Mending Dr. Steele: Chapter 75—And Here It Is…

There are five more chapters remaining after this one. 

I do not own Fifty Shades Trilogy, or the characters. They belong to E. L. James. I am only exercising my right to exploit, abuse, and mangle the characters to MY discretion in MY story in MY interpretation as a fan. I hope you—as a fellow fan—enjoy it, too.

Chapter 75—And Here It Is…

ANASTASIA

I’ve never been to a real trial before. I don’t even watch those reality court shows on television. I have no idea how things go in terms of proceedings or objections or evidence or motions or anything like that. Al did his best to prepare me for what was coming, but it didn’t help. Still not willing to show up in court looking like a victim but attempting to heed Al’s words about my attire, I wear a plain, black Burberry dress today with a wide, double-buckle belt and my signature black Louboutin stilettos. David’s attorney is a lady, and my gut tells me that she knew that she would be facing off against me today. She’s wearing electric blue Prada.

The prosecution calls me to the stand late in the morning and has me walk through every painful detail of my kidnapping—why Christian and I were fighting; being taken from the aquarium; waking up naked in that mildew-filled room; Edward talking to me like we were planning a vacation together; Harris beating me. I even had to outline our relationship—or lack thereof—before the kidnapping. I was allowed to tell the jury how and when we met, why we broke up and why, even though he had pursued me for several years, I didn’t want him back.

He had traumatized me. I couldn’t even open myself up to a normal, healthy relationship with another man. It wasn’t until I was at a club with my friends and everyone was coupled up except me that I even noticed my antisocial behavior. He harassed me for years to give him another chance and I denied him repeatedly. I agreed to have dinner with him so that I could get off the phone that night and get some sleep. It turned out to be one of the worst decisions that I ever made.

Angry EdwardHe has spent a considerable amount of time in jail now, so he’s not feeling all lovey-dovey towards his “Rosie” anymore. As a matter of fact, I take the chance to glance in his direction and he’s snarling at me. As I’m telling my side of the story, he’s still snarling at me. At one point, the prosecutor Mr. Batiste asks me about how safe I would feel if David were released, considering that I’m licensed to carry a concealed weapon.

“Do you see the way he is snarling at me now?” I point out. “That’s the same way that he looked at me when he was served with that protection order. It didn’t stop him… he kidnapped me. That look tells me that the next time he gets to me, he’s going to kill me. It scares me and it tells me that if I don’t use deadly force, I’ll be the one who dies. If he ever gets free, I feel like he’s going to come at me with intent to kill. I feel very afraid for my life.”

He tries to fix his face, but he wasn’t fast enough. The jury was able to see his contempt and pure hatred for me. Someone in the jury actually gasps, because he looks like he is going to crawl over that table and kill me with his bare hands.

Now, it’s the defense attorney’s turn.

This having been my first trial, I am convinced that the defense is not concerned at all with seeing justice done, only with getting her client off. I am, of course, too close to the situation to make an unbiased analysis and of course, it is her job to defend her client to the best of her ability, but I seriously don’t know what she’s trying to do here. If I didn’t know better, I would swear that not only was I the guilty party, but that I had planned the whole thing and not David; that I got exactly what was coming to me when Harris beat me up; that I was asking for it.

“Mrs. Grey, you say that you didn’t want to open yourself to a relationship with another man until you met Christian Grey, is that correct?” she asks.

“That’s correct.”

“Mm. It didn’t hurt that he was a billionaire, now, did it?” she shoots.

“Objection, Your Honor…”

“Withdrawn.” She knew she shouldn’t have said it before it came out of her mouth, but she wanted it to be heard. “So you had dinner with Edward David on June 29, 2012. Is that correct?”

“Yes, it is.” She pauses and raises her eyes to me.

“You remember the date.” It’s a statement, not a question.

“Yes.”

“May I ask why?” she asks.

“I remember the date,” I reinforce.

“Let me help you out. Is it because that same night, you went back to your condo with Christian Grey and had sex?”

“I had some wine and didn’t want to drive home. I asked the valet for a taxi…”

“Please, just answer the question Mrs. Grey,” she barks.

“I thought that’s what I was doing!” I hiss.

“Did you go back to your condo and have sex with Mr. Grey immediately after having dinner with Mr. David?” she repeats.

“Mr. Grey assisted me back to my condo to prevent me from driving impaired. What we did when we got there is none of your business.”

“It doesn’t matter. You answered the question for me.”

“Objection!” The prosecutor is on his feet.

“Sustained. Counselor, do not make assumptions about the witness’s answers,” the judge says.

“Can you direct her to answer the question, Your Honor?” she asks.

“Objection, relevance,” Mr. Batiste interjects.

“It speaks to her character, Your Honor.”

“Her character is not in question here,” the judge says.

“It also speaks to Mr. David’s state of mind,” she argues.

“The crime wasn’t committed on June 29th, Your Honor. This question is still irrelevant,” Mr. Batiste presses.

“I have to agree with the prosecutor. Move on, Ms. Ramsey,” the judge says to David’s attorney. She purses her lips and continues her questioning.

“You and Mr. Grey were recently married.” Again, a statement and not a question, so I wait. She looks up at me. “Mrs. Grey?”

“What?”

“Can you answer the question, please?”

“You didn’t ask one,” I state.

“I asked if you and Mr. Grey were recently married.”

“No, you said Mr. Grey and I were recently married.” She folds her arms.

Were you and Mr. Grey recently married?” she asks, emphasis on the were. I shrug with my hands out.

“My name is Grey,” I tell her. Isn’t it fucking obvious?

“Mrs. Grey…”

“Yes, we were recently married,” I answer.

“What day was that you were married?” Shit! They do coincide. How do I get out of this one?

“June 29,” I answer truthfully.

“Significant day for you?” she asks. I narrow my eyes.

“Yes, in fact, it was. It was a Saturday in June where we had not yet heard that David had pushed his trial back another three months,” I answer sardonically.

“Your Honor…” she protests.

“You asked, Ms. Ramsey,” the judge says.

“So that date has no other significance for you?”

“Objection. I think she answered the question.”

“Sustained. Counselor…?” the judge warns. No, you’re not getting it out of me, although from the looks on the faces of the jury, I’m already sunk. I sigh and fold my hands in my lap.

“Mrs. Grey, please take us back to the incident on June 30, 2012 when you assaulted Mr. David in the Public Marketplace.” I frown.

“I’m sorry. What incident is this?” I ask. She turns around.

“Are you saying that you never assaulted Mr. David in the Marketplace?” she asks.

“That is exactly what I’m saying!” I say, firmly still frowning.

“Mrs. Grey, do you know the penalty for perjury?” she asks leaning in to me. I lean right back.

“No, I don’t, and I really don’t care. I would, however, be concerned if I were lying right now.” My voice is a little more forceful than I would like. “While you’re accusing me of perjury, do you have any kind of proof to back up what you’re saying?”

“Why so angry, Mrs. Grey?” she asks smugly.

“Oh, I don’t know. Could it be because I have a smart ass attorney in my face trying to accuse me of lying?” I respond impassively.

“Mrs. Grey, watch your language,” the judge says. I throw a glance at her and back at Ramsey, who is now smirking at me.

“Mrs. Grey, are you saying that you did not grab Mr. David by his penis and testicles and squeeze, causing him immense pain in the middle of the Marketplace?”

“No, I said I never assaulted Mr. David. I did, however, subdue him after he grabbed me in the Marketplace while I was trying to get away.” A flash of shock runs across her face. She didn’t know that part. She can’t hide the small amount of horror that shows on her face, but she presses on.

“In your parking garage on July 2nd, you pulled a gun on Mr. David, did you not?” she says, a little less confident, but slightly perturbed.

“Oh, no more about the Marketplace?” I say, innocently. “Okay, the parking garage… there’s video on that. Have you seen it?” She looks over at David. I don’t dare even look in his direction. Once again, it appears he left something out. “When I got back to my apartment on July 2nd, the windshield of my car had been busted. While I and my security were trying to assess the damage. David shows up behind me dressed in black like he’s on some covert operation. He had already threatened me in writing, and I used the texts to secure a restraining order on him…”

“Just answer the question, Mrs. Grey,” she barks again.

“Once again, I’m answering your question and you won’t let me.” I respond impassively. “I won’t let you make me out to be a gun-wielding crazy woman without knowing what happened in that garage. Since what happened in that garage is a matter of police record—the county sheriff was there—either you’re trying to cover up everything your client did that day or you haven’t done your due diligence and you have no idea what I’m talking about.”

“Your Honor, conclusions…” Ramsey says.

“Sustained. Mrs. Grey, you may answer the question, but please don’t draw conclusions about what the counselor may or may not know.”

“Yes, Your Honor,” I say before turning back to Ramsey. “David taunted me about busting out my window after following me home on Friday night, sitting outside my apartment the entire night, threatening me in writing, following me to the Marketplace the next day, and attempting to restrain me in public. His behavior was irrational and frightening and I didn’t know what he was going to do next and yes, my gun was now in an unsecured car and had to be removed. So, I pulled it out of my glove box and yes, I did aim it at him at tell him to stay away from me.”

“Ah, so there’s two things that you have pointed out. First, his behavior was irrational and frightening, correct?”

“Yes, it was.”

“A little crazy, maybe?” she adds.

“Objection!” Baptist is on his feet again.

“Sustained,” the judge says. I answer anyway.

“He wasn’t crazed,” I say. “He was jealous. I was the first woman who ever said ‘no’ and he couldn’t take it. He had alienated himself from every free piece of pussy in Seattle, so he came back to ‘Old Faithful,’ and I wasn’t having it!” I hiss.

“Mrs. Gre…”

“I’m sorry. I got carried away. It won’t happen again.”

“See that it doesn’t!” the judge says. She’s getting perturbed with me and I just shake my head. Even she’s starting to see me as the bad guy. Ramsey smirks at me again. Smug bitch.

“Second, you seem to be attacking and aiming firearms at Mr. David, yet you obtained the restraining order. Doesn’t that seem a bit backwards to you?” she asks. I glare at her.

“Considering the fact that he injected me with a very dangerous drug then took me to an island, chained me naked to a bed, and allowed me to be beaten beyond recognition, I would say not!” My voice is pretty horrified when I answer the question. She’s running out of ammo. So she goes right to the scene.

“Your Honor, I would like to go back to State’s exhibit K,” she says. With permission from the judge, a picture pops up on the monitor next to the witness stand that I remember describing to the prosecution. It’s that room… that same ugly, faded, yellow wallpaper with those same ugly flowers. That mildew-scented bed and those faded gray curtains. I’m there again, chained to that bed. My stomach churns and I feel sick. She starts to tear apart my testimony about the room, making me look at the picture and pick apart everything I said before. I’m starting to feel very nauseous the more she makes me examine at this picture.

“Your Honor,” I interject, during Lady Smug’s cross-examination. “I really need a minute, can I please have a moment?”

”Why?” she asks.

”I’m not feeling very well.”

”We have to keep this case moving, we can’t just stop the trial because you’re not feeling very well,” she says, without pausing. What the…? I just asked for a minute. I just want to take a breath and get out of this room and away from this damn picture!

“Mrs. Grey, I’ve asked you what did Robert Harris say to you about…” and she’s badgering me again. She’s still bringing my attention to that picture and trying to get me to admit that Harris was the one running things and not David. It’s working. I’m getting confused… sicker and sicker by the moment. I don’t know who was in charge. Was it David? Could it have been Harris? I ask for a moment again as my stomach is clearly affecting my thinking, and this bitch denies me again. She’s starting to act like I’m pestering her. I finally ask for a glass of water, adding, “if it’s not too much trouble.” That didn’t sit well with Her Honor and Ramsey is loving every minute of it. I now have to pause before every answer and take a deep breath in a vain attempt to calm my stomach, vain being the operative word here.

“Your Honor, please,” I’m begging. “I just need a minute.” I emphasize every word. I just need one minute, you inconsiderate, insensitive bat! This woman is actually acting like she’s losing her patience with me!

“Just because you’re Christian Grey’s wife doesn’t mean that you get special treatment in this courtroom,” she states emphatically. Huh? Where the hell did that come from? Christian sits up in his seat and I can see that he’s ready to protest, but Al catches him before he can speak.

“Your Honor, with all due respect, I’m not asking for special treatment. I’m just letting you know that am really physically ill here,” I protest.

“Duly noted. Proceed.” Why is this woman being such a bitch? I’m sick, I’m not trying to get any special treatment. I take a deep breath and try to settle my stomach after sipping some more of the water. Ramsey smirks again, chalking another one up for herself. You trifling twat! God, I wish there was something I could do to wipe that smirk off your smug face!

She continues to badger me, talking about how it was Harris who beat me and not David, conveniently foregoing the part where David drugged me, cuffed me, tried to rape me, although she did mention that he put wrist bands under my cuffs. How kind of my kidnapper!

I swear that my stomach is rumbling violently and I’m surprised that Lady Smug in front of me can’t hear it. I feel an uncomfortable sweat coming over me and this bitch seems to think that she has me over a barrel and I’m nervous, so she intensifies her cross-examination, still bringing my attention to the picture of the room that felt like an eternity of hell. For the fourth time, I beseech the judge to please allow me to take a quick break. Now, she’s pissed at me!

“Counselor, how much longer is your cross going to be?” She asks Lady Smug, perturbed.

“It will only be a few more moments, Your Honor.” She throws a look over at me that lets me know that is a bold-faced lie. We are just getting started and she’s about to tear into me—hopefully make me the villain instead of the victim.

“Mrs. Grey, can you wait just a few more moments until the cross is over?” She asks, trying to maintain professionalism but still noticeably irritated with me. I’m not going to win this one, so I’m not going to ask anymore. Christian is ready to dash out of his seat and carry me out of the courtroom if necessary. I sigh and accept my fate.

“Yes, Your Honor. I’ll try.” I say, contritely. Lady Smug chalks another one up as a victory and tears into me again. She still zeroing in on that room. She wants to have me focus more on Harris rather than on David, and it has the desired effect. I keep seeing Harris beating me and me being chained to the bed. I’m feeling all of those feelings of fear and hopelessness. I’m remembering the agony of thinking that Christian wouldn’t find me and feeling like I would never see him again, and here’s Lady Smug not inches from my face trying to get me to convince the jury that it was Harris that masterminded this whole thing and not David—that Harris was the real villain and that David was an unwilling participant.

She’s not yelling at me, but she is right in my face. Her voice is loud and I can feel her breath on my skin. I can hear Batiste saying something about badgering and intimidation, but it’s too late. I tried to hold on to it… I knew it was coming. Before I know it, I open my mouth and lose my breakfast—fantastically—all over Counselor Lady Smug and all over State’s Exhibit K. She jumps back, utterly horrified, as I am certain that some of my stomach contents made it inside of her mouth. I immediately cover my mouth and yell a muttered “Fuck!” Christian is out of his seat now, but Al holds his arm to keep him from proceeding.

“National television,” I say lowly, shaking my head and still covering my mouth, my other hand going to my forehead. “I just blew chunks on national fucking television. Can we get a recess now so the defense can change her clothes?” I add sarcastically.

“Mrs. Grey!” Her Honor says in a scolding voice. Oh no, the fuck you don’t, Bitch!

“I tried to tell you!” I all but yell at her, still trying to cover my mouth as the jury looks on in stunned silence.

“You didn’t tell me that you were going to vomit!” she says, grimacing as she watches Lady Smug trying to rid her mouth of the flavor of my breakfast mixed with water and my bile.

“I didn’t know!” Now, I’m yelling! “I told you several times that I was sick! If I had known that I was going to vomit, I would have said ‘Your Honor, I’m going to vomit!’ I tried to tell you that I wasn’t feeling well. I didn’t know what was going on, I just needed to take a moment. If you had given me that one little moment… maybe five little minutes, Lady Smug over there wouldn’t be wearing my breakfast, and the latest national news headline would not be ‘Mrs. Grey regurgitates all over counsel!’ Thanks a lot!” I bark, and drop my head in my hands.

The adrenaline is at its highest level and I know the tears will follow any moment. I fight them with all that I have. The hell if this bastard is going to cause me any more tears, much less see me shed them. He’s probably sitting over there at the table, smiling the entire time. I won’t give him the satisfaction of even throwing a glance in his direction. Clearly defeated on this topic, Her Honor announces, “One hour recess for lunch.”

“Ya think?” I say, bitter and sarcastic.

“Careful, Mrs. Grey. I could hold you in contempt of court,” she warns.

“You do that.” I say to her. “You hold me in contempt of court for vomiting all over counsel after I told you that I was sick four times. What’s another lawsuit after the mental distress that watching this play repeatedly on television and YouTube will undoubtedly play upon me in the coming weeks… months… maybe even years? Be my guest! Extend my humiliation and distress by holding me in contempt of court!” I glare at her and just wait for the judgment. She pales a bit and places her gavel back on the podium. I angrily rise out of the seat at the witness stand and watch the room turn. I see Christian and Al… and even David… looking at me and quickly rising out of their seats simultaneously as the room continues to tilt, blur, then go black.

I open my eyes and I am lying on a beautiful oxblood leather sofa, a cold compress on my forehead, and Christian leaning over me with a concerned look in his eye, tenderly stroking my hair. I can feel the clammy sweat on my skin under my clothes and I can still taste the remnants of my courtroom mishap on my tongue and in my throat.

“Welcome back,” he says softly, his voice betraying his fear and concern. Now it dawns on me.

“Oh, God, I didn’t. Please tell me that I didn’t,” I beseech him.

“I can’t tell you that, Baby,” he says. “You took a header the moment you stood up. The fucking bailiff almost let David get to you before I did. I was almost arrested.” What the hell?

David? Are you kidding me?” Why the hell was he trying to get to me?

“I truly think he forgot where he was. That fucker is psychotic and dangerous. One minute, he’s snarling at you like he wants to kill you. The next minute, he’s crawling over counsel, cops, and me to get to you because you’re fainting! He’s a loose cannon and too damn unpredictable,” Christian adds. Tell me about it. This is just great! This is just so absolutely perfect—my life and humiliation is just laid out there for the entire world to see!

“This is so humiliating. I told her! I told her that I was sick! Oh my God. This is all over the news already. It’s everywhere. I know it is… I’m a walking sound bite!” I put my hands over my eyes and start to cry. “How many times did I tell that woman I was sick? How many times? I’m mortified!” I wail. Christian cradles me in his arms.

“Four, Baby,” he responds.

“Four times, I told her I was sick and she didn’t believe me until I ruined that smug bitch’s Prada!” I’m nearly screaming now. Lo and behold, Her Honor comes out of another room off of her quarters and now she’s looking all concerned.

“Are you feeling any better, Mrs. Grey?” she asks. I can’t place her tone, but at this moment, I don’t care.

“Why didn’t you believe me?” I cry, blubbering full-on, unladylike snot and tears. “Why didn’t you listen when I told you that I was sick?” Christian is reaching for his handkerchief to clean my face. Her Honor is a bit taken aback, but she comes back to herself.

“Mrs. Grey, I’m not allowed to show any bias…” she begins.

“I’m not talking about as a witness!  I’m not even talking about as Mrs. Grey! I’m talking about as a person! A person… in your courtroom… told you several times that she was sick and asked you for just a moment to compose herself, and you ignored me because I’m Mrs. Christian Grey! How could you do that? How could you treat another person that way?” I scream. Christian is trying to wipe my face, but I mindlessly slap his hand away several times. Snot or not, I want an answer from this bitch.

The bailiff comes into the quarters and approaches us. Christian throws him a look of death and Her Honor holds her hand up to him to halt his approach. “Mrs. Grey, I was only trying to keep the proceedings going, nothing else.” She says, calmly. Nothing else my ass.

“Then why the comment about special treatment?” I accuse. “Why the comment about my being Mrs. Grey? If that had been a child on the stand telling you they were getting sick, would you have done that to them? If that had been anyone else but Mrs. Grey, would you have made them stay there on the stand after they told you repeatedly that they were sick? Now I’m all over the national news, vomiting and fainting like…” At that moment, thoughts are running through my head at 50 miles an hour and I gasp long, hard, and loud as the thousands of theories, facts, and observations swirl through my head and come out of the three-second funnel with one lone conclusion…

I’m pregnant.

Everyone in the room freezes at the sound of my gasp. Christian goes into an immediate panic. “Baby! Baby! Are you okay?” He’s holding my arms in his hands.

“Haa…” I can’t even form words right now. I’m pregnant… I must be. My mind quickly runs down the date the IUD was removed and my last normal period and… with the trial coming up and the wedding, I wasn’t even keeping track. When the hell was it? Last month? Month before last? The wedding. I remember bleeding before the wedding, but was that a normal period? I can’t remember…

“Ana! Baby! What’s wrong?” Christian sounds absolutely frantic. I better put him out of his misery.

“I’m… okay,” I manage to squeak, and he finally gets the opportunity to wipe my face.

“Mrs. Grey,” Her Honor chimes in, “we can recess until tomorrow if you need…” Oh, hell no! I’m not spending another sleepless night worrying about being on the stand.

“No. No. Nonono. We have to do this today. I’ll be fine. I can’t spend another night thinking about this. Just give me a minute, please… and some water… and some salt,” I say. Her Honor nods to the bailiff who no doubt goes in search of some water and salt for me.

“Baby, are you sure?” Christian takes my face in his hands, his eyes full of concern.

“I’m positive. I just ask that if I say that I feel sick again, will you please believe me this time?” I turn my glare to Her Honor.

“Yes, Mrs. Grey, of course.” She says in the soft, measured tone she has kept this entire time. “Please accept my sincerest apologies, Mrs. Grey. I try to temper fairness with common sense and people have pulled some crazy stunts on the stand. And yes, more than once, I have had some rich aristocrat or VIP try to bully me—but I should have never assumed that’s what you were doing. It was a bad judgment call on my part and I am very sorry.” Bad judgment call? She’s going to chalk this up to a bad judgment call? Now, I wish I had vomited on her. My one comfort is that if I’m going to be known as the Vomit Witness, Lady Smug is going to be known as the Vomit Attorney.

I don’t even acknowledge her apology. Let’s just get this shit done.

“I really need to just get this over, please. How quickly can we get back in session?” The bailiff comes back in with a bottle of water and some salt packets. I quickly take a mouthful and rinse my mouth. Christian grabs a nearby garbage can and I spit, rinse again, then spit again. I take healthy swallows of the water before pouring a bit of the salt on my tongue to counteract the taste of vomit in my mouth.

“Do you have a nervous stomach, Mrs. Grey?” Her Honor asks. I try not to glare at her when I look up.

“Lately, yes,” I say, trying to hide my ire.

“We really can recess until tomorrow,” she says, and I now hear the sympathy in her voice. I sigh heavily.

“No,” I say, feeling the uselessness of continued anger at this woman. Hell, I don’t even know her name. “Let’s just get this done… please.” She nods.

“Do you need something to eat?” she asks. “It’s not a trick question. A nervous empty stomach is worse than a nervous, filled one.”

“Crackers,” I say, resigned. “Saltines if you can find them.” When she leaves, I cuddle into Christian’s chest, stretching my legs over the oxblood sofa.

“Crackers? Are you sure that’s all you want?” he asks. I won’t tell him my suspicions yet, not at least until I take a home test. I don’t want to get his hopes up and it turns out to be a false alarm.

“The salt will help with the taste in the back of my throat and the cracker will help with my stomach. Anything more might end up all over Lady Smug again.”

“Lady Smug?” he chuckles.

“Ramsey,” I tell her. “David’s lawyer.” He pulls me close to him and I sigh. “I’m going to be all over every television station and social media vomiting on the defense.” I turn my head into his chest and lament what new nicknames are going to be given to me after this incident:

Regurgitating Mrs. Grey
The Blowing-Chunks Billionairess
The Vomiting Vixen
Oh, here’s one… Hurl Grey! Get it, Hurl Grey?

“Where’s your mind?” Christian asks while stroking my back.

“Thinking of all of the cruel nicknames and captions the media are going to have for my unfortunate experience,” I say, burrowing into him and hoping I can make this all go away. “I don’t want to come back after this,” I tell him. “I won’t come back until they read the verdict. I don’t care what happens anymore. I don’t even care if I win the lawsuit. I don’t want anything to do with this anymore.”

“What if they need you to testify again?” he asks.

“If they need me to testify, I’ll come back. I’ll do my duty to put him away. After that, I don’t want to deal with it anymore. Allen can handle the lawsuit and I won’t show up unless they utterly, utterly need me. Other than that, I’m done. Did you see those pictures? Did you see how I looked?” I shiver in his lap. “Those pictures look worse than I remember my face looking, Christian.”

“That’s because those pictures were taken at the hospital just after you arrived,” he informs me. “By the time you awoke, a bit of the swelling on your face had gone down though your lips got worse. You were unconscious on those photos, you looked dead…” His voice cracked on the last word. This is the first time I’ve seen how much pain my bruises brought to him. He was always so strong, always telling me how beautiful I was—kissing me and holding me and making love to me. I crush his body to me, kissing his neck and ears.

“You took such good care of me,” I say, leaning my head on his shoulder. “I was an ogre and you made me feel like a princess.”

“You were a princess,” he says, his voice thick with unshed tears. “Now, you’re a queen.” His arms tighten around me and he sighs heavily. “I love you, Butterfly.”

“I know,” I whisper, “and I love you, my hero.” As if he could hold me any tighter, he does, and we stay there drawing comfort and energy from each other.

*-*

They’re playing the 911 tapes again. I don’t even recognize my own voice. They conveniently have the tapes cued up to where I’m negotiating with David, telling him that I knew Harris lied to him to get him to go along with the plan; that he wasn’t the one who hurt me and I would make sure that the authorities knew. Then the recording stops.

“Are you going to answer the question, Mrs. Grey?” she hisses. Before playing the recording, she asked me if that was my voice on the tape.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I thought there was more,” I say innocently.

“Why would you think there was more?”

“Because there is. You want me to respond to one sentence when there is an entire conversation that I had with this man on that recording. You want my plea for my life to exonerate him from kidnapping me because you’re taking one sentence out of context.”

“Answer the question, Mrs. Grey,” she barks.

“Why don’t you play the entire tape again for the court so that they can hear in what context I said that to him?”

“Your Honor, will you direct the witness to answer the question, please?”

“Mrs. Grey, answer the question,” the judge says gently.

“Yes, that is my voice on the tape.”

“Thank you,” she says victoriously.

“That’s it? You want to know if that’s my voice begging for my life? Yes, that’s my voice.”

“That will be all!”

“And I’m saying you’re not going to bully me! You asked me a question, she directed me to answer it, and I’m going to finish answering it, that is, unless you’re not interested in seeing justice served.” I fold my arms and wait.

“You’ve answered the question. You’ve told me that’s your voice telling Mr. David that you knew that Robert Harris was behind the kidnapping. That’s all I need,” she responds snarkily.

“That’s not what I said on that tape! You can’t twist my words to make them mean what you want!” I’m nearly crying again.

“You said ‘I don’t know what lies Robert Harris has been feeding you and how he convinced you to get in cahoots with him, but this can only end badly for both of you. Please, you haven’t hurt me—Harris did. I’ll make sure that they know you haven’t hurt me. But if you don’t end this soon, your life will never be the same.’” She reads from the transcript. I remember every word like it was yesterday. I close my eyes as fight back the tears that burn behind my eyelids, quickly wiping away the one that escapes.

“Before I said any of that,” I begin softly, “I said ‘Please, let me go, Edward.’” The room falls silent. Even Lady Smug swallows hard at the sound of my voice. “If you listen to the entire tape, you will hear that during that moment, I was begging for my life. I told him that I would tell them that he didn’t hurt me because I was negotiating. I would have told him that he was the freaking Queen of England if it meant he would have let me go! If you listen to the rest of the tape, you will hear me begging for my life in any way possible until I realized that he wasn’t going to let me go. Are you telling me that you are so heartless and cruel that you listened to those tapes and you didn’t hear that?”

Her stance changes and the momentary flash of sympathy I saw moments before is gone. My eyes start to burn again as I realize that I must be dealing with the coldest bitch in the world—even colder than those Green Valley fuckers—if she listened to that entire tape and can’t hear the fear and the hopelessness in my voice. The expression on her face tells the whole story. She listened to the tapes, but she pushed my cries for help out of her mind so that she could defend this psychotic, brutal asshole. The slightest bit of conviction shows in her eyes and then her voice when she says, “This is not about me, Mrs. Grey.”

“You’re right, it’s not,” I reply, my voice cracking. “I hope that you never find yourself in a position where you need someone to believe you more than anything in the world, because if you do, you’re going to remember this moment.” I stare at her for a moment, my heart filled with anguish and disbelief that another human being—much less another woman—could hear the terror in my voice on those tapes and dismiss it so that they can help a criminal go free. She is struck dumb again and I drop my head. “That’s my answer, Your Honor,” I say, my voice shaking so uncontrollably that I barely heard my own words.

“Do you need to take a break, Mrs. Grey?” the judge asks. Oh, she is so accommodating since I vomited all over the defense.

“No,” I squeak, “if he’s going to get away with kidnapping me, then I want to get this done as quickly as possible.”

“Mrs. Grey…” I hear the scolding tone in her voice and I cut her off.

“I’m sorry if I said or did anything wrong can we please just get this done?” I say all in one breath. She wanted to wear me down. She got her wish. I’m exhausted and pregnant and I want me and my baby out of here. I’ll tell them whatever they want to hear. Yeah, Harris did it. He was the mastermind. He planned the whole thing. Can I go now?

Her words swirl at me in a garbled mess and I answer in monosyllabic words, saying as little as possible and never lifting my head. I’ve been on the stand for hours and I’ve answered the same questions over and over again. She keeps trying to get me to change my answers, but I won’t. I won’t give the explanations that I gave before, but I won’t change my answers.

“You assaulted Mr. David in the Marketplace, correct?”

“No.”

“You said you subdued him.”

“Yes.”

“So you put your hands on him.”

“Yes.”

“That’s assault.”

“No.”

“If you put his hands on him, that’s assault!”

“No.”

“You assaulted him, Mrs. Grey!”

“No…”

“You threatened him with your gun.”

“No.”

“You pulled your gun on him and threatened him.”

“Yes and no.”

“Which answer is it?”

“Both?”

“Your Honor…?”

“Ms. Ramsey,” I guess Her Honor has finally had enough. “Your line of questioning is repetitive and the witness has answered them repeatedly. Unless you have more evidence to present, I suggest you wrap this up.”

“Just one more question, Your Honor,” and here comes her swan song. “Mrs. Grey, do you wish Edward David harm?” An objection comes swirling from the prosecution, but I can’t hear what he’s saying. Batiste and Ramsey are now arguing the validity of the question, and my soul can’t help it when it mutters, “Yes.”

The word goes booming out over the courtroom and silences every voice in the room. I didn’t know I had spoken my soul’s feelings, but hell, I’m standing on the cliff now. I might as well jump. I raise my head and look at Ramsey.

“I have nightmares to this day about what happened to me. Before this happened, I had no problem walking the streets of Seattle. Now, I can’t go anywhere alone. I never knew Vashon Island even existed. Now, if I see it in the news or on a map, I start to shake. The aquarium was my favorite place. Now, I can’t even go there without suffering an anxiety attack. He handcuffed me naked to a bed. I was beaten and I couldn’t even run away or defend myself or even cover my face. I close my eyes and he’s taunting me, laughing at me.

“He never takes responsibility for anything. He makes it everyone else’s fault. He cheated on me with half of Seattle and surrounding areas, and somehow, that’s my fault. He attacked me from behind… he drugged me. I could have died. Don’t we all remember that someone famous died from that same drug? I don’t do anything–I don’t even smoke and I can barely tolerate too much wine. How did he know that my system wouldn’t go into shock from that? And the best he can do is whine because I grabbed his balls in the Marketplace?

“I loved him once and he ripped my heart out, and now he’s trying to rip away everything else. I want him to stay away from me forever. A restraining order didn’t do it. My husband’s security couldn’t do it. Waving a glock at him couldn’t do it. I don’t know what will, but whatever it takes, just make. Him stay. Away from me.”

My voice shakes so badly that I don’t know if all of the words came out. I see the blur in my eyes, which means that they are full of tears. The room is shaking, but I know that it’s me.

“You want him dead, Mrs. Grey?” she presses without objection. “You want him found guilty. You want him to suffer.”

“I don’t care,” I say, my voice squeaking and beseeching. “Just make him stay away from me,” I beg her, my voice rising at the end like a question. I look at her with pleading eyes, forgetting completely that she’s on the other team.

Please, my soul cries to her. Please, make him stay away from me.

For the first time, I see a real chink in her armor and she shivers as she looks into my eyes. She sees it! I know she does! She doesn’t want to, but she sees it!

“No more questions, Your Honor,” she says. Her Honor asks if “this witness” can be dismissed and when both sides agree, I rise from my seat. I didn’t know that I had already kicked off my shoes and I leave them on the witness stand. I try to run out of the courtroom in my stocking feet, sobs burning in my chest. Two hands catch me and I look up into Christian’s questioning eyes. I can’t take anymore. I collapse in uncontrollable sobs.

“Get me out of here,” I beg through my hysterical tears. “Please, get me out of here. Get me out! Get me out! Get me out!” He rushes me through the doors and out of the courtroom. It’s not far enough. I turn to Christian and I’m shaking. I can’t think. I have to get out of here! I feel like I’m going to faint again. He drags me to the door. Jason is talking into his sleeve. I feel it. I’m going down. I know I am… any second now…

A few moments later, I’m in Christian’s arms and he is taking the courthouse stairs like he’s a sprinter and I’m nothing more than a briefcase. I can hear voices around us, asking for details of the trial and if I’m alright. I hold on as tight as I can. Did someone get my purse? My shoes? I’m so tired…

Christian climbs into a vehicle with me still in his arms. Someone shuts the door behinds us and bangs twice on the car. I feel us lurch ahead and I know that we’re riding down the street, away from the courthouse and away from Edward David.


CHRISTIAN

She’s resting now. She fell apart completely after that testimony. I know she won’t go back to watch any more of the trial until it’s time for the verdict. It was just too much on her. Her whole demeanor changed after she heard the 911 tapes. It’s like someone flipped a switch inside of her and she just shut down. Allen is here in the great room with Elliot and Valerie. Escala and my security team has set up a perimeter around the building enabling us to get in and out. Unfortunately, no one without clearance will be able to enter or exit, either. This doesn’t please some of the other tenants in the building, that their guests have to be cleared to enter. Fuck if I care. I only care about Butterfly’s safety and peace of mind right now.

Marilyn enters the great room and I have to remember that she’s not just Ana’s receptionist anymore. She’s part of Ana’s “Jason.” After clearing it with Butterfly, I allow Marilyn to go back to the bedroom with a small bag from the drug store. Part of me is curious about what it is, probably something for her nausea. The other part of me is more concerned about how she’s feeling; if she’s going to have nightmares tonight; what I can do to make this easier on her.

“So, they’re talking about the whole vomiting thing, but nobody seems to have any video of it,” Elliot says.

“Do you really want to see that?” Valerie asks, twisting her face.

“Actually, yes,” he says and I glare at him. “I’d love to see the bitch who grilled Ana covered in her puke, so sue me.” He takes a sip of his soft drink.

“Elliot, have you sworn off alcohol completely?” I ask. He shakes his head.

“I just don’t have the taste for it like I use to, that’s all. Not a teetotaler, yet, Bro,” he says. Marilyn comes out of the bedroom.

“Goodnight, guys,” she says with a wave, her voice chipper.

“You leaving so soon?” Valerie asks.

“I’ve got a date,” she says with a wide smile.

“Who with?” Elliot says. She twists her lips and cocks her head at him. “Oops, sorry. Brain fart moment.” Marilyn shakes her head and rolls her eyes.

“You got big plans, Mare?” Valerie asks.

“No, just a standard date tonight. We’re trying to plan something for the weekend. Our year anniversary is next week.”

“A year.” She looks at Elliot. “Has it been a year already?”

“It depends,” he says. “If you’re counting when we sealed the deal, then yes, that was yesterday. If you’re looking at when we said, ‘I love you,’ we’ve got a few more weeks.” Valerie turns in her seat.

“Elliot, you remember that?” Her voice is all wispy and longing. My brother smiles and turns on the Elliot charm.

“August 10th, Angel,” he says matter-of-factly. She touches his cheek.

“I can’t believe you remember that,” she says softly and they share a gentle peck.

“Stop making out on my sofa,” I say after Marilyn has made her getaway to get to Garrett.

“Don’t hate, Bro. What did you do for Ana on your one year anniversary?” he asks. Is he serious?

“Sealing the deal or saying ‘I love you?’” I ask.

“Both,” he says haughtily.

“Elliot, have you been living under a rock or something?”

“No, I want to outdo you.” I shake my head.

“Fine. For sealing the deal, I married her. For saying ‘I love you,’ I took her to Greece. Good luck outdoing me.” I fold my arms and wait for his response. Allen laughs heartily at the revelation and Valerie just shakes her head.

“Pay him no attention, El,” Valerie says, sweetly. “Being your girl is enough for me.” She kisses him gently on the cheek.

“Yeah, El,” I tease, “stop trying to outdo your little brother. You’ve got a great girl there.” I laugh myself until I see Butterfly standing somberly in our bedroom doorway.

“Butterfly?” I say, waiting for her to respond.

“Christian, can I see you for a second?” she asks softly.

“Sure,” I say, making my way to the bedroom and forgetting completely that there’s actually a room full of people there. When I get to the doorway, she walks to the bathroom without a word. Just as I get to the door of the en suite, she comes out and hands me what looks like an electronic thermometer. Does she have a fever? I look at the front of it and there is a window with two pink lines. I examine the device closer. It’s a pregnancy test. Two pink lines mean positive. It says so right on the front of the thermom—uh, test. I look up at Butterfly. Stay calm, Grey. Stay calm.

“Are you sure?” I ask. “Could this be wrong? They normally tell you to take more than one, don’t they?” She reaches into the en suite and hands me two more tests, both different brands. One brand just reads “pregnant” in the little window. The other reads “pregnant 3+,” which I take to mean three plus weeks. Suddenly, I feel a little light-headed…

I open my eyes and Jason is in my face.

“Boss? Can you hear me?” He’s looking down at me and I’m looking straight ahead at the ceiling. What the fuck happened? The last thing I remember was…

“Did she tell you?” I ask him and he frowns.

“Tell me what, Boss?”

“I’m gonna be a daddy,” I say just above a whisper. “We’re pregnant. She’s having my baby.”

“No shit!” Jason says, then looks across at Butterfly, who is on her knees on the floor next to me, weeping. I scramble to sit up and cup her tear-drenched cheeks.

“Baby! What’s wrong?” Oh my God, what happened?

“You scared me!” she weeps loudly. I gather her in my arms and her shoulders shake.

“I’m sorry,” I say in a sing-songy voice. “I was overwhelmed.” I let her cry for a bit, then pull her back and wipe her eyes with my handkerchief. “I always pictured how I was going to react when you told me I was going to be a father. This wasn’t it.” She laughs through her tears, but they keep falling.

“You’re… okay… with this?” she asks with shuddering breaths.

Okay? I’m ecstatic!” I answer honestly. “You’re having my baby… you beautiful, beautiful girl…” I kiss her face over and over until she stops crying.

I hold her close to me all night, unable to sleep and thinking about the little piece of me that she has growing inside of her. How magnificent! She’s having my baby. I can’t believe she’s having my baby. I stay awake the whole night watching her sleep and waiting for the sun to rise. She’s calling the doctor today to get an appointment. Thoughts of Edward David and the trial are the farthest thing from our minds as we shower and get dressed. I’m almost jumping out of my skin when, after breakfast, she puts her OB/GYN on the speakerphone.

“Dr. Culley, it’s Ana Ste… Grey.”

“Ana! Hi!” I can hear the sympathy in her voice already and I’m sure that Butterfly can hear it, too. She must have heard what happened in court yesterday.

“Hi. I, um, think I’m pregnant.” The line falls silent.

“Have you had a positive home test?” she asks.

“I’ve had three.” I confirm.

“Date of your last normal period?” Butterfly’s eyes squint. She’s thinking.

“That’s hard to tell. My last normal period would have been May 19th. I had a short period on June 24th. Three days…” she says.

“Why don’t you come in? I can get you in this afternoon. I usually can’t on short notice, but this is your lucky day.” Sure it is, I think to myself. It doesn’t matter though. I just want Butterfly to be okay.

“Sure. What time?”

“I have 2:00 and 3:00 available.” The sooner the better, I think to myself.

“Two o’clock,” Butterfly says as if she’s reading my mind. There’s a short pause.

“Will Mr. Grey be joining you?” she asks.

“Yes,” I answer for myself.

“Oh! Mr. Grey! I didn’t know you were on the line. Excellent, so I’ll see you both at two, then.”

“See you at two, Dr. Culley,” Butterfly says before ending the call. She sighs heavily.

“Are you okay?” I ask her.

“Ugh!” she sighs again. “I’ve got a few things on my mind.” I pull her into my lap.

“Just a few?” I say, kissing her temple. She leans into my kiss and relaxes in my arms.

“You make everything better, Christian,” she says, softly. Damn straight. Anything for you, Butterfly.

“Do you think it’s a boy or a girl?” I ask her.

“It’s certainly too early to tell,” she says, “and I don’t want to jinx it.” She sounds really nervous. I gently rub her back.

“Butterfly,” I say into her hair, “nothing is going to happen to our baby. I don’t want you to think that way at all. I know what everyone says—wait until three months—but I believe that you and that gorgeous bundle of love that you are carrying are going to be just fine. I need you to believe it, too. I’m too happy to think anything else.” She looks up at me with deep ocean blue eyes.

“You are?” she asks softly.

“Yes, I am,” I say with conviction. “I’m going to take care of you and my baby. He’s going to grow up big and strong just like his dad.”

“You said, ‘he,’” she says softly. I think about my words and smile.

“No, you said ‘he,’” I say softly. “When we were in Napa, you said that our boy would be born first.” I can see her running the memory through her head.

“So I did,” she says, with a delicate smile. “He will also be generous and loving just like his father.”

“And smart just like his mother.” I rub my nose against hers and her eyes close.

“And handsome, like his father,” she breathes.

“And kind, like his mother…” I close my lips over hers.


ANASTASIA

“Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Grey,” Dr. Culley says. “Your urine test confirmed your home results. You are definitely pregnant.” Christian squeezes my hand and smiles widely, breathing a heavy sigh of relief. I don’t know why he was worried, but I can tell that he was. “I want to do an ultrasound to see what I can see. According to your last period, you’re about two to four weeks pregnant, but your pregnancy test indicates higher levels of hCG than a woman pregnant two to four weeks. With your permission, I’d like to perform a transvaginal ultrasound…”

“Okay, slow down. You’re going a bit too fast for me,” Christian halts the conversation. “First off, what is hCG and will the high levels hurt Ana or the baby?” Dr. Culley smiles and I have to hide my smirk as well.

“Please, let me,” I tell her and she nods. “In laymen’s terms, hCG is the hormone that tells us that I’m pregnant. It multiplies exponentially in the first stages of pregnancy, so they expect it to be at a certain level at certain times. It eventually stops multiplying and levels out. It’s also the hormone that’s going to make me snap at you for no reason and literally cry over spilled milk.” I smile at him and Dr. Culley chuckles.

“In laymen’s terms, yes, that’s exactly what it is,” she confirms.

“Okay, but the higher levels…” Christian presses, not seeing the humor in my description.

“That could mean a few things. I’d like to do the ultrasound first before I make any observations.”

“Is anything wrong?” I ask her.

“I don’t think so, Mrs. Grey, but I won’t know until I get in there.”

“Get in there?” Christian asks.

“Yes, sir. A transvaginal ultrasound is usually done early in pregnancy if there is any cause for concern. In my case, I’m just being thorough. It involves inserting a transducer—a probe—into the vagina that will send sound waves though her uterus and give us a clearer picture of the baby’s size and location. It’s painless and completely harmless for Ana and the baby.”

Christian looks at me, then back at the doctor, then back at me.

“What do you want to do, Butterfly?” He is so out of his comfort zone right now.

“Better safe than sorry,” I tell him. He nods. “Okay, Doc. Let’s do it.”

Christian’s face is priceless as the doctor puts a condom and gel on the probe. She asks my permission to proceed, then inserts the probe into my vagina. I barely feel it, but I do feel a little pressure the further that thing travels. I can only describe the look on Christian’s face as morbid curiosity.

“Are you okay?” he asks. I beckon him down to me with my finger. When he leans down to me, I whisper, “I can’t feel it. You’re bigger than the probe.” We both giggle a bit at our private joke.

“Whoa.” Dr. Culley’s voice brings us out our momentary revelry.

“Whoa?” Christian and I both ask at the same time. You’ve got a probe in my pussy and you’re saying “Whoa?”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” she says with a slight smile. “I just… really didn’t need this thing.” What the hell does that mean? I know I’m looking at her like she has lost her mind and I can only imagine how Christian must be looking at her. “Give me just a moment, and don’t worry,” she says. She moves the thing around a bit takes a few pictures of black and white clouds and globs and I have no idea what I’m looking at.

“Well, I was correct in my assumptions, Mrs. Grey, and I found a little surprise as well.”

“Okay, how about letting us in on it?” Christian says, his voice oozing impatience.

“You’re definitely more than four weeks pregnant. On first guess, I would say that you are closer to 8 -10 weeks.” My eyes go large.

“What?” I ask. That can’t be right. Can it?

“Yes, ma’am. The period that you had last month—was there anything unusual about it? You said that is was short…” Unusual? I’ll say.

“Yes. It was short and light,” I tell her. She nods.

“It could be completely normal. It wasn’t a period, though. You were definitely pregnant at the time. We’ll keep an eye on you, but I don’t think you have anything to worry about. It could have been breakthrough bleeding or harmless spotting. With bleeding, we normally worry about miscarriages, but that was a month ago and you haven’t had anymore bleeding since then, correct?”

“Correct.” She shifts the probe a bit and pushes a button on the monitor. I hear what sounds like rushing water—a lot of rushing water—trying to get through a small hole.

“What is that?” Christian asks.

“That, my friends, would be heartbeats.” Okay, that didn’t get past me.

“Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Wait! What?” I look at her. “Heartbeats? Did you say heartbeats… with an s?”

“That I did,” she says, turning the monitor further around so that we could get a better view of it and points to two very distinct blobs that almost look like babies. “That is baby number one, and that is baby number two. Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Grey, you’re having twins.”

Twins“Twins!” Christian exclaims thrusting his hands into his hair. “Son of a bitch!” He claps once, startling both me and Dr. Culley. “The potent Grey sperm will not be denied!” he exclaims victoriously.

Oh, Lord.

“Ana, you don’t look pleased,” Dr. Culley says. Christian looks down at me.

“Are you okay, Baby?” I realize that I better say something.

“Oh! Yes! I’m fine. I’m just… shocked and…” I look up at Christian.

“Talk to me, Baby,” he says, pulling a seat over next to the table and getting at eye level with me.

“I…” There are lumps in my stomach and not from the babies, so I just spit it out. “Eight to 10 weeks,” I squeak. “The drinking… at the hen party… the toast at the wedding… the wine tasting in Paris… the hot tub in Greece…” I’m freaking out. I was drinking and I was pregnant. My babies….

“Okay, don’t panic, Mrs. Grey,” Dr. Culley tries to calm me as she removes the probe. “During those times, did you ever get drunk?” I think hard.

“No… not in the last two months, but I did have cocktails at my bachelorette party… June 28th.”

“Lots of cocktails?” she asks. I shake my head.

“No, I didn’t want to be a wasted bride.”

“Okay, so I’ve heard three incidents of drinking. Any more?”

“Um, casually, maybe… with dinner, I think…” I’m wracking my brain to try to remember how much alcohol I’ve had. “Mostly red wine. I only had cocktails at the hen party. I don’t really like hard liquor.” She nods.

“Okay.” She prints out pictures of the babies and covers me before standing. “Clean up, get dressed, and come to my office so we can talk. I won’t mince words—I’ll give you the good, the bad and the ugly. You deserve to know. Okay?” I nod and she leaves. I lay there for a moment, completely forgetting that Christian is in the room with me as he has fallen completely silent. I leap off the table and go to the bathroom with my clothes in my hand. Luckily, I didn’t have the vomiting attack that I was expecting, but I quickly freshen up and put my clothes back on. When I open the door, Christian is standing there looking at me.

“Whatever happens, we’ll be okay,” he says, his expression unreadable. “We’ll do whatever she tells us to do. I’ll be whatever you need. We’ll be okay.” I stand there stunned for a moment, then I leap into his arms trying not to cry.

“I love you so much, Christian,” I squeak, trying to control my emotions.

“I love you, too, Butterfly,” he says into my hair.

“I’m scared. I hope I didn’t hurt our babies.” I can hear my voice trembling.

“Sssshh, don’t think that way. The babies will be fine and so will we.” He kisses my cheek. “Let’s go hear what the doctor has to say.”

A few minutes later, we are sitting across from Dr. Culley, holding hands and I’m preparing myself for the worst.

“There are several schools of thought on this, Mr. and Mrs. Grey…”

“Please call me Ana as usual,” I tell her. “We’re going to be seeing a lot more of each other in the coming months… I hope.” She nods.

“We will, Ana,” she says with a smile. “As I was saying, some doctors tell you to abstain from drinking completely. Other doctors may tell you that an occasional drink won’t hurt the babies. I will tell you this—heavy drinking is definitely not good for the baby as alcohol has been associated with certain birth defects. However, it hasn’t been determined what effects light drinking could have on the babies. There is no amount of alcohol that has been proven to be safe, and there are other factors involved, such as how quickly your body processes and breaks down alcohol.”

“I’m a lightweight, Doctor,” I tell her, meaning that I can’t hold my liquor.

“Okay. Bearing that in mind, you said that you didn’t drink to inebriation, correct?” I nod. “That would mean that you most likely drank moderate amounts of wine and alcohol. If your alcohol tolerance is already low and you didn’t go beyond your tolerance, then you couldn’t have drank that much—certainly not enough to cause significant harm to the babies. Although I wouldn’t recommend drinking any more now that you know you are pregnant, I would say that you shouldn’t have anything to worry about, Ana.”

“What about the hot tub?” I ask. “I was told that pregnant women shouldn’t take hot baths and I got into the hot tub twice during our honeymoon.” She nods.

“We’ll keep an eye on you and the babies and I’ll have more information and a more accurate due date for you at your next visit after I have taken a look at your tests and the sonograms. However, if I were to bet the ranch on it, I would say that you and the babies are going to be just fine.”

A rush of relief runs through me so powerfully that I feel light-headed and almost fall out of my seat. Christian catches me and ends up on his knees next to my seat. He’s looking in my eyes and saying something, but I can’t hear him. I don’t know how much time passes, but I know that after some time, we are alone in the room.

I’m fine.
The babies are fine.
The babies will be fine.
We’re going to be okay.

I look up at Christian’s questioning, concerned eyes, then collapse on his shoulder, crying tears of fear, anguish, joy, and relief.


A/N: Okay, so there you have it–the pregnancy announcement. Now people can stop hounding me about it. Once again, any posts that say “Well, it’s about time” or ANYTHING ALONG THAT LINE will be DELETED. I don’t care who posts them or what else you say in them. I have asked people repeatedly to stop harassing me about announcing the pregnancy and people still didn’t stop, so I really hope you all read this author’s note and don’t be surprised if your comment comes up missing.

If I sound a little miffed, it’s because as I was proofreading the chapter, all of the thrill of announcing her pregnancy was gone because of the people who continuously battered me about the announcement. So here it is. Hopefully, it wasn’t as anti-climactic for you as it was for me. 

If you are not one of those people who continued to badger me AFTER I asked people to stop, please don’t get all sensitive and take this personally.

Once again, pictures of places, cars, fashion, etc. can be found at http://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/mending-dr-steele/

You can join my mailing list on the “Contact Me” page. Just click the link and it will lead you to a form to join the list.

Love and Handcuffs!
Lynn x

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Mending Dr. Steele: Chapter 74—Seattle-Bound


So hopefully things have quieted down and we can get on with the story. My Muse seems to be peeking her head back into the door every now and then, but she only got me as far as Chapter 76 and she poked her head in and churned out 77 this week. If the story falls dead there and I tell you guys that you just have to wait, then you’ll know that she took a hiatus and didn’t come back. We’ll see…

Thank you all again for my birthday wishes this week. I felt really special. 

I do not own Fifty Shades Trilogy, or the characters. They belong to E. L. James. I am only exercising my right to exploit, abuse, and mangle the characters to MY discretion in MY story in MY interpretation as a fan. I hope you—as a fellow fan—enjoy it, too.

Chapter 74—Seattle-Bound

CHRISTIAN

She’s standing next to the bed when I come out of the bathroom. The shower is heating and I am naked about to get in. I walk up behind her and spin her around. She gasps at my force and I devour her mouth, plunging my tongue into hers. She’s uncertain at first, but she melts at my touch. I break our kiss and snatch her dress over her head. I grab her luscious ass and press her into my aching erection. She groans as I grind her into me.

“I need you,” I nearly hiss.

“Yes,” she breathes. I lift her by her ass and carry her to the bathroom. I take her into the shower without removing her underwear, grinding into her the whole time. She’s panting as the water runs down her back. Her fingers thrust into my hair as she returns my hungry kisses. I tighten my grasp on her ass and continue to grind her against my erection. I can feel her clit hardening through her panties. Oh, yes, baby, come for me. She drops her head back.

“Christian! I… I’m…” Before she can finish her sentence, I take a mouthful of her breast and sink my teeth in, teasing her nipple with my tongue through her bra.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!” she cries out and begins to shudder. I press her hard against me and grind back and forth until her breaths are coming in short. Holding her around the waist, I release her bra with one hand. She removes it while I tear her panties from her body. It’s harder to do when they’re wet, but they still don’t stand a chance. When I plunge into her, she’s still pulsing.

“Fuck!” I growl. It feels so good. With one hand against the wall and my arm holding her captive against me, I plunge into her again and again and again…

*-*

I’m standing on the third floor terrace facing the setting sun and hoping that Butterfly gets up here before the sky turns orange. Santorini has the most breathtaking sunsets I have ever seen and I really want to share this last one with her before we have to go back to Seattle. I hope I didn’t come off as a “Neanderthal” a little while ago. I felt the possession all over again and I couldn’t control it. She is mine and I needed to feel it. When we had both come at least twice—three times for Butterfly—I dried her hair for her and got dressed.

She was standing near the bed trying to decide between a white Alexander McQueen with large black birds or a simple angelic off-the-shoulder peasant dress. She was standing there looking gloriously delicious in just white panties. She jumped when I touched her skin and the resulting goose bumps let me know that she wasn’t startled. I brushed my lips against her neck and watched her eyes close.

“That one,” I had said, pointing to the peasant dress. She opened her eyes, looked at the dress and nodded. I kissed her shoulder. “I’ll be upstairs. Don’t be long. The sunset awaits.”

I’m pulled from my daydream by a delicate voice clearing her throat behind me. I turn around and she’s standing there in the peasant dress, her hair flowing over her shoulders with wildflowers somehow spread throughout, and she’s barefoot—wearing some of that barefoot jewelry that she wore in Anguilla. She truly looks heavenly and I think my heart stops for a moment.

“You’re so beautiful,” I breathe as I walk over to her. She smiles widely.

“Thank you,” she says sweetly. I take her face in my hands and kiss her, first softly, then passionately. I love her so much. I need her so much.

“I wasn’t too… rough with you, was I?” I ask cautiously. She looks up into my eyes while I’m still holding her face.

“I could feel your urgency,” she admits, “but no, not too rough at all.” I sigh heavily and put my forehead on hers.

“Good,” I breathe before looking into her eyes. “I’m trying.”

“I know,” she says. “Was it Harley?” I close my eyes.

“I don’t know,” I admit. “I think it was just the sexual energy. It was all around us and I needed you. Maybe they were just feeling it for each other and it jumped off on me. I don’t know.” And I really don’t know. This guy didn’t look at my wife too long or say or do anything inappropriate. I just… felt it, swirling around us, and I needed her. It was so strong that it almost overtook me. I would have been fine had I taken a shower alone. I would have washed that crazy, intense energy down the drain and came out okay, but she came into the villa. She’s my weakness in every way. My heart swelled and my dick got hard immediately. I had to feel her.

I take her hand and walk to the edge of the terrace. I wrap my arms around her with plenty of time to watch the Santorini sunset. I think about our home and our life together again. She is my dream come true and it’s the moments that we share like this that makes me so happy that she picked me. The sun slowly disappears behind the water, changing the sky from hues of orange to hues of purple… our last Santorini sunset.

“Close your eyes,” I say, my mouth right next to her ear. She closes her eyes and I brush my lips against her shoulders. “Do you see it? Do you still see the sunset?”

“Yes,” she breathes with a shiver.

“Can you feel the warmth of the sun on your skin?” I ask peppering kisses from her shoulder to her neck. She takes a deep breath and lets it out.

“Yes.”

“Can you see the light shimmering off the water?” She smiles slightly.

“Yes,” she whispers, “it’s beautiful.”

“Don’t forget it. Remember our Santorini sunset, when I held you in my arms and kissed your flawless skin; told you how beautiful you are and that you mean more to me than anything in the world; when I told you that you have become the single most important thing or person in my life. I tried to fight it; I tried to resist and stay strong and independent, but I couldn’t. I can’t live without you. I can’t breathe without you. It’s you, Anastasia, only you.”

She gasps a sob and turns around in my arms. Pulling my head down by my hair, she kisses me feverishly and now I feel her need. I lift her off the floor and stand up straight, absorbing her tearful kisses as she feeds off my energy and I off hers.

It’s completely dark when we get back down to the main floor. Shelly and Harley have joined the security team in a drink. Once again, I have taken everyone off duty for our last evening in Santorini, certain that they will be in good form tomorrow afternoon. Jason is behind the bar making drinks while Charles chats up Harley, and Norbert and Adrien have Shelly’s attention. The dining table has been set up on the main floor terrace and the smells coming from the kitchen are divine.

“There you are,” Shelly says, rising from her perch at the bar and excusing herself. “I was talking to Norbert and Adrien. They really are nice guys.”

“Are they?” Butterfly says. “I’m sorry, I was too caught up on my honeymoon. I just didn’t notice anyone else.” Shelly smiles mischievously.

“You two must have had a fantastic time on your honeymoon,” she says.

“We did,” I say, looking lovingly at Butterfly. “We’ve had some truly unforgettable moments.” She smiles up at me, then leans shyly on my arm. God, I love that.

“Well, let’s have a drink to toast your wonderful trip and wish you a safe journey home,” Shelly said. She appears anxious to have a good time. She leads Butterfly over to the bar and I follow.

“What’ll it be, Boss?” Jason asks.

“What do you have?” I ask.

“Basically, some of everything—scotch, bourbon, vodka, beer—you name it, it’s back here.”

“Single malt?”

“Single malt,” he confirms. I nod.

“I’ll take a double shot,” I tell him. “Butterfly?”

“I don’t want anything,” she says. “I’ll wait for dinner.” Shelly laughs.

“You and Chuck,” she says. “It’s a party and you guys won’t drink.”

“Well, Chuck doesn’t drink. I’m just not good with alcohol on an empty stomach.” Shelly nods.

“Smart,” she says, putting her drink on the bar. “Nothing tackier than a stumbling-drunk woman.” I guess she has opted to wait for dinner as well.

The table is finally spread with an out-of-control amount of food and we eat and drink well into the evening until our hearts are content. Butterfly nursed the same glass of Cabernet all night. I guess Shelly’s comment about the stumbling-drunk woman made her drink only very modestly. She mostly drank water and I am reminded of her waking with a headache in the middle of the night and unable to find any painkillers. We talked to the wee hours of the morning before Shelly and Harley decide to call it a night.

“I couldn’t help but notice the strange faces you were making while you were talking to Shelly,” I say as we are standing near the pool looking out over the wall at the sea. She gets a little stiff, then recovers.

“She’s… different. Like… strange.”

“Strange? In what way?” I ask.

“I don’t think she’s happy. I don’t think she’s happy with her life, with who she is, with how she looks…”

“How she looks? She’s hot,” I say. The look she throws at me is deadly. “Oh, come on, Butterfly. Okay, granted, maybe I shouldn’t have said it out loud, but are we really going to deny that this woman is hot? Her husband is very handsome—for an older guy—and she’s hot.”

“Okay, I get it!” she snaps. “She’s hot.” She glares at me for a while and I just shrug. Well, it’s true. I didn’t mean to let it just trip out of my mouth, but it is true. “I don’t think she particularly likes being hot. I mean she likes it, but I think she would really rather not.” I frown.

“I don’t get it. Who doesn’t want to be hot?”

“I don’t think that she doesn’t want to be hot. I just think that it’s not what it’s cracked up to be. You see her boobs?” I look down at her.

“Is that a trick question?” I ask. She frowns.

“What do you mean?”

“Of course, I saw her boobs. Satellites in space saw her boobs, but if I admit it, you’ll get mad at me again and if I say that I didn’t, you’ll know that I’m lying. So again, I ask, is this a trick question?” Seriously?

“Point taken. Those things are hell to carry around. She has to practice keeping her back straight and not walking like a hunchback. When I suggested going to a smaller size, she looked at me like I had insulted her. After she recovered, she talked about the pain and the recovery time involved in the surgery and I couldn’t help but think that the recovery time and pain had to be less for smaller boobs than they are for larger ones. Then to top it all off, she has the body of a Barbie Doll with boobs the size of…” She trails off.

“Soccer balls?” I assist. She looks at me.

“Just about,” she confirms. “Who does that?”

“Women who want big boobs,” I say with a shrug.

“I want big boobs!” she protests.

“Baby, you’ve got big boobs!” I say, looking down at her luscious melons. “What are you now? An E?”

“Christian!” She scolds. “I’m a D!”

“If you say so,” I say, cupping one boob and stroking her bare nipple through the material of the dress. Her breath catches and I see goose bumps rising on her skin again. “That thing has been staring at me all evening.”

“Christian…” she breathes as I cup the other breast and repeat the teasing of the other nipple.

“You’re always so ready,” I whisper, bringing my lips down to her neck and keeping the same amount of pressure on her tits and only her tits. This little action in making her rise high and fast. It only takes a few minutes…

“Christian!” She grabs my arms to steady herself. Her mouth is open and she’s breathing through her orgasm. When it wanes, her knees buckle under her and I have to catch her before she falls.

“I love the different ways that I can make you come… anytime… anywhere… with very little effort.”

*-*

I’m sitting at the bar with my laptop, tying up loose ends and getting ready for our trip back to the States. I brought Butterfly to another orgasm in the early morning hours by feasting on her pussy and commanding her not to come. She squirmed for a good hour before she finally gave in then collapsed into a blissful sleep around 5am. I let her sleep until just around noon, but we have to get ready to get to the airport soon. We fly to Heathrow today to meet the GEH jet at 10pm. From there, we fly to New York to go through customs and board the 604, which will get us to Bellingham about the same time in Seattle. Dad will pick us up from Bellingham and we should be at the Bellevue manor by midnight.

“Hey, Boss,” Jason says, bringing his bags out to the courtyard and sitting them next to ours.

“Jason,” I say with a nod. “Everybody ready?”

“They better be or they’ll be finding their own way back home,” he replies. “Norbert and Adrien have already left for the airport. It’s just us now.” It’s official. We’re going back home. “I talked to them for a bit before we hit the sack last night. It’s always good to get someone else’s take on things. They brought something to my attention that you should probably know.” I close my laptop and turn to look at him, my eyebrows furrowed.

“I’m listening.”

“I think you need to turn the caveman down a bit when it comes to Ana,” he says. “When you were at the Acropolis and that Owen guy approached her, you handled it well, better than I’ve ever seen and I was proud of you—but anybody in a 10-foot radius could still see that you were chomping at the bit to get to that guy. Then when we got to the nightclub and he was… let’s just say, more overt—you were ready to tear the place down with your calm aggression and you made it well-known. Now any man would feel that way about the woman he loves. Hell, look what I did to the guy at the bar in Anguilla. It’s a little different with you, though, Boss.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” I say frowning. “I mean, granted, I react when men make the moves on my wife, but I don’t make a scene unless they do.”

“That’s not it,” he says, taking the barstool next to me. “Whenever you want someone to stay away from her, you tell them exactly what she’s worth and follow it up by telling them that you would spend your entire fortune to keep her happy or to make their life miserable.” He’s right. I remember having just that conversation more than once in relation to my Butterfly.

“You better not tell anyone else how much she means to you,” he continues. “She’s your Achilles Heel. She can bring down everything you have, and K&R won’t be able to stop it. If someone gets a hold of her, they will turn your entire empire into a house of glass. That I know of, you’ve got a couple of hotheaded lawyers who know exactly what she is to you and exactly what she’s worth. You also have a pining Cholometes who wouldn’t mind seeing you hurt, not that he would ever hurt Ana, but I’m just saying. Don’t tell anyone else what she means to you. Your enemies will try to use her against you any way that they can.”

“How did this come about?” I ask. “Were they plotting or something?” Jason shakes his head.

“No, we were just talking like security guys talk. They brought up that she’s an easy mark for an opportunist. You’re very possessive of her; you barely let her out of your sight for the entire trip. She’s your biggest weakness, Christian, and a professional knows that. She’s already been kidnapped once with very little effort. Don’t think someone else wouldn’t try.” I rub my fingers over my lips. What does he suggest that I do—be less affectionate and loving to my wife? Not going to happen.

“More covert coverage?” I ask. “Less Neanderthal?” He nods.

“That’s a good place to start… and stop threatening people with your wealth when it comes down to her. You’re putting a big red arrow over her to let opportunists know she’s a great mark.” I nod.

“I need to tell her about the covert surveillance,” I tell Jason. “No more secrets. I can’t have a repeat of what happened on her hen night.”

“You just did.”

We turn around and see Butterfly standing there, dressed and ready to go. I can’t read the expression on her face, but she makes her way over to the bar and puts her hand on Jason’s arm. Wordless communication passes between them and he nods before leaving the bar area. She turns her attention to me.

“I’ll agree to whatever you need,” she says softly. “I don’t want you worrying about me. He’s right, though. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that we’re in love, and it only takes one small opportunity for someone to capitalize on that. They don’t need to know what lengths you’ll go through to get me back, although most of them already do.” She puts her hands on both sides of my face. “I love you, Mr. Grey. I’ll do whatever you need.”

I wrap my arms around her and pull her close to me. Two strangers can see that she’s an easy mark. That’s horribly frightening. I don’t really know what to do.

“I’ll keep a lid on that part,” I tell her inhaling the scent of her hair. “I’ll try not to be so cave-man, but I don’t know how to cap my affection for you and I don’t want to.” I rub her back and press her into me. “Thank you for agreeing to more surveillance.”

“Thank you for agreeing to tell me,” she says. I pull her back and look into her eyes.

“I’m sorry the honeymoon didn’t turn out to be all that we had hoped it would be,” I say.

“Well, it was very nice for the time we got to enjoy it, but I knew David was going to pull something like this.”

“Not just that, I mean the fights that we had. I know we could have enjoyed Athens and the island a little more had we not been at odds.”

“The first one wasn’t really a fight, and it wasn’t your fault,” she protests.

“Yes, it was. Had I not said anything about soul mates…”  She puts her finger over my lips to silence me.

“You have a right to how you feel, Christian. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m glad you told me. It gave me the chance to show you what you mean to me—to put to rest that whole ‘soul mate’ thing and show you exactly why it doesn’t fit for us. You understand that now, don’t you?” I put my hand on her cheek and my fingers in her hair.

“Yes, Butterfly, I understand.” I kiss her soulfully. “You make me a better person. I try every day to be worthy of you.”

“And I of you,” she says, kissing me again. “We’re going to remember the beautiful sights that we saw and the magnificent experiences we had; the remarkable sunsets on Santorini and the emotional connections we both felt at the prison at Agora; the dip in the hot springs and how the water made our skin tingle; the many, many times that we made love and the massive orgasms that we had. We’re also going to remember the breakthroughs that we had from our disagreements and hold on to them—learn from them and grow from them, and take every opportunity to connect to each other the way that we did afterwards. We won’t wait until we have an argument to do that. I think it will help us grow more and understand one another, to be more patient and understanding of each other.” I kiss her again.

“I’d like that very much.”

*-*

“Christian, Ana. It’s good to see you, though I wish it were under better circumstances.” Mom hugs me warmly, then Butterfly. “You both have beautiful suntans.

“Thank you, Grace. You shouldn’t have waited up. That was very sweet,” Butterfly says.

“Oh, nonsense. I wanted to make sure you had everything that you needed. It’s going to be a long few days for you and I want you to be comfortable. Your assistant brought some things for you and I’ve already had them taken to Christian’s room. Do you want anything? Tea or something, or were you just looking to turn in?”

“I want to sleep. I know that I should, but I’m as bright as a bunny,” Butterfly confesses.

“Come with me,” Mom says. “I have just the thing to make you drowsy and you can tell me all about Greece.” Mom and Butterfly head off to the kitchen, no doubt for some of Mom’s secret chamomile tea. We never knew what the secret ingredient was, but she’ll be out in the next 20 minutes or so. Dad comes down the stairs shortly after they head to the kitchen.

“Jason and Charles are settled in two of the guest rooms. I’m surprised that Jason didn’t go home to his wife,” Dad says.

“It’s all part of the façade, Dad,” I tell him. “The jet is on the tarmac at SeaTac by now and they’re waiting for us to get off. I don’t doubt that there are a few reporters at Escala as well awaiting our arrival. If Jason goes home, the jig is up.” He nods.

“I can see how that could be a problem. Speaking of trials, Lincoln is pushing for a trial date soon, too. She is positive that she’s going to get off, according to the DA. She refuses to take any kind of plea on the charges because she’s convinced that her defense will work.” I shake my head.

“Still delusional as ever,” I say. “We won’t say anything to Butterfly about this. She has enough on her mind.”

“I can imagine. The fact that this is going to trial at all is beyond me. She was missing for four days, starving, dehydrated, and brutally beaten when they got her to the hospital. How can this monster possibly think that a jury would believe anything he has to say?”

“The same way that Lincoln thinks her case is airtight.” I say.

Butterfly did manage to get to sleep for a few hours after Mom’s secret tea and now we are sitting outside of the courthouse about to go inside. Her eyes go to the ceiling as she takes a deep breath. I take her hand and squeeze.

“Are you ready?” I ask.

“No, but let’s go anyway.” I nod to Jason and he gets out of the driver’s seat of my mother’s car. We have a moment of peace as he opens the door to let us out, but once the press sees that it’s us getting out of the Volvo, they are running down the stairs to get to us. Jason and Charles are in front of us and we are flanked by Williams, Lawrence, and three other guards just to get into the courthouse. Butterfly sighs heavily once we get past the metal detectors. This ordeal is trying enough without having to deal with those vultures. Certain members of the press are still allowed beyond the metal detectors, but not as many as are parked outside. A different car will be here to pick us up from the parking garage while Mom’s Volvo sits out front after today’s proceedings.

Allen meets us at the courtroom doors to tell us what’s going on. We’ll all be able to listen to opening arguments, but once that is done, we have to be led from to the courtroom and we can testify one by one. We will have to wait for our turn to testify before we are allowed back into the courtroom. A look of horror comes over Butterfly’s face.

“I have to testify alone, you mean? I have to face him alone?” She is shaking in her Louboutins. I almost think she’s going to pass out. She’s clinging to me for dear life and I can see the flight response kicking in. She’ll leave this courthouse and never come back. Allen sees it, too.

“You’ll be in the middle of the witness list, Jewel,” he says. “By that time, Chris will have given his testimony and he won’t have to leave the courtroom.”

“Is it always this way?” I ask him.

“Not always, but most often it is. Witnesses shouldn’t be in the courtroom at the same time because the court wants a clear and honest recollection of what happened from the point of view of each witness. They don’t want one witness to hear what another witness says and change their testimony.” I nod. Butterfly is calming a bit, but still shaking.

“So we didn’t have to come today?” she says. “I’m not first, so I didn’t have to come today.”

“Well, we never know how long testimony might take, who may not show up, what other circumstances may delay or speed up the proceedings. Unfortunately, that means that you have to be here every day until you are called to the stand. After that, it’s completely up to you if you want to be here or not,” he responds. She sighs.

“So what are we looking at?” she says, rubbing her forehead.

“This trial can go from three days to 10 days from my experience. There’s no hidden witnesses, no rabbits or magic tricks that I can see. We just have to be patient and see where it goes. I know this can be nerve-racking, but we just have to wait and let the system do its job.”

Butterfly scoffs at the phrase. He has no idea just how little faith she has in the system right now.

“What about the charges?” I ask. “He’s still blaming Harris for masterminding this thing?”

“Well, that didn’t work out well for him,” Allen says, leading us to a quieter corner. “As it turns out, in relation to kidnapping, the law dictates that if two or more persons commit the crime, both persons will be charged and punished for any crimes that either of them commits. So as it turns out, if his farce of a defense works at all, he can only hope to get a reduced sentence because he’s been charged with everything that Harris did.” Butterfly’s eyes widen.

“Really?” she says.

“Really. So he’s looking at six to life for the first degree kidnapping because this is his first offense…”

“First recorded offense, you mean,” I grumble. Allen looks at me.

“We can’t hold those against him. There were no arrests, let alone convictions.” He turns his attention back to Butterfly. “He’s looking at a month to five years for unlawful imprisonment, which is what we’re suing him for. He’s looking at up to 10 years for the robbery…”

“Robbery?” Butterfly asks.

“Harris stole your credit cards and beat the pin numbers out of you. He’ll be lucky if they shave anything off that.” Butterfly shivers visibly and looks a little light-headed. I put my arms around her to hold her up.

“Anything else?” I ask him. He nods.

“About a year for the assault, five to ten for the propofol…”

“Five to ten,” I comment.

“Anybody recall that famous artist that we all know and love who died from propofol being administered by a doctor who was supposed to know what he was doing?” Oh yeah, I hadn’t even thought of that. “How David even got his hands on this drug is beyond me. Then he administered it to an unwilling participant to commit a crime… with no medical training. Then he threatened her with it again. Jewel could have died, so the DA is charging assault with a deadly weapon, first degree.”

“This is sounding better and better,” Butterfly says, her shaking subsiding immensely.

“Jewel, you have another problem.”

“What?” she hisses.

“That,” he says, gesturing to her Salvatore Ferragamo two-piece black pants suit. “You look like a million bucks, Jewel, not the victim of a kidnapping. That look has got to go.”

“Oh, see, that’s where you’re wrong,” she says, crossing her arms and putting one foot out to the side—a stance that indicates she is ready for a fight. “I was a Fashionista before he kidnapped me. I was a Fashionista once I was recovered. I am now married to a billionaire, and although they may have found 12 people…”

“Sixteen,” Allen corrects her.

“Fine, though they may have found 16 people who may have no clue who Edward David is and what he did to me, the entire north Pacific has seen me plastered over the news for some reason or another over the last six months… at least! Every time they’ve seen me plastered over the news, I was a Fashionista. If I walk in there now on Christian Grey’s arm, looking like some humdrum victim that’s been dragged through the wringer, that jury is going to see right through me. You may know the law, Counselor, but I know people, and there’s no way that I’m going into that courtroom looking any less than I would on any given day that I am going to do something very important. If the prosecution’s case hangs on me looking forlorn and beaten, you better tell them to rethink their strategy.” He sighs heavily.

“Jewel…”

“Allen, it’s a lost cause,” she says putting her hand up. “The only platinum I’m wearing are my rings. That’s all you get.” He shakes his head.

“Fine. Opening arguments will begin soon. Let’s go sit down.”


ANASTASIA

It’s nearly 9:00 when we take our seat behind the prosecution’s table. The jurors each look at me impassively and I do my best not to stare. Christian and I sit close to the front with our barrage of security sitting around us. Dammit to hell, I expected to be in Crete right now—offroading in the hills of Rethymnon, lying on the beach, or visiting one of the museums again—not back here with this fucker trying to get him convicted of kidnapping me. A door opens off to the right, and there he is, being led to the defendant’s table in shackles. Our eyes meet and I turn away immediately, my stomach churning wildly and threatening to return my breakfast. Christian grabs my hand and squeezes. We are not allowed to show any signs of affection and as much as I just want to lean on him right now, I’m not allowed to do that, either. They call that “trying to influence the jury.” I don’t know how I’m going to make it through these proceeding with him in the same room.

“All rise.” I know what that means. We stand to our feet and a tall woman with black hair pulled into a bun takes her seat at the judge’s podium. I didn’t even catch her name. This whole thing seems so damn surreal to me. Her Honor takes several minutes to instruct the jury on what they will be seeing over the days to come and what will be happening. I feel like the walls are closing in on me. This is really happening. Right now, this is really happening and I have to be here for it.

Breathe, Ana. Breathe…

“Are you okay?” Christian whispers, noting my obvious discomfort. I take a deep breath and nod. I can’t fall apart during this. I have to be strong.

Several minutes later, the prosecution begins their opening statements. I listen as they outline what will be presented and how I was attacked after leaving the aquarium. I follow his words as he mentions that I was kidnapped, assaulted, drugged, nearly raped, and beaten while chained to a bed for four days; how I was airlifted to the hospital not a moment too soon after being found starving and dehydrated, nearly comatose and unable to speak. It seems like it took him forever and ever to outline my horrific ordeal and the entire time, I’m trying not to vomit. I feel a strange pang of relief when, about thirty minutes later, he stops talking. I take a deep breath. Thank God, I think to myself… that is, until the defense starts to speak.

She stood up and straightened her designer suit. The next thing I knew, I was hearing all kinds of horrible things… about me! Maybe not in these words, but this was the thrust of it:

I was the promiscuous tease that, for years, led David to believe that there was hope for us.

I had dinner with David leading him to believe that we were on the road to reconciliation, then went home and slept with Christian the same night.

He was harassed and followed by Christian’s security team and forced to stay away from the woman that he loved after he realized the err of his ways.

I got his hopes up just for a free dinner, then left him hanging once I got a better deal and a bigger paycheck.

I brutalized him in public, humiliated him twice, drew my gun on him in a parking structure and took out a restraining order against him when I was the real threat, not him.

He met a man who shared a common enemy with him—Robert Harris, a psychotic womanizer who wanted to get back at Christian for firing him and at me for costing him his job. David was desperate and vulnerable and first believed that Harris would help him get his love back. Once he had drawn David in, his greed for David’s money drove him to trap David with threats of violence again him and me, and forced him to cooperate with Harris’ plan.

Not only was David temporarily unstable because of the circumstances—having his woman stolen from him by Christian as well as being shunned, assaulted and threatened by me and by our security—but he was also being forced to take part in the kidnapping by an angry, vengeful, psychotic man who had him convinced that I would love him in the end.

Harris was going to kidnap me anyway. David only participated in an attempt to try to keep me safe from harm.

If I hadn’t been present for the whole ordeal, I’d be thinking that this bitch they were talking about should just burn in hell for what she did to him. I can see some of the sympathy in the faces of the jurors and I don’t know what to think. Maybe I should just go home. I don’t think my testimony is going to do anything to sway those sympathetic faces. I should just let Christian handle him however he plans to after he gets off. Why put myself through this?

I hear the judge say something about excluded witnesses and I see Allen nod at me. That’s my cue. I get up and run out of that courtroom as fast as my feet can take me. I can’t stand it. I can’t breathe. I feel like I’m suffocating and I’m going to die.

Run! Run! Run!

I take off down a long hallway with no idea where I’m going. The neat chignon that was once my hair is now flying wildly behind me. I’m tasting my tears and still running, looking for an escape as people in front of me part and let me through. I’m about to turn a corner when strong hands grab my arms and pull me back. They’re not Christian’s and I immediately panic. I’m trying to swing, but these hands have a death grip on me.

I need to go! I need to go now!

I’m still swinging wildly when I hear a familiar voice wafting through tears and loud breaths.

“Ana! Stop! Ana, please! Stop!”

It’s Jason. I stop swinging to see him standing there in his navy blue suit, holding my wrists, his blue eyes piercing mine. I fight to catch my breath while he holds my wrists.

“Breathe with me, Your Highness,” he says, softly, only loud enough for me to hear. I breathe as best I can, and once my breath is coming in a little more regulated, I collapse in his arms, weeping bitterly.

I awake on a sofa somewhere. I must still be jet-lagged. I try to stretch, then realize that I’m lying on someone’s lap. It’s Christian. He’s stroking my hair. It’s calming. Wait… we’re still at the courthouse—in some kind of lounge. Fuck! I rise from his lap and sit up on the sofa.

“Hey,” he says, his voice comforting, “how do you feel?”

“Pretty shitty,” I answer honestly. “What time is it?”

“Nearly two,” he answers. “They’ve recessed for lunch. They won’t get to you today, Butterfly. Do you want to go home?” I look over at him.

“How do you know they won’t get to me?” I ask. He sighs.

“The defense is tearing the witnesses apart, Baby,” he says, solemnly. “I was on the stand for a good two hours, Jason almost just as long. They were ripping Williams apart before we went to lunch.” I sigh heavily.

“Who else has to go before me?”

“According to Allen, Lawrence and Gerald will testify before you… Maybe Allen, too.”

“So unless Chance, Ben, or Gerald drop dead at lunch, I won’t be testifying today,” I comment.

“It’s not likely,” he says. Part of me really wants to stay. I mean, I really feel like if I go home, I’m going to miss something important.

“I’ll stay for now. I’ll tell you how I feel later… Can you stay with me?” I know I’m begging, but I don’t care.  I want to cry again. I’m trying to be strong, but this is just too much… and it’s only just beginning.

“I’ll have Jason update me on what goes on in the courtroom,” he says. I nod nervously and lie back down on his lap.

“What was he doing?” I ask. His hand freezes in my hair. He knows exactly what I’m asking.

“Glaring at whoever takes the stand,” he answers. “He has this crazed look in his eye, like he’s changed since the last time I’ve seen him. I’m convinced that if he does get off…” he trails off.

“No need to say any more,” I tell him. I will have my gun cocked and loaded at all times if this man goes free. I’ll never feel safe on the streets alone again. He’ll have me looking around every corner until he is six feet under. I can’t even rest knowing that there’s a possibility that he can walk free.

“Are we going back to your parents’ house?” I ask.

“Just for the night,” he says. “Jason should have security well in place for us to be able to go home after the proceedings tomorrow.” I nod in his lap.

“What does he have to do?”

“We have to establish a perimeter in order to be able to get in and out of the apartment. Escala is helping with that since it is private property and there are other people who live there. The reporters are actually trespassing. Once we can get them thinned out and a decent distance from the front door, we’ll have guys posted at the door and in the parking structure 24/7 until this ordeal is over.” I roll over on his lap and look up at him. His beautiful gray eyes are looking sympathetically into mine. His hair is hanging just a bit over his face. I caress the end with his fingertips.

“Your hair is getting long again,” I say, gently rubbing it between my fingers. He turns his lips to my hand and kisses it gently.

“So it is,” he says. “I’ll cut it before it gets too long.”

“Good. No more man ponytails, please!” I say.

“You didn’t like my man ponytail?” he says, trying to make light of the situation.

“Not in the least!” I exclaim. It was horrid! I jump nervously when someone comes into the lounge and I see that it’s Chuck. He has an assortment of salads, sandwiches, and various other food and drinks in his arms and in a bag that he’s carrying.

“I tried to get a variety,” he says, putting the food on a nearby table. Jason is a few steps behind him coming into the lounge and eyeing the food. He looks at me and I know that everyone is waiting to see what I’m going to choose. I stand up and walk over to the table. All of a sudden, I’m ravenous! I take a chicken wrap, a chef salad, and a bottle of cranberry juice. I miss my cranberry spritzers. I got cranberry juice in Greece, but not my spritzers. I have to admit that it’s one of the small comforts of being back home… so to speak.

“Thanks, Chuck,” I say with a grateful smile. He returns my smile as Christian takes a tuna melt and fries with a bottle of cola. Jason grabs some huge package or sandwich wrapped in foil and what looks like a basket of fries. It’s quiet as we eat our lunch. We are all in silent contemplation, no doubt. When I have finished my salad, I am startled again by the door opening and Al enters.

“There you all are,” he says. “I thought you would make a run for it.”

“What’s happening?” I ask.

“Oh, I don’t know,” he says. “I’m excluded until after I testify, just like you. It’s probably better that you don’t know, Jewel. We want your testimony to be crisp and untarnished.”

“Untarnished?” I ask. He makes me sound like old jewelry. He nods, taking a chicken salad sandwich from the pile of food.

“Yes,” he says, while opening the sandwich and taking a bite. “Don’t take it personally. The proceedings can change your testimony subliminally. That’s why we’re excluded from the courtroom until after we testify.” His mouth is full and he’s trying to talk around the food. “Forgive me, I’m starving.”

“I know how you feel,” I say, tearing into the second half of my chicken wrap and not even knowing what happened to the first half. Al looks over at me and does a double-take.

“I know that you won’t listen to me about your million-dollar wardrobe, so while I can’t get you to turn down the fashion, I do need you to turn down the sexy.” I frown at him. What does he mean by that?

“What?” I ask bemused.

“The bra, Jewel. You’re showing way too much boobage, so lose the push-up bra and just go with a regular tomorrow.” Jason’s cheeks redden just a bit and he turns away from us. Christian is looking gaped-mouth at Al like he can’t believe Al just said that, and Chuck doesn’t know where to look. I put my hands on my hips.

“I am wearing a regular bra!” I nearly bark at him. It takes him a few moments before he registers what I said. His eyes widen as his lips part and he reveals his partially chewed food. Oh, gross!

“Close your mouth, Al!” I hiss. He snaps to himself and swallows his food.

“Good God! Where’d you get those melons!? Did you have those when you left?” he asks, slightly shocked. What the…?

“No, I picked them up by the side of the road. They were just sitting there begging for someone to take them home!” I say sarcastically. His eyebrows furrow a bit before he twists his lips at me.

“Right.” His speech is curt and short. “Well, whatever designer outfit you’re going to wear tomorrow against my advice, please wear a shirt that fits better. You look like you’re going to explode out of that one.” He looks at his watch and heads for the door. “Court is back in session in 10 for anyone who wants to observe,” he says before walking out with his half-eaten sandwich. Did I hurt his feelings? I didn’t say anything that harsh, did I? Chuck has now found somewhere to put his eyes—anywhere but on me. Jason is examining his sandwich like it’s the most fascinating thing he’s ever seen. Christian is looking at me squarely, expecting—what, I don’t know, but expecting. I suddenly feel subconscious and embarrassed. I must have snapped hard at Al, because his parting words were none too kind and then he was gone. I look down at what’s left of my wrap. Suddenly, my appetite has vanished.

“I’ve changed my mind,” I say softly. “I’d like to go now.” I sit my wrap on the table and fold my hands in my lap. The room is silent for a few seconds before Christian reaches over and squeezes my hand.

“You’re sure?” he asks. I nod silently. I don’t want to be here. I didn’t want to be here this morning, but I had to. Now, it’s after 2pm and it’s not likely that they’ll get to me anyway. I don’t know if it’s being in the same building with Edward, or the way that they jury looked at me after the opening statements, or the little semi-tiff I just had with Al, or the fact that I feel like the justice system has no idea what justice means. I just want to get out of here. It’s my life’s goal to get out of here right now, and I have to stay planted to this seat until I’m told to move to keep from running out of this room, down the hall, and out the door to parts unknown.

Sensing my obvious tension, Christian asks Jason to keep us posted on the proceedings and instructed Chuck to escort us back to the manor. I just want a warm bath and a nap, or maybe just a dark room with some quiet time to myself. I must have gotten lost in my thoughts because I’m startled when Christian’s hand touches my arm to help me from the sofa and lead me out of the room. Carrick is still in court, so he can’t take us home and we hadn’t thought of a contingency in case I wanted to leave early. Jason suggests that we send for one of the Audis since Escala isn’t far from here until Christian reminds him that our signature Audis would lead the press right back to his parents’ house.

I lean against the wall again while they powwow about how to get us out of the courthouse with the press guarding the two main entrances. I allow my mind to drift back to Greece and Socrates’ Prison. Al and I never fight. It’s something that we just don’t do. I can probably count on one hand the differences in opinion that he and I have had in the last several years that we’ve know each other. Now, I’ve probably said something harsh that pissed him off and caused him to march out of whatever lounge we were just in, and I want to go home—but Bellevue will just have to do.

Some guy in a uniform—a bailiff, I think—walks over to us and hands Christian a set of keys. We follow him out a set of doors that look like a fire exit, down some stairs and to a tiny elevator. We go down one floor and the doors open to a parking garage, not the same garage I always used when I used to come here while I was working at the community center. After a few steps, I see Grace’s Volvo. Christian hits the key fob, then gives the keys to Chuck after the doors unlock. He opens the door and I silently climb into the back seat. I don’t want to think or talk or ponder anything. I wipe my mind blank and just stare out the window.

*-*

I step out of my clothes the moment I get to Christian’s childhood bedroom and sink right into a hot tub of whatever soap I could find. It relaxes my aching muscles and mind. I actually sit there until the water gets cold before I get out. I put on a white cowl-neck long-sleeved sheath mini-dress and head downstairs. I spend some quiet time in Grace’s library with my legs thrown across the arm of one of the chairs. The last time I remembered sitting quietly in here, Ginger Creepy Guy was hiding in the corner watching me. I instinctively look at the corner where he was standing. There’s no one there. Of course, there’s no one there. I haven’t heard anything about him, but I know he’s not in that corner.

I sit in the library for I don’t know how long, forcing myself not to think about anything or anyone. It’s harder to do than I thought, but I ended up falling asleep. I awake a couple of hours later in the same chair, wrapped in an Afghan. Someone came in while I was sleeping—Christian or Grace, most likely. I didn’t speak to anybody when we got back from court. Then again, only Burt and Herman were here. I didn’t make eye-contact with Herman because his constant staring makes me nervous. I’m going to have to address that at some point because if Christian hasn’t noticed it already, he will very soon. I stand and stretch, waking my cramped bones before I go in search of the rest of the family.

I find everyone in the dining room just about to have dinner. I feel a little slighted that no one came to get me. I’m wondering what excuses Christian made for my absence.

“We thought it best to let you rest, Dear,” Grace says as all the men stand at the table. “You looked completely worn out in the library.” Burt is still struggling to stand.

“Burt, no,” I raise my hand to stop his struggling. “It’s fine. Thank you,” I say with a small smile, which he returns… and Herman is staring. Christian makes his way over to me and puts his arm around my waist.

“Are you feeling better?” he says, as he kisses my cheek. I nod. “We’ve only just started.” He leads me over to the empty place setting next to him and pulls out the chair for me. I take the seat and smile at him.

“I’m sorry, everyone,” I say, putting my napkin in my lap. “It was a pretty rough day in court today… and it’s only just starting.” Grace reaches over and squeezes my hand.

“No need to apologize, Ana,” she says sweetly. “It must have been terrible for you.” I don’t tell her that the most heart-sinking part of the day was snapping at Al when he hadn’t done anything to deserve my ire.

“It’s no picnic,” I tell her honestly.

“Christian briefly told us what’s going on. It’s really awful what happened to you,” Herman says, his voice full of kindness. I forget for a moment that he creeps me out with the staring. I smile tightly and drop my head. “He’s going to get what’s coming to him.”

“I hope you’re right,” I say with a sigh, his words doing nothing for my lack of faith in the system.

“Good always prevails in the end, Ana,” Herman adds. “Don’t you worry.” He reaches across the table and pats my hand. There’s a tender warmness to his touch, like a father, and again, I forget about the creepy staring. I look up at him and his eyes are full of sympathy. I smile at him.

“Thank you, Herman,” I say sincerely. He nods once and looks down at his plate. Something has made him slightly uncomfortable, too. I do need to talk to him.

Dinner conversation started out a little tight due to the subject of court, but it eased a bit as everyone began to contribute different topics that ease away from all things David. Grace talks about how the renovations at the center have started and I hang on her every word. Please, let’s talk about anything else but Edward David. Christian informs everyone that everything should be all set for us to return to Escala tomorrow, which makes me happy. The manor is great and quite comfortable and Greece was fantastic, but I really want to get back to my own bed.

We finish our meal in pleasant conversation and during after-dinner coffee, Herman excuses himself from the table. I wait a reasonable time for him to be gone and while Christian is engrossed in some conversation with his father, I excuse myself as well. I have to do a bit of searching before I find him smoking a cigarette on the patio. Besides the cigars that Carrick occasionally indulges in, Grace has a strict no-smoking policy in the house. I quietly step out of the French doors. He’s sitting on one of the wrought-iron benches on the lawn looking out at the water, clearly lost in thought.

“Hello, Herman.” I have clearly caught him off guard as he actually jumps at the sound of my voice.

“Oh! Hi, Ana. I’m sorry, you startled me,” he says, putting out his cigarette and turning his attention to me.

“May I sit?” I ask, gesturing to the seat across from him.

“Yes, by all means.” He gestures to the same seat and he is clearly uncomfortable and a little confused. Well, imagine how I feel.

“Herman, I hope that I don’t offend you, but you are my husband’s uncle—an uncle that he never knew that he had until just a little while ago—and I don’t want anything to interfere with that relationship. He’s very happy to have you and Burt in his life as am I, but there is an issue that we have to discuss. My husband is extremely possessive and protective of me. It’s something that I’ve known and accepted from the moment we agreed to start dating. It’s going to be a huge problem if he catches you staring at me the way that you do. Not only is it inappropriate, but he’s going to have a fit. We didn’t speak for something like a week because he mistakenly thought that I was seeing his brother.”

“He didn’t speak to you for a week over that?” he asks in amazement.

“No, I didn’t speak to him for thinking that about me, but we’re getting off the point…” He holds up his hand.

“No. I understand. I don’t mean to make you uncomfortable and believe me, it’s not desire that’s in my eyes when I look at you. Well, maybe just a little, but it’s not for you.” He stands up and walks a few steps away from me. With his back to me, he begins to talk.

“I had a beautiful wife, a beautiful family. I had a great job; we owned a house… and all because of one dumb move, it all started crashing down around me.” He drops his head. “I had an affair. I thought it was no big deal. I was attracted to the woman and she was attracted to me. My wife trusted me completely, so it was the easiest thing in the world to do. I thought I was so careful, but it turns out that the moment you think you’ve got everything under control, you don’t.

“When Shannon found out, all bets were off. She went from one extreme to the other. I went from being the love of her life to the most despised person in the universe. I came to find out later when she was able to speak to me that it was because she had put so much love, hope, faith, and trust in me that when it all came crashing down, it was shattered with no hope of repair. She left me and didn’t look back. That was nearly 20 years ago and I’ve never recovered from it.

“All I have ever wanted besides my dad getting well is to have Shannon back. I started drinking. I lost my job. She got the house and the kids. My life was over. When Dad’s health started to deteriorate about, oh I’d say about 15 years ago, it’s like God gave me a new purpose. ‘Get your life together—someone still needs you.’ So I dried up and went to go take care of my Dad. I’ve met other women since then, but I only end up comparing them to Shannon. She was the best thing that ever happened to me and I screwed it up, so it’s my cross to bear. I’m resolved to the fact that I had my chance and I blew it. Some people only have one great love and Shannon was mine.” He finally turns to look at me. “You remind me a lot of her. If I stare, it’s only because I see her in your eyes. I know that you’re not her and I’m not trying to make you uncomfortable, but I miss her often… especially at weddings and funerals.”

“I used to feel that way… like I’d never find love again. I was stricken with a real loser, gave him my whole heart and he destroyed it. Then I found Christian—or he found me—we still haven’t figured that part out yet, but he showed me that life doesn’t end with one bad decision.” Herman laughs softly.

“That doesn’t help, Darlin’,” he says. “You’re Shannon. I’m the loser.”

Yikes! I hadn’t thought of it that way.

“Herman, I just can’t see someone with a good heart being alone for the rest of his life. You made a bad decision. It doesn’t have to dictate your future,” I tell him.

“You’re a really sweet girl, Ana, but I’m okay with this. The nostalgia of seeing her in you will wear off and I’ll be okay. I know that you’re not my Shannon. You just remind me of her.” He pulls out his wallet and removes a picture. When he hands it to me, I almost swoon. If Herman is Carrick’s twin, Shannon is mine.

“Oh, my God,” I breathe without thinking.

“I know. The resemblance is uncanny. That picture was 25 years ago, but she’s still a real looker. After two husbands and five kids, she’s still as beautiful as ever.” He pulls out another picture, one that is certainly more recent. He’s right, she’s still a very beautiful woman. I hope I age this well. I look up at him and see him gazing lovingly at the pictures in my hand. “I think it’s a good thing for me to have moved to Seattle, not only for Dad, but so that I can begin to let go of my past a bit. I’ll always love her and I can’t see loving anyone else that way, so no… I’m not looking to fall in love again. I had my great love and I’ll hold it in my heart. Now, I have the rest of my family, and I still have my brothers and my kids. They’re not kids anymore, but I still have them. I have to say that I like Seattle a whole lot more than Detroit. So I’ll be just fine.”

“You have five kids?” I ask him.

“No, I have three. Shannon has five—three with me and two with her second husband. He’s a good man and he’s good to my Shannon. That’s all I can ask.” He sighs heavily. “While I still love her dearly and think of her often, I really don’t want to talk about this anymore if you don’t mind. I don’t mean to be rude…”

“Oh, no… no, I completely understand,” I tell him while handing him back his photos. “I don’t want you to be uncomfortable around me either, Herman.” He smiles at me.

“I’m not uncomfortable around you. You’re a breath of fresh air and while you remind me of my Shannon, you’re not my Shannon.” He seems incredibly well-adjusted to have been pining over a woman for the last 20 years.

“You know, I’m licensed in this kind of thing, so if you do ever need to talk…” He chuckles again and I have to say that I like his laugh.

“Sweetheart, you can’t help me,” he says with a sad smile. “I’m willing to take recommendations, but I’d see Shannon every time I look at you. I appreciate the offer though and I’ll work on the staring thing. It’s good that you called me out on it because now, I’ll be more conscious of it. Just give me some kind of hint or signal if I get too lost, okay?” I smile back.

“Sure thing, Herman.”


A/N: The jig is up—saying in America that simply means you’ve been caught or your trick or game is finished, has been exposed, we’re onto you now… you get the idea.

I had already penned it by the time she figured it out, but VRB Mariposa (Vanessa) hit the Uncle Herman nail on the head.

So the last of the Greek honeymoon was in this chapter and Ana’s peasant dress is in the honeymoon album on Pinterest here http://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/mending-dr-steele-off-to-greece/ All other pictures are and will be back in the Mending Dr. Steele album here https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/mending-dr-steele/

You can join my mailing list on the “Contact Me” page. Just click the link and it will lead you to a form to join the list.

Love and Handcuffs!
Lynn x

 

Mending Dr. Steele: Chapter 73—Jason’s Clearing His Throat

Welp… I’ve got nothin’…

Okay, so this was funny to me, so I have to share it. I got another one of those comments on the lines of “If I don’t kiss your ass, I might as well not comment.”

So… I’m probably dating myself here, but you all know I’m no youngster. We’ve talked about the strokes and the high blood pressure meds and such. But back when I was a youngster and I use to frequent the nightclubs as a single girl, there was a common comeback from a guy who came on to you and you didn’t want to talk to him: 

“What’s the matter? Are you gay?”

That shit used to crack me up! It couldn’t be that you’re stinky, ugly, creepy, wearing clothes with the tag still in them so you can take it back to the store tomorrow, “hanging out the passenger side of yo’ best friend’s ride,” nursing the same drink all night and you can’t even afford to buy me one… or that I’m simply not interested. It couldn’t be any of those things that could be the reason that I don’t want to deal with your loser ass. No, it had to be because I’m gay… Yeah, okay, whatever makes you feel better. 

That’s exactly what that “kiss ass” statement reminds me of. I got that on Fanfiction a lot where people would say really hurtful and offensive things–racial slurs and off-color remarks about “hood dictionaries” and things like that–and then they were genuinely angry when I deleted the comment! Then nine out of ten of those comments–which were usually guest reviewers–had the comeback “If I don’t kiss your ass, you’re going to delete my comment.” 

Every time I see that, I go right back to the nightclub and I’m like, “Wow… seriously? My deleting your comment couldn’t possibly have anything to do with you being vulgar or racist or insulting or disrespectful or downright mean or (fill in the blank–whatever they were being at that moment). No, it simply had to be because you weren’t blowing rainbows up my ass… Yeah, okay, whatever makes you feel better. 

Moving on…

I do not own Fifty Shades Trilogy or the characters. They belong to E. L. James. I am only exercising my right to exploit, abuse, and mangle the characters to MY discretion in MY story in MY interpretation as a fan. I hope you—as a fellow fan—enjoy it, too.

Chapter 73—Jason’s Clearing His Throat

CHRISTIAN

“Shit.” Bubble broken. I sigh heavily and Butterfly lifts her head. She’s just as unhappy that the bubble has been broken as I am.

“Just a minute!” I yell, and we reluctantly untangle ourselves from each other. “I want a space in our new house just for this… just for us to connect this way. We can design it together. I never want to lose this… ever.” She touches my face gently with her fingertips.

“Never,” she says, gazing into my eyes before going to find something to wear. I haven’t showered and we both have the same scent, of each other and sex—lots and lots of sex. It’s no use. I grab a fresh pair of shorts and a T-shirt. I’m going commando until after my shower. It looks like Butterfly had the same idea as she just grabs a sports bra and a pair of yoga pants. As she pulls her hair back into a ponytail, I open the door for Jason. His subtle change of expression indicates that he can smell  what we’ve been up to all day. Dude, you have no idea what you interrupted.

“This better be astronomical,” I warn. He just looks at me.

“Unfortunately, it is,” he says, his voice serious. Fuck. “Where’s Ana?”

“Right here,” she says coming up behind me, “And I heard you say that this is astronomical and it’s apparently about me, so just jump to it. Don’t give me any prelims.”

“I’m sorry, but there is one. You two need to call Allen.” Allen? I look at Jason’s watch—5:09. Damn, we have been fucking all day. What’s more important is that it’s 7am in Seattle. What the hell is going on?

“Both of us?” Butterfly asks the question I was thinking. Jason nods.

“It’s about the trials,” he says.

“Trials?” I repeat. “Plural?”

“Yes, trials. You need to call him. He says he’s been trying to reach both of you since last night… Seattle time.” Butterfly’s hand immediately goes to her forehead and she starts mumbling to herself. Shit! Trials. What the hell is going on? She goes off into the bedroom, in search of her phone no doubt. I take my blackberry from the dining table. It’s dead.

“Let me borrow your phone, Jason,” I say, plugging my blackberry into my laptop. If my phone is dead, so is Butterfly’s. I send off a text to Allen to meet me on Skype in five minutes. “I know this place doesn’t have a workout room and swimming’s not going to do it. She’s going to be caught in three hours of pushups after this call and I know it. Do you have any other ideas? If not, you may want to get ready for one of the most grueling runs you’ve ever had in your life.”

“I’ve got my gloves and sparring mitts,” he says. Fuck, that’s perfect! I should probably warn him…

“My phone’s dead,” Butterfly says, exasperated, marching back into the dining room. “What about yours?” Oh well, he has to find out for himself.

“Have you all had dinner?” I ask Jason.

“No, it’s being prepared now. You know they serve late. Did you want something sooner?”

“Maybe something light and quick,” I tell him. He nods and leaves the villa. I turn to Butterfly.

“Mine is dead, too, but I sent a text from Jason’s phone. We’ll Skype.” She nods. We get ourselves situated and I Skype Allen and prepare for bad news. When he shows up on the screen, he’s still at home, but dressed for work.

“Good, you’re together,” he says. “I’m sorry to interrupt your honeymoon, but I have news.”

“So we’ve been told,” I say.

I called last night to get your take on it, but when I didn’t get an answer, I assumed that you haven’t heard yet. I wanted to wait until it was concrete and it became concrete yesterday. David has a trial date.” Butterfly doesn’t react.

“Okay, when it is it?” I ask.

Monday,” he says and I frown.

“Monday?” I confirm. “As in the 15th Monday??”

Yes,” he says with a sigh.

“I knew it!” Butterfly snaps. “I knew that fucker was going to wait until I was on my honeymoon to plant his fucking flag. I fucking knew it! If he had known the wedding date and could get the trial on a weekend, he would have asked for it on the 29th! Fucking sleazebag bastard! I knew it!”

“Can’t this be postponed a week, Allen? We’ll be stateside on the 21st. He’s got so many continuations—why can’t Ana get one?”

“Yeah, our side has tried that already. Based on the fact that he’s in prison and you’re in Greece, the scales tip in his favor right now. Those continuations that you mentioned are the biggest reason they won’t postpone the trial anymore. He has a right to a speedy trial and now he wants one. It doesn’t matter that he’s the one who has been delaying things all this time. He wants his day, he wants it now, and he’s been waiting for it—so now, he’s getting it.” Shit! It’ll take us a day to get back to the states and I have to prepare for international transport. This is going to really take some juggling.

“I’ll get on it. What happens if we can’t get back in time?” I ask him.

“I’ll let the prosecution know and they’ll put off when you guys are called to the stand…”

“Both of us?” Butterfly asks. “They want both of us to testify?”

“No, they want all of us to testify. Jason, Gerald, Chance, Ben, and Chris were the first to see you when you were found. I saw you in the whirlybird. Chris undid your cuffs after Jason scared the key out of the double-dicker… oops, sorry. Force of habit.” The double-dicker… that’s what he called him. I never found out what that meant. Butterfly shakes her head.

“So because this fucker has been playing the waiting game all this time for God only knows how long, I have to interrupt my honeymoon so that he can go to trial. Phenomenal. Abso-fucking-lutely phenomenal.” We’re all quiet for a moment before Allen starts talking again.

“There’s more,” he says, his voice solemn. Oh, yeah, Jason said trialsplural. This can’t be good.

“Just tell me,” Butterfly snaps.

“Carly Madison-Perry is negotiating a plea,” he says. It takes a moment for the words to sink in before Butterfly goes into the violent angry bobble-head motion.

“What!?” she roars, standing to her feet and almost knocking the dining table over—laptop and all. I slam my hands on the table to prevent it from falling. “What!? Why? She planned the whole thing! Why?” She’s screaming now. “It wasn’t only murder and attempted murder, but it was also premeditated. They’re offering her a plea on premeditated murder??”

“There’s a lot going on here, Jewel…” Allen tries to explain.

“I don’t give a shit about what all is going on. All I want to know is are they trying to let this bitch get away with murder?” Butterfly says. Allen freezes.

“She’s not going to get away with murder.”

“She is if she takes a plea!” Butterfly shoots.

“Jewel, it’s not that simple…

“Quit bullshitting me and answer the question, Allen!” Butterfly barks. Noting his defeat, Allen answers the question.

“Yes,” he says.

“Fuuuuuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” Butterfly screams and stomps out to the courtyard. She is screaming and stomping like Rumpelstiltskin when the Queen guessed his name. I quickly go back to the computer.

“Allen, I thought they had to have her permission to do something like that,” I say.

“They can consult and inform her, but no, they don’t require her permission.”

“Why is she pleading? What do they get in return?”

“She turns state’s evidence on everybody at the incident.”

“They’ve got the video!” I roar! “They’ve got the victim! Why do they need the word of the accused on the other defendants!? This case is as airtight as it gets!!”

“I know, but they want to cast their nets and get as many fish as they can,” he tries to explain.

“So they’re going to set the whale free to catch a bunch of fucking guppies?” I yell. I’m with Butterfly on this one. This is bullshit.

“She won’t go free, Christian…” I have to go to Butterfly. She is out there stomping and screaming enough to bring the police.

“I have to go,” I say before closing the laptop. I run out into the courtyard and to Butterfly. Words cannot express how angry she is right now. She’s even more angry than when she safeworded a couple of days ago.

“Baby?” I try to approach with caution.

“They’re going to let her off! They’re fucking going to let her off! I know they are! I know it! I can’t believe this shit!” I grab her arms to try to stop the vicious rant.

“She’s not getting off, Butterfly. If they let her off, I’ll go after her personally.”

“And do what?” she screams. “Beat her near to death like she did me? She doesn’t have anything else left to lose! She’s fucking worthless!”

“She has something left to lose and I’m just the one to find out what it is,” I try to appease her.

“She’s nothing! She’s no one! All she had left was her freedom and they’re going to set her free! They’re going to set her free!” Her fists are shaking and she is ready to explode. I grab her hand and drag her behind me. Taking two steps at a time, we run to the first level where everyone in the villa is standing in the courtyard. Charles throws the gloves at me and Jason is standing there wearing the mitts. I turn to Butterfly who turns incredulous tear-filled eyes to me.

“Do you need this?” I ask her.

“You knew?” she asks, her voice squeaking and betraying her tears.

“No, I knew something, but I didn’t know what. I found out everything at the same time you did. Do you need this?” I ask again. She looks from me and the gloves to Jason and back to me. She nods frantically.

“Yes! Yes!” she whispers loudly. I quickly help her get into the gloves. She turns on Jason and lights into those mitts, bare feet and all. Before she gets in good, I lean back to Charles and ask if there’s another pair. I think he—along with everyone else—is a bit stunned at how hard she is blowing out these mitts. He nods hesitantly and I tell him to go and get them. Keri actually looks a bit frightened by the spectacle.

“Don’t worry,” I lean in and tell her. “She got some bad news from home. She’ll be fine as soon as she blows off some steam.” She looks at me incredulously then back at Butterfly.

“She vety sthong,” she says. “Look at heh ahms… little, but… big!” I look at Butterfly’s arms. Keri’s right. I never paid attention, but her biceps are quite large and defined when she’s working out. Charles comes back with the second set of mitts. She has whaled on Jason for about fifteen minutes and he’s starting to wince a bit. I tell Charles to give me the second pair of mitts and be ready to take the first pair from Jason. If this session goes for 15 more minutes, he has to take his fair share of abuse. Adrien and Norbert are staring at the whirlwind that is my Butterfly in wide-eyed amazement. I betMeathead will think twice about saying anything disparaging to her after this.

“Fifteen minutes and you’re up,” I tell him and I put the mitts on.

“Yes, sir,” he says. I look at Keri.

“You may want to step back a bit,” I say as I take the stance. She looks at me and nods, stepping away from me and closer to Charles. “Butterfly!” I yell to break her concentration. She whirls around, uncertain, but ready to unleash hell. When she sees me with the mitts ready for action, she tears into me to give Jason’s hands a rest. Her strikes are no less vicious. She lets me have it hard, mercilessly. I quickly catch a glimpse of Jason behind her, removing his mitts and shaking his hands while mouthing “Ow.” She’s giving me hell, much worse than she did on Anguilla. I’m hoping to God that someone is keeping time because in only a matter of moments, this shit hurts like fuck! I don’t let on that she’s hurting me because she needs to get it out. She is pouring sweat from head to toe and she shows no signs of slowing down. She wasn’t this pissed about cutting our honeymoon short. Hell, maybe she’s this pissed about both.

“Ana!” His voice is music to my ears. She knows what it means now and immediately turns her aggressions onto Chuck. I remove my mitts and throw them at a reluctant Norbert. I’ll save Adrien for last as she may kill him when his turn comes. By then, at least some of her energy will have waned.

“At 15 minutes, call her name,” I tell Norbert. He nods as he tightens the mitts. Jason comes over to me with two ice-cold bottles of water. I put one in each hand and the relief is heavenly. She is fucking pissed! Those hits sunk through those mitts in no time and she might as well have been beating my bare hands. Right about minute 13, she starts to lose steam. Her hits get wild and she starts to grunt with each strike. She’s getting tired. Norbert is ready to call her name, but I slice at my neck and shake my head. I hand the water to Keri and get ready for one of two things—another black eye like that day at her condo when I saved her from the heavy bag, or a mountain of Butterfly falling uselessly into my arms.

After several more swings and the inevitable tears that come with the falling adrenaline, she opts for the latter. I’m behind her in moments catching her before she hits the hard concrete. She is weeping bitterly in my arms as Jason carefully removes her gloves. She’s like a helpless little rag doll in my arms, and I stroke her hair from her sweat-drenched face as she sobs. She cries so hard that she breaks into violent coughing. Jason disappears to his villa and comes back with a damp washcloth. I wipe her face and she calms a bit, though she doesn’t stop crying. Keri opens one of the bottles of water and hands it back to me. I take it with a nod and put the bottle to Butterfly’s mouth. She takes a sip, but only a sip before she starts to weep again. Damn, when will we ever catch a fucking break?

I stand with her in my arms and carry her back down to our villa. I get into the hot tub with her in my arms, both of us fully dressed. In moments, she’s calm and I know the heat will help keep her muscles from tightening. I’m stroking her hair and calming her down, and we are only in there for a couple of minutes when she squirms out of my arms, scrambles out of the hot tub and runs inside the villa.

What the fuck?

When I get to the bedroom door, I hear the very last thing I expect to hear. Butterfly is vomiting! Violently!

“Oh, hell!” I say as I find my way to the bathroom and to Butterfly. She tries to hold her long hair out of the toilet while she heaving her soul in there. I come over to her and hold her hair back only to see that she’s vomiting bile. She hasn’t eaten anything all day!

I’m close enough to the sink to wet a washcloth and wring it out with one hand. I wipe her face and mouth, rinse it again, and apply it to the back of her neck. She’s breathing heavily, threatening to dry heave a bit, but not doing it.

“The hot tub… it was too hot. It made me nauseous.” She can barely speak.

“I can imagine. We haven’t eaten all day, Baby.” She nods. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know it would make you sick.”

“Neither did I,” she chokes. “I’ll just have to pray… that my muscles don’t lock… because that was just too hot.”

“I’ll work the kinks out if you lock,” I promise her. “Maybe we should just take a quick shower and get something to eat?” It’s more of a question than a statement. She nods and stands from the floor, stripping off her wet clothes and going immediately to the shower. She turns the water on to a nice warm blast and stands under the head, letting the water run over her and down her body. I strip out of my clothes and, seeing that the water is hot, but not too hot, I join her in the shower. I put shower gel on the freshwater sponge from Athens that she now uses and meticulously wash her body as she leans with her hands flat against the wall. She is hoping to rinse something away, but I’m afraid it won’t be that easy. I need to find out exactly what’s going to happen to this Madison bitch, because if she gets off, I swear that I will find some way to make her pay for what she did to my Butterfly.

I wash myself when I am done with Butterfly, but have to coax her from the showerhead so that I can rinse the soap from my body and hair. I quickly wash her hair while I have her away from the showerhead. The conditioner will have to wait and there’s only so much coaxing I can do in this small bathtub/shower. I wrap myself in a towel and get a second towel to dry her off. I wrap her hair in the towel and bring her to the bedroom. After putting on a pair of boxer briefs, I begin to dry her hair. It’s so long that I know it’s going to take longer to dry than it used to. I’m just about finished drying it when she looks up at me. Her large, sad blue eyes are full of gratitude, and I lean down and kiss her. Without a word, I finish drying her hair. After handing her a clean bra and panties, I help her into a comfortable sleeveless sweater mini-dress.

“Do you want to eat down here?” I ask her while I pull a clean T-shirt over my head after stepping into some jeans. She shakes her head while she fashions her hair into a braid over her left shoulder.

“No,” she says while she secures the end with a little barrette-hairpin of some kind. It lies over her shoulder and she would be Pippy Longstocking if she had one on the other side. “They probably think I’m crazy, so I want to dispel that. We also have to get everyone ready to go home.” She says that last part with venom and I know she is sickly angry about having to cut our honeymoon short.

“We can come back, Baby, anytime you want,” I try to soothe her.

“That’s not the point, Christian,” she snaps. “This man disrupts my life every chance that he gets and now he’s disrupting it from inside of a jail cell! When will I ever be free of him? And Carly! Carly fucking Madison!” Her hand moves quickly to her forehead and I know that she is going to bruise if she starts to rub. I quickly grab her wrists and force her to look at me.

“You. Are going. To have. To trust me,” I say slowly. “One way or another, that woman is going to pay for what she did to you. Do you understand me?” She looks up at me uncertain, then resigned. Her body relaxes and she nods. “Good. Now may I carry you to dinner, Mrs. Grey?” She cocks her head at me.

“I’m fine, Christian, really. I can walk.”

“I know that. May I carry you to dinner, Mrs. Grey?” She examines me for a moment. Then she holds her arms out for me to pick her up. I lift her off the ground and grasp her firmly in my arms. She holds me tight around the neck, burying her face there until I get her up the stairs and into the large dining room where everyone has already started dinner. The room falls silent as Butterfly uncurls herself from my neck and allows me to sit her in a chair. I take the seat next to her and put generous helpings of roasted chicken, grilled vegetables and potatoes on her plate. She declines the wine gesturing to her stomach, but fills her water-glass instead.

“Edward David has gotten his trial date,” she says without looking up from her water-glass. Jason and Charles frown and Charles put his fork down.

“When is it?” Charles asks.

“Monday,” she responds.

“Monday!” Jason exclaims. “Fuck! Are you serious?” Butterfly nods.

“I’m afraid so,” she says. “No doubt, this means that Seattle knows that we’re married and we most likely won’t be able to get into Escala when we get back.”

“This means that we need to put some things in place before we can leave,” I add. “Since it’s the business day in Seattle right now, we’re going to have to get some balls in the air and I mean fast.” Jason nods. “I’m going to see if we can stay at my parents’ house when we get back if that’s okay with you, Butterfly.” She nods.

“It’s fine with me, but won’t we be imposing with Burton and Herman there?” she asks. I hiss.

“I forgot about that. I’ll see if we can make other arrangements.”

“What about Dad and Mandy?” she asks.

“I wouldn’t mind,” I say. “I just don’t want to disrupt little Harry’s life like that.” It’s her turn to hiss.

“I forgot about that,” she says.

“Maybe we can just stay at a hotel?” I ask and she frowns.

“Well, okay, if we must.” She really doesn’t like that idea.

“It’ll only be for a couple of days, Baby, until we can get security straightened out at Escala. You know it’s going to be impossible to get in and out of there.” She sighs.

“I know. Do what you need to do,” she relents reluctantly. I squeeze her hand.

“It’s going to be fine,” I say. She nods, unconvinced. I think she has just taken all that she can take at this point.

“Carly Madison-Perry is taking a plea,” she says, dropping her fork onto her plate. Charles nearly chokes on his food.

“She’s what?” he says, wiping his mouth.

“She’s taking a plea. I don’t know exactly what that means for her, but I know that means that she won’t get what she deserves.” I can see that she’s getting agitated again, so I take her hand and draw small circles on her skin to calm her. She takes a deep breath and releases it.

“I’m going to ask Allen exactly what it means, and then we’ll go from there.” I nod at Jason and he nods back. I mean it, some terrible accident will befall this woman before she gets the opportunity to turn state’s evidence if they have any intention on setting this creature free after she orchestrated this whole attack on my wife. Butterfly falls silent and eats her meal. “I’m sorry, Keri. This means that your visit is going to be cut short.”

“No wotties, Mr. Chwistian. I leaving Satuhday night anyway. I sotty, I didn’t mean to cause any twouble.” I wave my hand.

“Don’t worry about it. Try to enjoy your last day here,” I tell her. I look over at Butterfly and she is making quick work of her dinner. That vomiting spell from the hot tub is long forgotten and her appetite is back in full force. I don’t want to bring any undue attention to her, so I turn my attention back to the staff. “We were going to fly to Crete on Saturday, so now I have to see if we can secure the villa until Sunday. I don’t know if they have it rented out already, but I will have to see and make other arrangements for us if that’s the case. We need to secure the jet as soon as possible. Norbert, Adrien, you can leave tonight or stay until Sunday if you wish. I’ll make sure that you get compensated as promised for your time.”

“Thank you, sir,” Norbert says. “It’s late now to try to get travel arrangements. We will stay to Sunday. It will be easier to get home that way.” Adrien nods his agreement.

“Very well.” I look over at Butterfly, who has gotten a second helping of chicken and potatoes and isn’t paying any attention to our conversation. “We should probably pack tonight—tomorrow at the latest. I’ll probably be on the phone with Seattle all night making sure everything is in place for our return…”

“Maylen cun pwoby hep,” Butterfly chimes in with a mouthful of food. I frown.

“What was that?” I ask turning to her. She swallows the ungodly mouthful of chicken she was just chewing.

“I’m sorry,” she says, wiping her mouth. “Marilyn can probably help.”

“How?” I ask. I’m sure that between me, Jason, Welch, and Andrea, we can have everything set and ready to go before morning. Butterfly shrugs.

“I don’t know. For one thing, she can tell you the latest gossip. They know we’re not at Escala but they don’t know where we are. They don’t know when to expect us back at SeaTac if at all. She can tell you what the buzz is and it may give us a better idea of when we should land that bird.” Shit! I hadn’t even thought of that!

“Can you see what you can find out for me? The more information I have, the better,” I say. She nods and wipes her mouth.

“I’ll go call her now,” she says, rising from the table. I grab her hand.

“Are you okay?” She nods, uncertain.

“As well as can be expected under the circumstances,” she says. That was the right answer. If she had said she was fine, I would have known she was lying. I kiss her hand.

“I’ll be down in a minute,” I tell her. She smiles tightly and wipes her mouth with her napkin again before dropping it on the table and leaving the dining room.

“Is she a nervous eater, Boss?” Jason asks. I nod.

“She’s been eating pretty well for the last… several weeks, I’d say, but it’s worse when she’s upset,” I say. Charles nods.

“Remember the candy situation in Anguilla?” he says. Jason and I groan. Even Keri remembers the ordeal since she took the candy back to the kids. “We won’t even talk about that mammoth hotdog-and-fry combo and that outrageous ice-cream-banana-split creation that almost cost me a limb when I asked if we could share.” Jason and I burst out in laughter. It really wasn’t a funny situation, but he just made it sound hilarious.

“Well, hopefully everybody’s already packed. If not, get packed tonight. Like I said, we were supposed to fly to Crete tomorrow, so I don’t know what our sleeping arrangements will be tomorrow night…” We talk about whatever minutia we can until we have finished dinner and break to different locations.


ANASTASIA

“Damn! That really sucks, Ana,” Marilyn says sympathetically. “I knew that Al would tell you about Edward’s trial, but that Madisongirl… I had no idea. Why are they giving her a deal?”

“I don’t know,” I tell her. “Nothing that the police or the district attorney or any of them does surprises me anymore, but I’m pissed as fuck. I know she’s going to get off with some sort of slap on the wrist. Shit, if she had killed me, they would probably give her community service.” I shake my head. “Anyway, I need to know the buzz in Seattle. I know that the wedding was front page news, but does anyone know that we’re gone?”

“Yes, they know you’re gone but not where you are. Honestly, may I suggest pulling Vee in on this one? I have a little information, but she has to have more.”

“Yeah, it is her job to…” I trail off. Job. Job! Oh my gosh.

Ana, what is it?” Marilyn asks.

“Mare, look in my contacts in Outlook and conference Josh into this call.” There’s momentary silence.

“Josh! Of course!” There’s another pause before she tells me to hold on. In a few moments, she’s back. “Hello? Ana?”

“I’m here.”

“Josh, are you there?” she asks.

“I’m here, too,” he responds, and his voice is music to my ears.

“Hi, again, Josh.”

“Hey, Ana. How’s the honeymoon so far?”

“Quickly coming to an end as I’m sure you’ve already heard.”

“Yes, I imagined as much. So what’s up?”

“Josh, I know that you’ve already been wonderful in keeping our secret and helping us sniff out the mole in Christian’s company…”

“Hey, it’s as beneficial for me as it is for you. Not only do I get great material, but I also have friends in high places!” he says with a laugh and I laugh, too.

“I’m so glad to hear that, because I need you again,” I tell him.

“What can I do?”

“Christian has a PR department that’s usually on top of everything, and I plan to utilize them as well, but you seem to be able to get things from the wire… and possibly to the wire, I’m hoping.” There’s a pause.

“Yeah, I can do that, but what are we talking about?” he asks.

“I need to know how likely it would be for Christian and I to get into the country undetected.”

“None!” he says honestly. “Every reporter in the Pacific northwest is watching SeaTac 24/7 for that GEH jet. They know that with David’s trial being a couple of days away that you two have to fly back in here sometime this weekend. I don’t care if you come in at 2am, they will be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed waiting to ambush you.” I sigh and shake my head.

“There has to be a way,” I lament. “Maybe if we flew into another state and got a charter flight…”

“They’d still be on top of you the moment you hit SeaTac,” he says.“Somebody would spot you, Ana. They’re looking for you.” I put my hand on my forehead.

“There has to be a way,” I say. “We can’t have them follow us from the airport. We’re trying not to go back to Escala.”

“You could use a diversion,” Marilyn pipes in. Hmm…

“What do you mean?”

“You know, a decoy of some kind. Something like that,” she says. Just like that, a light bulb goes off.

“We have to go through customs as soon as we get to an American airport,” I say.

“Yeah, that’s generally the idea,” Josh says in a stating-the-obvious kind of tone.

“So, the masses have their eye out for the GEH jet. If they see it, they expect us to be on board.”

“I think you get my idea,” Marilyn says.

“I think I see where you’re going, but tell me anyway,” Josh says.

“The jet stops in New York and we go through customs there. The jet continues to Seattle with a tip-off that the GEH jet will be landing at SeaTac. While they’re waiting for us to disembark, we’ve chartered a flight to another airport and are well on our way to our lodging accommodations before anybody knows that we’re not on the jet. Many of them may even stay out there all night thinking that we’re sleeping on the jet.”

“Good God, that’s brilliant!” Josh says.

“That’s more than I would have come up with,” Marilyn adds.

“So, where do you need me?” Josh asks.

“I need you to get it on the wire that the GEH jet is making an international departure to parts unknown to retrieve Christian and Ana Grey, nothing more—but don’t leak that information until tomorrow night. I know by then the jet will, in fact, be on its way to get us if not here already. It’s going to require that you camp out at SeaTac with the rest of the suckers. Are you game?”

“Are you kidding? I get to lead the wild goose chase? I wouldn’t miss this for the world! I have to practice my angry face for when I realize that we’ve all been ‘duped.’” I laugh in the phone.

“I’m so glad that I can count on you, Josh. You’re at the top of my Christmas card list!”

“Don’t forget you said that. A Christmas card from Christian and Ana Grey could be very valuable sometime in the future.” I smile.

“You got it. Correspond with Marilyn for me on any developments and gossip that may need to float our direction. I may need to hire my own PR team after this…”

“I’ll be your secret public informant,” he says facetiously. “I’ve got to run. I have a couple of assignments before I set the mouse free in the city. I’ll keep you posted.”

“Thanks again, Josh. Mare, don’t go away…”

I give Marilyn instructions on what to pack from Escala assuming that she can get in. I don’t know how recognizable she is to the press, but I will need clothes for wherever we are going when we get stateside and so will Christian. Luckily, Jason has already notified Gail by the time I call her and fill her in, asking her to please help Marilyn get together some things for us for a few days as I have no idea how long we’ll be away from our penthouse. Next, I call Daddy. He’s surprised to hear from me on my honeymoon, until I tell him why the honeymoon is being cut short. Al and James each have a place. Maybe they’ll let us stay in the place that they’re not using? I’ll see how Christian feels about that before I ask them.

I lie back on the bed looking at the white cave-like ceiling of our room. The villa is very clean and understated, one of the most modest places I have ever stayed while traveling with Christian. Everything is simple and neat. I think that’s why I like it so much. I think our meditation/connection room in our new house will look like this—functional and cozy, not white though. We’ll need a more comforting color in the room. Maybe a soft tan—that seems toogeneric. I’m thinking an organic wallpaper of some kind…

I awake and it’s dark in the room. The sun has gone down and the bed is cold. I have a slight headache. I get up to see if I can find some pain killers and I hear Christian’s voice in the dining room.

“Yes, I know. I just didn’t want to burden you… Not yet, I’m trying to make arrangements now… No, Mom, that wasn’t it. I just didn’t want to impose. You’ve already got Pops and Uncle Herman there. You’re going to have a house full of people… No, I’m certain she won’t mind. Her reaction was less than pleased when I mentioned staying at a hotel… Yes, Mom, I know. I’m making arrangements now. I’ll let you know as soon as I do… She’s okay for the most part, but she didn’t take the news well. It’s been so much on her and, well, you know…” He rubs his hand over his face and then through his hair. “I know. I know, Mom. I just… I hate to see her unhappy and this shit is wearing on her… Sorry, Mom. I forget sometimes… Okay. Tell everybody we love them and we’ll be there soon… Bye.” He ends the call and starts typing on his laptop again. He’s sighing heavily and I know that he’s trying to figure something out. That’s when I make my presence known.

“Hi,” I say walking into the dining room. He looks at his watch.

“Hi, Baby. What are you doing awake? It’s after 2am.”

“I awoke and you weren’t there. I knew you were trying to get things set up for our return. Grace said it’s okay for us to stay?” He looks at me, then back down at his computer.

“More like forced me to stay,” he says. “I was trying to make other arrangements and God only knows how she found out. She scares me sometimes.”

“Kind of like you scare everyone else,” I say, sitting next to him and laying my head on his shoulder. “What are you working on now?”

“The quietest way to get back into Seattle. There doesn’t seem to be one.”

“Yes, there is,” I say, rubbing my eyes. “We’re going to be in the air when?”

“Sunday afternoon. It’s the soonest they can have the jet ready and we’ll have to get to London-Heathrow to meet it. Too many complications involved in getting it to Greece in such short notice.” I nod.

“I’ll call Josh and let him know.” He frowns.

“Josh?” he questions. I fill him in on the plan we devised to sneak into the States. He rubs the stubble on his chin and types into his laptop.

“That just might work,” he says, twisting his lips and still typing. “We can’t fly into Boeing Field. It would most likely be just as monitored as SeaTac, but with the jet sitting on the tarmac—what a diversion. Who thought of that?”

“Marilyn,” I inform him, rubbing my head.

“I just might have to hire her,” he says.

“Nope. You took Allen, you can’t have Marilyn. She’s mine… for life. She’s going to be my PA when I’m old and gray unless she quits to do something else.” I’m still rubbing my head.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’ve got a headache,” I tell him. He kisses me on the cheek and goes to the kitchen. When he comes back, he has orange juice and water.

“Drink the water first. If there is any aspirin or ibuprofen here, I have no idea where they are.” He watches me drink the water, then moves behind me and begins to massage my temples. Oh God, it’s heavenly. I don’t want to fall asleep again. I want to stay and help and I want to start getting back on Seattle time. I know it’s somewhere around 4:30 in the afternoon there right now, so I need to stay awake for at least a few more hours.

“Better?” he asks after massaging my temples for a few minutes.

“Much,” I respond. He stops massaging. The pain isn’t completely gone, but it has subsided quite a bit.

“Headaches not caused by some major illness are often a result of dehydration. Drink your orange juice now. It’ll help clear the fuzziness.” I drink down half of the glass. It’s so good. I look back at his computer and his fingers caressing the keys. “Our best bet would be to fly into Bellingham or Yakima and get a car from there, but renting a car or even having one meet us would be a dead giveaway. The press would follow anything leaving from Escala.” I start thinking again.

“Then let them,” I say. “Have one or two of the other security detail leave Escala in one of the Audis and pick up our luggage at SeaTac. Have Grace or Carrick meet us at Bellingham or Yakima… or even Elliot or Val.” The wheels are turning in his eyes again.

“You think of everything, huh?” he says, typing into the laptop again.

“Nah, I’m shooting from the hip. I think on my feet.” I lay my head on his shoulder.

“What happened with the hot tub earlier?” he asks, still typing on his computer and occasionally on his blackberry. I shrug.

“It was too hot,” I tell him. “I hadn’t eaten anything and I guess the temperature was too much. I don’t know. My stomach was just insanely queasy and the next thing I knew…” I shrug again. He eyes me curiously.

“No more hot tub without food, I guess,” he says, turning back to the computer. “So the charter plane to Bellingham is completely doable. I guess just put whatever we may need in a carry-on to go on the charter plane.”

“Marilyn and Gail are packing some things for us to take to Grace and Carrick’s. Marilyn is not so recognizable right now, so she can take the things to Grace and Carrick’s without being spotted and they’ll be there when we get there.” He nods.

“Good. So, nothing is left but for us to get there without attracting attention. This will be a neat trick. After this, they won’t know whether to follow the GEH jet or look for us in some obscure airport somewhere.” He laughs.

“Why had you never had a contingency plan like this before?” I ask.

“I never needed one,” he says. “I didn’t care about them parked at the airport or camping out at Escala or Grey House. I just ignored them.” He looked up at me. “Things are different now.”

“It bothers you that they intrude now.” It’s more of a statement than a question. He nods.

“I’ve always been fodder for gossip and headlines, but the things going on in our life right now… they should be private. I never knew that people could exploit someone’s suffering so much until all our calamity became front page news. I saw it happen to other people, but I never really paid attention. Lincoln gets arrested and they’re trying to find the kids she molested to talk to the parents. You get kidnapped and beaten and they’re camped out at the damn hospital! The same thing happened when Jason was shot! They’re vicious and heartless and…” He pinches the bridge of his nose. I gently rub his back. “I’m scared to death for when we have kids, Ana. They won’t have any kind of normal life.”

“Yes, they will,” I reassure him. “They will have a family that loves them and if I know you, you will build a fortress for them to live in that’s larger than a small city. Their kindergarten teachers will be screened within an inch of their lives and their little 5-year-old playmates will have to sign NDAs.” He laughs.

“Well, not far from it,” he says. His email pings and I can see that it’s from Welch.

“Do you need some privacy?” I ask.

“No,” he says. “It’s probably about the travel arrangements.” He opens the email and, sure enough, Welch already has a quote on chartering a Challenger 604 or a Gulfstream III to get us from New York to Bellingham. All that’s left is to get us to London-Heathrow.

“So what do we do next? Do we have somewhere to stay tonight? We were supposed to be gone.”

“Well, we have to compromise. There will be another couple staying down here in the private villa, so you and I have to move upstairs. Charles is going to have to move into the villa with Jason and you and I will take the small one-bedroom. It’s just for one night, Baby.”

“That’s okay, Christian. At least we don’t have to go to another hotel completely and we’ll already be packed to leave on Sunday afternoon. Chuck will be taking Keri to the airport tomorrow anyway. What about Norbert and… Adrien?” He looks at me and smiles.

“No more Meathead?” he teases.

“He gave an asshole a gut shot for me. I guess I can give him a break. Besides, it’s just for one more night, right?” I shrug. He kisses me on the cheek.

“They have flights out to Paris on Sunday before we fly to Heathrow. We really didn’t need them as much as I thought we would, but they were helpful in Paris.”

“If you say so,” I say, looking back at his computer. “Vee emailed you.” Again, it should have been a question, but it was a statement.

“Yeah, to tell me that the press is teeming in front of Grey House for a statement. There’s a lot of speculation about the trial and they’re trying to get information. The word seems to be that we—more specifically, I—am responsible for all of the continuations and that the court date fell during our honeymoon because I couldn’t get another one.” I shake my head.

“I am dreading this trial. I know exactly what they’re going to do. I was kidnapped, beaten, traumatized, nearly raped, robbed, disfigured… and now, I’m going to be villainized.” I rub my face and shake my head, trying to wipe away the tear that falls before he sees it. I’m not successful. He takes my face in both his hands and kisses the eye that shed the tear.

“I don’t know what you think I can or can’t do to that Perry woman, but this fucker—I can make him pay. I can make him squirm and cry and suffer for the rest of his life. He will be better off getting convicted than to fall into my hands. So, don’t you worry. That asshole will pay until his dying day.”

I believe him when he’s talking about David, but Carly is another story.

“Speaking of that Perry woman, any update on her?” He kisses my cheek and drops his hands.

“No. I asked Allen what we could expect with David, but I didn’t ask about Perry. One mountain at a time,” he says, squeezing my hand. I sigh.

“So besides an Ana bloodbath, what can we expect with David?”

“Well, he’s not pleading insanity actually. To be specific, his defense is diminished responsibility and duress. It’s a little different from insanity or temporary insanity. One defense focuses more on the defendant’s competency and ability to stand trial and understand the consequences of his actions while the other focuses on the state of mind at the time of the crime and the defendant’s fear of personal harm. Allen assures me that it’s still likely to fly out the window because he never attempted to contact the police before taking any action, so this defense is very likely to fall flat unless his attorney has a bird-in-the-hand that we’re not aware of.”

“I can guarantee it,” I say. “He’s vindictive and manipulative and I’m certain that he’s got something up his sleeve. I’m certain of it.” I sigh again. “I’m hungry.” He looks at me like some sort of strange creature.

“Really?” he asks and I know what he’s thinking. I ate like a cow storing food for later at dinner.

“I burned calories that I didn’t store with that workout, so I had to replenish them. Now, I’m hungry, like normal people are when they wake at 2:00 in the morning and start the day.”

“You haven’t started the day. I’m getting you back to bed.”

“Yes, I have, Grey,” I scold. “I need to stay awake for at least another four hours and then I can take a nap. I need to start getting back to Seattle time as close as possible or I’m going to be crabby and fuzzy in court and I want my head to be clear as a bell!” His lips form a thin line, but he relents.

“Fine, but you’re going to bed at six and I expect you to sleep until at least 10am,” he scolds.

“We’ll see,” I say.

“Damn straight, we’ll see. Test me and I’ll fuck you like a Neanderthal at five to be sure.” My eyebrows furrow.

“Is that supposed to be a threat?” I ask. Don’t go to sleep and I’ll fuck you? Really? He smirks.

“Test me and find out,” he says, raising his eyebrow. I shake my head.

“I’m going to find something to eat, and then I’m going to pack,” I say, kissing his forehead.

*-*

It turns out that I didn’t need to test Christian after all. After I ate and finished packing our things, I was dead to the world by 5:30. He had to wake me to check out of the private villa at 11:00 so that the staff could clean it. Jason and Chuck had already taken our luggage up to the Katikia villa and Christian carried me since I simply could not open my eyes. He put me in bed in the villa, pointing out that it was 1:00am in Seattle and I could get some more sleep. He didn’t have to tell me twice.

It turns out that we all had the same idea to try to get back onto Seattle time as quickly as possible. At about 3pm, I wake with Christian wrapped around me and sleeping soundly. He couldn’t have gotten more than four hours of sleep and I don’t want to wake him, but I have to pee. I slide out of bed as quietly as I can and go relieve myself. When I come out of the bathroom, he’s still asleep. I remove my phone from the charger and go out to the pool.

Hanging my feet into the water I send a text to Marilyn.

**I need black and blue suits with white shirts and matching shoes. I need stud earrings—pearls or diamonds. They are in the jewelry box on my chest of drawers. If you get the pearl earrings, I need my string of pearls too.**

I’m facing this mess head on and I don’t want to show any signs of weakness or uncertainty. If they’re going to paint me as the villain, I want to make sure that they know who they’re dealing with. I got a text back a few minutes later.

**I packed the Love Collection. You didn’t want that?**

I respond quickly.

**You can leave it, but I need studs if it’s not too much trouble.**

I don’t plan to wear the Love Collection to court—only suits and studs.

**I kind of knew that you would want suits, but I packed some other things, too, just in case.**

Marilyn knows me so well.

**What are you doing up so early on a Saturday?**

The response is immediate.

**Awaiting instructions.**

I laugh. Of course, she would be. She knows me.

**Christian wants to hire you. I told him that he couldn’t have you. You’re mine for life.**

There’s a pause after that text. I’m thinking that she’s wondering if I’m serious. A few minutes later…

**Can I get that in writing?**

She’s unsure. I know with all the changes in my life, she is wondering where she stands. Even though I don’t use her as much in the “receptionist and secretary” capacity, she is irreplaceable as a personal assistant. So yes, you can get that in writing.

**We will work on a contract that we both agree with when I’m stateside. Is that okay? I don’t want to lose you. I couldn’t function without you.**

I can see her smiling in my head, but I know that she needs to protect herself. Up to this point, we’ve been going on word and that’s all. There’s nothing to protect her if I just go nuts and decide that I don’t want her anymore. She needs that safety net in case something happens since she’s putting all of her eggs in this one basket.

**That would be great, Ana. Don’t worry, as long as you don’t abuse me, I don’t plan on going anywhere.**

That’s music to my ears. I text her some other pleasantries about her and Gary and Greece before I end the conversation.

And I’m hungry again.

I very well should be. I’ve been sleeping all day and it was 12 hours ago that I last ate. That was just a fruit salad and some toast. I go to the community kitchen to see what might be available. There’s some leftover chicken from last night. That’ll do me for now. I put some of the chicken on a plate and pop it in the microwave. There’s some kind of loaf bread on the counter. I slice two pieces and pop it in the toaster. There’s some tomatoes in the refrigerator, so I cut a few slices. My chicken is done, so I put the tomatoes on the plate with a little salt and pepper and a splash of some oil and vinegar. My toast is done—just lightly enough to be crunchy on the outside and still soft on the inside, so I don’t need butter or anything. I play around with the idea of wine and decide that it’s probably not a good idea this early in the afternoon. Besides, the thought of it is making my stomach churn for some reason, so I just opt for water.

I sit on one of the loungers by the pool and tear into my lunch. God, I’m starving! The sun is high in the sky and I didn’t bring any sunglasses out with me. There is no stirring from any of the villas and I’m thinking that everyone must be fast asleep, except maybe for Chuck, who had to take Keri back to the airport to get her flight. I wonder if they’re serious. I mean, she did fly to Greece to see him and he risked his job to get her here. He could have put her up in a nearby hotel or villa, but he didn’t want to chance not being able to see her. I know that had to upset Jason since he couldn’t bring Gail along. With us leaving, my idea for bringing her to Greece for the last leg of the trip is moot, but at least he’ll be able to see her soon.

I finish my lunch and go into our villa. Christian is still asleep, his hand reaching to the empty spot in the bed—no doubt, looking for me. I take my sunglasses from my backpack and go back out to the pool.

“Hi.” I hear a female voice and open my eyes after I have been lounging on the chaise in the sun for about twenty minutes. I adjust my eyes and focus to see a young, attractive blonde in a string bikini standing over me. She’s not overly nipped and tucked, but you can tell that she’s had some work… and she is hot! When I say hot, I mean really hot.

“Hi,” I respond sitting up on my chaise. She drops her towel on the chaise next to me to reveal these tiny scraps of material that only cover her nipples and the slit at her crotch. Everything else is on display—her full ass, her ample mounds… she might as well be naked. She smiles at me and I feel a twinge of caution. There’s a nearly naked woman walking around the pool and my husband is about 50 feet away sleeping in our villa. Heaven help me.

“My name is Shelly. I’m in the villa downstairs.” Yes, I am aware of this. She sits on the chaise and begins to apply suntan lotion to her skin.

“I’m Ana,” I respond. I don’t really know what else to say. She knows we’re—well, I’m—in one of the villas up here.

“We were told that no one had rented the villas upstairs. We thought we would have the place to ourselves,” she says with no malice. We?Oh yes, Christian did say there would be a couple down there. I guess she thought no one would be here, so it would be okay to wear basically nothing to the pool.

“We’ll only be here for the night,” I tell her. “We have to fly to the states tomorrow afternoon.”

“Oh.” She sounds a little disappointed. I thought you wanted the place to yourself. “It’s a big place. The idea of being able to walk around freely is tempting, but it’s also fun to have other people around. At least you’ll be here for the night, though.” She smiles widely and puts her suntan lotion on the floor. “You’re very pretty.”

What? I’m glad my glasses hide my expression, because I know I’m looking incredulously at her.

“So are you,” I say, when I find my words. She chuckles.

“No, I’m hot,” she says, almost sarcastically while lying back on her chaise. “This look came from the doctor—boobs, hips, ass, dye-job, facials… that makes me hot. I can tell you woke up like that. That makes you pretty.” Wow! That’s one of the best compliments I think I’ve ever gotten, masked behind some of the deepest self-hatred I’ve ever heard.

“Where are you from?” I ask.

“Malibu,” she says. That explains it. If she’s competing with the hardbodies that she sees down there, she’s in somebody’s chair or on someone’s table under the knife every week. “I like being hot, don’t get me wrong. I just prefer being pretty.”

“So… why change?” I ask.

“Because I wasn’t either, so I needed some help.” I can’t imagine that she had to change that much to be pretty. Just then, I see this abso-fucking-lutely gorgeous older man come from the stairs of the private villa. I would put him in his mid to late forties and his body is insane—not overdone, but muscles everywhere, and I mean everywhere!His hair is black with slightly graying sides and sideburns and he is hot, hot, hot! Hell, fuck keeping up with the Malibu babes. She’s got to keep up with him!

“This is my husband, Harley,” she says, holding her hand out to the muscle-bound mountain of deliciousness walking towards us. He’s wearing a pair of jogging pants as he strolls over to us.

“Hey, Baby,” he says, leaning down to kiss his wife. “I was wondering where you got off to.”

“Not a lot of places to go, Sweetness,” she says with a full, sincere smile. He looks over at me.

“Who do we have here?” he asks.

“This is Ana,” she says, gesturing over to me. “She and her husband are here for the night. They’re leaving for the States tomorrow.”

“Oh? Where from?” Harley asks.

“Seattle,” I respond. “How long have you two been married?” I ask.

“Six years,” Shelly replies. Hell! Unless she got married when she was 16, she’s not as young as I thought. “You?”

“Newlyweds,” I respond. “This was our honeymoon.”

“Oh, how nice. Did you enjoy yourselves?”

“Yes, we did,” I say, smiling as I remember the hot springs and the hiking, the Acropolis and dinner at Orizones. “We had a wonderful time. We started in Paris…”

Before I knew it, I had a captive audience hanging on my description of the Arc de Triomphe and Love Lock Bridge. Shelly commented on how she would love to go to the Moulin Rouge while Harley sat on the floor between our two chaises, his legs bent with his arms resting on his knees. Thank God my husband is hot and beautiful. While I appreciate Harley’s rugged good looks and physique, he does nothing for me in the libido department. I keep looking at him and wishing Christian would wake up and come join us. After describing the beauty that is Athens, we hear scrambling at the door. It’s Chuck. Damn it, Christian, wake up!

“Is this your husband?” Shelly asks. I chuckle a bit.

“Um, no. This is my personal security. Chuck, this is Shelly and Harley. They rented the villa downstairs.” Chuck nods.

“Ma’am, sir, nice to meet you,” he says with a tight smile. He is a bit uptight and I can tell. “Anyone else up?”

“No, just me for now,” I say, throwing a questioning glance at him. He nods tightly and goes into the villa that he is sharing with Jason.

“Anyone else?” Shelly questions. “If you don’t mind me asking, how many people are here?”

“Um,” I start counting. “Six. My husband and I and our security team.”

“Team?” Harley asks. Oh, boy.

“Yeah. There are four of them. My husband is very serious about our safety.”

“Oh,” Shelly says, throwing a towel over herself. I guess she really did think they were here alone. Harley slowly and sensually pulls the towel off of her.

“You don’t have to cover up, Baby. You’re beautiful,” he tells her. Yikes. If I came out to the pool dressed like that, Christian would throw a blanket over me. I’m having flashbacks of a conversation that we had a while back concerning a nun’s habit or Ma Kettle or something like that.

“Butterfly?”

I hear the questioning voice of my husband from a few feet away. I look up and he’s standing in the doorway wearing a pair of cargo shorts hanging off of his hips and giving a glimpse of the “V” that leads to his family jewels. Fuck, I want to drool.

That’s my husband,” I announce as he begins to walk uncertain towards us. Harley turns around and looks while Shelly fawns over the nickname.

“Ooohh, Butterfly! That’s so sweet!” she croons. I don’t think Christian knows what to make of this scene as he approaches my lounger. I smile at her.

“This is Shelly and her husband, Harley. This is my husband… Chris.” Christian sits on my lounger and nods at Shelly and Harley. “They’re staying in the villa downstairs, Dear.” Realization dawns on his face.

“Oh. Now how did I forget that?” Christian says.

“You’ve been distracted with other things,” I remind him. “Is everything ready?”

“Yes,” he smiles. “We leave tomorrow at five and take a commercial flight to Heathrow. The jet will be waiting for us when we get there.”

“The jet,” Harley says. “Security team, private jet—are you guys royalty or something?”

“No, not so glamorous,” I answer, “but close enough.”

“So what are your plans for the day?” Shelly asks, no doubt hoping to piggyback.

“We were just going to stick around the villa for the day, try to get back on Seattle time,” Christian answers for us. Shelly’s face falls. I think she’s kind of lonely and I can’t really place why she seems a bit unhappy. “I planned for a very extravagant dinner for our last night, if you would like to join us… that is, if you don’t have other plans.” His statement is directed at Harley. He wouldn’t dare ask another woman to join us for dinner.

“That sounds great, Chris,” he says. “We had planned to stay in today and see the island tomorrow. That works out pretty well.”

The four of us continue to talk about this and that. Christian is careful not to give away too much information while carrying on the conversation. He’s also careful to stay very close to me. He’s like a second skin and I almost want to tell him to pull up a chair or move to another chaise. Harley is obviously very attracted to and fond of his wife, and Shelly doesn’t even make the googly-eyes at Christian that most women do. Conversation flows very freely for a long time until we see the staff coming in with enough bags of groceries to feed a third-world country, and we know that the dinner will be getting started soon. Harley takes this moment to do some “laps” in the pool while Shelly and I continue to talk about our trip through Athens and Delphi before coming to Santorini.

“I’m going to shower now, Baby. I don’t want to miss our last Santorini sunset,” Christian tells me before kissing me and rising from the chaise.

“I’ll be with you in a second,” I say to his retreating back. He waves without turning around and disappears into the villa.

“Is it as hard as it looks?” Shelly asks, watching my husband walk away. What the fuck is she referring to?

“Huh?”

“Keeping the women off of him, is it as hard as it looks?” I immediately feel sorry for her. I know that she’s speaking from experience and I have a feeling that it’s much harder for her than it is for me.

“I don’t have to,” I tell her. “He never gives me any reason to doubt him, and honestly, he doesn’t like the extra attention.”

“With a face like that, he doesn’t like extra attention?” I shake my head. She puts her sunglasses on and lies back on the chaise. “Must be nice.”


 A/N: “Don’t let a bug on your windshield distract you from your journey.” Thanks, bugglady23.

Please make sure that your email addresses are up-to-date on my mailing list. I’ve had some emails back back to my emailer and that’s how I’m going to inform people FIRST of my publishing.

The honeymoon is nearly over so don’t forget to check out the pictures on the page before our couple leave Greece. https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/mending-dr-steele-off-to-greece/

You can join my mailing list on the “Contact Me” page. Just click the link and it will lead you to a form to join the list.

Love and Handcuffs!
Lynn x

My Second (?) Deleted Comment/Review

I'm tired of this dayWell, I didn’t think it would happen, but it did. I have had a lot of people disagree with me and my story, but I put on my big girl panties and left the comment on the page. I may have responded harshly or defended my characters or actions, but I left the comment on the page. Today, I deleted my second comment, and I have to say that I feel really bad about it.

I’m only addressing it because I want to get it off my chest. It was a long comment and I didn’t get past the 4th sentence. The comment was from Redds77 and she broke Rule #1–don’t insult my characters. You can dislike the story and that’s okay. You can even dislike the characters and that’s okay, too. But I have always asked you guys to please refrain from insulting my characters. Those of you who bothered to read other posts on my blog will remember Disagree but don’t attack. Good and constructive criticism that may have helped me improve the story or the characters gets lost if you attack, and that’s what happened. So here’s what happened (for anyone who is interested)…

She started the comment by saying that she had caught up and there were some things that she wanted to say. She told me that I could erase it if I wanted, so I already knew that it wasn’t going to be pleasant. So I pulled up those big girl panties and said, “Okay, try to look at this objectively. See what she has to say.” Her first comment was that I had the weakest Christian she had ever seen and that he cries too much. I don’t agree that Christian is weak, but surprisingly, I did agree with her that he cries too much. You guys may not know this, but I reread my chapters in my spare time (if there is such a thing) and I go back and tweak them on this blog. That was an observation that I made myself, that that man cries entirely too much. Although I don’t look at my Christian as weak, I can understand why she would say that the crying made him appear weak, so I said, “Okay, check mark for that,” and moved to the next point.

In her next two lines, she pulls out this whole 32-boxcar-freight train of insults (yes, I’m exaggerating, but it was a lot) on Ana’s character! At that point, my brain, my Muse, and Ana all came to a screeching halt and stopped reading. She may have had some very valid points after that long dissertation of debasement, but I never got to see them because once you disrespect my characters, all bets are off.

There were some responses to the comment–both for and against–and when I deleted the comment, somehow the responses got deleted, too, except for maybe one of them. I don’t know how that happened. I guess it’s kind of like a thread, but I don’t know, so–sorry about that. 😦

There was one response (I can’t remember who it was from) that said something like orsomething on the order of “Finally someone who agrees with me. Ana is obnoxious. This author has lost my attention.”… … Um, apparently not, because you’re still here telling people that I’ve lost your attention. Please remember that this is a personal blog and you came here. You don’t have to stay and I do understand if it’s not your cup of tea.

I don’t know if she’s still following or not or if she even cares about how I feel about the matter, but I will say this. If you think your comment can help me tweak the story and can post your comment without disrespecting me or my characters, by all means post it again. However, it you’re going to berate my story, insult my characters, or proceed with any kind of troll-like behavior, please save your breath–or in this case, your fingers. I don’t even read comments like that. That’s why I left Fanfiction.

I don’t want people to think that I erase your comments if you don’t agree with me. That’s not true, but I will erase them if you disrespect my characters.

Love and handcuffs,
Lynn X aka Bronze Goddess

Mending Dr. Steele: Chapter 72—Think Before You Act

I do not own Fifty Shades Trilogy or the characters. They belong to E. L. James. I am only exercising my right to exploit, abuse, and mangle the characters to MY discretion in MY story in MY interpretation as a fan. I hope you—as a fellow fan—enjoy it, too.

Chapter 72—Think Before You Act

CHRISTIAN

I don’t know how much time has passed before my thoughts are interrupted by a knock at the door. I look up and see Charles looking at me through the glass. I sit up and wave him in.

“Excuse me. Ana wants her phone.” Damn, she won’t even come downstairs to get her phone. I gesture towards the bedroom.

“It’s on the charger… on the floor, near the bed.” He gestures to the bedroom.

“May I?” he asks. I nod. He disappears into the bedroom for a few moments and emerges with Butterfly’s phone. He gives me a tight nod and heads for the door.

“Do I really fuck up that much?” I ask before he gets the chance to close it. He turns around.

“Sir, I’m already skating on thin ice here. I think it’s best that I keep my personal feelings separate from my job. It makes things easier and more professional.”

“Don’t give me that, Charles,” I say with no malice. “You and Ana are friends. She may not tell you her deep, dark secrets, but there are some days where you spend more time with her than I do.” He folds his arms.

“How do you expect me to answer that?” he asks. “You can’t answer that question ‘yes’ or ‘no’ without some kind of explanation. Even if I did have an answer for you, how do you suggest I tell my boss that he fucked up in any way? Man, you fired me—for something that wasn’t even my fault—and I didn’t protest. I just turned around and walked away. Now, I’m waiting to see if I’m still going to be employed when we get back to Seattle…”

“You’re not getting fired, Charles,” I say, exasperated.

“Well, that’s really good to hear because I really like this job, so thank you, sir. Having said that, how do you suggest I handle this particular situation… you know, now that I’ve got my job back and all?”

This man is logical to a fault. He’s right, though. That was a dumb and inappropriate question for me to ask him and I can’t possibly expect him to answer it. I nod and wave him off, dismissing him with Butterfly’s phone and go back to whatever I was looking at on my laptop.

I don’t know how long I sit there trying to work and kicking myself wondering what I can possibly do to fix what I’ve done. There has been no sound from upstairs in the villa after the big “splash” and with everything going on right now, I feel like pure shit that I have made her feel this way… again. I mean, I didn’t do anything again per se, but my prior actions now have future consequences because I wasn’t forthcoming with some very vital information. I’m stiff and I am now sitting here in the dark, so I know that a considerable amount of time has passed and Butterfly refuses to emerge from whatever safe place she has escaped to. I find myself in front of the computer typing out an email.

To: Anastasia Steele-Grey
Subject: Alpha-male, Dominant, Control-freak, Idiot
Date: Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 20:16
From: Christian Grey

I’m so sorry. I’ll never do this again. I hope that I haven’t shaken your trust in me, although I can’t see how it could still be intact after this. I trust you implicitly and I should have proven it better that night. I let my foolish insecurities get in the way and I’m fully aware of the detrimental consequences my actions have had and could have had. I hope in time that you will forgive me and trust that I understand the grave mistake that I made.

Christian Grey, (doesn’t know who he is without you right now)

I put my head down and continue to ponder my current situation. I have no one to blame but myself right now. I raise my head to the screen when I hear the signal that I have an email.

To: Christian Grey
Subject: Pretty Words
Date: Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 20:21
From: Anastasia Steele-Grey

Those are very pretty words, Christian, but they’re doing very little to ease how I’m feeling right now. For the first time, I’m feeling like I don’t know who you are and I don’t know what to do with these feelings. I feel like a specimen in a Petri dish. You keep adding different elements to see how I’m going to react and I can’t take it anymore. I’m all for testing our limits in the bedroom, but you test my limits on every level and I can’t be pulled to the extremes every moment of my life. You’re my husband and I need to find comfort in you, not worry about your motives every time you act. Things are rough right now and they are only going to get rougher, and the one place that I found solace, you took it away.

Dr. Anastasia Steele-Grey, Assistant Director, Helping Hands of Seattle

Her words cut like a knife. I feel a huge lump in my throat and the pygmies are stabbing me in my chest with tiny little spears that shoot pain through to my soul. This is it. This is the thing that I kept seeing. This is me losing her. Jason was right. She’ll never trust me again. I can’t possibly fuck up any bigger than this. This is what I saw. This is what I was worried about that night when we parted right before the bachelor night and instead of avoiding it, I facilitated it. I feel like my throat is closing. I can’t breathe. Why is it that every time I feel like I’m losing Butterfly, I lose my breath? It’s because she is my breath. She’s my life’s blood and I’ve alienated her forever.

What the hell is wrong with me that I can’t seem to leave well enough alone? I go to our bedroom and lie down in the bed, fully-clothed, hoping that sleep will come and get me quickly and chase away the anxiety attack that I feel coming on.

*-*

I’m blessed that sleep found me fairly quickly last night—not so blessed that I awoke in bed alone this morning. I was even more cursed by the nightmares that I had last night. The worst one involved jumping or falling off a cliff. I fell backwards and Butterfly was standing at the top of the cliff watching me fall, her hands to her sides and her blue and white dress blowing in the wind. She has no expression on her face, but tears are streaming down her cheeks. I watch her body at the top of the cliff going further and further away from me as I fall, and I don’t fear dying. I fear seeing the image of her become smaller and smaller until I can’t see her anymore. That’s the image that caused me to wake in the middle of the night in a cold sweat with tears in my eyes, unable to breathe. I don’t even remember if I hit the bottom.

I’m floundering and Butterfly won’t even throw me a bone.

I climb out of bed and relieve myself, then go to the kitchen for coffee. She must have slept in one of the other villas last night since she didn’t come to bed. I have a splitting headache and I don’t know if there’s any ibuprofen in this place. There’s coffee already in the pot. I don’t remember setting the coffee maker last night. I was so wiped out, God only knows. I pour myself a cup and take a drink. I should probably eat. I skipped dinner last night and that could be the cause of my headache.

A flash of movement to my right makes me turn my head, and there she stands. She’s beautiful except… she’s wearing the same dress that she was wearing in my dream!


ANASTASIA

I can’t believe he would stoop so low as to have someone spy on me at my hen party! Has this been the case all this time? Has there been someone watching me all along without my knowledge and reporting my every move back to him? Chuck seemed completely horrified by the idea and by the sound of the screaming that was coming from our villa, I’m certain that Jason had nothing to do with it either. Is that why we have Meathead and Norbert with us, extra eyes for Ana? Shit, how can I believe anything he’s said to me now that I know this?

I read over the email again that he sent me last night. It looks like an apology letter that he would send to one of his companies or clients or something for a clerical error—Do forgive us for charging you $50,000 instead of $5,000. We are terribly sorry and will never make the mistake again. Yeah, right.

I’m going to explore the village a bit today… without His Highness! I’ve seen some beautiful roads and walkways and the architecture is wonderful as well. I just want to walk around and be alone. Chuck and Keri are going with me so that they can spend some time together. That will give me the opportunity to be alone with my thoughts. I’m comfortably dressed in a blue and white chevron strapless maxi dress and a pair of comfy wedges. I have my sneakers in my backpack along with my camera, phone, wallet and water. When I go to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee, I am greeted with an unwelcome surprise.

He looks like hell and he’s wearing the same clothes that he was wearing yesterday. He was burrowed under the blanket when I came in last night to get clothes and toiletries before sleeping in the other master bedroom. He looked like he was freezing and shivering, but I was too pissed off to care—kind of like right now. Well, I’m not really pissed off like I was last night. I’m just hurt, confused, maybe a little angry… but most of all, I feel betrayed.

Fuck the coffee.

“Ana…” He sounds tired and a bit weak. I would normally be a bit concerned, but I don’t want to be concerned right now. I just need to be away from him. I need to be alone to think and I don’t want to say anything to hurt his feelings.

“I need to be away from you right now.” I turn to leave.

“You’re running,” he says impassively. I turn back to face him… so much for not hurting his feelings.

“I am not running!” I hiss through clenched teeth. “And I will not allow you to use that against me when I don’t want to be in your presence!” I glare at him and await his response. It’s easy to see that he immediately sees his mistake and decides to keep quiet. I break my glare from him and march out of the villa and up the stairs to the main floor. As I am walking away, I hear a small crash and I assume that he either dropped his coffee or threw it somewhere. I get to the main floor where Jason, Chuck, and Keri are all waiting for me.

“Uh oh,” Chuck says. “I know that look.”

“There’s no ‘uh oh.’ I’m ready to go when you are.” I turn to Jason. “You might want to go down there and check on your boss. I heard a crash on my way upstairs.” Jason frowns.

“What kind of crash?” he asks.

“A ‘cup hitting the wall’ kind of crash,” I respond. He shakes his head.

“He’s about to spiral,” he says, leaning down to me. “I saw it yesterday and now you’re leaving without him, so I know that things haven’t gotten any better. He’s an asshole, but try not to be too hard on him—not trying to tell you how to feel or anything.” He adds that last part as a defense to his statement.

“I love that you care for him so much, but he was so wrong this time. If there was ever any doubt that he was ever wrong about anything that he has ever done before, there’s no doubt here. I can chalk Flynngate up to a bad judgment call. I can even excuse postponing the wedding based on an impulse action and, let’s just say, lack of information. Even his actions on the night of the hen party—even though no one seemed to know that he was there or what he did—I can write off as the actions of the Neanderthal that we all know and love… but this? The spying? Wrong in 10 different ways and unacceptable on every level.” I enforce. Jason gets this look on his face like his stomach is turning. “You knew he was there.” I can tell by the look on his face.

“Hold on there, Killer,” he says, putting his hand up defensively. “I only knew after the fact and not in an official capacity. I only knew in the capacity of the best man who kept asking him if anything had happened that would result in a canceled wedding and he said ‘no.’ I have no idea what happened, nor do I want to know.” I twist my lips at him and he doesn’t budge. Yeah, he’s telling the truth.

“Well, either way, I don’t want to talk about this anymore. I just want to go do a little sightseeing on this lovely island and forget this for one day,” I say. Chuck nods and takes Keri’s hand. As he’s leading her to the door, Jason catches my hand.

“Just remember this,” he says in a low voice as I turn around to face him. “This is your honeymoon, and in all of the years that I’ve known that man, I can say without a doubt that you are his only weakness.”

I twist my lips at his words, not because I don’t believe him, but because that’s not what I wanted to hear right now, leaving the villa without him and seeing him in the state that I saw him in this morning. I wordlessly leave Jason standing in the courtyard and go to join Chuck and Keri.

Although I have seen some of the villages when Christian and I went on our hike on Monday, there’s a lot that I didn’t see. It’s easy to lose yourself in the tiny villages and the landscape, especially since we are sitting on top of a mountain… or a volcano, I should say. We toured a hotel that was once the cave dwellings of the early settlers to Santorini. Christian and I saw some of the original caves during our hike, but these have been redone and completely converted. I even got to see a beautiful sitting room that was once actually a donkey stable. There is a hole in the ceiling—now filled in, of course—where the villagers used to throw the food down to the donkeys to keep from having to walk down the cliff to the stables.

I’ve noticed that except for the opulence of certain areas like our hotel in Athens, living here is very simple and clean. Nothing is really excessive, but everything is very beautiful. There is a lot of climbing on the narrow streets, which is good since I’m particularly fit and really want to burn off a bit of this blubber butt that I’ve acquired. I take pictures of more quaint villas and houses, friendly locals, and spectacular views.

After lunch, we take a bus tour to see some of the highlights of the area. I can see Chuck messaging Jason and in my mind’s eye, I can see Christian having a fucking conniption that I am on a bus in a strange land. Mr. Christian Grey couldn’t be bothered to take a bus tour with the locals. Oh, no, there will be none of that. Well, shove it up your nose, Grey.

During our tour, we see a Greek monastery up on one of the many hills of Santorini. We also see the ruins of Akrotiri. This is not like the Acropolis or even Agora. Akrotiri was once a large city that was buried when the volcano erupted in 1500 B.C. Only a small fraction of the city is unearthed so far, and we got to see many of the original items that we saw in the Archaeological Museum. This is where the colorful frescoes were found.

There are houses and streets and village squares and even a building that historians think is the administrative center of the town according to our tour guide. Some of the houses are two and three stories high covered in ash and pumice released from an explosion that resulted in several months of darkness. Now we get to see the ruins of what some archaeologists believe are the lost city of Atlantis. I personally always thought Atlantis was an underwater city, but hey—who am I to argue with the experts?

Our tour ends at the black beach, which is really black pebbles caused by the volcanic eruptions. Once again, I find myself on an island, temporarily estranged from my boyfriend—well, husband now, looking out at the water that seems to make everything so clear.

I want my aquarium… but I digress.

Why didn’t he trust me? What did he think I would do when his back was turned? Did he really think I was that untrustworthy or that irresponsible that he needed to have someone there spying on me? He knew that it was wrong. That’s why he didn’t involve Chuck or Jason, but that didn’t stop him. He did it even though he knew that it wasn’t right. How can I trust him anymore?

I think that’s the biggest problem for me, the whole sense of betrayal. I didn’t run away screaming either time his subs showed up, or when he told me about the third who offered herself to him on a silver platter. The only other man who really loved me—or so I thought—is behind bars, but he has 12 others that could come out of the woodwork at any time. If anybody should be leery at all about someone’s possible behaviors, I should be more leery about his than him about mine… but I’m not! Why—because I trust him! Why couldn’t he extend that same trust to me?

I told him before any of this happened that I didn’t want to feel like I was on a leash, that I didn’t want to lose my freedom and independence. That’s exactly what he’s trying to do. Now I hear the words of that Ringhold bitch coming back to me from my reception talking about me being Lady Grey and no longer having my own identity. Maybe she really was trying to warn me of events to come. In her bitterness, maybe she really was just trying to tell me to beware of the powerful man who will try to turn you into little wife and take away everything that once made me independent.

That can’t be true. Christian has never tried to squash me or my dreams or anything I believe in—but if that’s the case, then why the spying? I ponder that question as I stand, once again, with my feet in the sea letting the water soothe my aching mind and soul.

*-*

It’s late when we return to the villa after a wonderful dinner at one of the restaurants in Oia. Chuck and Keri cuddled as we watched the sunset and I was glad that someone in our group was able to enjoy the sunset with someone they love. Jason has been a really good sport about this whole thing and I really want to suggest flying Gail in for the last leg of the honeymoon, but I think that may be pushing it. I’m tired and I want to go to sleep, but I’m not sure that I want to face Christian right now. Jason, however, is waiting for us when we get back.

“What’s going on?” I ask him as soon as I see him. He nods to Chuck, who returns his nod before he and Keri retire to his villa.

“You need to talk to him.”

“Jason…” I begin my protest.

“Ana, I’m going to overstep my boundaries, here, but I’m doing this as a friend and I hope you’ll understand and forgive me.” He called me Ana. This is serious. “I don’t know what you’ve done to this man, but he goes into full-blown mourning when he thinks he’s lost you and nobody can stop him. I’ve seen you two argue and go to your corners and come back hours later or days later, work it out, and everything is okay. But when he thinks he’s lost you, he goes from mogul to zero in no time flat. That’s your power over him. It’s the most powerful weapon in your arsenal and it cuts him down to nothing.”

“I… I’ve never used this as a weapon against him! I didn’t even know…”

“Now you do,” he interrupts me, “and whether you intend to use it as a weapon or not, that’s what it is.” He drops his chin to his chest and shakes his head. “Ana, I’ve seen this man cut down more in the last year than in all of the years that I’ve worked for him. I can imagine I would probably feel the same way if I thought that I was losing Gail, but I’ve had my heart broken before and I survived it. I don’t think he could. I think that you two are going to be old birds that stay together forever, then die within a month of each other because you can’t stand to be apart. I’m not telling you to forgive what he’s done and forget it, because I haven’t forgotten it. I am saying that you wield a very powerful sword over a very powerful man, and I just need you to know that.” I sigh heavily and drop my shoulders.

“Why does this responsibility always seem to fall on me?” I ask. “He does something wrong, I get upset, he goes into mourning, and I have to fix it.”

“It’s the nature of the beast,” Jason answers. “When he screws up, you let him know exactly how you feel. You don’t hold anything back, nor should you, but he skipped that part in his mental and emotional development where you take harsh criticism from the woman who you love and the world doesn’t end because of it. I think it’s something that the two of you need to discuss. On his part, he’s going to have to cope with it when he really pisses you off and understand the part that he’s playing in his own breakdown. On your part, you need to understand that he is likely to react this way and either prepare yourself for it or adjust accordingly.” I stare at him. “You’re the doctor here, so maybe I’m not saying that right…”

“No,” I say rolling my eyes a bit. “You said it perfectly. I just get tired of having this conversation or some variation of it with him. He can’t do cruel, mean, or inconsiderate things and then fall apart, using his lack of emotional development as a crutch to get him back into my good graces. It gets old very quickly and it wears you down. He’s not a puppy that accidentally pissed on the carpet. He’s a grown ass man who sent spies to his wife’s bachelor party, then showed up and…”

“I don’t want to know!” he interrupts me before I let the cat out of the bag, which I am glad that he did because I was about to mindlessly do just that.

“He showed up and did something mean, cruel, and inconsiderate without even asking me what happened—all of this stemming from his first mistake of sending spies to his wife’s bachelor party. I just don’t know how much more of this he expects me to take.” Jason cocks his head at me.

Is he losing you, Ana?” he asks, soberly. I sigh.

“No, he’s not losing me, not yet anyway, but if he keeps up this kind of behavior I can’t make any guarantees for the future.” Jason sighs heavily and nods. This is the first time I see how heavily this weighs on Jason as well. Just how bad is Christian doing down there?

“He didn’t eat again today.” Again? Don’t tell me he’s pulling that shit. “It’s not that he’s doing it on purpose,” he replies as if reading my mind for a second time. “He just doesn’t want to. Although I think it may be part of an adult temper tantrum, I also think that he just doesn’t know how to function in a world without you, and the prospect scares him shitless. I know that he was wrong, but you need to talk to him and he needs to hear your voice so… just don’t wait too long.” He looks at me for a moment more before going to his villa. I sigh heavily.

“Damn it, Christian!” I curse under my voice. He doesn’t always manage to get everybody on his side, but when he does… good grief.

He’s such a damn extremist! When I’m wrong, I suck it up. When I alienated him on New Year’s Eve, I accepted that I was wrong and that my childish behavior may have cost me my relationship. True, my immediate plans involved moving to a convent, but that was a combination of things—one of which involved the thought of living without Christian.

“Damn it!” Fine! I’ll go talk to him…

He’s lying in a semi-fetal position with his back to me when I walk into the room. Maybe he’s asleep, I wish to myself.

“Please just go away,” he says with a shuddering breath. Oh hell, he’s crying.

“If that’s what you want,” I reply. He takes another deep breath, but doesn’t turn around.

“Oh. Hi, Ana.” Oh hi Ana? “I thought it was Jason again.” I see him wipe his face with his hand.

“Nope, it’s me.” I’m still having a hard time mustering up some sympathy for this man, but I really don’t like seeing him like this. “Have you been in bed all day?”

“No,” he says, his voice still cracking and laced with exhaustion. “I took a shower and did a little work…”

“I didn’t hear you mention eating something.” He pauses.

“I did drink some water,” he replies to pacify me. I roll my eyes and sigh. I really want to feel sorry for him right now, but what he did was unacceptable and he needs to know that. There’s no use in rehashing it right now, though. He’s been punishing himself all day and he’s clearly exhausted. I remove my wedges and climb in bed behind him. I move in close to him and put my arm around him.

“I’m sorry, Ana,” he says with a shuddering breath. I roll my eyes again before pulling him close to me.

“Go to sleep,” I respond. He takes another deep breath, releases it, and falls instantly to sleep. A few moments later, I’m right behind him.

*-*

The sun wakes me and my arm is asleep from being in a weird position under my body all night. Christian and I are in the same position we we fell in asleep except that he is clinging to the hand attached to my arm that is wrapped around him. He’s been sweating in his sleep, which means that sometime during the night he had a bad dream, but never changed sleeping positions. His breathing is steady, but not rhythmic. He’s awake, and the squeeze on my hand alerts me that he knows I’m awake, too.

“I dreamed you left me,” he says somberly. “You didn’t walk away or move out, but that’s what the dream meant. I had the same dream again last night.” He had it twice, and he clearly woke up sweating.

“I was here with you last night,” I say. “You don’t usually have bad dreams when I’m here with you.”

“You weren’t here with me last night. You were just in the bed with me. You slept with me to bring me comfort, but you weren’t here.” What can I say? He’s right. I lay in this bed and I fell asleep, but my anger separated us and I still feel it. I broke our rule—twice. Never go to bed angry. “You were wearing the same dress that you’re wearing now. You were standing on a cliff, just looking at me with tears in your eyes.”

“What were you doing?”

“Falling.” What? Did he say falling? Off the cliff?

“I was falling backwards,” he replies. “It was something that I did that made me fall off the cliff, but I don’t know what it was. You were standing dangerously close to the edge, but you didn’t fall. You didn’t reach for me or scream. You just stood there looking down at me with tears in your eyes and on your face… in that same blue and white dress.” Shit! That must have been fucking traumatic for me to come out of the room in that dress after he had just had this dream about it. “I was reaching for you, but you weren’t reaching for me.”

“What were you doing before you fell?” I ask.

“I don’t remember. I only remember falling… losing you… Am I losing you, Ana?” he asks. “Have I fucked up too bad to fix it this time?” I know that’s not true, but right now, he doesn’t.

“No, Christian, you haven’t, but this is big—really, really big.” He rolls over to face me. His eyes tell a story of the internal torment that he suffered for the last two days. I don’t want him to feel this way, but part of me does. Part of me wants him to know just how bad of a fuck-up this is. “Have you heard nothing that I’ve said to you—about not wanting to lose my identity and about how independent I was before we met? You know that. You fell in love with her. How could you possibly think this would be okay on any level?”

“I didn’t,” he says. “I wasn’t thinking about you at all. I was only thinking about what I wanted, what I needed at the time. I couldn’t see past my own feelings because I wasn’t trying to. My bride-to-be was going out to have the ultimate single girls’ night—not her friend’s bachelorette party, her own. As much as I knew I could trust you, my own fear and the impending doom that kept hovering around made me feel like something bad was about to happen.”

“And something bad did happen, Christian. My body was turned on, but my mind and soul felt cheap and dirty and worthless! When it was all said and done, I didn’t know what to do or think or feel. I tried to understand it, to excuse what you did because of who you are, but there’s only so many times that I can do that. On top of that, I counted that bathroom domination as an impulse action when that wasn’t what it was. You knew in advance what was going on when you got there, and you probably had this whole thing planned when you hit the door. I noticed when you walked in that you weren’t wearing your tie…”

“I swear I didn’t plan that!” he interrupts me. “I swear to God, I was only going to check in on you and leave.”

“I don’t know if I can believe you, Christian,” I respond. His whole body drops and he looks crestfallen. “To my knowledge, you’ve never overtly lied to me. You’ve conveniently left some things out before, but you never lied to me. This time, I just don’t know.”

“I… don’t know what to say.” His voice is soft. “I’m not lying.” I roll my eyes. He hasn’t lied to me, but dishonesty and betrayal bring everything you’ve ever said and done to question.

“Which one was it?” I ask.

“I don’t think that’s important,” he replies. I shrug.

“Fine, but know that I’m going to be looking at every new guy you have and everyone that’s not Jason and Chuck because in the back of my mind, I’m going to be wondering if that’s the fucker who spied on me. So you go ahead and keep your little secret if it means that you’re going to be okay with me not cooperating with security. You know they can’t make me do anything that I refuse to do, right?”

“Ana, please don’t be difficult. You have to cooperate with security, now more than ever. You’re a billionairess…”

“And that goes both ways. I will not cooperate with someone that I don’t trust. It’s that simple. So if you’re going to feed mistrust between me and the security detail, then go right ahead. Just know that this is one of the consequences.” He sighs and lays his head on his arm.

“His name is Grant,” he says. “You probably won’t see him again, because Jason won’t even work with him after this. If Jason won’t work with him, no one will.”

“Grant,” I say, trying to remember which one he is. “Grant… oh, yeah… blue suit, brown buzz cut…” He shrugs.

“I couldn’t tell you what he was wearing or what he looked like. The brown buzz cut sounds right, though… How did you remember that?” I frown at him.

“Put a sock in it, Grey!” I say before I have a chance to stop myself. He’s shocked by my reaction. “I remember a whole lot about that night. I remember what Al was wearing, Val and Maxie, and even you.” There’s a slight edge to my voice when I say it, and I immediately get a flashback of that tie, the one that didn’t fit anything that he was wearing and I wonder again if he had this thing planned all along. I better not start thinking that way or I might get angry again.

“I’m sorry. I don’t want to start another fight.”

“Then tread carefully,” I respond. “That is a perfect time to think before you speak. Why did you ask me that question?” He is hesitant to answer. “That’s a valid question. That’s not me picking a fight.”

“I don’t really know,” he says.

“Yes, you do, you just don’t want to tell me.”

“No, I don’t really know,” he repeats. “What I want to say sounds ridiculous even to my ears.”

“Well, say it because I’m very curious,” I press. He pauses, then proceeds against his will.

“I wanted to know what stood out about Grant that made you remember what he looked like,” he admits.

“And why is that?” I ask, already knowing the answer.

“You know why,” he says, matter-of-factly.

“Yes, I do, but I want you to tell me.” He sighs again.

“I wanted to know if you found him attractive.”

“Yes, I did,” I say, quickly. He raises his head from his arm and glares at me. “So, now, what are you going to do about it?” I ask. “I find several men attractive. Jason is attractive. Chuck is attractive. You’re attractive. Phil is attractive. Gary’s attractive. James is attractive and Allen is attractive. I’m only trying to fuck one guy in that whole group. There will be other men that cross my path that I find attractive, and it doesn’t mean shit! Not a damn thing. No matter how badly you may want to put me in a box and lock me away from the world, I’m going to find someone else attractive and someone else is going to find me attractive. How can you not trust my love and loyalty enough to know that I’m not going to do anything stupid?”

“It wasn’t you, Ana,” he says sitting up. “It was me. It was me and my insecurity and my fear of losing you that caused me to take those actions. I was hours away from having you, from you being mine, and all I could see was disaster snatching it all away…”

“…and that’s what almost happened!” I interrupt him, sitting up as well, “not because of disaster, but because of you. What would you have done if I had reacted completely differently to what you did that night? What would you have done if I had felt so cheapened and degraded by what happened in that bathroom that I refused to marry you?” He shivers.

“I actually thought that’s what was going to happen,” he says.

“Yes, after the fact!” I retort. “You didn’t think about that before you came into the bathroom and tied me to the sink! You definitely didn’t think about that before you sent Grant to watch my every move!” He groans loudly with frustration.

“God, I wish I could take this all back!” he grumbles. “If nothing had happened, you would have never known that I was watching you.”

“No, and you would have thought this was all okay,” I respond. “Tell me, Christian. How many times and how many different ways will it take for you to learn this lesson? Will it take losing me for you to understand that this is not okay?”

“I certainly don’t want to lose you, but I need to know what specific lesson I am having to learn all over again… so that I won’t have to learn it all over again.”

“That you are not alone in this anymore; that your actions, or your lack of action, or you reaction no longer only affects you. It affects other people, and most of the time the ‘other people’ is me. I can’t keep feeling this way, Christian. You make me feel like… an afterthought. Nobody deserves to feel that way. You shook my trust in everything I thought I knew about you.” He drops his head.

“Ana, I’m so sorry,” he says, shaking his head. “That’s the last thing in the world that I want you to feel. You’re everything and I can’t stand that I made you feel that way, that I tested and almost lost your trust. I’m sorry,” he says, tears flowing freely down his cheeks. “I know how it feels not to trust. I know what it means. I can’t bear the thought of you not trusting me. I can’t stand it. I swear I’ll do anything to win it back… anything you ask.” I still don’t think he gets it.

I fight to find the words that I want to say to him to get him to understand what’s going on and how to prevent the impending doom that he’s feeling. I’m not trying to twist the knife, but I only know how to give it to him straight.

“You have to trust me, way deep down in here,” I put my fist on my chest. “Way deep down in here where you don’t let anyone else go. I have to be there. I have to be there all the time, because if I’m not, you’re just going to keep doing things like this. You’re going to keep acting without thinking, being the Neanderthal and the inconsiderate control freak—and I’m going to let you do it. I’m going to run out of the will to keep telling you what you’re doing wrong. I don’t want us to be those people. I don’t want us to be the Ringholds…” His eyes widen.

“Is that what you see? Is that the future you see for us—that money-hungry philanderer and his bitter old wife in a loveless marriage? That’s what you see?” I drop my head and sigh. This is the moment of truth.

“Yes, Christian. If you don’t rethink some things, that’s exactly what I see.” I look up at him and I can see in his eyes that he doesn’t know how to interpret what I’m saying and finally, I’m breaking inside. “I understand what she was feeling and thinking even if I didn’t agree at the time. I can completely understand not wanting to leave, but not having the will to fight anymore. For her, I don’t know if it’s love or money that keeps her in that hell, but for me… it’s love.” I finally shed my first tear.

“No…” he breathes. “No, no, no, no…” He’s back on the bed and I am in his arms. I don’t want to be in his arms. I want to talk about this. I want to straighten this out. “No, Ana, no. I never want you to feel that way, ever. I’ll put a rein on my reactions, I swear to God. I’ll show you, Baby. I’ll show you… I’ll think before I make decisions. Please, Baby…”

I try to resist him, but I melt a little in his arms. I love it when he holds me, I can’t deny that. His face is buried in my neck as he begs for my forgiveness and swears to put more thought into his actions. His contrition is a bit of a turn-on even though it shouldn’t be. When he appears to have apologized forever, even though it was probably only a couple of minutes, I finally speak.

“Okay, Christian. We’ll see.” He pulls back and looks at me for a few moments with sad, gray eyes. He nods and puts his forehead on mine.

“Yes,” he whispers with his eyes closed. “You’ll see.”

“I have to pee,” I say. He nods again without opening his eyes and releases me. I go to the en suite and relieve myself. I throw my panties in our dirty clothes. No use putting those back on. I guess I might as well get ready for the day. After I wash my hands, I come back to the bedroom to find Christian lying on his back on the bed with his arm over his eyes. He’s going to sulk all day again, I know it. Even lying on his back, I can tell that he feels defeated. I’m not used to this and although I want him to see and feel just how serious this is, I still love him very much and don’t want to see him hurt. I climb back onto the bed.

“Christian?”

“Yes?” His voice is cracking and he doesn’t move his arm from his face. I roll over on top of him and begin to rub his chest through his open shirt. His breath catches and his response is immediate. His chest rises and falls under my hands as he fights to control his breathing. I quickly slide down and undo his pants and reveal his rising erection, but he grabs my hands and stops my assault.

“No. Ana, don’t. It feels too much like ‘goodbye.’” I frown.

“’Goodbye?’” Where’d he get that? He nods.

“Yes—like ‘one last round for old times’ sake.’ I can’t do it.” Damn, he’s beaten himself up worse than I could ever do it. I nod.

“Okay,” I respond. “May I just kiss you, then?” He looks at me tentatively, his eyes a piercing silver-gray, then he nods. I climb back up his body, allowing my naked sex to touch his. He gasps, but doesn’t take his eyes off mine. I take his face in both my hands before kissing him softly. His breath is short and soft as I kiss him again, and again. I can feel the heat rising in his body, and I press my tongue to his lips. He grants me entry and I caress his tongue deliciously with mine. His breath is heavier, but he won’t touch me. As I work my way to his ears, his neck and his chest, I notice that his hands are flat on the bed next to him.

He’s resisting me. Let’s see how long that lasts.

I can feel his erection rising hot and hard as I slide down his body. His breath is quickening again and I think of something that I told him a few days ago…

It’s the emotion. You’re loving me with your dick and with your soul. Your dick knows the difference.

My lips get to his stomach and the head invites me to kiss, so I do. I kiss gently down the underside of his penis and back up again and softly lick the frenelum before I gently suck just the hood into my mouth. He hisses loudly and instinctively raise his hips to meet my mouth. I seize the opportunity and pull his shorts and boxer briefs from his hips before he drops them back on the bed in an unsuccessful attempt to halt my progress. I think I hear him protesting, but I still have his head in my mouth as I quickly work his bottoms off with my hands and then my feet.

I release the head and slowly run my tongue over his balls. His fists clench as he grabs the sheets and his dick starts to rise from his body and stand up. I continue to lick then move my tongue up to the base of his shaft. The move causes his erection to jerk about a bit and he takes in two quick breaths, releasing them with an almost inaudible grunt as a small bit of precum breaches the head of his dick. He is so ready.

I run my tongue up that magnificent creation again, peppering it with open-mouthed kisses to match Christian’s open-mouthed breathing. I finally take the head in my mouth once more and caress it with my lips and tongue. His head falls back and his look is mournful as his thigh muscles tighten. I quickly climb back on top of him and slide down his erection. He gasps and groans, his body bucking a bit before he protests my stroke without touching me.

“Ana… Baby, no… please…” His eyes are full of need and lust, and fear.

“Are you going to deny me, Christian?” I breathe, rising higher and higher as I ride him. He’s doing his best to resist, but I feel him growing inside me.

“No,” he pants, “No, Baby… I won’t.”

“Good,” I groan as I roll my hips to feel him on all walls. “Oh, God,” I moan as he fills me. Fuck, he feels so good. I look down at him and he is gritting his teeth, almost like he’s in pain. His eyes are closed and his fists are gripping the sheets. He still won’t even touch me. To test my theory, I plant my hands on his chest and dig my nails in. His lips part with a fierce tremble before his tongue caresses his top lip in ecstasy. Enough of this shit.

“Look at me!” I command him. His eyes shoot open and meet mine immediately. “Rip it off of me.” His pupils dilate as my command has broken his concentration. He pushes his hips up into me once and exhales sharply, but his hands are still gripping those fucking sheets! I glare into his piercing gray eyes and dig my nails into his chest again. He gasps loudly, thrusts again and nearly tears the sheets.

“Rip. It. Off. Of. Me!” I growl. His glare changes and he releases the sheets. Grabbing the dress at the hem, he grips it like he just had the sheets and rips. The dress rips like paper towel in his hands and threatens to protest when the material reaches the elastic in the waistband, but it’s no match for a horny Christian Grey. He adjusts his grip and turns that thing into a useless blue and white scrap of material. My breast spring free and he captures them in his hands immediately. The feel of his hands on my skin ignites me further.

“Mmmmm!” I groan as I roll harder on him. He matches my groan with one of his own as his hips rise to meet mine. Fuck, this is so good! I look down at him and he is lost in what he is feeling. His mouth is open and his hands are holding sensually onto my breasts, like he’s memorizing the feel of them in his hands. His hips rise and fall fractionally to meet my thrusts and rolls. It feels good to him, but he’s committing it to memory. I know my man. I roll harder to break his concentration, but it backfires. His dick swells inside of me and I feel it hitting every part of my pussy—every part!

“Christian!” I squeal as my body erupts into orgasm. My nails dig into his chest for support as my arms tremble and my body quakes, my core pulsing with pleasure around his rod. I hear his teeth grinding and I keep pumping as I ride out my orgasm, using his hard body and dick to make it last as long as possible. It’s hard to keep moving when it finally wanes, but I do because I feel him thumping inside of me—aching to release. I lean down to him and bring my mouth to his ear. He wraps his arms around me and continues short thrusts to match my hip rolls.

“I belong to you,” I tell him before licking the shell of his ear. He takes in a deep breath and holds it, replacing his arms with his hands on my back.

“I am Mrs. Grey. I am yours.” His hands are tight on my back now and he is matching every hip roll with a short thrust and withdraw.

“You… only you, Christian…” I breathe as I feel myself rising again. I grab his hair and press my lips against his again. He grabs my hips and allows them to roll over him as he matches the passion of my kiss. I roll and grind, roll and grind, roll and grind until I feel the pleasure threatening to release again.

“Fuck,” he whispers against my lips. “Yes, Baby, yes. Fuck me. Yes, Baby.” The grind and friction is so good that he instinctively takes over, stroking from all directions and grasping my hips while he controls the variation and intensity of the strokes.

“My God, Christian,” I whimper and he is now in control of where we are going. I relent and let him drive as he moves my body and sexes me from the bottom from all directions. He slides me a bit to the left, holds up my right knee and drills up into me from that angle. Then changes over to the right side and the left knee and repeats. He finally positions me back on top and center and he is masterfully driving me from all directions.

If I could see my pussy lips right now, I’m sure that they would be wrapped around his cock, sucking feverishly as if they were attached to my mouth as he shifts and slides, going in and out of my from several directions—round and round, in and out, up and down. My clit is my tongue, licking hot and hard up and down his hard shaft, tasting our combined juices. My pussy spits on him as he grips my ass, controlling this astronomical stroke as he declares how wet and tight it is. The tremble starts again and I feel it in my whole body, even my lips—both sets.

The tingle starts in my feet and my core. He never changes the stroke… round and round, left and right, in and out and he’s still gripping my ass, guiding me down onto his thickening erection on this stroke and holding me still while he drives me on that one. I can’t even think, it feels so good. The tingle moves up my legs and into my thighs. I whimper a bit as it intensifies in my core. My fingers are in his hair now and I am panting wildly, as is he. Neither of us says anything; we are both lost in this stroke. His hands tighten on my ass a bit, but he still doesn’t change his stroke… roll and guide, roll and guide.

The tingle quickly climbs up my thighs, into my pelvis and meets the one in my core, sparking a ginormous flame and causing an incredible burn. I bury my face in his neck and scream through the inferno as my lips and clit continue to suck and lick his dick. Merciful heavens, I’m going to combust and incinerate! I grip his hair as my pussy pulses magnificently through this orgasm. His stroke changes only minutely as he draws me out and begins to grunt, no doubt feeling his own orgasm on the rise. I burn through the eternal climax, still grasping his hair as I ride out delicious mini-gasms and after shocks while he continues to roll and guide.

A few minutes later, he is grunting loudly, fighting to keep the pace he has maintained throughout before he follows my lead and buries his face in my neck. He cries out into my hair, still stroking and now digging his fingers into my ass meat, sparking me into more delicious aftershocks. I whimper and surrender to his grasp and strength as he now grunts loudly with each stroke, pushing his undoubtedly tender head into my core and against my still-throbbing vaginal walls and squirting with each thrust. His eyes are screwed shut and he’s drawing out each debilitating drop of cum from himself. It must be agony at this point. He releases his eyes but doesn’t open them as one hand travels up my back and his fingers sink into the opposite shoulder, holding me against him so that I can’t move. The other hand is still guiding my hips.

“Please tell me this is make-up sex,” he pants.

“This is make-up sex,” I wheeze.

“Good,” and he’s kissing me… hungry… nasty… and even though we both just came, he doesn’t stop stroking. With me on top, one hand fiercely gripping my hair, the other gripping my ass and masterfully guiding my hips as he devours my mouth with his, he is fucking me again… and again… and again…


CHRISTIAN

“I don’t know what to do, Baby.” We have fucked for hours. I have no idea what time it is or how many meals we’ve missed. We are lying in the bed on top of the covers and sheets, naked as the day we were born. She’s in my arms and we are gently caressing each other’s skin. We are in a perfect little cocoon of sensual exhaustion and soreness as I broach this important topic.

“What to do about what?” she asks.

“About my thoughts, my reactions… I thought I was getting better. These things are in my nature—they seem so normal to me, but they’re not. When I turn into the possessive jungle man or the control freak who waves his hand and people get followed, these are things that I’ve done all of my adult life. I hold lives in my hands—thousands of them. One wrong move and a factory shuts down in a small town somewhere. With it goes that town’s economy and all of the jobs that sustained the community. That’s a lot of power for one man to have and I know that, but whenever I make these decisions that I have made for years, you end up getting hurt. I don’t want that. I don’t want to lose you, but I don’t know what to do.” She sighs.

“’With great power comes great responsibility,’” she says. “It’s not just you anymore, Christian. You have to find a way. You have to understand that your action can, do, and always will affect me in some way because I’m your wife now. We are one person and it’s just that simple. This means that you have to think before you act. This means that you have to consider the consequences of your actions before you take them. You’re a master at separating your business life from your personal life. I’ve seen you do it, but when it comes down to something that you want or need, they blend. The lines become blurred and you’re Mr. CEO all over again. You can’t be Mr. CEO with me. You’re Christian. You’re my husband, and you have to think before you act.

“No amount of therapy is going to correct this, Baby. You have to just know before you make a decision how far-reaching the consequences are. This is inbred in you. You’ve been this person for years. You’ve functioned all of this time as a loner. You’re not a loner anymore. There’s another part of you now that feels what you feel and wants what you want. She’s also affected by most of what you do and say, and that means that you need to change your way of thinking. Sure, you can talk about this until your face turns blue, but until you take the necessary actions and make the necessary moves to make the changes in your personality and decision-making processes, all that talk is just that—nothing but talk. It’s going to take thinking before you act, burying those impulses that could have disastrous outcomes, and truly understanding what can come from your decisions. It’s going to take some practice and you’re going to fuck up some more. As long as I can see that you are trying, I can wait, but I can’t keep going on and on with you refusing to see what your actions do to me.”

“It’s not that I refuse to see, Baby,” I tell her. “Sometimes, I just can’t see until it’s too late.”

“Then that’s something else that you need to fix,” she responds. “You see, to you, ‘too late’ means it’s already been done and you can’t take it back. To me, ‘too late’ means I’m tired of this and I can’t take it anymore. When you do something, it’s big. You don’t know how to go small. You ‘go big or go home.’ You’ve got to find a way to curb that urge to act before you think. It’s the only way, Christian. There’s only so much that I can overlook.” Shit, I better find a way to put a leash on this or I’m going to lose my wife. She says therapy won’t help. I have to talk to someone… but who?

“I promise, Baby, I’ll work on it.”

“I appreciate that, Christian, and I’m glad that you said you would work on it instead of saying you would never do it again or you would fix it, because we both know that it’s not that easy. Make no mistake, I’m still going to give you hell when you fuck up, but as long as I can see you trying and consistently improving, that’s all I can ask… and no more of this spying on me shit. That’s a deal-breaker. If you can’t trust me, then we don’t need to be together.”

Well, that’s the last thing in the world that I want to hear.

“No more spying, I swear,” and I mean it. “Just don’t go all supernova if you end up with covert surveillance or another person on your personal protection team. I wasn’t kidding when I said that you are a billionairess now and you have to be careful.” She nods.

“I understand. You work with me and I’ll work with you. Deal?” She looks at me with guileless blue eyes.

“Deal.” I lean over and kiss her gently on the lips.

“Why didn’t you want to come?” she asks while we start to caress each other again.

“What?”

“Why didn’t you want to come? I know your body just like you know mine. I know that you were ready to come just after the first time that I came, but you resisted. Why?” I have to think about that. That was at least six combined orgasms ago.

“If… I was losing you, if you were leaving me, I didn’t want that to be the memory of my last orgasm inside of you.” It’s the truth. She frowns.

“How can you possibly control something like that?” she asks. “I could walk outside and get hit by a bus! How can you possibly control what orgasm will be the last?”

“You can’t, that’s why you have to make each one count—make each one astronomical. That way, no matter which one is the last, it will always be a great memory.” She shakes her head.

“That’s sweet and morbid at the same time,” she says, her brow furrowed.

“Don’t try to figure it out,” I say. “For a long time, sex was as close to affection as I ever got—rough, hard, and fast. No emotion, no making love and holding each other, no kissing and gazing into anyone’s eyes… just the act of mating without reproducing. Clinical, mechanical, necessary. When and if I ever think of my past subs, I only think of them in terms of how their contracts ended. There are no playroom sessions that stand out in my mind which is why I only used the cameras once. The result was pretty disastrous and I never wanted to use them again…”

“What happened?” I shake my head.

“Don’t ask,” I tell her. It’s something that I’ll never talk about because it was terrible even to me. “It’s something that I try very hard to forget and I don’t want to talk about it. Let’s just say that it’s one of the only times that I ever questioned being a Dom.” She looks at me and shivers.

“That’s serious,” she says, waiting for a reaction. Not receiving one, she says, “Okay, I won’t ask.” I twist my lips and continue.

“I never wanted to remember anything—remember what anything felt like—until I met you. Before you, it was release, relax, and continue with life. Now, I don’t want to blink, because I might miss something.” She smiles a small smile.

“I love you, Christian,” she says softly.

“I love you, too, Butterfly.” She snuggles into me. “You safeworded.” I feel her freeze in my arms, then take a deep breath.

“Yes,” she says, her voice small like a child.

“I hoped I would never hear that from you,” I admit. “I made it my business to never push you to safeword. Even that brutal session in Anguilla, you never safeworded. I suspended you in a corset and fucked you from every angle and you never safeworded. I’ve flogged you, spanked you, clamped you, driven you to forced orgasms…” I close my eyes for a moment. Hearing those things out loud are a bit overwhelming, but still she never safeworded. That moment was horrible for me. Something that I did to her caused her to safeword, not once, but repeatedly. We both lay there silently for several moments. I think we are both trying to figure out what to say next.

“I had reached my limit,” she says, breaking the silence with a soft voice. “I couldn’t take anymore and I needed it to stop.” I look into her eyes and she looks sad. I pull her closer into my arms and kiss her forehead.

“I’m sorry, Baby,” I tell her. “I’m so, so sorry.” I don’t know what else to say. I throw my arm over my eyes and for a brief moment, I wish I could just disappear.

“Sit up,” she says, rising to her knees. I move my arms from my eyes.

“Huh?”

“Sit up.” I follow her instruction and sit up. “Straight. Get comfortable.” Okay, I cross my legs in front of me and sit comfortably. She immediately crawls into my lap, facing me.

Whoa. This could get hot… or not. It could just get intimate.

She wraps her legs around me and they fall on the bed behind me. Then she wraps her arms around me under my arms so that her hands are at the small of my back. I feel her tiny hands caressing me there. I don’t think she has ever caressed me in the small of my back. Has she ever even touched me there? I don’t know. I don’t remember.

Her eyes lock on mine and she examines me, like she’s looking through me. I can’t look away, not that a want to. I see my whole life in her eyes, my entire future…

Our home…
Our children…
Our families…

All of my success and fortunes have brought me to this point, and they are nothing without her.

I instinctively wrap my arms around her and put my hands in the same place on her as hers are on me. I just hold her there. I don’t move my hands. Her breath quickens a bit and she closes her eyes. Bringing her face to mine, she gently caresses my nose with hers. I’m feeling comfort and safety in her arms, so I close my eyes and concentrate on every part of our bodies that is touching. She turns her head and gently rubs her cheek against mine, and again, I’m finding it hard to breathe. She caresses every part of my face with every part of hers, except her lips. Her skin touches every part of my skin—my ears, my eyelids, my chin—but she never kisses me and she never breaks our embrace… and she doesn’t speak.

I’m kind of loopy and dizzy again, drunk on the closeness and the intimacy. This feeling that she evokes from me—connected, but not aroused… not sexual in any way—I don’t know where it comes from. I’ve never felt like this before in my life with anyone else, ever! I can’t explain it. It’s like there’s a common thread between us, holding us together by… what? I don’t know. Our hearts? Our souls? Our minds? All of them? What?

I’m only semi-conscious of the fact that we are rocking in sync again, and I know that whatever this is, it’s bigger than I am. I don’t know how she takes me here, what she does to get us to this point. All I know is that this is one of the times in our relationship where I have to let her lead, because I don’t know the steps to this dance. I’m floating in comfort and I don’t dare open my eyes for fear that I may wake up from this beautiful dream. I’m finding it easier to breathe now, but my body feels heavy, like I could fall asleep… or not…

When I come back to myself, I am lying on Butterfly’s shoulder and she is lying on mine. Our bodies are still in motion. We are still entwined in one another, still sitting in the middle of the bed. Did I actually fall asleep? I don’t move, but I do wonder what brought me out of my Nirvanic state in Butterfly’s arms. I get my answer when I hear knocking at one of the far doors of the villa.

“We should answer that,” she says, not moving her head from my shoulder.

“Um-hmm,” I respond, still rocking with her. We’ve only done this twice and I hardly remember the last time—only the intensity of it—but I love when we do this. We connect on a level that I can’t explain. It’s soothing and reassuring. It truly makes us one person.

And there’s that damn knock again. Butterfly sighs.

“Jason’s clearing his throat, Christian,” she says softly. I frown. What does she mean?

“Hmm?” I say, still rocking and trying not to break our bubble.

“That’s Jason. He’s clearing his throat.” It takes only a moment for me to realize what she’s saying. When Jason’s walking into the great room at Escala and we’re making out, he clears his throat when he has to tell me something. We’ve been in this room all day at the very least. We haven’t even emerged to eat. He knows that we’ve been fucking… and he’s knocking.

Jason’s clearing his throat.


A/N: I’m having horrible writer’s block while trying to get this story finished. Luckily, you guys know that I write a few chapters in advance, so I have a few already done. If the story falls dead in the water after those chapters are done, you’ll know why. Sorry...

Don’t forget to check out the Pinterest boards to follow Christian and Ana on the honeymoon. https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/mending-dr-steele-off-to-greece/

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Love and Handcuffs!
Lynn x