Becoming Dr. Grey: Chapter 7—Birthday Bliss?

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 7—Birthday Bliss?

ANASTASIA

“This is my first time having a massage like this. I guess I shouldn’t have waited so long,” I say to the girls. We’re having our lunch in a private lounge, still wearing our terry cloth robes. We’re in something like a jungle room—lots of exotic plants all around, plenty of natural light or at least what looks like natural light, and mists of water spraying in over the plants and in the air a bit like they do in the supermarket vegetable aisle.

“Well, an outing with Mrs. Grey almost always involves a massage, so what was different about this one?” Val asks.

“It was just different,” I tell her. “Instead of relaxation, it focused on all of the areas that are tight or sore because of the pregnancy. Maxie fell asleep.”

“I wish I could train Phil how to so that,” she says, popping a strawberry in her mouth. We’re lunching on fresh fruit, croissants, juices, pasta salad, chicken kabobs, steak fajitas, and lots of water since we just got massages. I still have a small issue with beef, but it hasn’t caused any problems yet—I just won’t eat any of it.

“So, Valerie, it looks like you’re the last of the red-hot single girls. Any wedding bells in your future with Elliot?” Gail asks.

“No,” Val replies. We’re waiting for the rest, but nothing comes.

“Not ever?” Mandy asks. Grace is quite attentive at this point.

“I won’t say ‘not ever,’ but not likely,” she replies, before taking a bite of pasta salad, and now the room has gone silent. “Okay,” she continues after she swallows. “Elliot and I have talked about this. We love each other very much. I even want to have kids with him, but neither of us feels that it’s necessary for us to have a piece of paper to give us permission to share our lives. We’re basically living together, we share a mutual love and respect for one another. Neither of us plans on running to the hills—no offense, Ana…”

“None taken,” I say quickly.

“… And if we spent all that money paying for a wedding, it would be for everybody else, not for us. Again, no offense, Ana.”

“Now you’re getting a little offensive,” I stop her. “Is that what you think my wedding was—a show for everybody else?”

“Or mine?” Maxie pipes in? The other ladies all sit silently waiting for an answer as everyone else in the room is married. Val looks from face to face and puts her plate down.

“That look,” she points to each of us, “that’s exactly what I’m talking about. I didn’t say your wedding… or yours… or any of yours… meant anything. I said ‘us!’ I didn’t say Maxie, I didn’t say Ana, I said ‘we!’ The only reason why I specifically said ‘no offense’ to you is because you just got married. You had this huge massive blowout paid for by you and your billionaire husband that made you feel like a princess because that’s what YOU wanted! My boyfriend and I don’t need that. If we did that, it would be for everyone else, not for us because we don’t want that. Do I need to make that any clearer or do I stand and wait for the daggers to fly?” Sheesh! She’s awful sensitive.

“Well, excuse me, but it did sound like that’s what you were saying,” I defend.

“You’re just too sensitive, Steele. That wasn’t what I was saying at all,” she retorts, a bit defensive herself. I’m sensitive? I frown and load the guns and just as I’m ready to open fire, Grace steps in to defuse the situation.

“Okay, we’ve had a wonderful day and we’re enjoying a fabulous late lunch. Let’s not spoil it with a little thing like misinterpretation.” She pats my hand and gives me some orange juice. I pout a bit and let out a puff of air. I really wanted to let her have it… well, maybe not let her have it, but no matter. I just quench my anger with healthy swallows of orange juice.

“Okay, so no marriage,” Maxie says. “Are you trying for children?”

“Definitely not!” she replies, gesturing to the group. “We’re surrounded by babies! Mandy, you, she’s having two… we can wait.”

“How long do you think you’ll wait?” Mandy asks. Val shrugs.

“I don’t know, thirty, maybe. Whenever he says he’s ready to have children, I’ll be ready.”

“Even now?” Maxie asks.

“We’ve already talked about now. It won’t be now, but yes, even now. He’s still reeling from that ‘Kate’ thing. He was preparing himself to be that child’s father and trying to get his mind set on what direction his life was going to go. Then it turns out to all be bullshit. That’s a lot to deal with, so I’m just going to be there for him and when he’s ready, I’ll be ready. We don’t want to get married. We’re fine. We like our relationship the way that it is, but we’re buying a house because we don’t want to pay mortgages at two places.”

“Really?” Grace asks and Val nods. “Where?”

“We’re still looking. We’ll probably stay in Seattle. We want to have something together, so we’ve decided to consolidate. We want something different instead of either of our places…”

“It’s a buyer’s market,” Maxie tells her. “Finding something will be easy, but unloading your places will be a pain.” I remember having the same conversation with Al about him and James.

“I know, but it’s what we want and we’ll just have to be vigilant about asking prices and hope for the best. I’ll be happy if we could just break even.” I’ve pretty much fallen silent. I’m still a bit bruised from the wedding conversation. I’ll admit that I’m pouting and probably being a bit sensitive, but I’m entitled. I’m pregnant and hormonal and she just trivialized my wedding day. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I stab at my pasta salad as I remember mine and Christian’s special day. I didn’t see anything wrong with it even though it was a bit over the top. Maybe I am being too sensitive, but that day was really special to me and I thought it was special to everyone in attendance. I guess I may have been wrong about that…

“So, Ana, you went MIA for a little while. What’s going on? Is everything okay?” Maxie no doubt notices my attempt to be invisible and includes me in the conversation. Grace gets very quiet and I sigh. “Did I say something wrong?”

“No, Maxie, you didn’t,” I reply. “I did something very stupid and selfish. It almost cost my marriage. I don’t really want to go into what it was because I’m still very ashamed of it, but I acted irresponsibly and subsequently slipped into a bit of a depression. It was easier for me to deal with it on my own than to try to explain to anyone what was going on. Christian was very displeased and it was a very difficult time for us, but we got through it okay and we’re fine now.”

“Good grief, Ana, so soon after you married. That must have been rough,” Maxie says. “I’m glad things are good now.”

“You didn’t cheat, did you?” Val asks. I glare at her.

“No, but you did hear the part where I said I don’t want to go into it, right?” I point out. She returns my glare.

“God, Ana!” she snaps. “I’m sorry about what I said about the wedding! I wasn’t trying to say that it meant nothing. I was just saying that it’s not what Elliot and I want.”

“I didn’t say anything else about the wedding!” I defend. “I shared with you all that I did something stupid that almost cost my marriage and I didn’t want to talk about it and you proceeded to ask me if I cheated on my husband!”

“Fine,” Val says, standing. “I’m sorry I said anything at all. Excuse me.” She turns around and walks out of the jungle room. Great, just fucking great. The room is silent now and nobody knows what to do. Should someone go check on Val? Should we call it a day because she ran out or should we just keep talking and eating like nothing happened? Marilyn, who had been quietly sitting by all this time, makes the decision for us.

“Finish your lunch, guys. I’ll go see about her,” and she’s out of the jungle room. This wasn’t my sensitivity this time. I specifically said that I didn’t want to talk about it and she asked if I was cheating on my husband. Nobody’s saying anything and I suddenly feel like the villain. In moments, I’m crying—not because I’m upset, but because I’m pissed. Now there’s that silence that closes in on the room and wraps around the sound of someone weeping.

“For God’s sake, somebody say something!” I sob.

“Sweetie, what do you expect us to say? You’re crying,” Mandy says and I just weep harder. Gail gives me water while Grace rubs my back. Nobody really says anything for quite some time and then we see Marilyn come back into the room. Val comes in behind her, yet the moment she sees me crying and Grace comforting me, she throws her hands up in the air, turns around and walks back out.

Now, I’m mad.

I may have been perturbed about the wedding thing, but she’s the one who asked if I had cheated on Christian. Not only was that completely out of line and way too personal a question, but I made it clear that I didn’t want to go into detail about what happened. My tears stop immediately. I use my towel to dry my eyes and pick up my plate of pasta salad and chicken.

“You guys should probably finish your lunch, because I’m sure as hell going to finish mine,” I say taking a forkful of the pasta salad. Everyone watches me for about ten seconds and then slowly starts to eat their lunch. I don’t think that I and five other women should eat in silence because one is… well, whatever’s going on with Val, so I ask Marilyn about her and Gary. She works for me. She has to talk to me. She looks around and then starts telling us about how she and Gary are doing—taking it slow and enjoying the relationship. They’re both so young that there’s really no rush to do anything. So they’re just moving along being girlfriend and boyfriend and having a good time. Val never came back to the jungle room.

We all go to the changing room after we finish eating our lunch and get dressed. When we get to the cars to go back to the vacation houses. There are only two cars and two guards when at first, there were three of each.

“Ben took Ms. Marshall back to the vacation house,” Chuck says. “She didn’t want to wait.” I roll my eyes. I weary of this whole thing and I suddenly want nothing more than a nice, long nap.

“Fine, let’s go,” I say, opening the door and allowing Chuck to help me into the front seat of the car. Maxie does the same with Chance in the front seat of the other car while the rest of the ladies pile in the back seats. In just a few minutes, we’re back at the vacation houses. I work my way out of the car and straight into the house without saying anything. I hear Grace and Gail come in behind me, but I’m already on my way up the stairs and to the master bedroom.

I take off my shoes and tie my hair in a knot as I’m too lazy to look for a ponytail holder. That would only mean that I would have to put this thing in some kind of bun and I don’t want to do it. Getting into bed is harder these days, but I manage to do it. The soccer players are thankfully peaceful right now, so I lie on my side and sing their lullaby. I don’t remember getting to the second verse.


CHRISTIAN

It’s been a while since I’ve been on the side of a mountain. It’s pretty brisk up here and snowy in patches, so we have to watch our footing. Elliot and I love hiking, no matter what season, and we’re taking the hills in stride. This is not Jason’s favorite pastime, but I know he appreciates the workout.

Elliot and I talk about the renovations that still need to be done on the house. He’s thinking that it will actually be done by Thanksgiving. That would be fantastic! Our first Thanksgiving as man and wife in our new home. He’s telling me that he and Valerie are looking for a house or a lot to build a house when he gets a call on his cell. I’m surprised he’s got reception up here.

“Hey Angel,” he says, answering the phone. “What?… Wait a minute, babe, you have to slow down…” Slow down? Why is she talking fast? Is something wrong? Is it Ana? Jason and I simultaneously pull out our phones. Nothing.

“Baby, it’s okay. I’m sure it’s just her hormones or something.” Okay, something is going on with Ana. “Now why did you do that? You know she’s going to come looking for you… Oh… well, okay. I’ll be there soon. We’re still on the mountain… call me if you need me, Angel… Love you, too.” He ends the call. “Your wife and my girlfriend had a little spat.” Oh, for fuck’s sake, this is her birthday weekend.

“About what?” I ask.

“I’m not really sure. Something was said about your wedding and then a falling out you guys had—probably the same one that had Mom pissed at you—and they started bickering. Val is back at the vacation house. Ana and the rest of the women are still at the spa.” Go, Baby, go. Don’t let her ruin your day.

“You going down?” I ask. He frowns.

“Why? She’s not hurt, she’ll still be there when I get there, and I’m chilling with my brother,” he says, patting me hard on my shoulder.

“While I love and appreciate our time together—and I really mean that—I hope you know that I’m off this mountain if Ana calls.” I tell him He scoffs.

“Your wife’s pregnant,” he says. “I expect you to hit the bottom of this mountain in one leap if she calls.” I so appreciate that my brother understands how important my marriage is.

“Let’s hope she doesn’t call,” I say, squeezing his shoulder. He smiles at me and we share a moment on the side of the hill.

“Alright, come on you pussies, before I start growing tits here,” Jason scolds and trudges up the mountain ahead of us. I shake my head and Elliot just snickers at him.

“So, I hear there are some nice houses on Puget Sound and the property values are going up. Were you thinking about something along those lines or closer to the city since you guys don’t have any kids yet?” I ask.

“Definitely the city,” Elliot replies, and the conversation and the climb continue uninterrupted.

*-*

Dad has fired up the grill and is grilling a mountain of steaks, chicken, and jumbo shrimp when we get back to the vacation house. It’s a good thing Butterfly isn’t out here. She’d probably be hurling all over everything. I go inside and find Gail and my mother in the kitchen working on side dishes and dessert. I was sure Butterfly would be in here, but…

“Hey,” I say as a greeting to them both. My mom smiles at me and Gail waves. “Where’s But… Ana?”

“She’s upstairs. I think she’s taking a nap. She went straight up when we got back from the spa and we haven’t heard a peep since,” Gail informs me.

“When was that?” I ask. Mom looks at her watch.

“About three hours ago.” Okay, that’s enough napping. She’ll be up all night if I don’t go get her. I nod and head up the stairs as quietly as I can. I walk down the long hall to the master bedroom and peek my head in.

As always, she looks delectable. She’s wearing this really cute gray T-shirt mini-dress with a baby girl and a baby boy looking through the stomach and a caption that says “Peekaboo! We see you!” I’ve come to know her sleeping patterns. When she’s dog tired, she sleeps with both hands under her cheek. When everything is okay and she’s just going to sleep, she sleeps with one hand under her cheek and the other arm draped over the babies. That’s the hand usually covering mine when I spoon her. When she’s troubled in some way, both arms are wrapped around the babies.

That’s how she’s sleeping right now.

I can imagine that she probably sang to them until she fell asleep. I figured out long ago that she’s actually singing to comfort herself. I sometimes wonder how she’s going to survive after delivery. She depends on them so much right now because they’re inside her. There’s going to be a void once they’re born and I hope that she’s going to be okay. We may need to talk about that soon, but for now…

“Butterfly,” I say as I gently stroke her hair. She’s got it tied in a knot and it looks really good… unique. I’ve never seen it like that. “Butterfly, wake up.” Her eyelashes flutter and she slowly wakes and starts to focus. “There’s my beautiful girl.”

“Hi,” she says sleepily. “What time is it?”

“About five thirty.” She nods and stretches. “Did you enjoy your day?”

“Most of it,” she replies. “I know someone told you—Chuck or Ben or…”

“Elliot,” I complete for her. She twists her mouth.

“Figures,” she says, attempting to sit up. I help her the rest of the way and put my hand on her back to steady her while she continues to wake.

“Do I want to know what happened?” I ask cautiously. “Elliot said that she said something about our wedding and then she said something about our argument. I didn’t know you were telling people about that.”

“I didn’t. That was the problem,” she says. “Val can be very intrusive if you’re not forthcoming with information. So when I was vague about my ‘absence’ and made it clear that I didn’t want to talk about it, she started asking questions when I clearly said that I didn’t want to talk about it!”

“Like what?” What could she have possibly asked that sparked this kind of argument?

“Like if I cheated on you!”

“What!?” What in the fuck did Butterfly say to prompt that response?

“When Maxie asked why I was MIA, I said that I had done something that was detrimental to our marriage and I went into a depression. I said that I didn’t want to talk about it, but that everything was okay now and Val asked if I had cheated on you.” I’m a bit stunned. I can see how the omission of information may make one curious about what happened but…

“She asked you this after you said you didn’t want to talk about it?”

“Yes, and then got upset because I repeated that I didn’t want to talk about it. Then she started making reference to the wedding conversation and I hadn’t even said anything else about the wedding conversation…”

“Wait a minute, wait a minute. Back up, you’re moving too fast. What wedding conversation?”

“She and Elliot are never getting married. Okay, that’s fine. We don’t care. If you like it, I love it, but—she starts making comments that were clearly directed at me because every time she made one, she’d say ‘No offense, Ana…’” Oh, fuck. That’s one of the deadliest “excuse me’s” that you can ever say.

“Comments like what, Baby?” I ask.

“The first one was something like ‘he knows I’m not going to go running to the hills.’ I let that one slide because I did go running to the hills. But when she said that if they got married, it would be just a show for everybody else, then followed that shit with ‘no offense, Ana,’ try again! I found that very offensive. I’m the first one to say that our wedding was quite ostentatious, but it’s what we wanted, and to have her trivialize it that way because she and Elliot are not getting married…” She rubs her eyes.

“Okay, Baby, okay. I see what’s going on,” I say taking her hand.

“And don’t do that either!” she says, snatching her hand back from me.

“What did I do?” I ask.

“Treat me like the little lady because I’m pregnant. People seem to be chalking my feelings up to ‘oh, she’s hormonal and pregnant,’ and I don’t appreciate it. I know that some of my reactions and feelings are because I’m hormonal and pregnant, but not all of them, and I don’t want them to be dismissed that way.” She stares at me and waits for my response. What can I say? That’s exactly what I was doing.

“I’m sorry, Ana,” I tell her. “I don’t want you to ever think that your feelings aren’t important. They really are. I’ll be honest and say that I don’t know when I’m dealing with ‘pregnant, hormonal Ana’ or when there’s a real issue, but if you feel that I’m dismissing a true concern of yours, let me know and I’ll try to set it right.” That did it. She’s weeping again and slobbering all over my shoulder as I hold her.

“Hormonal Ana?” I ask cautiously.

“Hormonal Ana,” she responds through her sobs.

We manage to get her dried up and downstairs for the rest of the barbeque. It’s getting cold out, so everything has been moved to the kitchen with the exception of a few of the shrimp Dad is still grilling. Everything smells delicious—fresh grilled vegetables and baked potatoes smothered in butter, rolls fresh from the oven and chicken and shrimp right off the grill. The smell hit us both at the same time and while those succulent cuts of beef are heaven to my nostrils, they are hell on Butterfly’s stomach. She stumbles her way to the bathroom and I am so glad that it’s unoccupied.

“What’s wrong?” Mom asks.

“Oh, I should have thought of it!” Gail scolds herself. “Beef! The smell of red meat causes violent reactions ever since she’s been pregnant—even before we knew she was pregnant! Remember the murder burger?” Who can forget the murder burger?

“The what?” Mom asks.

“The murder burger,” I say. “Ana had a burger at what we now know was the beginning of her pregnancy and she was sick for two days.”

“Oh, yeah, I remember that,” Amanda pipes in. “She was still a little queasy at the baby shower. She tried to pretend that she wasn’t, but we knew. She was a little miserable.”

“I thought she was going to go into convulsions when the couple next to us had blood sausage in Paris.”

“That’s not beef, is it?” Jason asks. I shrug.

“Some of it is beef. I don’t know if this was or not, but it was enough to cause a reaction.”

“Heaven forbid anything messes with Her Highness’ delicate stomach.” I turn my head and the comment came from Valerie—not loud and boisterous, pretty low in fact, but loud enough for everybody to hear. I glare at her, then at Elliot, who turns to her and chides her quietly while she just rolls her eyes. Butterfly comes out of the restroom looking a little sheepish.

“I’ve gotten to where I can control it when I know it’s coming. It was a sneak attack,” she says be means of an apology. “We had steak fajitas for lunch and I was fine.”

“You ate steak fajitas?” I ask in horror.

“Oh, no, I’m not that brave. They were just near, but I was fine. I’ll be fine, now. I know they’re here and I’ll be fine.”

“Are you sure, dear?” Mom asks.

“I’m positive,” she says, waving her hand. “Nobody heard me, did they?”

“No, nobody heard you,” Elliot says. Valerie stays noticeably silent.

“Here, Butterfly, sit in your chair. I’ll bring you something. Do you want food or something to settle your stomach?”

“No, I want food,” she says. “There’s nothing in my stomach now.” Vomit, then eat. Pregnancy is strange.

Butterfly heartily eats some of everything except the steaks and snuggles comfortably in her chair. Everyone is back in the great room of our vacation house talking about babies and houses and jobs and plans and whatever else we’re talking about. Valerie and Butterfly are clearly not speaking to each other. However, every time Butterfly speaks, Valerie sighs audibly like a spoiled 12-year-old. I noticed it first, then Elliot. When other people began to notice it, I had had enough. Just when I was about to say something, Butterfly stands and Valerie sighs again.

“Valerie,” she announces, “if my presence irks you that much, feel free to leave.” Valerie is unmoved by her declaration, but still states, “You’re kicking me out?” I move to stand, but Butterfly holds her hand out to me to signal that she has this under control.

“No, you’re kicking you out, you and that sighing, wheezing, dog-panting shit you’re doing every time I speak that the entire room is trying to ignore. You clearly still have a bug up your butt from this afternoon and I have no intention or desire to reach up there and dig it out! So like I said, if my presence bothers you so much, you can leave.” Oh, shit. This is serious. Everyone looks from me to Val and waits to see what’s going to happen.

“You know what? You’ve changed,” she says, flatly. “Since you’ve got money, you’re stuck-up and elitist now. You only do certain things and you only talk to certain people. We’re not good enough for you to talk to anymore unless you feel like being bothered with us. Your boyfriend didn’t want us in his penthouse, so we were exiled to the condo for food & libations!”

“That’s not true!” I protest, but Valerie keeps right on talking.

“We used to get together and go to book signings and antique shows, to regular old dives for lunch and to yoga. Now we go to spas and nothing much else. You’ve got your tin soldier with you everywhere we go and we can’t even go to the thrift shops or boutiques we used to visit. We don’t even go to the Marketplace anymore, and we used to do that just about every weekend.” She closes the space between them and that’s when I stand.

“You want to know what irks me, Steele? It’s that when you were crying over that loser Edward, I was the one that listened to you cry most nights. Yes, Al did a lot of the heavy lifting, but it was me and Maxie on the phone listening to you blabber about how much you loved him and how badly he mistreated you. Now, you get your billionaire and not only are we not privy to any of the information anymore, but we’re not even good enough for you to talk to us. If we say the wrong thing or ask the wrong question, you check us like children. Then you have the nerve to walk around acting all bruised when someone checks you on your shit. All hail the Queen, your highness!” She spit the last word with so much venom that I’m surprised Butterfly’s face isn’t scorched.

Butterfly is shaking as if that’s exactly what happened. Valerie is staring her down, smirking as if she has scored some huge victory. Butterfly swallows hard and speaks clearly.

“Now, I’m throwing you out. Get your things and leave. Never speak to me again unless you’re coming to apologize.”

“Hold your breath for that one,” Valerie scoffs. “I’ll be in our room,” she says to Elliot before leaving. Butterfly is shaking so hard, I think she’s going to explode. When I touch her, she does.

“Noooooooooooo!” she screams, jerking away from my grasp like my touch shocked her. “Leave me be! Leave me be!” She’s running up the stairs, sobbing from her soul. I know that she’s inconsolable, but I can’t stand the pain I hear in her cries.

“I guess the night is over,” Marilyn says, rising from her seat.

“I guess so,” Phillip says helping his wife from her seat. She makes as much of a bee-line to me as her belly will allow.

“Christian, I don’t share Val’s sentiment,” she assures me. “Everything she said was taken out of context and…” She swallows hard. “I love Ana. Please make sure she knows that.”

“I’m sure she already does,” I tell Maxine, but after tonight, she needs reinforcement. “If she’ll let me near her, I’ll make sure to tell her what you said.” She nods and kisses me on the cheek.

“I’m sorry, Christian,” she says. Phillip stands next to her.

“I feel the same way,” he reinforces. “Ana hasn’t changed beyond her circumstances, and all the changes she made were necessary for her safety and survival. I don’t know what’s gotten into Val.”

“Same here, Chris,” Garrett says. “Make sure she knows.” I nod at what’s left of the Scooby Gang.

“I’ll make sure she knows,” I assure them. They start to leave, but Marilyn stalls.

“Please call me if she needs me,” Marilyn says before leaving with Garrett. I fall into a nearby seat. I can’t stand it. She’s wailing from her gut! I jump when my mom puts her hand on my shoulder.

“What do I do?” I ask her. “I can’t take that. What can I do?” She runs her fingers through my too-long hair and smiles sadly.

“You let her cry,” she tells me. “She just suffered a breakup, a very severe one. There’s nothing you can do but let her cry and be there for her.” I hate Valerie right now. I want her out of here, but I can’t go over there starting a fight with her. That would start a fight with my brother and I certainly don’t want that. I sigh and drop my head in my hands.

“How long am I supposed to let that go on?” I ask, referring to the animalistic wailing coming from the master bedroom and praying for an answer that says I can run to her rescue. “It can’t be good for her or the babies.”

“Christian, you have to just let it happen,” she tells me. “She’s in severe pain right now and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. You tried and she told you to leave her alone. You have to do that.” I nod and try to think of something else besides my tiny little wife up there feeling pain that originates from her feet and resonates through the cabin and no doubt, across the hills of Washington.

*-*

She cried for hours. At one point, I ignored her demands to leave her alone and held her tight in my arms, laying my head and her shoulder and willing her to stop crying. She finally did and fell hard to sleep, whimpering the whole time. I didn’t sleep a wink the whole night. You would have thought Valerie died, though in a way, you could say that she has. She kept waking up and crying again, one time beseeching me to tell her that it was all a dream. I couldn’t give her that comfort, and she cried herself to sleep again.

It’s almost dawn and I’m exhausted, not because I stayed up all night because I’ve done that before, but because I sat vigil over my wailing wife and I couldn’t make her stop. She once told me that emotional pain is worse than physical pain. She’s right. This is agony for me and I’m not even the one suffering the loss.

I’m sitting at the fire pit having a beer—yes, a beer, at four in the morning. Fuck coffee!

“Hey.” I look up and see my brother. “Long night?”

“One of the longest ever,” I lament. “Is she gone yet?”

“Not yet. We’ll be leaving soon.”

Very soon, Elliot. I don’t want her here when Butterfly wakes.”

“I know, Christian. I understand. She was out of line. I wish I could tell you what’s going on, but I can’t. I have no clue. All she keeps saying is that she’s said what she has to say and that’s it.”

“Well, congratulations to her, because she’s just gained Kate status with me,” I say flatly.

“Come on, Bro. It can’t be that bad.” I glare him.

“It’s worse!” I exclaim. “I’ll never forgive her for this. Butterfly’s heartbroken,” I tell him. “She won’t stop crying. This is not one of those hormonal cries, this is cry, go to sleep, wake up, cry some more, go to sleep, wake up, cry some more…  She cried for hours before I forced her to go to sleep. She even woke up once and begged me to tell her it was all a dream. My very pregnant wife who’s already been through enough now has to go through something like this at the hand of one of her dearest friends?” I shake my head and drop it in my hands for the hundredth time tonight.

“I’m going to have to force-feed her when she gets out of bed,” I say not looking at him. “She’s going to wake up vomiting and then she’s going to want to crawl back in bed. It’s what she did while we were fighting. She lost eight pounds, she was dehydrated—I didn’t even recognize her when I saw her…”

“When you saw her?” he asks. I shake my head.

“That’s a whole other story, man,” I tell him.

“What happened?” he asks.

“We don’t talk about it,” I say, shutting him down. “We talked to each other and that’s enough. The only other person that did know was Mom and she cut us off for a minute.” I’m recalling having to carry my wife out of Helping Hands last week.

“You can’t tell me? I’m your brother.”

“That’s how this whole thing started!” I tell him. “She wouldn’t tell Valerie, or maybe it started with the conversation about the wedding-for-show, I don’t even know really.”

“Wedding for show?” Elliot doesn’t know anything about why they were fighting and I’m wondering why Valerie cut into Butterfly so deeply without even telling her boyfriend the whole story.

“You have to ask your girlfriend. I’m having a really hard time seeing the logic in any of this. I can’t see how Valerie could possibly make any of this about her. Unless I’m misunderstanding, they bickered about our wedding and our argument. On top of that, she took everything out of context and threw it back in Butterfly’s face.

“She has a ‘tin soldier’ with her all the time because she was kidnapped, and she’s in more danger now as my wife than she ever was as Ana Steele. She has to go different places now and act differently because the paparazzi follows her everywhere. She didn’t ask for that—it came with the territory. I’m sure she’d love to do all the simple things she used to do and not have to follow all this goddamn protocol, but unfortunately, that’s not her life anymore. As my wife, she has a target on her back! She’s worth more than Trump now!

“And the way she oozed contempt with that ‘Her Highness’ shit—that was a joke that she shared with Jason while I was sick last year and it just stuck. Now, she probably won’t want to hear it again. And she chose to have Food & Libations at her condo so that they could be more comfortable. I didn’t banish them! Oh, and that shit about David—that’s the lowest blow of all! You help a friend when they’re down and then you throw it in their face later? Like that? With that kind of contempt? After everything that fucker put her through—the cheating, the stalking, the kidnapping, the trial…” I have to pause because I’m getting too angry to control it.

“She may not care about this, but I don’t think Butterfly will ever recover from this. She’ll heal, and she’ll get back to herself because she’s strong. She’s the strongest woman I’ve ever known, and she’ll put her own feelings aside so that she can be strong for those babies. That’s who she is, but she’ll never forget this. She’ll never forget this night and she’ll never forget how Valerie made her feel—another birthday ruined. Next year, we’re going away, just the two of us—somewhere sunny and secluded so that she can finally have a good memory of her birthday. I guess we have to find a new godmother for our children, too.”

I hear a gasp and look past Elliot. There’s Kate—er, I mean, Valerie—standing there in the shadows eavesdropping on our conversation.

“You might want to go check on your girlfriend,” I say, pointing at her. “I don’t know how long she’s been standing there.” He follows my point to where Valerie is standing. I think she’s crying, too, but right now, I really don’t give a fuck. I extend my hand to Elliot and he takes it.

“Thanks for coming, Elliot,” I say, shaking his hand.

“Anytime, Bro.”

“Now please get her out of here before my wife wakes up.” He nods once and walks toward her. I walk into the house.


ANASTASIA

I’m lying in bed alone watching the ceiling and hoping that an answer will fall down on me like magic. I’ve lost one of my best friends. I’m sure of it. The problem is that I don’t even know what happened. I know for certain that I didn’t do anything wrong. I had a right to ask her if she was trivializing my wedding. Maxie felt the same way about hers. Then she gets testy because she asked me for details about my and Christian’s fight when I asked her not to.

She says I’ve changed. Of course, I’ve changed, but not because of the money. I’ve changed because of all of the shit that has happened to me and all of the things that are currently going on in my life. I didn’t have a choice! I’m Mrs. Grey now and it hasn’t been an easy road getting here–ex-subs, crazy blonde pedophiles, psycho ex-boyfriends, the press in my face all the time, twins! I thought if anyone would understand, it would be my closest friends. I’ve confided everything in her. She’s the closest thing I have to a sister… had to a sister. I’m going to be sick.

I make it to the bathroom, but not in time to the toilet. It’s a horrible mess and I’m on my knees in it. I’ve cried all night but I still appear to have plenty more tears left for the day shift. Dinner and tears mingle in the commode as I say goodbye to my friend—my sister—all back over again. I don’t know what brought this on, but I know when Valerie Marshall is done and she is done with me. Those final daggers and that knowing smirk right before she left let me know that she wants nothing more to do with me. So without cause or explanation, we are no longer friends.

When I got to dry heaves, Christian wanders into the bathroom and is horrified by my condition. He puts me in the shower still dressed in my nightclothes and peels me out of the gown I managed to get into before I cried myself to sleep the first time. I hear him calling Gail and after I’ve stood in the shower crying for about five minutes, I smell the familiar smell of disinfectant in the bathroom. I’m surprised to see that it’s my husband cleaning the toilet and the floor where I lost the contents of my stomach. He’s still wearing his clothes from yesterday. Did he sleep at all?

Once he’s cleaned up my mess, he strips and gets into the shower with me. I’m exhausted. I don’t feel like I’ve slept a wink all night. Do I have patients on Monday? God, I hope not. As I lean helplessly on his chest, my husband lovingly washes my hair and body, kissing me gently on my forehead several times in the process. I appreciate that he understands what I’m feeling and haven’t tried to talk to me about it. I don’t think I can stand it.

He quickly washes himself, then wrings my hair dry before helping me out of the shower and wrapping me in a robe. He looks like he can wring his own hair. He really needs to get that shit cut soon. He gently combs my hair. It’s really very long and I’m thinking about cutting it, too, but he plays in it so much that I think he might not be happy with that decision. I’m so tired of being maudlin and depressed all the time. I don’t know how long this is going to last, but I sure hope it doesn’t last long. If Valerie doesn’t want to be my friend, I’m going to have to let it go, but for right now, I’m crushed.

“What would you like to wear, baby?” He’s trying so hard to take care of me. Christian is always taking care of me. It soothes him as much as it soothes me. I just wish he didn’t have to do it so much. I feel useless and helpless and I don’t want to feel this way all the time.  I sigh and fall into his arms.

“I love you, Christian,” I tell him, more tears seeping from my eyes. He kisses my forehead as he strokes my back.

“I love you, too, Butterfly,” he says softly. I wipe my cheeks and tell him I want the maternity jeans and a warm sweater with my Ralph Lauren heeled black boots. He helps me get into my underwear and quickly slides into his as well. A few minutes later, we’re both in jeans and sweaters and he has braided my hair in two long braids.

“My little Pocahontas,” he says sweetly. It makes me smile. I know that we’re going to have to be getting back to Seattle soon, so I try to start packing our things. “Gail says she’ll do that for us, Baby. I want you to try to eat something since I know your stomach is empty.” I couldn’t possibly hold anything down right now, but he’s so hopeful that I don’t dare say “no.”

As I descend the stairs, the room is full–everybody is here, even Mr. Grey and Uncle Herman.

“Good morning, dear.” Grace is the first to speak.

“Good morning,” I say and force a smile.

“How are you feeling?” she asks. How should I answer that? Like shit? Like I just lost my best girlfriend? Like the world is conspiring to take my happiness before I can even sink my teeth into it? I guess my pause was enough for her not to expect a response. “There’s breakfast,” she says. “We have some pancakes and eggs, or just some fresh fruit if you prefer.” I smile at her.

“The fruit sounds good. Thank you, Grace,” I say as I cross the great room. It’s silent, like a funeral.

“There aren’t any patients tomorrow,” Marilyn says, sitting across from me. She knew I would be concerned.

“Thanks, Mare,” I say, smiling weakly. Everyone meanders around, most likely at a loss as to what they should be doing now. Soon, they all relax into eating breakfast and things almost seem normal, until there’s a knock at the door.

The entire room falls silent and we all look at each other. Is it Valerie? Did she come back to apologize? Was this all just a bad case of PMS?

Christian goes to the front door to answer it and I think everyone holds their breath. When he comes back around the wall, James is behind him…

…and Al.

I want to cry again, but I won’t–not because Val didn’t come back, but because Al did. He’s my true blue to the very end. He would never desert me.

“Hey, Jewel,” he says, coming to sit next to me at the breakfast bar.

“Hey, Al,” I say weakly.

“Val called me.”

“I figured as much.”

“You okay?”

“No,” I say as he pulls me over to his shoulder. “I don’t even know what happened.” He looks at my eyes.

“You’ve been crying. A lot.” I nod.

“All night,” I lament, “and all morning. I’m tired of crying now.”

“I know, Jewel,” he says, squeezing my free hand while I eat the fruit salad with my other. It sure makes my mouth taste better.

“Al, did she tell you what happened… I mean, why she went off on me the way she did?” Al frowns.

“She said that you went off on her,” he says bemused. My eyes grow so large that I can imagine that my brows disappear somewhere under my hairline.

“What!?” I roar, slamming my fork down and gaining the attention of everyone in the room.

“She said what!?” Gary exclaims, no doubt as horrified as I am. Al looks from me to Gary to other people in the room and back at me.

“Okay, clearly, I’ve been misinformed,” Al says calmly.

“Al, I told her to leave and not come back unless she was ready to apologize. That was only after she said some of the nastiest things that anyone as ever said to me—ever!”

Al is kind of stunned as he waits for someone to confirm or dispel what I’ve said. Maxie just nods.

“I don’t know what she told you, but it was brutal, Al,” Phil says. “It was aimed totally at Ana and all of us knew that she was being unreasonable, but we didn’t know why.” Al’s shoulders fall.

“This is really fucked up,” he says. “This is really, really fucked up.” I throw my hands in the air and I am instantly filled with rage.

“Yes, it is,” I say, trying not to yell. “She wants to write me off. I have no idea why, but she’s getting her wish.” I push the fruit away. “Where’s the pancakes and eggs?” Gail looks at me surprised and springs into action.

“Baby, are you sure?” Christian asks, putting his hand on my shoulder. I nod.

“I might lose it later. I admit that, but right now, I’m hungry!” Ravenous, even. She wants to write me off, she wants me out of her life, I’m out. “Everything happens for a reason,” I mumble.

“So, just like that, it’s done?” Al asks. “Ten years of friendship gone, no trying to get to the bottom of why she’s acting this way?”

“You guys can if you want to,” I tell him. “You’re still her friends. She doesn’t want me. She’s made that crystal clear. It’s one thing to stomp away with bruised feelings and misinterpret the situation. It’s another thing to massacre me in front of everybody…” I gesture around the room as all of the people present now were present during the bloodbath, “…and then lie on me altogether. I don’t care what she says anymore. I’m done! If these are the things that I’m going to hear coming from her, then I don’t want to hear it. Sure, I’ll cry. I’ll be brokenhearted, I’ll have moments of weakness—because I love her, but I’m done.” Gail places two fluffy pancakes and some scrambled eggs in front of me with a tall glass of orange juice. I take a bite and food has never tasted so heavenly, except when I was eating the “last supper” with my mother. I wonder if this is as symbolic.

“Jewel, are you sure that you want to wash your hands like this?” he asks.

“No, Allen, don’t put this on me,” I say after I swallow my food. “It wasn’t my decision. It was hers. I didn’t do anything to bring this about. I asked a simple question about the meaning of her statement when she was talking about weddings and it went downhill from there. I thought I may have misinterpreted her, but even if I had, Maxie clearly felt the same way. No, I’m not picking this apart right now—maybe some other time when I want to get to the bottom of it, but not now.” I shove more eggs and pancakes into my mouth and eat heartily. If Ms. Marshall has some kind of bug up her butt, she’s knows where to find me when that fucker crawls out. If it never crawls out, c’est la vie.

I have banned further conversation of Valerie Marshall and we all finish breakfast without any major catastrophes. I get into a girlie conversation about decorating the new house and the babies’ room. I have a quick flash of melancholy thinking of how I had intended on asking Valerie to be my children’s godmother. I had even discussed it with Christian to see if he may have had another suggestion, but he was cool with it. The melancholy is gone almost as soon as it hit, and I’m on to another topic. I see Christian off in the den talking to James and I already know that they’re talking about the cyber-attack at GEH. That’s something else I don’t want to hear about right now. I see a light dusting of snow begin to fall outside.

Hmm, fresh snow. It falls early here in the mountains, but it’s not sticking. The “powder” on the slopes is fabricated snow, but these little flurries are the real thing. I put on my coat and go out to the deck to enjoy it before it hits the ground and disappears completely. The air is clean, just a bit brisk, but not too cold. I wrap my arms around my babies and warm myself. One or both of them move as if in response to the warmth. It gives me comfort to feel them move. I’m a little concerned about once they’re born. This particular warmth and connection with them won’t be there anymore. I guess I shouldn’t worry. Holding those two masterpieces in my arms will make up for not having the nights and days of soccer tournaments inside of me.

A cliché cool breeze blows my hair behind me and I remember the days I spent in Montana trying to get over being jilted. Not all of them were bad. The mountains of Montana are beautiful country and I’d like to go back one day under different circumstances. My mind goes back to this weekend’s events. I don’t dwell on the events themselves, just the outcome. Two birthdays, back to back, ruined. I just can’t catch a break.

“Well, beans, we’ll find you a new godmom, I guess, but don’t be too mad at me if I don’t do it right away, okay?” I rub my stomach and start to softly hum our lullaby. I hear the door open behind me and wait for Christian to hold me or rub my arms.

“That’s pretty,” I hear, but it’s Grace’s voice, not Christian. “What is it?”

“Billy Joel,” I tell her as she walks next to me. “It’s called ‘Goodnight, My Angel.’ It’s a lullaby that he wrote for his daughter.”

“So you sing to the children?” I nod. “Very healthy. It helps you form the bond with them even before they’re born, but I’m sure that I don’t have to tell you that.” I smile and look off over the yard.

“You came out here for a reason, but you’re struggling for conversation,” I observe. “You can say what you like. I’ll be okay.” She sighs.

“Everything has been so tense for you lately. I’ve been worried about you and the babies. I know I don’t have to ask if you’ve been seeing your doctor regularly.”

“I have,” I confirm. “She scolded me for not coming to the hospital sooner when I wasn’t able to keep anything down. She said that there’s something they could give me for that, but I knew it was just my nerves. I still have that problem sometimes which is one of the reasons why I try to eat often, especially after I have just vomited. I don’t pay attention to the taste of food anymore—not right now, anyway—just on getting it down and keeping it down.” Maybe that’s why breakfast tasted so good today. “No offense, but I can’t wait to have a glass of wine.” Grace laughs.

“I can imagine,” she says. “Have you been doing okay with keeping enough food down? I see your coloring has returned to normal.” I nod.

“I only vomit occasionally now, and then only mostly when I’m upset. I faint more than I’m comfortable with…”

“That’s normal. It doesn’t happen to all women, but it happens. Can we sit?” She gestures to the chairs and I gingerly sit in the uncomfortable apparatus. “In the interest of maintaining your good mental health, I wanted to have an open conversation with you about this disagreement that you and Christian had.” And now we get to the point. The baby talk was just more filler conversation.

“It wasn’t a disagreement, Grace,” I correct her. “We have those all the time, they’re no big deal. This was definitely a big deal.” She nods.

“I agree, but I never know what word to use—fight, disagreement, argument… No matter which term you use, I think we can both agree that it caused an enormous state of unrest.” I can’t argue with that. “I’m just wondering—again, only in the interest of your happiness and mental health—why you’re taking all the responsibility. I agree wholeheartedly that what you did was wrong, but it doesn’t excuse what Christian did. The way that he shut you out and didn’t even pay attention to your deteriorating health… I just need help understanding that if you don’t mind my prying.”

I can’t really call it prying because I told everybody at the spa yesterday. She won’t understand, but I’ll try to tell her anyway.

“Christian didn’t have a serious relationship before me. I recognize that I have more experience with emotions and dealing with another person in your life than Christian does. In that context, what I did was more selfish because I know better. He didn’t, he’s still learning. He leans on me to lead and guide him on how to be considerate of the other person and I reneged on my own words. A lot my punishments or lessons are pretty brutal when he does something selfish, but I turn round and do something unacceptable after all the times I tell him how unacceptable his behavior is and how he has to be considerate of other people, namely me. I knew better. I have no excuse. He’s still learning.

“We’ve been together for more than a year, but we’ve only been married for a little over four months. I was feeling rejected so I completely threw his feelings out the window—pushed him aside entirely, thinking that if I didn’t think about him or he didn’t see me, it wasn’t wrong.”

“And I agree with you on that, but if there’s another lesson to be learned here, shouldn’t it be that he shouldn’t have responded as drastically as he did?” she asks. I chuckle a bit.

“Oh, Grace, my responses are so much more drastic than Christian’s, if you can believe that. You’ve seen some of them.” Montana, Flynngate, the whistles incident in Greece… “Hindsight is 20/20, and what I did was basically retaliation for him not showing me any attention. His reaction was a combination of things, some of which I had no knowledge. Please don’t ask me to go into detail, and please don’t mention this to Christian. I’m only telling you this because you got pulled into this when you really shouldn’t have and because I want you to better understand what’s going on between us.”

“Are you sure you should tell me?” Grace cautions.

“I won’t betray any confidences, but I just want you to see the bigger picture.”

Without getting specific, I confide in Grace that there is detrimental stuff that I’m not allowed to talk about happening with the business. During this time, Christian was dealing with this issue and I was acting like a needy brat. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but it was enough to cause him great distress. After the fact, I understood why he couldn’t give him the attention that I craved. I’m not excusing the way he acted, but it doesn’t make what I did okay. I ended up having to pay for the decisions that I made because where his actions indirectly affected me—he was distracted by and concerned about what was going on with GEH and I inadvertently took a back seat—my actions directly affected him—I was a married, pregnant woman going out scantily dressed and looking for attention. He wasn’t deliberately ignoring me until after I went out and tried to get attention and money for strange men.

“Yes, but the effects were nearly disastrous,” she protests. “I mean, a few more days in the state you were in and you and the babies could have been irreparably damaged. This is why I scolded Christian so badly that time that he didn’t eat and had to be rushed to the hospital. When things aren’t going well, you two don’t take care of yourselves.”

I hadn’t realized that I basically did the same thing he did when I shunned him the very first time last year. He didn’t eat because his brain just didn’t tell him to eat. I couldn’t hold food down because I was so upset that no matter how much I ate, most of it just came back up.

“I didn’t do this on purpose, though, Grace. My body was just responding to a bad situation,” I defend.

“May I ask why you didn’t go to the hospital when you realized that you couldn’t keep food down?” Grace asks.

“At first, I didn’t think it was that serious until you told me that I had lost weight. Most of all, though, I didn’t want to go to the hospital as a pregnant woman vomiting because all pregnant women vomit—and I didn’t want Christian to think that I was doing this as a ploy to get sympathy. If he thought that, then when I really needed to go to the hospital, I would become the girl who cried wolf.”

“That’s the biggest reason, isn’t it?” Grace called me out and I just look at her and twist my lips.

“Grace, I realize that it’s difficult and sometimes impossible for you to understand our dynamic—and I couldn’t even begin to explain it to you…”

“No, I don’t think you could,” she admits. “The last glimpse I got into my son’s personal life was horrifying and cost me who I thought was one of my dearest friends.” I nod.

“This is why you would have a hard time understanding the man that is Christian Grey,” I tell her. “As his mother, there are so many things that you may know or see that may never be revealed to me. As his wife and lover, there are many, many facets of his being that will be revealed to me that will remain an anomaly to everyone else. Again, I’m not excusing his behavior, but as we are still both learning, I understand it. He never had a serious relationship before me and I’ve never been married before. We’re still both learning.”

“I guess I can understand that to some degree. I just don’t think I can ever grasp how extreme things are. As a mother, it’s hard not to get involved. I try not to interfere or butt in, but I guess there are a few things that I’ll just never get.”

“We appreciate that you care and we don’t ever want that to stop, but you do have to know where to draw the line between scolding a grown man and his wife and being concerned. I’m not a mother—yet—but I already know that there are some things that I’m not going to be able to change or fix. There are some bumps that the beans have to take on their own and though I may want to pad the world and soften all the sharp edges, that’s just not going to happen. That bruised and abused little boy is still in there, but not all the time, and you can’t treat him that way. You have three decades of marital experience that we will depend on a lot, but please don’t expect us to be like you or to live up to an expectation that you’ve set because I’m telling you right now, we won’t do it.” She purses her lips and nods.

“I’m still learning, too, dear. Christian is my first child to get married, so go easy on me.”

“Only if you do the same.” She nods and looks down for a moment, contemplative.

“Beans?” she smiles. I furrow my brow and smile, bemused.

“Now how did you not know we called them that?


CHRISTIAN

“I’m not sure if you’re up for talking shop with the weekend you’ve had…” James begins. I run my hand through my hair.

“Only if you’ve got good news,” I tell him.

“Well, Barney leaked to the necessary parties that we think we have another intruder. The response was immediate. They didn’t do anything different with their attack, but the lines of communication have been on fire. Somebody’s getting sloppy. We got two hits from the same tower that trace to the same location. I would bet my last dime that we have the location of the guy in Belfair. Based on that information, we’re trying to correlate communication from the Belfair location to the one in Spokane. Without knowing for sure what direction we should be looking in, it’s a long shot—a bit of a needle in a haystack situation—but at least we have a needle.” I sigh heavily.

“That is good news, James,” I tell him. “We’re one step closer to this whole thing being over!”

“Yeah. Alex has a bone he’s gnawing on. He says that if he’s correct, he may have hit the mastermind—or one of them—behind this whole thing. He wanted me to pass the message on, but he says that he doesn’t have anything concrete. He’s correlating with that Clomdese guy.” I chuckle when he mispronounces Cholometes’ name. I know he’s probably had that happen more than he’s been called Colostomy.

“He’ll call me as soon as he knows for sure,” I say, but I can’t help but wonder what he’s collaborating on with Cholometes. Is he all of a sudden all in our corner?

“This Ana/Val thing… it’s big,” James says. I shrug.

“I can’t even tell you. I don’t know what happened at all. As far as I know, there was a small difference of opinion at the spa yesterday and by the end of the day, it was nuclear.”

“No, I’m not asking, I’m telling you… it’s big. She called Al and was ranting like a maniac—angry one minute and crying the next. He asked her if she could be pregnant and she just hung up on him.” Oh, God, no, please don’t let it be that! Not only will I be perfectly surrounded by infants, but then that would mean that this whole thing is because of jealousy and competition. I know that’s the last thing Butterfly wants. I run my hands through my hair again. “Your hair’s really long, man,” James throws in. I roll my eyes.

“Yes, I know. People keep telling me that like it’s not on my head,” I say, shaking my head. “Unless Ana wants to cut it, I can’t do anything with it until at least tomorrow. I’ll probably have Franco come to my office if he has the time.” James cocks his head at me.

If he has the time?” he says in disbelief. I’m waiting for the punchline. “The great Wave-My-Hand-And-Get-What-I-Want-Christian Grey is going to see if someone has the time?” he says mockingly. I fold my arms.

“He’s over the shops,” I clarify. “If I pull him away every time I want a fucking haircut and he has a full day, what’s going to happen to the salons?” He twists his lips.

“So this is a business decision,” he says, more of a statement than a question. “One Christian Grey haircut is going to cause the entire Miana’s chain to go under.” I know what he’s getting at, but I’m not giving it to him.

“Shut the fuck up, James,” I conclude to his bellowing laughter.


A/N: Theories about Val? Let ’em rip!

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

Becoming Dr. Grey: Chapter 6—Chillaxin’

So, I have to address the Barney/Bernardino issue. I have to admit that the response to his transformation really made me laugh. I was looking at all of these different interpretations and all my brain said was “Wow… how did I do that?” I’m impressed with it and stunned by it at the same time, lol.

So, since DiPignano isn’t seen much in the story until there’s an IT crisis, I’ve decided to throw this one spoiler out there. DiPignano is NOT part of the conspiracy. No matter how cocky he is, he would be pretty dumb to go to his boss and say, “I’m the one that can fuck you the worse” if he actually is part of the conspiracy.

This is not a “Why do you call me that” whining session. This is “you’re talking to my teammates and security about me behind my back. Do I have something to worry about?” This is “I finally show a bit of backbone after working for you for several years, and you suddenly need to ask people who I am. Because I chose to show you respect and humility when you came around, you mistook my meekness for weakness.” He told Christian that’s what this was about, so I guess I’m just a bit confused about where the conspiracy theories came from.

He’s not having a bitch-boy fest because Christian calls him “Barney.” Remember, he said he told Christian to call him Barney. Please read his words when he tells Christian that he thinks having Christian call him Barney may have misled Christian to believe that Barney was weak. Yes, Barney deserves respect. He’s proven his chops more times than can be counted. He was hired because he was the best in his field. He helped them find Ana when she was kidnapped. He identified everybody but three people in the branding video. He’s most likely been worth his weight in gold in the time that he’s been working for Christian or he wouldn’t still be working for Christian. So, yes, he DOES deserve respect. He has already earned it and he shouldn’t have to ask for it. His resume was most likely quite impressive before he started working for GEH. What kind of response do you think his resume will command now?

I normally let people go where they want to go with a storyline. This time, I couldn’t let it happen, because if you go off chasing that mouse through that maze, you’ll miss the rest of the story.

There’s nothing more to this DiPignano story but that there was a man who was tired of being treated like a boy and spoke up for himself. Sorry… no conspiracy theories.

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 6—Chillaxin’

CHRISTIAN

“You look positively edible,” I say to Butterfly when she emerges from the dressing room. She’s wearing a red silk maternity dress that drapes off one shoulder and hugs every curve of her body, boasting her baby bump in the sexiest manner and ending just below her knees. And her hair! The way she curls it so that these big bellowing curls flow over one shoulder and down her body so that is brushes over our children—she’s driving me wild! She’s only wearing mascara and lip gloss from what I can tell, and her maternal beauty along with a blush of innocence in her eyes makes my libido fire like a volcano. It’s everything I can do not to take her right here… right now.

“It’s not too much?” she asks, cautiously, rubbing her hips and her baby bump, and that only makes me want her more.

“You tell me,” I say. I stroll over to her and take her hand, placing it on my stiffening erection. She gasps as she squeezes it gently and strokes it with the palm of her hand.

“Christian…” she groans, holding her head over so that her neck is exposed to me. I pull her close to me and taste her skin, thrusting a few times into her grip.

“I’m going to make love to you tonight once our guests have left,” I breathe into her neck. “I’m going to love you deep and long until your body is racked with pleasure and can’t take it anymore. I’m going to love you again and again, and when we’ve both had our fill, I’m going to kiss you until you fall asleep and hold you close to me until we awake with the sunrise.” She shivers against me and I can actually taste the flush of her skin. No use in me being the only one who has to suffer a raging libido for the next few hours. “Think about that, beautiful girl. I have plans for that beautiful body, and you’re going to love every second of them.”

“You’re not playing fair, Christian,” she whines, and I feel her nipples protruding from that sexy dress.

“Baby, I’m playing as fair as I can right now,” I warn as I take my thumbs and brush them once across those sweet nips on the outside of her dress.

“Mmm,” she coos, trying to push her breasts into my hands. I have to stop this now or the guest of honor won’t make her party. Maybe I should have just planned this for the two of us. No matter, we have all weekend. I take her hand that is currently cupping my dick and, after pushing into it once more, I remove it from its warm place and take it in mine.

“Unless you want me to stick my hand between your thighs and play in the wetness I know I’ll find there, I’m going to have to insist that you keep this to yourself. It’s everything I can do right now not to say fuck this party and take you against that wall.”

“Maybe a quickie?” she breathes, almost unable to restrain herself.

“No, Mrs. Grey,” I speak into her neck, “I want you feral when I’ m taking you tonight. I want you pulsating against me and oozing the same sexual wantonness that you’re oozing right now.” She looks up at me through her lashes with caged desire in her eyes. I pull her against my body and my erection. “Of course, this dress is too much. You’re sexier than I’ve ever seen you, and that says a lot, but this is your party and we’re with family and friends. So you look as sexy as you want, baby.” I lean down and kiss her lightly so as not to ruin her lip gloss. She gulps and then nods, a futile attempt to regain her composure.

“Now, you go down and get ready to greet our guests while I try to talk down this initial boner and then keep it down for the rest of the night.” She swallows again and then takes a deep breath.

“Okay,” she takes another breath, then leaves the room. I watch as that round ass sways back and forth, speaking volumes to me and my painfully thrumming dick.

It’s going to be a long night.

When I get downstairs, of course Allen and James have arrived. They’re always first. Butterfly has Allen on one of the leather sofas engrossed in conversation. James spots me the minute I get to the bottom of the stairs.

“How’s it going?” he asks. I shrug.

“As well as can be expected, I guess,” I reach for one of the beers in a nearby tub of ice. “What about you?”

“I need this,” he says. “I’m wound so tight, I feel like I’ll explode. Allie threatened to move back to his apartment earlier this week.” I frown.

“He did?” I ask surprised. “What happened?”

“This. This shit with GEH. We’ve got to get this guy, because I’m not going to lose my man over this.” I nod.

“I concur,” I say looking over at Butterfly. “I had a similar situation with Ana. He can have the fucking company if it’s going to cost me my wife. I’ll shut this shit down tomorrow if necessary.”

“It won’t be,” James assures me. “We’re right on the heels of catching this bastard. I suggest that you make an example out of him, Christian. If you don’t, he’ll just do this shit again.”

“Oh, I intend to,” I say, gazing over at Butterfly who has fallen back into her natural entertaining persona.

“We may need to do a Boys’ Night again soon,” he suggests. Come to think of it, I don’t think James and I have been to Boys’ Night since I’ve been married.

“When is the next one?” I ask him.

“Next Wednesday, I think,” he says. “I’ll find out for sure. You’re game?”

“Barring any fires, floods, or hurricanes, I think it will be a good rebonding for us. It’ll give Butterfly an opportunity to reconnect with her friends, too. Things have been so stressful since this all began. I just want that happy life I planned with my wife and kids. Is that too much to ask?”

“Unfortunately, this is the plight of the rich and powerful,” he informs me. “I see it all the time—even more so when you have a family.”

“Are you sure I can coax you to come to work for me? You’re a fucking mastermind and I’d love to have you on my team.”

“Unfortunately not. There are more reasons than I can name that would prevent me from working for you, but I’ll be at your disposal whenever you need me, which is just as good. Barney’s a decent guy and he knows his shit. This guy would have even gotten past me until we spotted him doing something he shouldn’t be doing.” I think he’s trying to save DiPignano’s ass, but he’s not on the chopping block, so there’s no cause for it.

“Yeah, I don’t call him Barney anymore. He’s DiPignano now. I know he’s one of the best at what he does, but so are you. I pride myself of finding the best talent and making offers that they can’t refuse—which is how I convinced Allen to join my team.”

“One of the reasons why I couldn’t work for you. We’d drive each other batshit if we worked together. I love him dearly, but I know that’s a terrible idea.”

“Well, if you ever change your mind… I know I would have the fucking dream team with you and DiPignano on staff.” He laughs.

“You already do,” he says. “Like I said, I’m at your disposal.” He turns around and looks at Allen while taking a drink of his beer, that unmistakable longing in his eyes. “I’m thinking about asking him to marry me.”

Okay, that caught me off guard. “Really?”

“Really. I’m not going anywhere else.” He turns away from Allen and walks over to the fireplace. “I used to date this guy, Jose. He was my last serious relationship before Allie. I really loved him. I thought we were going to get married. We graduated from college and his photography took him abroad. I was heartbroken. I knew that he had to follow his dream, but I was still crushed that he chose to leave me. I waited for him for a while to see if he would come back to me or to decide if I wanted to follow him. I finally decided that it was time to get on with my life. When I met Allie, I wasn’t looking for a relationship. I honestly thought he would be another one night stand. He was so much fun and I just wanted to be with someone. Afterwards, we talked and talked and talked until the sun came up, and I’ve been a goner ever since.”

“Whatever happened the other guy… Jose?” I ask.

“He came back eventually, and I agreed to meet him. I wanted to make sure there weren’t any residual feelings for him. My heart raced when I heard his voice and I really did want to see him. I didn’t want to tell Allie at first because I was sure that he would just throw in the towel and leave me, but I couldn’t keep it from him. It wouldn’t have been fair. He was upset about me seeing Jose, but agreed that I should see him if there was a chance that I still wanted him. I know it hurt him. I know he was putting me and my feelings first, but he was devastated.”

“You went to see Jose anyway?” I ask, taking a drink of my beer. He nods.

“Not having seen him for so long left all these doubts in my mind—unanswered questions, open wounds, old feelings. I needed to know if there was still something there. When I got to the restaurant, it was like no time had passed at all. We talked for a while, we slid right back into our old habits and for a fleeting second, I thought I might have wanted him back. The moment I entertained that thought, Allie came to mind. No matter how hard I tried to concentrate on that moment, I kept seeing Allie’s brown eyes looking back at me. All of a sudden, Jose was nobody—just some guy that I used to date. I had to get out of there quickly and go find my Allie. I couldn’t get to him fast enough. I found him in a restaurant with Ana barely hanging on by a thread.” I frown.

“I remember that night,” I say. “I thought Allen was her boyfriend, then I thought you were her boyfriend. I think I thought you were her boyfriend, first.” He frowns.

“You’ve lost me,” he says. I take another drink of my beer.

“I’d have to let you too far into my twisted mind and my stalker tendencies to explain that. Just know that I thought you were her boyfriend first and then I thought Allen was her boyfriend, and I was shocked to discover that you and Allen were dating.” He points at me.

“That night in the restaurant. That’s why you were looking at me like you had seen a ghost. I almost stopped to speak to you, but you looked like you might self-destruct.”

“We might not be here today had you stopped to speak to me,” I tell him. “Ana hated me. She loathed me. She probably would have screamed had she known I was there and crawled away from me like a vampire running from sunlight.” He laughs at me.

“That bad, huh?”

“At one point, I thought she was going to throw me in jail,” I say taking a sip of my beer.

“In jail?” he asks in horror. “How?” I sigh.

“I had some of those anger-management-group-therapy meetings that she facilitated and she was going to turn in a report that said every bad thing about me that could possibly be said.” James gasps and points at me.

“That was you!” he says and I just nod because I remember that he helped her out of the building that night. “How did I not put that together? After all this time, how did I not put that together?”

“What are you doing to my boyfriend over there?” Allen says.

“Going down Memory Lane,” I answer. “I just revealed that I’m the reason he damn near had to carry Ana out of the community center.”

“I thought I told you that,” Allen tells James.

“No, Allie, you didn’t,” James retorts.

“I’m sure I never told you that particular bit of information,” Butterfly chastises. I raise an eyebrow at her.

“Have we met?” I ask.


ANASTASIA

As my husband boasts some more about his amazing stalker abilities, I open the door for Gary and Marilyn along with Maxie and Phil. Maxie is ready to burst! She’s bigger than me and I’m carrying two babies. However, I have a little over three more months to go and she’s due in a few weeks, so she’s ready to blow.

“Please, Max, sit down,” I say, gesturing her to the big, comfortable seat I was in.

“Don’t get too comfortable, Ana,” she cautions, “You’re right behind me.”

“What’s with this jungle gym going inside of me?” I ask, taking the seat next to her.

“Oh, yeah, you’re where… five and a half, six months? Settle in, sister. It’s going to be a bumpy ride from here on out… literally!”

“How do you feel?”

“Huge!” she says with a sigh. “Sex is out of the question the last month, I’ll warn you in advance—although it would be impossible for him to find my vijayjay anyway right now.” My eyes grow wide and I look over at Christian, who frowns and comes over to me.

“What’s wrong?” he asks in that fatherly tone that tells me that I better not lie. I shake my head and lie anyway.

“Nothing,” I say, the look of horror still on my face.

“You guys are still going at it like rabbits, aren’t you?” Maxie laughs while rubbing her stomach. My look of horror changes to her. Christian tilts his head, waiting for elaboration on the story. “I just told Ana that, contrary to popular belief, you’re not just going without sex for about six weeks after the baby is born. You’re going without sex for about two and a half months.”

“Two and a half months?” Christian asks, trying to look unaffected. She nods.

“Yes, there’s no penetration the last month of the pregnancy. It could cause damage. Your doctor would let you know, but probably not until your 32 to 36 week check-up.” She puts her hand on mine. “Believe me, you’re not going to want to have sex that last month. Moving around is going to be a task, let alone getting in the mood.” She’s got to be kidding. I can’t imagine a moment not wanting my husband. Christian leans down to my ear.

“Don’t worry, baby, I’ll take care of you,” he whispers.

“What about you?” I ask, a bit forlorn.

“I’ll take care of me, too,” he says, with a smile. I gently stroke his face.

“We’ll improvise,” I say softly.

“Oh my God, do you two ever stop?” Maxine whines. We say “no” at the same time, and she just laughs. Christian kisses me and goes back over to talk to Gary, Philip, and James. By now, Gail has emerged from the kitchen and joined the party, leaving the serving to the additional staff Christian hired—although food and libations is mostly buffet style, so they really won’t have much to do. I’m telling the girls and Al about the hussy that had to be fired for burning the French bread when Jason opens the door for more of our guests—Val and Elliot, Mia and Ethan, Pops and Uncle Herman… and Grace and Carrick.

Christian looks over at me and gives a tight smile. I throw a look at him asking him to please behave. Almost in response, he nods once and continues his conversation.

Mia and Val come over and hug me, wishing me happy birthday. I try to stand when Grace gets to me, but she stops me.

“No, no, you stay there,” she says sweetly. She leans down and kisses me on the cheek. “Happy Birthday, Dear.” I smile at her.

“Thank you, Grace.” I try to be a good hostess from my seat since no one will allow me to stand. “Those of you who haven’t been to Food and Libations before, white wines in the wine cooler; red wines on the counter; beer, sodas, and juices in any of the ice tubs you see strewn about… and help yourselves. Water is in the kitchen in the fridge.” I lean forward and about four people reach for me, thinking I’m trying to stand. It makes me laugh.

“I’m not going anywhere,” I tell them, “I’m just trying to get comfortable.”

“What about your cha… oh!” Christian almost chastises me for not sitting in the comfortable chair that he made sure was available to me until he looks over and see the very pregnant Maxine Guest sitting in it. “I wasn’t thinking. I should have made sure that there were two. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t you dare apologize,” I tell him. “I’ll be fine and you were very sweet to think of me.” I’m grunting now, because this chair is more uncomfortable than I thought, and kind of low to the ground.

“Gary, Jason, can you please grab that chair out of the den? It looks a little like that one.” He points to the chair that Maxie is sitting in. “Come, darling.” He puts his arms around me and, stabilizing my lower back, lifts me out of the chair-on-the-ground. My legs protest a bit to the standing, but my back is ever grateful. He massages my lower back while instructing two of the other gentlemen to move the chair that I had just occupied.

“I’m sorry, Ana,” Maxie apologizes. “Had I known…”

“You’d still be sitting in that chair. Now, hush!” I say, closing my eyes and sinking into Christian’s massage. I hear the chairs moving around behind me and I’m ready to sit as his massage is turning my legs to mush.

“Bring that bolster over here,” I hear him say and laugh a bit to myself. The great Christian Grey—business man and billionaire—knows what a bolster is.

Once they’ve finished with my chair, it feels almost as comfortable as the one I surrendered to Maxie. I settle in the seat, relieved to be off my feet and so happy that this chair sits higher than the last one.

“You’re going to have to get rid of these, soon, too,” Christian says, taking off one nude pump and massaging my foot. It’s absolute heaven.

“Not yet, but soon,” I concur. I will be the quintessential “barefoot and pregnant” woman if he expects me to where flats or kitten heels. Nonetheless, I lean back and enjoy the foot massage of one, then the other foot while the conversations goes on around me…

Maxie and Phil have already chosen the furniture for their little girl’s nursery and the room is waiting for her arrival.

Mia and Ethan have sent out the save the date cards for their wedding.

Pops is in good spirits, although they haven’t been able to locate a kidney for him. Uncle Herman is battling a bit with his brothers over Pops’ house, but he still refuses to sell it.

My father and Mandy are the last to arrive as little Harry just wouldn’t settle, and we all sit down to dinner. Conversation spread across the large table continually. There were no awkward pauses of any kind, even though Christian and his mother still aren’t really speaking. They’re not ignoring each other—at least Grace is not ignoring Christian, but he is avoiding eye contact with her.

The festivities go well into the night with all of the catching up, the men having beers out at the fire pit, the girls giggling over all things baby and wedding in the great room or out on the deck. I actually fell asleep during one of the conversations. The soccer players keep me up at night until Christian gets them to settle, and I usually take a nap during the day, but with all the excitement today, that didn’t happen. I try to convince everyone that I’m fine, but that didn’t work. It’s well after 2am and everyone decides to call it a night and go to the vacation houses. Allen and James were going to head back, but decided better of it since it’s so late. They’ll stay the night and head back in the morning.

Once everyone has retired to the other houses, Christian and the security team go about the business of securing the house while I head up to the master bedroom. I rummage through my bag and find the long-sleeved lace maternity nightie that I packed. I don’t know how I’ll look in it since I don’t wear much lingerie these days, but Christian promised to make love to me tonight until I couldn’t take it anymore and I’m going to hold him to it… tired, or not.

I peel myself out of the red dress and underwear after stepping out of the nude pumps. I slide into the barely-there nightie and examine my swollen frame in the mirror. Will Christian find this sexy? He always talks about my baby bump, but part of me wonders if he only does it to make me feel better.

And what about that enormous erection he had before the party? Do you think that was just to make you feel better?

Yes, there is that, I suppose. I rub my belly and examine myself in the mirror once again.

“Oh. My. God.”

My thoughts are interrupted by Christian’s voice, standing in the doorway of our bedroom and looking at me from across the room. He steps inside and closes and locks the door behind him.

“Come here,” he says in a voice so sexy and powerful that my feet respond before my brain does. I walk over to him and stand in front of him. He examines me from head to toe, rubbing his fingers together in a way that lets me know he wants to touch me.

“You are exquisite,” he breathes, pronouncing every word. I look down at my body and back up at him.

“You like it?” I ask, uncertain.

“No,” he says. “I love it. You’re beautiful.” I smile shyly. I can’t help the blush that comes across my cheeks. “You know that, don’t you?” I look up at him and back down again. How do I answer that? When I was pretty, petite Ana with the flat stomach and the great figure, sure I felt hot. Now I’m big as a horse Ana who can’t sit in chairs that are too low or too hard and needs help standing most of the time. According to Maxie, soon he won’t even be able to find my pussy. It’s kind of hard to feel like a sexpot.

Christian takes my face in his hands and raises my eyes to him. He examines me for several moments until I begin to look at him questioningly.

What is it?

“Ana… Butterfly…” His voice is pained and his expression is unreadable. He’s frowning at me and I don’t know why.

What is it?

“Baby… did I do this to you?” he asks, his voice laced with some unknown emotion.

“Do what?” I ask.

“Make you lose your self-confidence.” The words hit me in the face. Did he do this to me? I can’t answer that. I don’t think so. I’m not sure. Have I lost my self-confidence? Of course, I have! I just said I did a minute ago… well, to myself anyway. Pretty, petite Ana is not so pretty and petite anymore, but Christian didn’t do that… did he? I don’t know what to say. Was it the lonely nights and days that made me feel this way… or did I feel this way before all of that? I don’t know… I just don’t know.

He won’t let me turn my head away from him. His eyes are boring into mine, into my soul, and he won’t let me look away. Forced to face his question and unable to give him an answer, I begin to weep. I hate admitting that I don’t have the confidence I used to have. It took so long to build it up and now, it seems impossible to find it sometimes. I feel like a receptacle for the babies, and that’s not a bad thing, but sometimes I feel like nothing more than that. I wonder if he really means that I’m beautiful when he looks at me, or does he just mean that this is a beautiful thing that I’m doing? I know that it is, but…

“Baby, no, please…” He holds me close in his arms while I cry. I’m ashamed… ashamed because I feel that carrying these beautiful babies and keeping them safe and secure until they’re born is not enough. I want to be sexy again, to be desirable. I want to look in the mirror and remember what it feels like to be hot, and the truth is… I don’t.

Christian leads me over to the rocking chair and helps me to sit. It’s a real rocking chair—the old wooden one—not the new gliders. It’s got a thick cushion in it that makes it quite comfortable. I want this in our babies’ room. The gliders are nice, but I want this.

He gets down on his knees in front of me and pulls my hands from my face. I didn’t even know that I had placed them there. He cups my face again and brings my eyes up to meet his.

“Talk to me… please,” he beseeches me.

“I don’t know what to say,” I weep.

“Say exactly what you’re feeling. Please, Butterfly…” I take a deep breath and start talking.

“I used to feel so pretty,” I say. “I used to look in the mirror and love what I see… how my clothes fit… my shoes… my hair…everything! Now… I… I just don’t!” I cry. There, I’ve said it. I feel ugly. Plain and simple, that’s it.


CHRISTIAN

How could she not know how beautiful she is? Maybe it’s the hormones making her feel this way.

No. No, Grey. You know better than that. How many times did she tell you that she just wanted to feel pretty? How many times did she say she felt ugly and she just wanted attention? Even when she flirted with those donors, that’s what she said. And what do you do? You punish her for wanting to feel desirable, for wanting to feel lovable. You make her feel even more unimportant and more unattractive. You think a few pretty words are going to fix that? Nice work, Grey, really nice work.

“Baby,” I say, bringing her forehead to mine, “I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry. You’re so beautiful. You’re so desirable, I think of you when you’re not around and all I want is to be near you again—to hold you and to love you. I was a fool for making you think or feel anything different.” She’s shaking her head. I know what she’s trying to say. I know she’s trying to tell me that it wasn’t all me, but I know better. I know that whatever insecurities may have already been there, I drove them home instead of affirming her worth and beauty.

“I don’t know what I have to do to make this up to you, to make you believe once again that you are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever laid my eyes on, but you will believe it again. I promise you will.”

This is something that I know has to come from within, and there’s only so much I can do to help it along. I know firsthand that it’s a lot easier and faster to tear someone down than it is to build someone up. It takes a lot of work and somehow, I have to repair what I’ve destroyed. I don’t know how, but I have to try.

I wipe her cheeks with my thumbs and slowly pull her to me, gently kissing her lips. I kiss her repeatedly until she stops crying.

I love you, Butterfly. I love you so much.

I unbutton my shirt and take it off without removing my lips from her. They’re so soft. I hate that they’re this soft because it means that she’s been crying, but it also calls to me to make her feel better.

“Touch me, baby… please…”

She puts her delicate hands on my chest and it’s electrifying. It sends a shock right through me to all of my extremities. She calls to me on a level I’ve never felt before. No one has ever made me feel the way she does—strong and weak at the same time, like I could take on the world with one hand tied behind my back… or like I could fall about with the slightest breath of air. I always wondered how she could possibly do that to me. Then I see her like this, and I know. I know only too well.

I run my hands through her beautiful long hair and kiss her again, more passionately this time. She moans into my mouth and her hands on my bare skin still sends shocks through me. My lips travel up her jaw to her earlobe and down her neck while my fingers pinch her hardening nipples through this sexy lace nightie.

“Fuck, you’re so sexy,” I breathe as I feel my dick starting to thrum painfully in my boxer briefs. My mouth replaces my fingers, lathing her nipples through the lace. She thrusts her fingers into my hair and throws her head back, pushing her breasts into my mouth. I groan loudly, Greystone angrily fighting to get out of my pants.

“Christian,” she whines. I know that whine all too well. She’s hot, so hot… and Greystone is demanding to be released.

As I work my way down this beautiful swollen body, this gorgeous creature squirming before me and aching to be taken, I undo my pants and work them down to my knees. Taking only a moment, I stand and drop them to the floor with my boxers and stand before my wife naked—my dick standing at full mast.

“Do you see what you do to me?” I nearly growl, as she sits there panting, wanton and waiting for me. I sit flat on the floor and throwing her legs over my shoulder, I hoist her hips up to my mouth and hungrily indulge in her juices.

“Ah! Christian!” She can’t keep from crying out when I consume her with my whole mouth. The rocking chair is leaning back to accommodate her body’s angle and she is holding on to the armrests, her core wide open to me.

Yes, baby. Let me taste you.

Her flavor and aroma has my dick jumping wildly in my lap and I place her hips gently back on the seat of the rocking chair. I wipe her juices off of my face and mouth with my hand and move down to her feet, kissing her toes and the tops of her feet while she catches her breath. I continue up her ankles, her legs, and her thighs with open-mouthed kisses, and she’s panting again, her anticipation rising as I work my way back up her to her pussy. She cries out as I give it a lick and a sloppy open-mouthed kiss before I move up to her belly, pushing the nightie up and kissing it all over.

The nightie rises more and I take her round bare breast in my mouth and suck hard. She squeals at the sensation and arches her back and now, I have to be inside. Sorry, Maxine, I don’t know about Phillip, but I’m a big boy. I’ll find my way around that precious cargo until the doctor says I can’t indulge anymore. Once Greystone can’t breach the perimeters anymore, I’ll feast on that sweet fruit and jack myself off until I’ve had my fill. Until then, this little flower is all mine for the taking.

“Hold on, baby,” I tell her, and she grabs the armrest with both hands. I position my head at her opening and slide inside, both of us gasping at the tightness. Shit, she feels fantastic. Greystone is so happy that I can feel him jumping and I haven’t even moved yet.

“Wrap your legs around me!” I growl and she quickly obliges. I grab the legs of the chair where they meet the arms rest and pull if forward—back and forth—rocking that sweet pussy onto my dick. God, it feels so good. She glides over me, over and over again. Neither one of us can move, both of us holding on to the chair in some way.

“Christian…” she whines again. Yes, baby, feel me. Feel me loving you.

“God, it feels so good… every time, it feels so good…” I groan. I raise my hips with every rock to meet hers. Her head falls back a bit and her mouth is open, that hot little nightie up above her bobbing tits as I stroke into her over and over again.

“Look at me,” I command her. “Open your eyes! Look at me!” She opens her eyes and there is it, that feral look that I’m used to—wanton, sensual lust oozing from every pore.

“Yes, baby, ssss…” I can barely talk. “Do you… feel good?”

“Yes! Yes!” she pants, gripping the armrests.

“Oh, yes, baby, ssss….” I hiss, “You sure do! Ugh!” I look down at where our bodies meet—her sliding onto my dick with every forward rock, her lips and opening wrapped tight around me with every pull, leaving a thick white cream and slick juices behind on my dick each time only to gobble it up again with each thrust.

“Oh, God, Ana, baby…” the sight is so hot and the burn is so good. When she starts to roll her hips slightly with each rock, her clit coming down to stroke my dick every time, I almost fucking lose it. I feel her walls on every side and I have to stop looking at my dick sliding into and out of that sweet pussy or I’m going to blow any second. I hold my head back and rock into her again and again until I can’t take the pleasure anymore.

“Baby…” I pant, “Baby, I’m gonna come!” I’m gritting my teeth and grunting. When I get no answer, I open my eyes and look at her. Her eyes are screwed shut and she’s gripping the arms of the chair. Tears are streaming down her temples and her teeth are clenched shut. Her ankles are clamped behind my back and her whole body is trembling. Her thighs are squeezing my hips mercilessly and she is agonizing through her orgasm, trying not to make a sound.

I’m done for. I can’t restrain myself.

I embrace her and snatch her close to me, pumping hard until I feel myself emptying inside of her. The action breaks her resolve and she thrusts her fingers into my hair, still shaking violently and keening softly on my shoulder. My orgasm seems to go on forever as I hold her onto my throbbing manhood. The feeling is indescribable Nirvana as I pulse into her consistently tightening muscles. How could two people possibly be made to fit together so well?

I’m on my knees, holding her close to me, one arm around her waist and the other firmly clasped on an ass cheek until Greystone stops pulsing.

“Kiss me,” I breathe and her lips meet mine, my tongue wandering hungrily through her mouth and her tongue meeting my challenge. How could she believe she’s not desirable?

I stand to my feet, still inside her and still enjoying the pulsing of her muscles. She feels so good. With my arms still around her waist, I carry her to the bed and sit on the edge. I pull her nightie over her head and off her body, then turn off the lamp before scooting up to the pillow and lying on my back, still indulging in the feeling of her muscles squeezing around me. She feels so good and I don’t want to leave this warm place yet.

She is now lying comfortably on top of me, straddling me while I play in her hair and neck, passionately tasting her delicious mouth and occasionally stroking into her sweet core. I can’t get enough of her. I could do this over and over and over again until I die, and that’s just what I plan to do.

She flattens her hands on my chest and pushes herself up. She pulls her beautiful, long mahogany hair over one shoulder. I can see her clearly by the moonlight shining in the window. She’s exquisite. Looking in my eyes, she starts to move again, grinding her hips slowly and sensually over mine. My hands slide to her thighs and I caress the soft skin there. Her hands move to my shoulders and she continues her melodious glide, and I slowly—very slowly—start to feel my passion rise again.

“Touch me, Christian,” she breathes, and I caress her hips, her back, our babies, her breasts, and finally her face.

“You are so beautiful,” I say with reverence, slowly pronouncing each word so that she’s knows it’s my heart talking and not my passion. “I love you, Anastasia. With everything I have… I love you.”

She gasps three times in quick succession and a single tear falls on my chest from her beautiful blue eye. I sit up quickly and hold her in my arms, never interrupting her movement.

“You’re mine,” I whisper in her ear, holding her close to me. “You’re all mine, and I love you—you beautiful, beautiful girl, I love you with all my heart.”

I hold her close to me, letting her find her rhythm and matching it with the slight rise of my hips.

“Yes, baby, love me… love me Butterfly.” Her breathing is frantic and her head falls back. I kiss her between her breasts and lick the valley up to her neck. After several moments, I feel her starting to tighten again.

“Feel it,” I whisper in her ear. “Feel it, Baby. That’s my love for you. That’s what I feel for you every second of every day of my life.” She’s shaking again, panting and gasping for air. “Oh, baby, that wonderful feeling couldn’t even scratch the surface of what I feel for you.” She moans mournfully in her chest as I watch her skin flush from her orgasm, so intense that I can see it even in the dark.

Oh yes, Butterfly, feel it. Feel my love for you.

Her head lolls back as she wheezes tearfully through her orgasm, completely overcome with pleasure and emotion. When the wave is finished, she wraps her arms tightly around my neck and weeps deeply, resuming her rhythm and pouring all the emotion that she can’t control into me. It’s powerful, almost unbearable, and Greystone is swelling and throbbing almost as much as my heart in no time!

“Baby! Ah!” I try to protest, why, I don’t know. She’s still weeping and grinding into me, taking me over little by little until…

“Ah! Aaahh! Oh God!” I almost can’t breathe, and when she utters the words…

“I can’t breathe without you…”

I detonate wildly inside her… again! As I hold her down onto me trying to tame my uncontrollably pulsing erection, she pulls her head back, thrusts her fingers into my hair and kisses me so passionately that I feel the kiss and the orgasm all over my body. I collapse into her body, holding on for dear life as she makes me come from my staff, my mouth, and every pore of my body. When my muscles release enough for me to control my own body, I can only fall back on the bed with her in my arms—completely spent and wrung, totally helpless, and panting profusely. She kisses my chin, up my jaw until she gets to my ear and whispers,

“That’s what I feel for you.”

*-*

I awake briefly and it’s still dark outside. My beautiful Butterfly is lovingly snuggled against me in our favorite position, sleeping peacefully with her hair splayed over parts of both our bodies. I hear her whimpering and I’m a bit concerned. I listen more closely and… it’s not her. I briefly tune my hearing to discover that the sound is coming from another part of the house—far away, but very distinct. It’s rhythmic and growing more and more in intensity. Next, I hear something that answers all my questions…

“Yes, Love! Yes! Yes!”

I guess our rooms aren’t as far apart as we thought. I nuzzle my nose into my wife’s hair and sleep finds me again quickly, despite Gail’s whimpering and Jason’s calls of passion.

I awake before Butterfly the next morning and decide to have a cup of coffee before the house wakes. Knowing that we’re not here alone, I put on a pair of pants and a T-shirt. The person I find in our kitchen, sitting at the island is definitely not who I thought it would be.

“Good morning, Christian.” I freeze in my spot momentarily. I know she’s supposed to be in the cabin next door. What is she doing here? “Gail let me in.”

“Good morning, Mother,” I say. I go over to ther coffee pot and take a mug from the cupboard. I pour the steaming hot coffee into my mug and start drinking it right away. I can’t stand cold coffee.

“The party went very well, I thought,” she says.

“I thought so, too,” I reply, keeping the polite conversation. “It was a nice turnout. The food was good.”

“It was a good idea,” she says and I nod, taking another sip of my coffee. “How was Ana last night… after the party?” Fucking fabulous.

“She was fine. She had a good time…” during and after the party.

“Not too tired, I hope.”

“No, not too tired, but the babies keep her up sometimes with the kicking in the middle of the night, so I try to let her sleep in when she can.”

“Oh?” She seems a bit interested in that. “How does she get them to settle?” She’s aching to give some advice. I’ll let her if she wants to, but I’m going to take some pleasure in this response.

“I talk to them, or read to them, or tell them a story,” I say drinking more of my coffee.

“You do,” it’s more of a statement than a question.

“Yes, I do. Pocahontas is a favorite of ours.” This surprises her.

“You were a very shy child, very reserved. I don’t remember Disney being your forte.”

“It wasn’t,” I confess. “Butterfly introduced me.” She raises her eyes to me then looks back down at her glass.

“Butterfly.” She repeats the name as if to see how it sounds in her voice.

“Yes,” I say, drinking the last of my coffee. “She had the beans’ room painted in Disney wildlife characters—the mice from Cinderella, Winnie the Pooh, Bambi, Dumbo, several owls. I got a little freaked out when I met Grandmother Willow.” My mother frowns and then realization dawns.

“Grandmother Willow… Pocahontas. You always did meet your fears head on.” I look at her.

“I try.”

“How far have you gotten so far?” Hmm, can’t lie about it.

“Only Pocahontas.” She laughs lightly.

“If you want to face your fears, I suggest you watch Bambi next and then Dumbo.” I didn’t see anything scary about a deer and a flying elephant.

“Why?”

“Bambi’s a deer,” she says. I nod. “Deer get hunted.”

“Yeah. So… what, Bambi dies?”

“No, but his mother does.” Oh. Okay.

“And what about Dumbo?”

“Dumbo was teased and mistreated because he was different… and very misunderstood.” I see what she’s getting at. “He became a huge success in the end, but it wasn’t an easy journey. Dumbo wasn’t even his name.”

“Why is it called ‘Dumbo’ then?” I ask.

“It was a cruel nickname. His name was ‘Jumbo.’” Oh. I see.

“Thanks for telling me,” I say quietly.

“I have all of the Disney classics—the movies and the books if you want to borrow them.” I could buy a whole Disney library tomorrow if I wanted to. She knows this, but I accept her olive branch.

“Thanks, Mom. I think Ana would really appreciate that.”

“Appreciate what?” Butterfly says, yawning as she walks into the kitchen. “Oh! Grace.”

“Good morning, Ana,” Mom says.

“Good morning,” she replies sleepily.

“Why didn’t you wait for me? I would have helped you,” I scold.

“I’m fine,” she says, still groggy. “No fair! How could you do this to me?” she says, looking at the coffee. Mom frowns.

“I didn’t do it, but I did indulge. I’m sorry,” I tell her. “She’s trying to cut back on the caffeine.” My mom makes an “O” with her mouth and nods. Butterfly is trying to get a glass from the cabinet. I forget how short she is without her stilettos. “Orange juice or spritzer?”

“Spritzer, please,” she instructs as I take a glass from the cabinet. I go to the refrigerator and get crushed ice from the ice maker.

“Christian tells me babies keep you awake at night,” Mom says. Just go with it, Butterfly.

“Oh. You mean the soccer players,” Butterfly corrects her. Atta girl!

“Soccer players?” Mom laughs.

“Oh yeah, they’re in the pre-season right now. I’m only too sure they’ll both make the team,” she says as I sit her spritzer in front of her. “I thought they were going to burst out of me the first time they kicked me. I almost called 911…”

Their conversation takes off and Ana talks about the babies’ room and the furniture we’ve picked as well as anything else baby she can think of. As the conversation progresses, I kiss my mother on the cheek and leave the kitchen. I don’t want the hatchet flying around anymore than she does, but I don’t want to keep talking about it either.

This is beautiful country this time of year. The snow hasn’t fallen just yet, so Elliot and I will go on a hike today. I haven’t organized any group activities except for the party, so the rest of the gentlemen are on their own. Allen and James are going back to Seattle this morning as James doesn’t want to be too far from the project in case there’s some breakthrough. I know that Ana will be having a spa day today. She normally loathes them, but she hasn’t had one in so long that one is very much overdue and she’s all for it.

After I lace up my boots, I step out onto the back deck to get the air in my lungs and prepare for the hike. I look over to the house that my family is sharing and I see Pops wrapped up warm and sitting on the back porch.

“Good morning, Pops,” I say walking over to him.

“Good morning, Christian. Oh, it’s beautiful out here. The change of scenery is nice.” Pops hasn’t been doing too well since just after the wedding and has been pretty much housebound. A nurse, technician, and physical therapist all come to Dad’s house for his treatments and dialysis. I’m afraid that he doesn’t have much time left if we can’t find him a kidney.

“We may have to do something about that change of scenery,” I tell him. “You can’t stay cooped up in the same house forever. You know Ana and I are building a house on Mercer Island…”

“Yes, I know, and you make sure that I have my own room and all the comforts of home when I come to visit, but don’t you dare ask me to live there,” he chastises. “First of all, Rick would have your throat and second, I could dream of imposing on you kids.”

“It’s not an imposition, Pops. We’ve got so much room…”

“Did you just hear what I said about my son?” he laughs. “He and Grace are in seventh heaven with me living at their place. If I’m honest, so am I. It’s comfortable and homey, they don’t make me feel like a burden…”

“That’s because you’re not, Pops,” I tell him, taking a seat in the chair next to him. “I wish I had met you sooner. I just feel like there was more that could have been done to help you.”

“Trust me, son, they did everything they possibly could. Some of the best doctors in the world practice and learn at Detroit Receiving Hospital. I really had a fantastic team, but when your organs are bad, they’re just bad. There’s nothing you can do about that but… wait, and hope. I’ve been fighting this battle for decades, son. That’s why I’m so glad that I’m out here with my family.”

“We’re glad you’re here too, and stop talking like you’re dying.” He smiles sadly at me. I’m not willing to accept that there’s nothing else that can be done for him, but the truth is that he is dying. He’s fading away a little bit more and more every day. I take his hand.

“Promise you’ll come and stay with Ana and me for a little while—a week. Give us a chance to spoil you, too.” He laughs.

“I will,” he replies. We sit there silently for a while until Elliot comes out.

“Hi, Grampa,” he says and kisses him on the cheek. “You’re up early.”

“Just getting a little fresh air,” he says.

“Well, look out, because Mia’s looking for you.” Elliot looks at the door. “And here she comes.”

Mia comes out of the patio doors and immediately puts a hat on Pops’ head.

“Mia, he’s a grown man. He doesn’t need you treating him like a 2-year-old!” Elliot scolds.

“It’s chilly out and I don’t want him to catch cold, so sue me! Humor me, Granddaddy,” she says as she passes him some greenish-black liquid.

“You brought that crap up here?” Elliot barks. “Why are you making him drink the crap? He hasn’t even had his breakfast yet!” Mia throws a dirty look at him while Pops quickly starts to drink down the concoction.

“See? Granddaddy likes it!” she hisses at Elliot.

“He doesn’t like it!” Elliot shoots back. “He just doesn’t have the heart to tell you that shit tastes like the dirty sole of somebody’s shoe!” I look at Pops’ face and he is a bit frowned up. He doesn’t like it.

“Mia, what’s in there?” I ask. She rattles off a bunch of herbs and roots. Everything sounds perfectly horrible.

“Okay, now what’s in there for flavor?” She has to think for a moment. I point to Pops so that he can’t see me. She looks at him.

“Unless it’s water and you were dying of thirst, when is the last time you drank anything that quickly?” She frowns and looks at Pops. “Every time you say ‘humor me, Granddaddy,’ he smiles and drinks that stuff. Did you ever once ask him if he wanted it? If he liked the taste of it? If he feels any better after he drinks it, because although vitamins and nutrients are good for the average body, the extra vitamins in this mud shake you feed him every day is probably not doing much good for him right now, yet he chokes it down… to humor you. Think about that.”

“Well, when you put it like that…” and now she’s all bruised.

“And put the puppy away, Mia,” I scold her. If she wants to act like a child, then I’ll treat her like one. “I’m not ‘putting it’ like anything. I’m telling you the truth. He just wants to relax and enjoy his time with his family. If you want to give him something healthy, make him a fruit smoothie. Don’t make him gag on that crap.” I take the glass from Pops and he looks at me puzzled. “Would you like some cranberry juice, Pops?” His eyes light up.

“Yes, please!” he says. I hand Mia her gag concoction.

“Cranberry juice is good for him. You can get it for him.” She twists her lips and goes inside.

“I’m glad she cares for me, but that stuff is wretched!” Pops says, smacking his lips and trying to get rid of the flavor of that toe-jam juice that Mia was feeding him.

“I can imagine it was probably pretty dreadful. Your tongue is black,” I tell him.

“That’s a combination of things, but that concoction doesn’t help.” Mia’s back shortly with a large glass of cranberry juice.

“Here you go, Granddaddy,” she says, handing him the glass. He drinks it happily… and slowly, savoring the flavor.

“That’s the reaction you want, Meelo,” I tell her and kiss her on the forehead.

“See ya later, Gramps,” Elliot says and kisses Pops again on the cheek. Since when did Elliot start with all the kissing?

“We’ll be back later, Pops,” I say squeezing his shoulder. He covers my hand with his and smiles. Mia sits on the bench next to him and snuggles into his arm.

“Tell me some more stories about Daddy when he was a kid,” she says and leans on his shoulder. Elliot and I walk back to my vacation house.

“He doesn’t have long left, you know,” Elliot says softly. I don’t want to admit it, but I know.


ANASTASIA

“Oh my God, this is the most heavenly thing I have ever felt. Where have you been all my life?”

Maxie is lost in the third trimester maternity massage that pays special attention to lower back, ankles, feet and legs coupled with light aromatherapy. As we were getting similar massages and wouldn’t be able to indulge in the champagne, we decided to pair up and get our massages while the rest of the ladies party together in one of the larger rooms. Mandy is joining us since she’s breastfeeding Harry and won’t drink the champagne.

A prenatal massage is performed with the mom-to-be lying on her side as any other position could be detrimental to mom and baby. The masseuse is constantly asking if I’m okay, if anything is uncomfortable, if I would like more of one technique or less of another. There is a bit of stroking and deep tissue massage for my aching parts which I really love. Poor Maxie was jetted off into uncontrolled Nirvana when the masseuse did some technique that helped the fluid flow from her ankles. I thought she was coming!

I wish I had thought of prenatal massage when I was pregnant,” Mandy says, observing Maxie’s orgasmic moans.

“She’s seems a little miserable,” I lament. “Is the third trimester really that bad?”

“Do you see how you feel now?” Mandy asks.

“Um-hmm.”

“Without exaggerating, I’d say multiply it by about five and add swollen feet and ankles to the mix. By then, the baby… sorry, babies… will be moving to the degree that you will actually be able to see their body parts through your stomach.”

“You’ve recently had a baby, ma’am?” Mandy’s masseuse asks, who happens to be a guy.

“Yes. Harry is just about six months now,” she says.

“What have you done to regain your pre-baby body weight?” he asks her. Mandy looks at me and I raise my eyebrow. Is he coming on to her?

“Nothing,” she says. “I breastfeed and I’ve always been conscious about what I eat.”

“Well, you look fantastic if you don’t mind me saying,” he says finally.

“Careful. That’s my stepmom you’re talking to,” I say, a little protective. He chuckles.

“No worries about that, stepdaughter,” he says jovially, showing me his left hand. “I’m very happily married, but as a masseuse, I appreciate a good form.” He turns back to Mandy. “I hope I didn’t offend you.”

“Not at all,” she chuckles. “Thanks for the compliment.” I don’t care if he is married. Don’t act inappropriately with my daddy’s wife.

“Five times worse?” I ask, getting the conversation back on track. Mandy nods.

“Try ten!” Maxie says, her voice muffled. “I swear I feel like I’m going to explode any day now if somebody doesn’t get this kid out of me!” Maxie is very pregnant at just over eight months and due mid-November. She makes me afraid for that time because I’m carrying twins.

“Will I even be able to walk by then? I’m carrying two!”

“Um, I don’t know, but you’re going to have to check in those stilettos,” Mandy warns.

“I know. I’ve been trying to put it off because I love my stilettos, but they’re becoming uncomfortable. Please don’t tell Christian. He’ll hide every pair that I own,” I sigh.

“You’ll get rid of them when you’re ready,” she says. “Your feet will mutiny on you, and it will be all over.” Her masseuse completes her massage and leaves the room. She covers herself and sits up on the table.

I’m afraid, Mandy,” I tell her. She stares at me for a moment and I’m sure she doesn’t know what to say. “I’m afraid of labor and delivery, of being a mother—twins! It’s terrifying. I have Christian, thank God, but neither of us knows what we’re doing.”

“You guys have an amazing support system,” Mandy says. “His mother is a pediatrician, you have all this family and your friends around you, and Ana… you need to trust your gut more. You’re a doctor. You know intellectually exactly what those babies need, and the minute you hold them in your arms, you’re going to know emotionally. It’s scary, yes. Look at me. My labor was quite traumatic and look at my little Harry. He’s perfect—gorgeous like his father, well-behaved… shots and teething are an experience, but he’s been the joy of my life these last months.” She ties her robe closed and takes my hand. “Trust me. It’s one of the best decisions you’ll ever make, and one of the most wonderful—and frightful—experiences you’ll have in your whole life. You’ll do fine, but you have to stop doubting yourself. You’re very intelligent. Trust your instincts.”

It’s only now that I notice that Maxie is quiet and has fallen asleep on the table. Either she was very tired or that massage relaxed her to the point of not being able to keep her eyes open.

“Wow, her ankles do look smaller,” I say. “What did you do?” I ask her masseuse.

“A combination of things,” she says. “This upward stroke helps with the circulation. As you can see this leg is slightly elevated—that always helps. This roughage was not an accident,” she declares, pointing at what looks like a limp cabbage leaf on Maxie’s ankle, the one that’s not elevated. “It actually helps to draw out the extra fluid. I know she’s asleep, but she’s going to have to wake soon. Her hip is going to be sore.” I sit up and tie my robe.

“Maxie,” I say gently trying to rouse my friend. “Maaaaxxiiiiieeee,” I sing her name softly. Her eyes open slowly and she looks at me.

“I was dreaming,” she says, softly. “I was in the ocean, swimming freely and effortlessly with the dolphins and the fish, a beautiful girl just flowing through the water.” Her masseuse comes over and, taking her hands, gently helps her sit up.

“Then, I wake up and realize that I was the whale all along…”


A/N: Just a day of maxing and relaxing and chilling in the woods… but you know me. There’s always some drama lurking in the shadows.

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

Becoming Dr. Grey: Chapter 5—Moving Right Along…

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 5—Moving Right Along…

CHRISTIAN

I belong to Anastasia Grey…
I belong to Anastasia Grey…
I belong to Anastasia Grey…

I have two huge love bites on my neck. One is just under my ear, slightly pink and a little sensitive. The other is under my shirt in the bend of my neck—dark red and a little purple, and it hurts like hell. I remember her latching onto that spot, sucking and biting and weakening my resolve until I came so hard that I fucking cried. No one has ever fucked me that way—told me not to come and then didn’t stop until I did.

The entire time I got dressed this morning, I kept hearing the words in my head…

You belong to me.
You’re not allowed to take chances…
I belong to Anastasia Grey.
I am not allowed to get hurt.
Follow instructions and stay safe.
I belong to Anastasia Grey…
I belong to Anastasia Grey…
I belong to Anastasia Grey…

I’m completely distracted as I remember her nails on my chest, her sexy, swollen body rubbing against me, her lips and tongue on my neck…

“Sir.” Jason breaks my chain of thought. “They’ve been texting you, Sir. You’re needed in Data Central.”

Shit! What time is it? How long have I been sitting here?

Jason and I ride in silence down to the hub of discovery. He’s been extra quiet, so I have to ask him.

“How much did you see?”

“Not much, Sir, but enough to tell Gail to stay in our apartment for a while.” I shake my head and chuckle to myself.

“Were we loud?” I ask. He smirks.

“No, Sir, Not at all.” The elevator doors open and I know he’s holding back, but I let him off the hook.

“The worms went live again, about an hour ago,” James starts talking the moment we get into Data Central. “Their initial signal is usually the most reliable because it pops out before they have a chance to scramble it, but only for a few seconds. Not only that, but they think we’re following someone else.”

“I need some good news, James,” I say.

“We’ve got a pretty good hit based on the initial signals and the tower hits from Dodd’s cell phone.”

“Are you telling me that you know where these guys are or…?” I trail off.

“We’ve narrowed it down to cities, which is a lot more than we had before, but we need to get our boy here to keep contacting them so we can tighten those signals.” I sigh. This news is not as encouraging as I would like.

“First, what cities?” I ask.

“Belfair and Spokane,” James responds. I frown.

“That’s two different ends of the state,” I say. “Doesn’t that seem odd?”

“To be honest, we’re lucky we didn’t get New York and San Francisco, or worst yet—Moscow and Tokyo!” I shiver.

“I will be so glad when this is over,” I lament. “Next, how do you suggest we keep Dodd talking?” I ask.

“We have to feed him something worthy enough to take back to his counterparts. Without knowing what their M-O is besides money, I don’t know what they would consider ‘juicy’ information,” he says. I notice that Barney’s head is buried in his laptop and he’s feverishly typing away at something. This is my head of IT—I can’t afford for him to be meek.

“What’s your take on this, Barney?” His head shoots up from the laptop and he looks from me to James and back to me.

“I concur,” he says. Okay, you’re great at what you do. You fucked up last week and made a bad assumption. Get over it! You can’t hide behind James forever. He doesn’t even work here.

“Use your words, Barney,” I say, my voice indicating that I’m a bit perturbed. You’re a talented and highly paid department head. Sensitivity is not a luxury that you get to enjoy. “I need you people to think like these people and tell me what I need to know.”

“Well, I can’t think like a criminal, but as a hacker, I’d want to know if someone else can actually mimic what I did,” Barney says.

“James’ software proves that we can mimic what he did…”

“They don’t know that, but that’s not what I mean,” he interrupts me. I glare at him and he just keeps talking. I think Butterfly was wrong about him shrinking. I think it may have been something else. “I mean is someone else doing something that might cut into my payday. Are they hiding behind what I’m doing and siphoning money or information to another source? This kind of attacker is cocky. When he’s completed his coup, he’ll find some way to flaunt it without giving away his identity. If you manage to discover his identity, he’s just going to disappear into the night and you’re never going to see him again.” That’s why I think it’s Myrick. He’s already disappeared into the night.

“I don’t quite follow. GEH is a very valuable company. There’s plenty for everybody.” I seethe.

“Yes, but if you have a pile of gold sitting in front of you, how much do you take? You take as much as your bag can carry, and electronically, you have a bottomless bag.” Barney’s more profound than I thought, and now I’m certain that Butterfly was wrong about him shrinking. “If someone else is picking off the gold coins, that immediately makes you just another thief. As a hacker, I don’t want to be just another thief. I want you to remember who I am.”

“Okay, so how do we know that this isn’t just another thief?” I ask.

“His style,” Barney retorts. “He started by letting the worms run wild in your system and letting you know that he was there. He could have started taking money immediately. He didn’t need to wait. He was toying with you, taunting you. He’s not just another thief. He wants you to know, and he will make an appearance before this is over.” I nod.

“Okay, so what do we do?” The room is quiet for a while.

“Leak to your source that another hacker has shown up, one that has completely different characteristics than the first. Ask rhetorical questions in his presence that will make him think: Are they working together? Is this a completely different attack? How fast is the new attack moving in comparison to the original attack? He’ll have to contact them because he’ll have the same questions and if not, he’ll want them to know that there’s another player in the game. If you keep talking, you’ll keep him talking.” There’s not a bit of the timid Barney that I’m accustomed to. His voice is strong and a little deeper than usual. He’s precise and he’s not rambling.

He’s controlled.

“Let’s call another meeting of the department heads. I’m assuming you can make this story convincing… draw it out like the soap opera we need right now?”

“Yes, I can,” he answers and starts typing madly on his laptop again. Of the people currently in the room, James is the only one that is not slightly taken aback by his behavior. I need to talk to Welch about how Myrick could just drop off the face of the earth like this and nobody have a lead on where he is. I’ve been told not to put all my eggs in the Robin basket, but I can’t help it. That fucker almost had me killed and until this shit stops, my money is on him.

“James, a quick word?” James nods at me and follows me to the hallway. “You’ve spent the most time with Barney, what’s going on?” He frowns.

“What do you mean?” he asks.

“That guy has worked for me for years and something’s different about him.”

“How so?” he asks. “He’s the same way he’s always been around me.”

“I don’t know. First he’s quiet, then he pops out of this shell with all this information—commanding authority—then he’s right back in like a turtle,” I observe. James shakes his head.

“I’m not sure what you’re getting at, but the last thing Barney does is go into a shell,” he says. “I don’t know if he’s different around you, but Barney is a very self-confident man who knows what he’s doing. I would never say that he’s better than me, but he keeps me on my toes and he’s not shy about his skills.” I frown.

“Well, he is the best the industry has to offer. I did my homework before I hired him, so I know that. It’s his demeanor. Butterfly made an observation last week that she thought he may have been shrinking a bit after his erroneous assumption about her possible involvement in all this.” James scoffs a laugh.

“Barney? Shrinking? Not likely. Man, he must really have you fooled. I hate to let the cat out of the bag, but Barney’s one of the cockiest motherfuckers I’ve ever met in my life.” He’s what? He’s got to be kidding me. Barney and cocky don’t even belong in the same sentence. “Yeah, I’m going to stop talking now,” he adds, laughing to himself. “To answer your question, nothing’s wrong with Barney. He’s the same as he’s been since the day I started this project.”

I nod. It appears that I don’t know my head of IT as well as I thought I did.

“Any hits on Myrick?” I ask Welch when Jason and I get to his office.

“Nothing yet, but what the hell did you say to Cholometes?” he asks.

“What do you mean?”

“He was a bit… reserved, for lack of a better word, when we talked on Sunday morning. Last night and this morning, he was forthright, accommodating—downright helpful. You know I had no choice but to let him into the loop a bit in order to get the approvals I need. He’s even offered to help weed out some things with me. One of me is phenomenal, I must admit, but two of me—out of this fucking world. We’re going to have this shit locked down in a month or less.”

A month seems like a long time, but it’s better than any other projection I’ve heard so far which has basically been, “Well, I don’t know” and “It’s hard to tell” and “We’re working on it.”

“I have a question for you. You work closely with Barney. What’s your take on him?” He frowns the same frown James did.

“Do you think he has something to do with this?” Welch asks.

“No! No, nothing like that. It’s just… last week at the meeting when he made it appear that Anastasia may have been hiding something about the cyber attack, he shut down and hasn’t said anything since until I made him talk to me today. Ana seems to think he’s shrinking into himself and I want to know what you think.” He does that same laughing scoff that James did.

“I highly doubt that cocky motherfucker was shrinking,” he says matter-of-factly.

“How the fuck is everybody seeing him as cocky and I didn’t?”

“Well, how much time have you spent with him?” Welch asks.

“Quite a lot over the years he’s worked for me–enough to know that I wouldn’t consider him cocky.”

“Well, then your ‘enough to know’ isn’t enough, because that’s one cocky son-of-a-bitch. I don’t mean that in a bad way, I just mean that he’s a cocky son-of-a-bitch. You judged that book by its cover. You let those bow ties and sweater vests make you think that he’s your typical, quiet little computer nerd. Maybe that’s what he wants you to think. Maybe he knows that the quiet nerd gets the least attention until he’s needed. So he can be Wonderboy and fade quietly to black and nobody bothers him. Whatever the case may be, if you see anything else but cocky, he’s got you fooled.”

“So what’s this quiet-shutting-down thing?” I ask.

“He’s thinking… or mad.” I would go with mad right now. He’s giving me answers without the reverence to which I’ve become accustomed. He better not pull that cocky shit on me. He’s worked for me for a few years now and I know there are other Wonderboys out there if he starts feeling his balls. “And that’s why you didn’t see the cocky.” I look up Welch.

“What?”

“I don’t have to tell you this, sir, but you’re a hell of a lot more cocky than he is, so you wouldn’t have seen it.”

“Oh, on the contrary, that’s exactly why I would have seen it. I’m an alpha male surrounded by alpha males, and you all know that I won’t let anybody out-alpha me. When it comes to security, you’re the experts, so I step back—most of the time, but when it comes to just about everything else, you all step back and let me have the reigns because you know that I’m in charge. Now, whatever his M-O, Barney has never been that cocky person around me, which means that either he’s intimidated or he’s putting on a façade–one that has fooled me for several years, and that doesn’t make me feel comfortable.”

“Well, I’m going to let you handle that with him, but I would still like to know what happened with Cholometes if you care to share. What did you say to him?” Welch asks.

“It wasn’t me,” I confess. “It was Butterfly.” Welch frowns.

“You told her?” he asks, somewhat appalled.

“No, she figured it out. You’re forgetting that Cholometes is a long-time family friend of her and her father. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to put two and two together when you and he are collaborating, and Dr. Steele hit that nail right on the head.”

“Dr Steele?” he questions. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I don’t like it any more than you do.

“She has to practice under the same name that she was licensed,” I tell him. “Don’t dwell on it. I can’t, so you can’t either.” He waves his hand.

“So how did the little powerhouse get him to be so cooperative?” he asks.

“She yelled at him. Made him swear to keep me safe and told him that she would hold him responsible if anything happens to me. She thinks he may have something to do with this attack and she doesn’t trust him.”

“She told him all that?”

“Not about the attack, but the rest of it, yes. I know that he still loves her and he wants her, so he won’t take any chances on disappointing her.” Welch shakes his head.

“Stay in good health, sir,” Welch says. “If anything happens to you, he’ll be first in line and nobody will get within ten feet of her.”

“Unfortunately, I am aware of this. However, as I plan to never die, he’s out of luck.” Jason and I leave Welch’s office and head back to mine. “Did you know Barney was cocky?” I ask him. He shrugs.

“Not really,” he says. “I don’t spend enough time with the guy to know that about him. I know that you’re the only that calls him ‘Barney.’ People only call him that when you’re around.” We exit the elevator and walk to my office.

“What does everybody call him?”

“Dino,” he says flatly.

“Dino?” I ask surprised. Jason nods. I just shake my head. “Uh, okay.” I sit down at my desk. “In the midst of all of this, I haven’t planned a thing for my wife’s birthday. Considering that we went to wine country and I got a rebuilt piano for my birthday, I think I better come up with something quick.”

“That would be a good idea. What did you have in mind?”

“Well, the party last year was a disaster, so that’s out.”

“Something for just the two of you?” he asks. I twist my lips.

“I would like that, but I have a feeling that she would like something more…” and the wheels start turning. What could I do for my lady on such short notice that she would really like?

“I would say that she definitely needs some time with her friends, wouldn’t you?” Jason asks. I nod.

“She has been a bit of a hermit,” I respond, “and I know that the family would like to see for themselves that she’s okay. Maybe a party is in order—a celebration of close family and friends.”

“The Club?” he suggests. I shake my head.

“No, we always have events at the club—Ray’s wedding, Maxine’s baby shower… I need to come up with something else.”

“What did you have in mind?”

“I don’t know—something private… intimate… different.” Jason thinks for a while.

“Something with her friends, right?”

“Of course, with her friends.”

“How about that thing she has—food and libations, but on a bigger scale… at a resort, maybe, and she doesn’t have to do any of the cooking.”

“She likes to do the cooking,” I point out. “Maybe something on the order of that, though. We’ll get people to help her with the cooking since it will be on a bigger scale. She can still enjoy the preparations and not have to work so hard. A resort sounds nice, but I don’t want to have it in the clubhouse of a resort either. A meeting room is even less intimate.

“What about the vacation houses at Suncadia?” Jason suggests. “They’re really nice and even the smallest ones are pretty large. See how many we can get for the weekend?” That sounds like a winner. Suncadia is close by, but pretty exclusive. Even if we can’t get people to stay the night, it’s close enough for a party if they want to go home.

“Now that’s a good idea. I guess we should hash out a quick guest list and see how many cabins we can secure…”

For the next several minutes, Jason and I confer with each other as well as Gail and Marilyn on conference to put together a quick guest list and tentative plans for the weekend. Marilyn has agreed to make the calls to see who will be available for the weekend while Jason will see how many of the vacation homes we can secure at Suncadia. I’ll tell Butterfly about the plans no later than Thursday as I’m sure she will want to work out a menu as I plan to drive up early Friday. While we’re still working on what’s going to happen for the weekend, Andrea announces that Barney is at her desk and wants to see me. I look at Jason, who shrugs and stands to leave.

“I’ll get the houses secured and touch base with you later,” he says with a nod before leaving the office and sending Barney in.

“I think we need to talk, sir… if you have a moment.” His voice is firm and he has removed his glasses. He hasn’t turned away from me. He looks a lot different without his glasses. This is the first time I’ve paid attention to his eyes, and he’s actually taller than me. “I’ll be glad to make an appointment if now is not a good time.” I furrow my brow a bit at him.

“No, now is a good time. Come in.” I sit at my desk and gesture to the seats in front of my desk.

“I would rather stand, sir,” he says. He is cocky, but like Welch said, not as cocky as me.

“Well, Barney, if you stand, then I have to stand, and I would really rather not. So it would make me a lot more comfortable if you sit.” I gesture to the seat again and, after a short pause, he pulls off his tie and takes a seat.

“It appears that you’ve been asking the other members of the team questions about me. Do I need to be concerned for my job, sir? I would rather know these things in advance so that I can be prepared.”

“Why would you think your job was on the line? And what have you done that makes you think you need to be concerned for your job?”

“My job,” he says, “plus the fact that you’ve been asking others about me instead of coming to me.” I don’t like his tone.

“Barney, I haven’t had cause to bring your job into question, but I am going to caution you to watch your tone with me right now. I don’t appreciate being called to task on anything in my company, and I have fired people for less,” I retort.

“I know that. That’s why I’m asking,” he says without taking down. “I’m not calling you to task on anything, sir. I’m questioning my job security. I’m getting married in a year and if my future is looking bleaker than I thought, I need to know that now.” Cocky is right. He leans forward in the seat.

“I respect you, Mr. Grey, but I’m not afraid of you. I ask that you respect me and my skills, that’s all. I may have been wrong about Mrs. Grey and I hope she knows how sorry I am about that, but just like I said before you cut me off—I was just doing my job. And if ever I feel that she’s a threat to the security of the company, I have to let you know. If you don’t want to hear it, then I have to let security know. That’s one of the things you hired me for. We’re dealing with the unknown here, and until we know who we’re dealing with, everybody is suspect…”

“Including you?” I interject.

Especially me!” he says, surprising me. “I’m the one with my hands on the pulse of this thing. James may be reading one of the maps, but make no mistake—I’m driving!” He is a cocky bastard. “You call everybody else by their last name until you started calling J by his first name and you’ve always called Al Allen…” Lately, I’m calling Charles by his first name, too, “… but you call me Barney. Yes, I was the one who said it was okay to do that, but I think you saw it as a sign of weakness. I mainly told you to call me that because if you tried to say my full name all the time, you’d have to tie your tongue in a knot.” I hired himn=, but I have to admit that I’ve called him “Barney” for so long that I don’t immediately recall his full name. I raise my eyebrow at him and as a challenge, he spits out his first and last name. “Bernardino DiPignano.” Now, how did I not remember he was Italian?

“Do you prefer that I call you DiPignano from now on?” I ask.

“If that’s what you choose, that’s fine. All I’m saying is don’t liken ‘Barney’ with ‘weak little nerd boy’ because you’re sorely mistaken if you do. I respect you, I respect your position, and I respect your level of power. It’s clear to see that you respect Alex for who he is, Jason for who he is, Al for who he is. Respect me for who I am. That’s all I ask. I don’t expect you to fall at my feet or kiss my ass because I know that you’re not going to do that, but I really don’t think I’m asking for too much.” I lean forward on my desk. I’m all for understanding that I’ve underestimated someone, but it’s time to remind this cocky fucker who I am.

“Barney… DiPignano… not once have I ever disrespected you and I don’t intend to start, but make no mistake. I will ask anybody else in this company anything I goddamn well please about anybody else in this company and there’s nothing you can do about that. Do I need to be concerned about you resigning your job because I chose to ask my team about someone else on my team?” He sits up straight when he realizes the tone of the conversation has changed.

“No, sir, you don’t,” he says curtly.

“Good, and by the way, I have every right to be angry at you for causing my very pregnant, very fragile wife to cry by virtually accusing her of corporate espionage. I understand that you have to do your job and I appreciate that you do it well, but don’t ever expect me to respond kindly if the daggers are flying at my Ana. To be honest, what you received on Friday was a very controlled response, and had I not known that you are very thorough and were ‘just doing your job,’ we might be talking severance right now. I don’t speak the language of logic when it comes down to my wife. My entire security team knows this and now, so do you. Multiply that tenfold by the fact that she’s carrying my children and throw in the emotions that you would feel if your fiancée had been in this position.” I feel the beast rising up in me. I can’t afford to lose him in the middle of this investigation, but I will not take down to this fucker.

“Yes, sir, I understand. Again, I apologize for antagonizing Mrs. Grey.” He’s all business now, something I’ve only see once—when he was telling me about “catching our thief” earlier today. That’s fine with me.

“Apology accepted, and congratulations on your upcoming nuptials,” I add to ease the sting a bit.

“Thank you, sir.”

“Anything else?”

Barney as we know him

“No, sir,” he says, flatly. I nod once, and he stands to leave, pulling his sweater vest over his head before he gets to the door. He’s wearing a light blue shirt and some dark slacks by the time he leaves my office, and I’m sure that Barney has just left the company and I am now dealing with DiPignano… which is fine by me. I don’t even have time to take a deep breath before Jason comes back into my office.

“Sir, Camilla Johannson is at Ana’s office,” he says with no prelim.

“Camilla Johannson? Who is Ca…” The penny drops. “Oh, shit, what is she doing there?”

“I don’t know, sir. Chuck is in the office with them now. You know Ana… you know she agreed to see her.” I run my hands through my hair. Should I go? Should I stay? Is Ana in danger? I don’t know anything about this woman except that David beat the hell out of her and there’s no reason whatsoever that she should want to talk to my wife. I should go! I should go right now. My feet are moving before the decision is even made and Jason is sprinting to catch up with me. I don’t know if I should call her, but Jason solves the problem for me by calling Charles while were in the elevator.

“Hello…? Who is this…? Where’s Chuck…? Oh… okay… Does everything seem okay…? Well, we’re on our way. Let him know in case they get out before we get there… Okay, bye.”  He ends the call as we exit the elevator in the parking garage. “Marilyn has Chuck’s phone.”

“Why in the world does Marilyn have his phone?” I seethe.

“Because he wants to give the ladies his undivided attention. The last uninvited guest we had was Strauss, if I remember correctly—and look how that ended.” Oh… yeah. I guess he should give them his undivided attention.

We’re standing in the lobby in Ana’s building and just as the elevator comes, a young Ana look-a-like steps off the elevator. She goes to the front desk and retrieves her identification. I examine her. She doesn’t look upset or angry. No signs that she’s been in a struggle. I know this has to be Ms. Johannson because of the uncanny resemblance, but she doesn’t look like anything is amiss. No matter, I have to get to Butterfly.

When I get off of the elevator, her front office is empty. What the fuck? Where’s Marilyn? Butterfly? I try not to burst into her office like King Kong, but I don’t know how successful I am. She’s sitting at her desk looking fresh and beautiful as always and Charles and Marilyn are standing close by. She and Charles look at each other and back at me. I have to touch her. I have to touch the babies.

“Baby, are you okay?” I ask reaching for her and my children.

“I’m fine, Christian,” she says, comforting. “You didn’t have to come.”

“Yes, I did. I had to make sure that you were okay.”

“What did you think she was going to do? I had the man that hurt us both imprisoned for twenty-something years.” I shake my head.

“I don’t know, I just…”I drop my head, still shaking it. With everything going on these days, I’m so afraid of losing her. She puts her hand on my cheek.

“I understand perfectly,” she says, sweetly. I raise my eyes to hers—cautious gray to unassuming blue.

“I just love you so much…” I trail off.

“I know… and I love you, too, Mr. Grey.” Her calling me that reminded me of our afternoon on the sofa yesterday.

“I belong to Anastasia Grey,” I say quietly.

“Yes… you do,” she whispers before cupping my face with both of her hands and kissing me passionately. I’m lost in her kiss, her touch, her taste—soothing the beast raging inside of me. I caress her stomach and her back—my whole family, my life, right here in my arms. She’s the reason that I breathe. It seems like there was nothing before her.


ANASTASIA

Once Christian was sure that Camilla hadn’t come to reap some sort of twisted revenge on me, I try to convince him to go back to Grey House. It’s a futile attempt, because I think in light of recent events, we’re both seeing how much the other means to us and how quickly and easily we could lose everything. I can’t complain that he wants to spend the rest of the day with me, but tell him that it will be at Helping Hands. That’s not what he wanted to hear. Christian and his mother are still a bit at odds over the flirt heard ‘round the world. I would think she would be angrier with me, but it appears that the condition she found me in tilted the scales more in my favor.

While I’m sitting as cuddled into him as the seatbelts with allow, Christian reveals to me that Gail and Marilyn are coordinating with our family and friends for a weekend getaway for my birthday. He admits that he wanted to wait until Thursday to tell me, but since it will be F&L he wanted me to have time to plan the menu and coordinate the help that will be available. He knows that I like cooking for F&L myself, but also know that this is going to be a larger group of people than just the Scooby Gang. I try to convince him that I can handle it, but he implores me to please take advantage of the help that will be with us as well as the help we will most likely get from the resort as this is, after all, my birthday. I can’t argue with his logic and agree to take it easy most of the time.

I check in on my projects when I get to the center as well as the families in the dorms and the classes in session in the learning rooms. Christian doesn’t come to Helping Hands that often, so I get a kick out of not only showing him the renovations that hag’s money paid for, but also seeing the poor women at the center swoon and breathe, “Hi, Mr. Grey,” as he passes. He clasps my hand tightly throughout the entire “tour” as it were, trying to let the ladies know that he’s not interested, even though his ingrained manners drive him to speak and be polite. I smile a bit at his calamity and continue with the tour.

Driven to let Grace know that we’re here, we go to her office. It’s been remodeled as she insisted on staying in her office as opposed to moving to one of the bigger ones. At least there’s more room with my and John’s stuff moved to our own offices, and it looks nicer with the new furniture, paint, flooring, and window treatments. When we enter, she’s sitting at her desk working on something. She raises her head and removes her glasses when she sees us, clasping her hands on the desk in front of her.

“Good afternoon, Grace,” I say politely. “I was just looking in on some of my projects and showing Christian around the new facility.” She nods once.

“Ana, Christian,” she says by means of a greeting, more formal than I would like. Christian sighs heavily.

“Mother, how long are you going to give me the cold shoulder?”

“I’m not giving you the cold shoulder, Christian. I’m just very disappointed and I have to get over it, and you have to let me.”

“It was as much my fault as his, Grace,” I chime in, trying to defuse the situation. “I grossly misunderstood what was going on between us and acted very selfishly. Please don’t place all the blame on him.”

“Oh, I don’t. That’s why I’m so disappointed. It’s like I told him. I can’t believe the way you young people hurt each other so badly. It’s like you do and say things without any consideration for the feelings of the other person or for the consequences your actions can bring. Although my son is very strong, he’s also very sensitive. Even though he doesn’t let people see that, I know Christian Grey. I raised Christian Grey. I know that behind that massive physique and that unbreakable façade that there’s still a very scared, scarred, and sensitive little boy in there. What would you have done if he couldn’t forgive you for how you behaved in that restaurant with those men?”

She’s right. I could have lost everything because I wanted a little attention. I maintain that I needed my husband—that I needed his love and support and I felt like he was ignoring me—but that wasn’t the way to get it. Quite frankly, he needed my love and support, too, probably more at that time than I needed his. I drop my head and fight the tears I feel burning my eyes.

“Do you have to be so hard on her?” Christian scolds.

“Oh! This from the man who nearly allowed her to starve to death for several weeks and didn’t even know that it was happening! You couldn’t even be bothered to look at her let alone be concerned about her and the babies. So what’s the thrust here—that you can treat her that way, but nobody else can, right?” Grace is wearing no gloves. Her claws are sharpened and her filter is non-existent. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her so raw—except maybe once, at her house when she found out Elena had molested Christian. I’m going to be sick. I’m truly going to be sick.

“Excuse me,” I say before dashing out of the door and sprinting down the hall away from Grace’s office.

“Ana, don’t run!” Christian calls after me. “Charles, don’t let her fall… Mom! Really!?” That’s all I hear before I make it to the restroom.

This is one time I thank God for this ridiculously long hair, because it doesn’t fall into my face or the toilet while I vomit violently. I’m cry bitterly in the toilet. I’m not sure why I’m crying—because Grace was right or because Grace was so harsh. I don’t know, but I cry and cry until I feel like I can fall asleep on the floor.

“Ana! Are you alright?” I hear Chuck call from outside. I try to raise my head, but it hurts too much. Before I can respond that I need help, I hear his voice.

“Butterfly, I’m coming in there,” and I hear the door open. “If anybody’s in here besides my wife, please hide your intimates.” There’s no one else in here, thank God. He finds me in the stall on the floor and immediately goes to the sink. He wets some paper towels and wipes my face and neck. I look up at him and my heart breaks again.

“I’m sorry,” I say through my tears.

“No! No!” he says firmly. “We’ve been through this. We’ve hashed this out. We’re passed it and we’re moving on. Now put your arms around my neck.” I gladly oblige, thankful that he knows I need his help without having to tell him. I enjoy his scent and his strong arms as he carries me to my office. He lays me down on one of the sofas there while sending Chuck off to get me water. He’s kneeling on the floor next to me stroking my hair and looking at me lovingly.

“Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to come and see Grace,” I lament.

“I don’t think she’ll be speaking to me for a while, which is honestly fine by me because I don’t want to speak to her for a while either,” he responds.

“Christian…” I protest lightly.

“Baby, I’m not perfect. I know that. You aren’t either. We accept each other. We understand that. We made some stupid mistakes. We’ve accepted the consequences of them, made amends and moved on. My mother is taking all of the bad that she sees in all of the couples of this generation and she’s putting it on our shoulders because of our mistake. How could she feel that berating us and making us feel any worse than we already do is going to be any more productive than what we did to each other? What’s more, she’s angrier at me for comparing us to her and Carrick than she is about anything else. I’m sure of it. You and I—we love hard, and we’re gonna fight hard. I accept that now. My mother can’t, and I don’t have time to hold her hand through this. I need to be holding yours.”

“But baby, she’s your mother.”

“I understand and appreciate that, but this is our marriage. Until she can understand that and stop wallowing in her own anger, I don’t know what to tell her. I know we fucked up… big! Both of us! I can take her letting me have it. I’ve got a strong chest and broad shoulders. I can’t take her doing that to you—especially after she knew what I had already put you through! No! It’s unacceptable!” He’s getting angry and I don’t like it.

“Okay,” I say, stroking his cheek. “Okay.”

“I want to take you home. I want to plan our wonderful weekend and not think about anything else that’s causing us grief.”

“I’d like that very much,” I whisper. He stands and helps me to my feet, but the moment I try to stand on my own, the room spins.

“That’s it!” He scoops me up in his arms bridal style and I don’t bother to protest. I wrap my arms around his neck and allow him the comfort of carrying me. “Where’s the nearest exit?” He says sharply to Chuck. He starts to lead us towards the back door where I know the car is parked anyway. Over his shoulder, I get a glimpse of Grace sorrowfully watching him carry me away. I can’t be concerned about her right now. I need to be concerned about my husband. I lay my head on his shoulder, caressing his nape with one hand and his chest with the other, silently thanking him for being my knight in shining armor ready to rescue me from all attacks, both foreign and domestic.

*-*

“Oh, Christian, this is beautiful!” I exclaim when he shows me the pictures of the vacation houses at the Suncadia Resort. It’s only about an hour and a half from Seattle and the homes are spectacular—quaintly decorated like my Montana escape, but on a much larger scale. The house we’re staying in has five bedrooms, a large kitchen with an island and granite countertops, a huge great room with glass doors and floor to ceiling windows, an indoor/outdoor fireplace that opens into a huge back porch and deck that spans the back of the house and houses the hot tub. The backyard and fire pit open right into the lush and beautiful pastures and forests. Like I said, it’s just like my Montana cabin, only on a much, much grander scale. Also, there is a connected guest house with full accommodations

“Look at this great room. It’ll be perfect!” I croon. “Will we all be staying in this house? It says that it sleeps 15.”

“It sleeps 15, yes, but not comfortably, so I reserved two more houses almost just like it. Everyone who decides to stay will be comfortable.”

“Did you invite Grace and Carrick?” I ask cautiously.

“I informed my father that they were invited, but it’s completely up to her if they want to come.” I nod. I won’t press the issue.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea, Christian,” I say, curling into his lap and kissing him on the cheek. “Thank you.”

“So, we’ve got the planning out of the way and the invites. It’s still a little early. What would you like to do?”

“Hmm, I want to watch TV,” I tell him.

“TV?” he says, surprised. “We never watch TV.”

“Well, tonight we are. I’ve even managed to procure some popcorn from Gail, you know—the yellow stuff with the butter and you eat it at the movies…”

“I know what popcorn is, Butterfly,” I respond, mocking irritation at her teasing.

“Good. I’ll make the popcorn. You go push whatever magic buttons you have to push to make the television appear and I’ll be in to choose our movie.”

“You’re choosing the movie, too?” he asks.

“Yes, I’m choosing the movie, too. Now, scoot.” He leaves his study and wanders off to the bedroom while I go to the kitchen. Gail has revealed to me where the never-used air popper is and I plug it in. I load it with oil and popcorn and just as I retrieve the bowl from the cabinet, I feel it.

Something’s wrong. I don’t know what, but something’s wrong.

I drop the bowl and it shatters on the floor. I grab my stomach, attempting to hold my babies. God… oh, God… please don’t let anything be wrong with my babies.

The shattering glass brought people from all directions—Christian, Jason, and Gail are all hovering over me in the kitchen.

“Baby, what’s wrong? What’s wrong?” Christian is frantic.

“I don’t know!” I wail, holding my stomach. There it goes again. Oh, God, I’m going to die if I lose my babies!

“Ana, listen to me,” Gail’s voice is calm. “Are you in pain?” I shake my head.

“No. No.” I’m scared. What the hell is happening?

“Listen to me, Ana. I need you to calm down. Are you feeling any cramping or discomfort? Any pressure, pulling?” I shake my head frantically. “None of that?” I’m still shaking my head. “What are you feeling?” I point at my stomach. I don’t know what this is and I’m scared shitless. “Okay, okay, where are you feeling whatever it is you’re feeling?”

“H-here… and he-here… and here…” I’m trying to tell her where the feelings are, but I can’t concentrate.

“May I?” she asks and I nod. What can she tell me? I need to go to the hospital, don’t I? She puts her hands on my stomach and we wait. It seems like forever, but we wait… and it happens again… and again. I jump and start crying again. What it is? Tell me what it is.

“Is that what you felt?” Gail asks and I nod, crying while Christian holds my hand. “Oh, Child,” Gail says, smiling while reaching for Christian’s free hand. She puts it on my stomach and covers it with her own. And there it is again—blam!

“There’s nothing wrong. Your babies are moving!” she says with a wide smile. Christian gasps and falls to his knees, placing both hands on my belly… and they move again.

“That’s what this is?” I ask, still a little horrified.

“Yes, sweetheart,” Gail confirms. “They’re healthy, most likely hungry, and saying ‘hello.’”

“They feel like they’re playing soccer in there,” I whine, trying to calm down. “Why didn’t Mandy tell me about this? Or Dr. Culley?”

“They probably thought you already knew! Nobody told you the babies would move?” Gail questions. Christian is still in his own world with the babies.

“Well, Yeah, but… I thought ‘quiver, shiver, shake,’ I didn’t think ‘bam!’” I sound like a toddler. I look down at Christian and he has laid his head on my belly. His eyes are closed and his hands are still on either side. He looks like he’s floating in ecstasy. The soccer players are still kicking away and his copper curls respond to every jolt. I cup his head on my belly, gently running my fingers through his feather-soft tresses and completely forgetting about my earlier angst. Jason holds Gail close to him as I stroke my husband’s hair and he bonds with our children while kneeling on the kitchen floor.

It took a while, but our two little soccer players finally calmed long enough for Christian to get off the floor and release my stomach. Gail has cleaned the glass for me and made a large bowl of buttered popcorn for us to take to our room and watch the movie. She even suggested two large glasses of cola to make it authentic. I carry the popcorn while Christian carries the sodas back to our room.

After getting comfortable on the bed, I begin searching through the on-demand choices through our satellite provider. Christian has one arm around my waist and the other on our babies while he’s kissing my shoulder.

“You’re remarkable,” he says softly. “You’re growing life inside of you. It’s amazing. Healthy children alive and moving inside of you… inside my wife… my beautiful wife. It’s amazing!” I don’t know how to respond…

“You had a part in this miracle, too,” I say. “These are your children, too.”

“I had the easy part,” he tells me. “I got to make love to the most beautiful woman in the world, and we created life.” He kisses me gently on the lips. “Thank you, Anastasia. I love you so much.”

“I love you, too, Christian,” I breathe. Again, I feel the conviction of what I could have lost with that stunt I pulled with those possible donors. I’m going to feel that burn in my heart for quite some time. It’s good that I am. It will be a constant reminder not to be so careless and selfish in the future. “I want you to know that no matter what happens I will always be with you. Whoever this guy is, whatever he’s after, we’ll catch him—and if we don’t… I will always be with you.” I close my eyes and put my forehead on his.

“Thank you, baby,” he says. “I won’t let you down, and I will always be by your side. Don’t ever forget that.” We kiss again and seal our promise to one another. “Now, what do you have in store for me?” I search the menu and, finding what I am looking for, I choose my movie.

Pocahontas!” he laughs. I smile and nod. “Grandmother Willow?”

“Grandmother Willow,” I confirm as I reach for the popcorn.

*-*

The beans have now decided that they like to wake Mommy up in the middle of the night with a rousing game of soccer for their adoring fans. Like clockwork, somewhere around two or three in the morning, they’re taking off down the field headed for the goal… and I’m wide awake. The first two nights, Christian slept through it and I sat up until they calmed down and then crawled back into bed with Christian. By Wednesday night, they were having none of it.

“Please, Beans, please settle down. Mommy is so tired,” I whine quietly. I’m lying on the chaise in our bedroom, rubbing my stomach and trying not to wake Christian. They calm down for a moment and I feel myself slipping back into slumber, too tired to move back to the bed. Just when it feels like I’m going to fall asleep, one of them starts kicking again, which causes the other to kick since they’re in such close quarters.

“Oooohhhh, the game is on,” I lament rubbing my face and feeling completely forlorn.

“Well, that answers my question.” I’m too tired to lift my head to confirm that my husband is now awake and standing behind me. “I was going to ask what you were doing over here until I saw that you were asleep, or I thought you were asleep. The beans are busy, I take it.”

“Every night this week,” I say, and I almost want to cry because I’m so tired.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” he asks concerned.

“Because the first two nights, they were just a little restless and then they calmed down and I could go right back to sleep. Tonight, they just won’t settle.”

“Maybe they’re getting you prepared for the 2am feedings,” he says, before sitting behind me. “Listen, baby. When they wake you up in the middle of the night, you need to wake me up, too. There’s going to be two of them and you’re going to need help… okay?” I nod, but what about tonight? He stands and holds his hand out to me. “Let’s see if we can get these babies back to sleep.”

I take his hand and he leads me back to bed. After tucking me in, he slides down the bed so that his face is right next to the two little soccer players.

“Hello in there,” he says sweetly in his cool, baritone voice. The beans respond immediately. “This is your dad. You may not have heard a lot from me before, but you’re going to hear a lot from me now. This is not a good time to keep your mom awake, so I really need the two of you to settle down so that she can get some sleep.” He rubs my belly sweetly and they appear to be settling. The little traitors! I’ve been rubbing them for what seems like hours!

“Once upon a time, a long, long, time ago. There was this guy and his name was John Smith. He was about to get on a big ship and sail across the ocean to the new world. Now, to us, it ain’t so new, because it’s America, but back then, it hadn’t been discovered by the English, yet, so it was called he New World.” John Smith… he’s telling the beans the story of Pocahontas. I listen as he recites the cartoon to the best of his ability, his recitation as incorrect from the cartoon as the cartoon is from actual history. I fall asleep that night just as he is giving a detailed description of Grandmother Willow.

“A beautiful flowing willow tree placed on the edge of the river so that her roots planted firmly in the soil, but her branches flowed over the river’s edge creating a cocoon. She has a kind face melded into the tree’s sturdy bark and a sweet and comforting voice that bestows wisdom upon those fortunate enough to seek her counsel. Today’s lucky pupil is a young native called Pocahontas. She is a petite thing with lovely eyes and long, dark hair—very energetic and strong-willed, beautiful and freethinking, just like your mother…”

*-*

Gail and I had a wonderful time Thursday planning the menu for the party. Christian has secured two more cooks and a couple of servers to help out with the party as he’s certain that I will overdo it if he doesn’t insist that I have help. He’s right, of course.

Benardino “Barney” DiPignano AFTER his transformation

We load up the SUV’s on Friday morning and head to Roslyn, Washington. Christian, Gail and I ride with Jason and Chuck while Ben and Chance drive the SUV loaded with our luggage and food. During the ride, Christian tells me about the progress in Operation Wonder Asshole, as he calls it and lets me know that Barney is now DiPignano at his own request. He corrected me on Barney’s shrinking and informed me that DiPignano has shed his glasses and now wears suits and ties to work. According to Christian, he now looks more like a GQ model and, as it turns out, is “one cocky son-of-a-bitch.”

I never would have pegged him for cocky. He’s always been so sweet and polite. I mean, sure, he almost accused me of sabotaging Christian’s company, but that’s only because he was reading a computer program that was reading everyone’s faces in the room and he didn’t have all the information. I took it personally at first, but only because I was so sensitive about the whole thing. Once I realized what was going on, I completely understood his conclusions. He did clear me after all. I would like to think this whole thing doesn’t have anything to do with me, but I know better.

About an hour and a half east of Seattle in the beautiful hilly terrain is the Suncadia Resort. The vacation houses that Christian rented are actually beautiful luxury homes on a private cul-de-sac just outside of the resort. The three homes we rented are all together and the only homes on this cul-de-sac. Gail and I explore the house and the grounds while the men empty the SUV’s.

It’s even more beautiful than it was in the pictures. The great room has plenty of space to host our little party and there are so many rooms that everyone could have stayed here if they wanted. Christian was right on comfort issue as some of them would have had to sleep in bunk beds hidden in the trestle between the main house and the guest house. The backyards of all three houses open into the forest and the golf course. It’s really very beautiful and peaceful here and for one weekend, I get to forget about hackers and people looking to destroy my husband’s legacy and tear our family apart.

The two soccer players are extremely busy today with Mommy running to and fro setting things up for the party and preparing all of my favorite dishes—well, supervising the preparation of all my favorite dishes, anyway, in a beautiful gourmet kitchen. Mr. Grey has scolded me several times not to overdo it, so I’m forced to take it easy and delegate a lot of the duties. I can do that as long as these bimbos keep their eye on the food and off my husband. One of them ruined the bruschetta for staring at Christian. How do you ruin bruschetta? When the second tray of baguettes comes out overly browned and too hard to use, I just lose it.

“Baby, it’s okay. I’ll send Jason or Charles for more bread,” Christian says trying to appease me. She’s standing there with her head down and her hands clasped in front of her, looking all bruised like I’m some pampered wife abusing her over French bread.

“That’s not it, Christian,” I tell him while she’s standing there. “I can make my own bruschetta without a problem. It takes a minute or two to slice the baguettes, five minutes to brown and brush the bread, a few minutes to put the tomato and basil topping on and they’re done. She burned two loaves of French bread because she’s busy looking at you.”

Christian looks over at the blonde hussy who has the nerve to flutter her eyelashes at him while I’m standing there. Without another word, he pulls out his phone, calls up to the resort and asks if there’s someone else that can come to the house and help with the party preparations as the person they sent is so busy flirting with the host that she’s burning the food. She looks utterly crestfallen when Christian has Ben sit in the great room with her while we wait for her replacement to come. When her replacement arrives, a manager arrives with him.

Him… Christian is not pleased.

“I’m very sorry for the inconvenience, Mr. Grey,” the manager says. “I’ve provided four fresh loaves of French bread to replace the loaves Henrietta ruined.”

“Thank you,” I say, taking the French bread and going right to the kitchen. I don’t even want to be a part of the discussion. I don’t care if Henrietta leaves, the guy leaves, or they both leave. Christian is the one that wanted to hire help for today and I can’t even get someone to help me cook that won’t flirt with my husband. I’m just finishing slicing the first batch of baguettes when the young man comes into the kitchen. I guess it’s decided that he’s staying.

“Where do you need me, Ma’am?” he asks. I sigh.

“Please brush the oil onto these slices and put the in the oven for five minutes.” I stress the five so that I don’t get more burned bruschetta!

“Baby, you can let them handle it from here…” Christian tries to get me out of the kitchen.

“I’ll leave when my baguettes are browned,” I tell him firmly. “I agreed not to overdo it, Christian, but this is part of the fun of Food and Libations for me, and she almost ruined it. Burned French bread…” I say the last part with disgust under my breath. After a few minutes, Gail breaks the tension with her announcement.

“Well, you’ll be happy to know that the potatoes are finished and they are perfect!” Gail presents a large tray of our signature cheesy garlic smashed potatoes and they look utterly divine. My heart is a little lighter seeing her beautiful crusted creation and I smile widely.

“Thank you, Gail,” I say, actually getting a little misty. Am I really going to cry over potatoes?

“Okay, that’s it. I want you out of here, now. Gail, I trust you to make sure that everything is prepared to Ana’s specifications. I’m taking her to the deck for some not-so-public displays of affection,” Christian is dragging me from the kitchen.

“My baguettes!” I protest.

“Are browned perfectly, ma’am,” the young man shows me a tray of beautifully browned French bread. “I’ll make sure the other batch is exactly the same.” A tear falls from my eye.

“Thank you,” I whimper. He frowns.

“I’m sorry, ma’am. Did I do something wrong?”

“It’s not you,” Christian says. “It’s the babies.” He tucks me under his arm and leads me to a large chair on the back deck. Sitting down in the seat, he guides me to his lap and places a large Afghan over both of us. I weep a bit on his shoulder and when the sniffling is done, he places tender kisses on my cheek and neck that soon become more intimate and passionate. Before I know it, we’re necking like two teenagers. He can kiss so well. He’s rubbing my back and my thighs, my hips while I’m caressing his chest and his face. We kiss until our lips are numb and I feel much better about letting Gail carry on with the cooking.

I don’t know how much time has passed with me and my husband on the deck lost in each other’s kiss, but we soon decide that we should get ready for the party. I haven’t spent any real time with my friends for a while and I’ll be glad to see them all and catch up on what’s been going on in their lives.


A/N: 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

Becoming Dr. Grey: Chapter 4—I Belong to Anastasia Grey

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 4—I Belong To Anastasia Grey

CHRISTIAN

Much to our delight, the sales clerk that approaches us turns out to be the owner of the boutique. She closes up shop for an hour to let us peruse in peace. After we autograph the article for both ladies—which I find extremely ridiculous—Butterfly and the customer now held a willing captive go crazy on baby items and accessories. After a whole hour of “Isn’t this adorable” and “Oh my God, that’s so cute,” I am more than ready to leave this place. The shopping spree went off without incident and I got my precious cargo and our haul back to the SUV in one piece. I’m more than ready to eat when Butterfly suggests dinner at Canlis.

“Butterfly, go on in with Charles and get us a table,” I tell her when we get to the restaurant. “I have to make a call before it gets too late. I promise I won’t be long.”

“Duty calls,” she says with a smile. “Remember, you promised.” She’s shaking her finger at me and I kiss it tenderly before she exits the car. Once she and Charles are inside, I pull out the burner.

“I can’t say that this is a surprise,” Cholometes says after I identify myself. “I’ve been watching your little bread crumbs all over the goddamn mainframe.”

“Spare me your shit, Cholometes,” I hiss. “The only reason we’re talking right now is because I know that you’re not involved, because if you were, my men would be down there fucking you up right now.”

“They’d have to find me first,” he says snidely.

“They already have. Would you like a ping to your current location?” I nod at Jason and he texts Welch who quickly works his magic and Cholometes gets a notification on his fancy computing machine that tells him we know exactly where he is.

“Very good. Congratulations. Now why the fuck are you calling me?”

“Because I need people with special skills that you can get a hold of quickly. My guy needs a second—that means you.” He scoffs.

“You must be crazy to think I would help you!”

“No, I’m not, because I’m married to someone that you hold very dear. I know what kind of power she has over you because she has the same power over me. If I get hurt, she gets hurt, and you know that. You don’t want that any more than I do, so you are going to help me.”

“I fucking hate you, Grey!” he hisses.

“No you don’t,” I counter. “You don’t know me well enough to hate me. You hate that I have the woman you love and that’s why you’re going to help me.”

“Why should I? All I have to do is wait for your ‘House of Steel’ to fall down and then swoop in and come to the rescue,” he says, throwing my words back at me that I served him during our confrontation before the wedding.

“Yep, you could do that, except there’s one thing standing in your way. Anastasia loves me. I’ve made preparations so that no matter what happens to me and my ‘House of Steel,’ Ana will be very well taken care of. No matter if she is—or we are—living off my stashed away millions, once she finds out that you could have prevented any catastrophe in our lives and you refused because you were waiting for the opportunity to weasel into her life and her bed, how close do you think you’ll be able to get to her? Do you think she’ll really want anything to do with you? Now I need black ops. If you’ve been following my breadcrumbs, you know who my guy is. Yes or no?” There’s a long pause before he sighs and mumbles “Fucking Helen of Troy.”

“I’ll help you this time, Grey, but don’t you ever fucking come to me for help again,” he threatens. “I could watch you die slowly and never give a shit, but you’re right about one thing. I do love Ana. This will be the one gimme that you get from me and only because of her, but understand this. If you go down, I’m coming to get her and I don’t give a fuck what you tell her. So whatever this is, don’t fuck up!”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever.” I look at Jason. “Get Welch on the line. Tell him to call Colostomy.” I turn my attention back to the phone. “Your other line should be ringing soon. Answer it.” In a few seconds, his line rings and he disconnects the call without a word. I could do with or without the guy, but I know that he has the connections that Welch needs. Having one guy with those connections is fantastic, but the deeper you go in, the more validation you need—and I need answers. I need them before my children are born and I don’t have time to play games. I get out of the car and straighten my jacket.

“Sir,” Jason gets my attention before I walk into the restaurant. “You might want to wipe the sneer off your face before you see your wife.”

Oh shit! He’s right. The last thing I want to do is have to explain this conversation to the lovely Anastasia. I nod at him and do my countdown. Just when I’m calming, the burner buzzes in my pocket. It’s a text from Cholometes.

**How do you think Ana would feel if I told her about your little operation?**

This is why I didn’t want this asshole in the loop. I return his text from the burner.

**Who’s Ana and who is this?**

Now I have to wait for a moment to play this little game with him when I promised Butterfly that I wouldn’t be long.

**Don’t play games with me, Grey. Just remember I have one more ace in my pocket against you with this piece of information.**

Does he really think I’m that stupid that I would leave myself wide open without being able to take him down with me? I’ll let him know he’s wrong later. Right now, I have a beautiful woman waiting for me.

**Sir or Madam, I think you have entered the wrong number. I’m not Gray and I don’t know who Ana is, so please check the number you’re texting.**

I deliberately misspell my name to throw him off the track. I wait for two more minutes for the text that I know is coming.

**That’s okay, Grey. I know you’ve got my message.**

Now to fuck with him. Of course, you’ve got the right number, but check in your phone to see what number you have for me.

**Fine. Okay. Have it your way. I’m Gray. I got your message. Will you please stop texting me now?**

It takes a little longer for him to respond this time, but he does.

**This isn’t Christian Grey?**

I’m laughing like a kid.

**Christian Grey? Are you serious? Is this some kind of joke? Bill, if this is you, I’m kicking your ass when I see you, dickwad!***

He’s really mulling over who he’s talking to, now.

**Sorry. I did text the wrong number.**

One more little jab…

**Sure you did, Bill. I’m kicking your ass when I see you. I’m blocking you from my phone now, you fucking jerk!**

“Sir?”

Jason has parked the car and has joined me at the door of Canlis. “Whatever you did, it worked. You’re grinning like a mule!” I laugh and pat him on the back.

“Let’s go join my wife.” I say as I take the battery out of the burner.

“Well, it still took a long time, but not as long as I thought,” she says when I sit next to her.

“I’m sorry, I just have to call in some extra hands on the issue we’ve been discussing, and it couldn’t wait.”

“Well, I have you for dinner, so no harm, no foul.” I kiss her hand and slide into the booth next to her. I pull her close to me.

“I don’t like keeping secrets from you…” She tries to turn to look at me, but I hold her still. “This hacker situation is about to come to a head. I’m sure of it. There are certain situations that will need delicate handling, for lack of a better word, and I had to call someone for help.” She sighs.

“Who?” she says, calmly.

“Cholometes.” She does a mini-bobble-head and turns to face me.

“Brian!?” she hisses violently, but quietly. “Christian! What if he’s the one behind all of this?” And she has shocked me again.

“Do you think he could be doing this?” I ask, even though I already know the answer.

“Of course, he could!” she snaps. “Before I met you, he was my Alex Welch!” She’s angrier that she thinks I didn’t suspect Cholometes than she is that I contacted him.

“Yes, but what could he gain from it? You’re my wife. If he hurts me, he hurts you.” She ponders the thought for a moment.

“Yeah, there is that,” she says with uncertainty. “Maybe he has some skewed idea that he can rescue me when the shit all falls. I don’t know. I’m just trying to cover all bases. Maybe I’m being ridiculous.” She takes a sip of her water.

“You’re not being ridiculous, Baby. You’re being logical, sensible, and wise, and that’s one of the reasons I love you so much.” I turn her face to me, lift her chin and kiss her gently. “We’ve thought of all of these contingencies and he was cleared before I called him, but I know that he would love nothing more than to see me fail so that he can be the hero and save the day. I know how he feels, Ana. I’m so hopelessly in love with you that I will do anything—and I do mean anything—to keep you safe and to be able to love you. I know how it feels to be so crazy in love that nothing else is more important than that person. I don’t like the guy because he wants what’s mine, but I understand how he feels.” She strokes my cheek gently.

“Then I feel extremely bad for him,” she says softly, “because if he were so foolish as to do something like that, he would find that it would all be for nothing. He would find that I am totally and completely devoted to you and incurably in love with you. He would find that I intend to be Mrs. Grey until I breathe my last breath, and there’s nothing that he could do to change that.” She kisses me softly. “Absolutely nothing.”

“I love you so much,” I tell her while gazing into her eyes. “Please forgive me if I ever made you feel otherwise.”

“Only if you forgive me,” she whispers, molding her body as close to mine as she can in the booth.

“Then we forgive each other,” I whisper back.

“We forgive each other,” she agrees before kissing me deeply. I momentarily forget where we are and indulge in one of the most passionate public displays of affection we’ve ever had, and we’ve had a few. We’re interrupted by the gentleman at the next table clearing his throat. I raise my head to make sure it’s not Jason.

“Shut up and kiss your date,” I say matter-of-factly, causing Butterfly to giggle and a few other guys at other tables to actually kiss their dates.

Dinner was magnificent—artichokes and foie Gras, Muscovy duck and crème brûlée. I don’t think we ate a bite off our own forks. The entire time, I just remember thinking that I could spend the entire night just gazing into her lovely eyes. When we get back to Escala, we spend the rest of the evening in front of the fire, nude, making the connection that we first made in Greece. We hadn’t done it in so long and it was so necessary. There was no sex, just our connection, and it was different this time—so much more powerful—because there were two other souls involved. By the time it was over, we were waterlogged from crying, exhausted, and content. We fell asleep right there on the floor in the Great Room.

We’re awakened on Sunday morning by Jason clearing his throat. This time, it is Jason. I’m wrapped around Butterfly and we’re both wrapped in the throw from the sofa. The fire is still going and I almost hate to know why he woke us.

“What is it?” I say in my morning voice.

“We have company, Sir?” he says.

“Who?”

“Brian Cholometes.” My eyes widen.

“He’s here?” I ask in dismay.

“He’s downstairs, Sir.” Shit. He’s making good on his threat to tell Butterfly about our plan. I gently rouse her. She stretches and I cover her breast before she exposes one of them.

“Baby, we’ve got company.”

“Hmmm?” she raises her head. “Oh, hi Jason. Sorry about that.”

“No, Baby, Cholometes is downstairs.” She takes a moment to focus her eyes.

“What?” she says uncertainly. “What time is it?” I look over at Jason.

“It’s about eight o’clock, Sir,” he says after looking at his watch.

“Eight o’clock on a Sunday morning!?” Butterfly exclaims sleepily. “He doesn’t even live in Seattle. This better be important!” Without thinking, she throws the blanket off her naked body, jumps up and marches nude to the bedroom. The entire time, Jason is trying to shield his eyes and look anywhere but at Butterfly.

“She’s pissed,” I say to Jason. He swallows.

“I think she is,” he replies.

“Did you see anything?”

“Just the stomach, Sir.”

“That’s the best part!” I bark.

“Sorry, Sir.”

“Well, you might want to turn your head, because I’m about to do the same thing.” I throw the blanket off of me and march toward the bedroom. “Leave everything where it is and let that asshole in.”

When I get to the bedroom, Butterfly is already in the shower. I’ll take one later. I don’t want this asshole wandering around my home while I’m indulging in Butterfly kisses. I grab a pair of black jeans and a T-shirt and come back to the Great Room just in time to see him examining our clothes from yesterday strewn about and our makeshift bed on the floor in front of the still-crackling fireplace.

“What are you doing here?” I say, walking over to where he and Jason are standing.

“I bet you had fun with that little cell phone gag, didn’t you… Bill?” he answers.

“Again, I ask, why are you in my home?”

“Just wanted to discuss some things about our little arrangement.” And hopefully get a glimpse of my wife.

“We don’t have an arrangement,” I tell him. “You can talk to Welch. You don’t have to speak to me at all and you certainly don’t need to be in my home.”

“Afraid Ana will find out exactly what you’re up to?” he says. “Tell me, why would you put yourself in this position? I’m sure she wouldn’t approve of your tactics. Even if you come out of this with your hands squeaky clean, I still have that bit of information to hold over you. Black Ops is no small deal, Mr. Grey.”

“Did you think I would come to you and expose myself that way without having something equally as damaging on you?” I say calmly.

“What could you possibly have on me?” he says in a disbelieving tone.

“Did you forget you declared war on me right after our engagement was announced? That you stood at a bar at a wedding that I hosted and told me that you had every intention of taking my then-girlfriend from me? Did you honestly think that I would call the man who covets my most prized possession for help and not have a bargaining chip or an ace in the hole besides the fact that you’re in love with my wife? I mean, seriously, have we met?” I can see the wheels turning as he ponders these questions and I close the space between us.

“I hate to burst your bubble, Brian, but I’ve already told her.” It’s a partial truth. “I leave no stone unturned. Everybody had to be cleared of involvement in this situation, including my own staff… and my wife. She wasn’t allowed into Grey House for about a month.” These is all half-truths, but it works out to my advantage. “If you don’t believe me, ask her yourself. My head of IT almost lost his job for erroneously announcing that she could have been involved with all of this.”

“How do you know she’s not?” he goads.

“Oh, lots of ways, the least of which is that she’ll get more if she divorces me than this asshole will every hope to see. Also not so important on the list is that she has been checked out, and she’s clean. But the most important thing is that she loves me, and I know it, beyond a shadow of a doubt. All of the checking was just to satisfy the rest of the parties involved. Ana’s mine, heart and soul. She knows that if she wants it, she can have it. She doesn’t have to steal it, but she loves me so much that she won’t even consider it. Any other questions?”

“You’re awfully sure of yourself,” he says.

“Oh, no, no, no. I’m sure of her,” I respond. “Now again, I ask…”

“Christian, I’m having a horrible time managing this and it’s getting on my nerves. Can you do it for me, please?”

Before I can get the words out of my mouth, Butterfly comes breezing into the Great room. She’s wearing this beautiful sheer blue maxi dress that halters around her neck and makes it look like she’s floating. Her hair is still wet and she’s carrying a small towel. She looks frustrated.

“What’s wrong, Baby?” I say, frowning.

“This!” she says, pointing to her hair. “I’m just trying to braid it, but I can’t seem to get it right and I’m getting more and more irritated.” Even grumpy and irritated, she looks delicious. Her skin has regained that pregnancy glow and that swollen body has “Christian Grey” written all over it. I gesture for her to come to me and turn around so that I can braid her hair.

“Why are you so irritated, Ana?” Cholometes chimes in, looking for an opportunity to start some discord. When Butterfly gets over to me, I see that her waist-length hair is sticking to her bare back as this dress drops all the way down to just above her ass. It’s decent, but only just. The garden is on full display, and from the looks of it. She’s not wearing a bra or any underwear. My wife is smoking fucking hot!

Down, Greystone.

“We were up late last night,” she says. “I thought we would have the opportunity to sleep in, but I guess duty calls.” There’s no salt in her voice, but you can tell that she’s not really happy about having her sleep disturbed.

“I’m sorry for breaking your rest, Ana. I only needed Christian. I didn’t need for you to wake up.”

Long braid“I had to wake up,” she retorts. “I’m more comfortable when he’s next to me. Besides, we were sleeping right there.” She points to the pile of pillows and the throw that made our makeshift bed. Even my boxers and her bra and panties are still in clear view. I’ve just finished her super-long braid and secured it with a ponytail holder when she takes to straightening our mess.

“Butterfly, I’ll do that,” I try to stop her and start picking up our clothes.

“I’m fine, Christian. I’m pregnant, not incompetent!” She shoots. Then she freezes and turns around to me. “I’m sorry,” she says, putting her hand on my cheek. “I shouldn’t have snapped at you.”

“It’s okay, Baby,” I say, turning to kiss her hand. “I know you wanted to rest.” She smiles at me and picks up the pillows to arrange them on the sofa.

“So, Brian, we haven’t seen you in a while… well, I haven’t. How are you?” she asks.

“I’m doing well, thank you. Ray and Amanda came down to Montesano last weekend and brought little Harry. He’s a big boy.”

“Yes, he is, and handsome just like his father,” she says with a smile. I’ve finished gathering our things and she holds her hands out to take them. “So what brings you here on a Sunday morning? Usually, when someone shows up on Sunday morning, it’s bad news. Has something gone wrong with the operation?”

Whoa! She cut right to the chase. I almost want to laugh. If he tells her the whole story, I’ll just deal with it.

“You… know about this?” he asks incredulously. She frowns.

“Of course, I do!” she says like it’s obvious. “This is our life! His life’s work, our children’s safety. He was remiss to tell me at first and I understand why, but I know now and he’s been thoroughly chastised. So what part do you play in all of this?” A small smile forms on his face. He knows that she doesn’t know about his role in this, but what she says next shocks us both.

“Since for years you were my Alexander Welch, I’m assuming that it’s something pretty big. I’m under no misconception about how the two of you feel about one another. So if you chose to bury the hatchet over this, it must be quite necessary. Because I’m well aware of your capabilities from the stories Daddy used to tell me—what he could anyway—if this is something dark and scary, I don’t want to know about it. I trust my husband’s judgment, and with him, you, and his security team on this, I know whatever it is, you’ll take care of it. Am I right?”

She looks him dead in the eye and waits for his answer. She took the wind right out of his sails without me having to say a word. I think she still believes he may have something to do with this whole thing. If she does, or even if she doesn’t, she just put him on notice.

“Of course, Ana,” he says softly. “We’ll take care of everything.” Yeah, sure, of course we will. I roll my eyes. “Something wrong there, Christian?”

“You tell me,” I say folding my arms. “You’re the one here on a Sunday morning.”

“I’m going to go and put these in the hamper,” Butterfly says, kissing my cheek. He watches her walk away and I know he’d throw her over his shoulder and carry her out of here if he could.

“Did you make her do that?” he snaps.

“Do what?” I hiss back.

“That tattoo on her back! That must have been agony!”

“She had that tattoo the last time you saw her!” I retort. “And don’t you fucking dare try to call me to task on what’s going on with my wife. If I did or didn’t make her do that, it’s none of your goddamn business!” We’re glaring at each other when Butterfly comes back into the room.

“Um… did I interrupt something? I can leave.” She turns to leave.

“Not a thing,” I reply. “A hiccup in the operation, although I think we’ve gotten it under control, or am I mistaken?” I shoot the question at him.

“No,” he says flatly. “Welch and I have secured the necessary resources. Just let us know when and where you’ll need them.”

“How much notice?” I nearly hiss.

“The more, the better, but six hours should be enough,” he says, his facial expression never changing.

“You could have relayed this message through Welch,” I inform him. “What’s the reason for coming to my home on a Sunday morning?”

“As you know, certain things need to be relayed in a certain manner, which is why you called me from a burner yesterday.” Shit, if he knew it was a burner, won’t our Wonder Asshole know, too? “Don’t piss your little panties, Grey. Your guy knows what he’s doing. I knew because it was you and that’s not your number. The whole ‘Bill’ thing was a nice touch, too.”

“Bill?” Butterfly asks.

“Just a little private joke we had at the end of our call,” I tell her.

“Anyway, I needed to discuss some things with Welch. Setting up the resources required in-person contact. Since I was in the neighborhood, I thought I would drop by and bring you up to date as well as see how Ana was doing.”

“You could’ve called, or waited until a more reasonable hour,” I tell him.

“Well, he’s here now,” Butterfly says, giving the sofa pillows one final fluff and turning off the fireplace. “The last time you two were together, you were pissing all over each other, talking about breadcrumbs and stuff. Speaking of which, I’m hungry. What would you like for breakfast?” she says to me.

“You’re cooking?” I ask. She nods. “You know you don’t have to. I’m sure Gail would be…”

“Christian…” she interrupts me in her scolding tone. I hold my hands up in surrender. “You know I love to cook and weekends are the only opportunity I get to do it unless I kick Gail out of her kitchen. I’m not that pregnant yet, Mr. Grey, now what do you want for breakfast?” There’s my Butterfly.

“Surprise me. I want something delicious and different.” She ponders the thought for a few moments.

“I think I can accommodate that,” she says before kissing me on the nose and floating off towards the kitchen. “Brian, have you had breakfast?”

“Yes, I have, thank you, Ana.”

“I can’t coax you into staying to have a real meal? I know you had some fast food or something. It’s too early for you to have eaten a proper meal.” You can coax him into anything, Butterfly. He’s salivating where he’s sitting. I smile inwardly. I’m loving every minute of it.

“Go on and set another place, Butterfly,” I say to her. “I’m sure Brian would love to taste what you’re cooking.” I turn my gaze to him and smirk.

“That’s it. The man of the house has spoken. You’re staying. I promise it won’t take long. You guys can actually go to the table if you like.” Off to the kitchen she goes. I know this Ana. She has something to prove. I wonder if Cholometes knows this Ana.


ANASTASIA

Okay, so Brian’s here on a Sunday morning. Something bad or big is happening. I’ll ask Christian about it later. I hope this isn’t another pissing contest. I think “due in February” pretty much has me marked.

I set the table for three and quickly put a carafe of orange juice and a pitcher of ice water on the table and summon the boys again.

“Sit down,” I scold them. “You’re making me nervous standing there at the door. Why didn’t you come in and sit down in the first place? Are you expecting Green Berets to come swinging through the glass wall?” They both freeze and look at each other… and I don’t like this.

I examine them for a moment, then turn around and silently go back to the kitchen. Suddenly, I’m afraid. What are they doing that requires collaboration between Brian and Alex? Are we really in some kind of danger? Christian comes into the kitchen and reads my face.

“It really is something like that, isn’t it?” I ask.

“Nobody’s coming here, Ana…” he begins.

“You know what I’m asking!” My voice is shaking and I’m ready to blow.

“Yes, Baby, it is.” I brush past him before the words are out of his mouth. “Ana!” I march right up to Mr. Cholometes and get in his face. I know what he wants and he needs to know how I feel.

“Swear to me that you’ll keep my husband safe!” I shoot at him. He frowns at me. He’s shocked, I think.

“I’m fine, Butterfly…” Christian tries to interject.

“He’s not in any danger,” Brian retorts.

“Swear!” I yell. “On our friendship! On my father! On your life! Swear you’ll keep him safe!” I’m losing it. I’m feeling hysterical. I don’t trust him right now and if something happens to my husband…

“Ana… I…” He’s not swearing. He’s not swearing.

“Swear to me!” I scream. “If anything happens to him, I’ll never forgive you!” I hear Jason’s voice and hurried footsteps somewhere behind us. I’m shaking. I feel the fury and the fear rising in me faster than I can control it. “Swear to me, goddamnit!” I scream shaking my fists and stomping my bare feet. “Swear to me!”

“I’ll keep him safe, Ana,” he vows. “Nothing’s going to happen to him, I swear.” I hear the words and my resolve collapses. I spin around and wrap my arms around Christian’s neck at tight as I can. I’m crying from my chest. It’s painful. Nothing can happen to him. He can’t leave me. Oh, God, please! Please!

“Is this what you wanted?” Christian asks him coldly, lifting me into his arms.

“You know I didn’t want this,” he shoots back.

“But this is what you got! You wanted her to know. Now, she knows. She knew everything else, but she didn’t know this. Now, she knows. Are you happy now?” There’s silence for a moment. “Is this what you want? Because this is what you’ll get if something happens to me!”

“No! No!” I weep into his neck, holding on tight and praying that this whole conversation is rhetorical.

“You can’t break this, Brian. Try though you may, you can’t break it. Hate me all you want. Come at me with all you’ve got. Help me or don’t, but I love her… and she loves me. I’m sorry you didn’t get what you wanted. It was never personal. I just love her. She’s my everything. And as you can see, she loves me. You can’t break this.” There’s no malice in his voice, just earnestness. He holds me firmly and tries to quiet me gently. His warm breath on my neck calms me a bit.

“Ana,” Brian’s voice is right behind me, “he’ll be safe. Nothing’s going to happen to him. I… I couldn’t do that to you and your children. I swear he’ll be safe. You have my word.”

“Thank… you…” I weep, still clinging to my man, my love, my lifeline.

“I should leave,” he says, calmly. “I’m sorry I bothered you.” I hear the familiar clicking of expensive shoes across the marble before the door opens and closes. Christian takes me to the sofa and sits down with me on his lap.

“I love you… I love you… I love you…” I repeat between shuddering breaths. I can’t lose him. I’ll die if I lose him…

“Ssshh, it’s okay, Baby,” he soothes, but it’s not okay. It’s not okay until they catch this fucker and I know it. I’m having flashbacks of that psycho blonde pulling the trigger in his office and me thinking I had lost my love.

“No… no…” I weep, pulling him closer. I know I must be choking him, but I can’t help it. I can’t let him go. He might get hurt.

“Call my mom. Tell her Ana’s having a panic attack and I don’t know how to make it stop.” A panic attack. That’s what this is. How do I stop it? Are things really as bad as I’m thinking they are? Yes! Yes, they are!

I can’t stop crying. I want to stop, but I can’t. My body is getting exhausted. Moments later—or minutes or hours, I don’t know—someone pushes an ear bud into my ear.

“Ana? Ana, can you hear me?” It’s Grace. Her voice is soothing.

“Ye-ye-yes,” I manage to get out.

“Tell me what’s wrong,” she coaches.

“Chr-Christian… not… s-safe,” I choke.

“Christian’s not safe?” she asks.

“N-no,” I stutter.

“Why is Christian not safe?”

“B-bad p-p-people.” I’m really getting tired now.

“Listen to me, Ana. Christian is fine. He has a lot of people to protect him.” They didn’t protect him before. That crazy bitch shot Jason. She almost killed him. If I hadn’t been there…

“Shot… she… sh-shot J-J-Jason!”

“Oh shit! Mom, she’s having a flashback.”

“What brought this on?” Grace asks.

“Some issues at work. Nobody’s pulling a gun on me, but it’s enough to be a little scary.” Part of me is wondering how we can both hear her. He pulls the ear bud from my ear and talks to his mother. I’m tired now. I can’t stay awake. Am I fainting or falling asleep? Maybe both. Before I slip into whatever state of unconsciousness claims me, I hear him say, “I love you, too, Mom.”

I awake on his lap, still in the same position I fell asleep in. His arms are still around me and the fire is back on. His head is resting on the back of the sofa and he’s fast asleep, too.

He’s here. He’s safe. I’m feeling remnants of the fear I felt before I fell asleep, but nothing as detrimental as before. His rhythmic breathing comforts me and I straddle him, laying my head on his shoulder. He shifts his arms around my waist, but goes right back to his slumber. He looks so peaceful. His hair has grown a bit again and it falls back on the sofa, giving me a full unobstructed view of his face.

He’s beautiful. He takes my breath away.

I put my nose on his neck and inhale his scent deeply. Instant calm and relief flood my body and I indulge in another deep inhale. My lips replace my nose and I kiss his beautiful neck, again and again. He stirs a bit in his sleep, and then moans. I replace the loving pecks with open-mouthed kisses, tasting his skin and inhaling his scent. He groans in his chest as I continue to taste his neck. His arms tighten around my waist and I raise my head to look at him. Sleepy, lustful gray eyes examine me curiously.

HandsI reach behind me and grab his hands, placing them on either side of his head.

“Don’t move,” I whisper, and he’s stock still. While still gazing into his eyes, I bite his chin and run my tongue along his stubble. He gasps and his breathing changes. His mouth is open and he’s panting. I remember that he likes a little pain with his pleasure. My lips travel down to his neck and I sink my teeth into the soft flesh there. He stifles a cry, but gasps loudly, panting profusely and now balling his fists to keep from moving them.

I reach under his shirt and rake my nails down his chest. Again, he stifles a cry, but just barely this time. Without our usual tools, I have to improvise. I pull his shirt from his pants and examine his chest. Faint red welts are rising where I scratched him. I lick a bruise and stop at his nipple, lathing it with my tongue before pinching the meat sharply between my teeth.

“Ah!” He’s not successful in stifling his noise this time.

“Did I say that you could speak, Mr. Grey?” I chastise.

“No, Mistress,” he pants. “I’m sorry, Mistress!”

“Good. Now, keep quiet.” I bite his nipple again and he gasps. His mouth open, he’s panting like a thirsty puppy as I torment his torso with my lips and teeth, pink and red bruises everywhere. His dick is so hard and he’s so horny that there’s a small circle of wetness in his jeans where his throbbing dick is aching to get free and pre-cum has drenched the denim. I know I’m at risk of Jason or Gail coming out of their apartment, but I take my chances.

I slowly unbutton and unzip his jeans to find that he is going commando today. I reach into his jeans and find my prize, squeezing hard. He’s panting is louder now and his face is pained as he turns his hands around and grabs the back of the sofa.

“Do you want me to stop, Mr. Grey?”

“No… Mistress…” He can barely breathe. Good, because I don’t intend to. I squeeze harder and he’s trying not to squirm, his struggle painted all over his face. He’s throbbing hard in my hand and breathing louder and louder. He’s mine, all mine. He’s not allowed to get hurt or take stupid risks and I’m going to make sure that he remembers it.

I release his erection and let it lay on his stomach. Using my whole hand, I rub against it, up and down, up and down. He’s groaning in his chest and I can feel him fighting the urge to stroke against my hand.

“Whose is this?” I ask him.

“Yours… Mistress…” he breathes.

“That’s right!” I hiss. “And who do you belong to?” I ask as I wrap my hand around the head and stroke just the way he likes it.

“Gaahh! You… Mistress!” he gasps.

“Very good,” I say deepening the stroke. “What’s my name?”

“Anastasia!”

“Say it again!” I command, as I stroke his dick with one hand and work his jeans off his hip with the other. “Who do you belong to?”

“Anastasia!” he calls out.

“Say it!” I say, scratching his half-exposed hip with my free hand. He gasps long and hard and his leg jerks. “Who do you belong to?”

“Anastasia Grey!” he says, his voice tortured, his dick throbbing, and new welts rising on his hip. I manage to get his jeans past his pelvis so that his thighs are still restrained and I get in his face. Still stroking his shaft, I lick his lips. His mouth is still open and panting.

“Look at me,” I command him gently. He opens his eyes and his desire is evident. “Say it! Say ‘I belong to Anastasia Grey.’” He blinks twice, then takes a deep breath.

“I belong to… Anastasia Grey,” he breathes, trying hard to control his passion.

“Again!”

“I belong to Anastasia Grey,” he says, all in one breath, his voice pained.

“And don’t you forget it!” I slide down his body, take his head in my mouth and suck hard. He whimpers loudly and I know he can’t avoid it because it’s been at least a month since he’s felt my mouth on his dick. He’s holding his breath more than he’s breathing now, and his dick is starting to get that veiny pinkness that means orgasm is imminent. I love Christian’s dick. I love the way it feels, the way it looks, the way it tastes. I hold his balls tight, signaling to him that he can’t come, and lick his dick from base to tip, over and over again. I watch the veins pulsing and feel the texture against my tongue. His breathing is out of control as I lick and lick, watching his shaft shine with my saliva. It starts to jerk on its own and I can feel the muscles in his perineum start to contract.

“Ah, ah, ah,” I warn. I know if he gets too far, he can’t talk himself back.

“Yes Mistress! Yes Mistress!” I know that’s his way of fending off his orgasm, but I also know it’s agony because Little Grey is ready to blow. He’s growling, trying to control his orgasm. His body is trembling and he can’t stop it. I’m so hot that I can feel the temperature change and the cool wetness between my legs. Once the contracting stops and the throbbing slows, I climb aboard and slide down his shaft.

He groans a sorrowful moan and I know that if I move now, the party’s over. I have to keep still, though it’s hard—literally.

“Tell me what you feel,” I breathe in his ear. He takes several deep breaths before he speaks.

“It’s hot,” he whispers. “Very hot. It’s wet and… tight… like a… grip… squeeze.”

“So if I move right now, you would come.”

“Yes… Mistress…” he breathes, and I feel him throbbing inside of me. I can’t take it anymore. I have to move.

“Don’t. Come.” I command him as I start my rhythm. “Ah!” My rise is fast! I want him badly. “Don’t come.” I command again.

“Yes Mistress!” he hisses between clenched teeth.

“Listen to me,” I growl. “You are not allowed to take chances. This is my body. This belongs to me. You follow instructions and you stay safe. You are not allowed to take chances, and you are not allowed to get hurt. Do you understand?”

“Yes Mistress!” he whispers.

“Say it!”

“I am not allowed… to take chances,” he repeats. “This is your body… this… body belongs… to you…” He’s fading fast. He’s going to come any minute. “I must follow… instructions and… stay safe… I…” He stops and grinds his teeth, grunting in his chest for a few moments before he continues. “I am not allowed to take chances and I am not allowed to get hurt!” He spit the last part out quickly and my libido just shot through the roof. This atomic blast is about to happen and I can’t stop it.

I grind to a melodious rhythm, rocking backward and forward on his deliciously throbbing and hardening cock. Sweat drenches his forehead and hairline and I can’t imagine how many muscles it takes for him not to explode. I need him to touch me. I need…

“How does it feel… Mr. Grey?” I taunt as I actually feel my orgasm rising in my fucking ribcage.

“Hot… friction… burning… pain… ple-ease, Mistress… please…” He’s panting is out of control. I put my hands on his chest again and steady myself.

“Grab it, Mr. Grey!” I command him. I’m about to come. “Grab it hard and squeeze.” He grabs my ass like a drowning man grabbing a life-preserver and I detonate, my muscles squeezing and my hips grinding mercilessly into his.

“Mistress! Please! I can’t! I can’t… control… wings! Wings! Wings!”

“Come for me,” I whisper. I dig my nails into his chest and bite down hard on his wing, full intent on leaving a dark, burgundy mark for him to see when he leaves the house tomorrow. I suck and suck and suck until…

“Mmmmmmmmggaaaaaaahhhh!” He cries out in agony it seems. He tried to hold his orgasm, but it was no use. He used his sexual safeword and I didn’t stop, signaling him that it was okay to come—but I know he wanted verbal permission, so I let him enjoy the wave.

“Yes!” I whisper. “Give it to me! It’s mine! Only mine!” His orgasm goes on and on and on, his body quivering, his member throbbing and pumping, and his eyes producing orgasmic tears—for the first time, I think. He’s crying out almost like a wounded animal and I half expect Jason to come running to his rescue. If he does, he’s going to get a big surprise. I pick another spot on his neck and bite, and suck, as he quivers through his orgasm and aftershocks.

After I don’t know how long, his body finally relaxes. His mouth is hanging open and he’s breathing wildly. I stroke his head and face, drenched in his sweat. His eyes are closed and his head is still lying back on the sofa. I kiss his neck, chest, and cheeks over and over again as he repeats the mantra…

“I belong to Anastasia Grey…”
“I belong to Anastasia Grey…”
“I belong to Anastasia Grey…”

*-*

I haven’t been in the office in quite some time since I’m only down to a handful of patients. Marilyn is working at Helping Hands with me more often and other times, helping me keep my life in some kind of order. Today, I see one patient and then we’re off to Helping Hands.

I look up from what I’m working on and Chuck is standing in the doorway of my office. His face is impassive, but I know something is not quite right. I take off my glasses.

“Chuck? What is it?” Did something happen to Christian? My father? Little Harry? Tell me before I go batshit.

“You’ve got a visitor, Ana.” Um… okay. Who is it? Valerie? The President? Elvis?

“Yes?” I ask expecting.

“She says her name is Camilla Johannson.” I know this name should mean something to me and Chuck’s expression has me feeling a whole lot nervous.

“Who is she, Chuck?” He takes a deep breath.

“I’m told that she’s the reason that Edward David left Cedar Rapids,” he says flatly.

She’s what?

She’s…

I gasp loudly as realization dawns. She’s the one that David beat half to death and couldn’t go back to his hometown. I cover my mouth to prevent any sound from coming out.

“What is she doing here?” I whisper feverishly. “What does she want?!”

“She says she wants to talk to you. She’s willing to submit to a search if you think it’s necessary. Marilyn has agreed to witness the search.” I twist my mouth. I have no idea what she would want with me. We’ve never met. David is locked away now and can’t get to either of us. My only fear would be that she would be some kind of sick, scorned lover coming to take revenge. I instinctively touch my baby bump to caress my children growing there. “I can tell her to leave, Ana.”

“Do you think she wants to harm me?” I ask, softly. “We don’t know each other.”

“That’s it. I’m telling her to leave.” He makes for the door.

“No,” I stop him. “Send her in, but you come in with her. Stay close to me. I don’t know what she wants.” He examines me for a moment, then nods before leaving my office to get Camilla. I take a deep breath and prepare myself for her arrival.

Chuck comes back into my office with a petite woman with brown hair—not as dark as mine, but almost. We’re nearly the same height, but she’s taller than I am. Our features are very similar and from a distance, one could mistake her for me and me for her. It’s creepy. It’s like… oh my God!

“Hi again, Ana,” she says softly as Chuck moves quickly to my side.

“You!” I exclaim. “You! He said… you said…”

“…that I was his sister. Yes. It was easy since we were both from the same hometown.” I sink into my seat. It was Camilla all along, pretending to be Edward’s sister… all those years ago when we were living together. “I know you must be wondering why I’m here…”

“…And why you were there!” I exclaim, and I know that she knows what I’m talking about. Chuck moves even closer to me and I’m hoping that this won’t be another “jump in front of the bullet” situation.

“I didn’t believe you were the same person,” she says, examining me. “You seemed so small and… powerless the last time that I saw you. It had to be four or five years ago…”

“Six,” I say, a little more forcefully than I intended. She puts her hand up.

“I’m not here to cause any trouble, Ana. Mrs. Grey. I just wanted to look into the face of the person that finally took that bastard down and say thank you.” She stares at me without blinking as she says the words. I’m stunned for a moment. I don’t quite understand all of this. Six years ago, I came back to the apartment that I shared with Edward and found her there. He introduced her as his sister, yet they seemed so uncomfortable around each other. Now I know why. “I’m sure that I owe you an explanation…”

“You don’t owe me anything,” I say, sharply. Why am I feeling animosity towards this woman right now? She hasn’t done anything to me. If anything, she’s a victim just like I was. She examines me for a moment, and then nods.

“This was a bad idea,” she says. “I’m sorry I bothered you,” and she turns to leave. In three seconds before she gets to the door, I feel like shit.

“Wait!” I call to her before she leaves. I shake my head as if to rid myself of a bad thought. “It’s been a rough year… couple of years… as you can probably imagine. Please, don’t leave. Have a seat. Forgive my rudeness.” I gesture to the seats in front of my desk. She reluctantly sits in one of the chairs. “I’m sorry. You have to know how awkward this is for me. I have no idea why you’re here or… how you even found me.”

“I… followed the trial. I’ve followed all things Edward David since he left Cedar Rapids.” I find that strange. If he had raped and beaten me, I would definitely not want to follow his life—which is exactly why I didn’t know what the hell was going on with the Green Valley gang until Christian decided to dig into it.

“May I ask why you would want to follow his life?” I ask her.

“To make sure that he didn’t come back,” she says, flatly. That makes sense.

“Okay… but why did you come here all those years ago?”

“He called me.” He called her? Why the hell did he call her after what he did to her? “You know exactly who I am, don’t you?” she asks. The look of horror on my face must have given me away. I sigh.

“Unfortunately, yes I do,” I respond. Her eyes widen.

“He told you?” she asks, aghast. I shake my head.

“No. I’m married to one of the most powerful men in the country. No one gets near him without a background check. He ran one on me, which led to him running one on Edward. Your name came up.” She shakes her head.

“I thought that was so… hidden. Nobody was supposed to know about it. That was the whole idea of him leaving.” She’s still shaking her head while she’s speaking.

“My husband has ways of finding information that isn’t really public,” I tell her. “Edward lied to me about everything but his name. I had no way of knowing who I was really dealing with until it was… too late.” I shiver thinking about being cuffed to that damn bed on Vashon Island again.

“I know,” she says mournfully. “He very handsome and charming, but deep down, he’s really a monster.” Her head is down and she quickly wipes away a tear.

“Why did you come, Camilla?” I ask. “There’s nothing in the world that would have made me come to Edward had I suffered the same thing you had.” She raises her head to me.

“I came for you,” she says. For me? What the hell? “Edward told me that he had met someone that looked just like me, but that she wasn’t me. He tried to convince me that he still loved me and that you were just a replacement, but he was talking that same crazy talk he did right before he snapped.” She shivers this time. “There’s something really wrong with him—like he really doesn’t know what he’s doing until he’s done it. He really is a sick bastard, but that doesn’t give him the excuse to do the things that he did. I don’t know what’s wrong with him, Ana… but I loved him. I loved him so much.”

“I did, too,” I lament, “but what do you mean by ‘you came for me?’”

“I was sure by his tone of voice and demeanor that he was about to snap again. I don’t know why or what had happened between the two of you that set him off.” I wouldn’t be able to tell her. My relationship with Edward David was one ongoing nightmare. I don’t know what phase of the nightmare we were in when she showed up. “I didn’t want what happened to me to happen to you… to any other girl. So I screwed up my courage and came to Seattle. I let him know that I still didn’t want him and that I still had the pictures of what he did to me. Even though I couldn’t prosecute him, I could still ruin his reputation. It was enough at the time to make him heel. I don’t know what happened after that.”

“After that, he cheated on me profusely and shamelessly. No one woman anywhere would have been enough for him. There was—is—an ego monster inside of him like I’ve never seen before, and it has to be fed constantly. He only takes down if he senses immediate and imminent danger or if he can be physically restrained. Otherwise, that monster doesn’t take down. We had been broken up for four years and he was still treating me like a cheating girlfriend. I don’t know why he came back to me. It couldn’t be for the reasons that he said.”

“What were his reasons?” she asks.

“That he still loved me; that I was always the one and he just didn’t know it when he had me—the same old song and dance.”

“Ah, yes,” she hisses, “that deadly Edward David charm. He did the same thing to me. I still don’t know how he could possibly expect me to fall for that crap.” She rubs her entire face with both of her hands. “I know that you were hurt during your ordeal by that other guy, but you never said that Edward hit you. Why?”

“Because he never hit me,” I tell her. “He handcuffed me to the bed, but he never hit me. It was all Harris on that end.” She stares at me for a moment, chokes out a sob, and then begins to weep.

Um… okay.

Chuck picks up a nearby box of tissue and hands it to her. She takes a few and dries her face.

“I’m sorry,” she says. “It’s horrible what I’m thinking…” Do I want to know what she’s thinking? I’m a professional. I can handle it.

“What are you thinking?” I ask.

“I want… to know why… he beat me… and raped me… and not you,” she answers. Yeah, she’s right. That’s horrible. “Please, don’t be angry. It’s just that… I loved him. I loved him so much… and he was vicious and brutal. I’m not minimizing what happened to you, but can you even imagine seeing the man who you love coming at you violently with so much hatred in his eyes, so intent on harming you that it’s like he doesn’t see you any more? It’s like the whole thing went in slow motion. I could see his face before every hit, and the sex was agonizing. The whole ordeal didn’t last ten minutes, but I swear it felt like it lasted forever. After he came, he hit me so hard that he knocked me out cold and I woke up in the hospital. I’ve never gotten over it.”

I can’t even picture Christian coming at me with such violence and hatred in his eyes. I’ve seen the hatred in Edward that she described, but he’s never hit me and I have no idea why.

“Maybe it was guilt,” I tell her. She raises her eyes to mine. “Why he didn’t hit me, maybe it was guilt for what he did to you. Maybe he was right and he never got over you. I was just a replacement, an easy mark because I was so damaged. When he knew it was hopeless to get you back, to even get near you, he set his sights on me—but he couldn’t do to me what he did to you for fear of a repeat of the outcome, although he came frighteningly close.” It doesn’t explain what he did to that Phyllis girl, though. He was just as brutal with her as he was with Camilla. Why did I get spared?

“Camilla, why did he beat you?” She stares at me for a moment then drops her eyes again.

“He was in college. I was a graduating senior, doing all the stuff that seniors do. I was hanging out with some of the kids from my class one night—just hanging out, eating burgers and doing nothing—and he wandered up on us. I was so happy to see him, but he was so angry. There was a group of us, Ana. I wasn’t with anybody—it was a group. He dragged me away and confronted me about who I was with. I tried to tell him that we were all together and he accused me of trying to protect the guy, whoever he was. I kept telling him that there was no guy and he slapped me square across the face… hard. I thought my eyes were going to explode. I tried to get away and… well, you know the rest.” I shake my head.

“I know that it must have been rough. Have you talked to anyone about it? A counselor or therapist?” She shakes her head.

“No. I wasn’t allowed,” she said. “I wanted to go to the police and tell them everything, but my parents wouldn’t let me do it.”

“It’s not too late, Camilla,” I tell her. “He’s in jail now. They can’t stop you and he can’t get to you anymore. Talk to someone. It helps. I’m a therapist and I talk to a therapist.” She frowns at me. “Yeah, I know. Physician, heal thyself. Believe it or not, we can’t. Just like a doctor needs another doctor when they get sick, so do we.”

“How does that feel?” she asks. “Being a therapist and being able to solve other people’s problems and not really being able to solve your own?” I shrug.

“Human,” I respond. She nods.

“I’m going to be leaving now. Thanks for seeing me, Ana,” she says, rising from her chair. “I’ve got a little bit of closure now that he’s in jail. I’ll take your advice and talk to someone now. It’s well past time.” She picks up her purse and heads to the door with Chuck behind her. She stops and turns around. “Thanks for having the balls to put him away. Maybe if I had spoken up when it happened to me…” she trails off.

“Here’s your first session, Camilla,” I say coming around my desk and standing next to Chuck. “And this one’s on me. You can’t take responsibility for his actions. You had your reasons for not speaking up against him and they were important enough to you for you to stay quiet all these years. You didn’t make him the monster that he is. He did that all on his own. You couldn’t have prevented him from doing what he did to me, but now, he’s paying for his crime, and it’s time for you… for us to heal. Let this go. Find a good therapist and get on with your life.” I proffer my hand to her. She smiles and takes it.

“Thank you again for seeing me… and for putting that bastard away.”

“Believe me, the pleasure was all mine.” She put her purse on her shoulder and leaves the office. I go back to my desk and sit down.

“Call Christian. Tell him what just happened,” I tell him.

“He already knows by now,” Chuck says. I turn to him. “I told J before I came into the meeting. He’s probably already outside.”

“And he didn’t come charging in here like a stampede of wild horses? Not likely.” I roll my eyes.

“The day is young, Mrs. Grey,” Chuck says. “I’d say give him a few moments and he’ll come marching in here, reaching for you and your stomach and asking if you’re okay.”

“I’m surprised he wasn’t blowing up your cell phone.”

“He was,” Marilyn says as she walks into the office and hands Chuck his cell. I frown and look to Chuck for explanation.

“I needed my full focus to be on you and Ms. Johannson,” he says. “Marilyn was instructed to answer any calls or texts and give full disclosure, but I couldn’t be distracted.” Before the words are out of his mouth, my husband throws open the double doors and is standing there like the Terminator. Chuck and I both look at each other and back at Christian. Sure enough, he marches into my office and falls down on his knees next to my chair. With one hand on my stomach and the other on my cheek, he asks, “Are you okay?”

I’ve got to talk to him about being so damn predictable.


A/N: 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

Becoming Dr. Grey: Chapter 3—Coming Clean

I must not have made this clear, although I thought I did, but I’m going to try this again for anyone who may have missed it over the last 153 chapters of the last three books. 

I write my story for ME! I appreciate that people follow me and enjoy my story and may one day buy my books. I feed on the fact that people have such varying opinions and reactions to what I write. I understand that I can’t please everyone and that a lot of people may even be angry or negatively affected by what I write. That’s all okay. I had one comment of a long-time follower who kindly said “we agree to disagree.” I’m okay with that. This means that she didn’t agree with what I wrote, but she understood and accepted my right to write what I want. 

I won’t say this again–if you don’t like what I write to the degree that you feel the need to become preachy, disrespectful, or abusive, PLEASE LEAVE! No one is forcing you to read this story. Do NOT insult me or my characters or I will delete your comments–just LEAVE! 

People change. People’s lives change. That’s what happening to my couple. They’re going through hell, and there’s going to be more hell before this story is over. That’s real life! That’s how it goes. Nobody’s struggle is exactly the same and nobody deals with shit the exact same way. Hate it or love it, this shit really happens–in D/s relationships AND in regular relationships. Just because it doesn’t happen or didn’t happen YET in your relationships, don’t judge me or my fucking characters. Get over it or LEAVE.

This message is NOT for those who didn’t agree with what happened and respectfully–though passionately–voiced the opinion that they disagreed. This message IS to the preachy “people” who judged and disrespected my characters and my story when I have repeatedly asked you not to do that. I’ll admit that my blog is my testing ground for what may or may not work in my published book, but I won’t tell you again not to be vicious with your analysis. If you all notice, I’m responding to very few comments because I’m looking at what I’m reading and I’m just keeping quiet and letting people have their say. But know that when you come at me or my characters with claws, I’m coming back with fangs, hatchets, and Wolverine blades! 

That is all.

Same disclaimer applies–not all my characters, most belong to E. L. James, blah blah blah…

Chapter 3—Coming Clean

ANASTASIA

Sleeping on the floor at the Mercer house was more serious than I thought. My back is in serious pain and nothing seems to be helping it. Christian has procured every combination pregnancy back brace/support belt that he could find. By Friday morning, I finally settle on one that eases my aching bones.

It’s a good thing, too, because Mr. Grey has lifted the ban on Grey House and wants me to come to the office with him. Grace seems a little chilly over the last couple of days and although I’m not sure exactly what happened, I know that she and Christian had some kind of disagreement. Bearing that in mind as well as the damage that I’ve already done, I opt to wait until Monday to go into Helping Hands since there’s really nothing that requires my immediate attention.

I’m wearing a white, long-sleeved button-down coat dress with black trim and buttons. My style of choice has been the barrel curls over my shoulder since it’s easy to do and to maintain. The support belt holds my back straight and pushes my belly up, so even though it’s easier for me to walk, I look very pregnant. I did opt to retire my sky-high stilettos for three and four-inch pumps. I couldn’t lose my high heels completely as I’m clumsier in flats.

“I don’t know if I want to take you to the office today,” Christian says from behind me while retrieving the clasp I’m struggling with.

“Why not?”

“I almost killed a deal a while back because some assholes were talking inappropriately about you, and today, you look absolutely amazing. I’m not sure that I want to share you.” He kisses the exposed part of my neck. God, I’ve missed this so much.

“Only if you stay home with me,” I say softly, closing my eyes. I’m relishing any attention he gives me as I have been starving for it for so long. He kisses my neck again.

“Are you ready?” I nod and we leave the bedroom.

*-*

“Ladies and gentlemen, I’m sure that many of you already know, but for those of you that may not, this is my wife—Dr. Anastasia Steele-Grey.”

I’m introduced to a room full of people, some of whom I know and some of whom I’ve never met. My attention is immediately drawn to the fact that James is here. Why is James here?

“I’m calling this meeting because it is now necessary to take the next step our operation. The people in this room have all been cleared by my security team and your assistance and attention is needed for a very delicate situation. This is a need-to-know basis only. Staff outside of this room is not privy to any of the information that will be discussed here today. Any potential leaks or security breaches will be sealed with immediate termination and possible prosecution of corporate espionage. Is this unclear to anyone within the sound of my voice?”

What the hell is going on? Various “no sirs” can be heard around the room and I must say, he has my full attention now.

“Good. By now you all know Barney, our head of IT. He’s been working closely with an outside consultant, Mr. James Flemings, on an issue very detrimental to the future of GEH and more specifically, myself and my family. I will turn the floor over to them, now. Mr. Flemings.”

I try not to look stunned while James takes the floor while Barney is in front of a laptop at a table next to him. His fingers are moving madly over the keyboard as James begins to speak.

“I realize that this seems all very cloak-and-dagger, and I’m hoping that I can explain to you all what’s going on.” Christian takes the seat next to me and puts his arm protectively around me. I finally get to know what’s been going on at Grey House. “Lights, please.”

The room goes dark and a presentation shows up on the projection screen in the front of the room.

“Yes, I know this is very elementary, but it’s the best way I could explain what’s going on without losing you all in computer jargon.” There are pictures of computers on the screen and James uses electronic pointers to explain to us how an intruder has hacked into GEH’s network and Christian’s personal email and cell phone and is causing all kind of havoc. It started with running around and letting their presence be known and has now graduated to sabotaging business operations and siphoning money from the company. “Christian and Ros have worked endless hours putting out fires and trying to save the deals that are already on the table. Without knowing who could be trusted, they had to handle all of the dealings firsthand, which is why we are happy to say that we have eliminated this group of people from our possible suspects because we need your help now.”

“Everything that is everything is being highly encrypted until we can pin down exactly what we’re dealing with,” Ros interjects. “This means that there will be additional security measures in place to read even the simplest files. I appreciate that this is going to slow down your productivity, but at this time, saving the company is much more important than speed. With the hours that we’re putting in trying to hold this thing together on our own, I don’t know about Christian, but if I don’t find my way home, my wife will be leaving me by the end of the year.” She looks over at a perky blonde who twists her lips back at Ros as if to say “Yeah, right.” That must be her wife.

“Ditto,” Christian coughs in a not-so-inconspicuous manner that causes nervous laughter in the room. I scoff quietly at him and elbow him gently in the side.

“We’ve been chasing this intruder for about three months now and we’ve been able to eliminate insider activity—current insider anyway,” James has the floor again. “We’ve also determined how the intruder gains access to the network. We can see where he’s going, what he’s doing, and how he’s doing it. Today, we’ve had another breakthrough and we’ve narrowed down his location.”

“Excellent!” Christian exclaims. “What’s our next move?”

“Well, we’ve forwarded the information to the necessary authorities and they should be conducting a raid any moment now.”

“Any moment now like days or any moment now like minutes?” Christian asks.

“More like hours. You know they have to coordinate these things.” James says, and Barney never stops typing. Christian nods.

“Good. Good. I’ll finally be able to get some sleep at night,” Christian says.

“Yes, sir, this is finally very close to being over.” James turns back to the display and starts explaining everyone’s role in the coming hours and days. I’m still trying to process all the information I just heard. I’m trying not to frown like I’m completely out of the loop, but the truth is that I’m completely out of the loop!

“Are you okay?” Christian asks me. He’s frowning deeply at me. I haven’t said anything so my face must be a fright.

“Yeah,” I lie. I’m far from okay.

I’ve probably missed some important information as I completely zoned out for the rest of the meeting and the next thing I know, everybody is rising from their seats… well, almost everybody. Ros’ wife and I are both still seated, no doubt awaiting instruction. Certain individuals haven’t moved, yet, and Christian still has his arm protectively around my seat. Barney is still tapping away at his laptop.

“Sir? Ma’am?” Some guy is addressing Christian and Ros. “Data Central?”

“Ten minutes,” Christian says. I’m mute right now. I don’t know what to say or think. Christian and Ros have a bit of a conversation and then Christian and Jason. Chuck is nearby as well, but once we leave the conference room, it’s just Jason.

I follow them to the bank of elevators and, with the turn of a key, one of the main elevators becomes an express elevator down to “S3,” which I think is sublevel three. Ros and her wife, Christian, Jason, and I all walk down this long corridor to yet another conference room somewhere in the bowels of Grey House. Once inside, we are joined by James and Barney, Alex Welch if I remember correctly, and some other guys that I don’t know.

“Okay, so did anything pan out?” Christian asks as he guides me to a seat and takes the chair next to me.

“A few did, sir,” Barney says nervously. I can tell that he’s kind of remiss to share whatever information that they’re talking about, so before this conversation goes “security level alpha,” I need some answers.

“Am I allowed to ask any questions?”  I ask, raising my hand.

“Of course you are,” Christian says. I nod and take a deep breath.

“This all moved pretty quickly for me, so I… I just want to recap. Did I correctly hear that someone has been running rampant in the company mainframe sabotaging deals and taking money?”

“Yes,” Christian says.

“And you and Ros have been running all of the deals so that no one else could see what was going on…”

“Yes,” he confirms.

“So this team of masterminds that you have working for you have been completely left in the dark because you couldn’t know who you could trust,” I summarize.

“Exactly.” I turn to Ros’ wife.

“Did you know any of this?” I ask her. She shakes her head.

“I stay out of the business,” she says. “I didn’t know what was going on. I just knew that she wasn’t coming home.” I shake my head. The magnitude of what I’ve just learned hit me in a three-second funnel:

The late nights and early mornings…
The storm-cellar fund…
Me acting like a spoiled brat and flaunting my ass for those donors…
He and Ros having to handle all of the business deals first hand…
There’s a hacker in the network who also hacked into Christian’s personal phone and email—our personal lives, our families, our children…
The ultrasound pictures! Leaked to the press… our children!

“Christian, I… think I… need a drink of water…” I feel lightheaded. I allow my head to loll over my shoulder because I don’t think I have much of a choice. The room is doing this topsy-turvy thing, but I’m not losing consciousness. I see people scrambling around except for Ros’ wife. Does that woman ever lose her cool?

“Baby! Ana! Look at me!” I think I roll my eyes around to him, but I’m not sure. My neck really hurts and I want to raise my head, but Christian won’t let me.

“I… my… my babies!” I’m wheezing, barely speaking, panting. “The ultrasound… and the press… that was this…” I’m panting and waiting for an answer.

“I think so, Butterfly,” he says softly. I feel the air leaving my body.

“The money… the fund… that was this…” Tell me, dammit!

“Yes, it was,” he confesses.

“You… were… wha… huh…” I can’t breathe now, let alone form a coherent sentence. “Oh… God… oh… G… God… oh… God oh God oh God!” There’s water placed in front of me and I still can’t raise my head. Christian finally helps me raise my head and brings the water to my mouth.

“You know I wouldn’t let anything happen to you and the beans, right?” he says earnestly as I swallow some of the water. “I would dismantle this company and let them have anything they wanted before I let any harm come to your or our babies.” I shake my head violently then swallow my water.

“No! No! Don’t say that! We can’t think that way! It can’t come to that!” I’m trembling now. Christian cuddles me in his arms and tries to calm me.

“Give me some fucking good news!” he hisses as whomever.

“Well, that eliminates one,” Barney says.

“What?” James asks. “What are you talking about?”

“The FER software… it’s on point with its analysis, but that was true horror. True horror like that can’t be faked,” Barney says. What? Is he talking about me?

“F… faked?” I’m completely confused. “What? Why?” I look up at Christian and he’s just as confused as I am.

“The facial expression software that we were using during the meeting gave us three hits on people who were suspect in terms of the information that was given. Ana was one of them.”

“Wha… what is he talking about?” I’m nearly screaming. What in the blue hell is going on here?

“Today’s meeting was a trap,” James jumps in. “The attack is originating from the inside—but not the physical attack. I introduced some information into the system and to key individuals that wouldn’t have been easily discovered even by an expert. The moment that information was leaked to our intruder, I got a notification. Each of those key individuals were in the meeting today with the exception of the wives. Barney was using facial expression recognition software to record the reactions of today’s participants to see if we could narrow down who our inside culprit is.”

“So you… don’t really know where this guy is?” Jason asks. “The threat hasn’t been identified?”

“No,” Christian says, “the only other ones who knew that besides James, Barney, and Welch were me and Ros. What I want to know is why was my wife a guinea pig in this experiment?”

“She wasn’t,” Barney defends. “Her reaction in the meeting made her suspect. Her expressions indicated that she was hiding something.” What the fuck? Christian looks down at me.

“I was hiding the fucking fact that I didn’t know anything!” Now, I’m screaming. “Ros’ wife is cool as a cucumber; everybody else is sitting there like we’re talking about the goddamn weather; and from what I’m understanding, we’re all talking about my husband’s life work crumbling at his feet and I’m the only lucky bitch who didn’t know!” Okay, now I’ve graduated to shrieking.

“Baby, please, calm down.” Christian is holding my hands trying to calm me. Fuck calm down! I want to throw something! How could he not tell me this? How could he not give me some kind of clue?

“This is my life, too!” and the angry tears start—with a vengeance! “This is my life! You’re my life! How could you not tell me!?” He embraces me firmly and I bury my head in his shoulder, weeping profusely.

“Because I didn’t want this!” he says with conviction. “I knew this would happen; that’s why I didn’t tell you. That’s why I tried to wait until the last possible minute—to spare you from this… but it was destroying us, and I couldn’t keep it a secret anymore.”

I can’t stop the tears that keep flowing from my eyes. I’m hurt and I’m angry and I’m ashamed and just about every other bad emotion that can be felt right now and all I can do is cry.

“Barney…” my husband speaks very slowly and through his teeth now. “If you are quite finished traumatizing my wife and accusing her of sabotaging my company, do you have anything useful for me or should I leave now before you destroy my family completely?” He actually sounds like he’s growling.

“Mrs. Grey… I’m sorry,” he says sincerely. “The software… I was only doing my job…”

“Barney…” Christian growls again and I hear Barney sigh.

“You’ve got two other hits, Mr. Grey,” Barney’s voice has changed. He’s all business now. “Research & Development and Planning.”

“Are they as reliable as the first hit?” Christian growls.

“Christian,” it’s James’ voice now, “however inaccurate the conclusions may have been, the results were correct. Ana was hiding something. The facial expression recognition software didn’t tell us what she was hiding, but she confessed that she was hiding something. Had this been anyone else but Ana, you’d want answers—and we still had to get them from her. It’s not personal, you know that.”

“While I appreciate the spirit of your explanation, I cannot empathize with your logic right now. Can you please tell me what the fuck else we found… please.” He’s grinding his teeth and I can hear him.

“Research & Development was Evans. She just went about the business of removing personal information from her computer—Angry Birds, Candy Crush, browsing history, nothing substantial.”

“I want her reprimanded. Make an example of her. Don’t fire her, but make sure her insubordination is publicly known.”

“Is that really necessary?” James asks.

“Yes, it is!” Christian snaps. “Not only is it unauthorized software on my mainframe which most likely caused this problem in the first place, but she’s also doing this shit on company time. My employees know that’s against the rules and in addition to that, she’s one of the assistant department heads. She should have so much work to do that she doesn’t have time to play Angry fucking Birds!” I squeeze him around his waist to remind him that I’m here… and my adrenaline is dwindling. He sighs. “Who’s the other one?”

“Maurice Dodd… and I think he’s your guy.”

“What makes you say so?”

“He’s made three calls on his cell since he left that meeting—one he made the moment he got on the elevator. We’re trying to identify the third number now, but one was made to a burner. He’s sending information right now on the back-up server, the one you use when the mainframe goes down. We find information slower on the backup server because there’s no reason to access it when the mainframe is operational. When you personally want a secure connection, that’s what you use.” James is still talking. I open my eyes to see that Barney is now typing feverishly on another computer, nearly hiding behind the monitor. He has fallen completely silent and is clearly trying to disappear from the room. I know the behavior well.

I squeeze Christian again to get his attention. He looks down, then leans in closer to me.

“What’s a burner?” I ask.

“It’s a cell phone with purchased minutes. When you burn out the minutes, you throw it out.” I nod.

“Barney’s shrinking,” I whisper. He looks over at Barney, then rolls his eyes.

“I’ll take care of Evans. What’s our next step with Dodd short of wringing his scrawny little neck?”

“Now that we have a possible focus, watch his communications and see what pans out. Check his communications for the last six months to a year. See what he’s been doing in the company. He’s very likely to jump the gun now because he thinks we’re going to come down on his guy in a few hours. It would be great if we could.”

“No shit.” Christian rises from his seat, lifting me with him. “Contact me only if you have good news. I’m taking my wife out of here. When I say out of here, I mean out of this building and I don’t intend on coming back today.”

“Christian…” Ros protests.

“Yes, Ros?” he responds curtly.

“You have meetings this afternoon.”

“Then they can be rescheduled, or you can handle them, or you can delegate them. I don’t care. My marriage, my life, my beautiful wife and children are not going to be a casualty of my company. I’m going to take advantage of this unseasonably beautiful day and take my wife to lunch in the park. I suggest you do the same with yours.” Lunch in the park! That sounds divine.

“Yes, sir,” Ros says with a mock salute. The humor is lost on Christian at the moment. We walk to the door and proceed down the corridor with Jason close in tow.

“Jason, call your wife please and have her prepare a picnic lunch for us. I’ll send Charles to get it when she’s done.”

“Yes, sir.” Jason is on the phone with Gail before we get to the elevator. Once the doors open, I hear Jason say “Crash” before the walls come closer.


CHRISTIAN

Well, this turned out just perfectly! My already very fragile wife was basically accused of corporate espionage the first day I let her back into Grey House right on the heels of discovering that my empire may be in danger of crumbling. Yes, this has been a humdinger of a morning.

On top of that, my flawless head of IT has shrinking issues brought to my attention by my wife. How did I not see this over all the years he’s worked for me?

Now, before I can initiate any damage control on my marriage and home life, I have to revive my now unconscious wife who damn near took a header into the elevator.

I’m sitting on the sofa next to my gorgeous sleeping beauty. I’m stroking her hair that has fallen over her forehead. It’s amazing to me how I carried her in here and just laid her on the sofa, and she looks like one of those beautiful fainting women from the movies, like she’s dreaming of clouds or something. Jason convinced me not to rush her to the emergency room, assuring me that it was most likely the adrenaline crash that left her in a vulnerable state and caused her to swoon. She whimpers a bit and I come closer to her face. Those beautiful, unassuming blue eyes focus and rest on mine as I continue to stroke her forehead.

“You scare me, Mrs. Grey,” I say softly, because she scares me often—twice this week already.

“I’m sorry,” she says sweetly.

“No,” I kiss her lips softly. “No more apologizing. This was quite a bit to take on at once.”

“Yes,” she whispers. “I understand why you didn’t want to tell me.”

“You do?”

“I do… but don’t do it again. It was horrible finding out this way.” I nod.

“I’ll do better,” I promise.

“That’s all I ask.” She gazes into my eyes. “Kiss me, Christian.” Gladly! I gather her in my arms and kiss her deeply. She tangles her hands in my hair and returns my kiss. This feels so good. When our lips part, I breathe in her essence and I’m sure she’s doing the same thing to me.

“Thank you,” she whispers.

“I love you,” I breathe.

“I love you more,” she responds.

“Impossible,” I protest and bury my nose in her neck, holding her close to me.

*-*

Lunch in the park was enchanting. We encountered more than one double-take, probably for various reasons:

A gorgeous couple in business attire having lunch on a blanket in the park.
My beautiful, swollen wife having a terrible time getting to the blanket and rising back up when we left.
The fact that I carried her shoes so that the heels wouldn’t get ruined in the grass.
The way we look at each other.
The way I touched her belly every time I looked at her, held her or kissed her.
The fact that I fed her every bite of her lunch to make sure she’s getting all of her fresh fruits.
The fact that AnaChris is out in public, for those who may have recognized us—who knows?

I’ve made it my mission to make love to my wife as often as possible and never let her be left yearning again. I felt like shit when she said she was masturbating in the bathtub. Her body is her own and she can touch it whenever she likes, but this was out of necessity instead of desire. That’s unacceptable. Last night, after giving her a back rub and massaging her stomach with belly balm, I indulged in that sweet fruit and gently licked her to two orgasms before losing myself in her core and bringing us both to one final thunderous release.

The alarm rings at five A.M. and I realize that I forgot to turn if off. I get to it before it wakes Butterfly this early on a Saturday morning. I’m awake now, so I go to the bathroom to relieve myself. Just as I’m finishing, my phone vibrates on the night stand. The house is so quiet that it sounds like thunder! I pick it up before it wakes Butterfly. It’s Welch.

“Grey.”

“We need to meet somewhere,” he says.

“Now?” I ask. It’s five in the morning.

“Soon,” he confirms.

“Not at Grey House?”

“Out in the open.” Oh, shit.

“I’m bringing Jason,” I inform him.

“I wouldn’t expect you not to,” he says.

“We run in about an hour. Meet us at Freeway Park, by the picnic tables.”

“See you in an hour.”  I end the call and look over at Butterfly. She’s still blissfully sleeping. I change into my running clothes and sneak quietly out of the room. I go into my study and call back to Jason and Gail’s suite.

“Yes, sir.” He’s groggy. I woke him.

“I need to see you in my study. We may have a situation. You’ll need your running clothes.”

“Yes, sir.” He ends the call and I look at my email. After the hacking, I feel like someone is looking over my shoulders every time I open one. There are several meetings next week and I’m trying to figure out how we’re going to handle them. GEH is still making money hand over fist, so this asshole can take about $60 million before he really starts to cause us problems. Of course, I don’t want this fucker to get away with anything, but the experts tell me that we have to let him keep going until we are sure that the trap is set.

“Sir, what’s up?” Jason is in my study in twenty minutes.

“Welch called. He wants to see me as soon as possible, but not in the office…”

“Because it may be compromised,” he finishes my sentence. I nod.

“I figured as much. We need to meet him in Freeway Park in about half-an-hour.” He nods.

“Let’s go, then.”

Jason and I begin our run in silence. It doesn’t take long for us to get to Freeway Park, so we do a few laps until Welch shows up.

“Forgive the circumstances, sir. Anyone tracking us as five AM on a Saturday would be easily spotted in Freeway Park,” Welch begins.

“Any hits?” He shakes his head.

“No one has reported seeing anybody yet.”

“Good deal.” I drink some of my water while Welch is typing information into a tablet.

“We couldn’t meet in the office and you’re typing in a tablet?” I ask him.

“There’s no internet connection on this tablet, sir. Everything is manual. This is simply an electronic pen and paper. This one is for you.” He hands me a tablet—pretty basic. “Until we have these assholes on lockdown… Don’t ever allow it onto any wireless connection and you’ll be okay. Any information that we need to remember and transmit, we remember on these, we transmit in person or to and from one of these.” He hands me a cell phone.

“What’s this?”

“A burner—limited minutes. Not very hard to trace, but almost impossible to tap. Once you figure out who’s calling from what number, they use it and you get rid of it.”

“Good Lord, I feel like I’m living in the 19th Century,” I grunt.

“For a little while longer, you are.” He looks at the tablet. “As you already know, we kept an eye on Dodd. He made calls to three phones. One is still pretty well scrambled, but the other two hit towers in Spokane and Portland. Even though they’re burners, that gives a radius to work with. Any other time, I would say that they would be smart enough to move to a different location before making or taking a call, but they answered the moment Dodd called. So I would say these locations are at least 80% reliable.”

“Well, that’s something,” I say.

“It’s more than something, sir,” he says. “By using the towers as a starting point, we now have a point of reference for the scrambled signals from the computers. We’ll start with any locations hit within that radius. In the meantime, we’ve gotten Dodd’s cell records and now we’re tracking his habits—who he’s been talking to, where he’s been and what he’s been doing. He’s pretty predictable, so we’re proceeding with caution. He could be a decoy.”

“Well, that would be just fucking dandy!” I hiss. “Why would we think he’s a decoy?”

“He’s an easy mark,” he responds. “Either he’s the decoy or he’s the fall guy. If he’s either, he won’t have too much clearance in this little project, but that remains to be seen.” He goes through his tablet again. “You should know that shortly after you left Grey House today, the worms stopped.” I frown.

“They stopped?”

“Yes. This means that Dodd talked directly to the person who is responsible for invading the network or directly to someone else who could get to that person. He’s most likely told them that we’re onto them, so they cut the signal.” I sigh.

“Isn’t that what we didn’t want?” I lament.

“Yes and no,” he says. “We expected them to cut the signal. Either they’re going to tuck tail and run or they’re going incognito for a little while. If it’s the latter, it gives us a little bit of time for a game plan.”

“And if it’s the former?”

“We work with the evidence that we have and hope for the best. Either way, Dodd’s future involves a serious shakedown.”

“Really?” I twist my lips. “I want to be present for that.” Welch frowns and Jason clears his throat.

“Sir, that’s not a good idea,” Jason says.

“Duly noted.” I turn back to Welch. “I want to be present when you question this fucker. Are we clear?”

“Yes, sir,” Welch says with a sigh. “We’ve leaked into the network that we picked up the possible culprit at about midnight. Nothing has come from it, yet, but the moment Dodd sees that someone is in custody, he’s going to let the others know.”

“What happens next?”

“Either their operation is over or they’re going to lay low until they hear that we’ve got the wrong guy. The police have to release a suspect in 24 hours if they aren’t charged with a crime—in this case, we can probably stretch it to 36 or 48, but by Monday morning, we’re going to have to release our pretend suspect. In the meantime, we are referencing and cross-referencing every piece of information we have. I’m sure we’ll have something soon, but sir… once we get any solid information that needs further investigation, we’re going to have to apprehend Dodd. It’s going to get slippery at that point.” I nod.

“We won’t be able to let him go until we’ve caught the others. He could tip them off.”

“Exactly. So at this point, I need to know how far outside of the law we’re willing to go, because it could get pretty far, which is why I would rather you don’t meet with Dodd once we apprehend him.”

“This fucker may be responsible for threatening everything I hold dear. I will be present when you meet with him. As for legality, I trust that you know how to keep me and GEH out of trouble.”

“Only if you follow my instructions, sir,” he reinforces.

“Well, this is one that you’re going to have to work around. You’re a resourceful man and I know that you can do it. Now do what you do best.” He rolls his eyes and looks at his tablet again.

“We were able to trace the money, believe it or not.”

“Now, that’s good news,” I say. I know that no matter where the money ends up, there’s some kind of paper trail.

“It’s almost impossible to see where the money ends up, but our super-team discovered that its final resting place is an account from a Texas-based bank—Comerica.”

“Why not use an offshore account? Aren’t they harder to trace?” I ask.

“More predictable, and not as hard as you think,” he says. “That’s what we were initially looking for. Weren’t you expecting to find an offshore account?” I nod. “Yeah, they counted on that. Once they get the money, one of the officers of the company shuts down the account, takes the money, and runs.”

“Company? There’s a company involved in this?”

“It’s a front. You know how easy it is to get a federal identification number. That’s all you need to set up a bank account.”

“Any hits from the company name? The officers?” Welch shakes his head.

“Not yet. The company name is Daggers, Inc and we’re certain that the officers are aliases—no hits whatsoever.”

“This doesn’t sound encouraging,” I tell him.

“From the money standpoint, no, but from the information standpoint, we’re doing pretty well. We’re a lot further than we were yesterday.”

“So what now?”

“You need to relax, sir.”

“You know me better than that.”

“No, sir, you really need to relax,” he reinforces. “Be seen publicly kicking back and having a good time. This is a good start.” He hands me a local gossip rag with a big picture of me and Butterfly from our picnic yesterday. “It makes them think you’re letting your guard down—getting comfortable because you don’t have anything to worry about anymore. We can’t keep running around like rats in a cage if we want to catch these guys. Go look at baby furniture or something.”

Shit! I’ve been so preoccupied with this shit that I don’t even know if Butterfly has already picked furniture for our children. That’s actually a good idea. Focus on my family for the day…

“One last instruction,” Welch says. “Always answer your burner. Your code name is Henry Walsh. Answer the phone ‘this is Henry Walsh.’ Communicate with us as usual on your regular cell. Classified info on the burners only.” He tosses one at Jason. “You’re Richard Maverick. I’m Oscar Fields. James is Theodore Houston. Nobody else should be calling you on that burner. We will all answer and respond with ‘this is Oscar Fields,’ or whatever your name is. Any other response means something’s wrong.” I shake my head.

“Any other bad news?” I ask.

“Unfortunately, yes,” Welch says. “There’s good news and there’s bad news.”

“Give me the bad news.”

“Once we get past Dodd—and we will get past Dodd—we’re going to need some heavy hands to deal with the other parties involved. These are not going to be your average computer geeks. We’re playing with the big boys now, but even the big boys are pawns, because they are doing the dirty work from somebody else.”

“Why do you know this?” I ask him.

“It’s the nature of the beast. The HMIC won’t get his hands dirty, I can guarantee it. He’s going to put his players on the front lines while he sits comfortably on the throne. We’re going to have to go in and dig him out.”

“So what’s the good news?” I ask.

“I haven’t finished the bad news, yet,” he responds. There’s more? “The kind of resources that we need are going to require a two-man approval—both with my level of clearance. None of my contacts have my level of clearance. We only know one other person that can help me get who I need for this particular job.” Well who the fuck is it?

“What are you waiting for? Who is it?” Welch just looks at me like it should be obvious, and I’m getting more and more perturbed by the moment. Then, suddenly, it hits me like a damn wrecking ball. “No! No! There’s got to be another way.”

“Sir, if you want to get the information we need out of these people once we locate them, this is what I need.”

“No! Absolutely not! You’ve got to be kidding me! Do you realize what I’m exposing us to—my company, my family—if I do this?”

“Sir, you’ll be protected, but I need another approval on my level or we’re going to have to deal with amateurs, and we’re most likely not going to get what we need.” This is fucking great, just fucking great.

“What am I missing?” Jason asks looking from Welch to me.

“He wants me to call Cholometes,” I tell Jason. “He wants me to ask that asshole for his help in saving my company and my family, the man who is just waiting for an opportunity to come in and lay claim to everything that’s mine.” I turn to Welch. “Do you have any idea how badly our last conversation went?”

“Yes, sir, I do. That’s my job,” he says flatly.

“Then you know that there’s no fucking way I can ask him for help right now!” I bark.

“We don’t have a choice. It’s either this, or leave it to the amateurs and risk letting the king get away. Checkmate.” I sigh. This can’t be happening.

“What the fuck is the motherfucking good fucking news?”

“We’ve cleared Cholometes. We know that he’s not the one tapping into your network.”

“Well, that’s just dandy. He’s not the one trying to ruin me this way, but he can certainly swoop in for the kill and take my wife and family if I’m on my ass! I can’t possible see why he would ever decline helping the one who stole the woman that he wanted right out from under his nose!” Welch sighs heavily.

“Sir, people with clearances like mine are few and far between, and there’s a reason for that. You can be guaranteed that when two people like this collaborate on something, shit gets done, because I don’t know two people with this kind of power that are friends.”

“What exactly do you need him for? What are you trying to do?” I demand.

“Sir, I can’t tell you that…”

“That’s where you’re wrong,” I interrupt him. “You tell me everything! You tell me every aboveboard and every low-down, dirty, illegal thing you have to do to find these fuckers. You tell me every little thing or I pull the plug on the whole fucking operation, take my wife and kids and billions, move to a third world country somewhere, build a city called Greyland and keep my money in a goddamn mattress. The only fucking thing I don’t need to know is where you dump the goddamn bodies. Are we perfectly clear?”

Welch’s eyes widen. I don’t think he’s ever heard me talk about illegal activity because I need everything to be above board as so many lives depend on me. However, if I’m done, then the lives that depend on me don’t really matter, do they?

“Did you know what you’re saying?” he asks.

“I know exactly what I’m saying,” I tell him calmly. “I don’t want to see all the blood and gore, but I will talk to these motherfuckers when you catch them. I know that many people are willing to die for a cause, yet very few are willing to die for a dollar. I may not be a trained killer like many of the people who work for me, but I do own a firearm, I have a damn good aim and I don’t have a problem pulling the trigger. If that becomes necessary, I know that I have staff that can make that shit go away. So yes, Mr. Welch, I do know what I’m saying. This is my life we’re talking about. Not just my company, my life. I will be informed of every step taken with this operation.” Welch shakes his head.

“This could get very bad, sir,” he says as a means to try to discourage me.

“Yes, it could, and we’re wasting time, so tell me why you need this and what we plan to do so that we can get on with it.” I’m not taking down. If I lose my company and my family, I have nothing else. So I might as well be proactive. I’m not going down a sitting duck.

“For the information that we need to get from these people, we don’t know how deep they are. If they’re a couple of punks, we can scare them really good. If they’re professionals, we can’t take the chance on just going in there with our men and trying to get information from them. If it’s a sophisticated operation, they’re going to lock down, especially since we now know that there’s more than one of them in this operation. I need Black Ops, sir. I need professionals to get the information I need. I need skills that even the President isn’t aware of because I don’t know what we’re up against. It may be unnecessary, but I can’t take that chance. That’s all I can tell you without having to kill you… and I mean that.” And I know that he does.

“I’ll call the fucker, but I’m not kissing his ass. If he turns us down, I’ll torture these fuckers myself when we find them. If we fail to get the top gun, we’ll send him one fucking loud ass message. And by the way, what the fuck is HMIC?”

“It could mean a lot of things, but it this case, it means ‘head motherfucker in charge,’” Jason says. I look at Jason, then back at Welch.

“Don’t call him that again,” I tell him. “I’m the head motherfucker in charge. He’s trying to be me. Now if there’s nothing else, I think I need to buy cribs or something.”

“Talk to him today, Sir. When they go live again, and they will, we need to be ready to move.” I roll my eyes.

“Fine, I’ll talk to him today,” I say begrudgingly. “Everything, Welch. If there’s an avalanche coming, I need to get my family out of the way and I can’t do it if you’re playing cops and robbers and keeping me in the dark, am I clear?”

“You’re clear, sir,” he answers. He hands me another phone. “Call him on this and then get rid of it.” I nod before turning around and starting my run back home. I need Butterfly.

She’s still sound asleep when we return. It’s just after eight. I strip and get ready for a shower, but her swollen body is calling to me. Maybe if I just hold her…

I slide into bed behind her and spoon her. She snuggles into me and her ass rubs against my erection. I groan at the sensation and try to rub the beans to get my mind off her juicy, round ass against my quickly stiffening dick. While I’m rubbing the beans, my hands brush across her breast and she whimpers in her sleep.

Well, that didn’t help.

I kiss her back and shoulder and resolve to get up before I wake her, but she stretches like a cat, rubbing her whole body against me.

“Fuck, Baby,” I whisper.

“Mmmm… Christian, I couldn’t possibly come again right now,” she protests… but I need to be inside you!

“Okay,” I sigh, trying to pull myself away from her. She looks over her shoulder at me. God, I want her so bad. She reaches behind my head and caresses my hair, bringing her lips to mine. I try not to devour her, but it’s so hard. She shifts a bit, and I feel her leg drape over my hip. In moments I’m inside of her.

“Baby…! Fuck!” I hiss. Oh hell. She’s tight and hot and I’m having problems. She’s grinding against me and she feels so good. “Slow down, Baby,” I warn. I can hardly get my words out.

“You’re so hard inside of me, Christian,” she breathes, still looking at me with “fuck me” eyes. I thought she said she couldn’t come again. “Do I feel good?”

“Oh yes… yes, Baby, you feel so good.” Fuck, I’m going to blow if she doesn’t stop.

“You like that, Baby?” she croons. “Do you like how I feel wrapped around you?” I grab her body and pull her against me. I’m going to come. I can’t control it.

“God, yes!” I groan into her neck as she grinds into me, working my dick to climax.

“Then come for me, Baby. Give it to me!” That’s it. I erupt inside of her and she keeps right on grinding.

“Oh! Oh, shit!” I groan, Euphoria flushing through my body as I pump my seed into her.

“That’s it,” she coaches. “Yes, Baby. Give it all to me. You’re so sexy when you come.”

Greystone is jumping and thumping and throbbing—ecstatic and relieved. She did it for me… just for me.

“You’re incredible,” I breathe.

“Do you feel better?” she says with a coy smile. All I can do is nod. “Then, I’m happy. Now kiss me.” I kiss her deeply, pulling her closer to me and thanking God that she still loves me after what we’ve been through these last weeks. “Now tell me what’s wrong,” she says softly. Shit, I can’t tell her, but I have to tell her something—and it can’t be a lie.

“We’re getting really close to finding out who’s doing the hacking,” I tell her.

“Isn’t that good news?” she asks.

“Yes, but it’s really nerve-wracking because we don’t know what we’re going to find. Is it one jerk? Is it an operation? Is this bigger than me? Do they just want money? Will you guys get hurt?” I shake my head. “It’s a lot to carry, and I’ve been ordered to relax while the trap is set.” She leans up and kisses me.

“I couldn’t have been making this easy for you,” she says.

“No,” I admit, “but I handled it all wrong, and I take responsibility for that.” I sigh heavily. “Let’s take a shower. Then I want to go to our children’s room and see your vision.” She smiles widely.

“What a wonderful idea.”

*-*

This is proof positive that I’ve been spending way too much time at work. I don’t recognize the Mercer house when we get inside. Most of the foreboding columns are gone and the house almost doesn’t look the same. The open space is magnificent; I like it so much better than all that clutter from those pretentious beams. Some of them had to stay as they were supporting beams, but the decorative ones have all been removed.

Our bedroom has been painted a slate gray, but the carpeting hasn’t been installed yet. I don’t bother going to the other bedrooms, because I want to see the babies’ room. Part of me wants to see where my wife spent the night a few evenings ago where she emerged looking like hell.

“Oh. Aaron must have been here,” she says when she opens the door. It doesn’t look as bad as I thought it would. In fact, it looks remarkable. The walls are tan, and there are silhouettes on the far wall of two tall brown trees with just a few green leaves on them. One of the trees has a little girl swinging from a swing and the other has a little boy hanging from his knees. A few woodland creatures run around the other three walls. The ceiling is blue with a light dusting of clouds to make it look like a realistic sky.

“Oh, it’s beautiful,” she says in awe. This isn’t her first time seeing the room, I thought. “What do you think of this carpet?” she asks. “I liked it on the website, but now that it’s down, I’m not so sure.”

“Didn’t you see this the other day?” I ask. She shakes her head.

“No, none of this was done.” Well, that explains it. I look at the carpet.

“I don’t like this carpet,” I say. “It needs to be brighter—cream or white, maybe…”

“I thought with the whole woodland creatures theme, the taupe carpet might work, but it seems to be clashing with the walls,” she says. I nod.

“In theory, it should go with the color scheme, but… it doesn’t.”

“White… in the babies’ room?” she asks with uncertainty.

“Well, off-white or something… you know, one of those not-so-white whites,” I shrug. “We’ll, scotch-guard it. It’ll be fine.” She kind of nods and twists her face. “Why is there a skunk in the room? Couldn’t we pick some less—affronting creatures?”

“That’s Flower,” she says. Okay, so she named it. What’s that’s supposed to mean?

“I don’t care what you call it, it’s still a skunk,” I say shrugging. She looks at me like I just missed something really obvious. “What?”

“You don’t know who Flower is?” she asks. I look around the room, oblivious. She does this little gasp, then realization comes across her face and she looks sort of sad.

“Would you like for me to introduce you to the… people in your children’s room?” Okay, my wife is going a little overboard with this decorating thing, but I’ll let her have it. So, I humor her.

“Um, okay.” She points to each character and starts “introducing” me.

“This is Flower. This is Friend Owl. The rabbit is Thumper, and this adorable creature is Bambi.” She looks at me waiting for realization to dawn, I think, but I’ve got nothing.

“Christian,” she speaks softly like she’s talking to a wounded child, “they’re Disney characters. They’re from the classics.” And now I see why she was looking at me so strangely. These are people—people that most children probably know, except me. I didn’t watch cartoons, even after Mom and Dad adopted me.

“Oh,” I say softly. “I… think I’m going to have some homework.” I don’t know what else to say. She takes a deep breath and her expression changes drastically. She looks like she’s going to cry, and then she surprises me by doing just that. What—does not knowing the Disney characters mean that I’m going to be a bad father?

“I’m sorry, Ana. I’ll learn the characters.”

“No, it’s…” She tries to compose herself. “I’ve… There’s so much implication behind the fact that you don’t know who the Disney characters are. I don’t know an adult our age who doesn’t know who the Disney characters are.” Oh. She’s crying because she feels sorry for me. “It’s the pregnancy hormones. Ignore it,” she says, trying to wave it off. I wipe her tears with my thumbs and kiss her lips gently.

“I’ll learn them with our children,” I tell her. She nods and I kiss her again. “I’ll start now. Tell me the rest.” She nods again and I take her hand as she tells me bedtime stories in the middle of the day.

“This is Dumbo. He was a misfit because of his ears until everybody discovered that he could fly.”

“Fly?” My eyes grow wide. I know it’s a cartoon, but an elephant that flies? I nod. “A flying elephant?” She laughs heartily and I feel better because she’s forgetting her tears.

“Yes,” she laughs as she wipes away the rest of the moisture on her face. “There are crows in the story that had the same reaction you did, but I decided to leave them out of our children’s room.”

“Is this a book or a movie?” I ask.

“Both.”

“I’ve got to see this movie.” I look at the little elephant with ears as big as his body. “I thought elephants were afraid of mice.”

“They are, but Timothy Q. Mouse—or more affectionately, Tim—is Dumbo’s best friend. They’re inseparable, that’s why he’s always in Dumbo’s hat.”

“And these?” I point to a bunch of mice in the next picture all grouped together. “Are these Dumbo’s friends, too?”

“No, those are Cinderella’s friends,” she says.

“Okay! I’ve heard of Cinderella!” I make the announcement like it’s a big accomplishment, and it makes her smile again.

“These are the mice that made her dress for the ball out of scraps. This is Jaq, Gus, Bert, Mert, Luke, Suzy, and Perla. Luke is a baby and Bert and Mert are twins. They were just kind of hanging around.” Now, I’m confused.

“Okay, I don’t know this story very well, but I was sure that there was a fairy godmother and a pumpkin involved…”

“There is, but the mice made this dress first and then the evil stepsisters destroyed it.” I nod.

“Yep, a lot of homework… what’s next?”

“This,” she says, pointing to another group of animals—an owl, a squirrel, a cardinal, a bluebird, and two rabbits, “is the group of animals that present themselves to Sleeping Beauty.”

“I’ve heard of her, too!” I exclaim, and she laughs heartily again.

“There’s hope for you yet, Mr. Grey,” she says happily. “This lively group steals the prince’s cape, hat, and boots. The owl acts as the mouthpiece while the clothes and boots just kind of dance around.” I nod and move to the next one.

“Who’s this scruffy looking fellow?” I ask.

“That’s Scuttle. He came later. He’s the ‘human expert’ from The Little Mermaid except that his information was nonsense.”

“Sounds like a few people I know,” I say. We’ve gotten back to the door and there’s another tree there… with a face. “Um, Baby, that’s creepy.” She releases my hand and closes the door. It’s a weeping willow tree. The tree is on the wall next to the door and the branches fall gracefully over the door. There’s a blue raccoon on the ground looking up at the tree and a hummingbird fluttering over its head. The tree is smiling down at the raccoon—an older, friendly face, but it still looks creepy.

“We’ll make sure that you and the beans see Pocahontas so that you’re not creeped out by Grandmother Willow,” she says gently. I roll my eyes.

“I know Winnie the Pooh,” I say, pointing to the adjacent wall. “Mia had a pooh bear when she was a kid. I didn’t know he was a Disney character, though.” Butterfly nods.

“Yes, and these are his woodland friends—Tigger, Piglet, Rabbit, Kanga and Roo, Eeyore, Mr. Owl, and Gopher.”

“There are a lot of owls in Disney,” I point out.

“Yes, because they are considered wise and are used to impart wisdom. Most likely when the characters were talking to one of the owls, there was some type of message or lesson to be learned.”

“That’s good marketing,” I say. She laughs.

“Always the businessman.”

“So who are these?” I say, pointing to clusters of deer, rabbits, chipmunks, birds, and various other creatures.

“These are extras,” she says. “There are always extras in Disney movies. They don’t speak, they don’t have names, but they scurry about and fill in the scenery, except for these two.” She points to the two chipmunks who almost look like twins. “This is Chip ‘n Dale.”

“Chippendales!?” I ask appalled and she frowns at me. What’s with the reference to strippers? Again, she laughs heartily and has to hold her belly for a moment.

“No, no, not Chippendales—Chip ‘n Dale. That’s Chip and that Dale,” she says, pointing to each chipmunk. “They’re just a couple of chipmunks that often find themselves in some kind of mischief.”

“I just bet they do, they’re named after strippers!” I observe.

“No, they’re not,” she corrects me. “Chip ‘n Dale were around about 30 years before Chippendales were. I would hope there’s no correlation between the two since they represent entertainment on totally different ends of the spectrum.”

“I would hope not either. Boy, that’s going to take some major deprogramming,” I say shaking my head. “So, what did you have in mind for furniture?”

“We… hadn’t gotten that far…” She trails off. I was sure that she and the amazing Aaron would have already picked out the baby furniture by the time… My thought is interrupted immediately when the penny drops and rattles all around my empty head.

“You were waiting for me,” I lament. She sighs quietly and nods. I purse my lips and then push my face into a smile.

“Well, let’s go, Mrs. Grey,” I say extending my elbow to her. Her eyes sparkle and she smiles widely as she takes my arm and we leave the room.

We couldn’t decide on the same thing to save our lives. She wants light furniture and I want dark furniture. She wants a rocking chair and I want a rocking horse. She wants a hope chest and a changing table and I want a chest of drawers and stylish footlocker. We finally compromised that each baby will have what is necessary for their comfort and care, but I get to pick the boy bean’s baby furniture while she picks the girl bean’s furniture. The room is huge, so two themes will work out just fine without the room being cluttered. The trip went much smoother after we made that decision.

We’re in some baby boutique downtown looking at accessories for the beans when I notice a sales clerk and what I think is another couple pointing at us and whispering. So much for a quiet afternoon of shopping.

“Butterfly, I think we have to cut it short,” I tell her.

“Why?” she says, her voice full of disappointment. I sigh. We haven’t been out just being us for weeks and now this.

“At my 10… we’ve been spotted.” She inconspicuously looks over my shoulder and sighs heavily.

“I just want to shop for my babies,” she says, disheartened, putting the items she’s gathered back on the racks.

“No, Baby, we can get those things, but you know how this works. The paparazzi will be here any minute hoping to get a shot of the Greys doing ‘normal things.’ We just want to head them off before it starts.” I try to soften the blow.

“Okay. I get it, I just don’t like it. Does this mean we have to cut our whole afternoon short?” she asks, crestfallen.

“We’ll figure something out, Baby. I promise.” I kiss her hand and remove her selections from the rack.

“Excuse me.” The sales clerk has approached us. Butterfly is trying not to glare, but I can tell that she is fairly annoyed. “You’re so much prettier in person,” the clerk says to Butterfly, and she thaws immediately.

“Um, thank you,” she responds, a bit stunned.

“Will you please sign this for me?” she says, handing Butterfly a tabloid.

“Mine, too?” The customer that was talking to her moments before hands me the same tabloid. Butterfly and I look at each other and then at the tabloid:

Rumors of struggles in paradise appear to be false as father- and mother-to-be, Christian and Anastasia Grey—Seattle’s own power couple AnaChris—are captured here walking hand-in-hand into Grey Enterprises on Friday morning. In a real-life Pretty Woman moment, the billionaire and his wife are also captured later that day having lunch on a blanket in the park. Although Christian looks every bit the stuffy Edward Lewis in his gray Giovanni suit, Anastasia looks stunning in a simple white coat dress and could easily give the beautiful Julia Roberts a run for her money. Several tender moments are exchanged between the two as Christian can be seen feeding his wife fresh fruit, kissing her, brushing the hair from her face, and tenderly rubbing her baby bump. It’s very clear that he dotes on the beautiful Anastasia and from the starry-eyed look she’s sporting, the feeling is definitely mutual.

Butterfly bursts out laughing and I’m assuming she’s read the entire article.

“How did we not see this?” she says, amused.


A/N: Don’t really know what to add here as I have probably said everything that I need to say in the beginning author’s note. I hope everybody read it. If not, don’t be surprised when you see your comments come up missing.

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