Mending Dr. Steele: Chapter 77—This and That

Many of you already know that I have had a death very close to me on Tuesday. The service is this Friday, so it is very likely that I will not be posting next week. Thank you all for your condolences and well wishes. It’s extremely hard dealing with this, but your concern and kind gestures mean a lot to me. 

There are three 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 77—This and That

ANASTASIA

This week has been insane. I should have been in Greece, celebrating the last week of my honeymoon. Instead, I’m here, debating whether I should watch any more of David’s trial. Christian only made love to me once last night, but it was enough. It was cleansing and healing and I was contentedly tuckered out once it was done. I’m torn about what I want to do with my day since Christian opted to go into the office for some small catastrophe that seems to be brewing there. I’m not due back into the office until next week or even into Helping Hands. I haven’t talked to any of my friends besides Al. They’ve all decided to let me deal with the David situation in peace, although “all hands” are near their telephones and at the ready if I call. No one knows that I’m pregnant yet besides Jason and Al, most likely Gail. Even though I haven’t told Marilyn yet, she’s probably onto me, too, since she bought the tests.

We’ve decided to host a dinner party here tomorrow night and tell everybody about the babies. It’s kind of hard to get everyone to change their Saturday night plans, but I think they may all be feeling a bit sympathetic for me right now. Most of the Scooby Gang was on the edge of their seats, knowing that they will be allowed back into the penthouse. It’s not that they are chomping at the bit to get here. It’s just that Christian was in no great hurry to allow them back into his home after the Great Montana Escape. Sometimes it’s hard to keep all of the events of my life straight, but I really want the announcement of my babies to be a joyous occasion.

Maxie is five months now and she and Phil are having a great time planning for the birth of their baby girl. I wonder if I’m having boys or girls. I’m going to need all the help I can get from Maxie and Mandy when it comes time for the beans to be born. Wait until they find out we’re having twins! Christian fainted. Daddy just might faint, too.

Oh, and little Harry is going to grow up with my babies! My baby brother and my babies—it’s both strange and glorious at the same time. This is the first time that I’ve given any thought to being a stay-at-home mom. I’ll have twins. Will I really be able to work outside of the home with twin babies? Christian and I both agree that we don’t want our babies raised by a nanny, but I will need some kind of help with two babies. How will we go about securing someone to help raise our children? Who could I possibly trust?

“You look a million miles away,” Gail says as she comes from the utility room with a basket of linen. Gail! Of course! Except… maybe she doesn’t want to be responsible for helping with the babies. “Ana?” she says, trying to get my attention. My hands fly to my forehead.

“Please tell me you already know about the babies,” I blurt out all in one breath. If she didn’t before, she does now.

“Yes,” she says, her voice rising at the end of the word like a question.

“Good… because…” Oh shit. How do I do this? Do I just spit it out? This is a lot to spring on someone. Excuse me, I know you’ve only known me for a year, but could you please help me raise my children?

“Ana, what is it?” she says, noting my obvious reluctance.

“I’m… going to need help. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t know if I’m going to stay home or go back to work… I’m going to have two babies… two! I’m going to need help. Are you… will you…?” I can’t get the words out.

“Are you asking me to help with the children?” she asks for me. I don’t raise my eyes to hers. I don’t want to see horror there in case she thinks this is a terrible idea.

“Yes,” I breathe in a barely audible voice.

“Ana.” She sets the basket on one of the stools at the breakfast bar. “I thought that was a given.” I look up into her questioning eyes, my chest about to burst with gratitude.

“Oh, thank God!” I wheeze in one heavy sigh. I couldn’t assume that just because she worked for Christian that she would help raise the children. She’s a cook and housekeeper as far as I know, not a nanny—but I wouldn’t trust anyone else with my babies, especially not a stranger. I saw The Hand That Rocks the Cradle.

“You were worried about this?” she asks, taking my hands across the breakfast bar. I nod feverishly, fighting back the grateful tears. She laughs. “Ana, you’re going to have more help than you know what to do with. Wait until Grace finds out that you’re pregnant, the first Grey grandchildren… that I know of…”

“Yes, they are the first Grey grandchildren,” I confirm and she nods.

“You never know. With the stories I’ve heard through the grapevine about Elliot…” she raises an eyebrow at me. “Anyway, friends are going to be crawling over themselves to get to that baby. How has Maxine been, by the way? I know she was having a bit of a hard time the last time we saw her.” I nod.

“Yes. She wanted to conceal the fact that she was pregnant at my wedding, so I didn’t tell her that she was showing a bit. She and Phil are so concerned about carrying this baby to term. I feel a little guilty about announcing the pregnancy, but I can’t hold it in anymore!”

“And you shouldn’t have to!” Gail chides gently. “I understand that you don’t want to overshadow your friend’s moment, but you’re having your moment, too, and you deserve to share it with your friends.” I sigh.

“This is the first time the crew will be together in the penthouse since I ran off to Montana. It’s going to be tense.”

“It doesn’t have to be,” she says, sitting across the breakfast bar. “We’ll plan a fantastic dinner, and once people get a taste of that food and hear your announcement, no one will be concerned at all about who’s not speaking to whom. Now, let’s figure out what’s going to be on this menu…”

Gail and I spend the afternoon planning, prepping, and shopping before I go to my session with Ace. He asked me to come in a little earlier as he and Amber have dinner plans. I basically rehash my fears to him about the big bad world out to get my babies, and of course he comforts me without lying to me by telling me that everything is going to be alright. I’m still very nervous about bringing children into this world. I have no idea what kind of mother I will be and I’m still fighting with so many “whys” that may never be answered.

Why did my mother emotionally desert me when I needed her the most?
What kind of hatred and evil must be bred in you to make you want to beat, burn, and torture another human being?
What kind of person can take your undying love for granted one minute, then attempt to force you to love them the next?
Is there a farm somewhere that breeds child molesters and how many more of them are out there?
What’s worse, how do I protect my children from them?
How do I teach my daughters not to fall for the first man who says “I love you?”
How do I teach my sons that not all sex is good sex?
Why do all the bad guys seems to win—and what happened to the good guys? Did they all flee in fear or have they become the bad guys?

I married a good guy, thank God. He still needs some work and I’m certain there are some tough lessons in our future, but I love him with all my heart and I’m certain that he loves me. I’m glad my session with Ace was early, because I can’t wait to get home to see him.


CHRISTIAN

Now is not the time for things to be falling apart. Accounting has seen some strange footprints in some of our accounts and Barney has seen some even stranger algorithms in our network. I don’t know what’s going on and neither does he. From what he can tell, they are acting like Trojans in that no one–not even him–can pinpoint where they’re originating from or what their purpose is. Attempts to quarantine them have so far been unsuccessful, and Barney is attempting to uncover their origin and intent. This is very disturbing considering all of the safeguards that I have in place to protect GEH’s data, and the fact that our network should be effectively airtight, but someone has managed to get in.

Our more sensitive information is on a separate network, the likes of which the FBI and CIA haven’t even been able to obtain. Though trade secrets and much of my proprietary information are on this secret super network, my business network is normally as tight as Fort Knox, and the fact that there is some unknown anomaly working its way through my files does not make me happy.

When I got in this morning, Ros was tearing every department apart, trying to find out if someone has installed any unauthorized software that could have caused the tipping of the this massive line of dominos. She knows that all computers on the GEH network are set up so that no one can install software—authorized or unauthorized—unless it’s someone directly from the IT department. So if there was software installed, this was not one of our employees simply sitting at a terminal and downloading porn. This was some computer geek or professional who knows how to hack past our firewalls, encryptions, and passwords and install potentially dangerous malware on our systems. This of course makes me extremely nervous. These indications can be even more far-reaching than any of us can imagine… and we don’t even know where to start.

On the home front, we have decided to throw a massive dinner party at the penthouse tomorrow night where we plan to tell everyone about the babies. Everyone—this includes Ana’s friends, and I have to admit that I am in no hurry to see them or have them in my personal space. Except for Valerie, who I see every time the family gets together and Elliot brings her along, and Allen, who I see nearly every day, I haven’t seen her friends that often since Butterfly came back from Montana—except for the wedding, that is. I really haven’t seen them in their “mob cluster,” which is a whole lot different from dinner with Valerie at the Grey Manor or the many times I deal with Allen in the conference room and elsewhere. I don’t do well pretending to be cordial when I would much rather not be around you, so a lunchtime call to Dr. Baker was necessary to give me some pointers on how to play nice with the other kids.

Butterfly is probably on her way to her usual meeting with Ace as they normally meet later in the evening every Friday. She’s still talking about her fear of the world and her lack of faith in people, and there is one call that I must make before it gets too late to try to give her something to hold on to… I hope. I dial the number and put the phone on speaker.

“Herbert Larson,” he answers once the receptionist puts me through to his office.

“Larson, Christian Grey…”

“Yes, I know who it is. What can I do for you?” The conversation hasn’t even begun and he’s already on the defense. This is going to be fun… not!

“I’d really like to know why you’re offering Carly Madison-Perry a plea.” I say

“We’re not offering her a plea,” he says, in that cocky tone. “She has already taken the plea. She will testify against anybody that we bring to trial, including her ex-boyfriend, the cop’s brother, and the people who drove the getaway cars. It’s a done deal.”

“Of course she will! She was the ring-leader! She was the one that orchestrated this whole thing. She has the most to lose! Why would you choose to give her the plea? You’ve got the victim and the video…”

“Videos can be fuzzy and victims can misread circumstances due to the high emotion involved.”

“Misread circumstances??” I shout. “How the fuck can you misread a fucking brand on your back? I think that circumstance is pretty goddamn clear!”

“That’s exactly what I mean. She was held face down in the dirt while she was being branded. How does she know who branded her?”

“You’ve got the fucking video!” I scream, nearly shaking with rage.

“And now we’ve got an eyewitness,” he says smugly. He can’t be serious. He can’t seriously just wave this away like this.

“You’ve got to give me more than that,” I say, ready to reach through the phone and choke that smugness right out of his ass.

“Grey, unless you are counsel for the defense, I don’t have to give you anything. I don’t have to tell you a thing about this case.”

“You’re right,” I concur. “You don’t have to tell me a thing. Believe me when I say that I have the wherewithal to find out anything I want about this case down to the very last detail… except one. There’s one detail that only you can give me, and that’s the ‘why.’ Only you can tell me why the attorney general’s office would even consider giving this monstrous woman a plea of any kind.

“This is my wife, Larson, and she’s fragile. You’ve seen it for yourself. You saw her fall apart while she watched that video. You saw her shrink into a ball as they took pictures of her scars. You’ve only seen a fraction of what this has done to her, but I see it every day. Every day for more than 10 years, she’s had to live with this. She’s only just now beginning to fully put her life together from this nightmare.

“She’s strong, but fragile, and if you can’t give her something—something ­concrete to believe in about the whole thing, I’m afraid that it will change her and she will lose faith in mankind altogether. She already feels like the justice system is her enemy and not her friend. She has to have something. Give me something to give her. Please… tell me why.”

There’s silence on the phone for several moments and for the first time, I feel like I’m about to lose the stare game. The silence is deafening and I think his dislike for me is stronger than any fondness or sense of obligation that he may have for Butterfly. Just when I’m about to push the button for the speaker phone and give up, he speaks.

“She was there,” he says, and my hand is suspended over the end button. “She was present while the crime was being committed. She’s not the victim. She’s not a video that can be twisted to meet the needs of the defense. She’s not a recording of a dead person who can’t come back and corroborate her story. She’s the perpetrator, the head honcho. She can put us at the scene of the crime and tell us exactly what was going on… not as an onlooker; not as someone on the peripheral. She was front and center. She’s the best witness we could possibly hope for, and we can get charges to stick on the whole lot of them with her testimony. We had to offer her a deal to get her to turn, but I promise you that she won’t get away with what she did. She’ll get off easier than she would have if she had been convicted without the deal, but she won’t get off easy. Tell Ms. Steele—Mrs. Grey—that she won’t get off easy. The justice system won’t let her down this time.” I sigh heavily.

“Thank you, Mr. Larson,” I say, feeling a heavy weight lifting off my shoulders.

“You’re welcome, Mr. Grey,” he responds. “I’ll be in touch.” I thrust hands into my hair. Resting my elbows on my desk, I lament how I will possibly tell Butterfly that this plea may actually be a good thing. In order to catch all the mice, they have to go a little easier on the biggest rat. In essence, it’s the best course of action. In reality, it’s not making me feel one bit better and I don’t expect it to bring any comfort to her either.

How do I tell her?

I actually feel nauseous trying to sort out how I’m going to break this to her when I feel a hand on my shoulder. I jerk violently and look up into sad blue eyes. Oh, shit.

“How much did you hear?” I ask, frowning. I thought she went to see Ace…

“All of it,” she says, her voice shaking. “Hold me…”

With lightening speed, I snatch her into my arms and onto my lap, crushing her body against mine. My Butterfly. My baby…

Baby!

I loosen my grip on her a bit for fear that I may be hurting the babies. She grabs my face and kisses me hungrily, devouring my lips like she is dying of thirst and I am a tall, cool drink. God, the feelings she ignites in me—they’re intense and incredible. She moves her lips from my mouth to my cheek before brushing them over my temple and forehead.

“Every day,” she breathes. “Every day, you show me how much you love me.” She kisses my eyelids. “What would I do without you? How would I live?”

“You’ll never have to know,” I tell her, holding her close to me.

“Christian, I love you,” she says kissing me all over my face. “I love you so much… so, so much…” There’s nothing for me to say, nothing for me to do but sit here and let her kiss me. I feel her need, but I don’t know what to do. I lean back in my chair and surrender to her. The energy she’s emitting is powerful.

“I love you,” she says again as her lips meet mine. I feel her hands loosening my tie before she pulls it through my collar and off my neck. She unbuttons my top two buttons and reveals my neck. She kisses it gently while she continues to unbutton my shirt. I sit up and allow her to push it off my shoulders. This is still not enough skin for her, so she pulls my T-shirt out of my slacks and over my head, dropping it on the floor next to us. Her lips travel down my throat, across my chest, and down to my abdomen. Nothing is being neglected as she kisses her way all over and down my torso.

When she gets to my stomach, she undoes my belt and my shaft leaps to attention. I don’t know if this is her intention, but I can’t help it. The way she’s touching me, kissing me… her warmth against my skin, her energy flowing through me… I don’t stand a chance.

She places open-mouthed kisses across my pelvic bone as she unzips my pants. I hiss and grab the armrests as she kisses my erection through my boxer briefs.

“Baby,” I breathe. She’s driving me wild. I raise my hips as she tugs at my slacks and boxers, allowing her to slide them off my waist and down my legs. Seeing her purpose, I kick off my shoes and allow her to remove my socks with my pants and boxers. Once she removes them, she starts from my feet and kisses her way up my calves, up my thighs, and back to my throbbing shaft. I’m a panting fool by the time she kisses the head gently. It’s burning, needy, and dripping for her by the time she takes it softly in her mouth and rolls her tongue over the head.

“Ah! Baby!” I groan, trying to control myself.

“Touch me,” she says before taking me gently back into her mouth. I tangle my fingers in her hair, softly, like she’s kissing me, allowing her to move freely along my penis—which she does, masterfully. Her mouth is hot and wet and her stroke is slow and soft.

“Oh, Baby…” I groan, my head falling back onto my chair as she caresses me with her lips. She tightens her jaw and sucks a little harder, a little deeper, but still slow. I feel like she’s going to suck my soul right out of me. I rock my hips into her, slowly like her stroke, and she groans on my erection.

“Uuuuuuuuuuuggghhhh,” I moan. The feeling is exquisite, not carnal, but sensual, soft, hot… she’s making love to me with her mouth. She’s going to drive me insane. She clamps down just a little harder and now she’s stroking me from base to tip. The head of my shaft goes from her throat to her tongue to her lips, then back over the journey, over and over again, slowly… so slowly…

“My God…” I lament as she loves me, deep and hot with her magnificent mouth. I try not to thrust into her mouth, but I can’t take much more of this. Her hands grab my hips and she steadies herself, bobbing deep and slow on my sex.

“Uuugghhh, Baby!” I groan again, pushing myself into her mouth and matching her stroke. I watch her chestnut mane move up and down, my fingers tangled in the silky strands while holding them back off her face. “Ana… God, Ana…” My voice is tortured, and when she moans again on my sex, my head falls back on the seat and I groan a mournful cry. It won’t be long now. I’m squirming in my seat, unable to control myself another second. I slowly thrust into her mouth, matching her strokes and loving the warmth as much as it’s loving me.

“Baby… A… Ana…” I try to warn her, but she already knows. She thrusts down on my erection one last time and the moment I feel the muscles in her throat wrapped around my head, I explode hard in her mouth. My body stiffens and although I can feel my shaft throbbing in her mouth, the head is being squeezed and massaged relentless by the muscles in her throat. I sound like I’m crying and if I’m truthful, that’s exactly what I want to do. She has done some fantastic things to me with her lips, but she has never made love to me with her mouth. She has fucked me gloriously, teased me relentlessly, edged me mercilessly, and had me yowling to the moon like a wolf on more occasions than I can count, but this is the first time she has ever loved me with her mouth.

She’s right… my dick does know the difference.

I’m panting as she draws out my orgasm, fighting the urge to whimper and crawl into a little ball. I lose the battle against the whimpering, but manage not to curl up in the fetal position in my chair while she gently strokes my head with her lips and tongue, lovingly cleaning any remaining cum from my shaft. I groan in my chest as her tongue caresses my tender penis, slumping helplessly in my chair as she moves to my thighs, then up to my stomach and back up to my chest with tender kisses.

I slowly catch my breath as she crawls into my lap and kisses my neck again, sensually and softly, while she gently caresses my hair with her fingertips and wipes the tears that have escaped from my eyes and down my temples with her thumbs. I don’t know if those are real tears or just the result of squeezing my eyes together so tightly. Either way, she kisses where they have fallen, and I can still hear her whispering…

“I love you… I love you… I love you…”

*-*

She stared at me carnally all through dinner while we talked about what would happen tomorrow when we invited everyone over. I kept telling her to stop staring at me that way or we would never finish our dinner, at which time she undid my pants, crawled into my lap, lifted her skirt and made me make good on the promise right there at the dining table. We finished our dinner—after she reheated it—and then she mounted me on the sofa, on the stairs on our way to the bedroom, in the shower, in our bed… I don’t know what Ace said to her in their session, but she was absolutely voracious!!

She’s standing at the breakfast bar, putting some finishing touches on hors d’oeuvres in a floor-length royal blue chiffon halter dress with a beaded collar and a matching pair of Louboutins. Her hair is in a chignon with tendrils falling over her face, neck and back and the Chanel Café Society Broadway earrings and cuff bracelet make the simple ensemble look quite elegant… along with the way my Butterfly glides around the room, checking that everything is ready. I’m wearing simple black Armani with two buttons open on my collar. I step behind her and gently stroke her shoulders before replacing my fingers with my lips and kissing her gently.

“Are you nervous?” I ask.

“A little, but not really. I’m just not sure how everyone will react.”

“They’ll be thrilled, and if they’re not, I’ll throw them out.” She chuckles softly before turning around to face me. Her skin is always flawless, but she has added some color to her lips and eyes and just a touch to her cheeks. I brush my thumbs across her soft skin. She’s an absolute work of art.

“You look beautiful, as always,” I say, and my mouth literally waters. “I want to kiss you, but I don’t want to ruin your make-up.” She raises her eyebrow at me.

“You can kiss me here,” she says, tilting her head and exposing her beautiful neck. I envelop her in my arms and place open-mouthed kisses on her neck. She smells divine—I think Gucci again, maybe something else. Whatever it is, it’s making me want to devour her as she runs her fingers through my hair.

“Christian, stop,” she pants, and I quickly pull her back from me, her cheeks much rosier than they were moments ago.

“Are you alright, Mrs. Grey?” I ask, trying to hide my knowing tone. She takes a few deep breaths before answering.

“Yes,” she breathes, “but I wouldn’t last much longer.” She smooths the part of her hair that is in the chignon. I can’t help my smirk.

“Later, Baby,” I say with a wink.

“Promise?” she says, seductively while her teeth sink softly into a crimson lip.

Down, Greystone! That’s what I get for playing a game that I know she can win without even making a move. I snatch her against me and grind my growing erection into her while licking that crimson lip with just the tip of my tongue.

“You can count on it!” I hiss, holding her gaze for several seconds before releasing her quickly. Satisfied that I had trumped this particular hand, I adjust my pants and jacket and go to greet our arriving guests.

Allen and James are the first to arrive, of course. He greets me quickly and rushes over to Butterfly. I hear him tease her about her coloring and ask her if we had just finished “doing the nasty.” She blushes and I shake my head, turning to James.

“How have you been, Chris?” he says, shaking my hand.

“You know, some up, some down,” I say, offering him a beer. “This trial is mostly keeping us occupied, for lack of a better word. Of course, this fucker would time this shit right when we were on the last leg of our honeymoon. I’m sure he did it on purpose.” I take a swallow of my Budvar while he pops his open.

“It’s still going on? I thought it was done.” he asks, taking a swallow of his own beer.

“The testimony ended yesterday, I think, right after that asshole put on the performance of his lifetime—or so I’m told. I’ve watched just about everything from the delayed feed, but I’d seen enough when he started talking about Butterfly like some common street-walker. It was only going to get worse, and I don’t want anything to prevent him from getting exactly what he deserves. So I stopped listening and I’ll wait for the verdict.”

“And then what?” James asks.

“When the jury finds him guilty, Butterfly and I will most likely have a celebration of our late wedding present. If they are complete and total idiots and they find him not guilty, well… if you don’t know, you can’t testify in court against me.” He frowns.

“You’re not serious,” he says.

“James, that is the woman who I love with every fiber of my being, and it’s best that we change this subject. There’s something that I want to ask you anyway. I’ve never talked about your specific expertise, but I want to know if you can help me with something going on at GEH…”

I explain to him how we can see that someone is tiptoeing around in the GEH network, but we can’t see who it is or how they got in. We also can’t see if they are actually trying to do something or if they are just looking for something to use. The problem with that is that without knowing their purpose, we don’t exactly know what to do about it. He asks if we have just tried denying access to this person or virus—we have. Since we are having a hell of a time pinpointing exactly where it’s coming from, we’re having a hard time tracking down who to quarantine, so to speak—not impossible, since we’ve thrown up a wall here and there, but hard since every time we throw up one wall, we see this monster somewhere else.

He explains that it could be something extremely serious or extremely simple—simple in that someone on the inside with the slightest bit of extra IT knowledge could have located a weak link the company’s local network portal. It’s not hard to bypass a weak link in security from the inside by simply making a small alteration to the URL of the portal that will allow the user to enter certain documents on the portal as a completely different person. It’s kind of like a ghost running around in the machine. The question is what is the ghost trying to do? Are they trying to bypass some protocols to try to get things done a little faster? Are they looking for information on the company and if so, what do they plan to do with it? Are they inside the company just looking for an advantage or outside looking to destroy the company from within?

Whichever it is, this backdoor is basically hidden in the matrix of the system, and it would take someone with slightly above-average IT skills to find it, let alone know how to use it. What’s more, without combing through every line of code and checking every user on the system against the signature from the “ghost,” the only other way of finding out the location of this “open door” is to ask the user who is utilizing it. In short, it’s not impossible to find, but it would take a damn long time and a lot of work if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for…

…Which is basically exactly the same thing Barney said. So, I’m back at square one.

“We don’t know if this is harmless, or if someone is somehow trying to break into GEH’s computer system. They can bring the whole company down,” I tell him.

“Do you have an offsite backup?” he asks.

“Of course we do, but we can’t tell how long this has been out there. Without knowing, we don’t know if we’ve already backed up the back door, so to speak.”

“Have you seen anything come from this?” I shake my head.

“Not yet. The anomalies began in accounting, which really scared me since we’re talking about the money. So far, nothing seems amiss, but if someone in accounting is doing something shady, no doubt they would know how to cover their tracks with the financial statements. An inside crook in the accounting department with advanced IT knowledge…” I visually shudder thinking about the damage that can be caused by such an individual.

“Or an outside crook with advanced IT knowledge and first-hand knowledge of your financials—that’s even worse.” Thanks, James. That makes me feel so much better. “I’d say start with IT and security, then move to accounting and legal. Those are the usual suspects.”

Shit. Legal. I was fucking hoping that he wouldn’t say that.

“Could this be something that someone on the inside put in place so that they could access it from the outside… I mean, without direct access to the network? You know, like putting something in the door so that it doesn’t lock and they can get in later.” I ask. He does that back and forth nodding thing.

“Kind of, yes, but it’s more like grabbing an access code to a door that they never should have had access to in the first place, and then using that access code to get back into the door after they’ve been locked out of the building. If the door didn’t lock, you’d have all kind of vermin in there. It doesn’t sound like that’s what you have. It sounds like you have a specific rodent with access to a door that is quite locked—you just don’t know who he is or how he’s getting in.” I sigh. Again, he has hit the nail on the head, but hasn’t gotten me any closer to figuring out who it is or what to do about it. “I’m sure you have an exceptional IT team, Chris, but without looking at the code and the culprit, I can only tell you what your guys have probably already said to you.” I nod.

“The difference is that you told me with minimal information and without looking at my systems. What do I need to do to get you to come and look at it for me? I’ll contract you or your company and pay your fees so that everything is on the up and up. I actually prefer it that way, because I have a feeling that if I think is happening actually is happening, there are going to be some heads rolling and some criminal prosecution involved.” He nods.

“I’ll let the boss know that we have a new client. When do you want me to take a look at it?”

“As soon as possible. Is Monday too soon?”

And just like that, I have another IT pro looking into what could be going on with my company’s computer system. Best case scenario, there’s some dork somewhere playing war games somehow on my dime that’s about to find himself unemployed or scared shitless. Worst case scenario, somebody somewhere is trying to bring me down. I don’t really like either of these or any of the possibilities in between.

I try to put these worries aside for one night and focus on the happy news that we plan on sharing with the family. Butterfly has loosened up a bit and she and Al are laughing over at the dining table. The apartment is starting to fill with Marilyn and Gary arriving next, then my family with Elliot and Valerie shortly thereafter. By the time everyone arrives, there are 19 people mulling around the penthouse, including Pops and Uncle Herman—well, 18 ½ as Little Harry is also in attendance and the women are all just fawning over him.

Butterfly smiles widely as she watches her brother get passed from arm to arm. He’s not as fussy as he was as a very newborn. At 8 ½ weeks, he has become accustomed to being the center of attention. Butterfly watches attentively as each person coos over her baby brother, so much so that Valerie notices and quietly asks her what the deal is. Time to rescue my wife.

“Amanda,” I whisper to her. “Do you mind passing Harry over to Valerie? Ana’s had a pretty rough week and Valerie looks a bit like she’s grilling her.” Amanda looks over at Valerie and springs into action.

“Val, that dress is darling. Where did you get it?” Amanda says, turning her attention to Valerie.

“Oh!” Valerie’s attention is drawn from Butterfly to her dress. “I got it from this little boutique on Madison. You like it?”

“I love it! I’m trying to get my figure back and something that pretty just may be the motivation that I need.”

“Oh, they have wonderful things in there. I’m sure you’ll find something you like. Maybe we should go sometime…” And off they go talking about dresses and boutiques and whatever else, and she didn’t even have to use the baby. I swear she’s a master. I quickly move in next to Butterfly and kiss her neck.

“That was you, wasn’t it?” she asks.

“Yes, it was. You’re all dreamy over Harry and you were being a bit obvious, even holding your stomach every now and then. She was about to crack the case.” She shakes her head.

“Let’s just tell them,” she says. “The anticipation is killing me!”

“Nope. We agreed to tell them over dessert and they will just have to wait… and so will you.” I kiss her on her nose. “Did I tell you that you were beautiful?”

“Several times, but don’t let that stop you,” she says, with a smile.

“You’re stunning, and there are several unseemly things that I’d like to do to you,” I say low enough so that only she can hear me. When she gasps, I can see Valerie making her way back over to us. “Now, do that cute little giggle, and look at me with those sexy ‘fuck me’ eyes.” Catching on to my motive, she releases that giggle that does things to me and follows it with scorching “take me now” eyes that almost made me forget my purpose.

“Fuck! That’s good,” I whisper as I slip my arm around her waist and kiss her gently, so as not to smear her lipstick. “Now, follow me to the kitchen so that we can check on Gail and dinner, and I can talk down Athena’s spear, because it’s on its way up.” She giggles again. “And stop doing that,” I say as I take her hand and drag her away from the now gaping Valerie.

“That one was real,” she protests quietly as she follows me to the kitchen.

Dinner was quite delightful. We all caught up on what’s been happening over the last several weeks, carefully and purposely avoiding the events of David’s trial. Butterfly and I talked about how wonderful Paris and Greece were for the time that we did get to spend on our honeymoon. Elliot finished one of his biggest projects, and not a moment too soon since I’m sure we’re going to have him doing some work on our home. Gary got a promotion at City of Music just before the wedding, but decided to wait to tell everyone since the wedding was taking up everyone’s time and mind. Marilyn has now been promoted to Ana’s personal assistant, not just in word. That title comes with a pay raise and benefits, so this made her very happy.

Maxine and Phil are now starting to decorate the nursery for the arrival of their baby boy and they are very excited about that. Uncle Herman talks a little about what’s going on back home and with the house. Luckily, the family hasn’t given him any trouble about adhering to Pops’ wishes. Pops looks better than he did after the wedding—still tired and ill, unfortunately, but he’s getting some of his color back. We’ve changed his address with UNOS, and should they find a kidney for him, it will be shipped to Washington instead of Michigan. We all intend to be tested, which is something that I meant to do when I got back from my honeymoon. I’ll be sure to get that done next week.

Mia and Ethan are slowly beginning to work on their guest list and venues for their wedding and reception next September. That conversation takes forever and ever and ever. Harry manages to commandeer the conversation by announcing that since everyone else has eaten, he would like his dinner as well. Amanda is still quite modest about breastfeeding and chooses to feed in private, so off she goes to Butterfly’s office to feed Little Harry. I manage to steer the conversation over to Ray so as not to get locked into a conversation about the different shades of purple with Mia.

Ray tells us the ups and downs of being a new father again. He doesn’t really mind the late night feedings so much. He does as many of them as he can so that Amanda can sleep. She has the baby all day after all and still hasn’t decided to go back to work. His words and expressions are full of pride when he talks about his son. He talks about the small milestones Little Harry is experiencing at nearly 9 weeks, which aren’t many, but seem like the world when Ray talks about them. Ray is still talking about Little Harry when Amanda comes back into the dining room with the baby. Once she is seated, I look at Butterfly and we silently agree that it’s time to share our news.

“Well, let me say that we are very happy that you all could be here tonight,” I begin. “You all know that it’s been a rough week for Butterfly and even though we didn’t get to spend our final week in Greece, we’re glad that we could spend tonight with family and friends. Having said that,” I take Butterfly’s hand, “I need you each to know that you play a very special role in one or both of our lives, which is why we called you here tonight. Butterfly and I would like for you all to know… that we’re pregnant.” Valerie gasps at the end of the table.

“I knew it!” she nearly shrieks. “I knew it! I knew it I knew it!” she exclaims, clapping happily like a toddler. Expressions range from shock to utter delight.

“Get the fuck outta here!” Elliot says. “Oops, sorry Mom. I mean, wow dude, get the fuck outta here!” He rises from his chair and walks around the table, shaking my hand and embracing me. “Wow, that’s really something. Congratulations, Man!” Hugs and smiles fill the as each person congratulates us on the pregnancy. Mom cries a bit and talks about finally becoming a grandmother while Ray holds his daughter gently, silent tears streaming down his face as she attempts to soothe him. He’s happy for us, but I know that with one child making milestones as an infant and another about to become a mother, this all has to be very emotional for him. After several minutes, we are able to finally get everyone back in their seats for the rest of the news.

“So Ana, when are you due?” Amanda asks.

“February 13—I’m nearly 9 weeks, just like my baby brother,” she says with a smile. “We have the ultrasound picture if you guys would like to see it.”

“Oh, yes! Please!” Maxine says. We had copies made and passed out six copies to be passed around the table. All is quiet for a few moments until Uncle Herman breaks the silence.

“I’ve never known how to read these things,” he says, turning the picture around and around trying to get the right angle.

“I do,” my mother says in a stunned voice just above a whisper. She looks up from the picture and straight at Butterfly. “You’re having twins!” Butterfly smiles and nods coyly.

“Aaaaaahhhhh! This is fabulous!!” Mia shrieks and I have to scramble from my seat to avoid being attacked by a bunch of screeching women descending upon my wife. There is a cackling brood of happiness happening at my dining table and I just shrug to the other men looking at me.

“Twins. Man, I don’t envy you,” Ethan says with a laugh and a firm handshake.

“Yeah, keep it up, Asshole. Mia will tell you that she’s pregnant with triplets,” I say, returning his handshake. He shivers visibly.

“Not funny, Christian,” he says with a small frown.

“Not meant to be, Ethan,” I say, raising an eyebrow at my soon-to-be brother-in-law.

So even though the babies are a good seven months away, the ladies have already planned their first shopping spree. Butterfly has already told them that we won’t know the gender of the babies for several weeks, but that doesn’t sway them. These women are on a mission and there’s nothing to stop them. The babies Grey will be well stocked when they get here.

“Elliot, I’m kind of glad you finished that last big project because I’m looking to have another one for you very soon.”

“What, you’re looking to build a house?” he says sarcastically. I don’t answer. He cocks his head at me. “You are looking to build a house, aren’t you?” he says loud enough to silence the room. “I’m sorry… was that supposed to be a secret?”

“No, thank God!” I answer sarcastically. “We don’t know if we’re building new or building out on an existing one, but probably the latter.”

“Where?” Marilyn asks.

“Mercer Island,” Butterfly says, indicating to me that she would rather be on Mercer than in Medina. Gary whistles.

“Mercer Island… where the cheapest property value is still seven digits,” he says. “Near the water or inland?”

“Near the water,” I respond. He whistles again.

“Mercer Island near the water, where the property can get up to eight digits,” he says. “You have arrived, my friend. I only ask if I can visit and take an occasional picture on the lawn.” Butterfly laughs.

“Of course, but only on the lawn.” The rest of the room laughs.

“Do you have a decorator, yet, Jewel?”

“I don’t even have a house yet!” she says.

“Well, you can’t sleep on that kind of thing, you know. Those renovations won’t take nearly as long as the decorating.”

“You just can’t wait, can you?” she teases.

“You bet your sweet…” he looks around the room and adjusts accordingly. “Patootie!”


ANASTASIA

Last night went very well. Everyone was ecstatic about the babies and it was a welcome reprieve from the trial and all things David. I spent Sunday in Christian’s arms, talking about our future and planning for our babies. Just out of curiosity, we went on the internet and browsed what houses may be available on Mercer Island. The real estate agent he spoke to sent us some choices as well. We may have to speak to her more in detail about what we have in mind. No offense, but this is Christian Grey we’re talking about. Four to five bedrooms on the water can by no means translate into three bedrooms, two baths, inland. So why she sent us three properties on the water and seven inland—most with three bedrooms—we’ll never know.

Christian is a bit uptight about something going on with work, but he won’t discuss what it is. I wouldn’t have any clue about how he runs his business, but as time goes on, he’s going to have to let me in on it since I’m going to have some kind of stake in the business. If something happens to him—heaven forbid—it’s all going to be in my hands. I don’t want to be completely in the dark about what he does, even if nothing befalls him and he lives longer than I do.

I’m sitting in my office Monday after I have seen my patients and I can’t help wanting to know what the fucker said in court on Friday. I know that I shouldn’t care and that he painted me to be the worst bitch ever, but my morbid curiosity won’t allow me to stop thinking about it until I see it. Which is worse—the curiosity that killed the cat or the satisfaction that brought it back? Is it better not knowing or am I going to obsess over it until I see it?

I go to my Google bookmarks and click the link to the feed.

I didn’t bother watching the testimony of David’s “shrink” as he was never cleared by the prison and he doesn’t qualify as an impartial expert. Although his testimony could still sway a jury if he was convincing enough, it could only be offered as opinion, not evidence or fact. I can’t even begin to understand how David and Lady Smug could be so stupid as to let this idiot keep treating David if he could’ve upheld their claims after his first visit. I don’t know whether to chalk that faux pas up to arrogance or ignorance. And how could they not know that their expert witness had to be seeing him under the approval of the penal system? That’s what his whole defense is built on, and now his only defense is going to be his testimony… and I want to see it.

Like Tuesday was my day, Friday was David’s. He’s clean and shaven and someone brought him something for his hair. It’s beautiful and brown and wavy and, combined with the black suit and tie and the beautiful brown eyes, he looks every bit the handsome college student I fell in love with all those years ago… minus the shackles, that is.

It’s too bad he actually a sadistic monster.

He takes the stand and looks hopefully at his attorney. The man looks like he couldn’t—or wouldn’t—hurt a fly. When Lady Smug tells him to briefly describe his upbringing, that honey-smooth, mellow voice comes out and I can already see the net that he’s spreading to ensnare the jury:

“I come from a small town where everybody knows everybody else. I come from humble beginnings. I’m not one of those stories where Dad was an alcoholic and Mom ran off with another man. No. My parents were great. We didn’t have much, but we worked hard and we were proud. My father saved up for me to go to college. I always wanted to go to U-Dub and, thanks to my dad, I was able to go.”

“And what was college like for you, Edward?” He gets all starry-eyed and I immediately know what they are about to do. I brace myself for what I know if coming next.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said convincingly. “I was actually there… it was like a dream come true. I mean, I had hoped that I would make it, but I didn’t know for sure. My parents were so proud and I was astonished! I was determined to make good.”

“Did you have a girlfriend, Edward?”    

“Not immediately, no.” That’s because he was too busy making his rounds to commit to anybody. “I was too busy with my studies and trying not to let my parents down.”

“When did that change?”

“One night at a college party in one of the dorms. I was talking to my roommate… He was from Las Vegas!” He says the city like he’s so inexperienced and new. It’s all an act and it’s so bad that I’m hoping the jury can see through it just like I can. However, I can also see that he’s turning on that Edward-David-big-brown-eyed charm as I can see him occasionally looking in the direction of the jury with that smolder. I don’t know how effective it is because we can’t see the jury. Once again, it’s a good thing I wasn’t in the courtroom.

“He was telling me about this one girl there. She was really pretty and everybody knew her. She was at all of the parties…” Oh please! There was no way I could get to every dorm party thrown by U-Dub! I’d never get to class. “She was from Vegas, too. When she looked over at me, I was a goner.”

“Did you approach her or did she approach you?” Lady Smug asks.

“I approached her.” Oh, my gosh. Truth! It sounds so strange coming from his lips. “I wasn’t that experienced at the time, so it was a little intimidating, especially because she was so pretty.” And so much for the truth.

“Who was this girl, Edward?”

“Anastasia Steele.”

“Your Honor, please let the record show that Mr. David has referred to Anastasia Grey, whose maiden name is Anastasia Steele,” Lady Smug says.

“Duly noted,” Her Honor replies.

“When did you and Anastasia start dating?” Lady Smug asks.

David begins to paint this picture-perfect relationship of ours that couldn’t be any further from the truth. According to his description, I was the party girl that couldn’t be held down and he was the homebody that just wanted to love me. He admits to having affairs, but only after I would never come back home and he was starving for affection. According to his recollection, I caught him out with one of his girlfriends and he chased me from the restaurant trying to explain that he was only with her because I wasn’t around. He didn’t come home that night because he didn’t want to fight and when he got there, I had already put him out and changed the locks. Supposedly, I was the only one that he ever wanted to be with and those other women were just a balm to soothe his broken heart and aching soul.

“Oh, please!” I say out loud to the monitor. “You must be kidding!”

“Tell us about June 29, 2012.” Lady Smug says and he actually looks like he’s going to cry.

“I had reservations at Canlis,” he says. “She had finally decided to see me and I wanted to impress her. I bought a bottle of her favorite wine and planned a lovely dinner. I didn’t know I was being set up as the butt of their joke.”

Their joke?” Lady Smug asks.

“Her and Christian Grey,” he says. “I’m sitting there pouring my heart out, and he’s a few tables away from us watching the entire spectacle. I buy her a $100 bottle of wine and he sends a bottle of wine right to our table–$1500 I think it was, right in the middle of our dinner!” He looks down shaking his head. “Here I am trying to impress my girl and win her back and the rich as… guy just comes in and steals her away with a bottle of wine. She downed the thing and left. “

“I can imagine that must have been very hard on you.”

“To say the least! I was humiliated! I didn’t know what to say or do. I’m this idiot sitting at this romantic dinner alone and my date just got up and walked off with a suit!” He shakes his head.

“What did you do next?”

“There was nothing I could do. I paid the bill and left. I did go outside and look for her car since she had just drunk a whole bottle of wine by herself.”  I didn’t drink the whole bottle! I wanted to, but I didn’t! “I saw that her car was gone and I thought that it was incredibly stupid for her to drive home in her condition, so I went to her apartment to make sure she made it home okay.”

“And did she?” Lady Smug asks.

“Of course, she did. When I got there, she was getting out of her car with Grey. He had driven her home and one of his goons drove his car. He sat out in front of her apartment while they went inside.”

“What do you think happened, Edward?”

“I know what happened!” he snaps. “I was waiting for him to leave so that I could try to talk to Rosie. I waited for a long time, but his goon just drove off without him. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know what they were doing.”

“How did that make you feel?”

“Like shit,” he says, his voice full of remorse. “I loved Rosie. I couldn’t figure out why she got my hopes up if she was going to do this.” Several times, he looks over at the jury with those big, brown, puppy-dog eyes. Oh, good grief! Give me a break!

“Who’s Rosie?”

“Anastasia. That’s what I called her. Her middle name is Rose.”

“That’s very sweet,” Lady Smug says. “You still call her ‘Rosie.’”

“Old habits are hard to break.”  Yeah, like being a psychotic stalker.

“Did you get the chance to talk to Mrs. Grey?” Edward flinches again.

“Yes. The next day. Grey’s goon had come back and that’s how I knew Grey had spent the night. I waited for him to leave before I went up and tried to talk to Rosie. She answered the door practically naked and once we started talking, Grey came back and she kicked me out.”

“So that’s twice Christian Grey interrupted you while you were trying to talk to her.”

“That’s not all! He was there when she attacked me in the marketplace!”

I listened to David tell the story like I was the one with all the experience that led him astray—like he was this unseasoned hick from a little farm town in Nowheresville and I was pretty much the stripper-showgirl hopeful who ran away from Vegas to hide in Washington from my wild ways. To hear him tell it, not only was I the one who was in the streets all the time, causing him to search elsewhere for love, but I was the one that was responsible for his wild ways as he knew nothing of the wiles of life and women until he met me. Even if you did believe this crock of bull that he’s feeding the jury, he has said nothing that condones him kidnapping me.

“Tell us about Robert Harris,” Lady Smug says, and now I have to prepare myself for the worst. David sighs.

“I hate that I ever met that guy,” he says, and again, we have a splash of the truth. “He so made me think I was doing the right thing.”

“How so? I mean, you don’t deny that you took Mrs. Grey against her will. What led you to believe that you were doing the right thing?”

“He was going to hurt her… worse, anyway. I had no idea that he was going to do the things that he did and he waited until my back was turned.”

Okay, explain to me how you contradict yourself that badly in two sentences and not know it. First, you agreed with the plan because he was going to hurt me… worse, anyway by your description. In the next sentence, you had no idea he was going to do the things that he did? Maybe that’s part of your “crazy” defense. I listen more.

“I knew that he wanted revenge, but I thought he wanted money more. So I was sure that he wasn’t going to hurt her once we got her. He knew that I loved her and hurting her would mean that he wouldn’t get his money. I was in love with her and I did act rashly. I know that now even though at the time, I was completely brainwashed by that asshole. But I never would have allowed him to do any of the things to her that he did had I known he would still hurt her. He had me completely convinced that she would be grateful for me saving her from him and that gratitude would lead to us being reunited. He said that if I didn’t help him, he would kidnap her himself and hold her for ransom. The things that he said he would do to her, I couldn’t bear the thought of her going through that. I didn’t give a fuck about that asshole, Grey. Let him rot—cry his eyes out and die for all I care—but not my Rosie. I couldn’t let him do those things to my Rosie.”

“But why didn’t you just tell her? Why not just tell Mr. Grey or the police? Why kidnap her?”

“She had a restraining order against me!” He protests. “I couldn’t get within 1000 feet of her. I couldn’t call her or send her a text or an email. Harris told me that Grey’s Goon Squad had orders to shoot me if I breached the parameters of the restraining order, and he said he would kill her and me if I tried to contact the police.”

“So even though it would make you an accessory to the crime, you kidnapped her anyway to save her?” Lady Smug asks. David nods.

“I would rather have her alive and hating me than dead or hurt in any way. I thought that cuffing her to the bed would be enough humiliation to appease Harris, along with the fact that we knew Grey would be tearing his hair out trying to find her. I never thought he would beat her or hurt her while she was cuffed. She couldn’t do anything or defend herself. She couldn’t even go anywhere. I don’t know why he did that. He was a sadistic monster and I’m nothing like him. I swear to God, if I could take it all back, I would. There’s so many things that I would do differently. We never would have been in this situation in the first place. There would have been no other women, just Rosie. I can’t make up for those mistakes now, but I can say that with all my heart, I never meant for any of this to happen.”

“Where did you get the propofol, Edward?” she asks.

Harris got it. I don’t know where he got it from. I only used enough to make her woozy. He wanted to fill her up with the entire syringe. I know why he wanted to do that. That’s why I stayed with her until she woke up, where she could scream if she needed to. I had no intention of leaving her at the mercy of that monster.”

“Why did he want to use the entire syringe?”

“He wanted to rape her.” Oh, you mean like you? Or did you forget that I awoke to find you about to fuck my naked and unconscious body?

 “So you had reason to believe that Robert Harris wanted to harm Mrs. Grey?” She asks.

“Of course I did. He sought me out and laid out his entire plan to me. He was going to get money from Grey and from me, like Rosie was just a piece of meat.”

David describes their meeting in a café while he was doing one of his stakeouts. His explanation of how Christian and the team handles things is so frighteningly correct that I knew Harris had shared just about everything he knew. I knew that anyway when he called me Butterfly. I don’t know how much of what he is saying about their meeting and what Harris planned to do to me is correct, but that’s what he’s counting on. Harris is not here to defend himself against David’s claims, so David can say whatever he wants about this matter. If we didn’t have the video from across the street, he could have said the whole thing was orchestrated my Harris—that he was the one who drugged me and chained me to the bed and that David had no knowledge whatsoever of what was going on. He’s already making it seem like he was a bystander in all of this, but I don’t buy it. I was there. I saw it all, heard it all, felt it all. He was the mastermind behind this shit. Harris was just at the right place at the right time with the right provisions to help him pull it off. The question is… who is the jury going to believe?


A/N: Pictures of places, cars, fashion, etc. can be found at http://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/mending-dr-steele/

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Love and Handcuffs!
Lynn x

Mending Dr. Steele: Chapter 76—Why So Serious?

There are four 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 76—Why So Serious?

CHRISTIAN

I’m pondering our recent discovery over breakfast on Thursday. So now we know where the tits and ass are coming from. Ana’s pregnant! With twins! Hot damn! I can’t wait to tell Mom and Dad. We’re having a baby! Two babies! I can see Mom turning into a tearful ball of mush and crushing Butterfly in her arms. Not too tight, Mom. You don’t want to squish the babies. Dad will give me that manly pat on my back and shake my hand like I really did some hard work. I had the easy part, Dad. All I had to do was make love to the most beautiful woman in the world.

We’ll have one of his gold label cigars and he’ll break out a 50-year-old brandy or something. Uncle Herman will probably join us, and Elliot if he’s there—maybe not Elliot. That last drinking spell seems to have completely soured him to alcohol. Maybe he’ll sit in and chat with us along with Pops, who will undoubtedly start telling me stories about when Dad and Uncle Herman were born. God, I’ll have to change my will and set up trust funds, start looking for schools, screen security that are trained in dealing with children. Twins… that means two car seats, which either means minivans or more custom Audis for when we all travel together.

Custom Audis it is.

I still can’t help wondering about the sex. Are they boys or girls? Little ballerinas or little football players? Little Anas or little Christians? Oh God, I can hardly wait to find out. Is it too early to start planning a nursery?

Shit! This is no place to raise a kid! Two kids! We need a house… like, right now! I haven’t approached Ana about moving to Mercer Island. Maybe I shouldn’t. The idea of being on an island again might give her the creeps. I should probably stick to looking at properties in Medina or Kirkland. I still don’t know how she would feel about moving to Bellevue. Escala is just not…

“You’re a million miles away.” Her voice breaks my inner rambling and she walks through the kitchen. Opening the refrigerator, she takes out the orange juice and fills a tall glass.

“I was just thinking about our talk in Greece. Now that the twins are coming, maybe we should start looking for a house.” She empties her glass of orange juice and pours another glass. “Slow down, Butterfly. You’re going to choke.” She rolls her eyes at me and puts the carton away before taking a swallow from the second glass of juice.

“Okay, where do you think we should look?” She sits across from me at the breakfast bar. “What about our places now? We each have an apartment and now a house… three places seem like a bit much. Maybe I should start looking to sell my condo.” I frown.

“You love your condo,” I say.

“Yes, I do, but three places in Washington? I’ve lived here for the last year and I’ve only used the condo for Food & Libations…”

“Yeah, about that,” I say adjusting in my seat. “You shouldn’t have to escape to your condo when you want to see your friends, so we’ll work something out with that, okay?” She smiles at me.

“Okay. So, we’re selling the condo?” I shrug.

“That’s completely up to you,” I tell her. “I really don’t think this is a seller’s market just yet and you do still have a mortgage on the property. That’s taken care of easily enough, but have you thought about leasing it out?” Now she frowns.

“I don’t know. I mean, anybody that I would trust to stay in my condo already has a place of their own. Besides, I don’t want to be a landlord.”

“We can hire people for that, Dear. They’re called property management companies.” She shrugs.

“Let’s find a house first,” she says. “Then I’ll decide if I want to sell it or lease it out.”  Okay, now the million dollar question.

“Did you want to stay in the city or move to the suburbs?” I ask.

“With two babies on the way? Suburbs! Definitely!” She drinks her juice again.

“Kind of populated, like neighborhoods, or spaced out?” She looks at me sideways.

“You already have somewhere in mind,” she says. Busted!

“I was thinking Medina or Mercer Island, maybe even Bellevue or Kirkland.” She makes that consideration face.

“Medina, with the Gates’ huh?” she asks. I smirk and nod. “Mercer Island would be nice, too.” Bingo! “It’s about the same distance from Kent as Seattle and it’s closer to Bellevue. Medina would be about the same. Both are pretty exclusive, like I know you want. No offense to your parents, but I don’t want to move to Bellevue and I don’t want to be anywhere near where the Pedo-Bitch lived, so Kirkland is out.”

“Okay, so it’s Medina or Mercer Island,” my first two choices! I pull out my blackberry and start taking some notes. “We’ll have to find a real estate agent,” I tell her.

“I’m sure you can do that easily, or ask Grace if she knows someone.” I nod and type some more.

“How many bedrooms?” She twists her lips in thought.

“Four or five?” she says, questioning.

“That’s all?” What about all the space we’re accustomed to?

“I’m not carrying a baseball team here. They’re just twins,” she reminds me. I nod. She’s right. We can have as many other rooms as we like. In fact…”

“Do we want to look at something pre-owned or build from the ground up?” I ask.

“Let’s see what’s out there first. If we can’t find anything, we’ll build. We can always find something that has the bare bones that we like and renovate, as long as we have the land.”

“So we definitely want something with a lot of land… near the water?”

“Oh, yes!” she emphasizes. “Definitely near the water.” I nod and take more notes.

“Bathrooms?”

“As long as I have a private en suite with his and her sinks and a full main bath on the first floor, I don’t care how many bathrooms we have.” Makes sense. Wow, this should be pretty easy.

“Okay, so what in terms of bare bones should we be looking for?” She ponders that thought for a moment.

“East facing master bedroom—I want the option to watch the sunrise or block it out. A study for both of us—I don’t want one of the bedrooms to have to be converted. Definitely an eat-in kitchen and formal dining room, family room. I’d love to have an indoor pool and game room, a den…”

“So basically, you want Escala, but in a house on some land near some water,” I clarify. She twists her lips again.

“Basically, yeah. We’ll have to space for playroom, built-out and hidden so our children or guests won’t wander into it.” I nod.

“Very good point,” I say, typing into my blackberry.

“We’ll also need to decide where we will want our connection room—in the back of the house, near the front, hidden away, will natural lighting matter? Will lighting matter at all?” I smile to myself.

“It should be fun putting that room together,” I say with a smile.

“More fun than building the playroom?” she says mischievously.

“I think so,” I reply. “I love when we make love, but when our souls connect…” I’ve lost my words.

“It’s cosmic,” she breathes. “I don’t know what we’ve found here, but I never want it to end.”

“Me either,” I say, taking her hand in mine and bringing it to my lips. I press a gentle kiss on her fingers. “I’ll find an agent by the end of the day.”

“Our home,” she smiles.

“Our home,” I repeat. I take a sip of my coffee. “You know there’s a feed on David’s case.” She doesn’t look surprised. “The jury is sequestered, but you can see what’s going on, even things that happened the day before.” She drops her head.

“Yes, I know,” she says, putting my empty plate and her glass in the sink.

“They don’t show you vomiting,” I tell her. She jerks her head over to me.

“They don’t?” she asks surprised. I shake my head.

“We hear and see your testimony. We hear you ask for a recess four times. Where the incident should be, the camera zeros in on the judge and the sound is silent. We can see the judge talking and looking in your direction, but we can’t hear anything and we can’t see you or the defense attorney. She bangs her gavel and the camera goes immediately to the clock, where it stays for a little over and hour with no sound.” She’s staring at me in stunned silence. “There was no way to keep the media from talking about what happened, but you’re not a sound bite, Baby.” She sighs heavily. It seems that the weight on her shoulders was so heavy that when she released it just now, it was going to cause her to collapse. I am across the room and by her side in a moment.

“I’m okay,” she says. “I just expected the worst and to find out that someone must have been concerned about my dignity is a bit of a surprise right now.”

“Why would you say that?” I say with a frown.

“Did you see the way the jury has been looking at me?” she says, looking up into my eyes, her own threatening to flood with tears. “I don’t know what’s going in their minds when they look at me… when they look at those pictures and see what they did to me. How can there be any doubt what I suffered? How can there be any question that I was wronged?” She shakes her head and fights back the tears. “I was beaten beyond recognition twice, Christian. What in the hell do I do to deserve that? What could I have possibly done to deserve that?” I envelop her in my arms right before she trembles with sobs.

“Nothing, Baby,” I say, kissing her hair. “You didn’t do anything to deserve any of the things that any of those monsters did to you, but don’t you worry. They’re going to pay—all of them are going to pay, starting with that fucker Edward David.” She chuckles through her tears, which I find ironic.

“I wouldn’t count on it, Grey,” she says while wiping her eyes. “I’m the one on trial, here, not him.” I frown at her again.

“You were running out of the witness stand,” I say. “You didn’t see it.”

“Didn’t see what?” she asks, her eyebrows furrowed.

“The jury,” I respond, pulling her away so that I can see her face and wipe her eyes, “when you were making your point about desperately needing someone to listen and believe, I thought a couple of them were going to break down and cry. Then when you dashed out of the witness stand and begged me to get you out of there, the ladies were gasping and the men were looking at the defense attorney like a few of them wouldn’t mind hitting a woman. You looked so small and it was easy to tell that she was bullying you. Whatever she was hoping to accomplish, I would say that it backfired. Since the jury is sequestered, you can’t see their faces on the feed, but if you could, you’d know… she lost that round, with flying colors.”

Butterfly is in stunned silence again, a silence which is broken by the screeching of a bunch of women.

“D-D-D-Doctor-Doctor-Doctor!” followed by the sound of a warbling saxophone, and then “D-D-D-D-Doctor-Doctor Sax!” A baseline and Michael Franks’ voice alerts us that Butterfly’s phone is ringing. She retrieves it from the breakfast bar where she must have put it before she poured her juice. She looks at the number and pauses while the song plays. I wonder who it is and if she plans to answer it before the party on the other line hangs up or goes to voice mail. With a swipe and a few taps on the screen, she puts the phone back on the counter.

“Hello.”

“Hello, Ana. It’s Dr. Culley.” Shit! It’s the doctor! I’m all ears now.

“Yes, I know. What news?”

“Can you and Mr. Grey come in?” Ana’s hands fly to her forehead.

“Doctor, it’s been a very trying week for me with the trial and all. I’m sure you’ve seen it by now.”

“Yes, I have. Well, I heard about it,” Dr. Culley confirms.

“And with finding out that I’m pregnant… and with twins!” She sighs heavily and I reach across the bar and take her hand. “Doctor, if I have to wait one more moment to find out what’s going on with me and my babies, I simply won’t make it. If it’s bad news, I don’t want to drive down to your office to get it. If it’s good news, please just put us out of our misery. I can’t take much more.” Her voice is beseeching.

“Very well. I don’t like doing this by phone, but I can understand how difficult the waiting can be. First things first. Based on the ultrasound and your last normal period in May, you are just past 8 weeks pregnant. The ultrasound looks fine and none of the tests we’ve run show anything abnormal. Because you have had a medium to moderate intake of alcohol in the first weeks of your pregnancy, I will be keeping a close eye on you and the babies. I still don’t think there’s anything for you to worry about, but I would rather be safe than sorry. You are in excellent physical health and I feel that you and the babies are going to be just fine.

“I want you to start a regimen of prenatal vitamins and folic acid if you haven’t already. They are both over-the-counter and you can find them at the drug store or wherever you buy vitamins. Pay attention to what you’re eating. A certain level of nausea and vomiting is expected, but if you can’t hold anything down or too many foods cause you sickness or discomfort, you need to let me know. It could be an indication of something more serious.. For now, I’d like to see you pretty regularly to make sure everything is okay, so I’ll see you back here in two weeks. I’m concerned about your stress levels and this trial. How are you holding up?”

“As well as can be expected,” Butterfly answers. “I haven’t been back to the courtroom and I don’t plan to return until the jury returns with a verdict.

I’m not really learned on this type of thing, but… doesn’t that look bad?” the doctor asks.

“I’m not really concerned with what looks bad anymore,” Butterfly responds. “I’m only concerned about me and my babies right now.” There’s a moment of silence.

“As well you should be,” Dr. Culley states. “Try to keep your stress levels down. It’s definitely not good for the babies. Make sure that you read those pamphlets and books that I gave you. Watch your blood pressure, nothing too strenuous. Call me immediately with questions and I’ll see you in two weeks.”  We both pause. We’re waiting for there to be more.

“That’s it?” Butterfly asks, expecting.

“Pretty much, yes,” she says. “I don’t want you to worry, but we do need to keep an eye on the little nuggets to make sure everything is okay. However, preliminary testing and first glance says they’re fine for now.” Butterfly sighs heavily, her shoulders sagging visibly from the weight she’s been carrying.

“Thank you, Dr. Culley,” she says, relief quite evident in her voice.

“You’re welcome. Remember to call me if you have questions.”

“Just a minute,” I interrupt before she has the chance to hang up. “If you don’t mind my asking, why would you ask us to come all the way down to your office if nothing was wrong?”

“Oh! Well, hello to you, too, Mr. Grey. I didn’t know that you were with us. That’s one of the reasons that I ask parents to come in. I thought you may have already been out for the day and may have wanted to meet your wife here to discuss any questions you may have. Like I said, I don’t like doing this over the phone and expectant parents often have lots of questions for me.”  I still want to club her one for putting Butterfly through that stress, but I guess her reasons are solid enough. “Do you have any questions for me, Mr. Grey?” she adds.

“Not at this time, but I’m sure that I will. With Butter… Ana’s permission, I’ll reserve the right to ask them later.”

“Ana?” Dr. Culley says.

“Yes, of course,” she responds.

“I’ll need that in writing. I just have a simple form for you to sign. You can do that on your next visit unless questions arise before then. Good?”

“Good,” Butterfly confirms.

“So I guess that’s all for now. I’ll see you in two weeks, then.”

“Two weeks,” she says before ending the call. She stands there looking at the phone on the counter for a few moments. Without a word, she walks over to the wall of glass and looks out over Seattle. As I begin to make my way over to her, I see her shoulders shaking. She’s crying—quietly, not weeping or sobbing. There’s an occasional sniffle and the whisper crying in her chest. Her arms are wrapped around her body like she is attempting to hold herself together.

I wrap myself around her body, my arms on her belly under her arms, my lips on her shoulders, pulling her into me and trying to absorb her pain. I don’t know why she’s crying. Maybe it’s the fear that something was wrong with the baby. Maybe it’s the fact that we have no idea how this trial is going to go when it seemed so cut-and-dried before. Maybe it’s the fact that we had to cut our honeymoon short. Maybe it’s all of the above, who knows. I don’t try to stop her crying. She needs to get it out.

She doesn’t cry for long, just a few minutes. She stops keening but doesn’t dry her tears and says, “I want my aquarium.” Okay. I wasn’t expecting that.

“Okay,” I answer, uncertain.

“I really want my aquarium,” she says, her voice still thick with tears. “I don’t know what I want yet, but I want it… soon.”

“Okay,” I repeat. “Do you want to look at some designs online or go to a specialist or something?”

“I want a specialist,” she says. “I want something dramatic, I know, but I don’t plan on maintaining it, so we’ll need a specialist.”

“Whatever you want, Butterfly,” I say, kissing her shoulder through her shirt.

“I want healthy babies,” she says softly, her hands rubbing her stomach. “I want the Edward Davids, Carly Madisons, and Cody Whitmores of the world to disappear and never come back. I want to feel safe and not afraid to raise my children in a world where they could be raped or kidnapped or beaten…”

“Sssssshhhh,” say soothe her softly, rocking her in my arms as much as our position will allow. “We will love and protect our babies. We will give them what we didn’t have and more. They will be safe and no harm will come to them. They will be surrounded by joy and they will be the happiest children in Washington. They have a beautiful and brilliant mommy and a dashing and debonair daddy, so they will be exquisite… and they will be loved.”

She spins around in my arms and clutches my neck, holding on for dear life. I’m stunned for a moment, but I quickly recover, splaying my hands over her back and wishing I could protect her from all of the bad in the world.

*-*

“Yes, no less than five bedrooms. Mercer Island or Medina,” I tell the real estate agent that evening. Once the word circulated that the Greys were looking for a house, agents basically auditioned to find us a home. Even agents to the “stars” showed up boasting what high-profile clients they’ve had before me. Discretion is key, so this was more important to me than who bought houses from these people in the past. I ended up going with someone my mother recommended and gave her some preliminary instructions on what we were looking for over the phone. I don’t mention that Butterfly is pregnant, but I do tell her that we, of course, plan to start a family. While she’s at work trying to find our “bare bones” in Medina or on Mercer Island, Welch is at work running a background check on her.

Butterfly seems a bit rudderless right now and I can’t help but wonder if maybe she wasn’t quite ready to be a mother. I won’t push her to talk. If she’s having any issues with it, though, I do hope she’ll come and talk to me—or at least talk to Ace. When is the last time she’s spoken to Ace? I know it was before we got married, but when? I have no idea—probably the last time I’ve seen Dr. Baker. I’ve definitely got to get in to see her. I made some pretty dumb decisions that couldn’t have ended my marriage before it started.

I run my hands through my hair and try to shake my thoughts from my stupidity just as I hear the rise and fall of leather across the marble in the great room.

“Boss?” Jason calls out.

“Office,” I respond. A few seconds later, he clears the door with Allen right behind him. They look exhausted. “What happened to you two?”

“Just listening to this stuff. It’s wearing on me,” Jason says. “That lady lawyer is pulling out every trick in the book to get this asshole off. It’s a good thing Ana’s not there to see it.”

“Why? What’s happening?” I ask. He just sighs and shakes his head.

“One of the ways that they are trying to prove mental duress is to prove that Jewel had treated him badly, led him to think that there was hope for them when there wasn’t. To me, he’s just coming off as a scorned lover and had his actions been spontaneous, he might get away with beating a premeditation rap, but that’s not going to happen here. Even though my opinion is biased, the law is still the law and he still took her to a secluded location and held her captive for four days.”

“One of these days, you’ll have to explain to me how someone could possibly be allowed to even go to trial after something like this. Did you see those pictures? Even if you hadn’t been there, those pictures are enough to make the stronger man wince,” I say in disbelief.

“Don’t remind me,” Jason says. I stand and walk over to the window.

“Twice,” I say in disgust. “This happened to her twice. Most people wouldn’t have been able to survive this once. Most people would have completely fallen apart, never went outside again; maybe become promiscuous—turned to drugs or alcohol, even committed suicide, but not Butterfly. She helps other people. She fights her own demons and helps people fight theirs, too. Who else in the world do you know like that?”

“You,” Allen says, without pausing. I whirl around to look at him.

“What?” I ask, again in disbelief.

“You. You have a harrowing tale of your own, Chris, and although you didn’t take the same road as Jewel, you do the same things. I’m your attorney and I see just how many charities you support. You’re quick to help someone that’s down on their luck as long as you feel like they are worthy—the Martins, Luma and the girls, the Whiteheads. You risk exposure with the Faces of Abuse campaign and by helping Shane and Morgan expose that blond child molester for who she really is. You’re the same, Chris.” I shake my head.

“I’m nowhere near as strong as she is,” I say, my voice sorrowful. “She’s good and kind and she would never deliberately hurt anyone, much less get a kick out of it.” I shake my head. “She’s so beautiful, inside and out.” I turn back to the window. “They beat her beyond recognition… twice… and they still couldn’t steal her beauty. They still couldn’t steal her light…” until now, that is. I think this is the first time I have seen her not know what to do. I quickly brush away a frustrated tear that seems to have found its way onto my face. “I throw money at issues—causes, what have you. Her good comes from within. If she didn’t have a penny, she would still be world’s richer than I am because she’s good at heart.”

“You’re good at heart, too,” Allen says. “I think you sell yourself short because you’ve seen the bad for so long. You’re doing yourself a huge disservice. You really are a good man, Christian. You fuck up sometimes, but then again, we all do. You are a good man. You need to know and remember that so that you can be the best man you can be for yourself… and for Jewel.”

And for my children, I think to myself. I quickly wipe my eyes and turn around to face them.

“What happened in court today?” I ask them. They look at one another.

“The cops testified today,” Jason says, taking a seat on the sofa on the other side of my study. “Grace and Dr. Fischer on Ana’s condition when she got to the hospital. The shrinks are testifying today and tomorrow.”

“Shrinks?” I ask with a frown.

“Yes,” Allen responds. “The state has a shrink that examined David to determine his state of mind and mental capacity now and at the time of the incident. He presented his findings today.”

“He said ‘shrinks,’ plural.” I’m very good at hearing the plural now since I’ve been told that my baby is having my babies.

“The defense has a right to present an expert, too. David has his own shrink to testify on his behalf.”

“What good is it to have experts testify if they’re obviously going to contradict each other? I’m sure that the state wouldn’t have someone testify that David was truly crazy no more than the defense would have someone testify that he’s not. So where does that leave us?” I ask, frustrated.

“In the hands of the jury,” Allen replies. I sigh heavily. I have about as much faith in these 12 people who didn’t seem to have a clue who the participants are after a year of publicity as I do in Green Valley’s ability to actually bring justice to Butterfly. Speaking of which…

“Any word on Madison-Perry?” I ask. Allen’s face falls immediately.

“It looks like she’s going to take the deal,” he says. Fuck! Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck!

“Son of a bitch!” I hiss, trying not to let Butterfly hear me. “What’s the fucking deal?”

“I don’t know yet. I’m trying to find out for sure before I say anything to Jewel.”

“But you have an idea what they might have offered her,” I press.

“Chris, I’m not going to guess. I’m not even going to do an estimate, because if I turn out to wrong—high or low—it’ll only cause grief. So I won’t say what I think until I can get it confirmed.” I can’t fault the man for that, so I just nod. I’ll find out, one way or another, because that’s what I do. “Where is Jewel anyway?”

“We had a talk about a few things and she took a nap right after lunch.” I look at my watch. “She should probably get up now if she doesn’t want to be awake all night.”

“Is she decent?” Allen asks.

“Last I checked.” He points towards the door.

“Do you mind?” I shake my head.

“Go ahead, you know where the bedroom is.” He nods and leaves, and I can’t help but think how ironic it is that I am sending another man to my bedroom to wake my wife.

“You didn’t tell him.” Jason breaks my train of thought and I almost forgot that he was in the room with us.

“Tell him what?”

“About the babies.” I shrug.

“You’re my best friend. He’s hers. I want Butterfly to tell him when she’s ready. I won’t take that moment away from her.” I sit behind my desk. “Something’s wrong.” Jason raises his eyebrow at me.

“What, you mean besides the obvious?” he asks.

“Yes, besides the obvious,” I reply. “She’s been somber at best ever since we found out about the babies. I’m wondering if maybe she’s not ready. She’s pretty young, you know.”

“I thought you two had talked about this, decided to get started.”

“We had,” I tell him. “At least I thought we had, but she’s clearly upset and I don’t know why.”

“Do you think it’s just the pregnancy? This has been a pretty big week, Boss.” I rub my face with both of my hands.

“I don’t know. Remember, this is my first time at the dance… the entire dance.” I’m going to be a father. I’m a husband. Someone else’s life means something to me and now, more than one someone else is going to mean something to me. I’m in completely new territory, and Butterfly is floating around in a haze of despair and uncertainty that I can’t figure out.

“Maybe you should go talk to her,” Jason says with a shrug. I sigh.

“I will. I’ll wait until she’s done with her visit with Allen.” Jason smirks at me.

“Hoping he’ll soften her up a bit?” he says, knowingly. Now that he said it…

“I hadn’t thought of that, but I’ll take all the help I can get.”


ANASTASIA

I tried to sleep, but I was only able to rest for a few minutes. I’ve been lying here for I don’t know how long just thinking–thinking about all of the stuff that scares me about the world. My children will be growing up in the same generation of the children of the monsters that beat me and killed my first child. Have they raised their children to be the same little monsters that they are? At least two of them ended up here in Seattle–Melanie and that guy who bragged to David about who I was. I don’t even remember his name. How many others are here? Where did the rest of them end up? I know these aren’t the only monsters in the world–I’ve encountered many of them personally.

How do I protect my babies from Elena Lincolns of the world?
Who will protect them when they walk the streets if the George Sullivans are more concerned about covering up the crimes and protecting themselves than they are about enforcing the law?
Will I one day become the woman my mother became… more concerned about myself and my happiness than I am about my children?

NO! NEVER! NOT ME… NOT EVER!

I’m sure that Carla never thought she would become the horrible person that she became. Hell, she doesn’t even think she is a horrible person, but she serves as a perfect example of who I don’t want to be. I guess in the end, her horrid behavior had some residual benefits.

The sky looks like it’s giving way to the evening, although the sun hasn’t begun to set just yet. My mind is more than occupied with all the horrible things that have plagued me and can attack my babies. I’m holding myself trying to lose this chill that won’t leave. How much did I drink these last months? Are my babies really going to be okay? Dr. Culley wouldn’t tell me everything was okay if it wasn’t. Oh God, please don’t let anything be wrong with my babies. I’ll never drink again; just don’t let anything be wrong with my babies.

I hear the door open, but I don’t raise my head. A tan suit comes into view and I know that it’s not Christian. I raise my head.

“Hi, Jewel.” My eyes fill with tears immediately. He’s one of the best things in my life and I nearly alienated him a few days ago. He sits on the edge of the bed and strokes my hair. “Hey, what’s wrong?”

“I don’t know,” I say weeping. “Everything! I’m a terrible person for snapping at you. I’m sorry.”

“I’m glad you apologized,” he says with a smile. “I love you and I know you’re going through something right now, but you know that I didn’t deserve your anger.” I nod, tears drenching my pillow. “You’re not a terrible person.”

“Yes, I am,” I say. “I was all sensitive and I shouldn’t have lashed out at you.” I wipe my eyes. “I know why my boobs look bigger… are bigger.” I look over at Al who is silent while he waits for my answer. Still waiting, he examines my silence… “a pregnant pause” as he would call it. His eyes widen and his mouth falls open.

“No?” he says in a growling whisper. “Really?” His voice is soft and squeaky now. “Jewel is going to have a little jewelette?” I nod.

“Jewelettes,” I correct him. “Twins.” His eyes widen more, as if they could.

“You’re kidding!” he breathes. “No wonder you’re so damn moody! You have every right. Com’ere, Girl!” He opens his arms to me and I crawl into his embrace. I feel like shit. I should be happy, but I feel like shit. I lay on his shoulder and take comfort in his closeness. I really want Christian right now, but I’m glad my best friend is here. “Does Chris know?”

“Of course he knows,” I tell him. “We found out at the same time… about the twins anyway. I took a home pregnancy test, three actually, and they all came out positive. So I went to the doctor and voila! Twins.” Al takes my hands and examines me closely.

“You don’t look happy about it, Jewel,” he says. I sigh.

“I’m terrified!” I say, my voice shaking. “We had wine and champagne all during the honeymoon. The wedding toast, a champagne tasting in Paris… I’m eight weeks pregnant, Al.” I say dropping my face in my hands.

“Eight weeks,” he says, his voice giving away that he’s pondering. “Well, what did the doctor say?”

“She said that everything looks okay for now, but that we have to keep an eye on things to be sure.”

“You know what that sounds like?” he says. I raise my head to him. “It sounds like you’re having a couple of babies.”

Oh, we have a smart ass.

“Jewel, they say that to every expectant mother—we have to keep an eye on things. I’ve never had a baby, I know, but I’ve known a few. Let me guess… no amount of alcohol is deemed healthy, but as long as you didn’t get drunk you and the babies should be okay. Am I right?”

I know I must be looking at him like some strange alien creature because that is exactly what she said.

“It has something to do with how fast you absorb alcohol, correct? I bet you told her you couldn’t handle your liquor.” I nod, completely bewildered by how much he knows about this situation… and me. “When is the last time you consumed anything alcoholic?” I have to think hard on that one.

“Um, I think it was last weekend. No… weekend before last, maybe. Something in me just wouldn’t let me drink that much over the last few weeks.”

“Not something, someone… someones to be more specific. Think hard, what’s the hardest thing you had to drink since late May?” I really have to think hard. End of May… the original wine tasting was in April. I had a couple of cocktails at the hen party. That had to be the hardest thing… but quantity. I’ve had more wine than I would like.

“Cocktails at the bachelorette party,” I tell him, “but I’ve had more wine than I can keep up with.”

“Okay, fair enough. I know for sure that you had two of those watered-down ass drinks at the McElvoy. I’m so glad that you didn’t listen to me and do Patron shots. I would bet my inheritance those drinks were harmless…”

“Allen, why are you always betting something that you don’t have?” I ask him.

“Because I can’t lose!” he says. “You had a couple of drinks with maybe an 8th of a glass of 80 proof vodka with—what, 30 or 35% alcohol content and a whole lot of fruit juice that was most likely burned off with the dreaded dollar dances. You didn’t feel a thing and you even asked for a harder drink when you got out the bathroom. The fates were working in your favor again. Trust me, those little beans you’re carrying didn’t even do a flip-flop. You’re the doctor, you know this. Wine… every night?”

He’s right about the cocktails. They’re weak as fuck and I didn’t feel a thing. Most likely, it didn’t get to my babies. Now, about the wine.

“Often enough,” I say. “No, I didn’t drink it every night, but I can’t tell you how often I drank it.”

“Your beloved Cabernet?” he asks, I nod. He starts tapping something into his phone. “I’m a vodka connoisseur. I have to look up your precious Cabernet.” He turns the phone around to me—14.5% on the high-end. Even a good Sauvignon Blanc is less at 12-13%.

“I’m assuming that you had your wine with dinner and not as the main course.” I look at him.

“You assume correctly.”

“Which means that most of your wine—probably a quarter to a half-glass for you—was probably soaked up by your dinner, and the beans didn’t even get to smell it.” He puts his arm around me. “Jewel, if I felt like you had anything to be concerned about, I wouldn’t bullshit you. I would tell you to go to your doctor, do everything that you are supposed to do, and pray for the best. Do you know what I’m going to tell you to do? I’m going to tell you to go to your doctor, do everything that you’re supposed to do… and stop. Worrying. I’m sure she would have told you if you had anything to worry about, and the stress can’t be good for the beans. So please, stop stressing my godchildren, and relax.”

He’s right. I know he is. Dr. Culley says the initial testing shows there’s nothing wrong with my babies, and it’s not like I drank in excess. The worst truly was the wine tasting and the cocktails at McElvoy, and they weren’t that bad. It really doesn’t do me any good to worry unless the doctor gives me reason to worry, right? So why do I still feel impending doom?

“I don’t see that rush of relief I was expecting to see, Jewel. What’s wrong?”

“I’m very happy that it appears that I managed not to damage my babies with my careless actions, but I just don’t have faith in the world that I’m bringing them into,” I say honestly. “I’m going to nurture them in my body for nine months, feel them grow and progress inside of me, just to bring them into this world of pedophiles and murderers, liars and cheats, snares and traps ready to eat my babies alive. How do I protect them from that?” Al takes one of my hands in both of his.

“I wish I had an answer for you there, Jewel, but I don’t. You can only give them all of the love and protection that you can. Teach them to look out for those snares and make sure that there are no gaps in their lives that can be filled by predators or unwholesome temptations. You already know that Chris will have them so protected that dust dare not fall on them.” He laughs and I follow with a nervous chuckle. “You didn’t get a fair shake, Jewel. You’ll make sure this doesn’t happen to your babies.”

“What about Christian? He had a rough start, but he had parents who loved him later and he still fell prey to that wretched blond bitch.”

“If he’d had the love and protection that the beans have from this moment on, I know that he wouldn’t have fallen into the hands of that woman. He was looking for an escape, Jewel. He was looking for a way to deal with his own personal hell and, right or wrong, that’s what she offered him—a way of coping that he could understand. Granted, for a 15-year-old boy to be introduced to this lifestyle by a woman twice his age, it wasn’t healthy, but it was a way to fill in one of his gaps. You won’t allow those gaps with your children. You not only know how to spot them before they become an issue, but you’re going to be a fantastic mother, showering those babies with all the love their hearts can hold.”

I shudder at the thought of my children falling into the hands of someone like Elena Lincoln. Pedophilia is bad enough in and of itself, but BDSM on a child? That’s just more than my soul can take.

“Logically, I know that you’re right. I know that we will do everything in our power to love these babies and protect them and make sure that no hurt, harm, or unhappiness comes to them.” I drop my head. “Emotionally, I can’t get past it. It only takes a moment for something horrible to happen, only a moment. With all my heart, I want to believe that if we do everything that we’re supposed to do, our babies will be fine. I know that we can’t protect them from everything little thing—it’s truly unrealistic to even think that we can prevent the bad things of life from happening to them, but Al, I didn’t go looking for trouble. I didn’t go to the bad parts of town, making bad decisions and doing careless things. Horrible things happened to me while I was just minding my own damn business. I wasn’t bothering anybody. I wasn’t doing anything wrong. What do you do about that? This isn’t paranoia like hypochondria—I get a splinter in my finger and I’m worried about cancer. No… I get in the car with the most popular boy in school that everybody knows and I get raped. I’m walking home from school one day and I get attacked, end up in the hospital in a coma. I go to the aquarium—the aquarium—you know, that place where kids go on field trips? I get drugged and kidnapped and chained to a bed for four days! Christian was 15… 15, Al, and this woman targeted him. She was his mother’s friend, someone Grace confided in and trusted, and all this time she was grooming Grace’s sons. Grace will never be able to shake the feeling that she delivered her son right to this bitch’s hand, because she didn’t see it coming.”

I cover my face when I remember the horror in Grace’s expression, how she shrieked in agony when she realized what had happened to Christian at Elena’s hands. It was heart-breaking.

“She did everything she could to save him from that monster that abused him as a toddler, only to turn him over to another monster as a teenager. She thought she was doing what was best for him. She only had his very best interests at heart. She loves him with her whole soul, like she bore him into this world herself, and she still wasn’t able to protect him from the devil in a pleasing form. What hope do we have, Al? What hope do my babies have?” I hear my voice cracking. I am lost and as much as I want to be happy that mine and Christian’s life is finally beginning like we want, that we are finally starting a family, I am terrified down to my very soul to bring two precious little lives into this cruel and horrible world.

I raise my eyes and Al is looking sorrowful at me. He no more has the answers to those questions than I do. I don’t know if the questions are rhetorical or if I really do want an answer. I just want to know how do I protect my babies. I can’t stop the tears that fall as I consider all of the snares awaiting my precious little beans. Al slides up to the head of the bed and puts his arm around me. I lean into his shirt and cry, wishing that the world wasn’t such a horrible place.

“We can only do our best, Jewel,” he says, softly. “We can’t stop the world from being a horrible place, but we can’t stop living either. Love them, Jewel. Love them like I know you can. That’s all you can do. Don’t be Carla. Don’t be Elena. Be Ana. Be the remarkable woman and mother that I know you can be, and while I can’t make you any guarantees, I can tell you that I believe with my whole heart that those beans will grow up to be two of the luckiest and happiest human beings alive. You have to believe that too, Jewel. You have to believe it and want it and do everything in your power to make it come to pass. I have no idea why these horrible things happened to you and I wish that wasn’t your legacy, but you just have to trust fate sometimes even if you get dealt a shitty hand.”

I cry a little more in his arms. My mind wanders a bit and I wonder if Christian knows there’s another man in his bed with his arms around me while I’m lying here in a camisole and panties. Good God, that’s something to think about.

“Where’s Christian?” I’m finally able to mutter through my sniffles.

“He’s in the study with Agent T,” Al says, eliciting a small laugh from me.

“Does anybody around here call anybody by a real name?” I chuckle.

“What fun is that?” he asks, handing me some tissue from the nightstand. “Clean your mug, Beloved.” I wipe my eyes and blow my nose, attempting to pull myself together. “James and I did our first scene last night.” I eyes grow large and I gasp.

“Really?” I ask. “How did it go?”

“Awkward at first,” he admits, “but it was better once we relaxed into it. Then it was really hot!” I cover my mouth. My best friend and his boyfriend have tried BDSM.

“Do you mind if I ask what you did?” The suspense is killing me.

“He bound me to that cross thing,” he says. I gasp.

“Holy cow!” I whisper. “You went straight to the St. Andrews??” Al nods.

“I was… nervous,” he says. “We’re both new at this and I didn’t know what he was going to do. He blindfolded me and…”

Oh, shit, don’t stop now!

“We had… assistance, someone to help us along—you know, give us pointers.”

“In the room with you?” I ask. He nods.

“A woman. A very beautiful woman, but we didn’t want anyone to take part or touch either of us, just guide us along.”

“What did you use?” I ask.

“Feathers, nipple clamps, butt plugs, cock rings, some other things… he was gentle. He took his time. It was explosive, for both of us.” I smile.

“So, it’s safe to say that you will be exploring that avenue again?” He nods.

“It’s very exciting and arousing. Most of all, I love giving complete control over to James. I had no idea that it could be so satisfying to just turn total control over to someone else. All day long, I have to be this mountain of strength, this impenetrable fortress—I can’t show a moment’s weakness. I must be invincible, even when I’m not, but when he takes control, I don’t have to be. All I have to do is follow directions, let him guide me… let him take me wherever he wants me to go.” He sighs heavily. “It’s the most liberating thing I’ve ever done. When I wake up in the morning, I can rule the world, take on any opponent. When I come home at night, I can be whatever he wants me to be. Oh, and the orgasms! Oh, God!” he exclaims. So it’s not just me.

“The joy of submission,” I say softly. He raises his eyes to me and nods.

“Yes. That’s exactly right. I want to do this for him. He’s a wonderful Dominant. He knows my limits, what I can and can’t take. He’ll test me only as far as I want him to. We both get so hard when we play, and the orgasms are massive—and we’ve only done this once! I can’t wait to do it again.” His voice is wistful, slightly aroused, but more like anticipation than arousal.

“Olive oil,” I tell him. He frowns.

“What?”

“Olive oil. It has a thick coating texture and it’s edible.” He smiles at me.

“Thanks, Jewel.”

We talk a little longer and it’s enough to momentarily make me forget my lamenting about my babies. I’m still so concerned about bringing them into this world, and if David gets off, I’m going to completely lose faith in mankind forever. Screw Christian keeping our children in cages—I’ll never let them out of my sight!

After Al leaves, I Google the trial to see what I can see. I’m a glutton for punishment, I guess. I can only find yesterday’s testimony. I also found my testimony from the day before. I looked pretty pathetic running out of the courtroom in my stocking feet. All I knew is that I wanted to get out of there. I didn’t care who was looking or what the jury thought at that point. They probably thought I threw up on the defense on purpose, who knows?

I listened to the police talk about how they got to the house on Vashon Island. They split up not knowing what to expect and the lady cop says that Harris ran out the back door. She told him to freeze and instead, he pulls his gun and starts shooting as he’s running for the car. He hit her in the leg and she took him down, literally filled his ass with lead. By the time her partner had gotten around to the back of the house, the whole scene was over. It happened just that fast. I remember hearing those gunshots and Harris telling me that he was going to shoot Christian. I remember it like it was yesterday, sitting there for those agonizing seconds, minutes, I don’t know, waiting to see if my love was dead—if that monster had made good on his promise and shot Christian between the eyes.

I remember seeing him walk into that room and thinking that I was seeing a ghost. I remember the first time that he touched me while I was still in the cuffs. I thought I was hallucinating. I wanted to die thinking I had lost him. I remember him trying to get me from the bed before Jason had even released the second cuff. I remember feeling the pure rage seep through my body and wanting to kill David with my bare hands. I remember Christian’s arms around me and then… nothing. I remember waking up in the helicopter and thinking the whole thing was a dream, that I was dying and that Christian’s love and determination just had me thinking of Prince Charming rescuing the princess from the tower and the fire-breathing dragon.

I remember the moment that I felt true hope and that I wasn’t dreaming was when I saw the hospital lights whizzing past me and I knew that I was going to be alright, that somehow Christian had found me and gotten me to safety. I don’t know what I said, but I knew that I had to tell someone that I was just really hungry and thirsty or they would have a full night ahead of them trying to find out what was wrong with me.

All of this because some jackass couldn’t take “no” for an answer.

The psychiatrist for the state is a man. David couldn’t put anything past him, it seems. He actually seemed disgusted that he had to testify in this case that David was completely sane and suffering from no diminished capacity or mental duress that he could see.

“He’s desperate, broken-hearted, and delusional. He can’t let go and he wants her to know it,” the doctor says

“That description in and of itself indicates a bit of borderline insanity, doesn’t it?” Lady Smug asks

“No, it indicates that he’s broken-hearted and he needs to get over it,” the doctor says smugly. “Are you married, Counselor?”

“This has nothing to do with me,” she replies. She says that a lot. He nods.

“Mmm. Divorced.” Lady Smug is affronted. “By your logic, Counselor, every jilted lover and divorcee has the right to go out and kidnap their once significant other and hold them hostage until they fall in love again.” The jury laughs a bit at his response. “Edward David has all of his faculties about him. My analysis is that his only issue is that he wanted a woman that he couldn’t have and he wanted to change her mind. I’ve spoken to him in depth and this man is not now, nor has he ever been insane. He just couldn’t take ‘no’ for any answer.”

“Objection, Your Honor. Conclusions.”

“Isn’t that why I’m here?” the doctor says, shrugging.

“Sustained. Dr. Reed, yes, you are here to give direction to Mr. David’s current state of mind. However, you cannot state that he has never been insane, because you don’t know that,” the judge directs. Unfortunately, she’s right. He can’t make those kind of generalities.

“May I rephrase, Your Honor?” he asks. Oh, this is not his first time at the dance.

“Yes, you may.” The doctor turns back to the defense.

Mr. David shows no signs of suffering from any traumatic experience that would normally indicate that he was operating under diminished capacity or under any kind of duress. There are no signs of PTSD, no residual Stockholm’s Syndrome, no nightmares, no antisocial behavior. I have corresponded in depth with the infirmary, the mental health staff, and the religious staff at the prison. He began weekly visits with a therapist when he got there and then he stopped after five visits. You should have these findings in your records.”

“Um, I beg to differ. I have a report here that Mr. David is still under psychiatric care as a result of this incident,” Lady Smug protests.

“Well, then someone is lying and it’s not me. I have several patients in the prison and I see several inmates by court order. It’s my job to know what’s in those records before I sit down on this stand, and I’m telling you that at the risk of being charged with contempt of court and perjury and losing my license, that man has not had approved psychiatric care in the prison since September of 2012.” I can see Lady Smug turn pale even on camera.

“Define ‘approved psychiatric care,’ Dr. Reed,” she asks. She’s on the ropes and I can tell.

“Approved psychiatric care can only be provided by a professional licensed in the State of Washington and approved by the Washington Department of Corrections to provide mental health assistance and psychiatric care to inmates. You know this… don’t you?”

She didn’t know. It’s written all over her face.

“So, are you saying that no other psychiatrist can speak to Mr. David’s mental capacity?” she says, trying to contradict what the good doctor is saying.

“That’s not what I’m saying at all,” Dr. Reed corrects her. “What I’m saying is that no doctor can present into evidence his or her findings on an inmate’s current mental capacity if he or she has not gone through the proper channels of the penal system to treat this inmate. To date, I and the current chaplain are the only two people who have that clearance. Anyone else is nothing more than a visitor. In addition, if the prisoner is receiving mental treatment outside of the guidelines of the penal system, that professional can’t act as ‘treater’ and as ‘expert witness.’ They have a relationship that dictates that they act in the best interest of their patient. An expert witness must be objective and impartial and this is effectively impossible if they have been treating the prisoner as a patient. ”

“Fuck!” I hear David hiss the word and he’s not even wearing a microphone.

“A moment with my client, Your Honor?” Lady Smug says.

“Yes, and see that he minds his language.” Lady Smug nods and goes over to David.

“How did you not know this?” he asks Lady Smug before she gets a chance to cover her mic. Finally, a visible breakdown in his defense. This can only mean that his psychiatrist that will most likely come in and spit lies about him being crazy as a loony bird is not approved to present evidence to the court. Looking at the current length of the feed, I can tell that we won’t get to his shrink’s testimony in this recording, meaning that quack probably testified today.

As expected, the judge called the proceedings to a close for the day. Dr. Reed will testify more tomorrow—which is today—and the prosecution is expected to rest. I personally think they presented a good case, but the defense did everything in her power to pick it apart. It all just depends on who the jury believes. I close my tablet and stare back out at the evening sky.

*-*

It’s late, and I know it. I just don’t know how late it is. I don’t bother looking at the clock as I have slipped back into my melancholy while watching the moon rise in the sky. The door opens quietly and Christian steps in with a tray of food. The scents are making my mouth water. I forgot that I hadn’t eaten and now that he has come in with sustenance, I feel like I could eat a horse.

“I thought you might be hungry,” he says, softly.

“I am, thank you,” I tell him, sitting up slightly to see what he has brought for me. There are several grilled chicken and vegetable skewers, a mountain of rice pilaf, a large bowl of fruit salad, several cut pieces of pita bread, and a pitcher of what looks like my cranberry spritzer. The two glasses on the tray indicate that he plans to eat with me. Thank God! I’m hungry, but I’m not that hungry. He begins to feed me and himself from every plate and my stomach responds with immense gratitude. About halfway into the meal, he asks a crucial question.

“Butterfly, are you happy about this pregnancy?”

I stop mid-chew. I don’t know how to answer that question. Suddenly, my appetite is gone and I can’t stomach another bite. I push the tray away, indicating that I’ve had enough. He gives me a drink of my spritzer and I lay back down after I have swallowed it. I cover my stomach with both of my hands and say nothing.

“You’re not… are you?” His voice sounds broken. I look over at him and he looks utterly crestfallen.

“I’m thrilled to be having your children, Christian,” I say softly. “I’m just terrified to bring them into this horrible world.” He frowns for a moment, pondering what I’m telling him. I fight back the tears as I don’t want to go through the entire conversation that I just had with Al all over again.

“I look around and I have a hard time seeing any good in the world, Christian,” I tell him. “Everywhere I turn, there’s some kind of snare or trap or monster waiting to gobble you up. No one is immune to it, and it seems like no one can really protect you from it. What could have prevented the things that happened to me? To you? We were at the mercy—or lack thereof—of others, and look what happened to us.” He puts his hand on my cheek.

“That won’t be our kids,” he says with conviction. I shake my head slightly.

“You can’t predict that…”

“Anastasia,” he says, interrupting my protest, “that won’t be our kids.” His words are laced with determination and urgency, and when he said my name, it’s not because he was scolding me. It’s because he needs my attention. He needs me to listen, to believe him… and I do. I do believe him. Though I’m still afraid and a bit forlorn, I believe that he will move heaven and earth to ensure that our children will never see the same fate we did. He will do everything in his power to make sure that our children will not be a repeat of us. I always knew that he would protect them, protect us, but for some reason, his declaration makes me feel a lot better.

And safer.

I release a heavy sigh, still covering my stomach over my camisole. I would keep my little beans protected inside of me forever if I could, but I know that they will have to make their debut sometime. They will have to sneeze and fall down, get tummy aches and skins their knees, fail and experience heartbreak just like the rest of us—and the thought terrifies the shit out of me. I close my eyes and nod that I understand, trying hard and failing miserably not to weep. Dear God, please protect my babies… please…

I feel his lips on my eyes, gently kissing the tears away, and then my cheek. I let out a shuddering breath and lay my hands on the bed. He touches my stomach gently as his fingertips travel under the hem of my camisole. My stomach flutters and not because of the babies inside. He does this to me—makes my skin yearn for his touch. His hand travels up my stomach until his fingers gently caress the meat at the bottom of my breast. I gasp as his lips brush tender kisses against mine—a sensual stroke, not probing, but teasing… exploring just a bit as he lies next to me and hovers over me at the same time. Then his tongue glides softly over my lips, just inside… soft… taking my breath away…


CHRISTIAN

She’s afraid. I can feel it. She doesn’t know what to do or think or feel.

It’s going to be okay, Butterfly. I promise, it’s going to be okay.

My lips travel over hers, tasting her, her fear and uncertainty, and her need. She trembles when my fingers reach her breast. I want to go slowly, gently, until I can reassure her that everything will be alright. She allows me to kiss her everywhere—everywhere—until her breathing becomes deep, heavy pants. I have her naked underneath me while I have shed my pants—still wearing my cotton shirt, buttons open, and my boxer briefs.

She groans deeply as I grind into her through my underwear. The feeling is exquisite—her hot, wet core pushing against my briefs, leaving them moist with her wetness. I push them down with my free hand and allow the skin to rub against her wetness. Oh God, it’s heavenly! She’s enjoying the skin-to-skin contact as much as I am, rubbing in small strokes against my erection. I use my knees to wiggle out of my boxer briefs.

With her left hand trapped under me, I take her right hand and put it over her head. Leaning on my right elbow, I lock her wrist in my right hand around her head, leaving my left hand free to caress her body. Spreading her legs with my hips, I nestle myself between her thighs, lifting her leg and bending her knee over my hip.

We both gasp as I enter her, and I lock my lips over hers, tasting her passion, yearning, and longing. I’m rubbing her on all sides and she allows my tongue to massage her mouth, an occasional moan betraying her lust. I stroke her slowly, deeply, repeatedly, kissing and caressing her the entire time. I feel the sweat against her skin as our abdomens adulate and rub against each other, her sensual keening causing the fire in my loins to grow larger and wilder.

“You’re perfect,” I say to her as I love her. “I can’t believe that you chose me… That you love me.” Her leg wraps around mine and I bend my knee to push into her, slow and deep. I bury my face in her neck, biting and licking the tender skin there. She gasps as I slide in and out of her, deeply penetrating her sweet spot over and over again.

“Oooo, Christian,” she keens, satisfaction oozing from her pores as she slowly and gently matches my strokes.

“So perfect,” I breathe as my orgasm starts to creep into my legs and thighs.

“Christian,” she whispers.

“Yes, baby…” Her voice causes a twinge in my back that is sure to be my undoing.

“I love you.” She squeaks the last word as her body stiffens and erupts into orgasm. That did it. I am completely useless as my release captures me and causes me to sink into her. We cling to each other as wave after wave attacks our bodies, causing her to clinch powerfully around my helplessly emptying penis. I can feel every muscle contracting in ecstasy as my sex thumps wildly inside of her.

“Oh, Baby,” I groan. “Mmmm!” My nose is smashed into her cheek as I know that I am making horrendous sex faces. I’m coming so hard that I feel her shudder beneath me and I squirt inside her once more. “Oh God, I love you, too,” I breathe. My lips search hungrily and clumsily for hers and as I taste the sweetness of her mouth, then breath slowly creeps back into my body.


A/N: Pictures of places, cars, fashion, etc. can be found at http://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/mending-dr-steele/

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Love and Handcuffs!
Lynn x