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 57—I’m A Little Teapot…
“I’m sorry, Baby.”
“Who are you?” He walks toward me. I don’t know who he is. He seems familiar, but I just don’t know.
“I did this. I’m so sorry.” He’s still walking toward me, but the space between us is not closing.
“You did what? Who are you?” I have a need to know who he is. He’s not threatening me, but the fact that he won’t tell me who he is…
“I wish I could fix it… fix her… but I can’t.” He’s talking in riddles. I have no idea who he is or who he’s talking about. “I have to go now.”
“Wait!” I reach for him and the space between us grows. His legs aren’t moving, but he’s moving away from, like he’s floating. “Come back. Who are you? What did you do?” He’s still floating backwards and now I’m walking forward trying to catch him. He’s getting away and now, for some reason, I have a desperate need to know who he is and what he’s talking about.
“Please come back…”
“Baby…” Another voice is wafting towards me through the midst. It’s not the same voice.
And he’s gone.
“Baby…” I still hear the voice. It’s familiar, too, but it’s not the same. I fight the urge to curl up small… fight it hard. I feel lost and alone, like I needed to hear what he had to say, and now he’s gone. I feel myself shivering.
“Baby…” The voice still calls to me. “Baby… wake up.”
I open my eyes and Christian is gently rousing me from my sleep. I see the look in his eye and I just want to cry. Who was the man in the dream? Why did I recognize him but not recognize him? Why did I yearn for him to come back and not recognize Christian’s voice when he called out to me? “Are you okay, Baby?” he asks, his eyes filled with concern.
I don’t know what to say. How do I tell him that I was just dreaming of another man? I want to cry, but I’m frozen. He cups my face with one hand and kisses me gently. “It was just a dream, Baby. It’s over now.” His kind words are my undoing and I start to weep. Why am I crying? I don’t even know who the guy was.
He called me Baby, too.
“Hold me, Christian. Please…” He pulls me close to him and spoons me, kissing my hair and bare shoulder repeatedly.
“Just a bad dream, Baby,” he says again, caressing my skin. I am still tender from how many times and how many ways he made love to me tonight—from the front, from the back, vaginally, anally, orally, standing up, lying down, against the wall, on the counter, on my knees. I don’t know what happened at Poker Night, but he was unquenchable. We only stopped because I was exhausted. Christian could have gone on all night. “Do you want to talk about it?” I shake my head, but start talking anyway.
“There was a man. I don’t know who he was. He was apologizing to me… I don’t know… I want to know who he was. Why would some random man be apologizing to me in a dream?” I haven’t been resting enough. I’m tired all the time and now it’s beginning to catch up with me. The wedding is all planned. There’s nothing else for me to do but another fitting or two and just show up. Why am I so damn tired all the time? And now I’m dreaming crazy dreams about men that I don’t know? This has to stop.
“Just a bad dream, Butterfly,” he says as he strokes my hair. “Sleep, beautiful girl. I’ll protect you and I’ll be here to wake you if the bad dream comes back.” He kisses my hair again. I nod and sink down into the comfort of the bed and Christian’s arms.
I wake to the morning’s light shining in my face and Christian wrapped around me like a vine, his face buried in my neck. He effectively chased away the Boogie Man and I was able to sleep comfortably through the night. I gently unwind myself from his grasp, only slightly disturbing him but he falls immediately back into sleep. I put on one of his shirts and some underwear and go in search of breakfast.
When I get to the kitchen, I am pleased to find a Belgian waffle iron that I never knew we had. I start several strips of bacon then mix the ingredients for waffles. After spraying the iron with non-stick cooking spray, I pour a generous amount of batter onto the heated surface and close the lid. I fetch eggs, strawberries, and whipped cream from the refrigerator and come back to turn the bacon. I make quick work of cutting a few strawberries and as soon as I finish, the light on the waffle iron signals that they are ready. I remove the perfect waffle, spray the iron again, and pour the batter for the second.
After placing the bacon on a rack to drain a bit, I set about the easier task of eggs. Hmm… sunny side up, I think—like my mood. When I have finished two perfectly sunny eggs and placed them on plates, I situate the bacon and waffles on the plate with them. Deciding to give Christian the hottest waffle that just came off the iron, I sprinkle them with confectioner’s sugar, add a dollop of whipped cream and several cut strawberries. I put the plates on the rolling tray with orange juice and coffee and head towards our bedroom for breakfast in bed with my man.
He is sitting up in bed, a bit perplexed–by my absence, no doubt. His furrowed brow is replaced by a prize-winning smile when I roll the tray of food into the room.
“Good morning, Beautiful,” he croons as I bring the tray closer to the bed. I climb on to give him a peck and he envelops me in his arms, dips me back over his lap and locks his lips onto mine.
Oh. My. Fuck. My panties have suddenly become flammable material and my coochie is seeping gasoline.
He is holding me so close to him with my arms pinned against my body and I can’t move. His tongue is doing a sensual dance with mine and he is devouring me. I feel my nipples turning into pebbles and I am dripping. When I say dripping, I mean dripping! His hands move up my back and one hand thrusts into my hair, holding my head in place as he continues to consume me. I moan into his mouth and my body is aflame! I swear there is unbearable heat in my core and I feel like I’m going to explode.
My nipples are hard as stone brushing against the fabric of his shirt and he is all over me all at once, somehow holding my legs closed while pressing me against him. He doesn’t come up for air and he doesn’t allow me to come up for air. It’s one long sensual, sexual, searing hot kiss that lasts for an eternity. His tongue is pushing me closer and closer to my wit’s end. When he groans in my mouth, it sends a jolt of electricity straight down my spine and to all the right places. I squirm in his arms. It’s almost unbearable. What is he doing to me? His kiss becomes more intense, his tongue more deliberate, his groan deeper. It’s getting hotter, harder to breathe, and before I know what’s happening…
I come! I fucking come!
I’m writhing and shivering in his arms wondering what the fuck just happened! What the hell did he do to me? He was so ardent in our sex last night, I can’t even explain it. He was claiming me, owning me, marking me without… marking me. I don’t know what got into him, and now this. What was this? He has made me come fifty ways of Sunday, but never with just a kiss. I mean… damn!
“Christian… wha…” I try to speak.
“Sssshhh,” he silences me gently against my lips. He kisses me again and runs his tongue through my mouth once more. “You taste so good, almost as good as your clit against my tongue.” Oh, shit, is he trying to start the fire again?
“Christian…” I breathe.
“Yes?” he answers, his voice oozing with seduction.
“What was that?” I pant. He looks at me with a coy smile.
“I think they call that an orgasm, Butterfly,” he says, cocky pride hiding in his smile.
“I know but… what was that?” I repeat. I silently examines me for a moment.
“That was my love, adoration, and desire for you coming out in a kiss and consuming you until you came,” he says, his baritone voice caressing my ears and almost making me forget breakfast… almost.
“I… made you breakfast,” I breathe. I don’t know why I said it. I think the rolling tray was a dead giveaway.
“So I see,” he says moving to sit me up.
“No,” I protest. “Don’t let me go. I’m… still light-headed.” He smiles and lays me down instead of sitting me up. He moves so that he is hovering over me, his hands on both sides of my head. He brings his mouth down to my breast and bites my nipple through his shirt.
“Ah! Christian, please,” I mewl.
“Don’t worry, Baby,” he croons, “I won’t fuck you. I just want to play with you a bit.” Thank God! I honestly think I sprained my pussy last night… or something… either way, coming a minute ago on an already tender pussy was quite the experience. I don’t think I could take it again.
“I don’t want your food to get cold,” I say softly, playing in his hair while he unbuttons my, erm his shirt and kisses me down my stomach.
“I won’t let it get cold,” he says, his warm breath brushing against my pubic hairline, or fuzzline I should say. Time for a wax. The hairs on my arms stand up and I feel goosebumps where his lips touch my pelvic bone.
“I love the way your body responds to me.” His voice is so soft, so deep, and I’m being transported again. His hands are wandering in various places and I surrender to his touch. Just as I am slipping into comfort, he says, “What did you fix me?”
Huh? Oh! Breakfast. “Belgian waffles with whipped cream and strawberries, bacon and eggs… sunny side up.”
“Oh, how sweet.” Something’s wrong, I can tell immediately. I lean up on my elbows.
“What is it?” I ask him. He smiles sweetly.
“I have a thing about runny yolks, Baby,” he says with mirth. Now how did I not know that?
“I’m sorry, Christian. I’ll make you some more,” I say, making my way out of bed. He rises over me and pushes me back.
“You’ll do no such thing,” he chides, softly. He brings one of the plates to the bed from the rolling tray and uncovers it with a flourish. “Now that truly looks delicious,” he says. He picks up a piece of bacon and takes a bite. His eyes close in appreciation as he crunches it between his teeth. He brings it to my lips and I take a bite, savoring the salty crunchiness myself.
“Very good,” he praises as he now begins to cut a piece of the waffle. Loading his fork with a strawberry, some cream, and the cut waffle, he digs in to his breakfast. He hands me my plate and one of the glasses of orange juice and I gladly dig in to my food. We eat in relative silence, smiling at each other now and then. He has masterfully cleaned his plate of everything but the egg yolks. They both sit on his plate, unbroken, the whites of the eggs completely gone. How did he do that?
“Are you perfect in everything, Mr. Grey?” I ask, examining the untouched yolks.
“Well, I don’t think so, but I am a bit of a perfectionist,” he says, putting the dishes back on the tray. “Stay here. I’ll go refresh the coffee.” I watch his beautiful form as he pushes the tray out of our bedroom. I don’t have anywhere to rush off to, but I do need to reschedule Mandy’s baby shower. Harry’s early birth meant that Mandy was in the hospital last night, which was the original date for the shower. She’s coming home today, but the hospital wants to keep Harry for a while, just to make sure his lungs develop fully.
I can’t help but think about how close of a call this was for Daddy and Mandy. She was so scared and so was I. It was really very frightening. Good Lord, please don’t let anything happen to me while I’m carrying Christian’s children. He would have a fit! My face must be quite contemplative because I don’t even hear Christian come back into the room until he asks, “What’s wrong?”
“I was thinking about Daddy and Mandy,” I tell him. “Her shower was supposed to be last night.” Christian sets the coffees on the night stand and joins me back in bed.
“You’re going to reschedule it, right?” he asks, handing me my coffee. I nod before taking a sip.
“Yes. It shouldn’t be that hard. Everyone most like already have their gifts purchased. We’ll just have it at Daddy and Mandy’s since the baby is already born, and I’ll just give everyone the new date. It shouldn’t be too difficult.”
“Your father thinks the world of you, you know,” he says before sipping his coffee.
“I know. I’m so happy for him and just so glad that I could be here for the birth of his son. My daddy is the world to me, you know.”
“I know,” he says with a smirk. “He was trying to tell me last night that you loved me more than him.” What? My eyes get wide. Why would Daddy think that? Where could that have possibly come from?
“What?” I ask a bit stunned. Christian takes my hand and kisses it gently.
“Don’t worry about it, Butterfly. He knows better. You know how Daddies can get with their Sunflowers.” I smile.
“You two have been talking,” I say.
“Yes we have, and I’ve already told you too much so don’t ask any more.” He kisses me on the lips and sips more of his coffee. Daddy and Christian have been talking. Did they talk about babies and marriage and the future or just boring guy stuff? “Don’t look at me like that, Ms. Steele. I don’t want to spill my guts.”
Oh, I wish I could remember that look I just gave him for future reference.
“Fine, Mr. Grey. Keep your secrets, but don’t say anything when I have a juicy little tidbit that I refuse to share.” I wink at him before getting out of bed.
The weekend was filled with planning and more planning—changing Mandy’s baby shower to this Friday and her and Daddy’s place, and more last-minute plans for the wedding. Every time I think we’ve done everything that we’re supposed to do, something else pops up that we forgot—the favors, the place cards, a few RSVPs. I woke in a frenzy on Wednesday morning after having a dream about that man again—familiar, yet not familiar. Dark hair, sad blue eyes, and young… handsome, but I’m sure that I never saw him before. He was apologizing again. I’m certain that it’s my mind playing tricks on me, like the many times Harris has appeared in my dreams since he and David kidnapped me last year.
David… I haven’t heard anything about the trial, yet. The last I heard it was supposed to be next month, right around my damn wedding. Then I heard there was going to be another continuance, so we’re stuck in limbo again. He’s been in jail for nearly a year already. Why would he want to keep delaying it? His attorney is battling in civil court to keep his assets—and get paid—but Al says that it’s actually looking pretty good for me. We asked for most of his net worth and it looks like I could walk away with it, if not just under it. I think civil court is waiting for the outcome of his criminal case. Although one shouldn’t affect the other, I still think the verdict could have some bearing on how it turns out.
Chuck and I are leaving Helping Hands on Wednesday evening when I get the urge to look around. I don’t see anything particularly strange. There are a few people mulling about here and there which is not unusual since there is a strip mall across the street, but I still feel uncomfortable.
“You’re not imagining it,” Chuck says to me. I turn to look at him.
“What?” I ask.
“There’s a woman across the street who has tailed you for the last couple of days now. I’ve already submitted a picture to Alex.” I try not to panic or look around.
“Where?” I ask calmly, but irritated. He raises his eyes, but not his head.
“Roughly to your 8:00—older, brown hair.” I look up at the sky, trying to figure out how look at this woman without giving away that we know she is standing there.
“I’m very irritated right now, Chuck,” I hiss.
“Why?” he asks, bemused.
“You need to let me know when there is possible danger nearby. First of all, I don’t need to be blindsided by it. Second of all, you know that I am capable of defending myself and I have been nothing but cooperative with you since the kidnapping. So I really would like to be a part of my personal protection if you don’t mind,” I say as low as I can.
“Ana, we can talk about this, but can we please not do it in the middle of the parking lot?” he says firmly, gesturing to the car. I stomp to the car like an errant child and stand near the passenger door waiting for him to open it. From this angle, I get a perfect view of the woman standing across the street. She looks harmless enough—long brown hair, soft features, at least twice my age. Unless she’s an undercover ninja or carrying a gun, I don’t think she could really hurt me. I get in the car, remembering my irritation at Chuck for not keeping me in the loop. When he gets into the driver’s seat, I tear into him.
“Okay, now we’re not in the open parking lot anymore. Do you want to tell me why this bit of information was kept from me?” I snap. Chuck turns to me and is very serious now.
“Do you have any idea how many people stare at you during the day?” he snaps back. “Men—and some women—look at you like you’re a T-bone steak. I can see them undressing you with their eyes and fantasizing about you nearly at a rate of one every 10 minutes. Women look at you like they want to rip you apart with their bare hands, more than the others fantasize about you. It’s my job to keep an eye on them—and you—and make sure that doesn’t happen. If I told you every time someone turns their eyes and looked at you—even for more than a day—you’d be at Defcon One 24/7. I only told you this time because you clearly got that feeling that someone was watching you and I thought you deserved to know. So while I appreciate that you are capable of defending yourself, I’m going to ask you to please respect the fact that I am highly trained in what I do and not to question me about how I do my job!”
Boy! I’ve never seen him this mad. I pushed the wrong button this time.
“I’m… sorry,” is all I can say. He’s clearly very angry and unable to respond. He starts the car and pulls out of the parking lot. The ride home is silent. I think I really stepped over the line this time. It’s just that I feel like I deserve to know if I’m in imminent danger.
Get real. You know he would tell you if that were the case.
I know, but don’t I have the right to ask?
It’s like he said, if he told you every time, you’d be on pins and needles.
I know she’s right, but has to be some kind of happy medium. I shouldn’t have found out that this woman was following me and watching me only because I got a creepy feeling. Nonetheless, I will clearly have to approach this topic another day because it’s dead in the water right now. Chuck is white-knuckling the steering wheel all the way back to Escala. I don’t bother waiting for him when we park. I jump out of the car and dash to the elevator. It’s only a few feet away and he can watch me from the car. I look around and make sure there is no imminent danger in the vicinity and board the elevator, punching in the code to the penthouse before the doors close. I’m not in the mood for a tense ride to the top floor.
I exhale deeply when I get off the elevator. Jason is waiting for me in the foyer. What is this all about?
“Unless you want to go in there and tell him why you’re looking like someone stole your puppy, you might want to wait for Chuck.” I frown at him.
“Oh, are all of you going to treat me like a child now?” I snap. I’ve had about enough of this shit.
“No, but if we tell him that you’ve been followed by some strange brunette for the last couple of days, he’s going to flip his wig. Now how would you like to handle this, Your Highness?” he says coolly.
“Don’t be a smart-ass, Jason. I’m not in the mood,” I grumble.
“I don’t ask much of you, but I do ask that you cooperate with your security detail. It’s the only way that we can properly protect you,” he says. I glare at him.
“He says I was uncooperative?” I ask, appalled. All I did was ask why I wasn’t told about the phantom brunette. How was that uncooperative?
“Um… well…” Just as Jason is tripping over his tongue, the elevator door opens and a perturbed Charles Davenport steps off. I look up at him briefly, turn around, and storm into the apartment. How dare he! I nearly run face first into Christian’s chest.
“Whoa!” he exclaims catching me by the arms. He is clearly taken aback by my expression and he leans back a bit to examine my face. “What’s wrong?”
Jason and Chuck are right on my heels. I turn and point.
“Ask them!” I nearly scream, wrenching myself from Christian’s grip and stomping to our bedroom like an angry toddler. I realize that I’m acting like a spoiled brat, but I don’t care. All I asked was for Chuck to tell me if my safety was really being threatened so that I could be prepared. That went from trying to tell him how to do his job to the white-knuckle silent treatment to him telling Jason that I was being uncooperative. Either something’s going on with Chuck or something’s going on with me. Either way, I need to be alone right now.
I strip out of my clothes in 2.2 seconds, don a short terrycloth robe and go to the en suite. I need the comfort of the familiar, so I run a hot bath and pour the bath soap in it. Immediate calm washes over me as the scent of lemongrass citrus assaults my nostrils. I drop my robe and step into the water before the tub is even full. I fill the tub almost to over full before I turn off the hot water and disappear into the bubbles. I sit there for a moment thinking of all the things I’m still waiting to hear about…
Does Myrick have an accomplice?
What’s the deal with his father and trying to convince this Robyn character that Christian is his brother?
How did he hook up with She-Thing?
Exactly when is David’s fucking trial?
Is there really a red button?
Where the fuck did that come from?
I don’t know. I just thought I’d throw it in there.
Oh, you got jokes.
Just trying to make you feel better.
I appreciate the Bitch’s efforts, but right now I am too angry at the testosterone in this house to feel better. Feeling the need to be completely covered in my lemongrass citrus, I sink down into the water and allow it to cover my head. Hopefully, it will rinse away the thoughts of the day. While submerged in the water, I spread the luxurious bubbles over my knees which currently are the only part of my body not under the water. After a few moments, I reluctantly emerge from the water, pushing my hair back and wishing for the first time that I could breathe water and stay there forever. I sigh heavily as I lean back on the tub and try to relax.
Even with my eyes closed, I can hear the slight irritation in his voice.
“I was getting there,” I reply.
“If you’re coming to scold me like those other two dicks, save your breath. I was not uncooperative and I was not telling All-Of-A-Sudden-I’m-Robocop how to do his job. I was only asking to be informed. That’s all. If those two macho, chauvinistic, testosterone-driven, chest-beating, Neanderthal…”
“Ana!” Christian stops my rant right in the middle of my name-calling. Dammit! I had some good ones lined up. The surprise in his voice is evident. “Calm down. They only want to keep you safe. We all do. We may get a little enthusiastic about it, but it certainly doesn’t have to be like this.” I lean back into the tub and close my eyes.
“Just get those Terminator Wannabes out of my house. I don’t feel like dealing with them right now.” I’m taking no prisoners and I don’t care about anybody’s feelings.
“I can’t throw Jason out. He lives here,” Christian answers sardonically.
“Well, then, send him to his room!” I snap before I even know it. His silence causes me to open my eyes and look over at him. He’s glaring at me like he doesn’t know who I am. “What?” I shoot.
“What’s going on, Anastasia?” He says it slowly like I’m keeping something from him. I sit up a bit in the bathtub.
“I’m not sure what you’re asking me, but I don’t like being treated like a child—not by them and not by you. I only asked him to keep me informed if he felt that I was in some kind of danger. He acted like I lopped off his balls and handed them back to him on Popsicle sticks. I get upstairs and Jason is telling me how to behave, then I get in the bath and they send you in here to handle me!” He jerks back almost like I pushed him. Yeah, take that, Grey!
“Nobody sent me in here to handle you. I’m trying to find out what’s going on. You’re biting everyone’s head off and no one knows why. Did something happen at work today?” If his irritation was masked before, it’s quite clear now—but so is mine.
“Oh what’s wrong? The little woman is not allowed to be upset because the big bad men want to jump down her throat?” I nearly yell. I can’t even describe the look that comes over his face. It’s a combination of confusion, anger, disbelief, and something else that I can’t even place. Suddenly, it’s replaced by complete stoicism and impassivity. He stands up straight in the door and speaks very clearly in a business-like tone.
“You know what? I don’t know who your fight is with today, but it’s not with me. So I’m not going to stand here and have it with you. If you want to berate Davenport for treating you like the ‘little woman,’ you know how to reach him. If you want to chew up Jason for telling you how to behave, I’m sure that you can find him in his room. As for me, I’ve done nothing wrong, so I’m not going to fight with you.”
Before I have a chance to rebut, he turns around almost military style and is out of the en suite and the room in just a few long strides. Good! He shouldn’t have been in here in the first place!
What exactly did he do wrong?
If you’re going to take his side, you can leave, too.
No! What exactly did he do wrong?
Have a seat, Bosco. I’m talking right now. What exactly did he do wrong?
She’s really not going to leave me alone… and she’s pissed!
He took their side against me.
And how did he do that, by asking you what the hell was wrong?
Did you hear the tone that he was taking with me?
I sure did, after you took a tone with him!
Well, she’s not helping at all.
He should have just understood that I want to be kept in the loop. He’s keeping things from me, too, you know.
Then maybe you should have talked to him instead of barking at him! I thought we were done going off the deep end on shit.
I didn’t go off the deep end.
No? Then what do you call it? You told him to send Jason to his room!
I wince to myself. Yeah, that was a little deep-endish.
Look, they pissed me off and upset me by treating me like a child.
Chuck maybe should have handled things a little better, but nobody else treated you like a child. Jason told you exactly what was going to happen if you walked into the apartment that way and he was right. Your fiancé asked you what was wrong and you treated him like a child.
Well, he should have understood how I was feeling.
You come in barking at the whole house and that’s the best you can come up with? Think about that for a while. Bosco and I are going to have a drink.
Oh, this is priceless! Everybody’s mad at me including my inner voice. This has got to be a first for me. I get out of my now-cold bath water and quickly dry my skin. For some reason, I am freezing from head to toe. What do I do now? I feel like shit. While I dry my hair, I wonder why I have reacted the way that I did today. I’ve felt pretty strongly about not being told anything about Robin Myrick and how he got the key to my apartment, or how he and She-Thing fell into cahoots, or who exactly broke into my apartment and took my gun. Is that danger over yet or did they just decide that I didn’t need to know about it?
I pull my hair into a ponytail and, after putting on some underwear, dress in a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. I step into some socks and my Converse and grab a sweat jacket.
Where to, now?
I don’t even want to leave the bedroom. I can’t just go for a stroll without calling Neanderthal #1. I pick up my phone and call Al.
“Hey, Jewel,” he answers. His voice already makes me feel better, but I feel horrible.
“Hey, Al. Can you come and get me please?” My voice sounds quite defeated.
“I just need to be away from the men of this house for a while,” I tell him.
“No Chuckie,” I confirm. He sighs.
“I’m on my way.”
“Okay, so do you want to tell me why I’ve kidnapped you from your fiancé and you look like shit?” Al asks when I get into his car.
“Can you please just take me somewhere where there is water?” I say. I can still hear the anguish in my voice. I feel a little sorry for myself—just from hearing that tone. Al quietly drives me to one of our favorite spots by the water and parks the car.
“Jewel, what’s wrong, Hun?” He asks, turning to me.
“I don’t know,” I say just before I break down into tears. “I tore into Chuck today for something that I really should have discussed with Christian. I got all pissed at Jason because I didn’t like what he said to me even though it was the truth. And I don’t know why I got mad at Christian. I was just so damn pissed at everybody. It was like I couldn’t even function. I was seeing red and no one understood how I was feeling. Nobody!” I weep remembering the inner conversation that I had and feeling completely destitute when I couldn’t even get support from myself.
“What brought this on?” Al asks me.
“There was some strange woman watching us today and I just wanted to know who she was. It turns out that she’s been watching us for a few days, such that Chuck has sent a picture to Welch for facial recognition.” Al jerks back in surprise.
“Really?” he asks.
“Really! And nobody thought I should know this! It made me think about the fact that Christian hasn’t told me anything about this whole Elena/Robyn connection and if there’s someone else that might be after me because of who I love. Goddammit, Al, all I wanted was to be kept in the loop. Is that too much to ask?” I weep. He puts his arms around my shoulders and rubs my arms.
“It might be, Jewel. I mean look at you. You’re a nervous wreck right now. Are you really this upset because they didn’t tell you something? Think about everything that’s happened. Chris almost got shot, Jason did—with your gun—and you were there to witness that. You went through this whole regression thing and opened all those old wounds. You confronted your mom and truly let her out of your life, and that couldn’t have been easy. You had to hold Mandy’s hand for fear that she may have lost little Harry, and then he was born prematurely. Add to that the fact that you’ve been planning your wedding for the last few months—the mother-in-law guest showdown, the lack of Wang argument with Tamster, the impromptu vacay to Montana, your sometimes-supportive-sometimes-judgmental friends, Babygate… It’s a wonder you’re not playing ‘kick the can’ with your own head down the sidewalk. Something’s got to give, Jewel, or you’re going to pop like a damn water balloon!”
“What do I do, Al? I can’t run again,” I ask through my tears.
“You don’t want to run and you know it. Every time you run, what happens when you get back? You feel bad for running. Don’t run anymore. It’s not what you want.”
“So what do I do?”
“I don’t really know what to tell you to do, but you need to decompress and you need to do it fast.” He holds me for several more minutes while I cry it out. I don’t even know why I’m crying. Nobody really hurt my feelings. I’m just pissed and confused. I don’t even know why I’m pissed and confused. Not knowing why I feel this way is making me feel this way even more and I cry some more. Damn, Al is right. I’m a fucking mess.
We stop and get really greasy burgers and fries from a nearby greasy spoon. I tell Al that I told Gail I would be with him since Christian and Jason were nowhere to be found when I left the apartment. I know he must really be pissed at me because he hasn’t called or texted me in the hours that I have been away from the apartment. I don’t even want to go home, but I realize that even though I don’t have to work tomorrow, Al does. So I can’t keep him out this late. He drops me back at Escala and I walk through the front door like I’m about to face the firing squad.
It’s about midnight when the elevator reaches the 31st floor. It’s quiet and there’s no Taylor waiting to scold me… or to make sure that I’m safe. There’s no one in the great room, either. The lights are all off except for the pendants over the breakfast bar. The place looks completely deserted. I walk to our bedroom and our bed is empty and hasn’t been slept in. Peeking around the corner, I see that he’s not at his piano. I stop looking, because if I look in his study and he’s not there, I’ll be crushed.
He didn’t even care. Did he even know that I was gone?
I go into our bedroom and close the door. I don’t bother to turn on the lights. The moon is shining into the glass wall casting eerie shadows all over the room. I walk over to a white chaise that has always been in front of the windows that I’ve never used. I sit down on it and look out at a rare flawless Seattle night sky. The tears start again and I just let them fall. There’s no weeping or anything like that, just tears. I feel so alone—no one in the bed with me, no one waiting when I got home, no note, no text, no scolding voice in my head, nothing. I wonder if this is what it’s like to be dead? In hell? Just… nothing…
I’m freezing, so I pull my sweat jacket tight around me and curl up small on the chaise. I didn’t run… at least I think I didn’t. I told Gail that I would be with Al. I kept my phone with me. I don’t think I ran, but I’m sure as hell going to shrink. When my knees are in my chest, I wrap my arms around my legs and attempt to find some inner warmth. There’s no comfort there for me. I feel too forlorn and I have no idea why. More tears keep me company, making treks down my face and onto my jeans, but failing to cleanse me of my uncertainty.
I’ve often thought to myself that I would want to sit on this chaise and watch the sunrise out of these beautiful windows over the Seattle skyline. It looks like now, I’ll get my chance.
I open my eyes and I’ve missed the sunrise. I’m still on the chaise, still in my clothes, not in the bed… but warm, very warm. I’m covered with a heavy blanket, but still very alone. My head hurts like hell and I have to pee. It will have to wait. I only move one hand to cocoon the blanket around my neck and go back to sleep.
I wake again and my bladder won’t let me rest. I walk to the en suite with one eye open and get my jeans down in just enough time not to have an accident. I clean myself up and, without looking at the clock or opening the other eye, make my way back to the chaise, curl up small under the big blanket and go back to sleep.
I wake up a third time with the sun blaring right in the window at me. This time, my stomach is churning like hell. Fucking greasy burger. It was fantastic going down, but now, my insides are protesting the grease that I never eat. I don’t give it a chance to bother me. I bury my head under the big blanket, block out the light, and will myself back to sleep.
“She hasn’t left the room all day, Boss,” Jason tells me when I ask him about Ana. That’s strange. It’s after 3pm.
“She hasn’t come out to eat?” I ask.
“No. She hasn’t made a sound.”
“Have you guys made sure she’s alive?”
“Sir, I’m sure she’s just sulking,” Jason says.
“Have you ever seen her sulk like this? In nearly a year, I sure as hell haven’t.”
“No, I haven’t, but Chuck has.”
“When has he seen her sulk like this?” I ask, bemused.
“In Montana.” In Montana? She didn’t even know if we were still getting married in Montana!
“I’ll be home after my last meeting,” I tell him.
“Yes, Sir.” His tone has hidden inclinations.
“You think I shouldn’t?” I ask.
“I don’t know, Sir. Gail never sulks like this,” he answers honestly. I sigh.
“I’ll decide when my meeting is over. I have to go.” I end the call. Ten minutes to my next meeting. I call Allen.
“I was wondering when you were going to get around to making this call,” he says when he answers the phone.
“And how do you know what this call is about? You do work for me, you know.”
“After that response, I’ll bet a week’s salary that you’re calling me about Jewel.” I love this guy and hate him at the same time.
“How did she seem last night?” I get right to the point.
“Lost, floundering, confused, really sad. I think she’s exhausted,” he says.
“How can she be exhausted? She cut her work load down to at least one-fourth of what it was before.” I am completely bemused.
“Yeah, but she’s doing Helping Hands, so that makes the days full-time. She’s planning this wedding and she’s got all this emotional shit flying at her. You can ask anything of Jewel and if it’s in her power, she’ll do it. I’m telling you, I think she’s exhausted.”
“But the wedding’s all done. I think the only thing that we have left is her final fitting and to book the honeymoon. We were waiting to see if we were going to hear anything about David’s new trial date but fuck it, we’re just going to book it. Besides that, it’s stags and hens and the rehearsal dinner. Then it’s time to get married.”
“Chris, look what you threw in there,” he points out. “‘I can’t plan my honeymoon because I have to be sure that the fucker who kidnapped me doesn’t plant his trial date right when I’m on a boat headed for Zakynthos Island.’ Really romantic and stress relieving, don’t you think?” I run my hands through my hair. I can’t be this big of an asshole.
“What did she say last night, Allen?” I ask.
“You know I can’t tell you that. She’s my best friend. I’ll tell you this though, and listen carefully… she’s exhausted. She so exhausted that she doesn’t even know that she’s exhausted. If she doesn’t decompress soon, she’s going to be in the hospital. Take my advice or don’t, but trust me. I know my Jewel, and she’s a pressure cooker ready to blow.” I sigh again.
“Thanks, Al,” I say finally.
“Don’t mention it,” he says before ending the call. Ana is a pressure cooker. That’s just what I need. It would explain why she was so angry yesterday. Three minutes before my meeting and my cell phone rings.
“Grey,” I answer a little more gruffly than I intend.
“Hello to you, too, Son,” Mom says a little affronted.
“Mom, sorry. I’m getting ready to go into a meeting and I was distracted.” It’s the truth. “What’s up?”
“I won’t keep you, Christian. I just want to know if Ana is alright. She was supposed to be at the center today to help me with some of the fund-raising and the allocations and I haven’t been able to reach her all day. It’s not like her to just not show up or at least call.”
“Oh! Yeah, she wasn’t feeling well today. She may have forgotten to charge her phone. I’m going home right after my meeting to see if she’s doing better.”
“Really? Maybe I should stop by…” Hmm, should I send my mom? Er, maybe not. Not looking like a good idea.
“That’s not necessary, Mom. Gail and Jason have been with her all day and I’ll be with her soon. I’m sure she’ll be fine.”
“Mr. Grey, they’re waiting for you in the conference room.” Andrea’s voice comes over the intercom.
“I’ll be right there, Andrea,” I respond. “I have to go, Mom. Really, I don’t think it’s anything to be worried about.” Mom pauses.
“Okay, Christian, but you’ll call me if it is, right?
“Yes, Mom. I will,” I assure her.
“Okay, go run your empire.”
“I’ll talk to you later, Mom.” I end the call and call down to Lawrence. “Have the car ready. We’re leaving as soon as this meeting is over.
It’s about 4:20 when I get back to the penthouse and according to Jason and Gail, Butterfly still hasn’t emerged. Davenport is there, too, now because he’s certain that she going to come out of her funk and want to go somewhere. I walk into our bedroom and I am surprised to find that our bed has not been slept in.
“Butterfly?” I call out but I get no answer. I walk further into the room and see the mountain of blanket on the chaise almost exactly where I left it this morning. I go to the chaise absently, intent on folding it up when I see a small brunette head sticking out of the other side. Good God! How can a person get so small? Where’s the rest of her? I pull the cover back and she is drenched in sweat. Her body is squeezed smaller than I have ever seen it before.
“Butterfly… wake up.” She turns weary, swollen eyes to me then coughs twice. Before I know it, long limbs unfurl from this little compacted form on the chaise and she dashes wildly to the bathroom. I hear her vomiting violently as I make my way to the en suite behind her.
“Were you drinking last night?” I ask. She shakes her head as she continues to cough into the commode. I remove her jacket and hold her sweat-drenched hair off her face. “Do you have a fever?”
“No,” she chokes. “I’m just hot.”
“Have you been sick all day? What made you sick?”
“Greasy burger,” she laments.
“You? Grease? Do you have a death wish?” She’s dry heaving by now and I think it’s safe to get her to bed. I pick her up from the floor where she lay praying to the porcelain god and carry her to our bed. I go back and get a cool washcloth and a glass of water.
“Small sips,” I tell her as I wipe her face with the cloth and push her wet hair off her face. I kiss her gently on her forehead. “Please tell me what going on, Butterfly,” I ask softly.
“I don’t know,” she says weakly as she sips her water.
“You don’t know or you don’t want to tell me?” I ask.
“I don’t know… and I don’t want to fight,” she admits.
“That means that there’s something you want to tell me.”
“I’ve already told you,” she says, her voice weaker than before. “I feel like the little woman surrounded by all these men telling me where to go and what I should be doing. I’ve been so independent and now…”
“You’re suffocating.” I finish her sentence. She sighs.
“I don’t know that I’m suffocating, but I don’t feel like I’m in control of my own destiny… and I’m going to kill Al for letting me eat that murder-burger.” I have to keep from laughing at her calamity.
“I’m sure he wouldn’t have done it if he had known you would feel like this today,” I say, attempting to defend Allen. “What can I do for you?”
“Shoot me,” she groans.
“That’s not funny.”
“I know, I’m sorry. I just… ugh!” She covers her eyes with her arm and lies back on the bed.
“Ginger tea?” I ask, trying to suggest something that would settle her stomach. She nods in surrender from under her arm. I kiss her forehead again and head out to the kitchen.
“Mrs. Taylor, can you please make Ana some ginger tea?” Gail turns around with a puzzled look on her face.
“She hasn’t eaten all day. She wants ginger tea?”
“It appears that when she left last night, she had what she now terms a ‘murder-burger.’ She’s been asleep all day. I found her in a sweaty mess on the chaise.”
“So she’s been sick all day!” Gail exclaims. “Well, now I feel like shit.” She throws a scolding glance at Jason. “That’s the last time I listen to you!” she hisses as she turns around to the stove and begins to make the tea. I look over at Jason and mouth “Sorry.” He shrugs and continues to drink his afternoon coffee. I go back to the bedroom to find that Butterfly has drifted off to sleep again, her arm still over her eyes.
“Baby?” I say softly.
“Hmm?” she murmurs from under her arm.
“I need you to talk to me.” She groans.
“I don’t want to talk, Christian. You don’t understand,” she whines.
“Make me understand,” I press. She sighs heavily and moves her arm.
“When I met you, I was just… me. I liked fashion, hung out with my friends, complained about group therapy, and did my best to dodge Edward David before he went completely psycho. Now, I’m Anastasia Steele—one half of AnaChris, soon to be Anastasia Grey. I can’t go anywhere without Chuck. I have trackers in my phone, my car, and probably in my hair. Everybody knows who I am and people despise me for no reason. I’ve dealt with the trappings of being your life-mate—good and bad. It’s a small price to pay to be with you. What I can’t tolerate is having all of my independence sucked away from me. I have to be the ‘me’ that I’ve always known or I’m going to lose my mind. Yes, I’m becoming a better version of that person—slowly but surely—by dealing with the issues in my life, but yesterday was just a breaking point for me. I was livid that Chuck would let something like this go without at least warning me, then blow it off like it was an everyday occurrence and scold me for asking about it. Then I get to the apartment and Taylor is waiting for me in the foyer, basically telling me to buck up and straighten my face or Daddy is going to get me! When I come inside and get in the bath, you…” she pauses for a moment. “You didn’t do anything wrong,” she admits. “I was just angry and ready for a fight. Wynken and Blynken had already chopped me down to size; I was ready for you to make the trio complete and do it, too. I wanted you to know that I just wasn’t going to stand for it.”
So we get to the heart of why she was so choppy last night. It doesn’t get past me that she called Jason Taylor either. She’s feeling pretty strongly about this.
“You haven’t updated me about anything going on with Robin Myrick and I know he didn’t just go away because Elena’s murder attempt failed. I don’t know who was in my apartment or who took my gun. I don’t know if they had an accomplice or if they acted alone. I find out from Charlie Boy that someone is watching me all the time and I’m walking around like everything is hunky-dory!”
“Baby, don’t you understand that’s the best way to protect you? If you know all the dangers coming at you at all times, then you’re constantly on edge,” I protest.
“That’s exactly what I meant when I said ‘little woman.’ You guys treat me like I couldn’t take any one of you in a street fight if I had to. I may not win, but I could take you. That infuriates me. I know not to walk around acting like a jittery, paranoid fool, but my instincts warned me that something was wrong before my security detail did. That’s totally unacceptable.”
I can’t argue with that logic. I would be angry if Jason kept information from me about my safety. He knows that I demand to be in the loop on all things. Now we all expect Butterfly to just roll over and behave when just over a year ago, she was completely taking care of herself. Hell, three months ago, she could shoot and I couldn’t.
“The thought of anything happening to you scares the shit out of me,” I confess. She struggles to sit up and puts her hand on my cheek.
“I know that. I appreciate that and I love you for it, but not knowing that danger is around is more detrimental to my safety than knowing.” Dammit, I really don’t want her to be right on this, but I know that she is. “Think about this. Harris distracted me which allowed David to drug me. Do you think I couldn’t have at least disabled them enough to get away if I had known that they were both there? Harris could have kept the purse, I wouldn’t have cared. My Magnum wasn’t in it. Had I known David was there, I would have disarmed him and ran.” And that was the clincher. Her main reason for agreeing to take Davenport with her everywhere was not because she needed protection. It was because she needed someone to watch her back. This apparently meant that she intended to watch her front, and she can’t do it if we don’t keep her informed. I sigh. I know when I’m whipped.
“I’ll talk to Jason and Davenport. It’s going to take some adjusting, so go easy on them okay?” I warn. She nods, non-committal, but it’s because her body is about to “timber” back onto the bed—which she does. I untie her laces and begin to remove her shoes and socks. “For the record, there’s nothing to tell about Elena and the Myricks that you don’t already know. We think he must have cut your key during one of the times that you were at my parents’ house. We don’t know who their accomplice is or if there really is one, but I’m fairly certain that the person going into your apartment that day was a woman and not Elena. We don’t have any leads on who it could have been. She has, well, had many subs and it could have been any one of them. Hell, it could have even been one of the little boys that she was molesting for all we know. Myrick Sr is definitely still in jail, but we can’t get any of the particulars on his sentence or detention. So unfortunately, we’re still in the dark.” When I get both her socks off, she sits straight up.
“Fuck! It’s Thursday!” she exclaims.
“I had patients!” Oh… well, that’s not good.
“You didn’t call Marilyn?”
“I slept all day!” She’s trying to get out of bed now.
“Oh, no. You and the murder-burger stay right where you are. There’s nothing you can do about it now. Where’s your phone?” She thinks for a moment, then starts looking around.
“It’s in my jacket,” she says, deflated. She sinks back down onto the bed, her momentary adrenaline burst now depleted. There’s a timid knock at the door.
“Come in,” I say, looking at Butterfly’s dead cell phone. Gail comes into the room with a small tray carrying a cup and a teapot with a small container of what I assume is honey.
“I’ve brought you some tea. Are you feeling any better?” she says to Butterfly.
“I feel like the dead,” she says from her position back under her arm. “Thanks, Gail.” Gail’s face looks apologetic.
“I’m sorry I didn’t check in on you sooner. Jason said… well, I’m sorry.” Butterfly raises her head a bit as Gail sets the tray down on the nightstand.
“Jason said what?” Butterfly asks.
“He just thought… that you might want to be left alone. Neither of us had any idea that you weren’t feeling well,” Gail tells her. She twists her lips.
“I’ll just bet he did,” Butterfly says covering her eyes again. “You’re an angel, Gail. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, Dear. I think I should tell you that Charles has been here all day and Marilyn came by earlier. She said to tell you that she canceled your appointments when you weren’t in the office by 10 and you didn’t call.” Butterfly nods.
“I’m a terrible shrink,” she says. “My whole life is falling apart and I have the nerve to try to help other people put theirs together.” I rub her feet.
“You’re having a bad patch, Baby. We all have them at some time. You’re entitled to it.” I kiss her toes.
“I’m going to leave you, now. Let me know if you need something else. You must be starving. Can I get you something to eat? Some chicken soup maybe?” Gail asks.
“Yours?” Butterfly inquires, sounding like a five-year-old with a cold. Gail smiles an accommodating smile.
“Of course, mine,” she says sweetly. Butterfly nods in that five-year-old way again and Gail leaves the room to fetch the soup. I turn back to Butterfly.
“Wouldn’t you be more comfortable in some sweats or a nightshirt?” I ask her. “You’ve been sweating all day like you’ve run a marathon.”
“Is that your way of telling me that I need to wash?” she asks me.
“Well, no. Not really, but I do think you’ll be more comfortable after a bath and a change of clothes.” She sits on the edge of the bed and sips the ginger tea Gail left for her. Her heavy sigh informs me that she is feeling some form of immediate relief. I move next to her and put my arm around her waist. “I think you may be pushing yourself too hard,” I say cautiously. She looks up at me.
“What do you mean?” she asks.
“The wedding, all the stuff that’s been going on with your mother and the trials coming up, being concerned about what monster is going to jump out of the shadows at us… I think you may need a bit of a break, Butterfly.”
“You’ve been talking to Al, haven’t you?” she asks with a twist of her mouth.
“Well, I always talk to Al, but he wouldn’t tell me anything.” I pull her closer to me and kiss her gently behind the ear. “Honestly, Baby, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell that you’re wiped.” I kiss her behind the ear again. “Plus, we’ve been fucking like rabbits. I don’t know how you even keep up.” She sighs and relaxes in my arms.
“I like that part,” she whines, softly. “It’s the only part that’s not stressful.”
“Well, maybe we can keep doing that, but you need to rest, Baby. You need to relax and take some time to yourself to do… nothing.”
“But I can’t,” she says forlorn. “Harry’s baby shower is this weekend. I can’t miss that.” She’s right. She can’t possibly miss her little brother’s baby shower.
“We will make an exception for the baby shower, but nothing else. If you don’t de-stress soon, you’re going to self-destruct—and what made you buy a greasy, artery-clogging hamburger? You are the queen of chicken skewers, pinwheels, and bruschetta. Emotional turmoil wasn’t enough for you—you had to add physical anguish?” I can hear the scolding in my voice, but I just don’t get why she did this to herself. She looks miserable.
“Well, excuse me Mr. Healthy! I didn’t know you were so keen on my eating habits.”
“Hey, I eat like a horse. Everybody knows that. You on the other hand eat like a bird. Everybody knows that. Your eating habits have gone a little crazy, so I know you must be stressed out. I’ll lay down the law however I have to, but you. Need. Rest. So how are we going to do this, Ms. Steele?” She sighs again.
“I’ll do my best to take it easy, but I can’t take any time off right now, Christian. We’ll be going on a honeymoon in a few weeks. My patients think I’m taking a sabbatical. They’ll put two and two together after the wedding, but I can’t skip out on them now. I just can’t.” I love her dedication, but she’s going to make me hog-tie her and take her away to a desert island.
“Okay, then that means that Helping Hands may have to suffer.”
“Oh no, Christian! They need me more than my patients!” she protests almost horrified.
“Ana, I’m trying to negotiate with you here. Something has to give. You’re running yourself into the ground and it has to stop.” She sits up on her knees.
“I promise I will find a way to do what needs to be done and not be so stressed out. Once we say ‘I do,’ I guarantee you that’s 50% of my stress going right there. Please, Christian…” She looks at me with those big blue eyes and I’m a goner.
“Bath. Now. Don’t fight me. I’ll get you something comfortable and it’s right back to bed with you,” I order.
“But the baby shower is tomorrow,” she protests.
“Then it will have to wait until tomorrow,” I declare. “Bath first, then back to bed.” I’m pointing towards the en suite. I will not be dissuaded, Ms. Steele. Get you fine ass into that bathroom before I carry you in. Her shoulders fall.
“Yes sir,” she says like a scolded child before heading for the en suite.
A/N: Ana talked about making the “trio complete” when she was talking to Christian about Jason and Chuck’s behavior and she called them “Wynken and Blynken.” “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod” is a poem/lullaby about a kid who doesn’t want to go to sleep. His eyes are winking and blinking and his head is nodding. So in the poem/lullaby, the three characters are fishermen in a boat that is a wooden shoe. The sky is the ocean, the stars are fish, and the moon is singing to them. The three fishermen try to catch the fish but they never do. No real significance… that’s just where the names came from.
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Love and Handcuffs!