Those of you who feel that Christian overreacted in the last chapter probably don’t want to read this chapter. You’ve been warned, so don’t whine and cry about his behavior or reaction in the end.
FYI—I spent most of my life in Michigan, Detroit specifically… Michigan is a little mitten island surrounded by water that can get pretty damn frigid in the winter. Maybe not as cold as Canada or Russia or Antarctica, but pretty damn cold. In fact, Detroit is RIGHT on the lake. It’s one of the reasons why I moved to Vegas… the old gray mare couldn’t take the cold anymore. Anyway, whether pneumonia comes from a virus, the cold, a bug, or fairy dust, my sister caught it standing out in the cold and she almost died. Being of that mind and also coming from Detroit (not that all Detroiters feel this way), I can imagine Christian seeing his wife—who was just banged up and in a coma for two weeks—standing in the cold with no coat and dying from pneumonia. He had no idea how long she would have stood out there had he not brought her coat… Oh, and they live on the lake—ever heard of wind chill or lake-effect snow?
Did I also mention that my current husband’s uncle died from exposure to the cold? Not the Canadian cold or the Russian cold or the Arctic cold—the Michigan cold… Detroit, to be specific… Yeah, just thought I’d throw that out there…
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 30—Consequences, Schmonsequences… ?
It’s been a long day and I’m exhausted.
Pops has been returned to Grace’s loving arms and gentle care. She surprised us by coming to pick him and Herman up. He made it quite clear to her that he had a wonderful stay and plans on coming back to stay with us for another stint before the babies are born. He knows that our hands will be full once the twins arrive, but he’ll want to spend more time with us before he becomes a “burden.” Christian assures him that he would never be a burden even after the children are born.
Marilyn and I had a very busy day doing the initial review of the country club list. I’m a little surprised that Christian doesn’t belong to a yacht club with that floating hotel that I never knew he owned until we moved to the Crossing. Surprisingly, he just paid the fees at the Marina and moored her there. Nonetheless, there are several clubs that have captured my attention. Marilyn is looking into how soon I can get an appointment to tour a few of the clubs later this week or next week and, just as I had hoped, Addie, Courtney, and I will be having lunch at her club on Wednesday. The ball is certainly rolling.
I stay out of Christian’s presence for the rest of the day after he leaves Keri and me in the kitchen. He acts like what I did was such a huge malfeasance. Yes, I completely agree that it was irresponsible for me to go outside without a coat, but I was only out there for a few minutes. It wasn’t like I stood out there for an hour. Ultimately, he’s right—I really could have gotten sick, but geez, man. I didn’t, and I’ll admit that the soup and the tea did rid me of the lingering chill. Nonetheless, I thought it best to stay as far away from my brooding Dom for the rest of the day.
Keri was my biggest task today. She was unbelievably emotional the entire day. Chuck had pushed her to her limit and once the emotional flood gates were opened, she couldn’t close them immediately. She swayed from angry to distraught for the entire day. When Chuck emerged from his nap, their traditional roles reversed tremendously. He took his meds, so he was visibly feeling better. As a result, he had to help take care of Keri. She may have avoided the literal cliff and didn’t get on the plane, but emotionally, she’s been smashed among the rocks in the valley below. He’s got some work on his hands, and I think he knows it.
I finally get to my bedroom and the promise of blessed peace. After getting undressed except for my panties, I slide into a comfortable nightshirt and braid my hair in a single long braid. I secure it with a ponytail holder and climb into bed. I’ve never been so grateful for these dark walls and this heavy comforter as I am at this moment. And now, blissful slumber.
“You didn’t think you were getting off that easy, did you?” What the…?
I bolt upright to see Christian standing next to the bed in just sweatpants. Where did he come from? He wasn’t there a minute ago. Did I fall asleep?
“Huh?” I say, my voice so high that I sound like a child.
“Out of the bed, Anastasia,” he says, in that voice. “We have unfinished business.”
Are you kidding? I can barely keep my eyes open. I gaze at him like he must be out of his mind.
“I won’t say it again.” His voice is menacing this time. Shit! I better get up. I remove the heavenly blankets and throw my legs over the edge of the bed. I put my feet on the cold floor and stand. I raise confused eyes to him and he looks like a damn tree. I feel about two feet tall. His eyes, I can’t read them—not because it’s dark. I just can’t read them.
“Have you conveniently forgotten about your little excursion out in the cold this morning without a coat that put yourself and our children at risk?” Shit. I had forgotten it… temporarily, and he let me cruise blissfully through the day without a care, and no hint whatsoever that this was coming. I sigh heavily, a bit defiant, and drop my eyes to the ground.
“Yes, Sir,” I respond truthfully, trying to portray the contrition that he’s looking for, but I’m having a hard time dealing with my resentment. I’m tired and I want to go to sleep, but Sir needs to teach me a lesson and in all honesty, I was wrong. So let’s get this over with.
“You have conveniently forgotten?” he repeats.
“Yes, Sir,” I respond. “It was a long day. I’m sorry, Sir.” This doesn’t help.
“Did I tell you to explain?” he says, his voice growing more menacing. I’m still waiting for the contrition to join us.
“No, Sir,” I say just above a whisper. He’s silent. He stands there for a long time, saying nothing. Don’t blink, Anastasia. Don’t even flinch. It’s hard to do since I’m so tired and it feels like I’ve been standing here forever. Finally, he speaks.
“Take that off,” he says. He’s not pleased. He was already displeased with me, but now, he’s even more so. His voice is cold with a hidden emotion lurking behind it—not anger, but something that I can’t identify. I quickly remove my nightshirt and drop it on the floor.
“Those, too,” he says, and I know that he means my panties. I slide my panties off my butt and down my legs, letting them fall to the floor. I step out of them and stand before him, naked.
“Go to the bathroom.” I proceed to the bathroom. “My bathroom!” he corrects and I jump from the force in his voice before changing direction to his bathroom. The lights are off, but the moon is shining brightly through the window. It casts an eerie aura around the room, but makes it surprisingly easy to see. I stop and stand in the middle of the room because he hasn’t given me any instructions. It seems like it takes forever for him to join me, but he makes his presence known immediately. I feel him part my butt cheeks and something cold and wet is introduced.
It’s a glass butt plug. It’s been lubed, but I wasn’t prepared; so when he shoved it into my butt, I wasn’t quite ready for it. I gasp loudly. I swallow hard when he starts to turn it inside of me. I don’t know what I should be feeling right now—pleasure? Caution?
He leaves me there for a moment, then turns his shower on. My head is down so I can only see his sweat pants drops to his ankles before he steps out of them and into the shower.
“Come here, Anastasia,” he commands. I step into the shower with him, but try to stay away from the spray because the water is freezing!
He positions me right under one of the blasting showerheads with him. Shit, the water feels like little knives all in my skin. How does he stand this? We stand there for a few moments until I’m shivering, then the water starts to warm up. Thank God! My skin is quite sensitive from the cold water and I don’t like it. He never flinched once.
“Turn around,” he commands. I do as I’m told. He takes my hair in his hand.
“Just like old times,” he says, fondling my braid. “Hands on the glass, Anastasia,” he commands. I dutifully put my hands on the glass walls.
“Open your legs and stick your ass out.” I obey his command. “More! Wider!” He startles me and I jump, sliding my hands down the glass and bending over slightly, parting my legs further. I imagine that I look like I’m about to frisked… which in fact, I am.
“Yes!” he hisses his approval and rubs my wet ass roughly. “That’s what I want.” He moves to the side of me and manipulates the butt plug, side to side and around a bit. I gasp. The feeling is not quite pleasurable, yet, because of his demeanor. For some reason, my mind wanders to the old playroom. We have this huge house—14,000 square feet—and no playroom? He tugs hard at my hair, bringing my thoughts back to now.
“Am I boring you, Mrs. Grey?” he hisses. Oh, shit! I’ve been caught daydreaming.
“No, Sir!” I gasp. He was already displeased with me. Now, I’ve angered him again. Without warning, his hand comes down—hard—on my wet backside. I cry out. I wasn’t prepared.
“Count!” Count? What? His hand lands hard again and my instinct is to wiggle away from him, but I don’t dare.
“Count, Anastasia!” he orders me.
“Two!” I yell out.
“That’s one! You didn’t start when I told you to!” He wails on my ass again, the same spot. “That’s two.” Shit, that hurts!
“Two…” I mutter, to avoid four becoming two again. He whacks me again, three times in quick succession—hard in the same spot and too fast for me to count. Fuck! Is that three or five?
“Three!” I announce to be on the safe side.
“Have you now forgotten how to count, Mrs. Grey?” he chastises roughly. I had almost forgotten how it felt to be punished by my Dom… almost.
“Four and five,” I mutter, trying to keep the resentment from my voice. I fail miserably.
“Okay,” he acknowledges and comes down hard on me again, same spot, this time pulling my hair against the blow for added intensity. Oh, Christ. My resentment is replaced by slight anguish as he won’t shift the spot where he’s hitting me. My skin is wet and it stings more than usual. Thank God for the non-slip floor.
“How many is that, Mrs. Grey?” he says through clenched teeth.
“Six!” I spit, the word barely choking from my chest.
“And that?” he says, pounding on my ass again.
“And that?” He’s pulling my hair harder with each hit, and the pain is a bit blinding. My hands are supporting my weight, so I can’t lean back at all to ease the pain.
Eight. Did I say it or think it?
“How many, Mrs. Grey?” I thought it.
“Eight.” It comes out as a whispered gasp. He doesn’t have mercy on me. I close my eyes and anticipate the next hit. My ass hurts so badly because he hasn’t moved from that spot. He strikes the same spot over and over again. It’s hot and painful and my head is beginning to throb.
“Thir… teen.” I choke over the sob in my chest. I can’t hear him anymore. I can’t hear the water spraying from the shower head or the spray of drops hitting the floor. I can only feel the pain—the slaps on the same part of my ass. I can’t even feel him pulling my hair anymore.
“Fourteen…” I can feel the tears on my face. The temperature is different than the water from the shower.
“Fi-fi-fifteen!” I sob through shuddering breaths, crying freely now because of the pain. I brace myself for the next blow as I stand there sobbing, but it doesn’t come. Instead, he disappears for a second, but comes back to me. He pulls the butt plug out—roughly—and surprisingly, the feeling sends shivers through me. It’s the first pleasure I’ve felt all night. I feel a lubed finger circle my rosette then enter my ass. My sobs prevent my moans, but it really feels good, so much better than him hitting me.
He replaces his finger with the head of his penis, teasing my asshole and making me want to moan, but I don’t. I don’t know what I’m allowed to do right now. He pushes into me, slowly… very slowly, stretching me to wrap around him. He pulls out a little and pushes in further, groaning deeply as he goes further inside of me. My cries are now helpless gasps as the pleasure of him filling my ass assaults my senses. I can’t think now. I don’t even remember why I was crying.
“Ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss!” he hisses long and loud as he pushes himself deeper into me, very deep. I can feel it in my hips. I know he’s sheathed when he grabs those hips and starts to move, pushing me closer to the glass. The feeling is heavenly and I’m panting with pleasure as he fills me. He has pushed me so close to the glass that I’m standing upright now.
“Step up on the ledge,” he breathes, almost chokes. I was wondering what that ledge was for. It’s an eight-inch platform that goes all the way around the shower. I step up and now, I’m the perfect height for him to pound into me without having to stoop. He reaches between us and opens my ass from underneath, grinding deeper into me. I can’t stop the moan that escapes, but it spawns him to cover my hands with his on the glass and rock harder into me.
My head lolls forward as he presses my hands firmly against the glass, pushing long and deep into me. His breath is staccato and I imagine him watching his dick disappear into my ass as he strokes me, the visual assault intensifying his pleasure as my body envelopes him. He confirms my suspicions when one thrust finds him buried deep inside me, his groan deep and loud, his dick pulsing so hard that I thought he was coming. He simultaneously grabs my breasts and pulls me flat against him, my hands still sliding on the glass. My tortured moan matches his and echoes off the shower walls.
“Quiet!” he whispers, his voice thick with his own pleasure. I bite my lips as he continues to grind into me, that paralyzing feeling starting in my knees that signals the start of an anal orgasm. He’s squeezing my breasts, hard, using them as leverage to press me harder against him for deep penetrating. I love it! It’s so fucking hot and intense. I have to stop myself from calling his name out, from moaning in ecstasy, from moving my hands. I release my lips from my teeth and breathe open-mouthed as he plunges into me, owning me.
One hand moves and ends up in the promised land and from God only knows where, he has produced a vibrator—a bullet, I think. He palms my pussy and manages to part my lips, landing that thing on my clit on what feels like the highest setting!
“Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!” I cry out from the surprise and start to tremble violently. It’s involuntary.
“Sssssshhhhhh!” His reprimand is a long, slow hiss that matches his grind. Fuck, he wants me to be quiet through this? I throw my head back, mouth open, panting like a wild animal and trying to keep quiet. My reaction spawns a guttural groan and a probing thrust from my Dom, and I’m certain that he’s hell-bent on torturing me when his other hand moves from my breast and secures around my neck, pinning me to him. I’m trapped. I have learned that this is another method of him collaring me, owning me. He always brings his face close to mine when we’re like this—talking to me, taunting me, giving me instructions, breathing in my ear, driving me wild. He always applies pressure—looser to show affection, tighter to show possession. It spurns my orgasm and I have to concentrate if I don’t want to come too quickly.
Sure enough, he thrusts two wet fingers into my core, hooking them so that he has a firm grip. That damn bullet is hard against my clit, massaging me so, so deep, his hand moving in perfect sync with his shaft thrusting deliciously in and out of my ass. His other hand clamps tight around my neck and the dance truly begins.
He owns me. He so fucking owns me.
Each movement is enough on its own to send me spiraling into oblivion. Together, I’m mindless with pleasure.
“Your breathing…” he whispers in my ear. “You want to come.” Of course, I do! “Don’t come.”
Oh, shit! I’m going to fail this test.
“Did you hear me?” he asks, wiggling his fingers inside of me, causing a deep vibration of the bullet against my clit. I cry out like a wounded animal.
“Yes, sir!” I respond, nearly weeping.
“Good,” he says, and his hand begins to move, opposite his stroke, up and down just enough to finger-fuck me deep and rubs that vibrator against my sensitive and pulsing clit. I’m mindless. I can’t control any of this, not even my own body.
“Oooo, you are so wet,” he croons in my ear. “Your juices just gushed all over me. It feels so good on my hand… so soft and wet.” His thumb joins the dance and begins to stroke the outer lip of my pussy. His tongue, lips, and teeth set to task on my neck and shoulders—licking, nipping, and sucking—while his fingers spread on my neck, two of his fingertips now on my chin, pushing my head back against his shoulder holding me in place. He has moved from possession to affection…
…But he still owns me.
I’m floating, mindless and powerless on waves of obscene pleasure unable to control anything, much less my body’s reaction when he breathes, “Perfect. Yes… feel it, baby… but don’t come.”
I feel it. I feel it everywhere. It assaults all my senses. My body is one big bundle of nerves and he’s plucking every one.
“Hold it, baby…” he coaxes, “don’t come.”
I don’t think he understands. I have no control over this. I don’t know what’s happening. I don’t know what I’m saying. I don’t know what I’m doing. All I know is what I’m feeling… literal mind-numbing pleasure. My brain is literally checking out and my body is taking over. He’s strumming this instrument like an acoustic guitar in a concert hall, and my swan song has begun. I’m rising… higher and higher. My body is no longer my own. I strap myself in and get ready for the ride of my life.
“Hold on, baby…” he warns, his rods pumping into me, going deep and massaging my anus while his hand works its magic on my core. “Can you hold it?” he grunts, pulling me harder against him with each stroke. I feel his body trembling against mine and it doesn’t help my current situation. I know he loves the feel of my ass and I know that right now, it’s clenching tight around him as he pounds into me—long and deep, not slow, but at just the right speed to feel my body grip every inch of him. I’ve always wondered if I feel as good against his skin as he feels against mine, because if I do, he’s about to blow.
“What was that, baby? What did you say?” I don’t know, did I say something? Fuck it, I’m melting, and apparently I’m delirious, too.
“You can’t take anymore. You’re going to come. I feel it,” he says, his fingers probing deep into me, massaging my walls while his palm and thumb push me closer to certain death—Shakespearean death, that is.
“Oh, baby,” he groans deeply. “Your body is insane! Every inch of you is on fire!” You got that right. I feel him open his legs—apparently for leverage—and he is pumping into me wild and deep, grinding hard like he’s losing control. His groans are continuous now and he’s nearly lifting my feet off the ledge with each thrust. His dick is getting bigger, harder… he’s close. He groans loud and long and sinks his teeth into the meat on my shoulder.
I burst into flames in his arms, my entire body is fire as this deadly climax rips through all of my senses, searing through my soul and burning away all thoughts of anything else. I hear myself crying, wailing, but my body and mind are floating, unable to control anything happening to me.
“Yes, baby,” he coaches, his voice thick with desire, “feel it, baby. Ride it out… feel it all…”
And feel it, I do. It’s electrifying and he has to hold me up as he continues to stroke and grind into my ass, drawing out my pleasure with his masterful hips; his skilled hand manipulating my clit and probing my pussy. I’m weeping now, gyrating and trembling helplessly as he groans loudly and empties wild and hard inside of me. His cries of passion are primal as he squeezes my neck, pressing me hard against him, his opposite hand still in my pussy. It’s trembling involuntarily against and inside me as he withstands his own galactic orgasm and I convulse in delicious aftershocks that rival the orgasm that I just had.
“Baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby…” He curls around me, holding my limp body and kissing my shoulders and neck, his voice now full of reverence and genuine affection. He’s the complete opposite of the man that brought me into the shower. His love radiates from him into me as he lays his head on my back, breathing heavily and holding me against him as if he hopes we will meld into one person.
I can only weep.
He rocks me slowly and gently in his arms and it only makes me weep harder. He holds me there for a few more moments, then sets me on my unsteady feet. Brushing my wet braid over my shoulder, he kisses my bald spot and my scars several times.
And I weep harder.
My cries turn to unattractive hiccups as he lathers a shower sponge and gently cleans my body—my back, my arms, my massive baby bump, the spot where he spanked me so hard that it still stings. I flinch when he touches it and cover my face, still weeping. I feel him move behind me and now, he’s gently washing my legs, thighs, and feet. The warm water rinses the soap from my body and I feel his lips kiss the site of my spanking over and over again. He’s on his knees behind me, literally kissing my ass.
I weep unabashedly. I weep for him spanking me, for him pulling my hair, for the massive and insane orgasm I just had, and for the gentle aftercare that he’s giving me now. I weep because it’s freezing-raining outside, because the babies have somehow slept through all of this, and because I have no idea what I’m going to wear tomorrow. I weep because Val still hates me, because I closed my practice, and because there are still some things that I can’t remember. I weep because the sky is blue, because I can’t quite recall what day it is, because I don’t like the color of my toenails…
I open my eyes and find myself in bed alone. If I focus, I can see the sun trying to break through the closed shutters and light-eliminating drapes. I don’t know what time it is and I really don’t care. I’m lying on my right side, the side where I was spanked. It still hurts—not that pleasurable, day-after sting that comes from the erotic spankings to which I have become accustomed. It hurts like hell, like I got my ass beat. I don’t like it and I can’t reconcile if I really deserved it… if the punishment actually fit the crime. I am actually pretty lucky that I didn’t get sick. That certainly would have been very bad for the babies, I imagine. I wasn’t really thinking about my health or the babies and that wasn’t good. To that end, I’ll make sure that I’m not standing in subzero weather without a coat… ever again, but I feel very much like a punished child.
What’s worse is that with the huge pregnant stomach, I can’t even lie on my front to relieve the ache. He put some cream on it last night, but I can’t remember if it gave me any relief. I just know that it hurts now. I could turn on my left side, but I just don’t feel like moving right now. I pull the warm covers up around my neck and snuggle in, looking for that comfort that I had last night before any of this happened. I find a pinch of it as I sink down into the mattress.
He mixed punishment with passion, sort of like he did in Anguilla… but different. Not better or worse, I think, just different. His punishment was decisive—not cruel, but definitely meant to leave an impression. That, it did. I will have a coat or a wrap at every exit. I close my eyes in an attempt to stop my racing thoughts. They’re all over the place and I just want them to calm down. I’m not getting out of bed. I’m staying here today. There’s nothing that I need to do and nowhere that I need to be, so I’m just staying here… relaxing, thinking about sunsets, moonlight, twins playing in the grass, gentle breezes, water washing over my feet and the sand between my toes…
“You never were very good at playing possum.”
He’s here. I sigh and open my eyes. He’s behind me. I’m facing the fireplace and he’s on the other side of the bed.
“I wasn’t pretending to be asleep,” I reply.
“Are you going to get up?” His tone is soothing… gentle and slightly coaxing.
“No,” I answer, “Not right now.” Not today at all.
“Are you feeling okay? Are you ill?” God, no! I’m not ill. Please, let’s not talk that into existence.
“No, I’m just resting,” I say, hoping to appease him.
“You’re still tired?”
“No, just resting.” I hear him sigh gently.
“Would you like for me to run you a bath?” He sounds a little rudderless. I don’t want a bath, because it means sitting down. I don’t want a shower… because I just don’t want a shower. I’m not going anywhere, so I don’t need to shower or wash right now—not to mention I had one before bed.
“No, I don’t need a bath,” I tell him.
“Do you want me to leave?” he asks. Do I? I don’t care really. His presence doesn’t bother me, and his lack of presence won’t bother me, either.
“No, I’m fine,” I reply. “It’s up to you.” I can almost feel his angst. I just don’t have anything right now.
“When I used to have subs, this is why they had their own room. There were times when they needed to be away from me, when they needed space from what we were doing. I’m not sure that I could tolerate that with you… if you felt like you needed to be away from me.”
He’s feeling strangely, I can tell. Remorse, I think, but I know that he won’t apologize because he doesn’t feel like he needs to. Honestly, I don’t feel like he needs to either. It’s the nature of our relationship. I knew that when I married him. I don’t really want to analyze this situation, though I know that I will. I just… want to lay here… think, maybe, I don’t know.
“Are you not speaking to me?” he asks.
“No, nothing like that,” I reply softly.
“Then, what?” What, indeed?
“I’m just resting,” I reply, which is the truth. I’m just lying here resting, thinking about nothing and everything.
I feel him rise off the bed. A few minutes later, I hear his voice.
“Will you turn around and face me?” I roll my eyes and sigh quietly. Turning around is a bit of a task. There’s no way to do it without irritating my butt. As I roll gingerly, I grimace and whimper when my butt hits the bed and quickly move the pressure off the painful cheek. He’s moved to the floor, his chin resting on his hands on the bed. I pull the blankets back up to my neck and lay my head back on the pillows.
“I don’t like that look,” he says, solemnly. “I’ve never seen it before. I don’t know what it means.”
“It doesn’t mean anything,” I murmur, mainly because I have no idea what he sees and I’m not trying to portray or hide anything.
“What are you thinking?” he asks, a slight hint of desperation in his voice. “I need to know.”
“Nothing. I’m just resting.” There’s really nothing there. I was just listening to the silence and letting my thoughts fall to nothing. He sighs heavily and gently strokes my cheek.
“Are you hungry? You need to eat.” An olive branch, I think… totally unnecessary. I’m not hungry, surprisingly, but the babies need to be fed.
“I could eat,” I reply. He smiles.
“What would you like?”
“What time is it?”
“About eleven.” Eleven? My God, I had no idea it was that late, not that it matters.
“I’m not sure what I want. Whatever the cook has ready is fine,” I concede. He nods.
“Are you cold?” Am I? Maybe just a bit. My silence prompts him to rise. “I’ll build you a fire, okay?”
“Yes, that would be nice,” I respond. He disappears behind me and I hear him open the flute and add logs to the fireplace. In no time, there’s a fire crackling in the bedroom fireplace. The warmth is almost immediate. He walks back around the bed.
“I’ll go see what’s ready, okay?” I nod. He kisses me on the forehead. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.” He disappears out the bedroom door, leaving it only slightly cracked. I snuggle down into the covers again as the fireplace casts a glow over the room. I’m starting to feel warmer very quickly. I emerge from my cocoon and look over the edge of the bed to the floor. My nightshirt is still there. I pick it up and slide it over my head. The fire is comforting and it’s warming the room quite nicely. I shift so that my head is at the foot of our bed and I don’t have to lay on my right side to face the fire. No need for underwear; they would irritate me too much. I put a pillow under the twins and one between my legs. My hair falls over the end of the bed and I’m comfortable again.
I sigh deeply as the comfort envelopes me. I know why I’m not feeling anything but the pain in my stinging butt. It’s because I’m in limbo. Knowing my husband the way that I do, I should expect to be punished for going outside and putting myself and our babies at risk. If the tables were turned and he were deliberately and unnecessary putting himself at risk, I would have done the same thing to him. If I think hard enough, I’m sure that I have. I just don’t know how I feel about it. Because the two extremes are battling each other, I’m stuck in limbo. I can’t and won’t tell him that. I have to come to grips with what I’m feeling before I can attempt to present my feelings to him.
The fire crackling reminds me of happier times—all the times we fell asleep or made love in front of the fire at… Escala. Yeah, that’s it, Escala. I concentrate on happier thoughts to pull myself out of limbo…
“I guess you are resting.” His smooth voice wakes me from my light slumber. I didn’t even know that I had fallen asleep. I raise up a bit trying to get my bearings. “Don’t move,” he says. “I’ll bring the tray to you.” I lean up on my side a bit and he places a napkin and flatware on the bed in front of me. He produces a portable tray with two plates. One carries a croissant, which I later discover is filled with prosciutto and gruyere cheese, and a spinach and mushroom frittata cup. The second plate is full of fruit skewers. They look divine. I wasn’t hungry before, but I’m certainly hungry now! I tear into the fruit skewers, using them as an appetizer to curb my initial hunger.
I eat in relative silence. I’m more concerned with getting the food down to the babies than anything else happening in the room or even in my mind. The fruit is scrumptious and I gladly finish every bit of it, then start in on the other courses when his voice breaks my concentration.
“Over the years, I’ve become accustomed to seeing bruises on women. Depending on the severity of our session, the bruising can get to be a bit brutal.” Why is he telling me this? I really don’t want to have a Sunday morning chat about his sessions with his prior submissives! “I’ve seen some pretty nasty welts from a whip and a cane, but spanking…?” He pauses. Where is he going with this? “I’ve seen some of the tannest skin glow bright red from a good hiding, but I’ve never seen any of them glow purple… and certainly not black and blue.”
Black and blue?? What?!
I instinctively bolt upright and forget that it’s my ass that he’s talking about. The pain shoots up my hip and I bear my teeth and grimace. His jaw tightens as I resume my position off of the tender part of my ass. Welp, my appetite’s gone. Let’s check in on the soccer players. They seem content, not grumbling or rumbling in discomfort, so I think they’re okay.
“You cried for a long time last night. I didn’t think you would ever stop. I don’t ever remember you crying that much except when you returned from Montana and it still wasn’t as bad as last night. Why didn’t you safeword, Ana?” I do remember Tearfest when I returned from Montana. It certainly wasn’t the same as last night.
“You always ask me if I remember my safewords before we begin. Did you ask me that last night?” I ask, stoically. His pupils constrict.
“No,” he admits. “Did you forget them?”
“Did it matter?” I retort, my voice still flat.
“Yes, it mattered, Anastasia!” he snaps, barely controlling his voice. “It always matters! Did you forget?” His feelings are conflicted and he needs an answer that’s going to make him feel better, but I don’t have one.
“No, Christian, I didn’t forget. Bells. Whistles. Ladybug.” My tone never changes, but his jaw tightens. “I didn’t safeword last night because I didn’t need to safeword. If I had fought to get away from you, screamed for you to ‘stop this now,’ or made any gestures towards my babies whatsoever, you would have stopped.”
“Then why didn’t you stop me?” he hisses, his emotions barely contained. I still don’t falter.
“I weighed the situation. I put myself and my babies at risk. I married a Dom. This is what happens.” I wait for his response. He runs his hands through his hair and sighs heavily, his jaw even tighter than it was before.
“The very first time you subbed for me, I struck you with my hand thirty-two times. Thirty-two times, Anastasia, and you did not look like that! That must have been agony. Why didn’t you stop me?” His voice is almost begging now. I had all but forgotten about that. Thirty-two times… that was a lot. How did he remember that?
That was different—very different. That wasn’t punishment; that was erotic spanking, testing my limits, regaining his control. That was varying amounts of pressure, different parts of my ass, and hit and caress. That wasn’t repeated, successive, concentrated pounding on my wet skin on the side of my butt closer to my hip where there’s not as much meat as the full-on ass cheek. You wanted pain. You wanted submission. You wanted to teach me a lesson. You got what you wanted.
Did I deserve a lesson? Yes, I did. I wholeheartedly agree that I did. How do I feel about this particular lesson? I haven’t gotten that far. My mind and body won’t let me. I’m not angry—I know that for sure. Unfortunately, I’m not feeling much of anything else right now either. The only word that I can use to describe my feelings at this moment is subdued.
If this is how his subs felt after punishment, then I understand why they needed time away from him. There was no emotional connection, and even if they did feel something for him, he didn’t reciprocate it. So they did need to be on their own for a while after something like this, if for no other reason but to regroup and examine their feelings. My feelings aren’t confused. I still love my husband and I don’t necessarily need to be away from him. If he needs to be in my presence right now or not, I’m fine with either one. I deserved to be punished for disregarding my health and well-being and that of my babies. I just haven’t evaluated how I feel about the punishment right now.
I do know one thing though. He can’t deal with it. His emotions and his dominance and his logical mind told him at the time that this is what I deserved. He expected to hand out his punishment and then for us to wake up this morning and everything be okay. It’s not okay, at least not with him. He didn’t expect the emotional response that I’m giving him—or lack thereof—and he certainly didn’t expect the physical result. I’m sorry, baby, but if I have to live with the results of your actions, you do, too.
“This is what you wanted,” I say with no malice. “You wanted me to have a physical reminder of what I had done wrong. You wanted to teach me a lesson. Isn’t that the whole idea behind the concept of spanking—to curtail bad behavior when you see it?” Yes, I’ve looked into the proclaimed benefits of spanking when he announced that this was one of the ways that he wanted to discipline our children. This is one of the reasons that I can more accept the punishment as opposed to feeling abused or battered. However, being on the receiving end, I have to weigh all of the effects this exercise has had on me. Although we will revisit that topic, I can’t do that right now because it’s still too new. But you, Mr. Grey… you do need to realize that the effects of something like this go both ways.
“You wanted to highlight what I did wrong. You wanted to make sure that I was aware of it and that I wouldn’t do it again. You had a point to make and you made it. I certainly will never breach the door again without appropriate attire for the weather conditions. I didn’t need to safeword, Christian, but apparently, you needed me to.” He stands and turns his back to me for a moment. With his hands on his hips, he begins his counting. Why is he angry? He only counts momentarily before he turns around to face me, his eyes apologetic.
“I didn’t want this, Ana,” he says softly, his voice thick with emotion. “I didn’t want this.” He walks out of the bedroom. I watch the door he exited over my shoulder for a moment. In my head, the Bitch just looks at me and shrugs. I’m with her—fuck if I know what to do next.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt this way after administering a punishment… ever. I don’t even know how to label this feeling… angry, disappointed, upset, guilty? I have no idea.
Her butt is black and blue. My hand doesn’t even hurt, and her butt is black and blue! And her demeanor, she’s so complacent. She’s staying in bed, and she’s not ill. She’s never done that. Well, she did that when I was angry with her after the fundraiser fiasco. Hopefully, she’s not feeling the same way now as she did, then. All evidence points to the contrary. Shit, I don’t know where the evidence is pointing. She’s not really telling me anything.
Is this some type of reverse psychology? Nope. No, it’s not. That’s not Butterfly’s style. She’s an open book and what she’s feeling is usually right there for me to see. No, right now, either she’s not feeling shit, or she doesn’t know what she’s feeling… and neither of those are good.
I take the elevator to the group floor in hopes of avoiding the “where’s Ana” questions and stares that greeted me when I came down to fetch her breakfast. When I get to the ground floor, I go straight to the cabinet in the gym and get two instant ice packs. When I make my way back to our bedroom, Butterfly is leaning on her elbow, clearly lost in thought. She doesn’t react when I enter the room. I go into my en suite and get the Arnica cream, the citrus oil, and a clean hand towel and washcloth. I wet and wring the washcloth and come back to our bedroom.
“Have you finished with your breakfast?” I ask. She has eaten part of the croissant and part of the frittata, but all of the fruit is gone. I can live with that.
“Yes, I’m finished.” I put the plates on the tray and move the tray from the bed to the table near the window.
“Would you like something else… another spritzer or some water?”
“No, I’m fine. Thank you.”
“Will you take off your nightshirt?” She freezes for a moment, but then removes her nightshirt.
“Lie down, please,” I tell her. She lies as flat as the babies will allow her with her face on her bent arms, still facing the fire. I examine her bruised behind. She flinches and hisses when I apply the aArnica cream.
“Sorry,” I mutter.
“It’s okay,” she replies, still lying on her hands. I gently massage the cream over her bruises, feeling shittier and shittier every time she flinches. After a while, the flinching finally stops and I can only assume that she’s feeling some relief. I grab the washcloth and the ice pack.
“This is going to be cold,” I warn and lay the damp washcloth over her butt.
“That’s not cold at all,” she responds.
“I’m not finished.” I squeeze the pack and break the tube inside.
“Oh,” she says after she hears the shaking. When the pack gets cold, I put it over the wash cloth. I’m relieved that she doesn’t flinch. I rub my hands together to warm them, then pour some of the citrus oil on them. I rub it in and then proceed to rub it into her back and shoulders. Her muscles relax immediately under my gentle kneading. I concentrate on the small of her back where I know she feels the most pressure during her pregnancy. She moans quietly as I work the kinks out of her muscles. When the area feels totally relaxed, I apply more oil and move down to her thighs and legs, and finally to her ankles and feet. I’m not a professional, but I’ve been reading a bit on third-trimester massage. Her ankles haven’t quite started swelling, but I know it’s right around the corner.
Her breathing has become rhythmic. I stop the massage and move to her face and confirm my suspicions. She’s asleep. I wipe the oil from my hands and sit on the floor at the foot of the bed. I lean my face on my hand so that it’s right next to hers. I gently brush her hair out of her face and examine her features. She’s so beautiful, so tranquil. I see the same beauty in her now that I saw the first day that I met her. Those eyes captivated me from “Sir” and I’ve been a goner ever since.
“You’re right,” I whisper. “I had a point to prove and I proved it. I wanted you to know my level of displeasure with what you did and how it could’ve hurt you and our children. I wanted to exercise my authority upon you because I wanted you to know how unhappy I was with your actions.” I stroke her cheek gently and she purrs a bit in her sleep.
“I’m sorry,” I whisper to her sleeping face. “I didn’t want this. I really didn’t want this.” I just sit there and watch her as she sleeps contentedly, her face looking like she’s dreaming of clouds and unicorns.
Monday was a fitful day at work. Nothing seemed to go right; everything irritated the fuck out of me and no one could follow simple instructions. I left the office at the height of displeasure, only content when I met Butterfly in Lamaze class. She seemed in better spirits, though still a bit withdrawn. It went very well and I was pleased with what we learned and even with the couple we met while we were there. I’ve already sent Butterfly home while I tend to one last order of business for the evening.
“What I did to her borders on abuse,” I confess to Dr. Baker.
“How so?” she asks.
“The bruising… it was really severe.”
“So the act itself didn’t bother you, but the bruising did.” I don’t answer. “Would you have felt the same way if she hadn’t bruised so badly?” I shake my head.
“No,” I say almost immediately.
“What about all those other things that you do in the course of your relationship?” she asks. “Collars, whips, crops, handcuffs…”
“We don’t use handcuffs,” I say abruptly.
“I thought once you told me that you cuffed her…”
“Wrist cuffs, not handcuffs. Wrist cuffs are thicker, usually padded inside… leather or fur. Handcuffs are metal. They cut into your skin if you pull on them. We’ve never used handcuffs and never will since that bastard kidnapped her and cuffed her to the bed for four days.” She pauses.
“Okay, but all of the other measures that you practice during your playtime… how are those things qconsidered abuse and this is?”
“Because of what I did to her. It was pretty bad.”
“But you’ve done this before,” she says. I frown hard.
“I’ve never done this to her before!” I nearly yell.
“Yes, you have!” Dr. Baker retorts, maintaining her tone, but matching my intensity. “You’ve spanked her before to exercise your dominance and to drive some point home. You’ve had rough sex with her while she was either physically or emotionally restrained—even in public places—as punishment for something that she did that displeased you. One of those times was right before your wedding. You needed to remind yourself and her who was in charge. So what’s the difference between those times and this?”
“She was black and blue!” I reinforce. “I hit her with my hand—my hand—and she was black and blue.”
“If you had hit her with something else and she was black and blue, that would have been fine?”
“No,” I say, frustrated and running my hand through my hair. Why can’t this woman just understand what I’m trying to tell her? “I’ve never beaten Ana black and blue. Even our most intense playtime has never resulted in her being bruised like this.” Even our suspension experiment with the custom corset didn’t leave her like that. She had some pretty severe welts from the boning that were very dark red, and we learned that we would need some kind of padding underneath, but she wasn’t black and blue.
“So basically what you’re telling me is that, in your mind, what qualifies this as abuse is not what you did to her, not how she felt in the end, but the fact that she was so badly bruised the next day. Do I have that right?” Well, shit, that sounds kind of fucked up, but…
“Yeah… I think.” That just didn’t sound right. “I mean, her reaction the next day… it was nothing like any other reaction she had ever had.”
“So, her stoicism bothered you.” I ponder the thought.
“It wasn’t stoicism,” I say, trying to place the emotion—or lack thereof—that I received from Butterfly yesterday. “Stoicism would have been more of an indication that she didn’t care what had happened, and I didn’t get that vibe. She wasn’t stoic. She was more like… numb.” Dr. Baker’s head jerks to that explanation.
“Okay,” she says, a little surprised.
“She reacted when I told her that her butt was black and blue, only momentarily, but then she went right back to numb.”
“So she just accepted it—the punishment, the bruising…” I sigh.
“Kind of… I guess… she just didn’t protest it.”
“And if she had protested?” Dr. Baker asks. “That would have made a difference?”
“It would have let me know how she felt,” I reply. She nods.
“So you would have felt better knowing how she felt?” I shrug.
“I don’t know if I would have felt better, but I would have liked to know.”
“And while you were doing it, it didn’t matter.” The words just hang there.
“It’s a spanking, Dr. Baker,” I say flatly. “It’s not supposed to be pleasant, it’s supposed to make a point, correct bad behavior.”
“Do you feel like you’ve done that—made your point and corrected the bad behavior?” I think about the conversation we had where Butterfly said that I did in fact drive my point home and that she would not be caught outside without proper outerwear again.
“Yes, I did,” I answer, maudlin.
“Then what’s the problem?” I glare at her. Has she lost her mind?
“Are you saying that as long as I made my point that it’s okay that my wife looks like a victim of domestic violence?” If she agrees with that, I’m walking out of here and firing this bitch.
“I’m not saying anything,” she says, sitting up in her seat and challenging me. “I asked you a question…”
“And I asked you a question!” I challenge back.
“And I answered it, but you haven’t!” she retorts, pointing in my face. I’m silenced for a moment. “What’s the problem, Mr. Grey?” she presses, unshaken.
“That’s she’s all bruised up like a battered wife!” I hiss.
“You’ve bruised women before. What you guys do is consensual. That’s not the problem. What’s the problem, Mr. Grey?” That’s not the problem? What the fuck is the problem? My wife looks like she’s been attacked! I frown deeply.
“What’s the problem, Mr. Grey?” she asks again. What is she asking me? I’ve told her everything. I told her what I did, I told her why, I told her about the bruising, about how Butterfly acted. I told her everything, so I don’t know what she’s looking for.
“Christian,” she says, her voice gentler, “what’s the problem?”
“I don’t know,” I say finally, all of the fight just rushing away from me.
“Why are you here?” she asks.
“Because my wife looks like hell and I feel like shit.”
And there it is.
She holds her hands out to the side of her as if to say “ta DA!”
“You don’t strike me as a cruel man, Christian,” she says. “You never have or else you wouldn’t be my patient. You have a less-than-conventional way of dealing with your control issues and fulfilling your sexual needs, but the women you have engaged in this practice have consented to become a part of your lifestyle. You even married one. To that end, you operate within a set of boundaries—things that you will and will not do or accept—hard and soft limits, you told me.”
I nod. During our sessions, she has shown quite the detailed knowledge and understanding of the lifestyle, not to have participated in it.
“You told me once that you preferred fair-skinned, pale submissives because when you spanked them, their skin turned pink. When you lashed them, sometimes it turned red and you liked to take them from behind so that the impact of your skin slapping together ensured that their skin would stay red until you found your release.”
Why is she describing this now? It’s making me uncomfortable that I’m getting slightly aroused sitting here talking to my gray-haired shrink. These are, after all, the things that turn me on.
“In the process, you never indicated that you liked seeing them turn black and blue. If this has ever happened in any of your encounters, you never once brought it to my attention,” she says. I’ve seen some dark bruising from a paddling every now and again, but I can’t say that I’ve ever seen black and blue from my own hand.
“I honestly don’t ever recall a woman being beaten black and blue by my hand ever, under any circumstances,” I say softly. I feel horrible, like a horrible, horrible monster. I beat my pregnant wife until she was black and blue. I’m a horrible person and a horrible husband.
“Well, the first thing that you need to do is stop punishing yourself.” What? Is she serious? They put monsters like me in jail—like that fucker that beat Luma’s daughter to death. I should be arrested for what I did to my wife.
“Your remorse is healthy, Christian,” she continues. “It’s one of the things that allows you to determine what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable. Regular Jane Housewife and Joe Husband may not partake in the things that you do. It may be reprehensible to them, but it’s not for the two of you. What becomes your hard and soft limits are clear and concise in some cases and yet to be determined in others. You were livid with Ana—not only because she went outside without a coat and put herself and her children at risk, but also because she didn’t show you the reverence that you felt she should have shown you when you rescued her from a death of cold and certain pneumonia. You brooded, you went on with your day, and when you felt that your anger had subsided enough, you approached her to impose your punishment. But you and I both know that wasn’t your only reason for waiting.” Yes, we both know. “You need to say it, Christian.”
“I wanted her comfortable,” I say, shame coursing through my veins as I admit it. “I wanted her relaxed so that I could rip her from her comfort zone and show her that I’m still her Dom.”
“And we both know that had you chosen to punish her two hours before as opposed to waiting until she was snuggled in her bed, exhausted and vulnerable, that she still would have known you were her Dom, correct?” I nod. “Use your words, Christian.”
“Yes,” I hiss, anger and self-hatred rearing its ugly head at me again.
“And while you shoved a butt plug into her with no prior warning or preparation, then repeatedly spanked her wet skin in the same spot, over and over, you found satisfaction in that—in her surrender and in your power over her, correct?”
“Why are you doing this to me?” I growl, my eyes shut tight, barely able to stand the intense guilt I feel.
“I’m not doing this to you, Christian. You did this to yourself, now answer the question. Her surrender, your power…”
“Yes, it brought me satisfaction!” I bark. There, I said it. Are you happy now?
“How do you think she felt?” Okay, that question caught me off guard. She was being punished! How the fuck was she supposed to feel?
“I’m a Dom!” I say as an attempt at explanation, but the good doctor is not letting me get off that easily.
“And so is she,” she retorts. “Maybe not as seasoned as you, but she’s your Domme. Not only that, but you subbed for that other woman for several years, so you know exactly what I’m asking you. As your sub, your Domme, and your wife, how did she feel? What was she thinking?” My mind immediately goes back to making Butterfly count. She skipped one and I made her go back. When I struck her three times to five, she counted three. When she showed displeasure with her punishment, I restrained her by pulling her hair. By the time we got to ten, I think she was in some kind of subspace, but not in a good way. I think she simply couldn’t hear me anymore. I was talking to her, chastising her, and she didn’t respond to me—she just kept counting.
By the time I stopped, I think she had resolved herself to endless punishment. Her stance changed, the weight of her head became heavy against the pull of my hand. She was weeping bitterly. I broke her down. I stopped because I felt she had learned her lesson and it was time to fuck her. Part of the sex was my satisfaction and the other part was aftercare, but I don’t think it did any good because she was already broken.
“She cried so much…” I choke. Oh, God, I feel like shit. “I didn’t know why she was crying. She wouldn’t move unless I moved her. She was so tired…” I feel her tears burning a trek down my cheek. “I carried her to bed and she was asleep instantly. She didn’t move once all night. I had to… check to see if she was still breathing…” The words trail off.
“The next day, it was like she wasn’t really there. She just laid in the bed and… she didn’t connect with anything. I don’t even know if she connected with the twins yesterday.” I drop my head in my hands. I hated it. It was great when I was teaching her a lesson and showing her who’s boss, but the aftermath… I hated it.
“You have a new soft limit, Mr. Grey.” I shake my head. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to punish Butterfly again after this, but it’s almost like Dr. Baker is reading my mind. “It may be awhile before you’re able to engage in bondage and discipline like you normally do, but you’re a Dom. You’ll be able to engage again when you’re ready. In the meantime, you have something to consider. Your new soft limit is consequences.” I raise my head to her.
“That’s what got us here in the first place!” I bark. Hasn’t she been listening?
“You’re right, but not her consequences… yours.” Mine?
“You never worried about how you would feel after you punished a submissive because you never had to. The punishment most often fit the crime or the situation. You knew their pain thresholds and you pushed them to whatever limits were necessary under the circumstances. When it was done, you provided their aftercare and sent them to their room. The next day, you either did it all over again or sent them away. There was no emotion—no consideration for whether or not you hit them too hard, or hit them too many times, or how they felt because it wasn’t necessary. You had your contract; they and you knew what to expect, and the relationship lasted as long as it lasted for those reasons.
“Now, you have a wife who is also your submissive, a wife whom you adore and who is carrying your children. You don’t have a contract; you play by ear, which means the rules are subject to change. In the bondage and discipline portion of your relationship, you have a new soft limit—how are you going to feel when it’s over?”
Oh, shit. I can’t be a Dom afraid to wield the tools of the trade.
“Don’t worry, Christian. It’ll come back, but you’ve got to renegotiate your terms.” I close my eyes and nod. I don’t know if she’s right about that part.
The house is quiet once again when I get home. I enter through the mudroom and the first thing I notice is a strange coat hanging on a hook. When I hang my coat, I go in search of… anybody. The first person I find is Gail coming out of the pantry.
“Gail, do we have guests?” I ask. She frowns, bemused.
“No. Why do you ask?” she replies. I point to the mudroom.
“Nothing, I just saw a coat back there and thought we had company.” She frowns again.
“Oh!” she says, realization evident in her face. “That’s Ana’s coat.” My turn to frown. She never stops in the mudroom. Even if she happens to go through the mudroom, she never stops in the mudroom.
“Where is she?”
“I haven’t seen her since after dinner, but I’m sure she’s around somewhere,” she replies. I nod and head for the bedroom. As I’m about to take the curved staircase to the owner’s suite, a coat tree catches my eye. I would have missed it because it’s hiding back off to the side a bit it the vestibule, but I caught it because it looks so out of place. There’s only one coat on it… a woman’s trench.
I rise the stairs to stairs to our room and there’s no Butterfly. I remove my tie and relieve myself. As I’m going through the sitting room back to our bedroom, a shadowy form catches my attention by the window.
There she is. Why didn’t she say anything?
I turn on the light and it’s not Butterfly at all. It’s a curtain or something hanging on a hook by the balcony door. As I get closer to it, I see that is a heavy wool wrap.
“She didn’t…” I think to myself. Hoping to God that I’m wrong and on a desperate mission to prove it, I hurry out of the bedroom door and to the large room at the entrance of the south wing—empty, but for a cream wrap hanging on a newly-added wooden hook by the French balcony doors.
I head back to the elevator and pass the wraparound desk where a convenient over-the-door hook has been added to the partition wall and a soft, lavender flannel jacket hangs for easy access on the way to the second-floor balcony.
I swear it feels like someone is stabbing me in my chest. Every exit has a coat or a wrap nearby for Butterfly. I’m sure of it. They’re very subtle for the most part, but they are there.
It’s not odd to see a coat in the mudroom because coats and boots belong in the mudroom. It’s just that Butterfly rarely ever leaves the house through the mudroom.
I never would have noticed the coat near the front door, hanging on a coat tree tucked to the side in the vestibule between the wooden doors and the outer glass doors. I eventually would have seen it, but not immediately had the inner doors been closed.
I would have totally missed the wool wrap in her sitting room had I not been looking for her and mistook the shadow of the wrap for her before I turned on the lights.
Still looking for Butterfly, I check her aquarium and of course, find that a rustic, cast iron, weathered wall coat rack with four hooks has been added to the decorum at the French doors across from the aquarium. It matches the area as there is a seahorse, a starfish, a fish, seaweed, and what looks like a clam across the top of the rack, and one lone coat—a white parka—hanging on one of the four hooks.
On my way back upstairs, I pass the entrance—or exit—to the barbecue dining room. I don’t have to look to know that I’ll find one, but of course there it is. The rustic wood coat rack was already there, but it has a new addition… a short, red jacket hanging between someone’s gray baseball cap and a set of keys to God only knows what.
I don’t need to see the other doors. In fact, I don’t want to see the other doors. I never remember feeling so horrendously evil and sick in my whole life, ever… not even after the fundraiser fiasco. This feeling is much worse—a burning, sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach that makes me want to vomit; a stabbing feeling in my chest and all over my body that makes me feel like pygmy mummies are attacking me repeatedly and mercilessly with tiny spears.
When the back elevator opens on the ground floor, I feel like I’ve just taken a journey through the levels of hell instead of my own house, Butterfly’s words haunting me with every step:
I certainly will never breach the door again without appropriate attire for the weather conditions.
Having come full circle for the most part, I don’t want any more reminders of last night’s lesson. Nonetheless, my eyes are drawn to the patio doors off the family room and the tan and brown wrap hanging on a nearby hook.
I don’t need to check the other doors in the house. I know what I’ll find.
Back in the kitchen now, I find Butterfly in the kitchen laughing with Gail and popping popcorn the old-fashioned way—in a pot. She has filled a bowl way too big for just herself and is about to pour the rest of the popcorn in when she spots me. She does a double-take and frowns. She quickly examines herself—for what, I don’t know—then looks back up at me.
“What is it?” she asks. I don’t know if she’s concerned or frightened, and I don’t like not knowing. I shake my head.
“Nothing,” I lie. “A bit of a rough session, that’s all. What are you doing?”
“Popping popcorn?” she says it like it’s a question, then continues. “I was going to find a book or a movie or something.” I nod.
“Can I join you?” I ask. Her eyes travel from my face to my shoes and back to my face again. She shrugs uncertain, but nods quickly. Yeah, I know, I would have changed by now. I’ve been a bit busy.
“Do you want to change?” she asks. “I’ll wait.” I shake my head.
“No, I’m fine,” I say, removing my jacket, putting my cuff links in my pocket, and unbuttoning the first two buttons of my shirt. “Theater?”
“No. Family room. The sofa’s softer.” Okay, so I know that you’re not trying to twist the knife in my heart, but thanks.
“You guys go on,” Gail says, handing Butterfly a bowl of popcorn bigger than her. “I’ll bring you some soft drinks.” Butterfly nods, completely oblivious to the battle raging inside of me, as well she should be. I take the popcorn from her hands and set it on the table in front of the sofa. After retrieving the remote, I sit on the sofa with my leg along the back and position Butterfly so that she is sitting comfortably between my legs, able to shift to her left side if she so chooses. She snuggles against me and brings a bit of comfort to my guilt-ravaged soul.
The first thing that you need to do is stop punishing yourself… Your remorse is healthy, Christian… It’s one of the things that allows you to determine what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable.
I’m not a horrible person… but I really feel like I’ve done a horrible thing.
“Disney?” she asks, still trying to read my mood. I nod and scroll through the on-demand choices. I find the perfect choice for my current mood. “The Hunchback of Notre Dame?” she asks a bit bemused.
“We can watch something else if you like,” I say. She shakes her head.
“No, this is fine. You haven’t seen it, right?”
“I read the book by Victor Hugo, but I’m told that the movie is a bit different.” She laughs softly… music to my ears.
“A bit, yeah,” she says with mirth. Still, I’m sure the villain Frollo will still meet his demise in the end and if I can crucify a bit of the villainy I feel inside right now, I may be able to release some of this guilt and move on from this incident. My first instinct is to have the coats removed from the doors around the house, but I decide against it, realizing that Butterfly is not the only one that needs a reminder of the consequences of one’s actions.
I push play and start the movie as Butterfly snuggles into my chest.
A/N: Pygmy mummies—another reference to The Mummy Returns.
“Consequences, Schmonsequences… As Long As I’m Rich…” Quote from an old Warner Brothers cartoon where Daffy Duck pissed off the Genie of the Lamp because he thought the Genie was trying to take his newfound riches. The Genie later showed him that being rich didn’t mean that his actions were without consequences—a perfect lesson for Christian, I think.
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Love and handcuffs!