Becoming Dr. Grey: Chapter 2—Bad, Bad Christian Grey!

Wow! So the reactions to Chapter One were varied and quite powerful. There were even some accusations of rape! I knew that there would be, and I address that in my end author’s note. I will say that I didn’t see it that way. 

I will say that I understand that I can’t satisfy everyone at the same time. Many times, Christian has fucked up and people have called Ana a bitch. I guess it doesn’t surprise me that the feelings change when the tables are turned and Ana is the one who made the big mistake. 

Let me say that I truly love that the reactions were so on different ends of the spectrum, pissing some people off while make others nod in understanding. That means that I’m doing a good job and I’m making you think, and contrary to some people’s analysis, nobody’s perfect–not Anastasia, and certainly not Christian. 

Will they be able to mend these decimated fences? The story continues…

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 2—Bad, Bad Christian Grey!

ANASTASIA

“Gail… I… want to cook dinner tonight, if you don’t mind.” Gail raises her head to me and I don’t know what look I give her, but she smiles and nods, drying her hands and removing her apron. Without a word, she leaves me in the kitchen to mull around and find something for dinner. She has thawed some chicken breasts and there are a million things I can do with those.

I stayed on the chaise all day. No one bothered me or brought me food or water. I slept most of the day. It’s a defense mechanism that kicks in when I’m really depressed or forlorn. Being pregnant doesn’t hurt either. When I woke and saw where I was, I just sang to my babies until we fell asleep again. I finally got up and took a shower, trying not to run into Christian but realizing that I didn’t really need to be concerned about it.

His moves have been calculated today, too. He didn’t come near the bedroom until I had left it. He spent most of the day in his study except for when he left to go for a run. He and Jason have been gone for quite some time now and I don’t know when they’ll be back, but I figure I’ll make dinner for him and leave it in the oven.

I don’t want him to have to avoid me until he’s not mad at me anymore, so I’m considering moving into the guest room for a while. Would I be running if I did that? Am I just avoiding the inevitable by sleeping in another room? The truth is that I don’t have any fight left in me and I can’t stand the way he looked at me earlier. He has never looked at me with disgust. It’s something that burns all the way down to your bones.

I feel kind of stupid for not checking my phone when Chuck signaled me yesterday. It turns out that he was trying to warn me that Christian was on his way. I didn’t want to hear him scolding me, so I refused to check it. By the time I checked it when I took my shower, I had 6 unread messages all from Chuck:

**Christian is on his way.**

**Turn it down. Christian is on his way.**

**I know you hear the phone buzzing.**

**Buzz, buzz…**

**Buzz, buzz…**

**Fine, but when he gets here and he goes nuclear, don’t you dare try to blame this on me!**

I guess I should have checked my texts after all.

I butterfly the chicken and pound it flat. I season it with Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, chives, and rosemary, then stuff it with roasted red peppers, mozzarella, and asparagus. I roll the chicken breasts and add a few more seasonings to the top before I put it in the oven. I boil and drain linguine noodles before tossing them with basil, garlic, and butter. I steam a few of Gail’s freshly snapped green beans before slicing the stuffed chicken valentino on a slant. I place several slices over the freshly tossed linguine and just as I’m about to add the green beans, I hear the front door open.

I hear their voices and they’re talking about what smells so good. Without even knowing that I did it, I squeeze into the space by the pantry, out of sight of the breakfast bar. He says something about checking to see if the coast is clear so that he can shower.

Yes, the coast is clear. I’m in the kitchen, I think to myself as I dash away one more of a thousand tears that I’ve cried today. Guest room it is… no use in him not being able to sleep in his own bed.

I hear him tread to the bedroom, I think, and I release the breath that I was holding. I shudder through my tears, but try to pull myself together quickly as his dinner doesn’t need any more salt. I almost shit my pants when the kitchen door opens and scares the living fuck out me. I cover my mouth to keep from screaming, clutching the wooden spoon to my chest.

“You!” Jason exclaims. “I thought Gail…” With my hand still over my mouth, I start weeping again, just because he broke my resolve and I’m more startled and rattled inside than I thought.

“Ana…” I wave my hand to silence him. I take a deep, painful breath and swallow my cries.

“I’m fine,” I whisper, going to the sink for the hand towel to dry my eyes.

“We thought… I thought it was Gail,” he says, apologetically.

“I know,” I say, my voice soft. “She’s back in your suite. She’s… probably making dinner for you.” I put the steamed green beans on the plate and rush past him to the dining room. I’ll only set one place–fork and knife, placemat, water glass, wine glass, napkin. I walk back past a stunned Jason to get Christian’s dinner and put it on the place I set for him. I’ll come back and clean up when he’s done.

“Not doing so good, huh?” he says, as I brush past him. I don’t want to talk about this. I know that I was wrong–I just don’t want to be where Christian can see me, so I’ll just set his place and move out of the way.

“Ana… are you okay?” Jason asks again.

“I’m fine,” I whisper again.

“Yeah, you said that. Now are you okay?” I look up at him and I don’t know what he sees, but his expression changes.

“I’m fine,” I say again. “Go have dinner with your wife. I interrupted her so I know she’s cooked for you.” I try not to sound harsh or pathetic. I think a mastered part of that, because his eyes are filled with pity when he looks at me. Please, don’t give me that look. I’m at the point where I don’t want anybody to look at me right now. “Please, go have dinner with your wife.” Don’t ask me again… please. He stands there for a moment and I wonder if I’m going to have to stay in the kitchen until Christian is done with his meal. Jason finally nods and leaves to join his wife.

I stick my head out of the kitchen and the coast is clear. I fill his water glass and go to the cooler for wine. I put a crisp white on the table and realize I forgot the corkscrew. I’m running like a headless chicken to get his dinner set and when I get back to the table, there he is–wet hair in jeans and a sweatshirt, looking sexy and quite forbidden. I’m frozen in my steps and I feel every bit of a troll standing there staring at him with a corkscrew in my hand. Besides my chef’s apron, I can’t remember what I’m wearing. Then I remember the lecture, and my eyes drop to his chest.

Anywhere but his eyes… Don’t look at his eyes…

“You made dinner,” he says, flatly.

“Yes,” I say, just above a whisper.

“Is that for me?” he asks, and I look at the corkscrew. Without a word, I hand it to him. He dutifully takes it from my hands and proceeds to uncork the wine. What do I do now? I had planned to serve his food and escape to the guest room before he was out of the shower. Now what—wait for him to dismiss me? If Jason hadn’t held me up…

“Where’s yours?” His voice snaps me out of my inner turmoil. Mine. Mine? Where is mine? I hadn’t even thought about me.

“It’s… in the kitchen,” I say. There’s plenty for me, but I haven’t made a plate for myself. I didn’t expect to eat with him.

“Bring it out,” he says, his voice very matter-of-fact. Oh, hell. I have to eat with him. I thought he said he was checking to see if the coast was clear. Why does he want to eat with me?

I turn around and go back to the kitchen to get another place setting–fork and knife, placemat, water glass, napkin, skip the wine glass. I set my place to the right of him as he sits at the head of the table. He stands at his seat until I have loaded my plate and filled my water glass, then he pulls my chair out for me. I sit dutifully and begin to put my napkin on my lap when I realize that I’m still wearing my apron. I lean forward and reach around and untie it. I pull it over my head revealing my baby bump and my two little beans who have been keeping me company all day.

We eat in silence and Christian finishes one glass of wine, then fills another. He sips on the second glass as I finish my dinner, then I proceed to clear the dishes. Wrapping myself back in my apron, I clean the kitchen and put the leftovers away. I take my time, trying to give him the opportunity to go to his study or to the bedroom, but I get the feeling that he knows that’s what I’m doing. When I’m done with the kitchen, I give the babies a squeeze for strength and step out of the kitchen.

He’s drinking water now and looking out at the Seattle skyline. When I enter the dining room, he wordlessly turns his head to look at me.

“I’m sorry,” I say, just above a whisper. “What I did was stupid and thoughtless and I’ll never do it again.”

“What did you do, Anastasia?” he says, his voice impassive.

“Flaunted myself in front of those men that way looking for attention.” An unknown emotion flashes briefly across his face, but it’s quickly replaced by his impassive CEO stare. He nods once that he acknowledged what I said, and turns back to the wall of glass. I feel physical pain in my chest at his lack of response or acceptance. Dejected, I walk to the hallway and, after pondering my options, slowly rise up the stairs.

*-*

Sunday was a haze. I avoided Christian again, but realized that I didn’t need to. He stayed hidden for the whole day. I choked through broiling him a steak and a baked potato and managed to escape before he emerged for dinner—and before I emptied mine into the guest room toilet. Every moment is filled with angst and pain, regret… he’s punishing me. He’s punishing me for what I did. Part of me knows I deserve it, but the other part wants this to stop. I’m hurting and I want it to stop.

Monday morning, we go to see Dr. Culley to find out the sex of the babies. What should be a very joyous occasion is marred with resentment, anger, and pain. It doesn’t slip past Dr. Culley, either. She tries to play therapist and tell us how unhealthy negative feelings are for the babies. In a completely out-of-character moment, it was I who told her to please just tell us the sex of our babies so that we could get on with our day. It was the shortest—yet longest—appointment we’ve had since I’ve been pregnant. After Dr. Culley announces that we’re having a little boy and a little girl, Christian waits for her to leave before wordlessly walking out of the exam room.

When I get to my office, I call each of the businessmen and apologize for Friday’s dinner. I admit to them that I acted inappropriately for reasons that I don’t care to discuss, but pleaded with them not to let my behavior be a reflection of Helping Hands. It’s a reputable charity with an honorable purpose, even if its assistant director may go a bit off the rails at times because of her corked pregnancy brain and unpredictable emotions. Luckily for me, they all have wives and understood what I was going through. One took the liberty to tell me that even though I’m a very attractive woman, no one would dare cross Christian Grey that way and that I shouldn’t cheapen myself for attention or a bigger paycheck. He was kind in what he said, but the words did cut deep. They all agreed to make substantial donations to Helping Hands and two of them even agreed to future pledges. Crisis averted… well, this one anyway.

My marriage is a different subject. Five days later, and Christian still won’t speak to me. I’ve cooked his dinner every night and allowed him to eat alone… the nights he ate, anyway. Twice, food stayed on the table and went bad, forcing Gail to throw it out in the morning. I haven’t been able to keep anything down either. My nerves are totally shot. When a week passes and he’s not even coming home at night, it seems, I stop cooking dinner and prepare for the worst.

I’ve truly fucked up and he doesn’t want me. I’ve shattered his perfect little Butterfly image and he can’t forgive me. What I did was worse than cheating. I went in search of attention… in a public place… from several men. My intentions were clear and he was front and center to see the whole thing. I’m not desirable to him anymore. Maybe he’s found someone else. It would serve me right if he did. The late nights started even before the fiasco with the charity dinner. He hasn’t touched me, kissed me, or even looked at me in a week, and I can’t remember the last time we had sex, not counting the punishment fuck, much less made love. I’m as big as a house and he doesn’t want me, but he doesn’t want anyone else to want me either. It’s 2:00am and quiet.

Certain that I’m alone, I break the silence with a blood-curdling wail from deep in my soul. I cry so hard that something in my back pops, but I don’t stop. The beans start to wiggle wildly. I grab my stomach, and wail some more, mourning the loss of his love and trust. His issues were bigger than mine, and I’ve blown it. I cry so hard that it feels like my heart will burst. Moments later, I hear scrambling up the stairs and a figure bursts through the door. I only cry harder when I realize that it’s not Christian. It’s Jason, and Gail is scrambling behind him. I collapse into a mound on the floor and I just want to die. I don’t know which of them comes over to get me off the floor, but I feel like I’m going to just expire. I hear stomping down the stairs and before I take to crying myself into exhaustion, I hear someone yelling, “What’s wrong with you!?” before a door closes in the distance.

*-*

“I’m moving back to my condo,” I say, defeated.

“You can’t do that. You’re married,” Ace says during our session two weeks after the fiasco. “Married people have issues. You have to work through it.”

“He wouldn’t miss me!” I say, definitely. “He wouldn’t even know I was gone. He doesn’t talk to me. I wouldn’t know if he’s in the apartment or not. He doesn’t care about the babies. I don’t even think he loves me anymore. He hasn’t touched me in weeks. I wouldn’t either. Look at me! I’m disgusting! I’ve destroyed his trust and he wants nothing more to do with me.”

“That’s not true and you know it! You’re a beautiful woman who made a stupid decision and your husband is angry—although you look like you’ve lost some weight.” I frown at him. Lost some weight? Is he blind or trying to be a smart ass? “Give him time, he’ll be fine. You did the same thing when he believed Flynn over you.” Oh yeah, I forgot about that, but so far his silent treatment is days longer than mine.

“Fine,” I say defeated. “I won’t move back to my condo, but I’m only coming home to sleep.” The loneliness is killing me and I can’t stand it anymore. Chuck can come along, but he can’t give play-by-plays of my whereabouts or I’m ditching him at my first possible opportunity.

*-*

I spend most evenings at the house on Mercer, sitting in the unfinished room that we chose for the beans and singing to them. I don’t want to be around anyone and even my friends are wondering where I’m disappearing to. The middle of the night sometimes finds me restless and sitting in this room with the beans, like tonight. It’s been four weeks or so. I kind of lost count somewhere after day 20 and just fell into despair. I haven’t even been at Helping Hands for the last week and I’ve given up hope of Christian caring about me again. I’m a receptacle for his babies and that’s it. I’ve become Mrs. Ringhold and it’s my own fault. Damn that woman for cursing me with her fucking predictions. It hasn’t even been a year yet.

My head aches, my throat aches, my eyes ache, my whole body aches from this incessant wailing and crying. Quite frankly, I’m tired of hearing my own voice. I said I wouldn’t do it, but I think it’s best if I just move back to my condo after all. At least there, I can nurse my broken heart and lament my circumstances without everything reminding me of what I foolishly threw away by acting so selfish and irresponsible. Christian doesn’t want to be around me and I’m sure not going to wander around his penthouse, haunting the rooms and corridors and hoping that he’ll remember that we’re married.

Hoping that he’ll remember that we’re married… Who am I kidding? Butterfly is dead, mostly from her own doing, but what was left of her fragile wings lay broken and shattered on the ground—crushed by an ever so stylish Cesar Picotti Italian leather shoe. My heart breaks again and I can physically feel the pain as I wonder why he didn’t twist the heel and kill the bug completely. At least I would be put out of my misery. No use in feeling sorry for myself. There’s no one to blame really but me.

My stomach growls from hunger, but it’s much better than the barf-chow sessions I have when I try to eat something. Nothing stays down… absolutely nothing. Gail has tried everything—fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade broths and soups, organic foods… nothing. I try to eat and we just hope that some of the food stays with the babies. The vomiting is so violent that the thought of eating actually makes my head and back hurt. Were it not for the babies, I would avoid it completely, but I do my very best to hold something down for them.

I wrap my too-big sweater around my body and try to imagine the nursery when it’s finished—decorated in pink and purple and blue and white for our little boy and little girl. Even though my throat hurts, I manage to squeeze out a hum of my lullaby for my little angels, attempting to remember happier times and patiently waiting for the day I’ll get to hold them in my arms and they make everything right with the world…

I open my eyes and realize that I’ve slept on the floor in the babies’ room. It’s morning, and the sun is shining into the window. I better get home and shower. Home… hmm. I better get back to the penthouse and shower. I don’t even know if I want to pack anything… just go to the condo. There’s certainly no concern of him following me there unless he’s afraid that I’ll run off with his babies. In that case, I decide that maybe it’s best if I just go straight to the condo. I don’t care if I’m running. I just don’t want to do this anymore. At least I’m not driving to the mountains.

Resigned to my fate and hoping that he’ll just let me go quietly instead of adding insult to injury, I step out of the front door and lock it. Just as I’m about to walk to my car, three vehicles are tearing into the gate and up the gravel driveway—Audis, one of them is Christian’s. What the hell is this?

Oh, shit. Maybe he already thought I was running away with his babies.

He jumps out of the car and nearly sprints over to me. I must look a fright. I’ve unwittingly slept on the floor of a construction site all night. My back is killing me and I haven’t tidied up at all. I’m sure I look as bad as I feel. I almost reach back to smooth my hair, but think better of it. Why bother?

When he gets over to me, he grabs both arms firmly. He’s touching me! He’s touching me! The breath goes out of my body and I’m at a loss for words. All of my senses go directly to those spots on my arms where he’s touching me—the warmth, the gentle pressure like he’s holding me up. My mind is reeling.

“Ana! Are you okay? What are you doing here?” His voice is a little desperate. What’s this? He cares?! No… it’s the babies. I’m carrying his babies. That’s what it is.

“Ana! Say something! Are you okay? Why are you here?” I try. I try to form my lips to speak, but nothing comes out. What’s wrong with me? I want to scream at him that he doesn’t care about me—that as long as I delivered his babies, it wouldn’t matter if I lived or died—but I can’t. He’s touching me and that’s all I can think of. It seems like I haven’t felt him touch me in so long. There was the punishment sex those weeks ago, but my mind just blocked that out because it wasn’t Christian… it wasn’t my love. It was someone else. I haven’t felt my love in… months.

“Ana?” He says my name. No desperation, no anger, just a question. His grip on my arms loosen and I fear he’s about to let me go. My heart breaks and everything in me seems to dissolve into mush. Even the babies feel like they’re mourning.

“I’m sorry…” I choke out. I can barely hear the whisper myself.

“What?” he says, frowning and squinting deeply.

“I’m sooorrrryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!” I wail from my soul. Everything hurts. Absolutely everything hurts. Every bone, every cell, every pore hurts. Even my hair hurts. I can’t feel anything but pain as I wail the words over and over again, so loud that they echo through the trees. I honestly don’t know what happens next. I feel his warmth against me, I know that it’s him. I can’t stop crying. I’m trying, but I can’t stop, and now I’m shivering. We’re in the car and we’ve been in here for a while, but I’m shivering. My cries have become those messy hiccup cries, but I can’t stop. I can’t form any words. I can only cry.

“Sssssshhhhh,” he soothes, while he carries me to the elevator. My trembling body melts into his and I recall his smell. It soothes me. I had almost forgotten it. I inhale deeply to try to remember his scent for when he’s gone again—when he shuns me and can’t stand the sight of me or being in the same room with me. It’s only a matter of time before he forgets how pathetic I am right now and remembers what I did… or what was pulling him away from me in the first place, before I did what I did.

My arms are crossed over my chest, my fists pulling my sweater closed over my babies. My babies. They are the only things that have kept me strong in all of this. I have to focus on my babies. I have to protect my babies from the big, bad world. I squeeze my arms tighter—to protect my babies, keep them warm…

I feel the soft cushion of my bed… our bed. It feels good. It sure feels better than that floor. He’s gone now, and Gail is here. He remembered. He remembered what I did and he’s letting Gail take care of me now. She tries to take my sweater, but I’m clinging to it.

“It’s okay, Ana. I won’t hurt you. You need a shower and some clean clothes, dear.” Her voice is comforting. She sounds like she’s talking to a frightened child. I’m no child, I’m a woman. I’m just weak and tired and lonely, and I’m trying to draw some strength from my babies because they are the only things that keep me strong. I haven’t even seen my handful of patients in weeks, or my friends, just me and my babies. Gail kneels down in front of me and I look into her eyes, ready to burst again.

Why does he hate me? Why doesn’t he love me anymore? Was what I did so bad that he stopped loving me?

Come on, Beans, give Mommy some strength. I’m fading fast here.

There’s so much pain in my soul that even the good times seem to pale in comparison right now. Paris, Greece, Napa, the wedding… nothing seems to ease the pain I’m feeling.

“Ana? Come on, we need to get you cleaned up. You look like you’ve slept in a barn.”

That bad, huh? Well, it doesn’t matter. I could look like the Queen of Egypt and he wouldn’t come near me right now. I’m a pestilence as far as he’s concerning, a bug to be avoided or squashed.

“Christian?” she calls to him. Oh, God, please don’t call him. He already hates me. Seeing me again might make him ill at this point. He must not be far, because he comes right into the room when she calls. “She… something’s wrong.” He looks over at me. I turn my head away when I see his piercing gray eyes. I don’t want to see the look of impassive disgust again. I can’t take it. I’m crumbling and fighting to hold myself together for my babies.

Please, Beans, help me hold it together.

“Ana?” He calls to me, but I don’t turn around. I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to see his hatred. “Baby?”

Baby? Did he just say Baby? Am I hearing things? I take a chance to turn and look at him. His eyes are soft, full of concern.

Concern. Yeah, I’ll take that.

I look up at him, my heart and mind screaming what my mouth and throat can’t anymore.

I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry. Please forgive me. I swear, I’ll never do it again.

A look of realization comes over his face and his shoulders drop slightly.

“I’ve got it, Gail,” he says. She looks at me, then at him, then nods. “Please get my phone. Call my mother, Dr. Culley, and Lordis Avery. Tell them what’s going on as best you can.” No use in calling them—I’m not talking to anybody. Gail leaves and closes the door and Christian turns back to me. Instinctively, I turn away. I don’t want to see the look of disgust, but more important, I don’t want him to see me right now.

CHRISTIAN

I didn’t mean to do this to her. I was stuck in my own anger and feelings, how she had always been so self-righteous when I did something wrong and now perfect little Anastasia has fucked up big time. I had her over a barrel, too, because she was wrong in every way. There was no excuse for what she had done and I was hell-bent on making her pay for it, just like the many times she made me pay for my sins. I didn’t enjoy it like I thought I would. It hurt not talking to her or touching her, not kissing her or being with her, but I was determined to make her feel what she had made me feel so many times when I had fucked up.

It wasn’t easy. I love her. I love her very much, but my anger fueled my need for revenge, to teach her a lesson. When I felt like I might give in, the “bigger purpose” always prevailed. She needs to learn. She’s always trying to teach me some goddamn lesson. Now, it’s her turn. So I turned on the CEO, turned off my heart, and tuned out the pain–hers and mine.

The first night she slept in the guest room, I was torn. Part of me felt remorse for setting loose the Neanderthal again while the other part of me was pissed as hell that she had the nerve to act all bruised after flirting with a table full of businessmen in a skimpy dress in a crowded  restaurant. After I mulled over that last part for a while, I grabbed her robe and waited outside of that damn room until I fell asleep. This fucking merger and trapping this motherfucker hacking into my company has been taking all of my energy and time and I have been just too damn tired to deal with a pouting Anastasia who had brought this all on herself.

I felt absolutely no remorse as I told her how I felt, and when she was about to turn on the tears, I let her know that in no uncertain terms. I’ll wait for you to get your cry out, then we can finish, I had thought to myself. It’s my turn to be displeased, and you are the object of my displeasure. My, how the tables have turned.

I had no desire to see her wallow in self-pity, so I just made myself scarce. Yes, I was avoiding her. I couldn’t deal with her and this damn catastrophe at work at the same time. It was just too much damn energy. She cooked dinner for me several nights, even the nights when I didn’t make it home to eat it. She didn’t know, but many nights I went into that room to check on her. There were several times when I watched her cradle her stomach and sing to the babies–always the same song, “Goodnight, My Angel.

I watched in silence as she held her stomach, cradling our babies and singing. I know that right now, it’s the only place where she can find comfort and I know in this moment, that’s the place she will always escape when she doesn’t know where else to go… to the arms and unconditional love of our children.

That night she shattered the house with her screams, I thought I was going to fucking die. I knew what she was doing. I just couldn’t bring myself to climb those stairs and comfort her. I don’t know what was happening to me. My soul was pulling me to that room, begging me to take her in my arms and hold her and tell her that all was forgiven, but the moment it looked like I might break and climb those stairs, the picture of her in that restaurant was front and center again. The anger boiled up in me and fought with the love and sympathy, and it was a galactic battle. I’m still not really sure who won. I do remember that Jason could have killed me that night.

“What’s wrong with you!?” Jason shouts as he barges into my study slamming the door behind him. “You’ve made your fucking point! She’s tormented! Are you enjoying this shit?”

No! As a matter of fact, I’m not! She’s always talking about how I need to think before I act. What the hell was she thinking flaunting her ass in front of those men like that? My wife! Pregnant with my fucking babies! How’s that for forethought! I’m fighting like hell with these latest issues trying to save my company and keep the hard work of hundreds of people from going down the drain, and she’s shaking her tits and ass and flipping her hair for a fucking dollar! Then she admitted that she was doing it for attention. That shit cut like a knife and it’s everything I can do not to lose it and go fucking primal on everything in a 100-mile radius!

“Jason, I can’t hear you,” I say through gritted teeth.

“You’re going to hear me now…!” I stand quickly, slamming both hands hard on my desk.

“No! The fuck! I’m not!” I roar. “Now get the fuck out of my office!” I will tear you fucking limb from limb if you don’t leave now—not because I want to, but because I can’t control it. He glares at me, his anger at the current situation, no doubt battling with what he knows of me. He is seething when he snatches the door open and slams it shut behind him. I raise my fists and slam them so hard on my desk that I swear I hear wood splintering, and this desk is solid oak. It’s nearly 2:30 in the morning and I need a workout… now. I don’t even bother to change my clothes before escaping to the downstairs gym.

I think I stayed in the gym the rest of the night that night. I remember sneaking back into the apartment to shower and change before going back to the office. I didn’t check on her that morning, either. I was afraid that she might be awake.

Then came this morning, when I went to the room and she was gone. The bed hadn’t been slept in, and I immediately knew something was wrong. She didn’t just get up and go somewhere. She hadn’t been here all night. My mind immediately went to Montana, when she snuck away and no one knew she had left. I immediately call Charles.

“Sir,” he says into the phone.

“Where are you?” I try not to sound worried. It didn’t work.

“I’m on my way to the penthouse. What’s going on?” he says after a short pause.

“Ana’s gone,” I say flatly. I hear a whispered “fuck” on the other line.

“Is her car gone?” he asks. I hadn’t thought of that.

“I haven’t checked.”

“Check. If it’s gone, she’s not running… at least I don’t think she is. Turn on the tracker. I’m five minutes out. What’s J say?” Damn! Jason. I didn’t even notify him yet.

“I haven’t told him. I was hoping that you were with Ana.”

“You called me before you called J… that’s a first. Car. Tracker. I’ll be there in a minute.” He ends the call. I call back to Jason’s suite.

“Ready to go, sir?” he answers.

“Ana’s missing,” I say, trying to control the terror rising in my stomach. He pauses, too.

“What?” he says in disbelief.

“She’s missing. She hasn’t slept in her bed and she’s not with Charles.” This time I hear a whispered “shit” on the other line.

“Here I come.” He ends the call. I’m already dressed to go to the office, so I just stand there waiting for someone to give me instructions. I’ve chased her away. She’s always so strong, but no one can really withstand the bulldozer that is Christian Grey. I pushed way too hard this time. I wanted her to learn her lesson. Did she? Or did I just make a bad matter worse?

“Her car is gone.” Charles breaks me from my train of thought. “She knows not to go anywhere without me, sir. She’s good at following those instructions. Have you turned on the tracker?”

“Done,” Jason’s voice says from behind me. “She’s at the house on Mercer.”

“At the house on Mercer?” I say with a frown. “The house isn’t finished yet. Could someone have lured her there?” They both shrug, but Charles’ look of uncertainty leaves me with a bitter taste in my mouth. I am out of the door and in the elevator before either of them can catch me. In seconds, the RS7 is roaring out of the parking garage and I am on my way to Mercer Island.

*-*

She looks like shit. She’s wearing a way-too-large white T-shirt, some gray jogging pants and a huge gray sweater that wraps around her whole body and nearly drags the ground, and she looks like shit. It looks like she’s been sleeping in the dirt. There’s sawdust and other debris in her hair and when she turns to me, her eyes are red and swollen, carrying bags and dark circles. She looks like she hasn’t slept in days. Was someone holding her hostage in there?

Jason and Lawrence run inside to check the house while Charles stands behind me and I’m desperately trying to get Ana to tell me what’s happened. I think she’s in shock because she can’t speak. I realize that I’m probably scaring her and I loosen my grip on her arms, trying to find out what’s wrong.

“I’m sooorrrryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!” She’s wailing again, and the sound burns my ears and pierces my heart like a two-edged sword, slicing it to bits and causing the blood to pour into my stomach making me nauseous. The shock—and pain—causes me to release my grip on her and she drops to the ground, taking handfuls of gravel like she’s trying to find something to hold on to, still screaming her apologies loud enough to wake the dead. I squat down to her and take her face in my hands.

“Baby?” I try to talk to her, but she can’t hear me. She’s still screaming that she’s sorry. Jason and Lawrence come running from the house just as I lift her off the ground and take her to one of the waiting SUV’s. Without a word, Charles gets into the driver’s seat and rushes us back to Escala.

She cries the whole way. She goes from wailing to weeping to shivering to hiccuping. When I get her into the elevator, she calms just a bit, and I’m hoping the worst is over. She’s clearly exhausted, most likely hungry. I lay her in our bed and she’s semi-conscious. She’s going to need a shower. If I do it, I’m not going to be able to keep myself from making love to her. I ache for her even now, even in this state. I go in search of Gail.

“She needs a shower,” I tell her when I find her. I look longingly off into the room. “She needs clean clothes. She probably feels horrible and…” I try to tell her why I can’t do it without telling her. She smiles and puts her hand on my shoulder.

“Okay,” she says with a nod before going into the bedroom. What do I do now? The cook just went to give her a bath. Who’s going to feed her?

“Jason?” I turn to my best friend with my hand in my hair. When I remove it, there are a few copper strands between my fingers.

“What do you need, Boss?” he says, all prior ire from the last few days—or weeks—forgotten.

“She needs food. Something healthy, substantial. No beef… beef makes her sick…” He grabs my flailing hand.

“I know, Boss,” he says. “Why aren’t you with her?” I drop my head.

“I can’t be in there right now,” I admit. “She’s naked and I haven’t been with her in weeks and I’m a Neanderthal… I can’t be in there with her right now.”

“Christian?” I hear my name as Jason pats me on the shoulder. I step into the bedroom and Ana is curled up on the bed at the headboard. She’s clinging to this sweater like she’s afraid someone is going to violate her. Gail tells me that something’s wrong. I look at Ana and she turns away. I call her name and she doesn’t respond.

“Baby?” Is she in there? She turns around and looks at me like a frightened child, contrite and beseeching. I can’t stand this anymore. “I’ve got it, Gail. Please get my phone. Call my mother, Dr. Culley, and Lordis Avery. Tell them what’s going on as best you can.” She nods and leaves and I turn back to Butterfly, who turns away from me again. I take off my jacket and sit next to her. She must have slept on the ground or in the middle of a worksite or something, because she is absolutely filthy. I put my hand on her cheek and raise her face to me. I move very slowly as I brush her stringy hair from her face and bring my lips to hers, kissing her softly.

She doesn’t respond at first. Her eyes are still open and she looks at me strangely. I kiss her again, and again, and again, until she finally closes her eyes. Her lips are limp and she’s panting, absorbing my kisses… and this is why I couldn’t be in this room with her, because now I want her. Her fragility and vulnerability are making me crave her, making me want to love her over and over. I feel her tears falling silently down her cheeks, and I wipe them away with my thumbs as I caress her lips with mine.

Oh Butterfly, I’ve missed you so much…

I put a rein on my raging hormones and bellowing feelings to pull away from her so that I can see her eyes.

“I’ll be right back, okay?” I say softly and she nods. I rise and go to the en suite, quickly starting a bath and situating towels and shampoo. I come back to the bedroom and she’s sitting on the edge of the bed now. That’s progress. I come over to her and reach for her hand. When she gives it to me, I help her stand and lead her to the bathroom. I brush my fingers through her hair to remove the debris and some of the surface dirt. Good God, how does she care for all this hair? It’s past her waist. Has it been that long since I’ve washed her hair?

Yes, asshole, it has. Think hard.

Yep, it’s been a while. She lets me remove her sweater and she still has small amounts of gravel in her hands. I brush it out, holding her hands gently before searching for her eyes.

“I’m sorry,” she says again, the only words she’s said all morning. I nod.

“I know,” I say, gently brushing her cheek before removing her shirt. “I know.”

I finish undressing her and help her into the bathtub. She doesn’t react to the water at all. I hope it’s not too hot or too cold. I tried to make it warm enough for her but not too warm for the babies. She tries to wrap her arms around her knees, but I think she forgot the babies kind of prevent that now. So she wraps her arms around them instead, looking for that unconditional acceptance, and stares at the water.

I definitely pushed too hard.

I use her freshwater sponge to clean her from head to toe. I’ve missed this body. It’s so beautiful… delicate and petite, swollen with my babies. She allows me to touch her and it’s soothing, to both of us—not sexually, just soothing. I wash, detangle, and condition her incredibly long hair, and she finally begins to relax. When I’m done, I wring her hair of the excess water, then retrieve her bath robe. I help her out of the tub, then wrap her in the robe. Her eyes are full of gratitude when she looks up at me. She always says that my eyes give me away, but hers are truly the window to her soul—no pun intended.

I decide against trying to dry her hair and instead, opt to braid it in one long braid that drapes over her shoulder. I’ve seen it like that before and I think she likes it that way. I know I do. The damn thing drapes all the way down over the babies. I don’t bother with underwear for her. I just grab a super-long comfortable flowing maxi-dress. I figure she would protest if she wanted a bra and panties and she didn’t, so c’est la vie. I’ve ruined my suit pants on my knees in the bathroom, so I go to the closet and change into a pair of jeans. As I’m pulling my T-shirt over my head, I come into the bedroom and my mother is there with Butterfly.

“Hello, Christian,” my mother says, her voice firm.

“Mother,” I respond. “I didn’t hear you knock.”

“Well, I did,” she says, “and Ana allowed me in.” I look over at Butterfly and she drops her gaze from me, not like a submissive, just away from me. “Is… everything okay?” She looks from me to Butterfly and I feel the need to make an exit.

“I’m going to leave so you two can talk,” I say, more to escape my mother than anything.

“Christian?” Butterfly’s voice—the only thing she has said this morning besides “I’m sorry.”

“Just come out when you’re ready, Baby. I’m going to go see how the food is coming along.” She gives me a half-smile which I return before I leave for the kitchen. Gail is preparing enough food for an army. “Gail?” She jumps when she hears my voice, clearly startled. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to frighten you.” She rolls her eyes.

“It’s fine,” she says a bit curtly. “I didn’t know what to cook, so it just… kind of took on a mind of its own. Then Dr. Grey showed up and… Well, anyway, I’ll take whatever you don’t eat back to Jason and the guys.” I nod.

“What did Dr. Culley and Dr. Avery say?” She twitches a bit.

“Well, I didn’t exactly know what to tell them. So, I told them that Ana may have had a dramatic morning and that you were concerned about her and asked me to call. They were both quite concerned, but both have pretty full days. Dr. Culley said for you or Ana to call her when she was out of the bath with an update, and that if there was any real cause for concern to go to the hospital and she would meet you there after her patients today.”

“Well, from what I can see, there’s not cause for concern. She’s not bruised or anything like that and she doesn’t appear to be in physical pain or anything. She just looked like she slept with the horses. Maybe my mom can find out what’s going on,” I rub my face.

“She still won’t talk to you?”

“Not really. She just keeps saying ‘I’m sorry.’ What did Ace say?” She frowns.

Ace?”

“Dr. Avery.” She nods.

“He said that one of you needs to call him at noon to tell him exactly what happened and what kind of condition Ana is in and he can make a better judgment call at that time. He knew I was holding something back.” I nod. I really don’t have time for his or anyone else’s judgment, so if that’s what’s coming, he can shove it back in his little notebook.

“Thanks, Gail,” I tell her.

“Can I get you anything?”

“No, I’m hoping Butterfly will be out in a minute and then we can eat together.” She smiles at me. “What?”

“You’re calling her Butterfly again.” Again? I ponder the thought for a moment as Gail goes back to finishing this monstrous meal.

“Gail?” She turns around to face me. “When do I stop?” She makes to answer, but then she has to ponder it herself. She frowns.

“It’s been a while, Sir,” she says, which means even she doesn’t know. When did I stop? Was it before I saw her in the restaurant with the men? Did I do it on purpose? Shit, that says a lot. Butterfly has all kinds of implications and if I stopped calling her that to other people… shit.

“Is this silly standoff between the two of you over? Please forgive my saying so, but it’s doing more harm than good.”

I would have to say that I agree. It had its desired purpose, but maybe a bit too much so.

“Yes, it’s over,” I respond. Butterfly and my mom come out of the bedroom. She is holding Mom’s arm and limping a bit.

“What’s wrong?” I ask, immediately sliding off of the stool. “Why is she limping?” Mom puts her hand up to halt me. She must know that my immediate intention is to scoop her up in my arms and carry her where she needs to go.

“Her back,” she says, “it’s a little sore. She slept on the floor of the baby’s room at the construction site.” Mom is not pleased.

“On the fl…?” I look down at Butterfly, completely bemused. Anything could have happened to her out there! There was no security except for the night watchmen who are supposed to keep people off the site. What a bang-up job they did! She averts her sight from me again and I touch her cheek to bring her back to me.

“Are you okay?” I ask. “Do you need me to carry you?” She shakes her head.

“I’m fine,” she says in a small voice. More words, that’s a good sign. I thought I had broken her. I certainly wasn’t trying to do that. I go to the dining room and pull out a chair for her. Mom leads her in and she takes a seat.

“I hope you’re hungry,” I say, with a smile. “Gail cooked enough for a small village.” She smiles back, a small, coy smile.

“Famished,” she says.

“Mom, do you want to join us?” I ask.

“May I have a word, please, Christian?” she says, marching into my study. I lean down and kiss Butterfly on the cheek.

“I’ll be right back. You go ahead and get started. I won’t be long. Gail! She’s famished!” I call out before walking into the study with my mother and closing the door.

“What is going on here, Christian?” she starts right in on me. “That girl looks terrible! Her skin shows obvious signs of dehydration. She’s clearly exhausted—have you seen the bags and dark circles under her eyes? I can’t tell for sure without a scale, but I would wager that she’s lost some weight… has she been taking care of herself?” I sigh heavily.

“To be honest, Mom, I don’t know.” My mother’s eyes widen. She is horrified.

“You don’t know?? How can you not know?? She’s six months pregnant with twins! Your twins! How could you not know?” I fold my arms ready to square off with my mother if I have to.

“Mom, we had a falling out. It was big, and we didn’t speak for a while. We were basically ships passing in the night. I don’t know what she has been eating or what she has been doing for the last few weeks. I just knew that she was alive and okay and that she was here—until this morning. When I went to check on her…”

“To check on her?” Mom is still horrified.

“Yes, to check on her. She was sleeping in the guest room. It was her choice and I didn’t argue. Like I said, we had a falling out and it was pretty big. My meals were left in the oven or the microwave when I got home. I assumed that she was eating, too.”

“You assumed!” My mother is livid. “For Christ’s sake, Christian! She’s pregnant!”

“Yes, Mom, she’s pregnant.” I say firmly. “Not an infant and not infirm—pregnant. She lives in a palace with plenty of food and if she wasn’t eating properly, she made a conscious decision to do so. So while I appreciate her condition and your concern, please do not scold me because she didn’t eat. You didn’t scold her when I starved myself!”

My mother is clearly affronted, but I’m a bit affronted, too. She has no idea what has been going on in this house and the first thing she does is come in and blame me!

“I’m not privy to the intimate details of your and Dad’s marriage, and I know that the two of you have had many disagreements that I’m not aware of. This was a disagreement between me and my wife. When I saw that there may be a problem, I called you, her doctor, and her shrink. You have all been made aware of her circumstances to the best of my knowledge, and you have apprised me of her medical and physical condition. If she has not confided in you the specific details of why she is in this state—and I really thought that she would—please don’t be so quick to point the finger at me.”

“Well!” she says in that offended mother-socialite tone.

“Knock it off, Mother!” I say before I can catch myself. “I finally decide to speak up for myself, for my feelings, and now you’re offended?” A light goes off in her eyes and I don’t know what to make of it.

“Although I’m not privy to the intimate details, am I allowed to know the gist of what happened?” she asks, her voice controlled. I raise an eyebrow at her.

“We had a falling out. Ana did something wrong, very wrong, and she knew that it was wrong. I was extremely hurt and disappointed. I told her how I felt, but chose not to berate her every moment about how I felt.” My mother nods.

“So… she was sleeping in a separate bed and you two weren’t speaking. For how long, if I may ask?” Where is she going with this? I had to think about it.

“Three weeks… I think.” My mother nods again and purses her lips. I’m sorry I pushed so hard, but I’m not sorry for the lesson she had to learn, so I’m not apologizing.

“Okay,” she says, searching in her purse for her keys. “You win. She told me Flynngate only lasted 10 days. I’m sure that you feel vindicated now.” She goes to walk past me, but I stop her. Vindicated? Is that what she thinks this is?

“This isn’t about Flynn… She told you about Flynngate?”

“Ages ago. She has to work with the man,” she says matter-of-factly. “You made a comment about not being privy to the disagreements that Carrick and I have. Let me make something perfectly clear. My husband and I have been together for over 30 years, and we have never subjected each other to the mental warfare that you young people seem to think is commonplace—surprise babies that you try to palm off on ‘not-the-father,’ running out on each other, live in the house together and you don’t speak for three weeks!” She shakes her head as if to shake off the thought of it. “She didn’t speak to you for 10 days… I guess turnabout is fair play. I always thought two wrongs didn’t make a right, but I guess I’m just an old fuddy duddy that way.”

“I didn’t do this to get back at her, Mother. I was hurt. Everybody understood when she was hurt, but now I’m hurt and you’re angry with me?” I ask incredulously.

“I’m not just angry with you, Christian,” she says calmly. “I’m angry with you and with Ana and with Kate and with this entire generation that thinks this behavior is okay. No wonder divorce has skyrocketed. The kind of hurts that you people inflict on each other are insane. If what she did to you warranted you being this hurt, then I am unbelievably disappointed in her as well. Maybe I just don’t understand, and I hope that you will forgive me, but I choose not to. There’s nothing logical about her condition or this behavior. So please, don’t ever compare this situation to me and Carrick again, because we would never in a million years do anything like this to each other.”

“And Christian gets scolded again,” I say, rolling my eyes in disgust.

“Oh, please!” she hisses. “Spare me your ‘poor little billionaire’ self-pity this time. There are times when I have to agree that we may have been hard on you and we may have expected too much from you. This is not one of those times! Whatever that girl has been through that left her in this state is unacceptable… and fret not, young one. You weren’t scolded alone. Yours just came late.” I jerk my head over to her in surprise.

“I know more than you think I do, Son. Ana has been well and duly chastised for that stunt she pulled with those donors. Luckily, she was able to smooth things over and the damage was minimal, but she’s all too aware of the repercussions of her actions and now I’m certain that you have driven that point home as well. And by the way, that was almost a month ago—not three weeks.” She adjusts her purse on her shoulder. “Physically, she’s fine. She needs to be sure that she is taking her prenatal vitamins and iron. She will need to eat healthy, vitamin-rich, hydrating foods for the next several days to get her skin color and pliability back. She should definitely see her doctor soon because I can’t tell what condition her babies are in. Can I go now?”

I step aside to let her pass. At least I wasn’t scolded alone—it looks like she laid into Butterfly as well. This whole situation is such a fucking mess that I don’t even know where to begin to try to fix it. I still don’t feel like I was wrong, and I’m not changing my mind. She flaunted herself in front of those men and I was hurt. I needed time to no longer be hurt from what she did and I let her know how she made me feel. She’s done that to me countless times, but when I do it…

The important thing here is that she understands the severity of her actions. Fuck everybody else.

I go back to the dining room and she is heartily eating a fruit salad and some chicken, baked I think. It’s 9am and she’s eating baked chicken. I sit in my usual seat and she slows down her chewing. I think she feels subconscious.

“My mother is angry with me,” I say, folding my hands on the table. She swallows the food in her mouth and looks up through her eyelashes at me, then back down at her food. “She thinks this generation treats each other particularly badly and she’s pretty disgusted with it. What do you think?”

She rests her hands in her lap and doesn’t say anything.

“Do you agree with her? Do you think we treat each other badly?” she looks up at me again, then down, placing her hands on her swollen stomach and saying nothing. I reach across the table for her hand. She gently put the tiny thing in mine. Mom’s right, her skin has lost some of its healthy color and it feels a bit clammy. I stroke her fingers with my thumb and her breath hitches. I wasn’t looking for that reaction, but I’m glad that I have that effect on her.

“I wasn’t trying to get back at you, Butterfly,” I tell her. I feel her eyes burrowing into the top of my head as I look at her hand. “I was hurt and I needed time. I didn’t fall apart, I couldn’t. There was work to be done. There still is, but I was terribly hurt by what you did.”

“I know,” she says in her soft voice. “I’m sorry.”

“I know,” I stop her. I can’t hear her say that she’s sorry one more time. “Can you tell me why?”

“Why I’m sorry?” she questions.

“No… why you did it.” I raise my eyes to hers. “I know you said something about attention, but… that seems so superficial, and that’s just not a word that I’d use to describe you.”

“I…” she drops her eyes. “I was lonely. I felt rejected and… ugly.” Ugly?? She’s kidding, right?

“Why didn’t you talk to me?” I ask her.

“I tried, remember?” she raises her eyes to mine. “I tried to tell you and we started fighting about me versus the company and what was more important.” Oh yeah, I remember that. “I thought my marriage was over before it even started. I thought you had found someone else.” Ouch, now that hurt.

“You’re kidding, right?” I ask out loud this time. How could she possibly think I could want someone else? She rolls her eyes and a single tear falls.

“Christian, you hadn’t touched me for weeks before this happened. I was masturbating in the bathtub.” I can tell she’s embarrassed to tell me that. “Then there was the punishment fuck and you didn’t even look at me for a month after that.”

“I looked at you,” I correct her.

“No, you didn’t,” she protests, using her free hand to wipe away her tears.

“Yes, I did—once at night before I went to bed and once in the morning before I went to work.” She looks at me again, surprised. “I didn’t look in last night, so when I checked on you this morning and you weren’t there, I panicked. I thought you had had enough and left me or someone had taken you again. What made you go to the house?”

“I go there often,” she says, “when I can’t sleep. I wake up at night and I go lay in my babies’ room. I imagine that it’s finished and I’m rocking one of them to sleep or I sing to them…”

“‘Goodnight, My Angel,’” I say. Her eyes meet mine again.

“Yes,” she whispers.

“How many times?” She looks at me questioning. “How many times have you been out there?” She shrugs.

“I don’t know,” she says, shaking her head. “Ten, twenty… I don’t know.” Ten or twenty? She’s been out there on an unfinished worksite ten or twenty times alone and nobody told me?

“How?”

“I got a key from Elliot a while back, before any of this happened. I told the night watchman that I was coming in to take measurements or see how a certain piece of material looked in a certain room. He thought it was strange that I was coming at 2am, but I blamed it on pregnancy insomnia and…” she trails off.

“And?” I coax.

“And my husband working late,” she shrugs. I sigh. “He said he’s seen it a lot. After a while, he didn’t even bother me.”

“Charles?” I ask. Where was your damn security?

“Chuck was with me once, at a more reasonable hour. One evening, I went down to have dinner on the bank of the lake. He followed me, but left me alone with my babies and my thoughts.”

“I see you escape to the babies when things get tough,” I tell her. She puts her free hand on her stomach.

“I’ll try not to hang the weight of the world on their shoulders. It can destroy a person, you know.” She looks down at her swollen belly and I can’t help but wonder if she’s talking about herself or me. “Mostly, I just sat there singing to them, plotting what to do with my life.”

“What do you mean ‘what to do with your life?’” She looks up at me.

“Right or wrong, I was convinced that you didn’t want me anymore,” she says. My heart breaks for the… oh, hell, I’ve lost count. “It was my own fault. I knew better, I just… I don’t know. I don’t have an excuse. I was alone and lonely and I wanted to be noticed, but not like this. In a way, I was pleased that I could still turn a man on, even with my big pregnant belly. It just… wasn’t the right man.”

“Why do you keep saying that?” I ask her. “I may have gotten too caught up with my work, but I’ll never stop loving you or wanting you.”

“But I didn’t know that at the time,” she whines, beseeching me to hear her. “All I knew was that my husband—my very virile, sexual, handsome husband—had not touched me in so long, I hadn’t seen him except for a few minutes here and there, and then after the incident, none at all.” Both hands fly to her face and my hand feels empty without hers. “I felt like my life was ending, and all I had left was my babies.”

Yeah, Grey, go big or go home. You truly made your point.

I move to the chair next to her and hold her in my arms. She doesn’t sob, but tears peek out from her fingers. I can imagine that most of her dehydration comes from crying. I sit her up and dry her eyes with my napkin.

“Mom says you need hydrating fruits and vegetables and lots of fluids.” I take a piece of melon from her plate and hold it to her mouth. “Eat.” She opens her mouth and takes the piece of melon from my fingers. It’s innocent enough, but it still manages to turn me on. She’s right. We haven’t made love in months, and the punishment fuck doesn’t count. I won’t jump her bones, though I want to so badly.

“Sir,” Jason emerges from his office. “Andrea is calling about your 11:00 meeting.” I look at Butterfly who has stopped chewing again and swallows her mouthful of food.

“Tell her to reschedule it. I need to be home today,” I tell him. Butterfly raises her eyes to me and I look at her. “Eat,” I urge her, bringing more fruit to her lips.

*-*

We talk for a long time throughout the day about everything and nothing–her cry for attention, my neglect and preoccupation with GEH although I didn’t go into detail about what’s going on. It’s not the right time yet. She’s still pretty reserved with what she’s saying and I have to ask pointed questions to get her to open up to me. Unlike most people, she understands the concept of a punishment fuck as I am a Dominant and led in that direction more often than not. Though it’s not abuse when used in context, it borders on abuse when not used properly–like when I’m angry or when I insist on doing it in public places. She knows that she can safeword and stop that process immediately, but she admits that part of her not only liked it but also felt like she may have deserved it. I admit that I knew that I was treating her like a piece of meat as was my intention, more so after the fact than during the act. That’s okay with a submissive, but not with your wife… even though she’s also your submissive. I was angry with my wife, not my submissive. Once again, context…

Later on, I take her to the hospital just as a precaution and to check on the status of our son and daughter. Dr. Culley assures us that everything is okay and sends us home with the same instructions that my mother gave. She wants to see Butterfly back next week and wants her to look a lot better than she did today. She confirmed that Butterfly had lost a little weight, and Butterfly told her that eating was a bit harder than it had been in the past months. The doctor gave her some recommendations, but I have no doubt that her appetite will return to normal in no time.

We called Ace and briefly talked about what was going on. It turns out that Butterfly had told him about what was going on and, at one point, had even thought about moving back to her condo. I had a feeling that during all this, it had crossed her mind. I kept telling myself that we would cross that bridge when we got to it. I didn’t know how close to it we actually were. When we return from the hospital, Butterfly is completely exhausted. I carry her to our bed where she falls asleep before her head even hit the pillow. I mean literally—she’s snoring the moment I lay her down. I climb in bed behind her fully dressed and indulge in something that I hadn’t done in a month—falling asleep holding my wife and our babies.

I awake in our bed alone. It’s about 10:30 and I am facing the floor-to-ceiling window. I see the outline of the chaise, and a small body lying on it in the dark. I hear her song floating over to my ears and I know that she still hasn’t completely chased the demons of the last month away. I quietly get out of bed and walk over to the chaise as she hums the songs to the babies, looking out over the Seattle night skyline. I climb onto the chaise behind her and spoon her, putting my hand over hers and our babies.

She stops humming when I join her and feel like I’ve imposed on her private moment with the beans. I kiss her neck and shoulders and I want her to know that she never has to only look to the babies for love again. I will always be there, and I will always love her. So I start to sing…

Goodnight, my angel
Time to close your eyes
And save these questions for another day
I think I know what you’ve been asking me
I think you know what I’ve been trying to say.

I keep singing and she hums along while I sing the words. Her smell assaults my nose and my body’s response is immediate. I’m trying to ignore it, but her skin near my lips… good God, I don’t know what to do. I stop singing and she keeps humming. I caress her arm gently with my fingertips and kiss her shoulder and neck. She stops humming and turns to look at me over her shoulder. I can see her eyes even in the dark. They are boring into me and tearing my defenses down. Our lips meet softly… and again… and again… and when our tongues touch…

FIRE! Uncontrollable explosions and bursts of heat from every direction. I don’t even know how it happened, but somehow she’s straddling my lap, my arms possessively around her back and her hands tangled in my hair, and we are kissing hard—like we’re trying to suck the life out of one another.

Oh my God, this is huge! I can’t stop it if I wanted to. Monstrous flames lapping over our bodies and working us into a burning frenzy. She’s clawing at my shirt trying to get it off. I reach between us and free my erection, pulling my pants and boxer briefs down just enough to get my dick past them. Now, I’m pleased that I didn’t bother with underwear when I got her dressed earlier. I position myself at her opening and work my way in. My God, she is tight! She almost sobs when I enter her, her body shuddering immediately. I gasp as I feel her wrap around me. Fuck, it’s been too long.

“Baby… Baby, I love you so much. The thought of any other man near you, touching you, loving you… it drives me insane.” Her mouth finds mine again and she is wheezing with pleasure, rising and falling on me and matching my every stroke. Oh God, it’s so hot, so tight. I’m not going to last. In an attempt to fight off this wildly approaching orgasm, I zero in on her breast, seeking her nipple through the thin material of her dress. Finding it, I clamp down on it with my mouth, teasing and sucking with just enough pressure. She grinds into me, her passions cries coming quicker and higher. Now I have a task, something to distract me from my tightening testicles and burning penis. I bite down gently on her nipple, imitating a nipple clamp as I graze it with my teeth. She shudders again and cries, bouncing on my erection and tormenting me.

Fuck, the other nipple, quick!

I seek out the neglected nipple and finding it immediately, clamp down on it while my fingers pinch the first and my arm holds her against me. In no time, she squeals, then weeps as her body stiffens against me, holding my head to her bosom. Her entire body tightens and her core sucks me in relentlessly, pulling the fight and semen out of me with cosmic force. I choke on my own breath as she clenches around me, weeping helplessly on my shoulder. Fuck, that was intense!

I stroke her back gently while we catch our breath and she continues to weep. God, I love this woman. How could she possibly think I could want anyone but her? I pull her face back wipe her cheeks with my thumb. She continues to cry and I kiss the tears as they fall.

“I w… won’t do th… that to you a… a-gain,” she weeps. I brush her hair from her face.

“And I won’t do that to you again,” I say, holding her face in my hands—the late nights, the neglect, the punishing silence, none of it. My mother was right. It’s cruel on both our parts. We’ve got to stop this and find a better way to deal with our issues. You’d think we would have learned by now. Butterfly nods and continues to weep on my shoulder. Her movement causes a flurry between my legs and I try to pretend that Greystone is not waking up again at this moment while she’s so vulnerable. She reads me and begins to rock gently into me. My breath catches as I feel the burn begin to rise once more. Damn, it’s been way too long!

Her cries give way to shallow breaths and whimpers as her body responds to mine. I burrow under her dress and find my way to the garden. She gasps when my hands reach the small of her back and struggle a bit with her dress, finally getting it over her head so that our skin touches. She feels so good. I rise just enough to slide my jeans off one hip and then the other—one of my hands staying in the garden at all times while the other works my jeans and boxers down and off. Finally we are both naked and wrapped in each other on the chaise. If it weren’t for the friction that I feel against my erection, I would swear that we were one person, breathing the same air and feeling the same heartbeat.

“I love you, only you…” I breathe as I lose myself in her once more. “Oh God, I love you so much…”


A/N: Yeah, yeah, I know. They always make up with sex. I like it that way. You’ll notice that I didn’t respond to too many comments from last week. You’ll also notice that I “liked” some and some I didn’t. That’s because I chose to let people speak their minds without rebuttal even if I didn’t agree with them. No one was offensive and no one attacked me or my characters, even though some opinions were aggressive (yes, there’s a difference), so I just let everyone speak. I will give mine now.

I think Christian did exactly what he was expected to do. They are in a Dominant/submissive relationship with the added dynamic that she is his wife, and he gave her a punishment fuck. I don’t even think it’s wrong that it happened in the garage, because if the circumstances had been different and he had said “I love you, I want you now” and she had wrapped her legs around him and said “yes,” then public sex would have been okay. Why? Because it would have been in the context of a “normal” relationship. Surprise, surprise–punishment fucks are common in a lot of D/s relationships.

D/s relationship–let’s review that for a moment. More than once–even during intensive playtime–I have heard people berate Christian because they are not pleased with some action that he takes. More than once, even before this chapter, I have heard someone refer to his treatment of her as rape. I’m just curious if people have forgotten that this IS a D/s relationship and that Ana has a SAFEWORD? She does remember it. She has used it before. It’s “whistles” for those who forgot. She could have even used “bells” if she felt like it was too much for her. So for those who constantly get angry with Christian for his actions, you’re getting angry with the wrong person. If you want to get angry, get angry because Ana chose not to safeword. 

In the chapter, Ana’s “second voice” said “Mentally, I feel like a piece of meat, a possession—not a loved and cherished wife, not even a faithful and obedient submissive—just a piece of meat. I can’t stop my body’s reaction to him, though.” This means that the punishment fuck worked. It’s usually a mental thing, and she’s not supposed to like it. Guess what? He’s most likely going to punishment fuck her again sometime in the series. However, when she was being raped by Cody, her second voice made it very clear that she was being raped. For future clarity, if her second voice is not screaming “Oh my God! Stop! No! Don’t!” she’s not being raped. Call it what it is, a punishment fuck. Granted, she didn’t want a punishment fuck in the garage, but it was still a punishment fuck, not rape.

Moving on…

Pictures of places, cars, fashion, etc. can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/becoming-dr-grey/

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

Love and Handcuffs!
Lynn x

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Becoming Dr. Grey: Chapter 1—Poor Little Anastasia…

For information purposes, I received “bounced emails” from a few email addresses over the last couple of months. If you are reading this post but you didn’t get an email, please make sure that I have the correct email address for you. You can send it to me on the “Contact Me” link on the front page left hand side of the blog, or you can join the mailing list again (it should be on the same link).

So, welcome back to the saga of the couple that we love to love… and hate. No big prelims, let’s get right into the drama, shall we?

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 1—Poor Little Anastasia…

ANASTASIA

The honeymoon is definitely over.
Christian is working late hours.
We haven’t had real sex in weeks!

We were having sex all the time. I couldn’t get enough of him! My appetite was voracious… is voracious! All of a sudden, we went from sex nearly every night to a quickie every now and again to nothing for the last month! I guess my nearly five month pregnant belly has turned him off completely. I’m not that big… at least I don’t think I’m that big.

Who am I kidding?

I’m huge. I’m nothing like the pretty, petite brunette that he married. True, I’ve gained a nice rack and I have truly come to love my round hips and butt. I can usually compliment them quite nicely with the clothes that I wear, and I enjoy the small amount of attention it draws until I turn around and become “Ana without Chris with the huge babies-bump.”

Pretty, petite brunette…

Yes, that thought plagues me all the time. My husband is a dominant—a hot, handsome, sexually charged dominant who has never voluntarily gone without sex in his adult like, and even if he did, it wasn’t for long. Women throw themselves at him. Ex-submissives come back to him panting, just gagging for it. Three more popped up just last month after the ultrasound picture of the twins somehow made it to mainstream media. I was 14 weeks pregnant at the time and still not really showing yet, but the moment it was confirmed that I was having babies, here come the hoes! Ex-subs, new hopefuls, women looking for a date, even a few men, just showed up out of nowhere!

They camped out at Grey House; they followed him when he left; they were at the door of Escala—all promising him the good time that the pregnant wifey was unable to give him. How the fuck do you think the wifey got pregnant, you fucking morons!? However, as soon as I start to think that they’re stupid and don’t know what they’re talking about, I remember that I haven’t seen my husband for more than five minutes in the last month and that his voracious appetite is not getting satisfied by me. So I end up doing something to put it out of my mind.

I did confront him about it a few weeks back and it turned out to be a catastrophe. We talked for more than five minutes that time, only to argue about how ridiculous I was being and how the last thing he wants to do right now is try to convince me that he’s not out chasing some random piece of ass while he’s neck-deep in trying to keep his company from going topsy-turvy. Pregnant-hormonal me shot that his company must be more important than me, and that created a whole new argument. It was nasty! We ended up having sex after that, but it turned out to be more of a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am than make up sex, and when it was all over, I felt like it was a pity-fuck. I never brought it up again.

It’s hard to deal with sometimes. I’ve become a bit of a hermit. The Scooby Gang comes to see about me, but for the most part, it’s me, my patients, the decorator, blueprints, Helping Hands, and that site that’s helping me build my family tree. I’ve thrown myself full-force into Helping Hands. I’ve lost some of my interest in my practice because my remaining patients are still using me as a crutch, I feel, and I haven’t taken on any new ones. Some of them have left because we made tremendous progress with their treatment and they want to see if they can function and move on. My Stoleys… my success stories. Though no doctor really wants to lose patients, having you live a happy and healthy life and never—or very rarely—having to come back to see me means that I’ve done my job.

Most of my patients have become maintenance—every now and again and only as needed, but there are still three who just can’t let go of the therapy. It’s not that they’re whiners or anything like the losers that used to come to group therapy. I know I shouldn’t call them that, but I just can’t see them as anything else. These people were real basket cases when they came to see me and that’s why I take them seriously. I can’t just leave them all to fend for themselves just yet because I’m concerned of what would happen if I did. However, I’m also concerned that they may have a touch of the Florence Nightingale syndrome in that they can’t bear to be without me—not treatment, me. So now, I’m trying to figure out how to handle that.

Helping Hands has been a godsend. Grace has used some of the money that I donated to build—or rebuild—new offices and workspaces for the more permanent staff. It’s nothing fancy as we are a non-profit organization, but it’s much more functional than having Grace’s desk bump up against a desk that John and I share in an office that’s too small for even one of those desks to fit comfortably. It’s not that we didn’t have the room in the building. It’s actually pretty large. We just didn’t have the finances to be able to utilize all of the space.

Christian is never home when I get there, so I stay around Helping Hands until late evening some nights looking at the books and working on whatever project, activity, or event may be coming up. We have our first few residents in the dorm, a couple of small families in hiding from a violent significant other. I go in and check on them most nights to see if there’s anything that we need. The money that I donated isn’t gone, but it is dwindling as the original renovations weren’t cheap and now, we have regular operating expenses that we didn’t have before. We won’t run out in the very near future, but we definitely need to secure some more substantial donations and pledges than we have in the past.

Yay! A purpose!

“So what do you think, Ana?” Grace asks me about the latest event that she’s been planning. I’m sure that we’ll be able to secure some donations from it, hopefully quite a bit, but what we’re really looking for is sustainability.

“That’s a good idea, Grace, but I think we may need to look at some income generating strategies in addition to the fundraisers. We need something more permanent. I’d hate to see us put in all this work just to have to go back down to the bare necessities again.” She nods.

“I agree,” she says. “I have to say that a couple of really good annual donations will put us right over the top. Then we’ll be able to proceed with our regular fundraising activities and invest in something more permanent that will give us that sustainability.” I twist my lips.

“I see what you mean. Any suggestions?” She sighs.

“I don’t know. I have this meeting with a group of businessmen that I have a couple of times a year, but I’m never able to coax them out of more than a couple of hundred thousand if I’m lucky. Those are wonderful donations, but from the operating side and everything that we do and hope to do for these families, you know that’s not a lot of money.”

“I know. What’s the hang-up? Why won’t they open their fists a bit?”

“I wish I could tell you,” she says, falling into her seat. “I don’t even know why they still agree to meet with me. They seem so disinterested when I start talking about the center and the work that we do, but they still donate—just enough to keep us open.”

“Christian has told me that he has offered to donate whatever you need on more than one occasion. May I ask why you won’t accept the donation?”

“Because I work hard at this and I don’t want it to be said that my son bought me a cause.” Ouch, I can see how that could be a problem.

“I understand why that would bother you. I just don’t get why it should matter where the money came from, just where it’s going,” I say.

“I understand your thinking and I agree, dear. I’m not so much concerned about what people will say. I more concerned about people taking us, the center, and this cause seriously.” I nod.

“Why don’t you let me talk to these gentlemen, see if I can pry their fists open a bit?” I tell her. “We have the new learning center and the dorms upstairs for battered and displaced families. I have the gift of gab… Let me see if I can get us a little more this year.” She looks at me skeptically. “Honestly, Grace, the worst that can happen is that I fail to sway them and we get that same few hundred thousand that we’ve been getting every year.” She twists her lips and nods.

“You’re right, and it sure wouldn’t hurt to put a fresh face to the cause, especially since you were on the PSA.” I nod, too.

“I hadn’t thought of that,” I tell her. “So give me the particulars and let me go and talk to these guys. They may surprise us.”

Grace tells me that these guys range in age from mid-thirties to well into their fifties. One of them never stays for the entire meeting and usually throws a check at her before he leaves. She thinks he may be doing it to appease his wife… or maybe soothe his guilt; she hasn’t worked that out yet. She admits that they do look at the projects in detail, so she tries to make sure that everything is in tip-top shape when she presents it to them.

“Where do you usually meet them?” I ask her.

“Here,” she says, “In one of the larger rooms. The meeting would probably take place in our new conference room… or maybe in the large classroom. What do you think?”

I twist my lips and the wheels start turning.

“I think the setting is too… stuffy,” I tell her.

“Stuffy?” she asks, surprised. I wave my hands.

“Not stuffy in the sense of being high-nosed or snooty. I might not be using the right word. What I mean to say is that it’s hard to say ‘no’ when you see the battered families milling around. However, it’s easy to appease yourself by just giving a couple hundred grand. That’s why the one guy throws a check at you and leaves. It is more than likely the guilt, and he doesn’t need to be reminded why he’s here. I say let’s change things up a bit. Let’s still make sure that our presentation is flawless, but let’s make the surroundings less obligatory. How about a lunch meeting—something informal, businesslike, in a quiet but classy restaurant? It’s the middle of the day, say around one or two in the afternoon. I can cover lunch—that way, I can dictate where it can be held and still give us some kind of home-court advantage.”

“I couldn’t ask you to do that,” she says. “You’re talking lunch for seven to ten men and yourself.” I shrug.

“You’re not asking me to do it. I’m doing it—and it’s a business expense! It’s actually pretty perfect. If I can’t get these guys to give us a little bit more for the center, then they’re not going to do it and we may need to look at other avenues… more aggressive tactics.”

“I’m with you there,” she says. “I’m tired of begging these same guys over and over again for help every year, only to come out with less than half a mil between the lot of them.”

I can’t believe how we’re talking about huge sums of money like they’re pennies! I remember a time when this kind of money was unheard of to me and now, it’s like there’s not enough to cover our expenses—even with all those zeros behind it.

“I haven’t heard you say anything about the Adopt-A-Family Affair. Are you and Christian planning to take part this year?” Grace asks.

“I would assume so. I can’t see why we wouldn’t. We’ve plenty of time for that, though. Let’s slay this dragon first, shall we?” She cocks her head a bit at me. “What?”

“Is everything okay between you two?” she asks. Oh, shit. I don’t want to talk to her about this. “I’m sorry. I know that it’s none of my business. It just seems like one of you doesn’t know what’s going on with the other, and that’s a little strange to me.” I frown.

“What do you mean?” I ask. She sighs.

“I called Christian the other day to ask when your next doctor’s appointment was and he said that he had to ask Andrea. I just find it strange that an expectant father doesn’t know your every move—especially the nearly-OCD control stickler that I know my son to be.” Well, she’s got me there. Christian hasn’t missed a doctor’s appointment, but Andrea is the one that keeps him on his toes with that one.

“Fret not, Grace,” I tell her, trying to hide my melancholy. “He knows exactly where I am every moment of the day. He’s just been working really hard on some new ventures and I’ll admit that it takes up a lot of his time…”

“Oscar says that you and Charles are often here late into the evening. He’s gotten to know Charles quite well while you work on… whatever it is that you’re working on.” Oh, hell. I didn’t think it would be that obvious. I was trying not to publicize it. I wonder how obvious it is to everyone else. Did Oscar tell her about the time he found me crying in the classroom? I blamed it on pregnancy hormones and he didn’t push, but he must have said something to her or we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

“Like I said, it’s taking up a lot of his time. He’s been very tense and worried lately and I don’t want to be another thing that he’s worried about.”

“Of course, he’s going to be worried about you, dear,” she says. “He loves you and you’re carrying his children.” His children. Yes, he’s very concerned about his children.

“I know, Grace,” I tell her. “He’s a good man.” My words lack conviction, and I don’t think it gets by Grace.

“So when do I get to know the sex of the babies?” she asks, quickly changing the subject.

“As soon as we do,” I say, welcoming the change. “I love all of the things they have in white, yellow, and green, but I’d like to know if I’m going to be decorating the nursery in pink and purple or blue and white.”

“Christian with a little girl,” she says aloud, but more to herself. “He’d be unbearable.”

“He’ll be no different with a little boy,” I point out. “The poor kid will never get to do things other kids do, like roller-skate and skin his knee. Mr. Grey will have a hospital built inside the house just in case one of the children gets a splinter!” I shake my head. That’s one thing that I’m sure of is that he will dote on our children, even if it appears that he has lost interest in me. “He’ll be a wonderful father,” I say, noting the hope as well as the sorrow in my voice. It doesn’t get past Grace, but she just smiles compassionately at me.

“I’ve got some other things to do, dear,” she says standing from her desk. “I’ll have the reports ready for you to look over this afternoon. I’ll show you my little pitch and you can spice it up with your own presentation.” She gives my arm a squeeze. “If you need to talk…”

Talk… hmm… no. Don’t want to hash out why I’m feeling like my husband’s interests are elsewhere instead of at home with his wife, and I’m not talking about Grey House. The truth is that I could be blowing this whole thing out of proportion—pregnancy hormones and all. I’m feeling needy… and lonely, I won’t deny that, but Christian has honestly never given me any reason to believe that he would be unfaithful to me…

…Except he has this enormous libido and I’m not fulfilling it right now.

“Thank you, Grace. I’m fine, really,” I say, brushing the situation off. She nods and leaves the room. I take this moment to just look out the window, and reflect.


CHRISTIAN

This is getting more and more frustrating by the second. We still haven’t found Myrick and I pretty certain he’s the fucker who’s hacking into my network. His actions are becoming more and more brazen. Ever since he hacked into my personal files and my phone, I have spent nearly every waking moment concentrating my efforts on finding this fucker… that is, when I’m not trying to save deals that the company has been working on for years. We haven’t approached any new ventures since this threat presented itself—it’s just too risky to invite outsiders in right now. However, there are always a solid 20 to 30 deals in the works with GEH that require my attention in some way. Since that attention is split between finding this intruder and making sure none of these deals go south, I don’t have time for much else.

Unfortunately, that includes my lovely wife.

She’s getting more and more beautiful as her body begins to fill out with the babies. It’s actually pretty remarkable to watch the transformation. She’s curvier and sexy, and her skin has that cliché pregnancy glow. She’s adorable when she sleeps, which seems to be the only time I see her nowadays. My hours lately are horrendous, and I don’t have the heart to bother her when I come home at the wee hours of the morning. I know that she and the babies need their rest, so I just wrap myself around her as usual and take comfort in her presence.

My dick is going to explode if it doesn’t get some attention soon, but that’s really my fault. The last time we had sex was sometime last month and it was one of the worst quickies I’ve ever had in my life… again, my fault. I haven’t even approached her for sex since that day, mainly because I’m pretty ashamed of my behavior. I was acting like a petulant child because we hadn’t spoken for a couple of days except for nervous greetings in passing. I finally just grabbed her and fucked her quickly, but it was more like “take this dick and shut up” than it was “I love you, I want you, I’m sorry.” Whatever the argument was fell dead in the water and neither of us has even attempted to get sex since that day.

That’s going to have to change soon…

Unfortunately, my primary agenda right now has been to find out where this cyber attack is coming from. Even though my money is on Myrick, we have to treat this threat like an unknown, because that’s exactly what it is. It may be Myrick, it might not. Whoever this guy is, he’s getting more and more aggressive. James’ magical software did manage to sniff him out, but apparently this guy has some magical software of his own. James has had to tweak his program to match what Wonder Asshole is doing. It’s been a very tedious process. I’m glad as well as not-so-glad that Barney was able to find James’ software—glad because he was good enough to find it and not-so-glad because it took less time than James said it would. That means that either Barney is a better tech than even we thought, or that James software is not as stealthy as we had hoped.

Either way, that program is worth its weight in gold.

**We need you in Data Central.**

My phone buzzes with a text from James. Data Central is the location that we’ve named the hub where we meet to discuss issues with Wonder Asshole. The news is either very good or very bad when I’m called to Data Central. The last time I was summoned was when James told me that our intruder was taking larger sums of money and transferring it to various accounts. No doubt, the accounts are all streaming into one big account. I wanted to stop it immediately, but James thought better against it, telling me that it would alert our intruder that we were on to him or her and we would never find out who it is. I’m still convinced that it’s Myrick, but my team insists that I don’t narrow it down as without concrete evidence, we can’t say that it’s one specific person. Everyone, of course, has been trying to combine intel to see who might be behind the attacks.

In the meantime, this asshole has disappeared from the face of the earth.

Cholometes and the lawyers are a bit quiet, but still operating in full view and nothing implicates either of them yet.

Myrick Sr., the Pedophile, and David are all still safely locked away with little to no resources to be able to pull this off. David doesn’t even have access to his company, so he can’t do anything.

Edda Straus has been under close scrutiny, but there’s no way of telling what resources she could be working with.

Any one of the Green Valley suspects could have family that want a piece of me and Butterfly.

Except for offering themselves to me on a platter, the subs have been quiet for the most part. I dare not tell Butterfly about that. Things are bad enough.

The suspect list is endless, and until we can nail down this perpetrator and pin him to a primary IP address, we’re screwed. Unfortunately, James has informed me that it is very easy to mask your IP address or make it appear that your signal is simultaneously originating from several places at once. He is truly a real mastermind at this stuff, though. He and Barney are the ultimate dream team and I wish I could convince him to come to work for me. He dead set against it, but I still get the marketing rights to this breakthrough software that he’s using to sniff this bastard out.

He has tweaked it to mimic the actions of the intruder—something that it appears the Wonder Asshole didn’t think could be done since his program is an original as well, unlike anything I’ve ever seen… and with the attacks on my company in the past ten years, I’ve seen a lot! This thing is a master replicator, a frightening Houdini, a skillful thief, and a hungry vampire all at the same time. The thing worms into the system and it replicates, creating a fraternal twin—so to speak—that has none of the characteristics of the first worm. It has its own signature that has to be tracked separately from the original. The twin goes off and performs another task while the original stays on track and eventually just disappears. If you follow the original, it’s like following a rat in a maze until the rat just hits a wall and dies, while the fraternal twin is still in the system doing damage.

The big problem is that the program replicates itself infinitesimally, so that there are twins, triplets, quadruplets, quintuplets, and however many sets of replications running around my system up to infinity with the purpose to confuse and conceal…

…and steal.

It’s money. It always comes down to money. I’m sure it would be proprietary secrets as well, but they can’t seem to get past that particular firewall. At least that information is safe. I’m feeling dread as I open the door to Data Central, a little conference room in one of the sublevels near the main server room. All of the usual suspects are in attendance—James, Barney, Welch, Jason, accounting and legal heads, other members of the IT team, and now, me.

“What do we have?”

“We found how he got in,” James says. Music to my ears! However, James doesn’t appear to be happy about this.

“Tell me more.”

“It was a very simple hack, which is why we couldn’t find it. With the sophistication of the attack, we figured it had to be a more intricate entry. When Barney suggested a lateral attack as opposed to ninja, that’s when I started looking at commandeering the database server and the web server as opposed to just getting in.”

I have this look that I’ve adopted for James and Barney when they start talking over my head. I have some idea of some of the things they’re talking about, but I’m clueless on other things. Barney notices the look right away.

“I think our perpetrator was counting on the fact that we weren’t going to expect him to ‘walk right in the front door’ so to speak, so that’s what he did,” Barney says. “His program gains access the same way anybody else would gain access to the mainframe. He’s skimming money, as you already know, but he’s masking his IP very well.”

“The good news is that various nuances and signatures and well as some good old process of elimination has narrowed down the location of the perp to North America, most likely right here in the States,” James says proudly.

“I really could have told you that, James,” I say, impatiently.

“Yes, you could have told me that, and you still would have been wrong,” James says, perturbed. “Our intel indicated that this attack could have come from anywhere in the world. We had to narrow it down with concrete evidence and not just a hunch. That’s what I’m paid for. That’s what I do. Now, would you like me to continue that job, or would you rather I pack up and go home and you can continue on your hunches?”

My first reaction would be to fire his ass because nobody takes that tone with me. Then I remember that not only did I take that tone with him first, but I also just besmirched his work. Without saying a word, I turn around and leave the room. Thanks for the update, but I can be of no use here. Call me when we’ve caught the guy. I quickly walk down the hall towards the elevators.

“Boss!” Okay, it’s Boss. I must look pretty bad. I sigh, stopping and turning towards Jason. “You can’t go on like this.” I frown, and he just looks at me. I lean against the wall.

“My fuse is shorter than I ever remember in my life,” I tell him honestly. Even Dr. Baker hasn’t been able to help me loosen up. “I don’t know what to do. I can’t relax because I’ve got of this shit hanging over my head, but if I don’t loosen up soon, I’m going to self-destruct.” Everything is irritating the fuck out of me.

“When’s the last time you got laid?” he asks. I glare at him, but I know his intentions are pure.

“Don’t ask,” I lament.

“That’s part of your problem,” he says. “The Christian Grey that I know is not getting any ass? There should be volcanoes erupting, signs and wonders, earthquakes in diverse places…”

“I get it. I get it. I know, but all of my time is taken up with this shit!” I hiss. “The last time we had sex was disastrous.” He gapes at me.

“You’re shittin’ me,” he says in disbelief. I nod.

“I’ve got to find out who this asshole is in my systems or he’s going to ruin my fucking life, in more ways than one.” I run my hands over my eyes and shake my head. When I raise my head, James is standing there with Jason.

“I was coming to tell you to watch your goddamn tone with me or I’ll leave you to find this asshole on your own. I understand that this is stressful and I’m sorry that it’s taking such a toll on you.” His voice is firm, but empathetic. I just nod.

“I’ve managed to piss off everybody who works for me,” I say, still lamenting my situation. “Why should you be any different?”

“Because I don’t work for you. I’m doing a job for you, but I don’t work for you. I need you to let me do it.” I nod again and don’t say anything else. “How’s Ana?” I roll my eyes.

“She’s fine. How’s Allen?”

“He’s doing better. The bug is finally letting up. His fever broke this morning, so the antibiotics are doing some good. I think he’ll be right as rain in a couple of days.” I nod.

“I’ll let Ana know,” I say softly. She probably already knows.

I sit at my desk when I get back to my office, looking out the window over Seattle. I’ll let Ana know. When will I let her know? We only speak in passing. Even then, it’s a bit tense. It’s seems like lately, we’re just civil—not angry, just civil. We haven’t fucked since sometime last month and like I told Jason—disastrous. She just hasn’t said much about it since then, not that I’ve spent that much time with her. That fiasco was mid or late August somewhere, right before David’s sentencing. I remember being so proud of her and how she handled that day…

No one had come to support David, not even his parents. As much as the trial had been publicized, no one wanted to be associated with this man. The judge had opened the floor for anyone who had something to say before the sentencing. I spoke to the court about how the situation had affected me and our relationship; how my wife had already gone through so much just to have something like this happen to her and to be made out to be the villain by an opportunistic attorney and the very man who had terrorized her. I couldn’t express how happy I was that the man who had caused her nightmares and sleepless nights would now pay for his crimes. Although I didn’t know how long he would be locked away, for however long his sentence was, my wife could rest knowing that a system that had failed her so many times before was now working the way that it should.

Butterfly could have fallen apart. She could have decided to say nothing at all. She could have run away in fear and hid until the whole thing was over. Instead, when it was her turn to speak, she took to the podium and had her say.

“For years I wondered if there would ever be justice for me—if the people who hurt me would ever pay for their sins, not just legally but morally as well. I wondered if I would ever see Karma come back on those who had been so mindlessly and carelessly cruel to me, or would they just wander through life never paying for what they’ve done. I’ve seen Karma twice, and now, I get to see it again. There’s nothing that can suffice for the pain that you put me through, but whatever happens today, I’ll take some small comfort in knowing that you’ll pay for a fraction of what you’ve done.

“I’ll take some small comfort in knowing that I am the voice that did cry out, that did speak up, that did finally see some kind of justice for the not-so-nameless and faceless women who have been hurt and tormented by you… and men like you.” She glared a knowing glare at him and realization came to his eyes. Yes, asshole, we know. We know all about your other victims… about Camilla and Phyllis. “I’ll be able to rest knowing that you won’t be able to hurt another woman for a very long time if ever again. I and the women of Seattle and Cedar Rapids can truly sleep without nightmares now, because our representation of the Boogie Man will be behind bars. And if there is any justice in this justice system, that will be indefinitely.” I remembered thinking that the cat was truly out of the bag, because I was the one who told her that he was from Cedar Rapids. David never told her that and it didn’t come out in the trial.

“I listened and cried while you turned me into the villain, while you made me into the bad guy to justify the horror that you put me through for your own sick, twisted, and selfish desires. I, and two others like me, can finally close the book on this chapter, never having to look over our shoulders, praying that you’re not behind us hiding in the shadows and smiling that deceptive smile that so effectively covers monstrous intent. I will leave this place and never think of you again… except maybe once.” She narrowed her eyes at him and I remembered that she planned to take every dime that he has left, and then no doubt turn her back on him forever.

“I ask the court to consider the severity of Mr. David’s crimes and the nightmares that he has caused me over the last year, not to mention since the day I met him. I am still under doctor’s care trying to put my life together after the trauma he’s caused on top of my previous issues and suffering. He’s a predator. I’ve discovered that he sought me out and used my past against me to prey on me. Although I am not allowed to present his actions against others in these proceedings, I beseech this court to impose the maximum sentence on Mr. David so that no other woman will ever be exposed to his kind of danger and his demented mind. Thank you.”

I was so proud of her and I almost danced in the middle of the floor as the judge read David’s sentences:

Eight years for first degree kidnapping;
Four years for unlawful imprisonment;
One year for assault and battery;
Seven years for robbery;
Eight years for first degree assault with a weapon.

That fucker got twenty-eight years to be served consecutively with one year credit for time served. He lost his mind in that courtroom.

“Consecutive!?” he screamed. “Consecutive!? Are you happy, bitch!? Are you happy now?” I wanted to leap over the table at his ass, but once again, Butterfly proved that she knew how to handle herself.

“I’m thrilled!” she yelled back. She was warned by the judge about decorum as David’s screaming, fighting ass was dragged out of the courtroom. She apologized for her outburst and we left the courthouse, finally feeling vindicated for all that she had been through. We went home, had dinner, went to bed together and the next day was business as usual.

I love Anastasia. I love her dearly, and if I don’t get my shit together soon, I’m going to lose her, and not because of some hacker in my network.

*-*

It’s time for me to meet with another group from another company that has been in negotiations with GEH. I haven’t really had a moment’s peace since the hacking issue and last month, the asshole leaked the ultrasound picture that he hacked from my phone. Now the world is all in our business, trying to get a due date and the sex of the babies. Hell, we don’t even know the sex of the babies yet! Butterfly has been dealing with it better than I have. If one more person shows up at my job or my home trying to offer their services, I swear to God, I’m going to lose it.

My mood doesn’t get any better when I head to the first floor conference room to talk to the businessmen. They’re none to discreet in their conversation.

“Grey is one lucky bastard,” I hear one of them say. “That’s one hot little number he’s got waiting for him.”

“Who, Anastasia Grey?” I hear another one say. “She’s okay, I guess.”

Okay?” I hear another one exclaim. “Have you been living under a rock? Ana is the shit dreams are made of.”

“Oh, come on,” I hear someone else say. “She’s pretty, but it’s not that serious.”

“Speak for yourself. She’s the sexiest therapist I’ve ever seen. I’d lay on her couch anytime!” What the fuck?

“That’s what I’m saying. Have you seen that woman? She makes pregnancy look hot! If my wife looked like that pregnant, I’d never leave the house. I’d be drilling her every night, year round. You’d have to send out a search party for me.” I square my shoulders and straighten my neck. Arrogant, disrespectful fucks!

“I share the sentiment, gentlemen,” I say firmly after I hit the door with force, scaring the shit out of each of the men at the conference table. I unbutton my jacket and take my seat at the head of the table. “That’s exactly why I drill her every night all year round.”

We do? Because I could sure use some drill time right about now!

I pause and look at each man. Some of them are quaking in their boots. Others just smirk at me. I make a mental note of the companies that I will own—or buy and sell—before year’s end.

“Shall we get on with the…” I clear my throat, “negotiations?”

I can say things in a manner that lets grown men know that they’re screwed. Everyone at the table, including the prior smirkers, just got the skin tone that looks that putrid shade of green. I know that it’s not wise and I have really been working on it since Jason’s warning in Greece, but I can’t help it. I won’t publicize that I would sacrifice my kingdom for Butterfly’s happiness and safety anymore, but I won’t tolerate assholes besmirching or disrespecting my wife, especially assholes that are supposed to be in business with me. I have more money than I know what to do with, so unless a deal is detrimental to the future of GEH or one of our budding projects—or unless I see the possibility that too many people will be left unemployed—I will pull out of a deal in a moment without regard to the man hours spent on the venture if I feel that my wife will be used as a bargaining chip, disrespected in any way, held over my head in some way, put in any kind of danger or compromising position—and these assholes just did that. By the time I leave negotiations, I have several more concessions from these uncouth assholes than I could have hoped for, and I’m already buying stock to stage a hostile takeover on three of the companies. Yes, I said that I wouldn’t broach any new ventures while I’m trying to find the intruder in my network, but hell—I’m just buying stock and doing my due diligence.

By Wednesday, James has more good news for me. They’ve found where the money is going and can easily transfer it back to my accounts. However, he doesn’t recommend that we do that. If we close the door that the culprit is using to get in, he lives to fight another day—probably to fight me. It’s the same concept if we transfer the money back. He knows that we’re on to him and he just moves on, or he tweaks his form of attack and hits me again later. No, we have to find this bastard. He has to be taken down or I’ll never be free of him.

By Friday, I’m fed up with this whole thing and I need to spend some quality time with my wife. This fucker—whoever he is—got into our email system and sent a bogus email to one of the companies with which we are planning a merger. The information was corrupted and when they called us, they were actually backing down from the merger. When I went over the figures they were sent, they were almost the opposite of what my accounting team had come up with. When I tried to explain it, they were concerned that the bogus figures were actually correct and that I was trying to lure them into a false sense of security with higher projections.

It took nearly all day to convince these guys that there was a glitch in the system, which really didn’t work. However, Barney was able to convince them with a bunch of technical mumbo jumbo. They were still hesitant because they then wanted to know if our systems were safe. Well, fuck no, but I couldn’t tell them that. This day was one of the biggest one-step-two-step fancy footwork to save this account, and I don’t really think it’s saved. I can’t be concerned about it at this moment. If I don’t get inside my wife soon, I’m going to explode, and not in a good way.

“Jason, find Ana. Wherever she is, I don’t care. I’m going there right now.” I hope she’s not at Helping Hands, because if she is, I’m going to fuck her right on the community room floor.

“She’s at a restaurant, sir.”

“Take me.” We get in the car and Jason is fiddling with his phone. “Is there a problem?”

“No, sir,” he says as he starts the car. He’s moving a little slower than I would like, especially since he knows I need to see Butterfly.

“Um, Jason, today, please!” I hiss at him.

“Oh, sorry sir,” he says and drives at a more respectable speed.

We pull up to the Mistral Kitchen and I’m nearly leaping out of the car to get to my wife. She’s probably having dinner with the Scooby Gang, which means that I have to play nice until I can get her home and have my way with her. I straighten my tie and walk inside.

I don’t quite know how to interpret what I see when I finally locate my wife. I must say that she’s beautiful pregnant–round ass, big tits, the sloping dress where you can’t tell that she’s pregnant.

All I can say is that something inside of me snapped, and I don’t think I’ve been this angry in years.


ANASTASIA

Grace’s tight-fisted donors have agreed to meet with me today, and it has to be dinner instead of lunch. That’s fine. I can turn on the Anastasia charm no matter what time of day it is, and it’s important that I get these guys to come up off of more than they have in the past. The center has many more programs now than it did last year, thanks to the improvements and renovations. We really need to keep these programs running and even though we did come into a landfall this year, it’s going to run out sooner or later. We need solid future pledges and I’m going to get them if it’s the last thing I do.

There’s just one problem. Will the pregnant Anastasia Grey get the same pity pledges that Grace received? How will I be able to pull the bigger checks if I look like a cow grazing on the pasture?

God, I feel so unattractive. I mean, when I called to make the appointments, some of the gentlemen seemed very pleased to learn that I was the one that would be doing the presentation this year and not Grace. They were even more pleased to know that it wouldn’t be at the community center, but at a restaurant in a more relaxed atmosphere. What’s going to happen when I roll my fat ass in there asking for this year’s donations?

Some of my clothes still cover my baby bump, so to speak. The truth is that I don’t need to cover my baby bump. I just need to camouflage it a bit. I can’t even run my dress ideas by Christian because I never see him anymore. He stays horribly late at the office and again, he’s gone before I wake up—taking care of whatever fresh catastophe is happening with the company. Fuck it. I need future pledges and I know that a couple of these guys are titilated by the opportunity to see Anastasia Grey. I’m going to exploit this… shamelessly.

I pick a green bowknot sleeveless sheath dress that looks like it was tailor-made for me. The draping in front is just enough to hide my baby bump and the rest of the dress fits sexy, but not sleezy—not too short, not too long, but quite demure. If I do say so myself, I look pretty damn good! A pair of black peeptoe stilettos with a jeweled ankle strap that comes in a “v” over the top of my foot and some plain diamond studs complete the outfit. I arrange my hair so that it falls over one shoulder in huge cascading curls. It’s so long that there’s not a lot that I can do with it. It’s mid-September in Seattle, so I’ll need a jacket or coat. My white cashmere will do well—just long enough to cover the dress, which is nearly knee-length.

Chuck’s eyes almost pop out of his head when he sees me.

“Um, didn’t you say you’re meeting a bunch of businessmen?” he asks.

“Yes,” I say, but it sounds more like a question.

“Ana… are you sure that you want to wear that?” he asks, his brow furrows. I look down at my dress.

“What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?” I ask. Everything is covered. I’m not dressed like a whore. What’s the problem? Chuck is clearly at a loss for words.

“We’re cool, right?” he asks. I nod cautiously. “Well, we’re cool and I did a double-take when I saw you.” I don’t know whether to be flattered or pissed.

“Chuck, are you trying to tell me that what I’m wearing is inappropriate?” His face changes immediately.

“Ana, drop the tone, okay?” What the hell? “You know as well as I do how you look right now. All I’m saying is that you’re going to see a bunch of businessmen in that dress. Is this the look that you’re really going for?” Okay, now I’m offended. I don’t look like a hooker and I know it, and I resent what he’s insinuating.

“Yes. This is the look I’m going for. I’m trying to look good and not look like a cow. Have I achieved it?” I put my hand on my hip. He throws his hand up.

“Yep. Where to?” I can tell he’s doing that “washing his hands” thing and quite frankly, I appreciate it. Stay the fuck out of my wardrobe and let me do what I want.

“Thank you,” I say putting on my coat. “We’re going to the Mistral Kitchen. I will ask you to please not interrupt me while I’m talking to these gentlemen as I’m trying to get them to donate more to Helping Hands than they have in the past.”

“No problem,” he says curtly as he opens the door to my Audi for me.

The dinner is going quite well. I have quite the captive audience as these guys are hanging on my every word. I show them our presentation and go into great detail about the new programs at Helping Hands and how the PSA has brought in so many more families that need help. I include that I work for the center mostly on a volunteer basis as they pay me a minimal salary so that I can be on the books as the assistant director.

“So why not just get the donations from your billionaire husband?” one of the potential donors asks.

“I’m sure you already know why, Mr. Sims, but I’ll be happy to answer that for you,” I tell him. “As I’m certain Dr. Grey has already told you, she wants to maintain the integrity of the charity by securing donations from conscientous leaders in the community that understand the need for the services that we provide as opposed to going to her son and having him fund the organization. Of course, Mr. Grey and I do support the charity as well as donate to it. I personally donate the salary that I receive from the organization back to Helping Hands as I clearly don’t need it, what with my successful practice and my…” I clear my throat. “…billionaire husband.” He straightens his tie.

“I wasn’t trying to offend you, Mrs. Grey,” he says.

“No offense taken,” I say quickly. “I understand how people can think my husband can wave his magic wand and make all the problems of the world go away. However, it’s not a very practical solution for those of us who are in a position to help to turn our backs and expect the responsibility to fall on the next man. We really must all do what we can do to assist those families who find themselves in unfortunate positions. None of them asked to be there and if we just show some generosity, they don’t have to stay there.”

My phone buzzes in my coat pocket. I immediately turn to Chuck sitting a few tables over, waving me down and gesturing to his phone trying to get my attention. I ignore him and continue with my presentation. I can tell that some of the men are impressed with me and others are looking at me like a steak dinner. No matter. They won’t get a whiff of this and I’m just trying to get donations. I have to admit, though, that it’s good to know that even though I’m pregnant, I still got it.

My phone keeps buzzing and I keep ignoring it. Maybe he’ll stop when he realizes I’m not paying him any attention. I almost completely lose my cool when the damn thing vibrates a fourth or fifth time, I’m not sure… until I look right up into the face of a very unhappy Christian Grey. I can tell by his expression that he’s been standing there for a while and he is warm. His arms are folded and he is ready for a showdown. Shit! I don’t have time for this!

And then it hits me. I’ve been throwing my hair and smiling—turning on the charm, but eating up the attention. Oh, hell… exactly how long has he been standing there? Did Chuck call him? That fucking traitor.

He’s the picture of cool when walks over to me. “Gentlemen, if you don’t mind, I’d like a word with my wife.”

They look at each other and then back at Christian. “Yes, of course,” one of them says.

Christian leans in to me and whispers, “It’s time to go.” His voice is quite menacing, but it just pisses me off. I don’t see him for days—weeks at a time and he just shows up out of nowhere and tells me that I have to leave.

“Excuse me, gentlemen,” I say with a smile before pulling my husband aside. “Christian, you can’t just walk into a restaurant and demand that I leave like this!” I hiss.

“I can, and I am,” he says definitively. “Say your goodbyes, and we’re leaving.”

“No!” I say as quietly as I can. “You’re off running your company from your ivory palace and I’m down here with the rest of the mere mortals just scurrying around as usual. Half the time, you don’t even have time for me. You don’t even have time for me anymore and suddenly, you find time to come down here and drag me away when I’m trying to raise money for the charity. How did you even know that I was here?”

He closes his eyes and flexes his fingers a few times. After taking a few deep breaths, he raises piercing gray eyes to meet mine.

“I swear to God, Anastasia, if you don’t leave with me right now, I will drag you out of here kicking and screaming and I will enjoy every second of it!” he hisses. Fuck me—he’s serious!

“Fine!” I hiss, as I don’t want to make a scene. I walk back over to the table. “I’m sorry, Gentlemen. It appears that I have a family emergency and I have to leave. We will have to continue this meeting at another time.”

“Don’t count on it,” Christian murmurs so that only I can hear him. I resist the urge to roll my eyes.

“We completely understand, Mrs. Grey,” Mr. Walker says before standing.

“I will call you each next week to reschedule. Thank you so much for coming.” I turn on the smile and sweetness a bit, oblivious to Christian standing behind me.

“Mrs. Grey,” he nearly hisses in my ear. Ignoring his threatening tone, I shake hands with each man as they rise and leave the restaurant. I turn to Christian and he is an inferno of silent rage—but so am I. I don’t see you for three weeks except in passing and you march in here out of nowhere and ruin my fundraising dinner! Bastard!

“Are you spying on me again, Christian?” I bark, trying not to draw attention to us.

“Anastasia Rose Steele-Grey,” he says through his teeth, “I can guarantee that you do not want to start with me right now.” His anger mixed with calm is frightening, but not frightening enough for me to forget that I’m mad. “Let’s go,” he adds, glaring at me and daring me to defy him. This is not the place to make a stand. He will shamelessly carry me out of here. I march to the Audi, rolling my eyes at Chuck along the way. He doesn’t even flinch. He must have been in on it. Fucker. I’ll never trust him again.

I climb into the SUV and slam the door behind me. Christian gets into the front passenger seat and we all ride home in tense silence. He’s got a lot of nerve all of a sudden acting all bruised when 24 hours ago, his precious company meant more to him than me and his children. Hell, if I didn’t know better, I’d swear there was something much more interesting at Grey House than his boring ass pregnant wife!

I am fuming! You don’t just march into a public place and demand that I leave because you don’t like the fact that I’m having dinner with men. This was a professional meeting! It had a professional purpose! He can’t do this! I’ll never be able to raise money for Helping Hands if he marches into my meetings acting like a fucking caveman!

I leap out of the SUV the moment Jason stops the car in Escala’s parking garage. I am so fucking angry that I could bite Christian’s head off and shit down his throat. Where is my fucking car? Shit! It’s still at the damn restaurant. I spend a second too long contemplating my where car is as it is just enough time for him to get out of the car and storm over to me. Jason stays firmly seated in the driver’s seat.

Fuck you, Christian Grey! I turn around and walk towards the elevator. I feel him grab my arm. I snatch it from his grasp and keep walking. He snatches me back so fast and hard that I swear I hit a wall!

Mother fuck– Wham! Before I know it, my hand flies hard across his face—so hard that it’s stinging a bit right now.

Oh my God! I didn’t mean to hit him! I really didn’t…

I don’t have time to contemplate my sin. I am against him in seconds… less than seconds. He is holding my forearms in a vise grip and I am paralyzed. He is glaring at me—furious! His nostrils are flaring and his pupils are constricted to a silver white that I have never seen before. My first instinct is to apologize, but not because I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hit him, but I’m not sorry for doing it. I am afraid, though. I’ve never seen him like this and I don’t know what he’s going to do next.

I vainly try to escape his grasp, but I can barely move. Now, I’m starting to panic. I can’t fight Christian like I would an attacker. Even if I’m angry with him—livid—I can’t do it. I love him too much. He has a momentary battle that plays across his face before he smashes his lips to mine, angrily and possessively.

No! No more of this caveman shit!

I’m truly struggling to get away from him now, but he has a firm grip on me. I’m not going anywhere. The more I fight, the firmer he holds me until his lips part mine and I taste him… I taste his anger and his urgency, his tongue feverishly lapping against mine claiming my mouth and sucking all of the air and resistance out of me. I am fucking loopy when he pulls his lips away from mine only to hiss in my face.

“You are mine!”

I don’t know if I’m floating, flying, walking, being dragged or carried, but the next thing I know, I am inside of a doorway against the wall in the corner of the parking structure. I can tell by the unrelenting bulge in his pants and the merciless way he has me pushed against the wall exactly what he has in mind.

“No!” I protest. “Not here!”

“Yes!” he growls. “You are my wife and I will fuck you anywhere I damn well please!” He turns me around, my back to his front. He’s holding both of my hands against me in one of his as he snatches my dress up over my ass and thrusts his fingers around my thong and into me. Oh, shit, that’s hot!

“Christian, no…” I whine, half-hearted, still conscious of where we are and quickly succumbing to the delectable feeling of his fingers between my legs.

“Quiet!” he orders in a low whisper. “I want you right here, right now, and I’m going to have you!” He’s still angry and I’m afraid that he’s going to hurt me. In record time, he has freed himself from his pants, removed his fingers from me, and impaled me with his hard staff. I gasp loudly as he sinks in deep. He grunts into my hair.

“Be quiet. Someone might hear you. Do you want someone to see us?” he growls, still holding me captive while he slams into me.

“No,” I whimper as I reluctantly give in to yet another punishment fuck. Physically, I can’t resist him. He feels so good… so good in fact that I quickly reach my orgasm, spurring him to fuck me faster. Mentally, I feel like a piece of meat, a possession—not a loved and cherished wife, not even a faithful and obedient submissive—just a piece of meat. I can’t stop my body’s reaction to him, though. Somehow, even while trapping me in his anger-fueled grasp, his hands are all over me. My ass, my tits, my clit, nothing is left neglected. He is digging deep into me, feverishly claiming what is his. If he could be bothered to move my hair out of the way, I’d have more love bites on my neck.

He picks up the pace and now I know that he is chasing his orgasm. His pace is so furious and the feeling so unbearably divine that I subconsciously lift my leg and wrap it around the corner wall we are currently occupying.

“Oh, fuck, yes!” he hisses, as this move opens me up a little, allowing him to sink yet further into me. I gasp as his thrusts go deeper and deeper, harder and more determined, pushing me towards yet another orgasm.

Then my mind remembers the bachelorette party—the bathroom where he fucked me to one orgasm, then left me hanging on the second. Then the way he humiliated me in the hallway afterwards, I really felt like shit. I won’t let him do that to me again. I steel myself and wait for his climax. It’s hard—so hard because it feels so good—but I can do it. Sensing my resolve, his strokes become deeper, more earnest, his moves a little more sensual. I am panting trying to control my release. Oh God, I’m not going to make it.

“Don’t hold out on me! Give it to me!” he hisses. He knows my body better than I do, but I can’t relent. I can’t give him the control of leaving me bereft and wanting once again… I can’t… I can’t…

He reaches around and into my underwear, finding my clit. He applies just enough pressure along with his unyielding thrusts to crack through my already fragile resolve. I release a strangled cry—almost to tears—as I realize that he is going to let me come and a second mind-blowing orgasm rips through me.

“Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Oh, fuck, yes!” he exclaims with each thrust as he lifts me off the ground and plunges into me, finally finding his release. He holds me against him, both of us breathing hard. My feet are still dangling from the ground and he is still inside me. After several moments, he sets me gently on the ground.

“You drive me crazy!” he hisses into my ear, and I know that he doesn’t mean it as a compliment. Yes, I guess I do, and then you fuck me like a piece of meat to remind me that you have that power over me. Are we even now?

I hold my head down to fight back the tears. I’m angry, but I don’t know with whom and why.

Christian because he chose to punishment fuck me in the parking garage where anyone could walk by and see us?

Myself for letting him do it or for pushing him to it?

Jason for not at least getting out of the car to make sure that I was okay?

I feel myself closing down and I’m trying to stop it, but my emotions are too strong right now, too heavy for me to carry and try to sort out. He pulls out of me and I quickly pull my dress down and smooth it over my hips.

You wore that dress to get attention. You got what you wanted…
Did I?

His hands are pressed against the wall on either side of my head. Without raising my eyes or checking to see if he has put himself away, I duck under his arm and slowly walk to the elevator. It feels like everything I can do to hold myself together until I get upstairs. When the elevator comes, I press the code to for the penthouse. My hopes for a quiet ride of shame are dashed when Christian slips into the elevator before the doors close. The ride is eternal. I don’t raise my head to him.

Please don’t try to talk to me…
Please don’t try to talk to me…
Please don’t try to talk to me…

At last, the elevator rings elegantly announcing our arrival to the penthouse, but I can’t move my feet. We both stand there, waiting for… what? I hear my name… breathed… not audibly, but somehow…

Ana…

As the doors start to close again, I push the “open” button. The doors slide open and it takes yet a few more moments for me to will my feet to move. I take a deep breath and screw up my courage.

“I’m sleeping in the guest room tonight,” I say softly, pushing all of my breath out of my body with the words. “Please don’t follow me.”

I finally step out of the elevator and to the doors of the penthouse, leaving Christian behind me as the elevator doors close with him still inside.

*-*

I awake in strange surroundings. Where am I? Oh, the guest room. The Seattle sun is blaring through the floor-to-ceiling windows and I have no idea what time it is. I raise my head and I have that “I’ve gotten to much sleep” woozy feeling.

I came right in, stripped, and got in the shower last night—trying to wash away the feeling of being a random cow in an herd of cattle. I didn’t eat last night. I came straight to this room and got into the shower. My dinner meeting was rudely interrupted and I didn’t want to run into Christian on my way to the kitchen, so I went to bed hungry—and naked, since I have no clothes in this room. After relieving myself, I wrap a sheet around my body toga style and go to find some clothes.

I open the door and look down to find my robe on the floor in the hallway. Straight across the hallway is Christian. He’s on the floor, too, leaning against the wall in pale blue jeans and a white T-shirt. His legs are bent and his elbows are resting on his knees, his fingers loosely entwined. His beautiful copper hair is a flopsy, tangled mess and his head is bowed between his arms. He’s fast asleep.

I pick up my robe and quickly replace my toga sheet. Tying the belt, I walk over to Christian and run my fingers gently through his hair. He jumps, startled out of his sleep.

“We need to talk,” I say softly. His sleepy gray eyes examine me for a moment and I am certain that just like I had to recall that I was in the guest room, he had to recall that he was in the hallway. He runs his hand through his hair as if to wash away a random thought, then gracefully pushes himself off the floor.

He follows me to the kitchen. I pour us both a cup of coffee as he takes a seat at the breakfast bar. He looks a little worse for wear, but still hot as hell to have just woken up after sleeping in the hallway for… I don’t know how long.

“How long were you in the hallway?” I ask, handing him his coffee and taking a sip of my own.

“Um… a few hours, I think. I couldn’t sleep so I thought I would wait for you. I was sure that you might come out, at least for something to eat, but you didn’t. I must’ve fallen asleep while I was waiting.” I nod. I don’t know what to say to him about last night. He solves that dilemma for me.

“I wanted to make sure that you were okay, but I’m not going to apologize for what I did.”

My eyes widen. What did he just say?

“You need to sit down and hear me out. Afterwards, whatever you decide to do, I’ll accept.” I glare at him, my anger from last night slowly creeping back into my body as I take my seat. He pushes his coffee to the side and folds his hands in front of him. He straightens his back and squares his shoulders. Fuck me… I’m dealing with the CEO.

“You went into a room full of men, dressed in a sexy dress like a piece of meat. You were taking full advantage of the three fatal ‘F’s’–fluttering your eyelashes, flashing your ass, and flirting. I didn’t spy on you so I could see what you were doing. I specifically asked Jason to find out where you were so that I could join you for dinner and that’s what I walked in on.”

“Christian…” I interrupt.

“I’m not finished!” he says, his voice firm. I’m a bit shocked. I truly haven’t encountered this Christian Grey before. I’ve encountered loving Christian, contrite Christian, angry Christian, playful Christian, Dom Christian, but never CEO Christian. I am way out of my element here.

“You already know that I’m an insanely jealous man and I don’t apologize for that. You made a conscious decision to stand in front of these men as my wife in the sexiest dress that you could find and peddle yourself for money. That may sound harsh, but that’s exactly what you did. This was nothing like the ‘harmless hen night.’ This was something that you did to get a larger paycheck, and you’ll be lucky if anybody takes you seriously after this. So do me a favor and save your righteous indignation for another time!”

Ho-ly fuck. My heart and resolve crack immediately. I want to fight. Something is wrong here. Something is wrong in what he did to me, but I can’t see it right now. I can only see the collossal mess I may have made of everything with my foolish actions.

“Christian, I…” He holds his hand up to silence me, and I realize that my lecture is not finished yet. I drop my head to take my medicine.

“Look at me,” he nearly growls. My head snaps up and my eyes meet his. I can’t even identify the emotion there, or lack thereof. He’s cold and closed off. He’s looking at me straight on–not an angry glare, just looking at me… sort of squaring off, but not.

“You. Were. Wrong,” he says finitely, slowly so that I can understand his meaning. “What you did may have caused irreparable damage to Helping Hands and to your reputation, and if you ever do that again, it will cause severe damage to our marriage.” He pauses and let’s the words sink in. I fight the tears threatening to break through.

“Do you need a moment?” he says, his voice cold and calculated. That’s when I see it. The walls are up. He’s not letting any emotion come through. He feels nothing at this moment if for no other reason than to make sure that I see his point. I sit up straight and quickly dash away the two tears that manage to escape. I shake my head that I don’t need any time and look him in the eyes… to take my medicine.

“I will not apologize for what I did last night, because you took advantage of me. You took advantage of my trust in you, and although I know for certain that you wouldn’t have fucked any of those men at that table, you gave them a hope for something that they could have if they wrote a big enough check. They were salivating over you, and I’m not just saying that because you’re my wife and I don’t want another man looking at you. I’m saying that because from where I was standing at the door, I could see two of them with their legs crossed and three of them with obvious erections. Do you have any idea how that feels—for a man to look at another man’s package in the first place, but then to know that’s going on because of his wife?”

I immediately remember how I felt when Athena’s Spear was pointing at every woman in Greece–not intentionally, but still pointing. It felt pretty shitty.

“Ye…” I speak, but nothing comes out, so I clear my throat. “Yes.”

“Good,” he says without pausing, “now take what you’re feeling and add what you would be feeling if I had been doing that on purpose.” In that uncanny way he has of reading my mind, he has hit the nail right on the head. I feel a shiver traveling through my body. He is so cold right now, and he’s going to make his point. I try to break eye contact with him again.

“Look at me, Anastasia!” he nearly snaps. My eyes shoot to his again and his cold resolve is back in an instant. He wants me to see this. He’s never been this angry with me before, not even on New Year’s Eve. I settle on my perch, my resolve evident, too, but different.

“I am fully aware that I set the Neanderthal loose and I don’t regret it, because that’s what you wanted. You just didn’t want it from your husband. You wanted it from a bunch of men at a dinner table with fat checkbooks. So, it’s okay for them to treat you like a piece of meat, but not me.” It’s a statement rather than a question.

The Bitch inside is curled on the floor, crying and screaming, throwing a massive temper tantrum and begging for him to stop. Outside, I stare blankly at him–tears burning my eyes, but I refuse to let them fall. He falls silent only for a moment and examines me, but only to change weapons.

“Poor little punished Anastasia,” he says with no malice, which makes the words hurt even more. “It’s okay for you to berate me when I’ve done something wrong, but when you are clearly out of line, I get to sit here and look at those big blue doe eyes ready to explode like a waterfall–your mind no doubt screaming ‘why is he doing this to me.’ I’m right, aren’t I?”

Yes and no. I really wasn’t thinking “Poor little Anastasia,” but I would like for this to stop, please… Oh, and yes, I do feel like crying a river.

I say nothing. I don’t know what to say. I have no defense against this particular attack, nor should I. I wanted those men to want me, to prove that I could pull in the big checks. He caught me red-handed. Just like I told him about hen night, my actions may have caused damage that I can’t fix–to my charity and my marriage–and there’s nothing I can do at this moment but sit here and take it.

But with Christian, my eyes are a weapon and he’s forcing me to look at him. I would turn my eyes away, drop my head, but he won’t let me. Everytime I try, he just forces me to look at him again. Finally, I lose the battle.

A lone tear slides unwanted down my face.

I feel it burn a track down my cheek and as if it weren’t prominent enough, another one joins it burning the same path, joining its mate rolling down my chin until they both fall on my breast as one loud cosmic splash. The sound resonates in my ears like a massive and destructive tsunami, although it really makes no sound at all. I don’t break his gaze. I don’t blink. I don’t move. I just look. He’s angry and a tad disgusted. I can see it in his steely gaze. He’s still not glaring, but he’s clearly displeased.

He picks up his coffee, now gone cold, and bottoms out the cup before standing from the breakfast bar. Without a word, he turns and walks away—to his study, I think. He doesn’t close the door, but the silence and his demeanor is enough of a barrier for me to know that he doesn’t want to see me right now. I slide off the seat and, leaving the dishes there on the counter, I go to find a quiet corner to be alone with my thoughts.

The Bitch is exhausted from her wailing and mourning and has taken to silence as well, so there’s no one here but me… me and my babies. At the very end of the dining room before you get to Christian’s piano, there’s a chaise facing the skyline. I never knew why it was there, but it’s perfect for right now… not closed away in a room for hiding or running or shrinking, just somewhere quiet and slightly secluded. I get comfortable, cradle my babies, and do the only thing I know to do right now…

Goodnight, my angel
Time to close your eyes
And save these questions for another day
I think I know what you’ve been asking me
I think you know what I’ve been trying to say
I promised I would never leave you
And you should always know
Wherever you may go
No matter where you are
I never will be far away

Goodnight, my angel
Now it’s time to sleep
And still so many things I want to say
Remember all the songs you sang for me
When we went sailing on an emerald bay
And like a boat out on the ocean
I’m rocking you to sleep
The water’s dark
And deep inside this ancient heart
You’ll always be a part of me


A/N: So there it is… perfect little Ana ain’t so damn perfect. Couldn’t let Book II go out like a lion then make Book III come in like a lamb. 😉 

Pictures of places, cars, fashion, etc. can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/becoming-dr-grey/

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Love and Handcuffs!
Lynn x


One Shot–I Love Him… I Love Him Not…

Remember in “Paging Dr. Steele” when Allen took Ana to the New Orleans and James went out that night to have dinner with Jose Rodriguez—the “artsy guy” who broke his heart years ago and moved to Madrid? Did you ever wonder what happened that night that had Allen crying in the restaurant and made James double-park his Mercedes to get to him? Well, in honor of Tae Freeman’s birthday (happy belated birthday, Tae!), here’s a one-shot in a point of view you probably thought you’d never see… James.

I Love Him… I Love Him Not…

Jason GeorgeJAMES

“So where are you guys going tonight?” I ask Allie once he steps out of the shower.

“I think I’ll take her to the Orleans,” he says, drying his hair. “I haven’t been there, but I heard there’s fantastic food and live music.” He walks around in his towel for a while and I really want to jump him, but the news that I have to tell him will quickly put a damper on that.

“I need to talk to you, baby,” I say, and by his facial expression, he knows it’s not good.

“What’s wrong?” he says, the attorney in him running front and center. I don’t know if it’s subconscious or a defense mechanism, but I can always see when Allen Michael Forsythe Esquire is in the room. I steady myself for the fight that’s about to come.

“Jose called today,” I can barely choke the words out.

“Jose?” he asks, a bit appalled. “You mean Madrid Jose? Jose Rodriguez? The man who broke your heart a few years ago?” He knows exactly where this is going.

“Yes, one and the same,” I respond. He purses his lips before he speaks.

“And?” he says, folding his arms.

“He’s back in town. He wants to meet… for dinner.” I don’t even make eye contact with him. He’s too quiet. I finally raise my eyes to meet his and he glares at me.

“You’re going,” he says more as a statement than a question. I shrug one shoulder.

“It’s just dinner, Allie. He just wants to talk.”

“About what?” he shoots! “About the way he ripped your heart out? About how he ran off to pursue his dreams with no consideration for you? About how you’ve been here for years getting over him and getting on with your life and now he’s back?”

“I don’t know. I won’t know until I get there.”

“Of course,” he says, dropping his towel and quickly stepping into a pair of boxers. Yeah, he had the same thought I did until I sprung Jose at him.

“We’re going to talk, Al…”

“I’m sure,” he says as he pulls his T-shirt over his head. “I’m only too sure that he flew all the way back from Madrid just to talk.”

“He was in Beijing… and he’s back here now,” I say, by means of full disclosure. Al freezes.

“Here now,” he says, with a pause, and I nod. “Here here… as in back here… staying here… in Seattle.” He’s leaving no stone unturned.

“Yes,” I confirm. “He’s been back in town for a few days and he’s working with a travel magazine now, based out of Seattle.”

“How wonderful for him!” Al hisses, his arms folded again. “And you, having waited for him for so long and then finally getting on with your life… why does he want to see you now?”

“He says that he wants to talk. He says he wants to clear the air.”

“Why does he need to clear the air after all these years?” Al retorts. “Why can’t he do that over the phone? Why does he need to see you in person?”

“Al, you know as well as I do that some things just can’t be said over the phone.”

“Yes, I do know that. In particular, I know that it’s more effective to tell someone in person that you made a mistake and you want them back.”

“Al…” I protest.

“What else could he possibly want?” Al continues. “What could he possibly have to say to you after all these years? You mourned the loss of him! Did you forget that you told me how hard that was for you? Did you forget you told me about the endless days and the sleepless nights? What does he want—to take you back and put you through that again until Italy or Japan calls?”

“I don’t know.” Wrong answer. He’s right about everything. He’s right that I thought I couldn’t go on after Jose left. I didn’t want another relationship because I was so in love with him. I got a job, I went on with my work, and I did my best to forget him. We wrote for the first few months, and I secretly hoped that he would be a failure abroad and come back to me, but his letters spoke only of his many successes—of more and more commissions coming from the work he had done. Soon he left Madrid for Italy, and his letters were fewer and fewer. That’s when I realized that he wouldn’t be coming back to me and he never once suggested that I come to him, not even for a visit. That’s when I finally decided to let him go. It took a whole year.

“You… don’t know? What do you mean you don’t know?” All of the anger has disappeared from Al’s voice and he sounds more forlorn than anything.

“I don’t know what he wants, Allen. He just said that he wanted to have dinner and talk. He said that he wants to clear the air.”

“I don’t understand. There’s no air to clear. He broke up with you years ago to pursue his dream. He made his choice. What could he possibly want now—all these years later—except you?”

It’s easier for me to just say that I have no idea what he wants than to even entertain the idea that he could possibly want me back. I haven’t thought about him for years, only enough to tell Allen about the purgatory that was our relationship. Once I let it go, I never thought again about him wanting me back in his life. I dare not even consider it. When he called this morning, I was completely caught off guard.

“Hello?”

“James?”

“Yes, who’s this?”

“You still have the same number after all these years, I can’t believe it.”

“I’m sorry, you have me at a disadvantage. To whom am I speaking?” There was a long pause on the line before he answered.

“It’s Jose.”

I remember gulping, trying to get past the lump that instantly formed in my throat. Jose! It’s Jose. After all this time, he’s calling me. How many years has it been? Three? Four? Nine? Fifteen?

Yesterday?

“James?” His voice sounds just like it did then. How did I not recognize it before?

“Yes. I’m still here,” I say, trying to sound unaffected. “How are you?”

“I’m fine,” he says in a knowing tone. He’s always known me so well. “I’m in Seattle.”

“Oh?” I try to hide the fact that my heart just skipped a beat. “What are you doing here? How long are you staying?”

“Indefinitely.” Shit! Indefinitely! He’s in Seattle indefinitely. “I’m with one of the big travel magazines now. My work has been quite the rage in Europe and now, I can work from anywhere in the world that I want. So… I came back home.”

Home. What does that mean? His family isn’t even in Washington. How is this home?

“I’m very happy for you, Jose,” I say.

“I’d like to take you to dinner,” he says, and I feel the air get sucked out of the room. “Maybe catch up on old times, clear the air about a few things…” Yes, clear the air. Clearing the air is good. What could it hurt?

“Um… okay.” Did I just agree to have dinner with my ex-boyfriend?

“Tonight? We’ll go to Pink’s. I haven’t been there in so long.”

“Pink’s… okay. I’ll… meet you there.”

“Seven o’clock?”

“Seven.” It’s like I’m making an appointment.

“I’ll see you then. We’ve got so much to talk about…”

I end the call without once telling him that I’m seeing someone else. What does that mean? What does it mean that my heart raced when I realized who it was? That there was a lump in my throat the size of Texas? That I couldn’t breathe and could barely talk? What does it all mean?

“James…” I now realize that I have been daydreaming about the phone call through part of the discussion with Al. That’s not good. I know I’ve missed something important when I hear the next series of questions proceed from his lips.

“Is that what I’ve been? Have I been a stand-in all this time until Jose came back?”

“No!” I answer immediately. That’s not what our relationship has been. I’m sure of that. I have real and true feelings for Allen, but if I’m honest, I never thought Jose would come back. “Allen, no! That’s not it at all!” I think I’ve lost this battle. His eyes glaze over and he puts his socks on, then his pants.

“You do what you need to do, James,” he says, his voice resolved. He’s quickly grabbing his clothes, getting dressed in a frenzy.

“Al, it’s not what you think, I swear…”

“It doesn’t matter what I think, James,” he says flatly. “Do what you have to do.” He’s out of the room and out of the apartment in no time, half-dressed, hair still partially wet. I sit down on my bed and ponder my current situation.

What did I just do? Did I just let my boyfriend leave so that I could have dinner with my ex-boyfriend?
Did I just call Allen my boyfriend? What are we exactly? We nearly live together, but we haven’t put a label on our relationship yet.
Why am I being such a damn pussy?

I’ve made this date with Jose… appointment! Appointment! It’s not a date! I’ve made this appointment with Jose, I guess I better get dressed before I’m late.

I have to screw up my courage before I walk into Pink’s. It’s been years since I’ve seen Jose. Has he changed? Have I? I take a deep breath and walk into the restaurant. I look around for him and it doesn’t take long to spot him.

He’s changed… for the better.

He’s sitting in the corner examining me with those deep chocolate eyes. He’s sporting designer stubble and his hair is cut shorter than I remember and slicked back off his face. His long-sleeved shirt is pushed up to the elbow, showcasing the tattoos I used to love so much.

… Used to…

He’s the same operator he used to be. He’s sitting in the back of the restaurant with a clear view of the door so that he can watch me walk across the room. I get a little tinge remembering how he used to do that when we were dating so that he could make some kind of comment about how well my clothes fit or how nice my ass looked when I got to the table. I sigh, realizing that he has already taken the upper hand, no doubt feeding on the conversation we had earlier in the day. I stand up straight and remember the man who I’ve become since he’s been gone, not the man who I used to be when we were together.

I walk with confidence to the back of the restaurant where he’s sitting. No matter what he thinks, I can’t let him have the control over me that he had when he left. Neither one of us are particularly weak, but I pined over this man when he left me. There’s no way in hell I’m going to let him know that.

“Jose,” I say firmly when I get back to the table.

“James,” oh shit, “you look good.”

“As do you,” I say matter-of-factly. He stands and embraces me. I feel a little warmer than I should but manage to hide it as I return the embrace. He kisses me on my cheek—harmless, except that it’s a little too close to my ear. I break our embrace and take a seat.

“You’ve been working out, I see,” he says. “You’re bulkier… firmer than I remember.” Could he be any more transparent?

“Not as much as I used to, but yes. I get in a workout as often as I can.” He waves the waitress over.

“I’m ready to order now,” he tells her. He rattles off a dinner for two including drinks. I didn’t bother paying attention to what he ordered. I stop the waitress before she leaves and order braised chicken with new vegetables and a beer on tap.

“I ordered the fish for you,” Jose protests, “and the whiskey sour.”

“Oh,” I say feigning ignorance. “I don’t want the fish, I’m sorry—and I can’t drink whiskey. I’m driving.” Jose nods once.

“It was silly of me to assume,” he says. “Scratch the fish and the whiskey, please,” he says to the waitress.

“So how was Beijing?” I ask, going right into conversation when the waitress leaves.

“So, that’s how we’re doing this,” he says. Doing what? I dare not ask out loud. “Okay. Beijing is beautiful. The weather—so-so. I did a lot of work at the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China…”

As he starts talking, I find myself fascinated by the places that he’s been and the sites that he’s seen. He pulled out his phone and showed me some of his most recent work from the Summer Palace and the Temple of Heaven. He’s really very good at what he does. The shots are beautiful and he has a remarkable eye. Next, he tells me about Dubai and the culture shock he suffered once he got there. We eat appetizers and have drinks, talking and laughing just like old times. I feel comfortable with him and it’s like no time has passed at all.

“I slept with a girl in Madrid,” he confesses. I feel a small tinge of jealousy, but not really. I know that Jose is not attracted to women, but why am I jealous at all?

“A girl?” I ask, kind of in horror. He nods.

“I was lonely… and horny. She wouldn’t take no for an answer, so when she got it up, we stuck it in and that was it.”

“I hope you used protection.”

“I did. It was… strange. It was warm. It felt good, but… it was a woman… and she wasn’t you.”

Oh, shit. Now he’s going for the kill. Fine, I can, too.

“Why did you stop writing?” I ask. It’s the one question I’ve wanted to ask over and over.

“Because it hurt too much,” he replies. “The letters made it too hard. I never got over you, James.”

You what?

“What do you mean you never got over me?” Now I’m angry. He wanted me as much as I wanted him and he just let me suffer? “Why didn’t you ever say anything? Why didn’t you send for me… or ask me to come to you? Do you know how that felt?”

“Yes, I do!” he retorts. “I loved you! I didn’t want to leave, but I had my future and you had yours and they were in different places!” I stand up and reach for my wallet. I take a few twenties out and throw them on the table.

“I would have followed you! Anywhere!”

I turn around and march out of the restaurant unable to tame my rising emotions. He felt the same way that I did and to ease his pain, he just stopped writing.

“James!” He’s followed me out of the restaurant and into the parking lot.

“That’s a cruel thing!” I shout back at him. “To just cut somebody off that way! I loved you, Jose! I would have done anything to be with you!”

“Including give up your career, and I knew that! Every time I moved, you would have to move. You would never have been able to settle down. You would have followed me around the globe. I knew I would have to work for years, make a name for myself before I was sought after, recognizable, before I could name my own price. Tell me it took you that long!”

It didn’t. I was naming my own price for my work very shortly after he left. I have some of the most powerful and richest clients in the world across several industries.

“Would you have what you have now if you had been following me around the world while I honed my craft? How long would it have been before you were resenting me because I was pursuing my career and you weren’t? You don’t think I thought about this a thousand times?” He says before he turns away from me. He looks glorious—designer blue jeans and a black cashmere sweater. He’s been working out, too, and I feel my resolve weakening. He turns around and looks me in the eye.

“You never gave me a choice,” I say lowly. He chose for both of us and I didn’t have a say in the matter. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so hard had I known his motives.

“I know what you would have chosen,” he says with conviction. “You loved me… and I loved you. You would have chosen me, and at the time, it wasn’t the right choice.” He walks towards me again. “I’m here now, James. I’m not going anywhere. I can name my place. I chose here… with you.” I shake my head.

“It’s been too many years, Jose. So much has happened. So much has changed…”

“James, you can’t deny the attraction. It’s still there. We’re still drawn to each other.”

“No, Jose, I can’t deny the attraction. You look really good and part of me is curious if we would still be good together.”

“We can be, baby. I should have never left you. Can’t we pick up where we left off?” He’s closing in for a kiss and all I can see is Allie.

“No, we can’t,” I say flatly. “I spent a long time getting over you, but I did get over you. Even now with this insane attraction between us, I don’t want you.” I want him. I want Allie. “I’ve met someone, Jose.” He recoils from me.

“You what?”

“Is it so hard to believe?” I say affronted.

“No! What’s so hard to believe is that you went this entire evening, having drinks and eating dinner, chewing over old times, two single guys in the city without even telling me you were involved! Why did you do that?” he accuses.

“Because I’m a fool,” I say solidly. “I heard your voice and all those old feelings came back. I saw you sitting in the back of the restaurant and it was like no time passed at all. I wanted to feel the way I used to. I wanted to see the man that I loved, the one that a yearned for, if only one more time. But it’s wrong, it’s completely wrong!”

“Why?” he shoots. “Why is it wrong? Because you still love me? Because you still dream about me, still want me… so much that you forgot about your boyfriend to come and have dinner with me?” He closes the space between us again. “You know it can be good. I can make it good. We can make it good. He doesn’t even have to know, and if you still want him after one night with me, I’ll walk away and never look back.”

He leans in and kisses me gently. I don’t fight it. I remember how soft his lips were… still are… his tongue as he licked me from head to toe, paying special attention to my most sensitive places. I yearned for his kiss, his touch when he was gone, and now he’s here—back here in my life ready to love me just like he did before.

He breaks the kiss and looks into my eyes, his gaze smoldering, hungry.

“This was our one night, Jose,” I tell him, “and it was good. You’re just as magnificent as you always were, just as manly and beautiful and attractive and sexual. I won’t lie—my body wants you as badly as it always did, but my heart is somewhere else, and it’s speaking louder than my libido. So you need to turn around, Jose. You need to walk away and never look back.” He pulls away from me.

“You’re doing this because I broke your heart,” he says with no malice.

“Yes and no,” I reply. “I’m here because you broke my heart. I needed to see you again, to see if any of those old feelings were still there. I thought they were. Physically, they are. You’re still fucking gorgeous, and you might have had a chance if it weren’t for him. So no, I’m not doing this because you broke my heart. I’m doing this because I really don’t want you anymore. I want him.” He looks into my eyes, then looks down.

“What’s his name?” he asks. I sigh.

“Allen.”

“He sounds like a white boy,” he says with nervous laughter.

“He is,” I confirm. Jose’s laughter stops. “He’s an attorney. He’s brilliant, funny, and considerate. He’s handsome and kind…”

“And you love him.” I shrug. A single tear falls from Jose’s eye. “I had to try,” he whispers. I feel bad for him, because I know how he feels.

“I swear I didn’t want this,” I tell him. “I didn’t want you to feel this way and it was selfish of me to lead you on.”

“It’s not your fault, James,” he says softly. “I started it, I know I did. I broke your heart, and I came back here expecting to be able to just…” He takes a deep breath. “You’re a beautiful man. I knew someone had you, I just thought I could take you back.” He wipes his tear away.

“Allen’s a lucky guy,” he says. “Go to him. Don’t make the same mistake I did.” He kisses me on the cheek and hurriedly walks away—the perfect movie departure.

“Goodbye, Jose,” I say before turning around and walking to my CLS.

*-*

I almost jump out of the car before it stops running. I’ve got to get to him. He has to know what he means to me. I step inside of the New Orleans, hoping that he hasn’t changed his mind and I have to comb the whole of Seattle looking for him—hoping that he doesn’t find himself in the arms of another man because I foolishly went chasing my past instead of following my future. The hostess is talking to me, but my eyes are combing the room.

Allie… where’s Allie?

He’s not here. I don’t see him. He’s not here. My heart sinks immediately until I turn to the bar area and see that unmistakable frame, wrapped around someone else. I freeze where I stand and my stomach does a million flip-flops. Who’s holding my Allie? Who is he dancing with?

“I see my party,” I say to the babbling hostess and walk past her into the bar. I might as well meet my fate head on. Please, I silently beseech him, please don’t give up on me so easily.

As I walk closer to them, I’m immeasurably relieved to see that it’s Ana that’s dancing with him. I take a moment to compose myself, because I almost felt like my insides were slowly and painfully being ripped from my body when I thought he was dancing with someone else… so close that I can’t even see his face. My relief is replaced with concern when I see that she is nearly holding him up, occasionally wiping tears from his eyes.

Allie… I’m so sorry…

I quickly make my way over to where they’re dancing and cautiously tap Ana on the shoulder. She looks up at me, her curious expression soon replaced with a smile. She lifts Allie’s head off her shoulder and I don’t ever think I’ve seen him look more defeated in my life.

I’ll never do this to you again, baby…

He raises his eyes to me—red and tear-filled—a look of surprise marring his face. All I want to do is hold him, stroke his soft hair and tell him how I feel.

Ana takes my hand and kisses me on the cheek before doing the same to Allie. After whispering something in his ear, she puts our hands together and walks away.

Come to me, Allie… please…

I gently pull him closer to me and embrace him. I’m such a fool. Why would I want to look back at Jose when I have this gorgeous, wonderful man in front of me? He collapses into my arms, his full weight resting on my body. He carried a lot on his shoulders tonight and it was all my fault.

“I’m sorry, Allie,” I say in his ear.

“Forgiven,” he whispers, and I hold him close until the song ends.

“I want to get out of here,” I tell him. “I need to be with you.” He nods and tells me he needs the restroom. I watch him walk away as he goes to tidy up. Then, I go find Ana at the bar. She tells me that he’s not drunk, but he probably shouldn’t be driving. She has agreed to take his car tonight, which is music to my ears because I can’t wait to get him home.

When Allie interrupts our conversation, Ana instructs him to hand over his keys. I momentarily think he’s going to protest, but instead he apologizes for their evening ending so soon. She’s a good person and a good friend to him, and declares that it wasn’t a total loss since she did get a phone number while we were on the dance floor. I take Allie’s hand as I can’t stand not touching him any longer.

As we’re leaving the restaurant, I swear I see Christian Grey sitting in one of the booths. I almost speak to him, but he’s looking at us in horror like it would be the worst thing ever for us to stop and talk to him. What the hell is he doing in a very public place if he doesn’t want to be recognized? I don’t have time to sort through the idiosyncrasies of the super-rich billionaire. I’m more concerned about my Allie.

“Did you valet, James?” Ana asks and I point at my car parked across the street.

“No, I’m right there.”

“James! You’re lucky you didn’t get a ticket—or worse, towed!” Ana exclaims. I look into the starry, glassy eyes of my man.

“It wouldn’t have mattered,” I say, gazing at him. “I had something more important to tend to.” He says his goodbyes to Ana once the valet brings his Jag to her. I take his hand and walk him to my car. After escorting him into the passenger seat and closing the door behind him, I get into the driver’s side. Before he has a chance to buckle his seatbelt, I lean over, take his face in my hands, and kiss him deeply.

“I love you, Allen,” I breathe when we break our kiss. I never thought I would say it to anyone else but Jose. Tonight, I’m certain of it. I love this man.

“Please don’t say things you don’t mean,” he says, his tone cautious and tortured. “I can’t take it… please…”

“I mean it, Allen,” I confirm, brushing my lips against his cheek. “I could never leave you. It would kill me. You don’t have to say it until you’re ready, but I love you, Allie. I love you.” He whimpers in my ear and I feel the tears on his cheeks again. I gently kiss them away as he says the words that make my heart sing.

“I love you, too, James… I love you so much…”

On our drive home, I tell him everything. I want him to know why I went to see Jose, what happened at the restaurant, and how I felt when I thought for one moment I would take him back. I want him to know how the thought of being without him filled me with unending fear and hopelessness. I want him to know how certain I am that even though I once loved Jose very deeply, Allen is the only man for me.

I take my time loving him, tonight—kissing him everywhere and pouring every bit of love into him that I possibly can. I’ll never hurt him again. I can’t stand to see him in pain. There’s no more searching. I’ve found my place. This is it for me. This is where my life and my love begins and ends… with Allie… my Allie…Black and white hand

Love and Handcuffs!
Lynn X AKA Bronze Goddess AKA BG Holmes