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
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.
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…
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 girl 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!”
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?”
“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!
“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!