“Making someone irrelevant is the best revenge.”
I think I’m going to use that in my story somewhere, but in the meantime, I’m going to take the advice of a very wise man and try my best to focus on the many readers who responded with encouragement as well as the ones who didn’t respond who actually do enjoy my story and respect my characters as well as my right to defend myself. There is an Author’s Note at the end that will hopefully clear things up for everyone else from here on out.
A bit of a spoiler—there is a bonus chapter that goes along with this chapter. It’s an INTERACTIVE CHAPTER (yay!), and is solely a walk-through of the new house. I’m in the story (yes, ME—Lynn) talking to Jason, Ana, and Gail as we take you on a tour of their fabulous new home. If you would rather just look at the pictures, they are on Pinterest. There’s also a video of the house with a brief description of each room if you would rather see that. All of the info is in the beginning author’s note of Chapter 17B—My Visit To Grey Crossing. Enjoy!
My new disclaimer:
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. If something that I say displeases you, please, just leave. If you don’t like this story or me, please don’t spoil this experience for everyone. Just go away. For the rest of you, the saga continues…
Chapter 17—A New Day Awaits…
There’s a knock and the door opens and my heart nearly skips a beat, hoping that it’s Christian, but it’s not. It’s a beautiful black man with green eyes, dressed very casually. Good God, he’s gorgeous! Is this Al’s boyfriend?
“Hello, Ana. I’m glad to see you’re awake.” Shit, it speaks! His voice could melt butter.
“Hi.” My voice on the other hand couldn’t stop a fly. He chuckles as he crosses the room.
“I’m Dr. Lourdis Avery. Everybody calls me Ace.” He extends his hand to me and I take it.
“Do I… know you?” There’s the mouse voice again. He reminds me a bit of Christian, only… different.
“I’m your therapist,” he says in a honey-smooth voice. Boy, I sure can pick ‘em, can’t I? I look over at a salivating Al who mouths “Holy shit! That’s Ace?” then fans himself dramatically. Ace follows my gaze and Al is the picture of decorum when Ace turns around.
“Christian called me and told me that you’re having problems remembering the last two years or so.” Christian called him. He does care about me, but where is he? “I know that means that you don’t remember me either and if you’re more comfortable, you can speak to the hospital psychiatrist. However, it may help that I know your history…”
“No, no, it’s fine. I’ll talk to you. It’s better that you know me and you can help me recall some things.”
“Recall some things?” he asks.
“Yes. My discussions with my family have been triggering a few memories. For example, I remember that I used to facilitate group therapy sessions. That’s apparently where I met my husband, but I don’t remember that part. I remember a fateful dinner with my ex-boyfriend, but I don’t know how it ended. I can see Christian smiling at me a lot, but I can’t identify places. There are more, but I think you get the idea.”
“Yes, I get the idea. Where’s Christian?” The eternal question.
“Out for some air,” I say, a bit sarcastically.
“Okay, do I want to know what that tone means?”
“It means that I think he’s avoiding me and I don’t know why,” I reply frankly. Al sighs heavily. Well, if you know something, best friend, tell me. Otherwise, he’s avoiding me.
“Okay, why do you think he’s avoiding you?”
“It could be any number of reasons,” I tell him. “All the crazy shit I heard, I don’t know how anybody in their right mind would want to stay with a woman with so much damn baggage. Couple that with the fact that I don’t remember who he is and we may have to start all back over? Yeah, he’s avoiding me—probably trying to find a way out of this shit.” Now Ace sighs.
“Ana, before I say what I’m going to say, I have to ask who you want to be in the room for this session.” I look around at all the people in the room and I don’t know who should stay.
“We should all leave,” Daddy says. “This is your psychiatrist. You don’t need an audience.”
“I concur,” Al says as he leads the charge. “We’ll stay right outside, okay?” I nod at him as he, Daddy, and Mandy leave the room.
“Good, now.” Ace turns to me. “Ana, your husband is passionately in love with you…” so I’ve heard. “This man has gone toe-to-toe with me more than once about your care and the man that I’ve come to know over the last year would not desert you doing this time. Something is going on, I don’t doubt that, but if I were a betting man, I’d bet the ranch on Christian and his love for you. Don’t give up hope, especially now. It’s all that you have to hold on to when you can’t remember your past and don’t know what your future is going to look like. Understand?” A tear escapes my eye and without knowing anything about this guy, I already know why I chose him as my therapist. I nod. “Now, where do you want to start…?”
I jump in with the analytical parts of what I might know concerning my memory loss and more so, how to deal with rebuilding my life if my memory doesn’t return completely. After talking about it for quite some time, he asks if I’m resolved to the possibility that I may not regain my memory and may not remember Christian again. I don’t know how to answer that question. I think I’m more afraid of him walking away and all my memories of this wonderful man come back one day… after he’s gone. I’m so emotionally raw right now that I don’t know how to answer his questions and I end up becoming a babbling idiot.
“I think we should let the things that you’ve heard today marinate, Ana. It’s quite a lot to absorb and you can’t be expected to do it all in one day… no matter how anxious you are to remember.” I reluctantly agree as I have no idea how long we’ve been talking… and still no Christian.
Ace leaves the room and my family comes back in. Al takes his seat next to the bed and Daddy and Mandy settle in on the sofa with Harry.
“How did it go, Jewel?” Al asks.
“We mostly went over coping techniques if I don’t get my memory back,” I reply.
“He doesn’t think you’ll get your memory back?” Daddy asks.
“I’m just covering all of my bases, Daddy,” I tell him. I don’t want to admit that I suspect there won’t be a “Mrs. Grey” when this is all over. “What happened to my condo?” I ask.
“Nothing,” Al answers. “It’s still there. You haven’t decided what you want to do with it yet. It’s a terrible market to sell and after that break-in, you haven’t wanted to sub-let it.”
“Break-in?” I’m lost.
“Psycho blonde? Your gun?” Oh, yeah, that. There’s another knock at the door, and again, my heart races… and in walks Dr. Hill.
“Son of a bitch!” I exclaim shamelessly. Dr. Hill stops in his tracks and I just shake my head. I’m flustered to no end. Where the fuck is Christian?
“Am I interrupting something?” the doctor asks.
“No, it’s just been a trying day as you can imagine,” Al covers for me. I’ll say.
“Is there any word on my tests?” I ask. He frowns.
“Not yet, Ana. It takes a moment for the results to come back. It shouldn’t be too much longer,” he responds.
“Results?” I ask. “I’m still waiting for the tests!”
“Um, Jewel, they performed the tests while you were sedated. I’m sorry, I should have told you.” I twist my lips.
“Oh, okay. Well, at least that’s covered,” I say as I settle back down into my bed. “I’m awake now. Do I still need these leg squeezie thingies?” I ask concerning the compression devices.
“We’ll see,” he says. “I’d like you to keep them on for another day if you don’t mind. If they’re too uncomfortable, we’ll take them off and see about moving you around a bit.”
“They’re too uncomfortable,” I confirm. “My legs are getting that twingy too-much-heat feeling and I really want them off.” He writes something in my chart.
“Okay. I’ll get the nurse to remove them for you.” I nod. Good! “I’d like to ask you about your episode earlier today if you don’t mind.” I shrug.
“When you were apologizing to your husband earlier, what happened?” Dr. Hill asks.
“He and Al were telling me about… a big mistake that I made. It was almost disastrous for our marriage. He tried not to tell me, but I insisted. Just as he was finishing the story, I thought about how careless I had been and I really felt bad, so I apologized, but… for some reason, I just felt sick and hopeless. Then I remember being at a house outside somewhere and he had asked me what was wrong. All I could do was scream that I was sorry. Even my babies were screaming ‘I’m sorry…’”
“Were you screaming at the house?” he asks.
“Yes,” I say. Isn’t that what I just said? “I was saying I was sorry. I don’t remember anything after that.”
“Ana, did you know that you were screaming in the room, too?” In the room? In here?
“I was?!” I’m horrified. What they must think of me!
“This is actually a good thing,” he says. “With each breakthrough—painful or not—you’re regaining more and more of your lost time. I wish I had known this sooner.”
“Why?” I ask him. He seems remiss to answer me. I see Al purse his lips.
“It would have assisted in your treatment plan,” he says flatly. Did he forget that I’m a psychologist? I didn’t forget how to read people.
“What aren’t you telling me, Dr. Hill?” I ask.
“Exactly what I am telling you,” he responds. “I don’t know what courses of action to take if I don’t have the proper history.” He throws a look at Al. “The fact that your earlier outburst came from a possible recollection of something that happened in your past as opposed to something that happened in the room at that moment was crucial information that I didn’t have. Had I known that, I may not have sedated you. I may have attempted to walk you through that memory and bring you down naturally. Instead, I assumed that you were having an anxiety attack as a result of the shock of the situation and something that happened immediately, and I sedated you. As a psychologist, you have to see what a great opportunity we missed here.”
Great, another missed opportunity. I’ve had enough of this situation already and I’m just getting started. I feel exhausted after the conversation with Daddy, Mandy, and Al, then the session with Ace. I just want to sleep, let all of this information sink in—two years of tragedies and life-changing events all covered in one afternoon. Sacrebleu!
“Does anybody know where my husband is?” I say in a small voice. It’s been hours and he hasn’t come back or called or sent word or anything. The hell he went out for some air. Out for some air is like twenty minutes, an hour tops. The sun has gone down and I haven’t heard a peep from him, and nobody seems to be rushing to get him or find out where he is. “If he doesn’t want to deal with this, will someone please just let me know and put me out of my misery?”
The defeat I hear in my voice makes me want to cry. I’m looking down at my hands fighting back the tears and the deafening silence causes me to raise my eyes. All eyes are on Dr. Hill.
“I’ll… see if I can find him,” the doctor says and hastily leaves the room. I frown. I want to ask what that was all about, but right now, I just want Christian.
“Jewel?” I bring my eyes to Al’s and drop them again. “What is it, Jewel?”
“I don’t know,” I lie. I know exactly what it is. All the stories and the flashbacks, the few short agonizing hours he’s been away… I love this man. I love him further and deeper than the recollections that my family has given me. I know it. Deep down inside of me from that place in my soul that first created our babies, I love this man. With my whole heart, I love him.
Could it just be infatuation with all the wonderful and horrible things I’ve heard? How he’s held my hand through so much hell and never gave up on me even though I would have given up a long time ago—the vision of a rich knight in shining armor that every woman wants and I can actually have it if I convince myself to love a man that I barely know?
No. No, it’s much more than that. I love him. I truly love him. I know what love is and this isn’t infatuation. This is the real thing. I wrap my arms around my stomach and I feel my babies move. They’re restless. It’s like I’m a human jungle gym. I try to rub my stomach to calm them, but they’re having none of that. When nothing else works, I start to sing:
Goodnight, my angel
Time to close your eyes
And save these questions for another day
I think I know what you’ve been asking me
I think you know what I’ve been trying to say
I promised I would never leave you
And you should always know
Wherever you may go
No matter where you are
I never will be far away
Goodnight, my angel
Now it’s time to sleep
And still so many things I want to say
Remember all the songs you sang for me
When we went sailing on an emerald bay
And like a boat out on the ocean
I’m rocking you to sleep
The water’s dark
And deep inside this ancient heart
You’ll always be a part of me
“Who… told you about that song?”
His voice stops my lullaby and my head shoots up to see Christian standing there. He’s looking glorious in a T-shirt and jeans with a leather jacket and sneakers… and I feel like a troll. Everyone has left the room except Allen. Instinctively, I touch my face to wipe the tears I know are there. He examines me cautiously and I know—he didn’t go for air. He left. His change of clothes isn’t the giveaway, his eyes are.
“Where did you go? Why did you leave?” I question him.
“I didn’t. I mean—I went to change clothes and eat… other than that, I’ve been here the whole time.”
“No you haven’t,” I accuse. “You weren’t here. I didn’t see you.”
“I was in the hospital,” he tells me. “The doctor didn’t want me in the room with you. He said I upset you too much and that it wasn’t good for your recovery.”
“Then fire the damn doctor!” I cry.
“He tried,” Al defends. “He was persuaded against it since you have the best doctor on staff.”
“Not if he thinks keeping me away from my husband is what’s best for me!” I wail. I’m trying to control myself, but my emotions are going haywire. If Christian doesn’t want to see this through, I understand. I just want him to say so. And if the damn doctor is the cause for him staying away, then I want his fucking head on a platter.
“This is why he told me to stay away, because you can’t get upset…”
“I’m not upset with you! I’m upset with him!” I bark. Almost on cue, Dr. Hill comes rushing into the room with two other men.
“Mr. Grey!” he hisses almost immediately.
“How dare you tell my husband to stay away from me!” I shriek before he has the chance to say another word. “Have you lost your mind?!” Dr. Hill is stunned. This is the loudest I have spoken since I’ve been in the hospital.
“Ana… Mrs. Grey!” he says chastised, eyes wide. “I… I’m sorry. I was just trying to keep you from getting upset. It’s very, very bad for you in your condition… very bad.”
“And you thought keeping my husband away from me was going to facilitate that?” I scold through my tears. “I’m not upset with him! I’m upset with this fucking situation! I’ve lost years of my life, and you take away the one thing that can ground me in the here-and-now! Where did you go to medical school—Sesame Street?!”
“Okay, baby, really. I need you to calm down.” Christian puts his hands on my arms. “Breathe with me, baby. Breathe with me.” I’m too angry to breathe. I want to clock this damn doctor upside his fucking head! “In through your nose, out through your mouth. Please, baby, he’s right about one thing. You can’t get upset. You have to stay calm for yourself and for the babies. Please, Butterfly, in through your nose, out through your mouth.” I focus my glare on him, and mimic the breathing. Butterfly… that’s so beautiful. A strange calm comes over me and now I’m just sniffling as I throw my arms around him and bury my face in his neck, still weeping.
“Make him leave,” I sob. “Make him leave right now, please.”
“Ssshh. Sshh, it’s okay, Butterfly. Don’t cry. I won’t leave you again, I promise, okay?” His words are so comforting and his touch is healing to my aching heart.
“O… kay,” I sniffle in his neck and pull him closer to me.
“Clay, can I speak to you outside for a moment?” I think Al is talking to the doctor. Sweet fuck, he knows him! “I think your friends should come, too.” I don’t raise my head to see what happens. I just need the comfort of Christian’s strong arms right now. He rubs my back and rocks me, still speaking comforting words in my ear. I can only assume that they’re gone when I hear the door close. Christian tries to release me.
“No. Please. Not yet… please,” I beseech him. He holds me tighter and cradles me in his arms.
“Oh, baby, I’m so sorry,” he croons. “I didn’t mean to scare you. I was just doing what the doctor wanted. I won’t let him do that to us again, okay?” I just nod and cry in his arms.
Visions of all kinds are shooting through my head—an arrogant asshole on the other side of the room staring at me like I’m a piece of meat; a business card on my windshield with an apology artfully scribbled on the back; a kiss that sunk a thousand ships from a copper-haired god in a palace in the sky; wine that tastes like rich, plump grapes from heaven; a kind woman’s face smiling at me, then a scowling face with a shock of blonde hair and fire-engine red lipstick; being handcuffed to a bed and the nauseating scent of mildew; standing in the water in an island paradise at night; camera flashes while my husband holds me close to him in some kind of conference room; dancing with my father in a green ball gown and tux; watching a wedding with a winter motif; roses—lots and lots and lots of roses; a cute little cottage in the mountains; a wild-eyed blonde woman with a gun; a beautiful green-eyed black man and an equally beautiful black woman with long hair; watching scenery go by quickly from a domed car of some kind; my daddy and Harry; dancing with a bunch of people—male and female; a splendid wedding dress gliding across a dance floor; the Eiffel Tower; the Acropolis; Whistles! Whistles! Whistles; David sitting at a table in a suit glaring at me; vomiting all over some lady; an ultrasound picture of two tiny beans; Guilty; six men looking hungrily at me over a dinner table; I’m sorry; Sex—lots and lots of sex; so much sex that I can barely make out the other visions; my wrists in leather shackles and insane tightening in my core.
I need to be touched. I need to be kissed and loved; I’m aching for it. I need it so much. My body groans so loud that I can hear it.
Oh, God, I’m on fire. My hands are in the grate and he’s fucking me. My wrists are in fur and leather cuffs and he’s fucking me. My wrists are tied with his blue tie and he’s fucking me. Bent over the sofa, on the roof of a sports car, in a parking garage…
“Baby, wake up!”
My eyes shoot open and I’m back in the hospital. Christian is in bed behind me, spooning me. I’m sweating… good God, am I sweating! When he said that we had sex often, he wasn’t kidding. Apparently, I like to be tied, because that shit was hot as fuck! Thank God we’ve gotten rid of the compression devices or I’d be in torment right now.
What am I saying? I am in torment!
“What’s wrong, Butterfly? Are you okay?” I reach for the collar of this lovely gown he’s brought me and undo the top two buttons—an attempt to get some air. It works, but only a bit. He turns me over on my back and looks into my eyes.
I want him. Holy cow, I want him so badly. A shadow passes over his face and he licks his lips.
“Baby… don’t look at me like that,” he warns. I know exactly what he’s talking about. I’m starving and he’s a nice big rack of lamb right now.
“I’m sorry,” I breathe, “I don’t… mean to, I just…” His lips cover mine and he kisses me tenderly, passionately. I groan into his mouth. I can’t help it. I try to keep my hands off of him because if I touch him, it’s over. I won’t be able to stop. He breaks the kiss and moves down my jaw to my neck.
“I want you so much,” he groans, and the words go right to my core.
“I want you, too,” I breathe, unable to control my raging hormones. He raises his eyes to mine, then proceeds to pull my gown over my breasts. “Christian! No! Not here! We can’t!”
“We won’t, Baby,” he says and clamps his lips around my nipple.
“Ah!” I breathe before I can help myself. I have to be quiet. I have to be quiet. He torments my nipple deliciously before moving to the other. They’re so sensitive! Every touch sends a jolt of pleasure right down there. I’m losing control, now. As much as I’m trying not to, I want to scream. His other hand pinches and tweaks my neglected nipple and I feel the rise. Shit, I can’t stop it.
“Christian!” I whisper earnestly. “I can’t keep quiet!” He groans on my breast and the vibration is too much. A few more seconds of the merciless massage and my clit starts to pulse, then explode in orgasm. His free hand travels quickly to cover my mouth as I whimper in pleasure, my head spinning out of control and my vagina thumping wildly. My body is trembling and I’m beginning to come down as he quickly replaces my gown and takes his place behind me, stroking my hair and calming my trembles. Not a second later, the night nurse comes into the room.
“Is everything okay?” she asks, expecting.
“She had a nightmare,” Christian says, holding me and still stroking my hair. I clasp my hand in his to secure the image of the poor frightened wife trying to breathe through her terror when I’m really the wanton, orgasmic wife trying to breathe through the aftershocks. Boy, did we pull that off quickly!
“Mrs. Grey?” the nurse asks, for confirmation. I just nod.
“Please,” I breathe, “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Okay, ma’am, sir. Just push the button if you need anything.” Believe me, he did!
She closes the door behind her and he kisses my neck gently, repeatedly.
“Better?” he croons in my ear and I nod.
“What about you?” I whimper.
“Don’t worry about me, baby. I’m waiting to get you home… when you’re ready… so I can love you right.” Oh, my God, does he know the right things to say.
“Is that how you made me fall in love with you?” I ask and he freezes. Rip the bandage off…
“I don’t know,” he answers. “I don’t know how you fell in love with me.
“How do you not know?” she asks.
“It happened so fast, Butterfly,” I tell her. “We were both a little stunned.”
“Why do you call me Butterfly?” she asks. I sigh.
“Because you rose from the ashes of what happened to you in Green Valley,” I tell her. She shivers a bit. “You became a beautiful, remarkable woman in spite of what they tried to do to you… and you turned that horrible scar into a beautiful tattoo.” She frowns.
“A tattoo?!” she says, surprised. “A tattoo can’t cover that thing!”
“You didn’t cover it,” I tell her. “It’s incorporated into the tattoo.” She rolls slightly to look at me.
“How…?” Her eyes are questioning the impossibility.
“Stay right here, baby,” I tell her. She nods and I remove my blackberry from the charger. “Pull up your gown for me.” She moves her gown and turns her back more to me. Her body is so sexy, even in granny panties. I have to pull them down on her butt a bit and raise her gown to her shoulders to get a good shot of the entire tattoo. The ink is still magic, even now. She squirms and whimpers a bit as I touch her back and it’s everything I can do not to make love to her this very second. I take a few pictures of her back, kiss it gently, then pull her panties up and her gown down. I put my arm back around her and the beans and show her the pictures. She gasps.
“My God! It’s beautiful. When did I get this done?”
“Last year,” I tell her. “You and Allen disappeared for a weekend and when you came back, you had this. I was senseless with worry, but then I saw that you really needed this and it turned out so exquisite, I couldn’t be mad.” She looks over her shoulder at me. “You didn’t want me to touch it or see it at first, but we were making love and I reached around you and…” I trail off.
“Yeah, that was the whole point.” She sounds defeated.
“It made me love you more,” I tell her, and glassy blue eyes meet mine. “It made me want to find the bastards who had done this to you and make them pay. I showed you my scars,” I tell her as I pull my T-shirt up and reveal the burns on my chest. She gasps again as she gently fingers one of them.
“Christian! When did this happen? How old were you?”
“Four… three… I don’t know,” I stumble over my words. “We compared our scars and you gave me a massage. No one could touch me before you and even now, no one can touch me like you do.” The glassy blue eye produces a tear that rolls gently down her cheek. “You sang a song to me while you massaged me—Love All The Hurt Away…” I brush the tear from her cheek.
“Aretha Franklin,” she says softly. I smile.
“It’s our song,” I tell her. “It was your ringtone for me before your phone was destroyed. It’s the song that we danced to at our wedding.” She reaches over and strokes my cheek with her knuckles. She brings her hand around to my lips and I use them to caress her fingers.
“How could I not love you?” she asks. That’s one of those double-entendre-type questions that I dare not answer.
“What?” I ask.
“I knew that I loved you almost the moment I set my eyes on you, even though I didn’t know who you were. I don’t know… I think my soul called to you… Everything in me called out to you even though my mind is asleep. Those hours you weren’t here were torture. I didn’t know what to do. I thought it was too much for you…”
“It’s never too much for me!” I interrupt her. “I’ll never leave you. I can’t breathe without you. If you turned me away, I would still come and find you. You’re my whole life, Anastasia. Please, believe me. Please don’t ever doubt me… it would kill me…”
“I’m sorry. I’ll never doubt you again.” She turns around to face me and takes my face in her hands. I wrap my arms around her and pretend that she remembers who I am. “I love you, Christian.”
“Don’t say that,” I tell her, “don’t say that just for my benefit…”
“No,” she whimpers, her voice tortured. “I love you. I know I do. I’m sick without you, sick to my stomach. I was so afraid that you wouldn’t come back, that you didn’t want me, I didn’t know what to do…” Her voice squeaks as she speaks. “Please, tell me that you believe me. Please, please, tell me that you believe me. I’ll make you believe me…” She kisses me with so much passion that I nearly forget we’re in a hospital bed. Fucking hell!
“I believe you, baby,” I breathe, when our lips release. “I believe you.”
“Thank you,” she kisses me again. “Thank you,” and again. “I love you so much,” and again. “Mon cheri.…”
Oh hell… how am I supposed to resist that?
Butterfly’s memory mostly comes back to her in the coming days, though still not completely. We go down the hall to see Charles later in the week and he’s more than a bit forlorn that Butterfly’s memory of him has to slowly come back to her while she’s visiting. Most of it returns, I think, while she’s in the room, but she admits that there are still some gaps.
“All I can remember is seeing your body come at me and then… nothing,” she tells him as Keri still sits on the edge of his bed holding his hand. I can’t help but wonder how long she’s going to stay and what the nature of their relationship really is. How did she find out that he was even in the hospital? Is she on his emergency contact list?
“It was reaction,” he says. “I saw the car coming the second we hit the intersection and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to avoid it. I didn’t have time to think, so all I could do was cover you and the babies, and then, like you said… nothing.”
“I don’t know how to thank you,” she says, her eyes filling with tears. “I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am… how much this means to me…”
“You do remember that we’re friends… right?” Charles asks, hopeful. Butterfly smiles.
“It’s coming back to me slowly—not completely, but parts of it. Those people who are close to you never leave your heart,” she says, grasping my hand and looking up at me from her wheelchair before she looks back at Charles. “You’re in my heart.” He smiles contentedly as Keri possessively strokes his hair. Don’t worry, Keri. I had the same fears, too, once upon a time. “I even remember you,” Butterfly says to Keri, who turns a bemused eye to her.
“You do?” she asks in amazement.
“An island somewhere, I can’t remember the name of it. Angora? Something. I remember you asking me if Chuck could dance.”
“Yes! Yes!” Keri says enthusiastically. “Dat’s how we meet!”
“And that obscene banana split,” Charles laments.
“And the candy,” I add.
“Oh, my God, how could I forget all that damn candy?!” Butterfly says and we all laugh. “How is Ma?” Keri smiles sadly.
“You remembeh Ma,” she says. “Dat tis a good ting. Ma is Ma. She still happy, but tired… vety tired. I tink she miss heh good man.” Butterfly frowns at this news and I’m a little confused.
“She’s not sick, is she?” Butterfly asks concerned.
“No… not sick, just tired. She miss heh good man.” Butterfly sighs and drops her head.
“Why doesn’t she just go to her man if she’s missing him?” I ask Keri. She smiles at me.
“I tink she try. I tink she ready to go to heh good man.” So what’s the problem? Butterfly looks up at me with sad eyes.
“Her husband, Christian,” she says softly while touching my hand. “He’s dead.”
“Oh,” I say softly. “I see, now.”
“She live good life. Happy life—I tink she want heh good man back now,” Keri says, and Butterfly nods.
“I wish I could see her one more time,” she says, “but I know that it’s not a good idea for me to travel in my condition, and I certainly couldn’t indulge in that famous rum punch of hers.” She smiles sadly. “If you see her again, tell her that I said hello and I’ll never forget our talk.”
“I will,” she says with a sincere smile. They chat for a little while longer before we leave to allow Charles to get some more rest.
“Chuck is in love with her,” she says as I push her back to her room.
“I know,” I respond. “I can see it in his eyes…”
By Saturday, after having been in the hospital for more than two weeks, she finally gets to come home. She has to go through some physical therapy, but not much. She remembers enough to know where she is and what she’s doing, but things are still coming back to her. She was none too fond of finding out that she and Valerie weren’t speaking and vowed to get to the bottom of it. I’m not looking forward to that. Val came to the hospital almost every day to make sure that she was okay, but stood her ground and wouldn’t come into the room to see her. I still don’t understand that.
I try to distract us both from unpleasant thoughts taking her to our new home. Introducing her to the Mercer house is going to be fun.
“Are you ready, Butterfly?” I ask as Ben and Jason gather her things from the hospital room. In true Butterfly fashion, she donates her many flower arrangements to the hospital for the children’s ward and any other room that needed brightening. No fear, there’s enough flowers at the house to start a garden! Charles will be released tomorrow, but he insists on going back home instead of coming to stay with us at the Mercer house. I want to make up for holding him responsible for the accident at first when it was clear after the investigation that the entire situation was completely out of his control.
“You said that girl came out of nowhere and she was gunning for me,” Butterfly had said when I explained what happened with Naomi. “Chuck couldn’t have prevented that if he tried, Christian. There was absolutely nothing he could do.”
She was not happy to hear that I was going to pay for Naomi’s last rites if her family didn’t come forward. It was almost a fight.
“You’re what?!” she had asked in horror.
“She doesn’t have any family,” I defended.
“She tried to kill me, Christian…”
“Yes, and she died in the process,” I retorted. Her eyes narrowed.
“You said that she was only your submissive for less than two weeks. Was it more than that?” she accused. “Did you have feelings for her?”
“Yes,” I admitted, and she gasped. “Sympathy. You taught me that.” Her face fell at the revelation. “She was alone. She had nobody. She thought she found what she wanted and needed in me and I wasn’t it. After being with me for only ten days, she still never got over it after nearly two years. Even though this affects you personally, as a psychologist, I’m sure you can see how deep that goes… how damaged and affected she had to be by our failed relationship to hold on to it for so long and take such drastic and unreasonable measures. I’m not asking you to empathize with this girl because I know that you are literally incapable of empathizing with a monster, but underneath that monster was a heartbroken, delusional, disenchanted girl who couldn’t see clearly.” She examined me for a moment, conflicting feelings apparent in her ocean-blue eyes.
“It sounds like Elena to me. What’s the difference?”
“Elena set out to hurt people,” I explained. “Her disillusions and disappointments are a direct result of all the people that she hurt on purpose for so many years. And that’s why she’s in the situation she’s in now, rotting in jail most likely for the rest of her miserable life. Naomi was looking for something that she never found. She set her hopes on something that she couldn’t have. As far as I know, she never hurt a fly–but when she set out to hurt you, she paid the ultimate price.” She paused again, still fighting with what she knew and what she felt.
“Would you have paid for her last rites if I had died?” she had asked.
“Absolutely not!” I had replied. “I probably would have paid to have her body impaled and displayed in the town square!” I barked. She nodded.
“Then, since you only have to pay for one funeral, I guess it might as well be hers. I guess it’s both tragic and karmic how that worked out, isn’t it?”
And that’s the last we’ve said about it. I’m waiting to see if anyone claims Naomi’s body and then I’ll lay her to rest. Only someone as caring and unselfish as my Butterfly could possibly be okay with that in the end. The rest of my family thinks I’m crazy, but they didn’t know the nature of our relationship and even though everything is out in the open, I dare not tell them that Naomi was one of my rejected submissives.
“More than ready,” Butterfly says, bringing my thoughts back to the here-and-now while sliding gingerly out of the bed and testing her legs. She’s been walking around without a problem for the most part, but she’s still wobbly from being in the bed for so long.
“Whoa! Wait for me! We had an agreement, remember?” I say, coming over to her and taking her around the waist.
“Yes, I remember, sir,” she says, deliberately stressing the word, and I get a twinge in my balls.
“You know what you’re doing.” It’s more of a warning than a statement.
“Yes, I do,” she assures me in a voice that makes me want to get the hell out of here… and fast.
I live here? I can’t live here! This is so extravagant and over the top and… beautiful!
“Oh my God. Christian! This is unbelievable!” I say once we get out of the car after driving up a very long tree-lined driveway and through two huge wrought iron gates after passing a guard booth and a young gentleman who tells me that it’s good to see me. I return his pleasantries, but hell if I remember who he is. We walk through the portico to a set of very tall double doors.
“Welcome home, Mrs. Grey,” Christian says in a voice that’s so seducing, I almost forget about the nearly 14,000-square-foot mansion before me. He opens the doors and I walk through to a full marble grand entry with a curving staircase just to my right. This is breathtaking! I can’t believe it’s so beautiful… and it’s mine!
“The house is very large, to say the least,” he says as Jason brings in my things from the hospital. “I can take you on a tour of it now, or we can wait until after you’ve rested.” Bed? He must be out of his mind!
“I’ve been resting for sixteen days—that’s long enough! I want to see my home!” He chuckles slightly.
“Then it’s a good thing I suggested those sneakers to leave the hospital,” he says, pointing at the gorgeous pair of Balenciaga royal blue leather Arena sneakers, not even due for release until next year.
“’Suggested?’” I ask incredulously, folding my arms and looking at him, expecting.
“Okay, insisted… I thought we had this conversation.” His gray eyes pierce mine and I immediately recall visions of the Red Room.
“I’m just saying,” I back-peddle. “It wasn’t a suggestion.” I feel a bit chastised and I don’t think I like it. Noting the shift in the air, he walks over to me and strokes my arms.
“Don’t be cross,” he says softly, “I only want what’s best for you. I nearly lost you—I’m going to be more possessive and protective than ever. I’ll try to put a rein on it, but please understand why I feel that way.”
“I will if you can understand that I can’t be smothered… or bossed around. I’m trying to find my way, here…” I feel rudderless, lost. I’m in a house that I don’t recognize with a life that I only partially remember and a husband who wants to treat me like I’m 12 years old. How did I live like this? He drops his head and sighs heavily.
“I’ll try, Anastasia,” he breathes, his voice pained. I don’t think I like that, either. I examine him for a moment. He looks a little tired. He’s still absolutely gorgeous, but his stance… For some reason, he should be… taller.
“You don’t call me that,” I say softly. He raises his head slowly and his eyes meet mine. “You don’t call me ‘Anastasia.’”
“No,” he shakes his head. “I mean, I do, but… rarely.”
“Why did you say it then?” I ask. An unknown emotion falls over his face.
“I don’t know,” he says. “I think I’m just tired…” He trails off.
“No,” I contradict, “you’re not just tired. You’re also overwhelmed and frustrated, and like me, a little rudderless.” He drops his head again.
“Did I ever tell you I hate shrinks?” he says softly.
“Many times,” I say, cupping his cheek and recalling that he has said numerous times that he hates when I shrink him. He chuckles a bit without lifting his head. “But this is not Dr. Steele talking. This is Mrs. Grey looking at her exhausted and verklempt husband and making an observation.” He chuckles again.
“Verklempt?” he repeats.
“Yes, verklempt. Maybe not to the point of tears, but highly frustrated and overwhelmed.” A few moments later, I discover that I was wrong. He is to the point of tears, and he shows it by crumbling into himself and crouching down low, leaning on his knees, weeping.
Holy cow, Batman! How did this happen?
Congratulations, Doctor. You’ve now turned the only person that you’ve viewed as Superman all this time into a weeping mess!
Shut. The fuck. Up. You haven’t been here for a long time. Don’t show up now trying to be all helpful, assuming that’s what you’re trying to do!
“Christian!” I say, putting my hands on his shoulder and back while he sobs. “Christian, please…” I don’t know what to say, how to make him stop, and he shows no signs of stopping. “Christian, come.” I hold my hand down where he can see it. He takes it like a helpless toddler and rises gracefully to his feet, still weeping. I swear he’s the most graceful man I’ve ever seen. All of his movements are so fluid, almost like a ballerina—except that one time on the beach in Anguilla when he thought I had left. Strange how things come back to me at the most inopportune times.
He allows me to lead him across the grand entry into what looks like the formal living room. It’s amazing. Beautiful ivory or marble columns greet you as you step down into an impressive space decorated with exquisite furnishings in cream, brown, and various shades of white and tan. An accent loveseat in a dusty shade of black breaks the monotony of muted tones with pillows that pull the entire room together. A quaint dinette set accents the two-story windows with doors that lead to the patio—the entire wall and the two opposite corner walls offering a magnificent view of the lake behind the house. I’m trying not to be swept away by the grandeur of it all while my husband is a crying mess.
I lead him to the large sofa and sit down with him. He sobs deeply, holding me as close as my pregnant belly will allow. His hand is strewn across the babies and they react violently, kicking and moving like they would break out of their amniotic prison right now if they could. I know that babies can feel bad vibrations and energy and that must be what’s going on now, because these two are intense!
I put my hand over his and start to move it over my belly in an effort to calm the babies. It’s not working. In fact, it’s making things worse. I’m confused. How can this possessive, controlling man be reduced to a mountain of goo in seconds like this?
You did this to him.
Didn’t I tell you…?
Shut up and listen! He was an island before you, a content billionaire and a content Dom, living in his ivory castle, running the world and minding his own business—remember?
I do remember. He was an arrogant, pompous entitled asshole who thought the world owed him something. Then one day…
One day, it all changed. You made love and things were never the same. You showed him tenderness and emotion and it took him a long time to deal with those things—to be able to accept those feelings and return them, and you’ve been a trying bitch sometimes!
I’m not done yet. You’ve been unreasonable, unforgiving, spoiled, and he still loves you because he knows that deep down inside, you’re a good person. You can’t hide from me. You’ve worked on a lot of your shit and so has he, but it’s been a bumpy fucking ride. That man loves you more than life. That’s why he’s crying. So let him cry.
I hate it when the Bitch is right, and how dare her call me a bitch!
I look down at my beautiful man, weeping inconsolably into my chest. I sigh and relax into the sofa, wrapping my legs and one of my arms around him, leaving the other hand free to play in his amazingly soft hair. His weeping seems to subside a bit, but he doesn’t stop. So I just sit there stroking his hair and humming a song gently, hoping to ease some of his pain and calm the soccer match going on in my womb…
I awake to Christian planting soft, open-mouthed kisses on my cheek and neck. When did I fall asleep? How long have I been asleep?
“Christian?” He was crying the last I remember. I was singing that song… our song. His lips move to my ear and he gently nips my earlobe. Fuck! I gasp as a jolt of electricity shoots right down to my sex. Hell… he’s good.
“Christian, wait. Are you…?” His mouth covers mine and I’m locked into one of the most sensual kisses I’ve ever felt. Oh God, is this real?
I melt into him, moaning into his mouth and grasping his hair. My temperature rises immediately and all I can think of is…
“I need to love you,” he breathes when our lips part. “I need you, now!” He’s desperate, hungry. His mouth caresses my ear and neck and starts to travel down my chest to the exposed part of my breast. I hold my head back to try to withstand this primal urge, the heat and passion emanating from both of us. “Baby… I need you…”
“Yes… please…” I pant, unable to take it anymore. He rises from the sofa and effortlessly lifts me in his arms. Damn! He must be as strong as an ox! He sprints through the grand entry and up the stairs, carrying me like a weightless piece of paper. He bursts through another set of double doors into what I assume is our bedroom—dark chocolate walls and heavy drapes to block out the light; beautiful vintage furnishings and a large, luxurious bed. I don’t have time to take in the exquisite beauty of the room before Christian lays me on the bed and quickly begins to undress me. He’s absolutely ravenous! I don’t think he could control this if he wanted to.
“I thought I lost you,” he whimpers, his face in my neck as he releases my bra. I swear, I don’t remember him removing any of my clothes, it went so fast! I think he was wearing a suit—gray with a linen shirt—but he’s out of it in record time and lying behind me, both of us naked. He’s everywhere… all over me. His mouth and hands are kissing, licking, touching every inch of my body. I’m dizzy with need and desire.
“Christian…” I gasp. He’s too much for me. I’m overwhelmed by his need, his hunger… his pain.
“I would die without you,” he chokes, pulling my leg over his hip. I feel him between my legs, large and hard. I try to prepare myself for him, but it’s no use. When he positions his head at my opening, I stiffen and gasp. He’s big. I remember sex with him, but I don’t remember him being this big. He pushes his head into me—slowly and gently. He groans deeply when he breeches my core, but stops, breathing raggedly.
“Relax, baby,” he says, softly. “I’ll go slow. It’s been a while… for both of us.”
“Okay,” I respond, trying to breathe deeply and relax. This is my husband. We’ve had sex before. Once he’s inside, I’ll acclimate to his size. He pushes in further and it seems as though I tighten around him.
“Oh, fuck,” he groans softly, his breath quickening. I’m still taking deep breaths, trying to adjust to him.
“Christian,” I breathe, “just do it!”
“Baby, I can’t,” he says, holding me tight to him. “You feel so good. I almost want to come right now.” Oh, I can’t take this shit. I hold my breath and push down hard against him. Fuck, he’s big! He groans loudly and mournfully, digging his fingers into my hips.
“Ana!” he calls out, his voice tortured. Now, he’s filling me completely. I still, breathing heavily at the fullness. I thought he was in as far as he could go, but he pivots his hips and pushes further still. With that thrust, he hits that spot and…
“Oooooohhhhh!” I moan, throwing my head back. Fucking hell!
“Baby, yes!” he hisses, and angles himself so that he is partially between my legs. I’m lying half on my back and half on my side with my leg still over his hip and he’s thrusting into me, his hand cupping my cheek as he looks into my eyes.
“I love you, Mrs. Grey,” he whispers as he thrusts into me. “With everything in me, I love you…” and I know that he means it. I feel his fear from when I was unconscious and his relief mixed with anguish at this moment. I want to cry as I gaze into his gorgeous, loving, and frightened gray eyes, but I fight the emotion.
“Let it out, baby,” he soothes, still pushing into me, still loving me. The levee breaks and my soul is weeping as much as my eyes. His fingers push into my hair, pulling my face to his as he kisses me repeatedly on my tear-stained cheek. I don’t know why I’m crying. I only know that I’m so full of emotion—his and mine—that I can’t stop. He continues to love me, slow and deep, and I begin to feel the burn. My cries become whimpers as my body starts to tremble. I’m reaching for something… anything to keep me grounded… to keep me from floating away from this place.
He catches my wildly flailing hand and entwines his fingers in mine, holding it down on the bed and using it as leverage to pull me to him each time he thrusts. Yes… yes, that’s what I need.
“Chri… Christian… I love… you…” I can barely get my words out. My body is mush and my brain is useless. I can only lay here and allow him to consume me.
“I know, baby,” he whispers, having regained his composure and now ripping every bit of pleasure from me that he can. “Come for me, baby.” Oh, God, he’s magnificent. I don’t remember this… how can I not remember this? I feel the tightening in my core and I know I’m going to explode any minute.
“That’s my girl,” he coaches. “Feel it, baby. It feels so good…” His voice is like honey wrapping around my body and coating me in warm pleasure. My legs start to tremble as I feel my orgasm approaching in my thighs and pelvis. Just when I can’t withstand any more, he closes his mouth over my neck and sinks his teeth into the tender meat just above my clavicle. I detonate around him, the fire of my climax threatening to burn us both alive. He’s barely moving inside of me now, but I can still feel him thrusting, then pulsing as he pins me to him.
“Ah! Ah! Oh, yes, Ana, baby!” he groans as he buries his face into my neck and his wildly throbbing member deep inside my core. Oh, God, it’s magnificent and it keeps going on and on and on! “Baby, yes! Give it all to me!” He coaches as my muscles continue to clamp around him coming violently. Suddenly, I think I’m confronted with every orgasm he ever gave me. My pussy is thumping feverishly with each flashback and I whimper as she burns with pleasure and I lie there, helplessly pinned to the bed and forced to ride it out. He holds me there in his grasp, unable to escape until the convulsions in my core finally subside. I can barely breathe, and he stays nestled inside of me as he gently kisses my cheek over and over again, proclaiming his love for me.
I must have fallen asleep again, because it’s nightfall when I awake this time. Christian is lying next to me on his side, wide awake and watching me sleep. I turn my eyes to him. How long has he been watching me?
“I thought I lost you,” he says softly. Isn’t that how this all started? “I don’t remember getting to the hospital when I got off the plane. I barely remember getting to your room.” He takes my hand in his and entwines our fingers again. “You looked so frail and helpless. Your whole face was bandaged except for one of your eyes. They had cut your hair… here.” He gently strokes the area on the side of my head where there’s barely any hair. “You needed stitches—a lot of them. You nearly lost your ear.” He kisses the back of the hand that he’s holding. “They reminded me of your advanced directives and all I could think of was to spend as much time as I could with you in the next sixty days in case…” He swallows hard. “In case you left me.”
Yes, the advanced directives. I remember those. Maxie tried to have me committed and I had Al draw them up for me in case I couldn’t make my own decisions.
“They said they would… keep you alive for the babies, but…” He trails off again. “I never left that room. For twelve days, I never left that room… not once. If you were leaving me, if you were going to die, then I was going to have every moment of those last sixty days with you.” He wipes a tear from his cheek. “You talked to me sometimes… only twice, I think… and you laughed at me once when I read you ‘The Gingerbread Man.’” I laugh thinking about this rich billionaire CEO sitting in the room with me reading “The Gingerbread Man.”
“You read me nursery rhymes?” I ask. He nods.
“My mother brought them,” he says sadly. “I never read them a child, and I promised that I would…”
“Learn them with our children,” I finish the sentence for him. I remember this. “We saw Dumbo… and Bambi…”
“… And Cinderella… The Jungle Book and Tarzan. We saw Pocahontas first so that I wouldn’t be so creeped out by Grandmother Willow because…”
“… She’s on the back of the door of the nursery,” I finish again. He smiles at me.
“I just wanted those last moments with you,” he says. “I would share them again with my children, but I would share them first with you.”
“Oh, Christian…” I use my free hand to caress his cheek. I love him so much.
“I never want to feel that way again,” he says, his eyes begging me to understand. “I never want to feel like I’m losing you ever, ever again.” At that moment, I know what I need to do.
“I’ll do whatever you ask,” I assure him. His gaze doesn’t change. “Anything. Whatever you ask, I’ll do it.” I can only hope he doesn’t want to lock me away forever. I really want to get back into the swing of things with Helping Hands as I recall most of what I was doing there. After this last tragedy, I don’t see the sense in keeping my practice open anymore. Whatever the case, for right now—for this moment—I have to do what he says. I have to bring him some peace from his last ordeal.
“I know you will, baby,” he says, kissing my hand twice. “We’ll come to an agreement that works for both of us.” I smile widely.
“Okay,” I nod.
Once we’re out of the bed and dressed, Christian shows me the elevators on either side of the house. It’s going to take me a couple of days to find my way around this place. To that end, Christian has actually purchased me a new phone, moved all of my contacts, pictures, and ringtones from the Cloud, and installed an app that has a map of our house on the phone and tells me where I am. Who needs a map of their own house? This place is ridiculous!
Our home is stunning. It’s everything I could have possibly hoped for. It’s more than I could have hoped for! There’s so much to see, but right now, I only want to see food!
I wander around following the “red dot” until it leads me to the kitchen. There are fabulous aromas coming from this beautiful gourmet kitchen and the lovely blonde woman standing at the stove. Just as I’m about to excuse myself for interrupting her, memories of her come flooding back to me—making my cheesy garlic potatoes, food and libations, her wedding on an island, my wedding to Christian…
“Gail…” I say wistfully. She spins around, surprised by the sound of my voice. She covers her mouth and begins to weep immediately. She opens her arms and I run into her embrace. This is my friend, and I’ve missed her.
“I didn’t think you would remember me,” she sobs in my arms.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t at first, but it only took a moment. The people you love never leave you.”
Gail informs me that Thanksgiving was supposed to be at our house, but Christian called the whole thing off once I had the accident. That made me exceedingly sad and I immediately went in search of my husband that Sunday morning to inquire why he would deny me the chance to cook in that gourmet kitchen and to entertain in this magnificent house—if you can call it that—which we have purchased and decorated with the purpose of entertaining friends and family. I mean, look at it. The place is huge and several areas are decorated specifically for entertaining. We even have more house staff being interviewed this week that will most likely start on or around Thanksgiving. After running his hands through his hair and unsuccessfully trying to convince me that it’s not a good idea for me to host Thanksgiving after just coming out of the hospital, I vow to take it easy for the most part, but refuse to let him tell me that we can’t have Thanksgiving at our house, which I soon discover has been named Grey Crossing.
Hmmm… oh well.
The first thing I do is call Marilyn, which I discover I’m the last to know, has to have clearance before she’s allowed onto the grounds. Mr. Grey and Mr. Taylor are going to have to give me a list of rules or I’m never going to keep up.
“Wow, Ana, this place is something else!” she says, admiring the high ceilings and marble floors and columns.
“I know,” I tell her. “I’m still getting used to it myself.” I lead her the long way through the formal living room and dining room, the gourmet kitchen, the family room and then through a back hallway that leads to the east wing. This area houses my parlor, Christian’s den, and both our offices.
“Whoa!” she exclaims when she gets to my office and sees the warm, but opulent décor and the aquarium that connects Christian’s office to mine. “Mrs. Grey, you have arrived.”
“That I have,” I giggle, gesturing her to one of the comfortable chairs in front of my desk. She sits down and takes out her tablet, awaiting instructions.
“So, Thanksgiving is going to be here at my house, so there’s a lot to do. I need to put together a guest list and I need to see what staff will actually be in the house to assist.” She raises her eyes from her tablet.
“Christian agreed to this?” she asks in disbelief. I nod.
“Reluctantly, yes, but only if I take full advantage of my resources, which is one of the reasons you’re here. I need to download my Helping Hands schedule so that I know what the week looks like, but for the life of me, I can’t remember my password. In fact, I can’t remember any passwords… to anything.”
“And you thought this was a waste of time,” she says with a smile and taps into her tablet. What’s she talking about? “Christian changed your number, I see.”
“Yeah,” I reply. “At first, I thought it was a huge inconvenience, but since I’m going to be making some changes, it may be best—for privacy’s sake, if nothing else…” My phone buzzes while I’m talking and it’s a text from Mare.
“Click on that link.” I click on it. “Type in contingency1018.” I follow directions and a password manager opens. “There’s all your passwords—to everything, including your old phone.” I scan down the list and they’re all variations of the same word with different numeric extensions. Of course… and now they’re all coming back to me now.
“What made me think I wouldn’t need this someday?” I ask Marilyn.
“You said that you were never likely to forget your passwords, unless a boulder fell on your head.” She smiles sadly. “The boulder fell, boss.”
“I guess it did,” I say, returning her sad smile. I open my schedule for Helping Hands. “Oh, no way in hell I’m going to be able to keep this schedule this week,” I tell her. “How has Grace been getting on without me? Has anyone been helping her?”
“The volunteers have been pitching in pretty well and I do what I can as she needs me. John has been handling the counseling on his own, though.” I frown.
“Who’s John?” I ask. Without missing a beat, she begins to type in her tablet and I get a new email. I open it and up pops a picture of an attractive older gentleman.
“John Flynn,” Marilyn begins. “He used to be Christian’s psychiatrist before Christian fired him. He’s very well acquainted with the Grey family, which is why he gives some of his time down at the Center like you and Grace.”
“Christian fired him.” It’s more of a statement than a question.
“He misinterpreted something that you said and it resulted in a huge blowup between you and Christian.” Just like most things these days, a little coaxing is all it takes to cause the memories to all come flooding back to me.
“Oh, I remember now,” I say, looking at the judgmental, arrogant asshole staring back at me. “We buried the hatchet, didn’t we?”
“At your wedding reception, I think.” Yeah, that was it. I remember him stumbling over an apology in his irritating English accent and me trying to figure out what the hell he was saying. I’m not saying that all English accents are irritating, but for whatever reason, his irritates me.
“Well, I see that quite a few people see me at the Center,” I observe while thumbing through my schedule. “Nothing’s actually set. Everything’s kind of jumbled. Why is that?”
“Because you just get to things as you can,” she responds. “It all works out in the wash.” I nod.
“Well, even I know that I won’t be able to maintain this schedule, what with trying to do Thanksgiving this week and just getting out of the hospital. I promised Christian that I would take it easy, so I have to be very careful about what I do, which reminds me…” I take a deep breath. “I’m closing down the practice, Mare,” I tell her. She looks at me.
“Really?” she says and I nod.
“I’m not helping these last few patients more than anyone else could, and I need to concentrate on other things. It won’t be hard to get new patients if I decide to come back to the practice, but right now I need to concentrate on recovery, I want to focus on Helping Hands, and I’ll have the children pretty soon. I know that the few patients that I have are on indefinite hold, but I’ll need their contact information so that I can let them know that they need to seek treatment elsewhere. I’ll use my memory loss and recovery as the reason for my departure.”
“Mrs. Hightower is going to be tough to sell on that,” she warns.
“I know, but I think everything happens for a reason and it’s time for Mrs. Hightower to stand on her own two feet. I’m not saying that I had a near-fatal accident so that I could drop her as a patient, but if it wasn’t this, it would have been something else. It would have been the babies or Helping Hands or something. She’s my last full-time patient. She’s going to have to let go.”
“Well, I wish you luck on getting her to understand that,” Marilyn says. She’s right—Annabelle Hightower is going to try every trick in the book to get me to keep her on as a patient, but my mind is made up. I’m going to spend my time with the charity, raising my children, and loving my husband. I want to get to know my life again—my family and friends—and I want to enjoy my new house. The few patients that I have left are not enough to keep the practice open. I can go back anytime, but for now, this is the best decision for me and my family.
A/N: I had a few people unsubscribe after the last post. I normally send out a campaign to unsubscribers asking if it was an accident. I didn’t do that this time because I clearly saw that one of the people was someone that I was THRILLED to see leaving, so I figured that both of them were unwanted elements. To that end, if you didn’t get an email, the system might have removed you by accident. Please let me know.
I know I say “Thank you” a lot and I hope it never gets old. I didn’t have time to respond to every post, but I just want you guys to know that I appreciate every single word of encouragement. I want to thank YOU for being there for me during the one time when I TRULY felt like throwing in the towel.
Although you guys know that it’s in my nature to defend myself, I’m going to work harder on ignoring and deleting insulting and condescending comments and passive-aggressive shots taken at me disguised as something else… although I do reserve the right to slice somebody up every now and again. I was seriously considering walking away from what I love because certain people wanted to critique the way I behave. Having said that, I’m going to make this clear to my dissenters…
I am 46 years old. I am etched in stone. I am who I am going to be until the day that I die. I’m not going to change. What you see is what you get and if you don’t like it, I DON’T CARE! So if you don’t like what I say—either in my story or in response to people who decide to say stupid shit—then get the hell off my page!
I’m getting old and very set in my ways and there’s nothing you can do to make me change, so go shake that proverbial finger at somebody else! I’m a grown ass woman; if you want to go SCOLD somebody, you go and scold your children—you don’t come over here trying to scold ME!
Don’t come over here trying to compare yourself to me and getting all butt-hurt because you swung at me first and I swung back harder.
If you have a problem with me talking about MY story and MY characters, and MY MY MINE MY MINE MINE MY MINE, you can get YOUR ASS off of MY PAGE!
If you don’t like what my readers say because they have the audacity to defend me, then you REALLY need to get the hell up off my page, because I’m NEVER going to silence someone who comes to my defense.
There are so many different ways and reasons that you can “get da hell out mah house” if you don’t like what you see over here—please, pick one!
I already know that I can be a loud-mouthed, egotistical, windbag, big, black woman. Having said that, there’s nothing that you can tell me about myself that I don’t already know. If you need any reminders of how to behave when you step on my front porch, you might want to go look at the Author’s Note at the beginning of chapter 42 of Paging Dr. Steele on Fanfiction, because I think there may be a couple of you who may have forgotten who I really am. Here’s the link just in case you might need a refresher course because what you don’t understand is that these “zings” that I do over here are shy and retiring compared to what I used to do on Fanfiction. So if you want THAT BITCH, she’s back!
If you still insist on typing shit to me, know that the moment I can catch a whiff of the scent of bullshit on your email/private message/contact me/comment, it will be deleted. That usually takes 1-3 sentences. And don’t come at me with “Well, if our opinions don’t agree with yours…” because that’s bullshit, too. There are plenty of dissenting opinions on my page that haven’t been zinged or deleted. Why? Because these people knew how to voice their displeasure without disrespecting my story, my characters, or ME! So if you want to come on over and be UNCOOTH in your opinion, go right ahead and see what happens to your “opinion.”
GOD that felt good!
Pictures of places, cars, fashion, etc., can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/becoming-dr-grey/
You can join my mailing list on the “Contact Me” page. Just click the link and it will lead you to a form to join the list.
Love and handcuffs 🙂