had a conniption when we finally did sign the prenuptial agreement.” I can tell that she remembers this fondly as she smiles while telling the story. “I had agreed to sign it because it was practical. Cary was just starting out as a lawyer and I as a doctor. His family didn’t even come to the wedding. They thought that he was turning his back on them and their way of life. They still feel that way. I doubt that you will be meeting any of them at the wedding.
“Anyway, I had the prenup written so that Cary would be more protected than me. If something happened in our relationship, I had my family. Cary had nothing. True, he has made quite the name for himself now, but when we started out, it was just us and not a lot of money. Daddy—God rest his soul—would have liked to see it remain that way. We leave the marriage with exactly what we brought into it. Well, I refused to let my father see my terms before Cary and I signed the agreement. Imagine his surprise when he discovered that I had given Cary most of my current assets as well as some of my possible future earnings… including my trust fund. Daddy had a fit. He threatened to disown me if I didn’t rewrite it. I told him to go right ahead because if I didn’t have Cary, any money that he could take would mean nothing to me and I was not going to allow Daddy to bully him. So… don’t give up on Christian yet. You never know what he’s got cooking in that mind of his.” I sigh again. I wish I could be as confident as she is about all of this, but we will just have to see.
I’m quite shocked to see that Christian is already home when I get there. I don’t know if he was just coming out of his study or wandering around the penthouse. He kind of freezes when I come into the house.
“Hi,” he says, his voice a little nervous.
“Hi,” I reply, my voice uncertain. I will not treat him differently. I will concentrate on acting normal.
“How was your day?” he presses.
“Um… busy,” I lie. I can’t even remember what all I did today. “Yours?”
“Busy, too,” he says coming over to me. “Are you hungry?”
“Sure,” I say, searching for my appetite. I know it’s there somewhere. I didn’t finish my breakfast and I haven’t had any lunch.
“Would you like to go out to eat? Gail wasn’t feeling well today, so I gave her the night off. I don’t think she has voluntarily taken a day off since she worked for me.”
“What’s wrong with her? Is she okay?” I ask.
“Yes, she just said that she was a bit under the weather and wanted to take a nap. I told her to take the evening off. So it looks like we’re on our own for dinner.” I take my Mulberry messenger bag off my shoulder. I swapped my briefcase for it since I don’t spend as much time in the office anymore and I’m always carrying some piece or pieces of the wedding around with me.
“I’ll fix us something,” I say, making my way to the kitchen. He heads me off.
“You don’t have to do that,” he says softly. “We could go out… or order in if you like.” I twist my lips slightly then agree.
“Okay,” I shrug, “We can order Chinese if you want. I’d like some of that shrimp fried rice with the whole shrimp in it.” He nods, almost happily.
“Okay, anything else?”
“Some fresh sushi,” I say.
“Any preferences?” I shrug.
“California roll, sashimi, definitely ikura… a variety. Surprise me.” He nods as I start to walk away.
“Where are you going?” he almost sounds panicked.
“Up to the guest room. I have a few things to wrap up for the wedding and a couple of appointments to make.” He nods at me.
“Okay.” I rise up the stairs and go to Wedding Central. That wasn’t so hard. I didn’t look into his face much, but I didn’t avoid his glances either. Was I too cold? I did offer to make dinner. I don’t want to be different, but if I act like this whole prenup thing isn’t affecting me, I’d be lying. I sigh and sit on the bed, pulling things out of my messenger bag.
“Why are you so damn crabby today?” Tamara asks me as we are checking some of the final things off my checklist.
“I’m not crabby!” I snap. “I’m just… tired.”
“Well, don’t conk out on me now. We’re in the home stretch and we’ve almost got this puppy locked down.”
“Except for that fucking Bentley,” I almost hiss.
“See!? That’s what I mean. I don’t know what’s got your butt in a bunch, but we’re not going to get anything done tonight with that attitude, so I’ll talk to you tomorrow.” Fuck it, I’ll ask Christian about getting the Bentley.
“Fine,” I say ending the call without another word. I know she’s right, I’ve got a bug up my butt, but I don’t care. We’ve got the music locked down. I’m going Saturday for the first fitting of my gown and to pick up the shoes and accessories for the girls. I’m going to look at some things that will fit my dress as well. We have locked down the guest list and it looks like a cool 300 with the possibility of 50 add-ons. That’s still more than I wanted, but I’ll live with it. I’ve got my wedding favors, three different kinds. They’re cute, but not spectacular. Hell, this is my wedding. I’m the one that’s supposed to be getting gifts.
The menu and bridesmaids dresses have been finalized. None of those girls better gain any weight or they will have to pay for their own alterations. Christian and I will do the final tastings for the menu next weekend. We will give the final head count to the castle, caterer, and cake baker at that time. Al has fabulously handled the florist, procuring a guestbook, creating a seating chart, and ensuring that the wedding announcements will be mailed the day after our wedding. I think that’s enough for one day. I take off my glasses and massage my eyelids.
“May I come in?” His voice breaks my train of thought. I can tell that he’s walking on eggshells and honestly, I’m just trying to come to grips with why he wants this damn prenup without acting like a total bitch.
“Sure,” I say, trying to sound inviting but not phony. He walks in and tentatively sits at the foot of the bed. My mess is a little less frantic as we draw closer to the wedding. The more things we get scheduled and taken care of, the less I have to be concerned about and the less little pieces of paper and swatches and pieces of information I need floating around my workspace or in my messenger bag. He picks up some random piece of paper and asks, “What are you working on?”
“Nothing in particular,” I answer. “Just checking some things off of my quickly diminishing list, except…” I almost don’t want to ask for anything at this point. He’s already thinking about protecting his assets—maybe it’s a better idea if I just forget about the Bentley.
“What is it, Butterfly?” he presses. I try not to roll my eyes and I just spit it out.
“I’d like a classic Bentley. I don’t know what it will cost and Tamara seems to be having a terrible time finding one and on such short notice…”
“Consider it done,” he says before I can finish my thought. I’m caught completely by surprise. Surely if the wedding planner can’t find a Bentley, he won’t be able to find one at this short notice.
“Really? You can find one in time?” He smirks at me.
“I know a few people, Baby. I can find a classic Bentley,” he says.
“Are you sure it’s okay? I mean… it could really cost a fortune…” His expression changes a bit and I can’t get a read what he’s thinking. In a moment, he has snatched me from the bed and I am lying over his lap. He is kissing me feverishly… passionately… and he’s snatching the air from my body. I melt into his embrace as he siphons all of the resistance out of me. Noting my surrender, he holds me closer to him, one hand supporting my head, the other supporting my back. His kisses are softer now, intermittent, but stealing my breath nonetheless. He pulls away from me only enough to look into my eyes and I know that I am completely dazed and confused.
“You do know how much I love you? How you mean the whole world to me? That I would never as long as I live do anything to deliberately hurt you… you do know that, don’t you?” His voice is soft and pleading. His tone and his words reach right into me… right to my heart and soul and make me gasp.
“Yes,” I whisper, unable to do much else.
“Then please, please, trust me on this… please…” He closes his eyes and caresses my nose with his and I immediately know what he’s talking about. Nothing I said or did—even in its subtlety—could hide my feelings. His face is pained as he brushes his lips against mine, silently begging me to understand what he is doing.
“Okay,” I breathe, stroking his hair and absorbing his love as well as his uncertainty. He covers my mouth with his again and his relief is palpable. He kisses me earnestly before burying his face in my neck and holding me close. I begin to feel a little guilty again, like I caused him unnecessary pain. Yet, although I know that I have to take responsibility for my actions—like thinking what I did about him punishing our children—I also have a right to my feelings and concerns, speaking of which…
“Baby, we still need to talk,” I say softly in his ear. He squeezes me again like he’s trying to draw strength from me before he releases me and allows me to sit up on the bed. I straighten my hair and clear my throat. “Our children and… the spanking…” He inconspicuously releases the breath that he was holding. This is clearly not the conversation that he was expecting, but I just don’t want to talk about the prenuptial agreement anymore. I meant it when I said that I would sign whatever he wants.
“Okay,” he says softly. “I am a proponent of spanking, not because of my lifestyle or even to cause pain to our children, but because I truly do consider it an effective means of discipline. After a certain age, I feel that spanking is no longer effective for those purposes, but as a manner of teaching right from wrong, I highly recommend it.”
“What do you consider a spanking?” I ask. He pauses for a moment.
“It depends on the age and sex of the child and the severity of his or her actions,” he says. “A small child needs no more than to be bent over the knee and a few swats to the butt in most cases. Bigger children may require that they bend over and be spanked with a paddle or a brush.” Okay, that bothers me.
“Bigger children… how big?” I’m not convinced that his method is as effective as he does.
“Well, I don’t know. I mean, an 11-year-old boy could be three to five feet tall depending on his physical make-up. A 17 year old could be four to six feet tall, so I guess that question is fairly relative.” I drop my head like my neck is hurting. “Talk to me, Butterfly.” I sigh.
“I don’t see where spanking is an effective method of child-rearing at all. I can’t dismiss your argument on its merits, particularly when discussing teaching a small child right from wrong. However, I can’t see any part of me at any time being able to tolerate my children being disciplined with a foreign object. At that point, I think that if a child is too big to be affected by a swat on the butt with a hand, they are too big for a spanking and other methods of discipline have to be employed. Those methods can be more severe, depending on the child’s behavior, but hitting my child with a paddle…” I shiver visibly. Christian quickly grasps my elbows and begins to run his hands up and down my arms.
“Okay,” he says, resigned. “I can see this bothers you a lot and I didn’t really know how much. So you can somewhat see the merits of spanking, but definitely not with a paddle, brush, or any foreign object.” I shake my head feverishly without making eye-contact with him. “I can understand that. Then we need to decide what we think is too old and too big for a spanking and what we plan to do as punishment for when our children get out of line after that age. I’m sorry, but I just don’t see how taking away an iPhone—or whatever space-aged contraption they’ll have when our children are teenagers—is going to be of any consequence to them whatsoever.”
“We’ll come up with something, I’m sure. Besides, I’m a shrink. Mental warfare is fun to me, I just haven’t had a chance or cause to use it yet. What better way to put it to use than to torture my children?” He frowns, feigning disapproval.
“This from the woman who shivered a moment ago?” he asks. I shrug.
“It’s like you said, we don’t want them to grow up being entitled little brats.” He just shakes his head.
Butterfly and Allen go off with Tamara to the first gown fitting with three temperamental designers that have to combine their ideas for Butterfly’s gown. I head off for my last shooting lesson with Ray. Jason goes with me to see how I handle a firearm, but only in an unofficial capacity at the orders of Her Majesty Mrs. Taylor. He and Ray both tell me that I overcorrect a bit from the recoil, but that will work itself out with more practice. After a few hours at the range, Ray gifts me the Glock G17 that I learned to shoot with and we decide to go have lunch to celebrate finishing my classes.
We get a semi-private table at Ruth’s Chris Streakhouse as I am desperate for a New York strip. The conversation goes in every direction as Ray talks about Amanda and her wildly fluctuating hormones as she gets closer and closer to her due date. He seems very happy about becoming a father, but more concerned about Butterfly’s feelings since this child will actually be his biological baby while Butterfly is not. I assure him that she is way too concerned with planning this wedding to be affected by sibling rivalry right now. What’s more, she adores Amanda and is very happy that her father will be giving her a little brother or sister.
After a little reassurance, he asks me if I have actually filed the paperwork for my license to carry a concealed weapon. I assured him that I had taken care of all the necessary paperwork and that I had passed the background check. Jason is in possession of my firearm until the permit actually reaches me, which I should see it any day now. I pick this time to tell him and Jason about the prenuptial agreement. They both look at me like I have completely taken leave of my senses until I explain to them why I want the prenup. The reasoning goes over Ray’s head as he assumed certain things were understood when it comes down to married couples. I assure him that he is correct in essence, but in reality, the lawyers hold all the cards—especially in terms of business.
They both commend me for thinking ahead on this matter. I almost can’t take credit for it as it was Kavanaugh’s faux pas that made me think of it in the first place. However, I won’t tell them that.
More and more, Jason is shedding his sling. He admits that his arm and shoulder still get a little tender if he leaves the sling off for too long, especially on the days where he has his physical therapy. However, he’s using it more and more as of late and can’t wait until things get back to normal again. Gail has agreed to let him do a couple of ride-alongs—so to speak—each week to get him back in the swing of things, as long as they are not on the days when he has physical therapy. He’s just thrilled to get back in the game in any way whatsoever. I think being locked up in Escala was driving him into temporary insanity. A man who is accustomed to action cannot take too many quiet evenings at home.
I have to say that I am going to miss the weekends with Ray. We’ve gotten kind of close during this bonding experience and I’m having a hard time letting go of that. Without sounding like too much of a sap, I ask him if we can get together for a couple of beers and watch the game next Saturday. I have no idea what game is playing, but it just wouldn’t feel right to just take my gun and run. Ray smiles knowingly at me and agrees, saying that we will see what “the women” are doing and maybe make a day of it. I’m more relieved than I expected to be. I enjoyed these Boys’ Weekends with my father-in-law. It’s getting me to thinking that maybe I should call Dad and invite him somewhere, too.
Yeah, I’m turning into a sap.
Butterfly isn’t home yet when I get back to the apartment, so I take this moment to give British Motor Coach a call.
“May I speak to Arien please?”
“Mr. Arien is unavailable at the moment. May I take a message?” the smug voice on the other end says.
“Yes, tell him Christian Grey is calling.” The line goes quiet. I didn’t say to tell him that I called. I said to tell him that I’m calling. Mr. Smug on the line says, “Christian Grey?”
“Yes, Christian Grey.”
“One moment please, Sir.” It takes maybe 30 seconds before I hear, “Arien speaking.”
“Arien, Christian Grey here. How are you?”
“Mr. Grey, I’m well and yourself?”
“I’m doing well. I need the impossible and I know that if you can’t do it, you can point me in the right direction.” That introduction assures that he will definitely get me what I want. This is the same company that we used for the limousines for the Adopt-A-Family Affair and any time I have needed a car for a red carpet event. He wants to keep me happy.
“Of course, Mr. Grey. Anything you need. I will move mountains to get it done.”
“Excellent. You know that I was recently engaged…”
“Yes, and congratulations, Sir.”
“Thank you. Well, your company already has a standing NDA with me, so I can tell you that the wedding will be June 29th. My bride-to-be has made a specific request and I will pay any amount to the first company that can get it done.” He is the first company I have called and probably the only company I will call, but he might as well think that there are others.
“I understand, Mr. Grey. What is the request?”
“She wants a classic Bentley—during the afternoon for pictures and to take us from the reception site to the airport.” The line goes quiet and I hear him exhale.
“A classic Bentley… in June… on such short notice…” I can hear the wheels turning from here. “I’m not saying that it’s impossible, but… it could get to be quite costly, Mr. Grey.”
“Arien, we’re getting married in a castle. She is somewhere now talking to three dress designers—three—who have agreed to collaborate on her gown. I am expecting that creation to cost me five digits, but I am prepared to pay six. Her ring cost more than most people pay for houses and this Bentley is the only thing that she has asked me for specifically. You tell me what I am willing to pay for it. I’ll leave that information with you and start calling my other contacts to see if they can make this happen.”
“Um, no need Mr. Grey. Can you give me a few days to secure the vehicle? I’m sure I can get what you need.”
“Absolutely. I will look to hear from you later this week.” I end the call.
What Butterfly wants, Butterfly gets.
A/N: 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!