I’m not a medical professional. Please don’t chew up the chapter because it doesn’t match what your medical degree or certificate has taught you.
If you feel like reading it, there’s a bit of my opinion in I Have To Admit… They’re Winning.
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 16—Coming Out of the Dark
I don’t know how long we sit there like that before there’s a light knock at the door. I turn my attention to the door to see a brush of dusty blonde hair and brown eyes peak around it.
“Al…” I breathe. He steps cautiously into the room. My best friend—I don’t remember my husband, but I remember my best friend. I feel a slight twinge from that. I look over at him and he squeezes my hand.
“It’s okay,” he says, and I swear he read my thoughts. That’s creepy. I look back over at Al who silently pulls a chair next to my bed. He sits down and it’s clear that he doesn’t know what to say.
“Al?” I say softly, and the color returns to his face.
“He said…” he chokes, “He said you lost your memory. I didn’t know if you would remember me.”
“I’ve only lost the last couple of years, I think,” I tell him. “I haven’t asked any questions because I’m a bit afraid to know the truth right now. I’ll wait until after all the tests are done, then I’ll ask.”
“You’re pregnant,” he says, by means of informing me.
“Yes, I know,” I laugh nervously, “and married apparently.” I look over at Christian.
“Apparently?” Al says, “You don’t remember that?” He points to Christian. I laugh. Same old Al.
“Subconsciously, yes, I do…” I begin.
“You do?” Christian asks, surprised. I nod.
“I’m drawn to you like I’ve never been drawn to anyone before. I… ached when you left the room. I’ve never felt this connection with anyone, not even Eddie.”
”Eddie?!” Al nearly yells. “How far back did you go?” I shrug,
“I don’t know,” I tell him. “I’m honestly afraid to find out.” Al shakes his head.
“You called the double-dicker Eddie. You’ve gone back kind of far.”
“Allen,” Christian says, “don’t scare her.”
“Too late,” I inform him. “I was afraid when I woke up and didn’t know where I was.”
“So much has happened, Jewel,” he says, his voice sad. “It’s been many years since you’ve called that man Eddie and right now, you don’t even dare say his first name.”
“Which one?” I shoot before I know it. I shake my head. “I remember the break up, so…” I trail off.
“Thank God,” Christian says, low enough that he doesn’t think I hear him. I look over at him.
“I don’t remember our life together,” I lament. “I want to, but I don’t right now. The fact that Al is not snarling at you means that we must have a good relationship.” There’s a slight twinge in his eye. Something’s wrong.
“Allen works for me now,” he says. I look over at Al.
“Is that how we met?” I ask. Al shakes his head.
“It was the other way around. It’s a really long story.” Al says. I look from him to Christian.
“There’s something else,” I observe. Christian nods.
“We were touch and go for a moment a little while back,” he admits. “There was something going on with the business and I was completely consumed with it. That left very little time for my lovely wife.” I examine him for a moment.
“That didn’t go over well with me, did it?” I ask him.
“No, not well at all. We… stopped talking for a while.”
“How long is a while?” I ask, frowning.
“About a month.”
“A month?!” I nearly screech. “Are you serious? I didn’t talk to you for a month because of your job? I really am a bitch!” That’s just ridiculous.
“No, Butterfly, it was more than that. We got it all straightened out now, so there’s no need to worry about it.” My brow furrows.
“Was there another woman?” I ask timidly.
“No!” he answers immediately. I turn to Al. “No, Jewel,” he confirms. I turn back to Christian.
“Why wouldn’t I speak to you?” I ask, almost forlorn. What happened that I wouldn’t speak to my husband for a whole month?
“I…” He’s hesitant and I know it must be something really bad, so I prepare myself. “I wasn’t speaking to you.” I shake my head in shock.
“Well, at least that’s not gone,” Al says, and I deduce that he’s talking about my head shake.
“You weren’t…” Why the hell wasn’t he speaking to me?
“Are you sure you want to hear this right now? There’s so many other things we can talk about…”
“Yes!” I yell. This can of worms is open and now I want to know what’s inside. Christian sighs heavily.
“You don’t see your patients much anymore, just a handful. In case you’ve gone back this far, you don’t volunteer at the community center either.” I don’t remember any community center. “You spend most of your time now as assistant director of a charity called Helping Hands. My mother is the director…”
He takes the next few minutes and describes to me how I convinced his mother to allow me to meet with a group of donors to try to pry some more money out of their hands and boy, did I give it a class-A effort… or more like a classless-F effort. As he’s describing my attire and behavior—as a married, soon-to-be mother of twins—I feel myself shrinking more and more into the bed. He talks about how hurt he was. His words are so gentle and because of his pained expression, I know that he’s down-playing it for my benefit. He talks about how his mother reamed us both a new asshole—me for being such a classless twit and him for allowing the situation to deteriorate so far. I feel like shit. I want to fucking disappear. It would have served me right for him to leave me. I’m lucky all he did was stop speaking to me.
“Shit!” He exclaims as he reaches under my arms, wraps his arms around me and drags me up the bed so that I’m sitting more upright. He comes as close to me as he can and he’s gently stroking my face while looking deeply into my eyes, examining me. What just happened?
“She hasn’t done that in a while,” Al says, and I’m wondering what they’re talking about.
“I knew I shouldn’t have told you,” Christian says, shaking his head. “It’s too much and I should have waited for it to come back to you.”
“It may never have come back to me,” I admit, my voice small. As much as I’m hoping for the opposite, I’m a doctor and I know that I may never regain the last year… or two… or three… or whatever I’ve lost.
“That probably would have been best,” he laments, still stroking my face.
“What… just happened?” I ask, not sure I really want to know this either. “Why did you freak out? And what haven’t I done in a while?” He and Al look at each other, then back at me.
“Shrinking,” Christian says softly. Shrinking? What the…? “When something becomes too much for you, you shrink. You make yourself small. You go into yourself. It’s your way of dealing with things… or not dealing with things, I should say. Ace helped you stop doing it so that you could move forward with your life, but now…” His words trail off and I gaze into his beautiful gray eyes, his pupils now constricted.
“I’m shrinking again,” I finish his sentence. The shrinking shrink… how ironic. He nods.
“I really think you need to talk to Ace, baby,” he says softly.
“I need a whole lot more than that,” I say, unable to hold my tears back. “I don’t remember my life! Our courtship! Our wedding! Conceiving our babies! I could have lost you because I was busy shaking my pregnant ass for a bunch of strangers! Who does that?!” I’m screeching now, and Christian is trying to calm me down. I’m rambling on about God only knows what before I see people coming into the room. Christian is still trying to calm me, but it’s like I have no control over my emotions. I’m scared, I mean really scared. I don’t know who I am. I don’t know what’s going on with my life. I don’t know what’s happening. I’m terrified out of my wits. Now, I see Christian backing away from me and some uniformed person taking his place… a doctor? A nurse? An intern?
No… no, please don’t leave me. I’m sorry! I’m sorry I was such an insensitive twit. Please…
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” I say, reaching for him. I see a big house and the morning sky; black cars driving up a gravel driveway. He exits one of them and my heart sinks… and my babies begin to move frantically. I’m going to be sick. I’m going to die. My chest hurts.
“I’m sooorrry!” I cry, reaching for him. Just as he reaches for me, someone in a dark suit holds him back. No. No, let him go. Let him come to me. I need him…
“Ana!” His voice is tortured… and everything goes black.
She doesn’t remember me.
She doesn’t remember us.
I feel like my chest is going to cave in. I feel the walls closing in on me. She doesn’t remember me. She doesn’t remember me at all.
“Boss?” Jason’s voice pulls me out of my maudlin. “Is everything okay?”
“She’s… she’s awake,” I manage to choke out.
“She is?” he exclaims. “That’s good, right?”
“She doesn’t remember me.” His silence speaks volumes. I raise my eyes to his face and see a myriad of emotions—sorrow, sympathy, pain, confusion, pity.
“She… what?” I run my hands over my face and through my hair.
“She doesn’t remember me. Near as I can tell, she’s somewhere in 2009… or 2010. It seems like small bits of things might be coming back to her, but nothing substantial.”
“What do you mean?” His voice is heavy with concern. I sigh as I take out my blackberry.
“She didn’t remember that she was pregnant, but once she realized it, she knew that they were twins… and she recognized my handkerchief.”
“That’s something, Boss. That means you’re not completely gone,” Jason tries to comfort me. What if she doesn’t want to remember me? What if this is her brain’s way of protecting her from me?
“I need to call Ace,” I tell him. “Would you call Allen and Ray? I’m sure she would want someone familiar near her right now.”
“Is she shunning you, Boss?” he asks. I shake my head.
“No. Actually, she’s quite the opposite—confused, but warm, the exact person you would expect her to be if she didn’t know I was such an asshole.” I dial Ace’s number and put the phone to my ear.
“Ace, it’s Christian Grey.”
“Christian, hi,” his voice is cautious. “You’re calling me. I assume there’s a change in Ana’s condition.”
“There is. She’s awake,” I tell him.
“And there’s a pause. What’s wrong?”
“She doesn’t remember me,” I tell him… and there’s another pause.
“Amnesia?” he asks, puzzled. I nod, feeling a bit choked up before I realize that he can’t see me.
“Yes,” I manage, without sounding too pathetic. “As far as I can tell, she’s somewhere in 2009 or 2010 maybe, before me but after David.”
“That’s a strange way to describe her location,” he says.
“What do you mean?” I nearly snarl.
“You described where she is in terms of who she was with, not in terms of any other significant moment in her life. I just find it strange.”
“Well, excuse me for being a bit selfish!” I yell into the phone. “My wife that I adore dearly and has been unconscious for several days awakes and doesn’t know who I am! Forgive me if I couldn’t find a more suitable gauge for you!”
“Christian, I’m sorry,” he says immediately. “Of course, this is a very trying time for you and my remarks were insensitive. I hope you will forgive my callousness.” Motherfucking shit son-of-a… I want to be mad, but that’s one of the most sincere apologies I’ve ever had in my life.
“She needs to talk to a shrink. She needs someone familiar. I recommended you.”
“Christian, if she doesn’t know you, she certainly doesn’t know me right now…”
“I know that, but you know her. She wanted Maxine because she thought Maxine was still treating her. I explained that it was you and why and she agreed to talk to you.” He sighs.
“I have a full day, but I get there as soon as I can. Same room, right? They haven’t moved her?”
“No, she hasn’t been moved. She’s in the same room. I need to get back.”
“Christian, I really am sorry. It’s the shrink in me—I’ll try to put a leash on it in the future,” he reinforces.
“Fine,” I say, hearing the defeat in my voice before ending the call.
“Boss?” Shit! I forgot Jason was still in the room. He scared the hell out of me!
“Allen is on his way. I gave him as much of a heads-up as I could so that he’s not ambushed by the situation when he gets here. Do you need anything? Something to eat? A change of clothes?” I think the last part was more of a suggestion than a question. I scrub my hand over my face.
“Bring something for Ana, something comfortable—her long white Victorian gown, she likes that one… and the throw off the sofa in the great room. She’s very fond of that. Oh, bring some socks for her feet. It gets cold in here and those hospital socks are horrid. Bring her body wash… the Chanel, no… the lemongrass… Bring them both…” Jason puts his hand on my shoulder.
“I got it, Boss,” he says, silencing me. “Ben and Chance are here if you need anything.” I nod and go back to the room with my wife.
I’m not pleased at all by the sight that greets me. This fucking doctor is sitting on the bed, damn near in my wife’s lap. Since when do they get that damn cozy? I waste no time in getting him the fuck off that bed. Get away from my wife, you fucking vulture!
He describes the accident and Butterfly’s condition, speaking completely in doctor terms and I wonder if he’s doing it just to spite me. Even when he explains it so that I can understand, he doesn’t forego the opportunity to touch my wife. I almost want to slap him senseless when he takes this haughty attitude and tone to describe how much he likes my wife and would gladly take her home with him… were he not gay. Fucker! I don’t care if you are gay. You still don’t have permission to get all cozy with my wife!
“You’re very possessive, aren’t you?” Butterfly’s voice brings me out of my train of thought as Hill leaves the room. Oh, my dear, you have no idea. I tell her a very small bit about our life and that we need to do a better job of protecting her. We’re sitting so close and she’s so vulnerable. I don’t want to rush anything but…
“I want to kiss you.” Shit! Did I say that out loud?
“I think I’d like that.” Did I hear her correctly? Oh God, I can’t resist. I close the space between us and her lips taste like sweet honey. My ravaged soul is soothed by the simple act of kissing her. I bring her closer to me, feel her warmth, and absorb her aura. She pushes her hand into my hair and I’m transported—to all of the times we made love, all of our tender or passionate kisses. I’m hungry for her. I can’t stand it. My tongue explores her mouth, remembering its familiar taste and feel, consuming her. I’m ravenous! I could gobble her up in one bite!
Control yourself, Grey. You’re in a hospital and she doesn’t know who you are. You might scare her.
“We have to stop,” I say, reluctantly wrenching my mouth from hers, but still holding her close to me.
“Okay,” she breathes, her fingers still tangled in my hair. Fuck, I want to kiss her again, and she’s just as affected as I am. Control, Grey… control.
“You’re irresistible,” I tell her by means of an apology. She’s afraid and so am I. Neither of us knows what to expect.
Allen comes into the room and we both attempt to analyze what’s happening and where in time Butterfly actually is. I thought I would lose the lining of my stomach when she called that fucker Eddie. God help me, I don’t know how I’m going to get through this.
Somehow, we wander to the month that we weren’t speaking and I swear to God and everything holy, I wish we hadn’t. Butterfly completely lost it. She starts shrinking and then she starts screaming. I don’t know what happened, but when she started wailing that she was sorry again—like she did the day we found her at the Mercer house—my heart starts burning in my chest. I tried to bring her out of it, but it was like she couldn’t hear me. When that doctor came in and snatched me from her side, I almost hit him. If Jason hadn’t been there, I would have. She’s reaching for me and pleading with me and they won’t let me get to her.
“Let them work, Christian!” Jason hisses in my ear, and it’s the only thing that keeps me from launching myself at her, rescuing her from whatever fear has her paralyzed and pleading.
“Ana!” The word is barely audible, but I’m crying from my soul. Her eyelashes flutter and in moments, she’s out like a light. What the hell?
“She’s pregnant! What did you give her?” I demand.
“A sedative! She’ll be fine! What happened in here?” Dr. Hill is just as demanding.
“We were just talking,” I hiss. “I don’t know what happened!”
“What were you talking about?” I refuse to answer. He turns to Allen.
“It was nothing, really,” Allen tries to appease him. “She just had a bad reaction to some of the things we were talking about. No one did anything wrong.” Hill tilts his head like he’s losing his patience.
“I don’t know what’s going on or what happened, but she was screaming ‘I’m sorry’ to you.” He points his finger accusingly at me, “and she needs rest, so you need to leave.” What the fuck?
“She’s been resting for days and you can’t keep me from my wife!” I protest.
“My patient needs rest!” he reinforces. “She’s been awake for an hour… maybe! I come in here and she’s screaming bloody murder! I don’t know what you said to her, but the very last thing she needs to be doing in her condition and mental state is apologizing to anyone for anything! Whatever happened in here that nobody wants to tell me is interfering with her care. Now, she’s had another traumatic experience and she needs rest or she won’t recover.”
“I won’t. Leave her. Alone,” I growl at him.
“Chris, I’ll stay with her,” Allen says, his usual way of playing peacemaker. I’m getting this fucking doctor off her case. He’s too damn close and I don’t know why. I look from him back to Hill.
“Get her records together. I’m getting another doctor,” I announce.
“You do that, and any other doctor worth anything will tell you the same thing. She can’t be upset right now because she is extremely fragile. Whatever tactic you used that you thought might bring her back to the here and now might have set her back even worse. So you go ahead and get another doctor if that’s what you choose to do, but right now, she’s under my care and I need you to leave!” He can’t just throw me out of her room this way! She’s my wife!
“Chris… I’ll stay,” Allen says again. I am fuming. I want to strangle this man with my bare hands. If he thinks he’s going to be able to keep me from my wife, he has another think coming.
“Boss…” Jason’s coaxing me to leave, too. I brush past him and out the door, straight to the nurses’ station.
“Anastasia Grey, room 4217. I want another doctor,” I say to the nurse on staff. She looks at me as if I’ve spoken a foreign language.
“Excuse me, sir?” she says, like she can’t understand what I’ve said.
“My wife, Anastasia Grey, is in room 4217. I want another doctor on her case. Dr. Hill has formed some sort of unhealthy emotional attachment to my wife. I don’t know how or why, but I want him off of her case as soon as possible. I don’t want him treating her anymore.” She sighs.
“Mr… Grey, is it?” she says. Is she stupid? Didn’t I just say my wife was Anastasia Grey… twice? “Dr. Hill is one of the best doctors on staff, sir. I can guarantee you that your wife is getting the best possible care. It would be unwise to…”
“I’m not interested in your opinion of Dr. Hill,” I cut her off. “I said I want another doctor for my wife. Now what do I need to do to make that happen?” She glares at me.
“That’s a very difficult thing to do, Mr. Grey. Most of the doctors on staff are remiss to take over a patient after another doctor has been treating them for several days, particularly from Dr. Hill. He’s tops in his field, sir. I’m sure if you would just…” And I’m tuning her out. She doesn’t seem to hear me and I’m quickly losing my patience, what little bit I have, that is.
“Lady, my name is Christian Grey. My mother is on staff here and I’ve practically funded at least three wings in this hospital. Are you honestly telling me that I can’t get another doctor for my wife?” Realization dawns in her eyes, but when she speaks, her voice is unmoved.
“I’ll get the head of neurology for you, sir, but I can’t make any promises,” she replies.
“Yeah, you do that,” I say, rolling my eyes before leaving the nurses’ station. Allen is standing outside of Butterfly’s room when I return. “You said you wouldn’t leave her,” I accuse.
“I haven’t ‘left’ her. She’s fast asleep and she’s just on the other side of the door.” His voice is firm and I’ve just about enough of people taking that tone with me. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. He lets it out and brings his eyes back to mine.
“I can only imagine how hard this must be for you,” he begins. “The love of your life is on the other side of that door and she can’t remember you or your life together. I get it, Chris. I really do, but you’ve got to dial it down a bit. It’s not going to help you or Jewel for you to lose your temper.” He’s blaming me? I didn’t do anything wrong.
“I asked her if she really wanted to talk about that. I knew it was a bad idea. You were there… I tried to deter the conversation…”
“I know,” he interrupts me. “That’s why I told him nobody did anything wrong, but you have to understand that the patient is their first priority, not you. Even though you are her husband, if they feel like you’re doing something to jeopardize her care, they can have you banned from the hospital. We both know that would not be good for Jewel.” I don’t want to listen to reason right now. I just want to be with my wife, and I feel like this doctor is the only thing standing between us right now.
“Go easy on Dr. Hill, Chris. He’s a good doctor.”
“How would you know?” I hiss. He sighs.
“We used to date.” They used to what? “It was a long time ago. I knew he would be here and I asked him to look out for my friend. If he’s a bit over-protective, it’s because of me. I’m sorry. Please…” Why is this so important to him?
“Why do you care so much that I go easy on this doctor? There are other doctors…”
“Not as good as Clay,” he says. “He’s one of the best in his field and I know it, and not because we used to fuck.” Ouch, TMI. “He’s the best you’re going to get and my Jewel—your Butterfly—deserves the best. Please!”
I turn away from Allen and walk down the hall without a word. I’m too damn conflicted to hear anything he has to say. I’m suffering—badly—and everyone wants me to be level-headed. I go to the private family lounge and fall down onto the leather sofa. How can he expect me to stay away from my wife?
“Boss?” Jason comes into the room and breaks my train of thought. “I thought you might want an update on the information from the accident.” Yes, yes, give me another task, something to occupy my mind.
“What’s going on?” I ask him. He sits next to me and pulls out his phone.
“They’ve found the owner of the car that hit Ana’s. It’s a guy named Mylo Stevenson. He has no significance to you or her that we know of. He was arrested on a warrant a few days prior from a previous DUI and was in county lock up the night of the accident. He still is, so he obviously wasn’t driving the car. The police talked to him and he swears that he doesn’t know who had his car or who caused the accident. He would have been a good suspect for it had he not been in jail already, so he thinks somebody might be trying to set him up. To that end, we tried to find out who would have had access to his apartment or his keys and found his girlfriend, Hillary Walker.” He thumbs through his phone and pulls up another picture. Nope, still no one of any importance to me.
“Walker has no prior convictions of any kind, lives in North Seattle, nothing remarkable about her that we can see. We have her under surveillance, but we’re pretty certain that she wasn’t the person driving the car.”
“How are you certain?” I ask him. He taps into his phone and pulls up a picture.
“Alex sent me this. It’s the view from one of those traffic cameras that track your speed.” The picture is of Butterfly’s Audi and the black Chevy that T-boned her. There’s a woman hanging out the passenger side of the vehicle. We knew this part.
“What’s different?” I ask.
“What’s different is the view that we were able to get from the security camera from the office building across the street. It’s Maldstrom, LTD. They were only too happy to assist, and quite willing to sign an NDA.” Of course, they were. They’ve been trying to get into bed with GEH for years.
Jason pulls up the video surveillance from Maldstrom’s outside security cameras. There’s a very clear view of the street. Charles and Butterfly clearly had the right of way. The Chevy was driving at a normal rate of speed and just as Butterfly’s car was proceeding through a green light, the Chevy picks up speed and hits her in seconds. It couldn’t have been timed more perfectly. The cars are in a mangled mess and the driver of the Chevy stumbles out and limps down the road in the direction that she came. However, there’s a clearer picture than the one from the traffic camera.
“She’s hurt,” I observe.
“Yes, she is. She’s hurt pretty badly.” He thumbs through his phone again. “Alex reached out to his contacts to find out if any young women were hospitalized with injuries conducive to an auto accident that night. Of course, Her Highness came up first, but a few others came up as well.” She looks familiar. That’s fucking creepy. That means I know this woman and whoever it is, she came after my wife, right in the wake of this shit with my company.
“Who came up?” I ask. I’m weary and I don’t even want to bark at him for withholding information. He shows me a list of six names, none of them familiar to me. “I’ve got nothing,” I tell him.
“We didn’t either, until we visited the women on this list. Two of them died, four are still in serious but stable condition. Those four were confirmed to have been in accidents in other parts of the city. The last two were undetermined. One has already been buried. One is still in the morgue.” He scrolls and shows me the picture of the last woman still in the morgue.
“Fucking hell! Are you sure?” I ask him.
“The only way to be absolutely sure is to identify her body,” he says. I shake my head.
“Go back to the video,” I instruct him. He plays the video again and I watch the assailant stumble from the car. I replay the video a few more times and there’s no doubt in my mind.
“Why is she still at the morgue?” I ask.
“Nobody has come to identify her,” he answers. It’s been nearly two weeks.
“That’s because she doesn’t have any family,” I confirm with a sigh. “Take me to the morgue.”
“What happens to her if no one claims her body?” I ask the young morgue attendant.
“Well, they can be donated to science to be used as cadavers. It’s too late for organ donation and she would have been a good candidate, but we couldn’t find a next of kin. Other than that, they’re usually held for a while and then cremated and placed in an indigent grave.” I shake my head. I feel responsible. I damn well should.
“She doesn’t have any family,” I tell him. “I’ll claim her body. See to it that she has a proper burial.”
“Um, sir, there’s some forms that need to be completed and, well, you have to pick the funeral home that you want her to go to. We have to wait to see if any family claims her before we can release her to you since you’re not next of kin…”
“No one’s going to claim her!” I hiss, then I sigh. He’s just doing his job. “How long do we have to wait?” He looks uncertain.
“Let me get my boss, sir, if you don’t mind,” he says. I nod.
“I don’t mind.” He leaves the room and goes in search of his boss. I turn around and look into the blank face of the brown-haired beauty before me. She was once very lively, and quite psychotic. Now, she lies here lifeless. Even though her body is shrouded, I can tell that she’s much thinner than she used to be.
“I’m sorry, Naomi,” I say to the lifeless form on the slab in front of me. “I couldn’t save you. I couldn’t give you what you wanted. You knew that.” I drop my head. Did she? Did she really know that? I sent her away and then married the love of my life, got her pregnant and started a family immediately. I didn’t even give Naomi a chance, but I didn’t want to. I didn’t feel that way for her and she tried to trap me—tried to make me what she wanted. She contracted with me under false pretenses and the moment I saw what she was up to, I dismissed her. She was my last sub before Ana, the last of Elena’s girls.
Elena. Did she put Naomi up to this? Did she cost this girl her life and nearly cost the lives of my wife and children? God, I hope not. If that’s true, there’s no telling who’s still under her spell. How do I find out without giving that bitch any hope that she can affect me?
“Sir?” I turn around to face the gentleman that must be in charge. “What can I do for you?”
“This young lady is not going to be claimed. She doesn’t have any family here that I know of and… I know her well.” He looks at the paperwork.
“You’ve identified her as Naomi Adams, 27 years old,” he says. “How do you know the deceased?”
“We were very close once,” is the only answer I can give him. “If you still want to try to locate her family, she’s from West Virginia. All I ask is that if you don’t locate them, please release the body to me so that she can receive a proper burial.” He nods.
“That’s not a problem, sir. Can I please have your name?” He opens a chart and prepares to write.
“Christian Grey.” He looks up from his chart.
“Christian Grey?” he says, as if to confirm that’s what he heard. I pull out my business card.
“Yes, Christian Grey. Here’s how to reach me if you can’t find her family. How long does that usually take?”
“Uh, usually a couple of weeks, sir. If we find someone, we give them additional time to come and claim the body. If they don’t come, then you can have her remains.”
“And if you find no one?” I ask.
“Then you can claim her remains,” he says. I nod.
“I’ll have my people see if they can find her family. I’m fairly certain there won’t be any, but if anyone wants to claim her and bury her properly, I think they should be given that opportunity.”
“Yes, sir,” he concurs. “I completely agree.”
“Will you keep me posted?” I ask.
“Yes, sir. I’ll let you know if anything happens.” I nod and shake his hand.
“Thank you…” I wait for a name.
“Rodney, sir, Rodney Graves—I know, fitting name, but everybody just calls me Rodney.”
“Rodney. Thank you.” I turn back to the woman on the slab. “Goodbye, Naomi. I’m sorry.” I turn to leave. “Rodney, one more thing. Can you tell me the circumstances of her death?”
“From our investigation, she died from exsanguination. She suffered blunt force trauma that broke her rib and punctured her lung as well as ruptured her spleen. She was bleeding internally and needed immediate medical attention. She could have survived it, but she didn’t get to the hospital in time. By the time they had gotten to her, she has already bled a good portion of her blood content and as I understand it, when they opened her up, it all gushed out. She was goner before they made the first cut.” I nod.
“Thank you, Rodney. I thought it would be something like that.” He frowns.
“How would you know, sir?” I look over at him.
“She was in a car accident the night that she died. She tried to kill my wife.” Why did I tell him that?
“Sir?” He catches me from leaving. “If you don’t mind my asking, why would you care about her burial if she tried to kill your wife? And how would your wife feel about that?” I hang my head.
“Because like I said, she doesn’t have any family, and everyone deserves a proper burial. As for my wife…” My wife—the woman that I love who doesn’t remember me. “I don’t know. I’ll have to cross that bridge when I get to it.” I turn to leave. “Keep me posted?”
“Yes, sir,” he says finally. I nod and leave.
“Take me to Escala,” I tell Jason when we get in the car.
I have no idea how long I stay in the shower. I want the scalding water to wash away the images of Butterfly reaching for me in the hospital bed and me not able to get to her. I want to lose the images of Naomi lying cold and dead on a slab in the morgue. Both women met these circumstances because of me. Do I destroy everything I touch?
Searing hot water has now run cold on my back and I finally decide to lather up and clean myself. As I rinse the shampoo out of my hair, I stroke the spot where she touched me, where her fingers were tangled and she returned my kiss—hot and passionate. It aches not to have her here. All those nights I mourned her absence. Now she’s awake and she doesn’t even know me. I don’t know which is worse.
I turn the water off and lean against the cold tiles. I don’t know how to feel right now. I want my Butterfly back and I may have lost her forever. Whatever comes from this, however she comes out of this, I’ll take her. I’ll take her however I can get her, but will she have me?
My skin is nearly numb when I step out of the shower, both from the intense heat and from being waterlogged. I mindlessly dry my hair and skin and reach for the first thing I see after I brush my teeth and shave—a T-shirt and jeans. I’m tired. For the first time in days, I’m really tired. I’ve been granted a reprieve from the fear that she wouldn’t wake up. Now, I have the fear that she’ll never truly know me again, not like before anyway.
How do I make her fall in love with me again? I don’t know how I did it the first time. I love her so much; I can’t stand being without her. The thought of seeing her energizes me and makes me quickly slide into my socks and a pair of sneakers. It’s dark now, but I’m her husband. Visiting hours don’t apply to me, unless that asshole Hill is still on duty. I grab my Italian leather jacket and walk out of my bedroom.
“Would you like some dinner, Christian?” Gail’s voice stops me in my tracks. Dinner. When is the last time I ate something? I don’t remember… Butterfly would be so angry with me.
“Yes, I would,” I say, walking over to the breakfast bar. She places a plate of pot roast with steaming potatoes and carrots in front of me, a very healthy serving. It smells divine and I dig in immediately, groaning appreciatively as she places a wheat roll with butter next to me.
“Would you like something to drink?” she asks. I look up into her sympathetic eyes. Jason must have told her about my day.
“Do we have any soda?” I ask, and I almost sound like a child.
“Yes, we have cola. Would you like some?”
“Please… thank you,” I say, shoveling more food into my mouth. “I can drive myself back to the hospital… if Jason wants to stay home.”
“No such thing,” she says, placing the glass of ice-cold cola next to me. “I know the rest of the staff is working in shifts. Once he takes you back to the hospital, I just ask that you let him come home if you decide to stay.” I nod, my mouth still full of food.
“Okay,” I answer, trying not to choke on the delicious beef and potatoes.
“Slow down, Christian,” she scolds. “There’s more if you want it.” I smile at her. She wants to take care of me. I’m grateful for that, I have to admit. It helps to ease the pain of being without my Butterfly.
“I came to talk to you earlier, but you had left.” The head of neurology has met me in the private family lounge on the fourth floor. “I was about to leave for the night when I heard that you had returned.
“Yes, I… have some concerns about the doctor treating my wife,” I tell him.
“Yes, I know. Dr. Hill. He’s one of the best, Mr. Grey.”
“So everyone keeps telling me,” I say. “I’m not concerned about his ability to treat her, Dr. Hunt. I’m concerned that he may be forming an unhealthy attachment to her. I’m the first person to tell you that I’m very protective of my wife, even more so in her current state. However, I found him sitting in her bed very close to her when I came into the room. He was very familiar with her, touching her when he really didn’t need to, and then he admitted that he would wrap her up and take her home with him if he could. Yes, he did make it a point to highlight his sexual preference before you tell me that there’s nothing to worry about, but I still feel like there is some kind of… obsession of some sort involved. He came into the room and my wife was visibly upset. He ceremoniously kicked me out without cause! He made an assumption based on what he saw with no facts whatsoever, and kicked me out of my wife’s room! I even had a witness that I hadn’t done anything wrong!”
“I heard,” Hunt says. “Doesn’t your witness work for you?”
“He’s her best friend first,” I snap. “If I had done anything to upset her, he would have put me out before Hill had the chance!”
“I see. Can you tell me what happened to upset Mrs. Grey?” I sigh and recount the story that we told Butterfly.
“I tried to discourage her, but she was hell-bent on hearing it. I couldn’t lie to her, and I tried to leave the worst parts out, but before I knew it, she was screaming ‘I’m sorry’ just like the day I found her at the Mercer house.” His brow furrows.
“Wait a minute… what?” he stops me. “What did you say?”
“I didn’t want to tell her…” I begin.
“No, about the Mercer house.” The Mercer house? Oh!
“Oh, yeah. When everything came to a head, she was hiding at the unfinished house on Mercer Island—well, it’s finished now, but it wasn’t at the time. We tracked her there and went to get her. When we got there, she looked like hell and I asked her what was wrong. She just kept screaming that she was sorry.”
“Did you tell her this?” Hunt asks. I have to think about it. Did I tell her? I shake my head.
“No… I left that part out on purpose. I didn’t want to upset her any more than she was already.”
“I wish you had said this, Mr. Grey,” he says, sitting forward on the sofa. “Mrs. Grey may have been regaining a part of her memory. That may have been a flashback.”
“Shouldn’t Hill have known that before he kicked me out of the room?” I accuse.
“Did you tell him what you were talking about?” he asks. Of course, I didn’t tell him. He’s ready to run me out of town on a rail and “wrap my wife up and take her home” to him and his husband. Why would I tell him?
“I’ll take that as a ‘no.’ That’s not a good idea, Mr. Grey. If you keep information from us, we can’t help your wife.”
“I understand that, but he had no right to put me out of my wife’s room.”
“Mr. Grey, wouldn’t you want your wife to get the best care possible?”
“Yes, I would,” I reply.
“That’s what Dr. Hill was trying to do. He couldn’t assess what was going on at the time, so he had to make the decision that he felt was best for his patient. You must understand that.” I pop my neck.
“Fine, but I need you and Dr. Hill to understand this. I will not now, nor will I ever, do anything to jeopardize my wife’s recovery. She’s my whole life, and she’s carrying my children. Everything that I live for is in that room right now. I will not be dismissed from my wife’s room again, especially if she’s crying in agony and distress. If you can’t understand that, I will remove her from this hospital and fly in a neurologist from Switzerland if I have to.” I’m trying not to get emotional, but I will not be dismissed from my wife ever again.
“I can understand your concern and angst, Mr. Grey, but we will need a compromise from you as well. You can’t withhold information pertinent to your wife’s treatment. If you had a disagreement, that’s fine. If there was a breakthrough that causes a violent reaction, we can deal with that—but we have to know these things. Our best possible outcome can only be achieved if we work together.” I still don’t like the guy and Hunt hasn’t addressed Hill’s unhealthy attraction—or whatever it is—to my wife.
“I don’t know about this, Dr. Hunt,” I tell him. He shifts in his seat.
“You have my personal guarantee that your wife will get the best and most professional care this hospital can afford her. I’ve spoken to Dr. Hill once to get his side of the issue. Now that I have gotten yours, I’ll speak to him again. We need to work together to make sure that Mrs. Grey recovers as much as humanly possible. This little disagreement may be a blessing in disguise if it turns out that her anxiety attack came from a breakthrough.”
“Is that what it was?” I ask. “An anxiety attack?” He frowns at me.
“Nobody told you?”
“I was kicked out of the room, remember?” I state matter-of-factly. He nods.
“I’ll see what’s going on. Dr. Hill is still in the hospital. He’s on call tonight.” He stands and walks to the door. “Oh, and Mr. Grey?” I raise my head. “If you called Switzerland to get the best doctor, they would probably refer you to Dr. Hill. He’s number three on four continents. Numbers one and two don’t practice anymore.” I’m not impressed.
“If he tries to put me out of my wife’s room again, I’ll go with number four,” I say impassively. He nods once.
“Understood.” With that last word, he nods. Jason comes back into the room.
“You can go home, Jason. I’m not going anywhere,” I tell him.
“I think I’ll stay and be sure, if that’s okay with you,” he responds.
“Trying to make sure I don’t kill the doctor?” I ask. He nods.
“Bingo,” he confirms. “If you don’t get in to see Her Highness tonight, there will be hell to pay.”
“Do you know what’s going on?” I ask him.
“She’s talking to Allen and Ray right now.” Ray’s here? That’s good, I guess.
“So I guess we just wait, then.”
“You don’t want to go in?” Yes, I want to go in, but to be honest, I’m afraid. I don’t know if she was really having a not-so-pleasant breakthrough or if I really upset her. So, right now…
“I’ll just wait.”
So I wait… and wait… and wait… forever it seems. I don’t know how much time has passed. I don’t dare look at a clock to see how long my wife has been awake and hasn’t asked for me. It’s like a cold, sharp knife cutting through my sick, diseased heart. Jason has long since left to check on… hell, I don’t know. I finally put my forehead in my hands and let the tears fall. I don’t know what the future holds. My wife is alive, thank God, but she has no idea who I am.
She must know who you are! Do you think she’d kiss a stranger like she kissed you?
I don’t know. I certainly hope not. I don’t think so… but it doesn’t erase the fact that she still hasn’t asked for me. She doesn’t need me, or doesn’t want to be around me right now. I want to weep, but I’m just too tired to do it.
“Boss?” It’s Jason. I didn’t even hear him come in. Did I fall asleep? I raise my head slowly. It hurts like hell from the damn crying. My face is still wet, so I didn’t fall asleep. When I’m able to focus my eyes, I see him standing in the door with Hill. What, are you his bodyguard now? I look at them both without saying a word. Hill is the first to speak.
“Mrs. Grey is asking for you.”
I open my eyes and Al is sitting next to my bed. What happened? When did I fall asleep?
“Al?” I croak. My throat hurts and they still haven’t removed these damn compression devices.
“Jewel, hey,” he says, putting his tablet down and moving closer to my bed. “You’ve been out for a while.”
“What happened?” I squeak. “Where’s Christian?”
“He went to get some air,” he tells me. Went to get some air—I’ll just bet. He’s probably plotting his escape. “Someone else is here to see you though.” He gestures to my left. I turn my head and see…
“Ray!” I exclaim. “When did you get here?” His face falls a bit.
“I’ve… been here, baby. I live in Kent now,” he answers, and I know I’ve missed something—but I’ve missed a lot, haven’t I?
“Really?” I say, struggling to sit up. My side hurts a bit and I can’t really move with the babies and the legs and stuff. Al helps me sit up and fluffs my pillows. I hold my arms out to him. “Please come and hug me, Ray. I’ve missed you so much.” He slowly makes his way over to me and hugs me gently. I realize that since he lives in Kent, we probably see more of each other now. Why did he move to Kent? Was he worried about me? Has Christian been unkind to me and no one wants to tell me?
“Ray…” I say his name as he releases me, and something doesn’t feel right. The energy… it’s all wrong. Something’s very wrong.
“What is it, Jewel?” Al asks, examining my facial expression, no doubt. I look from Ray to Al and back to Ray. No… no… that’s not right…
“That’s not right, is it?” I say. He and Al examine me closely. “I don’t call you ‘Ray’ anymore, do I?” His eyes light up and he shakes his head.
“Dad…” I try the word and it doesn’t fit. “No…” I say, shaking my head. It doesn’t feel right. Then the word flows through me like warm cocoa. “Daddy,” I say softly. “It’s Daddy… isn’t it?” I look up at Daddy and he’s trying unsuccessfully to fight his tears.
“Yes, Sunflower,” he chokes and squeezes my hand. Oh, I like Daddy. I like Daddy so much.
“Sit, Daddy. Tell me why you moved to Kent. I know that I should know already, but this little bump on the head is causing me problems.” Daddy sighs, but doesn’t sit.
“I’ll have to show you, Annie,” he says softly and walks to the door. In walks this beautiful blonde woman with a baby in her arms, no more than six or seven months old I would say. Whose kid is this?
“Annie, this is Amanda. She’s my wife.”
Okay… I just stepped into a vortex. There’s a young twentysomething girl standing next to my dad and he’s saying that she’s his wife. What’s more is that she has this kid in her arms which I’m assuming is hers and now my Daddy has to take care of him. What the hell is going on here?
“What?” I say, shock and dismay evident in my voice. Amanda’s eyes, which were smiling a moment ago, immediately fill with tears. Her bottom lip starts to tremble and I quickly feel like shit for my initial reaction. She gives the baby to Daddy and takes a seat on the sofa near the door, tears still flowing freely down her cheeks. Oh God, please help me. I’ve lost all grips on reality here.
Daddy brings the baby over to the bed. He gazes fondly at the chubby little guy… at least I think it’s a boy. He looks down at me with his eyes filled with love.
“This is your little brother, Harry,” he says softly. Okay, I’m certain that I’ve fallen into the fifth dimension now. This girl has a baby and you name him after my dead bio-dad. What the hell has happened over the last couple of years?
“I… wha… who…” I can’t even form a complete sentence. I know my family wouldn’t lie to me, but how do I digest all of this?
“Would you like to hold him?” he asks. Not really, but how do you tell someone you don’t want to hold a baby?
“Okay,” I relent. Daddy adjusts little Harry in my arms. When I look down at him, my father’s eyes stare back at me. He’s beautiful. He’s absolutely beautiful.
“Daddy,” I breathe. “He’s yours. He looks just like you…” The wonder in my voice breaks the tension in the room immediately.
“Yes, Annie, he’s my son. Mandy and I got married shortly after we found out. We were married on New Year’s Eve… at Escala.”
“What’s Escala?” I ask. Everybody frowns.
“That’s your home, Jewel,” Al pipes in. “You live in the penthouse.” The penthouse? That can’t be…
“I thought I lived in a house,” I tell them.
“A house? Where?” Al asks.
“I don’t know,” I tell him. “I just remember Christian asking me if I was okay, and there were cars driving up a long driveway—gravel, I think… it was unfinished. The house was really big, like an estate or a manor or something… and then… I was saying that I was sorry.” Al shakes his head.
“We’ll have to ask Christian about that one. Maybe the Mercer house?” Al says to Daddy. Shut the front door!
“Mercer?!” I exclaim. “As in Mercer Island?” Where your play money has to be in six digits just drive over the bridge?
“Yes, Jewel. You own a house on Mercer Island. It was under construction, but it’s complete now. You were supposed to move in last weekend, but…” He trails off.
“I had an accident,” I finish the sentence for him. Where’s Christian? I feel a bit rudderless right now.
“So…” I’m choking on my words and looking at the beautiful baby in my arms that has been introduced to me as my brother. The only way that I’m going to get my life back is to jump right in with both feet. “Harry?”
“That’s a really long story that you already know,” Daddy tells me, “but I’ll tell you again.” I look over his shoulder at a weeping Amanda. She’s holding her head down and trying not to make any noise. She raises her head slightly and sees me looking at her. I can tell she suddenly feels subconscious.
“May I please use your bathroom, Ana?” She barely chokes the words out over her tears. She’s polite if nothing else.
“Yes. Please, take all the time you need,” I say with as much kindness as I can muster. She can’t be all bad if Daddy married her. My dad may be older, but he’s no fool. She scrambles quickly to the restroom after a rushed “Thank you” and closes the door behind her.
“I didn’t mean to upset her, Daddy. I was just shocked,” I say as a means of an apology.
“It’s okay, Sunflower,” he says, patting my hand. “It’s kind of hard because… you two are kind of close.” I drop my head in my hand.
“Oh, shit! And I looked at her like some kind of alien,” I say shaking my head. “No wonder she’s crying a river.”
“She’s been worried sick about you ever since the accident,” Daddy says. “I tried to prepare her for the fact that you may not know her, but she was so excited that you were awake that I think she didn’t hear me.”
“She seems like a nice girl, Daddy, just… so young…”
“We had that conversation, too, Sunflower. She’s 13 years younger than me and we love each other very much. I moved to Kent because Mandy has a house there and I could be closer to you.”
“What about the house in Montesano?” I ask, clearly knowing the fate of my childhood home.
“I wanted to sell it, but I didn’t have the heart to do it. We agreed that it was time to move on, but I just couldn’t let go. Fortunately for me and unfortunately for him, George Bayliss and his wife split up. So, he’s renting the place indefinitely so that he doesn’t have to try to find a place and doesn’t have to move so far away from the kids.”
“Yes,” I say, “unfortunate for him, but the house is in the hands of someone you trust.” I look down at Harry and don’t give it another thought. “I need to hear as much as you guys can tell me. I don’t want to live in the dark and my whole life for the past two years or so be nothing but surprises. Let’s rip off the bandages and get this going.”
“That may be a bit much for you, Jewel,” Al says. “The last time a bandage was ripped off, you had to be sedated.”
“And it may happen again,” I caution him, “but I refuse to tiptoe through what appears to be important events in my life. So as a shrink, I say the best thing that we can do is get on with it.” He sighs and nods at me. Amanda comes out of the restroom, looking only marginally better than she did when she went in.
“So where do you want to start?” Al says. I have to think about this.
“Um, the last thing I can clearly remember is going to some meet-and-greet at Val’s job and one of those leeches she works with hanging over me like a dirty dishrag.” Daddy frowns and Al whistles.
“Good grief, Jewel, that was three years ago!” he says in awe.
“Well, it’s not like I remember it happening yesterday, but I remember it happening.”
“Do you remember meeting Bethany?” he asks.
“Okay, do you remember the double… er, Eddie crashing ‘Food and Libations?’” I shake my head.
“Nope, don’t remember that either.”
“Do you remember the community center and the group sessions you facilitated?” For some reason, I’m getting pictures of people in a circle. I can only assume this must be the group sessions, but there’s nothing concrete about it.
“I’m not really sure… I think I remember a little something.”
“Um, I’m going to… go get a cup of coffee or… something,” Amanda says, trying to escape the room.
“No… please stay,” I coax her. “You’re part of my life, too, right?” She chokes out a laughing sob.
“You threw me a wedding!” she says, tears streaming down her face. “You saved my life… and my son’s life…”
“I did?” I ask, surprised and she nods. I pat the bed next to me and she sits down, trying to contain her tears. For the next hour… or few… Amanda, Daddy, and Al begin to dissect what has been my life for the last two years. I’m amazed to hear about mine and Christian’s courtship, our engagement, our break-up, and our wedding through the eyes of my family. I’m horrified to hear that Eddie… um, David… actually kidnapped me, but happy to hear that he’s rotting in jail for it and I will soon be holding the deed to his company.
Maxie and Phil are married, too, and Maxie just had her baby. Christian proposed at their reception.
Al is in love with a beautiful black man named James.
Marilyn and Gary are dating—Marilyn and Gary… wow! Could two people be more different?
Val is in love with Christian’s brother. The fact that Val is in love period is amazing to me. Al is uneasy when he talks about Val and I have no idea why.
I’ve confronted my mother and cut all ties with her, and her drunkard husband has kicked the bucket. Boy, I wish I could remember that part.
Apparently, I’ve blown the whole Green Valley thing out of the water. What they did is all out in the open and there have been several arrests. Whitmore Sr. killed himself and Cody came to confront Christian… or me… and I sent him back to Green Valley with a broken nose and missing teeth. Most of them are in jail now awaiting trial.
Christian was almost killed in March by a psycho obsessive blonde pedophile. She ended up shooting his bodyguard and best friend, who was the suit holding him back just before I went nighty-night. Oh—and she did this shit with my gun. We’re still awaiting her trial date.
There seems to be quite a bit more to cover, but I didn’t freak out and I didn’t have any anxiety attacks. Al reveals that Christian and I hated each other in the beginning to the degree that I called Al and James to come and rescue me from the community center one night after a huge altercation with him. Apparently, he’s the reason that I don’t do the group sessions anymore. I can’t believe that. It had to be more. I wouldn’t let one man stop me from helping people who really needed it. There must be more.
Where is that one man, by the way?
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!