So my beloved daughter whom I love ever so much BLACKMAILED me on Facebook into posting a chapter for her 21st birthday (Love you, Nooka. Happy Birthday!). So this will have to be my compromise. I can’t promise a bonus chapter because you guys know that the chapters have to be edited and ready before they get posted. A bonus chapter right now would put a horrible rush on me, so as a compromise, I’m posting this week’s chapter early as a present to my baby. This, of course, means that the wait between chapters will be longer this next week, so if I can get the next chapter edited as a bonus chapter, I’ll do it… but please don’t pressure me. I can’t make any promises that will happen. The next chapter is a very KEY chapter to the story–the whole story–and it has to be right.
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 14—You’re Going Where?!
I’m sitting on the GEH jet waiting for takeoff and pondering how I find myself taking this trip. The events of the last two days—hell, the last several months—have led to this possible conclusion… more unanswered questions, more secrets to be revealed, more mysteries to unfold. I’m only one person—how can I be surrounded by this much fucking chaos?
“He hasn’t moved since yesterday, sir,” Welch tells me. “We’ve gathered all of the evidence from the computers and based on the destinations of the funds transfers from the other occurrences, if he got one year for each of the charges he could rack up, he’d still be in jail for the rest of his life.”
“If the fucking police would do their jobs for once,” I hiss.
“Well, your favorite person is taking it straight to his sources the FBI. He’s says he’s keeping copies to be delivered to my sources in other agencies and to be leaked to the press in case Myrick’s involvement in the case that has him in witness protection is so important that the evidence comes up ‘misplaced.’ There’s no way he’s going to avoid prosecution on at least some of these counts. Each occurrence is airtight on its own. Together, he’s lucky if he sees this side of prison ever again.”
“For his sake, he better hope he doesn’t,” I say. I’m making it my personal mission in life to make sure he never has another peaceful day for as long—or as short—as he lives.
I filled my day with more meetings and closed on another acquisition before ending the day with still no positive ID on Myrick. Butterfly and I filled the night with Disney and popcorn and I must admit that Jungle Book and Tarzan really did make me feel better before falling asleep in her arms. I was just about to give up hope on catching this fucker when I get the most fabulous news around lunchtime on Wednesday.
“He’s moved the money,” James informs me. “We followed the wire transfers from a branch in Ferndale, Michigan and we’ve found his accomplice there.”
“Alex and Brian have taken the liberty to contact someone at the corporate offices of Comerica and inform them of the illegal transfer and the delicate nature of the situation, including the fact that the FBI is involved in a possible ‘sting’ on the account holder,” Barney continues. “Once he was able to verify the transfer and the fact the worms are still filtering money to the account, he was more than happy to assist us.”
“This is excellent! Who is this person?” I ask.
“A bank manager in Ferndale named Alice Witherspoon. She’s been doing this with him for years! It’s amazing that she hasn’t gotten caught by now.”
“Not to me,” I say with my usual cynicism. “I’m only too acquainted with police incompetence.”
“Only… this has the nothing to do with the police,” James points out.
“Yeah, well…” I wave it off.
“You really don’t have a high image of law enforcement, do you, Christian?” I turn to look at them.
“I’m sorry,” I say sarcastically. “It’s a byproduct of always being a considered a suspect when I need their assistance. Apparently, being wealthy is a crime in the state of Washington.” James shakes his head.
“Well,” Barney says, “the bank manager is currently being detained until the police arrive. Comerica Corporate ensures discretion as this is still an ongoing investigation. They’re also allowing the worms to continue to transfer the money to the two accounts until Myrick is apprehended on this end.”
“Two accounts.” It’s more of a statement than a question.
“Yes,” he continues. “The lion’s share is going to a larger account under the phony corporation. A smaller amount is being routed to a second account. We assumed it was the payoff account for your hackers.” Oh, yeah. As they aren’t a factor anymore, I forgot about them.
“How much time is…” Before I get my statement out, Jason interrupts me.
“Sir! We have visual identification of Robin Myrick!”
My heart starts palpitating and I can feel the sweat beading on my brow.
“He’s leaving an apartment building in the perimeter. He’s blonde now.” Why do they all go blonde? “We have the three-mile sting set up. What would you like to do?”
“Follow him. Find out where’s he’s going. Barney, James, keep me posted.” I walk out of Data Central with Jason close behind. “What are we waiting for now?” I ask.
“I think all we need is Cholometes’ or Alex’s word that the FBI is going to move forward and we can apprehend him.” I’m dialing Welch before he even has his words out of his mouth.
“Welch, Myrick’s on the move. What’s going on with the takedown? Please believe me, I’m more than willing to take matters into my own hands.”
“That won’t be necessary, sir. The FBI has actually been looking for him since he fled witness protection about a month ago. He’s not required to stay in the program, but they do like to ‘persuade’ you not to exit without fulfilling your civic duty. Since they have this bit of information, any deal he could cut with them is now void. Since you have his location, they can pick him up now—on criminal charges, this time. Make no mistake, he’ll negotiate a deal with them if he can, but he has so many charges against him that he’ll probably only be able to talk his way out of ‘life.’” I have to take what I can get, but that fucker has to know that it was me who caught him and not the FBI.
“We’re tailing him now,” I inform him. “He’s on the move. Can you let your contacts know that we’re tailing his location and movements?”
“Yes, sir. I’m sure they’ll let me know as soon as they know where he’s going,” Welch says.
“Can you give me a minute with him before they apprehend him?” I ask.
“I can’t guarantee that, sir, but I’ll see what I can do. If you’re in a public place, don’t assault him or they’ll take you into custody, too.”
“Understood.” I end the call just as the elevator gets to my office.
“You may want to get to the car, sir,” Jason says. “He’s packed and looks to be on his way out of town.”
“Shit!” I hiss as we scramble back into the elevator.
“You’re not going to believe this,” Jason says as we exit the car in the parking lot at SeaTac.
“What is it?”
“We’ve established where he’s going and what alias he’s using to travel. He’s so fucking careless that we didn’t even have to use our equipment. One of the guards looked right over his shoulder.”
“He’s going to Nepal—Kathmandu, to be exact.” Of course, he is.
“I thought they were meeting in Cancun,” I tell him.
“So did I, but apparently, he’s going to Kathmandu.”
“He could live like a king in Nepal,” I say. “No extradition treaty with the U.S. and with the money he’s taken from me and several others, he could live out his lifetime and several others in Kathmandu. With the right connections, he could set up shop there and never get caught.”
“That’s not all,” he says as we cross the street and weave through travelers loading and unloading at the curb. “He’s using the alias ‘Victor Grey.’” I freeze where I stand.
“You’re fucking kidding me,” I nearly growl.
“I’m fucking not,” he says solemnly. You steal my money. You steal my peace. And as you’re leaving town, the final twist of the knife is to steal my name.
“Is the FBI here yet?” I ask.
“FBI ETA is about 10 minutes, but there’s always someone here to stop him from getting on the plane.”
“That’s not my concern,” I say as I push through the doors. “Where is his flight leaving? Which gate?”
“This way—Cathay Pacific.” Two designer suits go running through the airport as we won’t be able to stop him once he gets pass the TSA checkpoint. We know that he just got here and has to check his bags. With the money he’s stolen, I don’t even know why he bothered to pack. Luckily for us, we’re both extremely fit and we get to his location before he even exits the line from checking his bags.
“FBI is in place at the checkpoint, sir,” Jason informs me. “Some are heading this way. Whatever you want to say, you better say it now.” I smile to myself. The takedown is about to happen, and I’m going to be here to see it. To the dismay and disapproving looks of some of the travelers, I position myself at the beginning of the line and stand there with my feet at shoulder width, hands clasped, and staring directly at Myrick. When he raises his head, he makes direct eye-contact with me.
He smiles as if he has the upper hand and proceeds to check his bags and get his boarding pass.
“You know, it’s faster to do that online, or in my case, have someone do it for you,” I say smoothly.
“Oh, someone did do it for me, dear brother. You did,” he says with a wide smile, while waving his boarding pass. “Thanks for the tic. You’re always a day late and a dollar short. I’m getting on a plane now. I have your money, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Coming to see me off?” He begins to proceed out of line and in the direction of the checkpoint.
“Oh, I wouldn’t say there’s nothing,” I say calmly. “Your problem is that you continue to underestimate me, and I don’t blame you. It’s my fault. I listened the heart of a beautiful and kind woman and I let you get away. I won’t make that mistake twice.”
“Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard all this macho alpha bullshit before,” he says, turning to face me and waving me off. “’You’ll rue the day you ever ran into me.’ ‘I’ll make your life a living hell,’ blah, blah, blah. I’ve heard it before from you and puffed-up blowhards just like you. It’s getting a little old. Any last words before I board my plane? Sunnier climes await.” Just over Jason’s shoulders, I see the jackets with the yellow lettering, the wool coats and suits and I already know that Myrick’s escort is here. It’s frightening how close he got to getting away. If the FBI hadn’t listened, I’d be going to prison for killing this man.
“Oh, on the contrary, I think you’re headed somewhere else,” I inform him with a smile. On that cue, FBI suits start swarming in from every angle. Myrick looks around and smiles.
“I think these guys might disagree with you, and you might want to step back. They don’t like it when people get too close to me.”
“Oh, you’re right about one thing. I do want to step back.” I take a step back and three of the FBI agents flank Myrick. He’s still smiling when they cuff him until I walk back towards him.
“You’re wanted for 116 counts of fraud, embezzlement, and extortion in 14 states,” I say just above a whisper. “The FBI doesn’t take too kindly to people in witness protection committing white-collar crimes.” His face falls and his skin turns white. He wants to struggle, to run, but he allowed them to cuff him and now, there’s nowhere for him to go. I lean in close to his ear.
“Just in case you manage to weasel your way out of this one, let me make something clear. The first time, I set you free. As a result, you tried to have me killed, try to steal from me, even stole my name Victor Grey, and threatened the safety of my wife and children. Now, I’m turning you over to the authorities. Try again… come at me once more… just once. I swear it will be your last time… your last anything! That’s a promise.” I pull back and glare into his eyes.
“I’m related to a key witness in the Sunset case!” he says to one of the agents, trying to bargain his way out of the mess he’s in. He wasn’t even a witness! He was being protected by association.
“Which doesn’t offer you immunity!” the agent responds. He looks from face to face until his eyes rest on mine.
“That’s okay,” he says with a shaky voice. “My father will get me out of this. He did it before, he’ll do it again.”
“You have a lot of confidence in your Dad. Last I checked, he’s still locked down for a long time.”
“Check again,” he says calmly. “You shouldn’t believe everything you hear, Grey, or in this case, everything you see.” The agents lead him away and start to read him his rights, and I suddenly get a sinking feeling. I should have had this fucker killed when I had the chance. He’s making my life a living fucking hell.
“Dad, I need you to email me all of Anton Myrick’s prison records—everything you have and anything you can get your hands on. I need it as quickly as possible,” I say into the phone when my Dad answers.
“Well, hello to you, too, son…” Dad begins.
“Dad, please, I’ll apologize later! Just get me the fucking information, fast!” I end the call and look at a quickly approaching Jason. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, yet, but you look like you’ve seen a ghost,” he says.
“I’m about to,” I sigh. “Get me a pilot and get the jet ready, now!”
So now I’m on the jet about to fly back to the last place on earth that I ever wanted to visit, and I realize that I haven’t told Butterfly that I leaving yet. I pull out my phone and dial her number.
She sounds tired and I want to hear about her day, but I know that we’ll be taking off any minute and I have to get out what I need to tell you.
“Hey, Butterfly. I don’t have much time. I’m on the GEH jet.” There’s a pause on the line.
“You’re what?” she exclaims. This is certainly not good news for her.
“On the jet,” I reconfirm. “There is some information that I have to check out. I think everything I’ve been told up to this point has been wrong.” I feel a chill going through my body. If this man could possibly set up some shit like this, it’s going to be hell on me and my family if he’s actually free, especially when he finds out that I orchestrated his son’s demise.
“How did this come about?”
“It’s such a long story and I don’t have time to tell you right now, but I promise that I will. Butterfly, I’m going to Detroit.”
“You’re going WHERE?!” she nearly yells into the phone.
“Detroit, baby,” I tell her. “We apprehended Myrick today. If what he has implied is true, then this isn’t over. I have to go and find out for myself before the news of his arrest makes it to the east coast.”
“Christian, don’t go,” she pleads. “I don’t feel good about this. Something’s going to go terribly, terribly wrong if you go. I feel it in my bones.” She’s terrified and I hate to put her through this.
“I have Jason with me and I promise, I’ll be careful. I won’t take any unnecessary chances. I’m mostly going on a fact-finding mission and that’s it. I swear nothing’s going to happen to me, baby. I swear.” The captain’s voice comes over the speaker’s letting us know that we’re about to take off. “I have to go Butterfly.”
“Christian, please…” she’s begging.
“Baby, I have to do this, and I can’t talk anymore. We’re about to take off.” She immediately starts to weep.
“I love you,” she breathes through her tears.
“I love you, too,” I say before quickly ending the call. I bury my face in my hands and silently curse the day these men were born. On top of everything she’s been through, everything I put her through, I made Butterfly cry. I feel like shit.
“Did you call Gail?” I ask Jason as the plane taxis down the runway.
“Yes,” is his one word reply.
“Good,” I say, never removing my hands from my face.
Son of a motherfucking goddamn fucking ever-loving fucking bitches and bastards from hell!!!!
“He’s going to Detroit! Why the fuck is he going to Detroit?” I wail from the back seat.
“He’s going WHERE?!” Chuck exclaims from the driver’s seat of my car.
“Detroit!” I scream, all rationality flying right out of the window. “He’s going to goddamn motherfucking Detroit!” There’s nothing good about this. Nothing at all. I don’t care that they’ve caught Myrick. I don’t care that the hacker situation is over. This is ghastly wrong. There’s nothing good about this, nothing at all!
“Why the hell is he going to Detroit? Why didn’t Jason call me?”
“I don’t know, but he’s going!!” I scream, my cries turning to hiccups. Chuck pulls the car to the side of the road.
“Listen to me, Ana. I need you to calm down. This is not good for the babies. I need you to breathe. If you don’t, I’m driving this car straight to the emergency room.” I look up and his blue eyes are looking right at me. I try to breathe, but I’m too upset. “Breathe with me, Ana,” he says, and his coaching helps to calm my breathing. “I’m getting you home right now,” he says as he puts the car in gear and drives us back to Escala.
“I take it she’s heard,” I hear Gail say as Chuck carries me into the penthouse.
“Yeah, she’s heard,” he says, and the next thing I feel under my body is our soft bed.
“They take trips all the time, Ana,” Gail tries to comfort me. “They’ll be fine.” I forgot that Jason is with him and Gail is probably no happier about this than I am. I can’t share my feelings with her. It will only make her worry.
Something horrible is going to happen. I just know it is.
I wake the next morning and I’ve been divested of my coat and boots though I’m still wearing my clothes from yesterday. My head feels like lead and the beans are quite upset with me for not eating dinner last night. I roll out of bed and strip on my way to the en suite. After relieving myself, I stand under the water and attempt to let it wash my troubles away. It’s not the hot shower that I truly need, but the lukewarm water will have to do for now.
My long hair and I have become friends, now. Christian loves it so much that at this point, I would only trim it a few inches, but I wouldn’t dare cut it off. He’ll even style it for me if I’m having a bad hair day. It’s cloaked around me when I get out of the shower after I’ve wrung it, and it’s surprising easier to dry at this length since I can lay it over my shoulder. The hair closer to my scalp presents a bit of a problem, but no more than it did when it was shorter. These days, I just tie it in some sort of knot and go.
I get dressed in my silk butterfly maternity shirt, a pair of black pants and my black suede fold-over high-heeled booties with the zipper on the side—no make-up today, I don’t really need it.
“Are you feeling any better, sweetie?” Gail asks when I sit at the breakfast bar. I put my head down.
“Not particularly,” I respond. “May I have some orange juice please?”
“That’s all you want?” I can hear the concern in her voice.
“No, I’d like a dozen scrambled eggs and two loaves of toast, but for right now, I need orange juice so that I can take these Tylenol.” She chuckles a bit.
“Just eggs and toast?” she says with mirth as she pours me a glass of orange juice.
“Bacon or sausage, some hash browns… don’t be shy with the helpings, either.” I hear the glass placed on the counter next to me. I raise my head slowly to pop the pills into my mouth, and drink half of the orange juice down. It helps instantly with a bit of the throbbing.
“Ana, they’ve gone on many trips before. Nothing bad has ever happened before, except for a lost business deal or something.”
“They’ve never gone to Detroit,” I protest. “Absolutely nothing good can come from my husband going to Detroit. I’m telling you, I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I have a horrible feeling of impending doom. I’m not just being a naysayer. It’s not the pregnancy hormones. It’s not because Christian left town and it’s not because he’s going to Detroit. I’m not being dramatic. I’m telling you that I have a horrible gut feeling and I’m going to do my best to flood my mind with positive thoughts because I don’t know why it’s there.” I rest my head in my hands.
“I hope you’re wrong, dear,” she says. “I think we’ve had just about all we can take this year.”
“Hear, hear!” I concur.
“I have to keep my gut feelings at bay sometimes,” she says. “When Jason and I started dating, I was slow to get too involved with him. Let’s face it—he’s personal protection for a high-profile billionaire with a lot of enemies. I didn’t want to get my heart involved. Companionship, yes. A good time every now and then, maybe. More than that, I was afraid. The job is just too high risk, but then years went by and nothing really happened but empty threats and failed attempts and I thought I was just being too cautious.” She puts the hash browns on a plate while the sausage finishes and starts the toast.
“So I let my guard down. I married him because I love him and there didn’t seem to be a reason why we couldn’t share our lives together. I’ve been blissfully happy since I’ve married Jason. Not happier than I was with Doug, maybe just different. The love you have for one doesn’t compare with the love that you have for the other. They’re just different, but he’s a remarkable man and I’m blessed to have him. Everything looked like it was going to be okay, and then, there was the shooting…” She trails off and I know that this is difficult for her to discuss.
“I’m sorry, Gail,” I say. “I didn’t mean to bring up bad memories.”
“It’s okay,” she says. “It’s not like I don’t think about things like this all the time.” She shakes her head as she plates the rest of the food. “I’ve just learned to keep the monsters at bay.” She puts the plate of food in front of me.
“I don’t know what Christian is doing in Detroit. I don’t know what’s taken him there. I do know that he’s a very smart man and he’s not prone to making foolhardy decisions or dumb mistakes. You have to trust him, Ana.”
I do trust Christian, it’s the rest of the world that I don’t trust.
“Thank you, Gail,” I tell her. “I’ll do my best.”
“Christian, I’m trying to understand what’s going on here and you’re not making this easy for me,” I tell him when he finally calls me around 11am. That’s 2pm Detroit time, so I’m a bit perturbed that it took him this long to contact me when he flew out last night. He didn’t even call me to let me know that the jet landed safely.
“I’m sorry, Butterfly. I just didn’t have time to explain to you what was going on. Then, things were moving so fast with the FBI involvement and all these cryptic messages I keep getting…”
“What cryptic messages?” I interrupt him. He sighs heavily.
“Myrick said something to me that left a really bitter taste in my mouth.”
“So, you saw him.” It’s a statement, not a question.
“Yes, I saw him,” he confirms. “The FBI apprehended him and let him know that being involved in what I now know is ‘the Sunset Case’ doesn’t make him immune to the law. To that, he responded that his father will get him out of this. When I told him that his father can’t do anything from behind bars, he told me to check again—that I shouldn’t believe everything I see and hear.” I’m still confused.
“Let me see if I’ve got this straight. You allowed the rantings of a desperate and clearly delusional man who has been manipulating you and stealing from you for the last several months send you across the country to a place that you swore you’d never visit again voluntarily? For what?” I’m trying to keep my temper at bay, but it’s slowly rising and fighting against me.
“He was in witness protection, Ana,” he informs me. Okay, now he’s got my attention. “That’s why we couldn’t find him! That’s how he faked his death! That’s why he could move around and not be spotted because he had fifteen different aliases that we know of! Witness relocation is random—how the fuck does someone who clearly thinks he’s my brother and has an ax to grind end up in witness protection in Seattle?” I’m pondering the situation and, although I know nothing about witness protection, I know that the relocation is random and that he shouldn’t be in Seattle.
“Okay,” I sigh, “so something is fishy, but he’s back in police custody and they know what he’s done. He’s no longer a guest under their hospitality. He’s a prisoner now. I still don’t understand the trip to Detroit.”
“He’s related to a material witness. He’s not the material witness. That person is still in hiding.” I gasp loudly. I see what he’s getting at.
“His father,” I breathe.
“Exactly,” Christian confirms. “Why would I allow you to lock me up in prison for an undisclosed amount of time if I’m your key witness in bringing down a major drug lord?
“Anton Myrick’s been in jail for years, but his son has been in protective custody. I’m not going to testify if you put me in jail, so you’ve got to get me out. I can’t leave my son exposed because they can use him to get to me.” The wheels are turning very quickly.
“His son is in protective custody and he can’t be protected if he’s in jail. Drug lords have friends in high and low places,” he says.
“That means that we both need to be protected, which means that the man in the jail cell…”
“…Can’t be Anton Myrick.” He finishes my sentence. I sigh and drop my head.
“When will this be over?” I lament.
“I don’t know, Butterfly,” he says, and I can hear the defeat in his voice. “Every time I think I’ve taken away an obstacle, three more pop up in its place. That island is sounding better and better.” I can see him in my mind’s eye running his hands through his hair.
“So are you going to see him? Is that why you’re there?”
“Yes. I need to see for myself that this is not the man in the jail cell. He set all of this in motion. He’s the one that caused all of this to happen. He planted those thoughts in Robin’s head that I was his brother, that I was the cause of all of their problems. He wanted all of this to happen. If that’s true, then he’s sitting back somewhere lying in wait, preparing to strike and I have no idea how he’s planning to do it.”
“How would you know if it’s him or not, Christian? You haven’t seen him in years!” I say.
“Oh yes, I have,” he corrects me. “That man has haunted my dreams for the last 25 years. I could pick him out of a line-up in the dark if he had plastic surgery and changed ethnicity!” I guess that’s means he’ll recognize him.
“How will you get in to see him, Christian?” I ask. “If he’s protected by the feds, they’re not going to let you just walk in there and prove that he’s not Anton Myrick.”
“I’ve got friends in high places, too,” he replies. “I’m waiting for the okay to see him now.” I sigh.
“What happens if he’s truly is the man in the cell?”
“Then I come home and rest easy.”
“And if he’s not?” He sighs.
“Then I come home and amp up security,” he responds.
“Christian, no,” I lament. I’ve already got Chuck attached to my hip. I know there’s going to be at least one more when the babies get here–probably two. I’m going to be a circus sideshow!
“There’s no other way, Butterfly. After 25 years, this man has infiltrated my life and is causing all kinds of discord and problems. Who do you know that holds a personal vendetta against a four-year-old? How could I possibly have been the root of this man’s problems so much so that he turned his son into a weapon to come after me after all these years?”
“This is truly never going to end,” I murmur, accepting my plight as Mrs. Christian Grey.
“Please, don’t give up on me, Butterfly,” he begs. “You’re all I have left…”
“I’m not giving up on you, Christian, I just…” I sigh again. “I have to adjust, that’s all.” Adjust my whole life, that is… my entire way of thinking… everything I thought my life would be as the wife of a billionaire… just… everything.
“I’ll make it up to you, baby. I promise.”
“I know,” I respond, my voice lacking conviction.
“I have to go, baby.”
“Okay.” I don’t have much else to say.
“I love you.”
“I love you, too.” We end the call and I just feel like the bottom has fallen out from under everything I knew. I should have known that catching Myrick would open several cans of worms. It just couldn’t be that easy. I sit back in the chair and lay my head on the headrest, watching all of life’s simple freedoms run out the door and far away from me. Thank God I have an appointment to see Ace tomorrow. I really need to unload on somebody.
Maybe Val is right. Maybe I have changed too much. I’m so damn untouchable that in a minute, none of my friends are going to be able to come within ten feet of me. Will I be able to live like that? I’m accustomed to coming and going as I please and doing what I want. I know there will be some restrictions, not only because I’m Mrs. Grey, but also because I’ll be a mother soon. But what will those restrictions entail? Either the paparazzi is following me or the boogeyman is after me, or Christian has to know my every move. My friends with regular lives have to be tired of dealing with that just to spend time with me.
Would I want to go back to the life I had before? I wasn’t unhappy. I just needed a few changes in my life—but the life I had before had no Christian. That thought is unbearable. I rub my stomach to draw that extra strength I’m always looking for.
“Bean One and Bean Two, things are not going to be quite like we thought they would.”
That afternoon, I throw myself full-on into the activities and duties at the Center. There’s more that I can get involved in than I thought and I’m only too happy to participate. I come to find out that we’ve begun a reading circle with younger children. I just sat and watched as they learned to read with each other and listened to one of the volunteers read at story time. I am pleased to see that Luma brings her girls to the circle while she volunteers with the families in the shelter. This is a new development, which is why I didn’t know about it, and she only volunteers after the children get out of school so that it doesn’t interfere with her job as Christian’s assistant’s assistant.
“Ana, what did you do?” Grace comes into the classroom with her laptop. I frown.
“Is something wrong?” I ask, trying to stay quiet and not interrupt the reading circle. She gestures for me to come into an empty classroom.
“Donations have been pouring in for the last two days!” she says, bringing up our website as well as the account for the Center. “They’ve been coming from everywhere! All across the state! Most of them make a reference to your interview?” The last part is a question instead of a statement. I frown and shake my head.
“What interview?” I ask. “I didn’t have an interview!”
“Well, that’s what they say.” She clicks on one of the comments attached to a $50 donation. “Anastasia Grey could choose to do whatever she wants as the wife of a billionaire, yet her choice is to help the less fortunate on a regular basis by donating her time and her salary to a help center. Talk about putting your money where your mouth is.”
She clicks on another one. “I’m so glad that Seattle’s elite doesn’t have another one of those useless trophy wives. We should all take a page from the book of Ana Grey. Beauty, brains, and compassion. Christian really hit the jackpot with this one.”
“Let me see that,” I say, turning the laptop to me. There they are—hundreds of donations ranging from $5 to several thousand from leaders of the community, housewives, students, blue-collar workers, you name it. “How did this happen?”
“I thought you could tell me,” Grace says. I open a new window and Google “Anastasia Grey Interview.” What looks like a YouTube video pops up of me outside the baby boutique yesterday in my white swing coat.
“Is that what they’re talking about?” I ask. Boy, Myra was right! Talk about using the spotlight to your advantage.
“Let me see.” Grace clicks the video and I start talking about helping needy families this holiday season. Some reporter is commentating and then the camera goes back to me.
“Dr. Grey is very particular about where the donations come from and where they go. She wants to make sure that all of the programs get the funding that they need to be able to continue and to benefit the families that use the services. She also wants the respect of the community—a charity by the people, for the people, so to speak. That’s why she doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty… digging in and doing the hard work. I respect her for that. I strive to be as dedicated as she is, which is why more of my time is dedicated to Helping Hands than to any other project, even my private practice.” Grace looks up at me.
“You said that?” she says, her eyes glassy. I shrug.
“I guess,” I respond. I don’t remember what I said. I was just talking.
“That’s one of the nicest things anybody has ever said about me and the Center,” she says, humbly.
“Well, it’s true, Grace. You have a practice—you’re a pediatrician—and you dedicate so much time and energy to this place. I don’t know how you do it, but’s it’s amazing. I know you wouldn’t let the place go under instead of taking help from Christian and me, but I also know that you do everything in your power to have this place be self-sufficient. They’re always following me around, shoving a camera in my face. All I’ve done is marry a rich man. How about we redirect the focus to something more important?”
“My son is a very lucky man,” she says with a big smile. “He has married the perfect girl for him.”
“Yeah, I tell him that all the time,” I jest, attempting to make light of the situation.
“Speaking of which,” she closes her laptop. “I’m told by Cary that he’s gone back to Detroit in search of that man.” I nod.
“Yes. It’s a long and detailed story,” I confess. She covers my hand.
“I can guarantee that whatever he’s looking for, whatever he finds, it’s going to be very disturbing. Nothing good can come from this quest even if he finds all of the answers that he’s seeking. The man was horrible—unfeeling and cold. He was hideous and cruel to Christian and had I known at the time that we were questioning him that he was the one who had tortured Christian, I would have publicly flogged him myself and then had him arrested.” There’s fire in her voice when she speaks of this, and I can only imagine the picture of this frail boy—one that she has come to love as her son—when the burns and scars were fresh on his tiny little body.
“He’s going to need you more than ever, Ana,” she says, her eyes filling with tears. “I can almost guarantee that his night terrors will return, and…” She chokes on a sob and I squeeze her hand to silence her.
“I’ll be there,” I promise her. “I’ll be there for him, Grace. We’ll work through it together. We’ve done it before, we’ll do it again. He’s stronger now,” I say in a soothing voice. “He’s overcome so much just since I’ve known him, and if his worst fears return, he’ll overcome those, too. I’ll be there, Grace. I promise.” She nods and collapses in tears on the table. I just hold her hand, rub her back, and let her cry for that poor four-year-old bruised and broken boy who just flew back to Detroit to find answers.
It’s been a long day, and I haven’t heard from Christian again. I turn out the lights in my office and Chuck and I head for the car to head home. We’re talking about the donations to the center and the obvious effectiveness of the impromptu interview when “Love The Hurt Away” starts to play in my messenger bag. I scramble to get it out of my purse.
“Christian?” I answer.
“Ana, where are you?” His voice is hurried.
“I’m in the car. What’s going on?”
“I’m at the airport in Michigan. I’m about to board the jet. Ana, I was right. The man in that cell is not Anton Myrick.”
“Are you sure?” I ask. “It’s been twenty-five years…”
“I’m positive!” he reinforces. “When someone looks you in the eye and brands your skin, you don’t forget what they look like!” You’re telling me! “He didn’t even know who I was. That’s not him. I’m telling you, that’s not him!”
Okay, okay, that’s not him.
“I want you to go to my Mom’s house until I get there,” he tells me. “I’ve locked his son away. I don’t want him coming after my family. Please go to my mom’s house. Please don’t fight me on this…”
“I won’t fight, Christian,” I tell him. “We’re on our way to Escala now. We’re almost there. I’ll grab some things and we’ll go. Is that okay?”
“Yes. Yes, that’s fine.” The relief is evident in his voice.
“Get on that plane and get back to me,” I beseech him. “I need you.”
“I’ll be there before sunrise, baby.” I nod.
“I love you, Christian. Please be careful.”
“I love you, too, Butterfly. I’ll see you soon.” I end the call, holding the phone tightly in my hands.
“What is it?” Chuck asks.
“He… um…” Breathe, Ana, breathe. “He wants me to go to his mother’s house. The man in the prison is not Anton Myrick.”
“Shit!” Chuck hisses. “That’s a whole new barrel of mess.”
“Yes,” I sigh. “I told him that I would get some things from Escala and then go to his mom’s house.
“Okay, we’ll do that. Try not to be too long, okay?”
“I won’t.” We’re almost home—just at the corner of 4th Avenue and Stewart—when I look over and see Chuck coming at me in a bright haze, then… nothing.
I’m doing my best not to leave a puddle of sweat in this seat as a wait for this monster to come into the room. I waited all day for clearance to see this fucker and it was truly like it took an act of Congress to get it done. I try not to remember him as the man who had so much control over me as a scared little boy; the man who dragged me from the closet, tied my hands and feet, and held me down while he taunted me with lit cigarettes before he put them out on my chest; the man who got my mother strung out on crack and ultimately killed her with that shit. I’m going to face him as a man now, a grown man. I’m going to look him in the eyes and confront him for the horrible shit that he did to me. Except…
What is this?
The guard walks in with this gray-haired man who sits down at the table in front of me. I examine him thoroughly—his eyes, his frame, his bone structure. As a child, I may not have remembered these things, but he never left me alone. For twenty-five years, he never left me alone, so I remember these things now. He’s considerably shorter, but that could be because I was about two feet tall the last time I saw him. This isn’t right.
“Yeah, who wants to know?”
“Grey. My name is Grey.” There’s not one bit of recognition in his eyes. I would say that he has no idea who I am. This could be an act, but I would bet my fortune that this is not Anton Myrick. I don’t know if I want this to be him to put my mind at ease or if I don’t want this to be him to show that my instincts aren’t completely wrong.
“Do you know who I am, Mr. Myrick?” I ask. He sits back in his seat.
“Can’t says I do,” he says, clasping his hands in front of him.
“I may have the wrong person. Do you mind if I ask you some questions?”
“Fire away,” he says nonchalantly.
“Your hair is gray. What’s your natural hair color?
“You ever dye it?” I ask.
“I’m an old man, son. Men didn’t put bottles to our hair in my day unless they were a little funny.” He does that hand wiggle I’ve seen before when older people are discussing homosexual men.
“How old are you, Mr. Myrick?”
“Sixty-five.” Sixty-five?? That would have made him forty when I was four and I’m certain that Myrick was not that old.
“Why are you in here?”
“Drug charge at first,” he says. “Then I beat somebody up, then anoddah one, then anoddah one—hell, I don’t even know how long I’m going to be here.” His eyes are the wrong color.
“Are you wearing contacts?”
“So brown is your natural eye color.” It’s a statement, not a question.
“Yeah, what’s this all about?” He’s getting restless now.
“Ella Fields,” I reply, and still no recognition whatsoever.
“Yes, do you remember her? It would have been a long time ago.” He looks like he’s truly going through his mental Rolodex to see if he remembers her.
“I remember a Ella Williams from some years back, but can’t says I know a Ella Fields.” Physical description doesn’t match and this guy doesn’t even send off alarm bells in me much less bring up bad vibes of the monster who abused me.
“Ella Williams, where is she now?” He scoffs.
“Hells I know,” he says. “Last I heard, she married some black man, spit out a coupl’a kids. I don’t know where she is now.”
“Why are you saying you’re Anton Myrick?” I ask.
“Because that’s my name.”
“Do you have a life sentence or something?” I ask. “Nothing to lose?” He just looks at me frowning. “Fine, Mr. Myrick, have it your way. Here’s your final test. Ella Fields was my mother. We lived in a trailer park about twenty-seven years ago. I was four at the time. Any of this ringing a bell yet?”
“No,” he says hesitantly, shrinking a bit in his chair.
“She was a young woman, very young, long brown hair. She was a crack addict. She used to sell her body for money and drugs. You were her pimp. Still no recollection?”
“W… What’s this about?” he says, his voice quivering.
“I’m telling you what this is about, Mr. Myrick, since that’s your name.” I stand and remove my tie, handing it to Jason. “Ella Fields was my mother. I’m her only child. My name is Christian. Christian Grey! It used to be Christian Fields, but you probably wouldn’t remember that since you only ever called me ‘you little shit!’”
I’m unbuttoning my shirt as I tower over him, this helpless looking little old man that was convinced to say that he’s someone else.
“My mother overdosed on drugs and killed herself to get away from you. You came in and found her dead, kicked the shit out of me with a pair of combat boots and left me there for four days with her decomposing dead body!” I snatch open my shirt and lift my T-shirt up to my neck.
“Do you see this?” I hiss at his cowering frame. “These are cigarette burns! I’ve got several on my back, too. You did this to me when I was four years old! Four years old!” I bark.
“F-f-four?” he’s stutters.
“Christian!” Jason brings me back to my senses and I look down at the shivering, shaking, little man who looks like he’s pissed his pants.
“No problem. We’re done here,” I say coolly, never taking my eyes off Myrick while I button my shirt and tuck it back into my pants. Jason bangs on the door, calling for the guard while I lean down close to the little actor.
“The next time you decide to play the role of another prisoner, you might want to know about all of his crimes first.” He’s shrinking away from me with tears in his eyes. I don’t feel any sympathy for this man—none whatsoever.
“Christian, let’s go,” Jason says, tugging forcefully at my arm.
We move quickly through the jail, through each checkpoint and guard station until we get to the front window. While we’re retrieving our phones and identification, the warden greets us at the door.
“Did you find what you were looking for, Mr. Grey?” He says in a cocky, self-assured tone.
“Oh, I found exactly what I was looking for,” I tell him, looking him square in the eye. His self-assured smugness slowly slides off his face as I stare at him. By this time tomorrow, he will know exactly who I am and why I was here. He will also know that he fucked up in pushing that old geezer in my face and trying to pass him off as the man who has haunted my nights every day of my life. For once, I don’t have the desire to play the stare game. I leave him there uncertain as Jason and I make our way off the premises.
I don’t say a word as we get into the car and wait for the gates to open to signal our freedom. The gate slowly slides open, and Jason guides the sedan onto the two lane road and away from the prison. I’m wound so tight that I can barely think. I immediately call Butterfly and tell her to go to my mother’s house until I can figure out what we’re going to do next. I explained to her earlier about my theories and why I was here. Finding out that I’m right is a bittersweet moment—sweet because my instincts were correct, and bitter because I don’t know what this fucker is up to or where he is.
The FBI can’t be this sloppy to put someone in the goddamn cell that doesn’t even look like Myrick. What took all day? Why didn’t they just say “no” to my request and save us all this headache? My theory is that they weren’t prepared; that the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing and that the contact here in Ionia had no idea whatsoever that I was even on the way, much less that I was responsible for the takedown of the prisoner’s son in Seattle. Most likely, Myrick is holed up or hiding out somewhere in witness protection like his son, and Robin is expecting for Myrick to use his pending testimony in the Sunset Case as a bargaining chip for Robin’s freedom. The problem with that thinking is that he has most likely used it as a bargaining chip for his own freedom.
I never even looked into Myrick’s charges myself. I always had Dad do it. I never thought of the FBI angle at all. Even now, I’ve flown off to Detroit to discover that the man in the cell wasn’t Myrick. I haven’t even examined this angle.
“So you knew all along that guy wasn’t Myrick?” Jason asks.
“From the moment he sat down.”
“So why all the theatrics?”
“In case someone was watching… and I know that they were,” I respond.
“Why didn’t you just go to the warden?” I look at my head of security like he has two heads.
“Because he’s in on it,” I tell him. “There’s no way they have a man in this jail and the warden doesn’t know that he’s not Anton Myrick. They’re all in on it and I just needed to get out of there before they have me locked up and saying that I’m someone else.”
“What do we do now, boss?” Jason asks.
“We get the hell outta here. Call whoever you need to call and get that jet on the runway.”
“Already there, Sir, waiting for your go-ahead and you just gave it to me.” He dials a number—the pilot, I assume—and gives the okay to get that bird in the air. In the meantime, I call Welch.
“Myrick Sr., have we attempted to locate his whereabouts?”
“No, sir. From the intel from Mr. Grey, we always assumed that he was in Ionia. That’s not the case?”
“No, that’s not the case. I have no idea who’s in Ionia, but it’s not Anton Myrick. It was the worst switcheroo I’ve ever seen. We need to get any information that we can on the Sunset Case in Detroit, Michigan, then we need to use it to find out where Anton Myrick is. He’s in witness protection, too. Robin was being protected because of him.”
“Whoa,” is his only reply. “I’ll get on it, sir.”
“Good. Oh, and Welch?”
“I want you to clean out the attorneys,” I tell Welch. Jason frowns.
“Sir?” Welch questions.
“I am officially making an example of anybody who fucks with me. By the time the Myrick story hits the mainstream media, anybody who has crossed me will know that I’m coming for them—starting with those fuckers that tried to screw me over with that goddamn prenup. Now make it happen! I want their stocks, bonds, bank accounts, retirement funds, Christmas club accounts, everything! If they’ve got nickels hiding in a jar on a shelf in a hut in Zimbabwe, I want ‘em! I want those fuckers looking for work in the Thrifty Mart by Monday. Am I clear?”
“You’re gonna make a lot of enemies, sir,” Jason warns.
“I’ve already got a lot of enemies,” I bark. “I’ve been too easy on the fuckers up to now. That’s why Dodd and Myrick thought it was okay to pull this shit!” I turn my attention back to the phone. “You haven’t answered me, Welch.”
“Consider it done, sir,” he says without hesitation and I end the call.
When 911 happened and I awoke to the news that two planes had crashed into the World Trade Center, I remember my world tilting on its axis for so many reasons. I was wondering who could be so brazen or desperate or angry or suicidal or hateful to do something like this… to crash a plane into a building. Most of all, I thought about all those people—all those people who were going to die that day.
Not once did I think that the buildings would come crashing down that way. I’m not sure that the people who did this thought that would happen. I think the collapse was just a fucking bonus for those monsters. Although the tragedies happened hours prior to when I actually saw them, for me, they were happening right then, live and in living color before my very eyes. The news spoke of thirteen more planes that were unaccounted for. I had no idea what was going on.
My first thought was that I couldn’t understand why a plane would be flying that low in the first place, a commercial jet no less. I didn’t have enough time to process the news about the first plane when I heard about the second plane because, again, these things had happened hours before I awoke and got the news. As smart as I am, I was still confused, but suspicious when I heard that the second plane had hit the second tower. By the time the news of the destruction of the Pentagon reached me, I knew that we were under attack.
I didn’t know if there was any rhyme or reason to whomever was attacking us. I just remember feeling like one of those missing planes was going to come through my window and get me at any second. As illogical as it might have been, I expected to see the nose of a 747 headed straight for my dorm—right into my bedroom window aimed right at me. I was at Harvard, and I wanted to go home—to my family. I remember being worried about Mia, about Elliot, about my mom and dad…
…and about Elena.
I have that same feeling now, like one of those planes is aimed at my home and my wife and children, and it’s going to hit any minute. I don’t know what we’re going to do. The new house will be a fortress. They’ll be safe there, but what about until the house is finished? I don’t want them at Escala, that’s all I know for sure. I want them safe. They have to be safe.
A/N: Pictures of places, cars, fashion, etc., can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/becoming-dr-grey/
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