This is a repetition of the email I sent. If you’ve seen it, you don’t have to read it again.
I’m sure that you all at some point will see that I go through and “like” some comments and some comments, I don’t–just like on Facebook or Twitter. We don’t all have to like everything; we just keep on cruising. You don’t have to agree with me–that’s fine. Feel free to disagree with me, but you don’t have to be disrespectful when you do it.
This is the last warning I will be issuing. I won’t be issuing any more.
Unless I see the same person doing it over and over and over again, I’m going to start cruising by more dissenting comments. I’m going to start teaching myself that I don’t always have to respond to a dissenting comment. That doesn’t mean that I won’t respond, but I don’t always have to. When and if your dissenting opinion becomes disrespectful, hurtful, repetitive, attacking, or personal, I will delete it. (Repetitive? Why repetitive?) If your dissension repeats for several chapters, then I’ve already read it. I don’t need to read it again. Most likely, our views have taken turns in opposite directions and you may want to stop reading the story at that point.
If disrespectful, hurtful, repetitive, attacking, or personal dissension continues after that, I will delete you… no questions asked.
Anyone who translates this as “Oh, we have to kiss her ass in our comments,” please leave now. I can’t even deal with that sarcasm right now. If you don’t know the difference between respectfully disagreeing with an opinion, character, or storyline, and “kissing my ass,” you really need to leave now. I don’t even want you here and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.
To all of my readers who have told me:
“I don’t agree with all of your storylines, but I read anyway.”
“I don’t agree with everything that the characters do, but this is your story and you take it where you want it to go.”
“Sometimes I want to just slap CG upside the head, but I know that you’re developing the characters, so you just do what you do…”
To all of you, I say “Thank you” for letting me write the story that I want to write. I know that you have thousands of options out there, and you choose to come over here to my corner, even if you don’t always agree with where I’m going. Again, I say, “Thank you.”
I’ve chewed your ears, long enough…
All prior disclaimers apply…
Chapter 31—Head to Head
“It’s not a difficult question, Jason. How many outside access doors do we have, including balconies and patios?” I call Jason on Monday morning since he and Christian left so early. I’ve learned my lesson. He won’t catch me in the cold again without a coat.
“Why would you possibly want to know something like that?” he asks. I sigh.
“Well, if you must know, it’s so that I can have a coat at each door.” There’s a pause.
“Hmm,” he says after a beat or three. “I can’t find a reason to argue with that logic. Okay, so there’s the front door, the patio door off the formal living room, the side access door off the formal dining room at the foot of the stairs, the French doors off the family room, the mudroom… “
“Slow down, I have to write this down,” I scold.
“No. No. Ben has a checklist. I’ll have him mark off the doors that you don’t readily have access to and text it to you.”
“What doors would I not have access to in my own home?” I ask.
“I didn’t say not have access to, Mrs. Grey. I said don’t readily have access to—keep your girdle on. And to answer your question, exterior access doors to concealed security suites.” Oops, okay.
“Um, okay. Sorry. Tell Ben not to sleep on that list. I need it pretty quickly.”
“Are you being timed?” he taunts. Yes, I am actually. I don’t want Christian to be aware of what I’m doing. I just want to have it done before he gets home.
“Can you please just keep it to yourself and get me the list?” There’s another pause—a pregnant pause, Al would call it.
“Okay,” he says, his voice accommodating. I may have just let the cat out of the bag, but I don’t care. Just get me the damn list.
Once the list is compiled, I give Windsor the task of making sure there is an appropriate hook or accessory rack at each door and Mare the responsibility of making sure that I have a maternity coat or wrap at each door. She can even go out to Macy’s or something and buy some if there aren’t enough. I don’t see her or Windsor for the rest of the morning.
We haven’t made contact with our adopted family since the Family Affair and I decide that today would be a good time to reach out to them.
“Hello, is this Mrs. Radcliff?”
“Yes, it is. Who is this?” She sounds cautious.
“Mrs. Radcliff, this is Anastasia Grey…”
“Anastasia Grey… really?” she sounds skeptical. “I’ve heard about you on television. Why would you be calling me, Mrs. Grey?”
“Well, my husband and I were chosen to ‘adopt’ you and your family in the Greater Seattle Adopt-A-Family Affair.” There’s silence on the line, then a small gasp.
“Oooh!” she exclaims. “I had forgotten all about that! Well, this is wonderful!” She sounds genuinely surprised and pleased.
“I’m glad to hear that,” I reinforce. “I just wanted to talk to you a bit to get a better idea of what you might need this holiday season.” She sighs heavily.
“Well, I don’t really know what to tell you right now, Mrs. Grey,” she begins.
“Ana, please,” I tell her.
“Ana. Thank you. Please call me Thelma. I’ve seen your charity on TV—Helping Hands. I’ve wanted to contact them, but…” she trails off.
“What is it, Thelma?” I ask, fully expecting her to tell me that she’s an abused wife.
“My husband’s a bit of a proud man, but we really need help,” Thelma says. “The baby doesn’t even have a crib. Very little clothes to speak of… I’m breastfeeding, but we don’t even get food stamps so…” She trails off again. I know that means that she’s not eating well, so they’re not eating well. She can’t produce enough milk if she doesn’t eat. At least she didn’t say that she’s a victim of domestic abuse, but this is still not good.
“Were you denied for food stamps?” I ask. She falls silent.
“My husband is a proud man,” she says again. Proud enough to allow his family to starve to death? How did they even get on the Adopt-A-Family Affair list? No matter, we’ve pulled their names and we’re going to make sure they and the baby have enough to be healthy.
“Your list is mostly for the baby. What about you? What do you need?”
We talk for a long time after that and she tries to steer the conversation away from her own needs. I get a good idea what’s going on, though. She has none of the markers of an abused wife that I can tell. I would have to delve a bit deeper to see if she’s suffering any mental cruelty. She respects her husband and his wishes, but she’s not beyond asking for help for her baby.
Mr. Radcliff, however, is a tough sell. He’s just started his job and doesn’t want any handouts from anyone. The problem is that right now, while you’re trying to get back on your feet, your wife and baby are starving and miserable. From what I can tell, it’s going to be a long time before he actually gets caught up. Taking care of a new baby is quite costly and he’s refusing help. Maybe Christian can talk some sense into him, I don’t know. What I do know is that I’m going to be about the business of making sure Thelma and that baby are warm, clothed, have a decent place to sleep and enough to eat.
By Wednesday morning, I’m very ready to take on some new challenges, as I know I will have to with lunch on the forefront with Addie and her melon-clad granddaughter. Addie’s suggestion for lunch falls right in line with my plans. Marilyn and I will be meeting her and Courtney at the Glendale Country Club in Bellevue. She’s a long-standing member there and being her guest for lunch is very likely to cause a bit of a stir. Marilyn looks fantastic in a high-waist blue pencil skirt with a white long-sleeved shirt and large belt. I felt a bit trollish in my white with black striped maternity dress, cream trench, and Jackie-O’s until Addie greets me.
“Now why couldn’t they make things that cute when I was pregnant?” she laments. I actually blush.
“Thank you, Addie. I’m sure you were quite beautiful when you were with child.” She waves me off.
“You’re sweet, dear, but remember… I was pregnant in the sixties. Those were the days of polyester slacks and shirts with neck bows that were way to large, skirt suits with sailor tops, and those horrid A-line dresses that flattered absolutely nothing.” I chuckle as the waiter pulls my chair out for me.
“I don’t think I would be the one to disparage the clothes of the sixties, Addie,” I say, taking my seat and thanking the waiter. “I’m very partial to vintage clothing.”
“Oh, I’ve seen your version of vintage clothing!” she interjects. “That stunning swing coat that you wore in that last interview… I’ve been dying to know where you found it.”
“To be honest, I don’t remember,” I admit. “I frequent vintage consignment shops and secondhand stores all the time. Well, at least I used to… I just haven’t found the time lately. You can find some real gems if you don’t mind taking the time to look.”
“I’ll have to remember that,” she says with a smile. “Of course, you remember Courtney,” she says, gesturing to the melon queen, now sitting quietly in a stylish and respectable gray dress.
“Of course, Courtney,” I say by means of greeting. “And this is my personal assistant, Marilyn. She helps me to remember the many things that I forget since the accident. Marilyn, this is Adelaide and Courtney Wilson, friends of the Grey family.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Wilson, Miss Wilson,” Marilyn says, before taking her seat. I love that she’s the picture of decorum now when we were talking major trash about Courtney not ten minutes ago.
“I’m really honored that you invited me to lunch at the club, Addie. I’ve been wanting to take a tour, but didn’t want all the fanfare that usually goes with an announcement like that.”
“Oh, get used to it, dear,” Addie says. “You will always be surrounded by some sort of fanfare. You’ve married into society. It goes with the territory.” I sigh.
“I’m trying to get used to it,” I tell her. “I’ve never been accustomed to living my life so… out in the open, for lack of a better phrase.”
“Exposure is good,” she protests. “It lets society know who you are and what you stand for. It can work for you or against you, so you have to be careful.” I nod.
“Exposure is good sometimes,” I lament honestly. “No one wants to see getting kidnapped or trials or comas played out live and in living color.” I hold my head down. There are parts of my life that I would really like to keep private… like my suffering. Addie reaches out and touches my hand.
“Unfortunately, that makes the best news,” she says. I raise my eyes to her, twist my lips and shrug.
“It is what it is,” I reply as a means of changing the subject.
“So, tell me about yourself,” she says while getting comfortable in her seat.
“There’s not much to tell, I think,” I tell her. “I was born in Montesano. I spent most of my childhood there and part of it in Vegas—I’m sure you’ve seen the news stories.” She nods.
“I have. It was quite the stir when the story first broke. I really couldn’t imagine having to go through something like that, then having to relive it to identify your assailants.”
“It… was very difficult. It’s the reason I became a psychologist. I didn’t know at first what I wanted to do, but then I spoke to a guidance counselor and she pointed me in the right direction.”
“So you didn’t just want to be a psychologist?” I shake my head.
“I wish I could say that my plight was so noble. No, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. In fact, I was floundering. I was still very young; I didn’t have the guidance of my parents—my choice. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I couldn’t afford therapy to discuss what had happened to me, so I suffered in relative silence. When I learned about the Center for Children and Family Wellness, I used the free services to help me deal with my anger issues and fear. That’s when I talked to the counselor and here I am.” She nods.
“It almost sounds too good to be true,” she says, “that you specifically took a tragic situation and turned it around as a means to help others.” And now she’s feeling me out.
“It is,” I tell her, challenging her obvious analysis and her cliché summary of my plight—not to mention that she hit the nail on the head. She raises an eyebrow at my confession. “I was looking for help. I was afraid and lost and alone. I had no answers as to why these people targeted me. I was afraid for my life for years. I spent many hours—years, in fact—in some kind of therapy and I’m actually still in therapy, dealing with the aftermath of the tragedy that was my childhood.
“Initially, didn’t decide on psychology as a means of helping others. I did it to help myself. I did it to conquer my own fears, to get answers to my own questions. As a result, you end up helping others. It’s the nature of the beast. I was able to let go of my own issues and focus on someone else. I understood that what happened to me—though quite unfair and very tragic—was in the past while the people that I was talking to had real and present problems. As long as I didn’t concentrate on what happened, I didn’t resent it, but things just kept happening to bring it back to the forefront.”
“Really?” she says, and I clearly hear the skepticism in her voice. Good God, this woman is harder to sell than any reporter Christian could have been worried about. I steel myself in my seat and wait for her next accusatory double-entendre. “I seem to remember that the story about the attack hit the news right before your engagement to Christian.” And here we go.
“Like you said, that’s what makes the best news,” I respond, keeping my voice even. “When I met my husband, we didn’t hit it off immediately. I couldn’t stand him.”
“You’re kidding?” she gasps. It’s probably the first sincere reaction she’s had all evening, but I know why she’s skeptical, so I try not to take it personally. I shake my head.
“Oh, I thought he was gorgeous, but he was the most self-important, narcissistic egomaniac I’d ever met in my life. All I wanted to do was get away from him. He actually initiated a background check on me which opened some old closets that had long since remain closed, the biggest being the Green Valley case. I would have been content to leave well enough alone, but not Mr. Grey. No, he had to get to the bottom of it. One thing led to another and somewhere in there we fell in love and moved in together. I let him run with that issue, intent to turn my back on it until I learned that one of my patients who had actually sought me out for dignity therapy was present that night.” She frowns.
“She sought you out?” Her disbelieving tone has returned. At this point, I’ve stopped caring.
“I was her bucket list,” I say, unable to hide the small amount of ire that I still feel towards Melanie. “Here I am, helping her come to grips with her last days and she turned out to be the videographer of the worst night of my life!”
“Oh my God! How macabre!” she exclaims.
“Oh, you have no idea,” I hiss. Come back, Grey. Breathe… “She turned a copy of the video over to me, the original she gave to the attorney general in Vegas. The only reason the story came to light right before our engagement is because my mother’s husband passed away in January and I went to Nevada to his funeral.”
“I thought you said you weren’t close to your parents,” she says.
“No, that’s not what I said,” I reply, looking her square in the eye without faltering. Her eyebrow rises again.
“I stand corrected. Can you refresh my memory?” Now, my eyebrow rises.
“Of course,” I reply. “What I said was that while I was in college, I didn’t have the guidance of my parents and that was my choice.” She nods.
“Yes, now I recall. That is what you said. I just assumed that meant you weren’t close to them.” I smile.
“Careful of assumptions, Addie,” I warn. “You know what they say.”
“Yes, I do know what they say,” she responds. I continue with my story while Courtney and Marilyn remain our captive audience.
“To clarify your misunderstanding, I’m extremely close with my father, Ray, here in Washington. My mother and her late husband, Stephen, are and were quite a different story. I only went to his funeral to make sure that the bastard was dead and to curse his remains.” Her head jerks back in surprise.
“Okay,” she says, apparently more eager to draw this particular topic to a close. You opened the door, lady.
“I visited the attorney general at the same time to kill two birds with one stone. I have no desire to return to Las Vegas if I don’t have to. My husband surprised me at the wedding reception of a good friend in February with a very dramatic proposal that had made the news before we even left the hotel the next day. Some opportunistic reporter felt that this was a good time to mar one of the happiest days of my life with news concerning one of the worst days of my life, hence the ‘coincidental’ simultaneous announcement of my engagement and the breaking story of the Green Valley attack.” Balls back in your court, Addie.
“That’s quite a tale,” she says, sipping her ice tea and gesturing to our waiter while clearing her throat. “Would you ladies like something to drink?” she asks once the waiter arrives. I turn to face him.
“May I ask what’s on the lunch menu?” I ask.
“There are several options, ma’am,” he says. “We have selected entries with chicken, beef, pork, and seafood as well as vegetarian and vegan choices.” I nod.
“I have to ask because I have very violent reactions to the smell of beef since my pregnancy. I’m told it’s not as bad as it was, but I’d hate to chance an embarrassing moment.” Addie turns to our waiter.
“Howard, please make sure that no beef entrees or dishes make it to our table.” He nods.
“Yes, Mrs. Wilson. Drinks, ladies?”
“Can I please have half cranberry juice, half sparkling water in a tall glass over crushed ice? A sprig of mint if you have it.” He nods.
“You, ma’am?” he says to Marilyn.
“I’m fine with the iced tea and she’ll have the same,” Addie says about herself and Courtney.
“I wanted Pinot Grigio,” Courtney protests. Addie throws a look at her and she doesn’t even flinch.
“We’ll have iced tea,” Addie repeats. Howard nods and goes off to retrieve our drinks. “So, Ana, I have to warn you. You are about to enter the female version of the Old Boys’ Club. Women are more brutal. We’re catty, vindictive, and scrutinizing. You get in by breeding or marriage and we don’t like outsiders. Your ‘Grey’ name will get you very far everywhere else, but not here. You will either rise to the top like cream or you will be pegged a relentless and unworthy social climber.” She’s unapologetic with her words and Courtney seems to be getting a kick out of the fact that I was just read. These ladies just don’t know me very well.
“Oh, make no mistake, Addie. A social climber is exactly what I am,” I clarify, and she’s taken aback. “I don’t mince words and I don’t dance around the truth. I have a very specific reason for ‘coming out’ into society right now, which is something that I never intended to do. I’m not interested in social climbing per se for the mere sake of climbing. I just want to get to know the right people for the right reasons to do the right things and make the right moves. Consider this—I didn’t even know what Helping Hands was until I met Grace Grey. This cause is ultimately the very reason I got my degree and I didn’t even know this cause existed—proof positive that it needs the right kind of exposure to be able to do what needs to be done for its clientele.”
“So, you’re basically looking for your own notoriety solely for publicity and exposure for your charity.”
“Precisely,” I emphasize. “Grace was never one for the spotlight. I don’t really like it that much, either, but I’m able to draw attention to the cause just by being myself, just because people are curious about who Anastasia Grey is. That’s an asset that I’m more than willing to exploit.”
“That’s very noble, Ana, but Christian clearly knows all the right people. Surely, he could wave his magic Grey wand and get you guys anything you needed.” Coming from anyone else, I would take this as a jibe or an insult, but I know that she’s purposely feeling me out, trying to find my intentions, as well she should. She’s very shrewd, more reason why I definitely need her on my team.
“You’re absolutely right, and all of these years, Grace has turned that down. She didn’t want the fact that her son was giving her money or funding her cause to affect the integrity of the charity. I know that I’m just going to be seen as another charity wife and that’s fine, but that’s precisely one of the reasons that Grace didn’t want to be in the spotlight. She’s doing a full-time job on a part-time basis being the director of this charity. Grace is a successful pediatrician with a thriving practice and a fellow at a major metropolitan Seattle hospital. There’s no way that she could adequately spotlight the needs of the charity without making it look like a backburner project. I’ve closed my practice. All of my ‘patients’ come through the Center and the counseling that I do there. My focus now is my family and the Center. We need people to take us and our mission seriously, and I agree with Grace that her son’s money would just make this look like a pet project.” She nods.
“Again, very noble,” she says. “I see women throw themselves all in to community service and anything possible to gain their fifteen minutes of fame or to anesthetize the fact that they’re trophy wives or stuck in loveless marriages. That’s clearly not the case with you. It’s very refreshing.”
“I do appreciate that, Addie. This is something that’s very important to me. I can’t afford for it to be marred by ulterior motives. I won’t mislead you. It was quite serendipitous that you showed up at my home when you did, even though I wish it was under different circumstances.” I don’t look over at Courtney, but I’m sure she could feel my discontent. “To be honest, I definitely do want to know someone whom Christian has told me is one of the oldest friends of his family. Let’s face it—I’ve met the woman who was supposed to have been the oldest friend of the family and that turned out to be a disaster. So I would really like to be acquainted with someone who isn’t a morally reprehensible piece of pond scum dressed in designer clothes and driving an expensive car.”
“You’re right. You don’t mince words, do you?” she says.
“You gave it to me straight. I’m only extending the same respect.” She nods her approval.
“What’s your impression of Mrs. Grey, Marilyn?” Addie asks. Whoa! I don’t either of us expected that question. You’re interviewing my PA, too? Marilyn thinks fast on her feet. Let’s see how this goes.
“Ever since I’ve known Mrs. Grey, she’s been an advocate for people’s needs. She’s now been put in a position where she can directly affect change on a larger scale. I’ve worked for her for a long time and to be honest, I would follow her wherever she goes… but I have to say that I’m thrilled to be along for this ride. I see her plight, I see what she’s been through and then I see what she does for other people—including me. It’s remarkable. If I ultimately come out of this experience with half of her character, it will have been a worthwhile experience.” I turn to Marilyn in genuine surprise.
“Thank you, Marilyn,” I say sincerely. “I had no idea you felt that way…” and so eloquent.
“Oh, please,” Courtney responds, not low enough. Marilyn throws a pointed glare at her before looking back at Addie.
“Mrs. Wilson, you asked me what I thought of Mrs. Grey. We both know that I could very well be saying all of this just for your benefit. I will tell you this, though—I’m not a very good liar. I’m certain that you are a very good person to know, but before Anastasia was Mrs. Grey, she was Dr. Steele. Even then, Dr. Steele was a good person and a good person to know.” She turns her pointed glare back to Courtney. “Not everyone can say that.” Courtney returns Marilyn’s glare opening the door to our next conversation.
“So, Courtney, we’re here to get to know each other. What do you do with your days?” Courtney turns her attention to me.
“I’m… excuse me?”
“It’s not a trick question,” I say, entwining my fingers in front of me on the table. “I’d like to know what you do with your days. You see, in my early twenties, I had already graduated from college and was on my way to graduate school. I knew what direction I was going in and I did it on my own. I had already survived some of the worst experiences of my life and I set out to make a difference—not because I wanted to be famous, or rich, or the bad end of some cliché, but because I wanted to make an impact on someone’s life. I wanted to be the one that could say that I was a turning point when someone was at the end of their rope because I didn’t have that when I was at the end of mine. I’m proud to say that at 28, I have been that impact many times. I have affected change—positive change—in more than one someone’s life. So, again I ask, what do you do with your days?”
The spotlight is now on this young socialite who probably suffers from a sour case of Affluenza and can’t tell you for the life of her what would be the purpose of her existence. However, I’m not letting her off the hook. I want an answer to what she thinks she should be doing with her life.
She just stares at me, like a deer stuck in headlights. She was so ready to disparage Marilyn for having something nice to say about me. How could she not know that at some point during this conversation, she wouldn’t be sitting in the hot seat? Did she just think that I wanted the pleasure of her company after she made me extremely uncomfortable at a public affair and completely disrespected my husband and my marriage?
Addie just sits there for a moment and lets her fry while we all sit and wait for her to produce a worthwhile answer to my question. She’s granted a temporary reprieve by the waiter arriving with our drinks. Once he leaves, I turn my attention back to young Courtney. You’re not getting off that easily.
“So, Courtney. You have the floor. Your days, what do you do with them?” She turns a glare to me and I’ve already had enough. “You see, Addie, I’m sure that you know an idle mind is the devil’s workshop, and I truly think that Courtney may be lacking balance and direction in her life. I have no doubt that you and Fred have exposed her to an amazing amount of culture and refinement, but it appears that this has only shown her what she can have. She doesn’t seem to have the slightest idea of who she should be.” Addie ponders the statement.
“Unfortunately, I think you’re right,” she laments. “We brought her out here with us to expose her to a fuller lifestyle and I think it’s had the opposite effect of what we had hoped. Neither of us have come upon our fortune easily. Fred was a poor man when we married, so we know what it feels like to struggle. We understand the importance of wealth and the value of a dollar. Courtney, unfortunately, does not. It’s an experience that I had hoped to spare her, but in the process, I may have done her a grave disservice.”
“She is right here!” Courtney says indignantly.
“Oh no, you had your chance to speak, and you said nothing. So now, you just get to sit there and listen!” Addie hisses at her granddaughter. She looks affronted at first, then reaches into her purse and pulls out her phone.
“Would you like that plane ticket now?” Addie says to Courtney. Her granddaughter’s demeanor changes immediately. The idea of being returned to wherever she comes from fills her with dread. She is apparently quite averse to discomfort, which gives me a splendid idea.
“Addie, I think Courtney should spend some time with me over the next couple of months, at least until the babies are born and then we’ll see where it goes from there.” Addie looks at me.
“What did you have in mind?” she asks.
“I think she needs to expand her horizons. She should spend some time at the Center since she doesn’t seem to have anything better to do with her days. I really think it would be a good experience for her.” Addie looks like she may not too keen on this idea.
“I think that may be a little drastic, Ana,” she protests. I nod.
“It won’t be a walk in the park, I can guarantee you that; but Addie, each one of us are a stock market crash, a computer hacker, or chemical imbalance away from being one of these women or these families that I deal with every day. You said it yourself that you and Fred come from humble beginnings, so I know that you can appreciate the impact of what we’re trying to achieve. I can assure you that I’ve had more experience with hardship than any one person should have. My trials have served to make me a better person… really. I don’t think that everyone has to have those experiences in order to improve their outlook on life. I do, however, think that each of us should be exposed to such experiences one way or another—even indirectly—so that we can appreciate what we have. My generation and the one after mine lack empathy and I see it all the time. It’s sad, and I really think Courtney would benefit and grow as a person from not only seeing how lucky she is, but also from helping other people that come to us during some of the worst times of their lives. The choice is yours, of course, but I truly believe that there are some valuable life lessons waiting for her in this experience.”
The wheels are turning in Addie’s head. Agreeing to this means exposing her granddaughter to some hard core truths of the real world. Courtney’s clearly not ready for what life could deal her and doesn’t understand just how lucky she really is. Helping Hands is the safe haven—the place to heal and regroup. This is the perfect place for her to see that only by the grace of God is she not in a similar situation. If she can just take a moment to embrace the idea that it’s not all about her, she’ll come out of this experience a changed woman.
“Grandmother, I don’t need a chaperone and contrary to the current conversation, this choice should be mine, too,” Courtney protests. “And isn’t that place dangerous? I mean battered women and starving children… I understand the plight of the less fortunate. I don’t have to see it firsthand.”
I wonder if she knows how ridiculously elitist she sounds. Her money isn’t even hers yet, and she already has this faux sense of authority and privilege that just makes you want to puke. Addie is listening to her, analyzing what her granddaughter is saying as Courtney continues to plead her cause, that this was never the type of life that her parents or grandparents wanted for her, being exposed to the dregs of society and those not fortunate enough or smart enough to leave before they became punching bags.
I feel the blood rushing to my face as I listen to this ignorant, uninformed twit attempt to explain something that she knows nothing about by effectively blaming these abused, neglected, and battered families for the cruelty inflicted on them by the people who they trusted to love and care for them. I’ve seen these women. I’ve seen the fear in their eyes, the terror they feel when they’re trying to get away from life or death situations. I’ve seen the Marlows beaten because they weren’t black enough, the Marcias terrorized because their husbands weren’t man enough, and the Deboras killed over the length a dress.
The more she talks, the more I have to restrain myself from unleashing verbal hell on her. I’m thinking about the fact that I want Addie to introduce me to the “Ladies Club” so to speak, and insulting her granddaughter is probably not the best way to secure that. However, I see all of my principles and integrity standing in front of me wondering how long I’m going to let this continue.
“Do you have any idea what you’re talking about?” I ask, trying to control my voice and my anger. “Do you have any clue how many women and children are brutalized each year—even die—at the hands of their fathers, their husbands, their lovers? Have you ever seen a grieving woman after her fetus has been beaten out of her? Have you looked into the eyes of a mother who has to bury her daughter because her boyfriend beat her to death? I have and it’s one of the most terrible things you can ever experience. You have the audacity to sit on this imagined high horse of yours and judge these women after the drama, the agony and terror they’ve already been through?
“You don’t deserve to be in the same room with some of these women—these survivors. How dare you think it’s okay to talk about mothers like they’re nobody—like you’re so much better than they are, like you couldn’t fall for the wrong guy and end up right where they are.”
“I’m smarter than they are,” she says haughtily. “I wouldn’t let that happen to me.”
“Are you being deliberately obtuse and just cruel?” I ask her, appalled. “Do you just think that these women looked at these men, saw monsters and said ‘gee, I love him, I’m going to marry him anyway?’ You don’t think these women were searching for their happily-ever-after when they stumbled into hell? Are you really that blind and selfish?”
“I’m not blind or selfish, Mrs. Grey,” she says firmly. “I’m just smart enough to know not to get in with some boozer loser who has something to prove by beating up on his poor little wife and kids because he wants to bang the boss’s hot secretary and he can’t get it up!”
I… Am… Horrified. This pompous, entitled, little bitch. My blood is boiling and I can barely think. I’m seeing red. I’m looking into the eyes of a fully-grown and unchecked Carly Madison, and if there’s any justice in the world, she will marry a Cody Whitmore and get exactly what’s coming to her. Just as the waiter returns with starters, I’ve had enough.
“For your sake, Courtney, I hope you’re right.” I push my chair back and the waiter assists in helping me rise. “Addie, even I can admit when I’m licked. I’ve never seen a worse case of cocky, elitist…” I have to stop before I say something truly insulting. I take a deep breath and rephrase. “I can’t sit at the same table with this person. She has a horrible lesson ahead of her. When the moment comes that she realizes that she’s not the center of the universe, you better pray that it doesn’t tear her to pieces.” I turn my attention to Courtney. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I would rather go and spend my time helping some of the dumb and blind women who barely escaped these horrible situations with their lives than to have to breathe one more breath of air in the same space as you!”
“And so will she!” Addie says as I’m attempting to make my escape. “That’s the character that I was looking for. Please, Ana, don’t leave. Please sit.”
I’m stunned. All I could think of was getting away from this wretched creature who feels that she is so far above and beyond human suffering. My heart literally aches for me and all the people like me who had to deal with entitled, uneducated, uncouth, and uncaring bitches like this. I stand there for a moment, pondering my current situation. I will walk out of here and not look back. I will peddle door-to-door for donations if I have to deal with shit like this just to get into the Ladies Club.
Howard quickly places several appetizers on our table and makes a hasty getaway.
“Ana… please,” Addie reiterates, gesturing at my seat. I look from her to an indignant Courtney. I narrow my eyes so tight on her that if looks could kill, she’d be a puddle of blood and gore right now.
“Ana?” Marilyn says, her voice etched with concern. It’s taking everything in me to calm down. After a deep breath or three, I move to take my seat. Marilyn moves to help.
“I’ve got it, Mare. Thank you,” I say quietly. She nods and takes her seat. Addie sighs heavily.
“I threw every curve at you that I knew to throw,” she begins. “My beloved granddaughter even threw a few of her own. You never faltered. You didn’t crack. The only time the armor fell was when someone insulted the clients. When I saw that you were willing to get up and walk away with no endorsement from me whatsoever, that’s when I knew that I wasn’t dealing with your average young woman. I think Courtney can learn quite a bit from being in your company, and I would be happy to introduce you to some people and show you around.”
Now, I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to be around this little self-privileged, pompous harpy any more that I have to. She’s rolling her eyes while her grandmother offers her up for possible remodeling.
“To be honest with you, Addie, I don’t know if she’s worthy of being in the company of the people that I associate with.” Courtney’s head snaps toward me.
“I’m not worthy!” she says, appalled.
“You heard me,” I hiss, reinforcing my stance. “I see no redeeming qualities in you whatsoever, except for your family name. Many of these women I deal with have more grace, strength and courage in their eyelashes than you have in your entire body. I would take one of them to ten of you any day and I’m not so sure that I want your presence insulting their plight. So if I decide that you are worth being mentored by these extraordinary women in these harrowing circumstances, I will let you know.” She scoffs.
“You’ve got it backwards, lady…” she begins.
“Shut. Up. Courtney!” Addie hisses. “You’ve embarrassed me enough for one day!” Courtney’s eyes grow large, but she rolls them again and reaches for her phone on the table next to her grandmother. Addie snatches it from her and drops it into her water glass. My eyes are wide at this point. I can’t believe she actually did that! Addie is clearly fed up.
“Now, you sit there and you shut up!” Addie threatens. “The next time you roll your eyes, I’m going to cut your allowance in half!” Her mouth falls open.
“Are you trying to test me, Courtney Ann?” Addie says through her teeth. Courtney Ann quickly snaps into shape and assumes the stance they most likely taught her at some fancy finishing school.
“Ana, after your only experiences with my granddaughter, I can understand why you wouldn’t want to be in her company,” Addie says, throwing a distasteful glance at Courtney. “I will ask that you reconsider, however, having her spend some time at the Center. Her priorities are grossly skewed to put it lightly, and I agree that she’s in desperate need of some direction.”
If I didn’t feel like this girl really needed some guidance before she self-destructs, I would say no. Let her fucking walk off the cliff into mindless oblivion, only realizing the err of her ways when she finds herself in an obscure trailer park somewhere, penniless and hiding with her three children from some boozer loser who has something to prove by beating up on his poor little wife and kids because he wants to bang the boss’s hot secretary and he can’t get it up!
“Have her come to the Center Monday at one—ready. To. Work!” I bark. I turn to Courtney. “Show up or don’t show up, I really don’t care, but don’t waste my time. It’s too valuable and I have better things to do with it!”
“She’ll be there,” Addie says. Courtney doesn’t respond. She doesn’t even raise her head. I rub my forehead. If I didn’t want to make the right contacts…
“I’m sorry, Addie,” I tell her. “I didn’t mean to insult or offend you or even your granddaughter…”
“Don’t apologize,” Addie says. “Her behavior is deplorable!” That’s putting it nicely.
The rest of the afternoon is quite productive. We have a lovely lunch of Boston Clam Chowder, Applewood smoked chicken breasts with wild rice and steamed vegetables, and gingham salad. Addie is able to arrange an impromptu tour of the Club and introduced me to some of the ladies lunching there. She explains my plight, which some of them already know, and the fact that I’m in the process of screening country clubs for membership. It’s apparent that Courtney’s behavior and reputation precede her as many of the older women look at her with distaste while the younger ones are either eyeing her with lust or pure disdain. So I guess the theory is that either you hate her or you love her. I personally believe that her future involves becoming part of a horrible reality television show, which will suit her just fine as her views are already quite skewed and her values very weak. She’s part of a pampered society and a pampered generation and she’s following young girls her age doing the same thing that she’s doing. If nobody stops her, she’s doomed.
I’m so relieved to be home when it’s all over. I somewhat prepared myself for what to expect when I joined Addie and Courtney for lunch, but I’ll have to admit honestly that the entire thing was more than a bit draining. Keri and Chuck join me and Gail for dinner as it appears that Christian is going to be a bit late getting home this evening. Chuck looks great! He’s clearly been taking his meds and getting that extra rest he’s needed. I must say that Keri is looking like a million bucks, too!
“I’ve talked to Jay and Christian already,” he starts at dinner. “I wanted to apologize to you two as well. I know what Keri had to put up with, and I know you guys have been a major support system for her. I didn’t know how bad it really was until I finally took the meds and my whole body just gave in. Once the pain subsided completely, I was exhausted. I did nothing but eat and sleep for two days. And poor Keri…” He reaches over and takes her hand. “I feel horrible for what I put you through. I don’t blame you for wanting to leave.”
“Don apologize anymoah, choonks,” she says. “Me know. Me jus glad you tek de meds. You get bettah much soonah nah.” He nods and kisses her hand.
“I love you, Keri,” he says softly. It’s the first time I remember hearing him say it to her. My heart just melts. She smiles and nods.
“Me know,” she says sweetly, cupping his cheek with her free hand. “I love you, too, choonks.” He turns his face and kisses her palm.
After a wonderful dinner with my friends, I’ve decided to cuddle up in my futuristic recliner with a bowl of popcorn and watch Doris Day attempt to outsmart Cary Grant while really outsmarting herself in That Touch of Mink until my husband gets home.
I’m feeling a bit better about punishing Butterfly after a couple of days, only to the degree that it’s not the only thing that occupies my mind anymore and I’m able to function properly. I still don’t like the fact that I bruised her so badly. That’s definitely something that won’t happen again. Her state of limbo didn’t sit well with me either. She still hasn’t opened up about that, I think. She didn’t shut down or shrink that I could tell, but I still feel like there may be a monster hiding in the closet on that one.
My Wednesday was mostly uneventful, which is just fine by me. I’m still waiting for Ros and Welch to get back with me about the specific officials who need to have their palms greased as a result of the improprieties and malfeasances of some of my miscellaneous subsidiaries. There’s a bit of barking from my now financially ruined previous legal team, who might soon be facing some jail time for their involvement in the aforementioned malfeasances. For the most part, it’s business as usual. Little did I know, that’s about to change.
“Sorry to bother you so late, sir,” Welch apologizes as he walks into my office just after five in the afternoon. “I would normally let something wait until tomorrow, but I don’t think I should.” I look behind him and none other than Brian Colostomy is floating into my office with him, looking like the cat who caught the canary. He looks happy, so that means that something is wrong. Jason is sitting on my sofa and I hear him mumble some expression of distaste and I know that he’s just as displeased with this man’s presence as I am. I sigh heavily and run my hand through my hair.
“What is it, Welch?” I say, making it clear that I don’t want to hear anything from this contemptible maggot.
“Research indicates that Vernetta Moore was previously pregnant and had a miscarriage only weeks after your relationship ended,” he says. So what?
“And why are we researching this woman?” I ask, stoically. “She’s dead, she can’t do anything.”
“We are not researching her,” he says, throwing a conspicuous glance of displeasure at Cholometes. I don’t even look in the man’s direction.
“Why would I care about a fetus that was lost over a year ago? Even if it could be linked to me, why would I care? There are hundreds of live women with live babies that they claim to be mine, just for fifteen seconds of attention. At the risk of sounding extremely insensitive, why would I care about a dead woman’s unfortunately dead child?”
“How do you think this news would affect Ana?” The maggot speaks. “To find out that the woman that nearly took her life may have been carrying your child before she was. The emotional impact could be irreparable.” His voice is smooth and disturbing—soothing in a deceitful type of way. I can imagine that the snake sounded just like this when it cajoled Eve into taking a bite of the apple. Pain literally shoots through my head and my ears at the sound of his voice. This news doesn’t affect me at all. I have no concern for whatever impact this news could have. With all my heart, I only want one thing at this moment…
“I think you need to leave,” I tell him as calmly as I can. “I’ve been through enough this past month and I can’t tolerate you being here. As much as I appreciate all of your help in ridding me of the assholes that broke into my systems and supporting her family when Ana was ill, all of my decorum has been squeezed out of me like a lemon and I have no more strength left to be civil. Part of me is asking as a weary man who just can’t take anymore and the other part of me is warning you as a fed-up and frustrated man who has been stretched to his very limits… Please. Just. Leave.”
“Warning me.” It’s a statement not a question. “You really think you’re in a position to warn me?”
“Seriously, man, I mean really. Why don’t you know when to leave it alone?” Jason says to Cholometes. “I don’t know what you ever think you’re ever going to prove by any of the shit you’re doing. No matter what you do, no matter what you think or say or hope, no matter happens to him…” Jason points at me, “…that woman will still be Anastasia Grey. She loves that man on a molecular level. Anybody within ten feet of them can see that and there’s nothing you can do about it. Everything you’re doing is making you look desperate—crazy, obsessive and lonely—stupid, even. It’s ridiculous and sad and if you need to go somewhere and get fucked and get over it, but all means, get fucked and get over it. Somebody else got the girl. Deal with it! I don’t have anything against you personally, but do you realize how pathetic you look? You’re trying to come off all macho and powerful, but the only thing you’re relaying is pathetic. Listen if you want to and if you don’t, you don’t, I could give a shit—but you really do look pathetic, man.”
You can look in Colostomy’s eyes and see that what Jason just said to him not only hit the nail on the head, but is also is really sinking in. He’s never going to get Butterfly—never. He needs to move on because all the attempts that he’s made so far have been flaming failures. He’s right to call her Helen of Troy, though, because his mourning, hoping, sabotage, and declarations of determination are reminiscent of the jilted King Menelaus who sparked the Trojan War to retrieve his kidnapped Helen. I examine him carefully and wonder to myself if he could be that desperate. I don’t know how much clearer it needs to be made that I love my wife and she loves me—exclusively and endlessly. Who would want someone who doesn’t want them? The last person who felt that way about my wife kidnapped her, hoping that she would succumb to Stockholm’s Syndrome. Could Cholometes be that unstable? I’d kill him before I’d let Butterfly go through that again.
“Brian, what do you hope to accomplish?” Welch asks while we glare at each other. “Sure, you irritate the fuck out of Grey, we established that—but that couldn’t be your only purpose. That couldn’t be the beginning and the end of why you’re still here. If it is, it’s even worse than Jason describes.” Cholometes shakes his head.
“I’m a powerful man,” he says. “I can have anything I want at my fingertips with just a few phone calls. I’ve seen governments fall. I’ve fixed elections in foreign countries. I’ve been responsible for supposed accidental meetings that put the right people at the right place at the right time to meet key individuals and cause incidents that shape most of the foreign policy in place today. The one thing—the very thing that I want, that I waited for, I can’t have because Pretty Boy swooped in and snatched her out of my grasp. Do you have any idea what it feels like to want something—to wait for it for years, to time your approach and then watch some rich punk just slide in and take what you’ve been hoping for?” He’s baring his teeth and bawling his fists. He’s very passionate about his feelings, but he’s just too late. Anyway, Butterfly and I were destined to be together. If he had won her affections before we met, she probably would have still ended up with me. At this moment, I can’t even be angry that he feels the way that he feels. He’s frustrated that he didn’t get the grand prize and quite frankly, the grand prize is really great and losing it brings out the worst in any man.
“She had been broken up from David for years,” Welch retorts. “You had plenty of time to make your move.”
“I was trying to let her mend,” he responds. “She was obviously hurting and quite fragile. I didn’t want to prey on her. Contrary to popular belief and the fact that there’s about 10 years between us, Ana was 21 when I met her—legal, and the most beautiful woman I had ever seen in my life.” His voice is longing, and I just want to punch him in his throat. “She didn’t know me, but she had heard a story or three about me from her father. For that reason, she thought I was older than I really am and I couldn’t get near her romantically. Plus, she was with that fucker and I knew that he was just some punk that would come and go. So I waited. When they finally did break up, she was so devastated that I still couldn’t approach her.”
“So basically, you waited and waited for what you thought would be the right time to make your move, but while you were waiting, Christian came along,” Jason summarizes. The entire time, I just sit there with my fingers entwined, staring at him. He doesn’t shift his glare from me. “Do you realize that you chose to wait and let somebody else slip in and claim what you considered your prize, but you’re holding him responsible for doing that? She was coming out of a restaurant with that fucker when Christian made his move on her. A week earlier, she hated him—I saw it with my own eyes. He saw what he wanted and he went for it! If he would’ve gotten shot down, so be it, but the way I see it, you’re pissed because you snoozed. ”
Cholometes never breaks his glare from me and although I see that we’re caught in the stare game, I’m really not playing. I’m really examining him like the alien creature that he is right now, trying to figure out what makes him tick. I’ve established that he is—or used to be—a submissive, but in his everyday life, you’d never even suspect it. While I’m still trying to figure out what makes a man pine away for a woman for nearly a decade, he’s probably trying to count the 100 ways that he could kill me with a rubber band. I’m under no misconception who I’m dealing with. I know that, without a doubt, he could make me disappear if he really wanted to. I just wonder what he hopes to gain from this exercise.
“I just want this man to go away and leave me alone,” I say. “I’m sorry that I had to call him and ask him for help. I’m sorry that I had to let him back into my life in any way whatsoever. I swear on everything sacred that no matter what happens, I won’t do it again. I just want him to go away.” The last few months have been the most trying of my life. I don’t have the wherewithal to curse this man like he so richly deserves and send him away with his tail tucked between his legs. I’m weary and I just want my wife.
“I think I’ll stay for a while,” he taunts. “Maybe I’ll even get a little place in Seattle, closer to my best friend and his family.” He smiles devilishly and I just roll my eyes. Butterfly and I will have to unite and show him that this bond is unbreakable, which is what I thought we already did, but as it stands, he only wants to stick around to get a glimpse of her—to get closer to her if he possibly can and to hopefully weasel his way into her life… and to irritate me.
“You two need to take it to the mat,” Welch says. I’m the first to break eye-contact and look at Welch.
“I was just thinking the same thing,” Jason says.
“You mean fight him for Ana?” I say horrified. “You’re crazy. There’s no hope in hell that he’s going to get my woman, so no, I’m not going to fight him for her. She’s not some fucking trophy! She’s my wife!”
“Of course, you’re not fighting for Ana, but you’re definitely fighting over her. You two need to slug it out once and for all and call it quits. All this crazy antagonizing and shit, it’s ridiculous and tiring. I’m sick of watching it; I know Jay is sick of watching it. Beat the hell out of each other and bury the shit!”
“What do I have to gain by fighting this guy?” I ask. Although I would love to beat him within an inch of his life, there’s no win in it for me other than that. “I’ve already got the girl and I’m not putting our relationship on the line just to beat his ass.”
“You’re so sure that you’ll beat my ass,” he says. “You train pretty intensely, but with no due respect, the Marines trained me to kill a man with my bare hands! You’re a little too sure of yourself.”
“That’s the thing, Brian,” Welch says. “If you guys hit the ring, it’s going to be a clean fight. Beat the hell out of each other all you want to, but none of the military shit. If you’re going mano y mano, then those are the rules. If Grey wins, you go back to Montesano and leave him and his wife in peace from now on. You do what you need to do to get a grip on what you let get past you, and leave them alone.”
“And when I win?” he says cockily. They all look at me. If he loses, I’m rid of him forever. That’s like early Christmas.
“If you win, I’ll buy you a house in the city of your choosing, even if it’s next door to me.” I knew he couldn’t resist that. The idea of living next door to Butterfly makes his eyes light up. For that reason, I have a whole new motivation to beat the hell out of this fucker.
About half an hour later, we’re in the ring in the gym at Grey house, wearing shorts and no gloves. The rules: no military special attack moves, no moves with intent to maim or kill, no deliberate attempts to break any bones. Everything else is fair game. The fight is over when one of us is either unconscious or can’t fight anymore. There are no sportsmanship rules. Even though we’re in a ring, this is a streetfight. Since Brian really has no one in his corner, he has agreed to allow Welch to be the one to throw in the towel for him if it comes to that. I, of course, entrust that task to Jason.
At first, neither of us wants to be the aggressor. We both know that the one who attacks is usually the one that’s at the disadvantage. The thing is that Brian is that last person that I want to spend my evening with half-dressed. To that end, I opt to take the first hit and be the aggressor. As the aggressor, I’m giving him the first opportunity to counter. However, I have the opportunity to counter his counter. I’m just at a disadvantage because I have to take the hit first. The trick to it after that is to keep the melee going no matter what. Once it stops, we’re back at the beginning—who’s going to be the aggressor? So the big decision is… face or gut?
No matter how tough you are, your face is pretty vulnerable, especially without gloves. Since my abs are hard as a rock, I opt to leave my gut exposed. This means that I have to make a wild and wide lunge for his face. This will leave my side open for a perfect hit and he won’t be able to resist taking that shot. I aim for the side of his face—wild and hard—just in case it connects. As predicted, he swerves out of my way and comes right back with a swift and hard blow to my side. I’ll admit that it nearly knocks the wind out of me, but I was expecting it. I bend my body to absorb most of the hit and simultaneously bring my elbow down so that it hits him in his ear. I know that shit knocked the stars out of his ass! I quickly raise it again and hit him in his neck—a perfect grind right into the soft meat on the side of his neck.
And the brawl is on!
He’s clutching his neck in agony and I do a roundhouse that lands square in his back. He arches from the pain before falling flat on his face in the ring. I land kick after kick in his sides, each one eliciting a grunt from him until he manages to turn over and grab my foot in the bend of his arm. He pushes down on my foot and pulls up on my calf with his other hand and I’m on my back—hard! He scrambles to his feet and the tables have turned. Instead of taking advantage of leg blows, knee blows, body blows, he goes right to my face. If nobody ever said so, a foot to the cheek really hurts—I mean, really hurts!
I don’t have time to nurse my wounds as I know a moment’s lament could cost me this fight, so I’m rolling away from his foot to quickly get my bearings when I see his fist coming as me just as I get on my feet. Fuck! Stars! I can see him through the tunnel of light and I think he hit me in my eye. That’s going to bruise. Once again, one of my high kicks to the chest sends him sailing across the ring, stumbling and wheezing a bit and giving me just enough time to catch my breath—and spit out my blood. My eye is starting to swell shut, so I know that I have to bring this to a close fast or I’m going to be at a serious disadvantage.
I unleash a fury of hellish body blows on this fucker while he’s against the ropes. I swear the hits that he’s taking could easily cause internal bleeding. He’s puffing and sweating like a marathon runner, but in the midst of it, he gets one good punch and then a second that connects square on and I swear he knocks a tooth loose. Shit, that’s going to bruise. I taste more of my own blood as that thought runs through my head in one of Butterfly’s three-second funnels:
Shit, that’s going to bruise.
He hasn’t taken many shots at me. He’s taking a hellish beating from me and I can tell he’s in a lot of pain because I’m beating the hell out of him, but I’m beating the hell out of his body. He’s taken five good solid shots at me—good, solid shots—and except for the first blow to my body, they’ve all been on my face. For a split second, I thought it could be because of my initial analysis—the face is the most vulnerable. Almost immediately, I know that’s wrong. He’s trying to deface me because he thinks that’s what Butterfly loves about me. He knows it’s not my money, so it has to be the face. In his mind, if he rips the face off the pretty boy, he may have a better chance with Butterfly. I don’t know if that’s what he’s really thinking, but that’s what I see.
I take a moment too long to ponder this thought, because my eye does swell shut, but that’s okay, because I plan to damn-near kill this fucker with one eye.
I see him smirking at me and I know for certain that he wants to scar my face. Fine, Colostomy, but it’s going to cost you.
I come at this bastard with everything I’ve got and he gives it right back. I don’t hit him in the face as many times as he does me, but those hits in the body bring him down. I finally have him back on the ground and I am kicking and stomping with everything I have. At this point, I don’t care if this man coughs up a kidney; I’m hitting every piece of meat I find. When his body can’t take anymore and he starts to protect his stomach and sides, I let his face have it. He won’t be as deformed as I am, but he’s going to look a fright.
Intend to make my wife afraid to look me in the eye? Okay, fucker, have it your way.
I’m flailing wildly, exhausted. My hands and fists are flying everywhere and my feet are going nuts, and Colostomy is balled up on the floor, grunting. A towel goes flying into the ring and I don’t know if it’s Welch or Jason. I look over and Welch is slicing his hands in front of him telling me to stop. I look down at Cholometes and he’s coughing, grunting, and wheezing like he just might cough up a kidney. I’m waiting to see if he’s going to make a move—grab a foot, swing, sweep my feet out from under me, what? He’s not going anywhere. He can barely breathe.
I back away from him and wait against the ropes. He’s down. Welch suggests we get him to the hospital and he doesn’t protest. I tell them to dial 911 instead, which they do. Once the paramedics arrive, they have to lift him onto the stretcher. When they look at me, they ask if I need to go, too.
“I’ll let you ethamine me, but I’m not going to the hothpital.” Shit! That’s a very swollen mouth and I can’t even tell if I’ve lost a tooth. The EMT looks at my face and tells me that I will probably need to sleep with my face shoved in an ice pack, but I don’t look like I need to go to the hospital.
Once I get dressed, I’m dizzy and quite incoherent… and in a lot of pain.
“Call Vutterfly,” I whisper. “Tell ther what thappened. I don’t want ther to ve thurprithed by thith.” Jason has to help me to the car and I actually fall asleep on the ride back to Mercer Island.
A/N: Pictures of places, cars, fashion, etc., can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/becoming-dr-grey/
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