Thank you all for my birthday wishes. I had a FABULOUS weekend!!!
Oh, and be nice to Christian. He has a lisp.
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 32—Holy Cow, Batman…
“Son of a bitch!” I yell and nearly throw my phone against the wall. Gail comes running into the family room where I had opted to watch television until Christian gets home.
“Ana, what is it?” she asks, very concerned.
“Our husbands are on their way home. What kept them at the office so long is that Brian and Christian were apparently beating each other senseless. Brian had to be taken out by ambulance; Christian’s eye is swollen shut and he may have lost a tooth.”
“Oh my God, are you serious?” she gasps.
“Unfortunately, yes. Jason says you should prepare some of your tea because it’s really bad, which means that it’s not just his eye.” I try to prepare myself for the condition in which I’m going to find my husband. I have all kinds of wonderful things I want to say to him when he gets here.
When he finally gets home, everything I want to say just flies out of my head.
Holy. Cow. Batman.
I gasp when I see him. Jason is almost carrying him. He can’t even walk on his own. The parts of his face that I can see are Technicolor black, blue, and purple.
“Christian!” I breathe, but he doesn’t even raise his head. I try to take him from Jason to help him to bed, but Jason only shakes his head.
“You wouldn’t be able to get him up there,” he protests. “Not even in the elevator.” I nod as I look at my husband, looking more frail and anguished than I’ve ever seen him before… except maybe when he starved himself. I’m just remembering that just this moment. I nod and stand by helplessly while he leads Christian to the elevator, barely able to stand. What the hell did they do to each other? Does Brian look this bad?
I stand there for several moments before I go to my parlor and just sit there. I don’t know how long I sit in the parlor—minutes, hours—before I finally call my father.
“Annie?” I can tell he has me on the speaker.
“Daddy, I want you to tell your friend Brian that I never want to see him again.”
“Sunflower, you haven’t heard his side of it, yet.” Daddy is clearly shocked. He obviously knows what has happened.
“I don’t care about his side of it and I don’t know what he thought he was going to prove by doing this to my husband, but I’ve had enough and I’m nipping it in the bud. I never want to see him again, and if he comes to see you in Kirkland, please give me advance notice so that I’ll be sure not to come.”
“Annie, what did he do to Christian?”
“Ask your friend Brian what he did to Christian.” I burst into tears before I can stop myself. Adrenaline tears, I think. I’m angry and appalled. “I told him I didn’t want him,” I sob. “I told him that he could never come between me and Christian no matter what he did. So he does this. He’s vicious and selfish and brutal to do this to the man I love, and you tell him that I never ever want to see his face in my life ever again!”
“You just did.” The flat voice that I hear is Brian’s. After what he did to Christian, his voice is like glass cutting through my eardrums.
“I don’t want to talk to you!” I snap. How dare he say anything to me! How dare him!
“He looks like he’s been hit by a freight train, Annie.”
“I don’t care!” I shoot. “All I know is that my husband has a multibillion dollar company to run and he can’t run it because he’s damn near unrecognizable. He can barely stand! He couldn’t even look at me! Seeing the pain that he can’t hide from me makes me know that his actual pain is ten times worse. I know this to be true because I know Christian! Were it not that I know my husband so well, I wouldn’t even think this is him. You tried to mutilate him because you despise him, and you despise him because of me. I’ve tried to be considerate of your feelings, but there’s no way that you can say that you care about me at all and do this to the father of my children knowing how it would affect me, you monster! I don’t know how or why this happened, but I know that if you had gone back to Montesano and gone on with your life, this wouldn’t have happened. What was this—some macho bullshit exercise to prove that you could destroy his face?” There’s a moment of silence on the line.
“Brian, what did you do to him?” I hear Daddy ask.
“It was a fight,” he defends. “The hits landed wherever they landed.”
“Bullshit!” I retort. He forgets that I’m a fighter, too, and even an amateur could tell that… “…those hits were deliberate. You were trying to prove a point. Congratulations, you proved it. He looks hideous! And you know what? I’m going to go back into that room and I’m going to put my arms around him and I’m going to hold him until he feels better. I’m going to dress his wounds, I’m going to wait on him hand and foot, I’m going to kiss him wherever he can tolerate a kiss, and we are going to stay in this house until he feels better. So congratulations, you selfish sonofabitch, your stunt only proved to bring us closer. Now, I mean it, Cholometes. I never want to see your fucking face again in my fucking life! Goodbye, Daddy!” I end the call. There’s nothing else left for me to say.
I cover my mouth and weep bitterly for my husband—the pain he must be in! His entire face is swollen and bruised. There are cuts from where Brian’s fists broke his skin and none of his beautiful skin tone is visible. He’s been beaten viciously and deliberately and I hope it was worth it, because if I ever see Cholometes again, I’m going to give his balls the same beating he gave to my dear husband’s face. I try to compose myself and look at my watch. Yep, it’s been hours. I need to go to Christian. I turn around right into the swollen and deformed face of my husband.
“What are you doing up?” I ask, wiping my face, but making no attempt to hide my tears.
“I vuth lookink for you,” he responds, his speech mirroring his injuries.
“Is your head still hurting?” he nods slightly. “Then you shouldn’t be up, and you’re supposed to have the magic tea on your face.” The eye that he can open is extremely red from the fight, but the other is swollen completely shut. Even so, I can still tell that he’s looking at me with regret. “This was a really dumb thing you did today.” I touch his face as gently as I can, but it still causes him to wince. His mouth is so swollen and purple. I gently brush his lips with mine. His breath catches when they touch. I remember when my face was like this—not as bad, but swollen and painful. He never for one moment made me feel ugly. I gently stroke his hair with both hands and look into the one eye that can see me.
“A really dumb thing,” I say softly, “and I love you. Don’t ever do it again.” His lips are hot from the swelling, but he can still feel mine.
“Your lipth are thoft ven you’ve vin cryink.” I run my fingers through his hair.
“Let me get you back to bed. You put the tea on your face and we can snuggle and talk and watch movies, or I can read to you and then you won’t have to explain to me why you wasted your time on that idiot.”
“I vould like that,” he says, and I lead him to the elevator.
Christian is cuddled into me and the babies, sleeping contently while I play with his hair. He was stubborn about taking anything for pain until I told him that I would call his mother. The thought of her seeing him like this horrified him completely, so he cooperated instantly. It still hurt for him to move or lay on his face in any way and he doesn’t sleep well on his back. His only resort was to sleep on my breast. I don’t know how that feels better than the pillow, but he’s snoring away with a large tea bag between my breast and his face and another one held on the side of his face in my right hand.
I can just about imagine what drove Brian to want to destroy his face. Maybe it was because Brian couldn’t stand the sight of Christian. Maybe he thought that I would find it repulsive and shun him. Whatever it was, when he hurt Christian, he hurt me, and he’s dead to me now.
I thought I made that clear. I thought there was no doubt that I am hopelessly and madly in love with my husband. I thought he knew for certain that there was no chance for me and him. So what was his purpose for this? This is my fault. I know it is. I wasn’t clear enough. I couldn’t have been for him to think that this would have any productive outcome. The tears begin to fall and I weep quietly for Christian. I hate Brian for doing this to him. I honestly and truly hate him. I don’t care if Christian ripped an arm off and left him to bleed to death. I hate him!
I’m still crying into my husband’s hair when my phone buzzes with a text message. At 3:00 in the morning?? I’m just barely able to reach it without disturbing Christian. Lo and behold, it’s Brian.
**I’m so sorry for what I did to your husband. I wasn’t thinking clearly. Please forgive me.**
I fire off a text back to him.
**Stop texting me. We have nothing to say. Everything you had to say to me is written all over his face! Now leave me alone.**
I throw the phone on the bed and it buzzes again. I pick it up to see another text from Brian. Without reading it, I respond,
**Go to hell!**
Not very poignant—or mature—but effective. I access my blocking service and enter his number. Now he’ll get a message when he tries to text me or a recording when he tries to call that basically says, “Fuck off.” I toss the phone on the bed again and gently stroke my husband’s hair, hoping that I’m bringing him some small measure of comfort.
I stay awake for the rest of the night, stroking my husband’s hair.
I open my eyes to the sunrise. I dozed off for a moment, but I couldn’t really get comfortable with Christian lying on my boobs. There was no other way, though, and I really needed him to get some rest. He’s still dead to the world on my boob and it’s nearly 9:00. I’m going to have to wake him soon and get him some food.
“Activate two-way communications.” After the familiar beep, “Locate Gail Taylor.”
“Yes?” she answers after the intercom connects.
“It’s me, Gail. Are you busy?” I ask quietly.
“No more than usual. How is he doing?” I sigh.
“My battered husband is going to need some breakfast,” I tell her. “Soft foods… eggs, scrambled soft, maybe some fruit—melon, bananas, nothing acidic… I’ve never seen him oatmeal or porridge…”
“He’ll eat cream of wheat,” she interjects.
“Oh, that’s a good idea,” I concur. “Something to drink… with a straw.”
“I vant vacon,” Christian mumbles, his face still buried in my breasts. Yeah, a trip to the dentist is in his future.
“Well, you can’t have bacon,” I tell him. “Your lips are tender and swollen and very badly bruised. We won’t get bacon past those lips without doing damage.”
“I’ll put it in the food processor for you,” Gail teases. “You can have bacon puree.”
“Okay, no vacon,” he mumbles without lifting his head. Gail and I giggle and I agree to eat whatever he does to keep from tormenting my husband.
“Deactivate communications.” With a beep, the intercoms are off. Christian groans slightly. He hasn’t even moved. “What do you need, baby?” I ask him.
“I have vhat I need vight heer,” he says, sluggishly as he pulls me closer and snuggles into my breast. I stroke his hair again and he groans.
“Christian, does that hurt?” I ask in disbelief.
“I got da headache,” he says. Now he doesn’t sound sluggish. He sounds like he’s slurring.
“We’ll need to get you something for that, but you need to eat first.” He groans again just as there’s a knock on our bedroom door. “I have to get that, Christian.”
“Tell dem to go avay.” His speech is getting worse.
“It might be breakfast, baby. Let me get up.” He groans and releases me, allowing me to slide from under him. I grab my robe and I crack the door. It’s Windsor.
“I’m sorry to disturb you, Mrs. Grey, but your father is here.” I frown. Is it even 9:00 yet?
“Thank you.” He nods once and walks away. I turn back around to Christian and he is fast asleep—in that small bit of time. I shake my head. If Daddy’s here to talk about what I think he’s here to talk about, then this is perfect timing… when my husband is so weak and battered that he can’t stay awake for ten seconds. I slide into one of my large maternity shirts and leave our bedroom, careful not to wake Christian.
Fuck the elevator, I’m taking the stairs.
When I get to the grand entry, I see that Windsor has taken my father to the formal living room, so I join him there.
“Hi, Daddy.” I kiss my father on the cheek, and stand next to him.
“Hey, Sunflower. Don’t you want to sit?” Not really, because I know what this conversation is going to entail, but I don’t want to tell him that. So I tell him the other truth.
“These days, Daddy, I don’t sit until I absolutely have to or until I know I’m going to be sitting for a while. It’s terror trying to get up,” I say with a soft smile.
“I can only imagine,” he says sympathetically. “How’s Christian?”
“Not good,” I answer matter-of-factly. “He had a terrible time sleeping and I was awake most of the night. I’m going to have to convince him to go to the hospital because I don’t know what kind of damage is done to his face or inside his mouth.” I didn’t want to tell Christian, but that miracle tea didn’t help much.
“Brian’s staying with us for a while.” I cross my arms.
“Well, he is your friend,” I say dismissively.
“He looks terrible, Annie. He feels even worse.”
“So?” I declare. “Did you come over to plead his case? Because if you did, you can save your breath.”
“I just want you to see things from both points of view. He’s my friend…”
“Well, I feel sorry for you, but I don’t feel sorry for your friend.”
“He’s in really bad shape.”
“I don’t care, Daddy.”
“Annie, Christian is not completely blameless in this,” he persists. “They did this to each other.”
“And why?” I nearly yell. “I’ve told Brian more than once that I didn’t want him; I want Christian. I’ve told him more than once that this is where I belong and this was his response! I’m Christian’s wife! I’m Mrs. Grey! He was fighting for me!”
“That’s exactly why he shouldn’t have been fighting,” my father argues. “He already had the prize. What was there left to fight for?” I look at him horrified.
“So now this is Christian’s fault?” I scream. “This man makes considerable unwanted and unrequited advances at another man’s wife and God only knows what he said when I wasn’t around! What would you do if this was Mandy?” Daddy actually winces at the thought. Yeah, it doesn’t feel so good, does it? “You’re wrong, Daddy. That’s exactly why he shouldn’t have had to fight! Brian knows as well as anybody else what would bring Christian to his boiling point faster than anything else and it’s me. Am I happy that these two grown-ass men turned into Neanderthals and beat the shit out of each other? No, but under the circumstances, I wouldn’t expect anything less from my husband!”
“He looks like hell, Annie. He couldn’t even drive.”
“And Christian couldn’t even see. Jason damn near had to carry him upstairs.”
“He had to go to the hospital…”
“I wouldn’t care if he had to go to the morgue!” I point to the second floor towards my bedroom. “That is my husband! My family! When that bleach blonde bitch attacked my husband with my gun, I tried to kill her! Had I not thought Christian was dead already, she would be! Now this asshole attacks my husband over something that he can never have… ever! He was brutal! And cruel!” I say through my teeth. “This wasn’t a fight—this was a message. Christian’s a smart man and I don’t know if he got it, but I got it loud and clear.” Daddy frowns.
“Annie, what are you talking about? What message?” He was trying to deface my husband. When it comes to me and Christian, some people can’t quite grasp the concept that I love him just because of who he is. It has to be the face or the money. Granted, his physical attraction is appealing, but that’s not the only reason I love him.
“You ask your friend,” I say. “You look him in the eye and you ask him honestly what kind of message he was trying to send when he did this to my husband, and if he’s your friend, he’ll tell you. Now, I have nothing else to say about Brian Cholometes and I certainly don’t want to hear you defend him. He attacked my family; he’s dead to me!”
“Annie, he didn’t attack Christian…” he continues like he’s not hearing what I’m saying.
“Daddy, I love you, but if defending that man was the sole purpose of your visit, I think you should leave.” He stares at me. I don’t think he can believe what he just heard.
“You’re kicking me out, Annie?” he asks, horrified and crestfallen. I steel myself for what I’m about to say to my father.
“I’m saying that I don’t want to talk to or about your friend anymore. I’m about to have breakfast with Christian and you are free to stay and have breakfast with us, but if you intend to continue to defend that man for what he did to my husband, then yes—I’m kicking you out, Daddy.” I don’t waver when I’m speaking to him. I mean exactly what I say. He looks like he’s going to head for the door until he looks over my shoulder and grimaces horribly. I turn around to see that Christian is standing just outside of the living room in the area beyond the grand entry. I do a double-take back to Daddy.
“I take it from your expression that he looks a lot worse than Brian,” I say to my awestruck father who doesn’t say a word and involuntarily roll my eyes. I turn to my husband, standing there in bare feet, a T-shirt, and pajama pants. “What are you doing out of bed?”
“I hurth yellink,” he says, his voice weak. “I juth vanteth to make thure you vere okay.”
“And what were you going to do?” I say, walking over to him—more to help him stand up than anything, “Rescue me?”
“If I hadth to,” he says, looking up at Daddy, “but now I thee it vath a valth alarm. Hi, Vray.”
“Christian,” Daddy says, frowning deeply. “How are you feeling, son?”
“Not tho goot,” Christian replies. “I’ve theen vetter dayth.” I look at my husband and I’m certain he’s going to need medical attention. He looks worse than he did last night.
“Daddy, we’re going to have to give you a raincheck on breakfast,” I say, looking at Christian with begging eyes. Please don’t give me a hard time. You need to go to the hospital.
“Of course,” he says, still distracted by Christian’s appearance. He brings his gaze down to me. “I see, now, Annie. I understand. I’m so sorry, Sunflower.” I just nod and hold on to my husband. “I hope you feel better really soon, son,” Daddy adds.
“Thank you, Vray,” Christian answers. “Thorry about your fwendth.” Daddy just shakes his head and shrugs uncertainly before heading to the door without another word.
“I need you to sit down,” I say to Christian and he nods.
“Vutterfy… I need to go to the hothpital…” and he drops.
“ACTIVATE TWO-WAY COMMUNICATIONS!” Beep… “JASOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNN!”
I don’t know how I got here, but I open my eyes in the hospital… in the bed… in a gown… with an IV!
What the hell?
There’s nobody in this room with me and I have no fucking idea why I’m here. The last time I woke up in a hospital room, I lost my fucking memory. I look down at my stomach—still as big as a house. Check! Now, where’s my goddamn husband? He’s the one that was supposed to come to the damn hospital! I push that call button like the room is on fire.
“I need to see a doctor… or a nurse… or somebody… needs to tell me what the fuck is going on!” Why am I so foul-mouthed right now? I don’t know. Even my thoughts are foul, but somebody needs to tell me what the fuck is going on!
“Um… I’ll be right there.” She disconnects and I fold my arms. I’m impatient. I want to know what the hell is going on! I don’t know how long it is before she comes into the room, but it seems to take forever.
“Mrs. Grey, I’m Hillary…” Save me the pleasantries.
“Why am I hooked up to this? Why am I here?” I demand.
“You were brought in earlier today because your blood pressure was extremely high and you passed out,” she tries to explain.
“Pregnant women pass out!” I retort, angry that I’m hooked up to these machines with no idea why.
“Your blood pressure was dangerously high, Mrs. Grey. It’s bad for the babies. You’re in danger of hypertension and possibly preeclampsia.” I purse my lips and some machine next to me starts to beep.
“Where is my husband?” I ask through clenched teeth.
“Mr. Grey is resting,” she says. “He was admitted with you. He has some minor injuries that require he be held for observation.”
“I want to see him,” I say finitely.
“Mrs. Grey, you’re under observation as well. I’m afraid…” That’s usually followed by some denial of my most recent request, which was to see my husband. Yeah, I’ve had enough of that shit. I start undoing the monitors and the leads attached to my chest as well as the cuff that apparently takes my blood pressure over regular intervals.
“Mrs. Grey!” she exclaims and pushes some button frantically, no doubt calling for assistance. I turn to her and speak very calmly.
“Not that this part matters to you, but I’m a doctor. However, even if I wasn’t a doctor, I would know that since I’m not a psychiatric patient, you can’t keep me here against my will. You can’t even treat me against my will and since my husband is currently somehow incapacitated, you can’t even garner his support in this matter. So, the way I see it, Hillary, you have three choices. I can rip these monitors and this IV off of me and go find my husband, you can release me AMA as fast as your little feet can take you, or you can get whoever you just called to get a goddamn wheelchair and a blanket and take me and whatever machines will roll with me to my husband’s room… now! The choice is yours.”
I sit on the edge of the bed with the machines partially disconnected and wait for her decision. Anything other than she’s taking me to see my husband means that I will be leaving this place in this gown if I have to.
“And where the hell is my security?” I bark. She’s turning pale.
“I… we… assured him that you would be perfectly safe, Mrs. Grey. He wouldn’t leave the floor but…” I scoff at her weak explanation.
“He’s supposed to be outside my door,” I nearly growl. “Nobody—not even you—is supposed to be able to get into this room without his clearance. Loud voices would have brought him into this room. Where is he?” Christian would be shitting bricks right now.
“That’s not the way it works here, Mrs. Grey…” She begins with a scolding tone. Not the way…?
“Lady, are you aware that not a month ago, someone tried to kill me?” I ask bemused. “I was in a coma for two weeks. I go nowhere without my security. Now where the fuck is he?”
“Mrs. Grey!” Okay, that tone is scolding me for my language and she’s not giving me any answers or doing anything I asked of her. I’m now sliding out of bed and removing the tape from the IV. “Okay, okay, Mrs. Grey, what do you want?”
“I’ve already told you what I want and I’m not interested in your stalling tactics.” I gently slide the IV out of my arm and bend it at the elbow to prevent bleeding. I brush past her and out the door into the hallway and I can feel the air on my ass. They couldn’t even get me a maternity gown!
“Ben!” I yell loudly. “Benjamin Lawrence!” I look up and Ben is sprinting down the hall.
“Ana, what are you doing out of bed?” he scolds.
“Why weren’t you at my door?” I demand. He frowns.
“They wouldn’t let me… I thought you knew.”
“No, Annie Wilkes here won’t answer my questions and she’s treating me like I’m twelve. I recognize and understand that I’m a little more high-strung than usual, but she should understand that, too!”
“Ana, calm down, please… your blood pressure is what got you here,” Ben pleads.
“I understand that,” I growl, attempting to calm myself. “What I want to know right now is where is my husband, why you weren’t at my door…” I look around and realize that I am in completely unfamiliar surroundings. “… And where the hell are we?”
“You’re at Mercer I…” I hold up my hand to silence him.
“Why are we in a strange hospital? Where’s Jason?”
“Jason is with Mr. Grey, I think. He and Chance…”
“… Are both with Mr. Grey?” I ask. He nods. “So, Mr. Grey gets to have two guards and one guard can’t stand outside my door?” Ben’s face falls.
“I didn’t want to cause any trouble, ma’am,” he says, falling immediately into formality. Still angry, I look up at him.
“Oh, trust me, Ben, I understand. This is not your fault.” He relaxes immediately. “Can you tell me why we’re in a strange hospital? Is Christian in distress?” Just then, about five people in white suits—men and women—come rushing in my direction. I turn to Annie Wilkes or Hillary or whatever the fuck her name is.
“If any one of them touches me…” and I just smirk at her. As they get close to me she holds up her hand.
“Stop!” she commands them. They all freeze when they get to her. I slowly turn back to Ben.
“Strange hospital?” I ask again.
“Neither you nor Mr. Grey were conscious. We didn’t know if you were in distress. We had to get you somewhere quickly. This was the closest option.” I nod.
“Okay,” I say pursing my lips. I need results and arguing isn’t going to do it. “Get Jason down here, now. Please inform him that Her Highness is about to go nuclear.”
“Her Highness,” I hear from someone in the group of white scrubs, “one of those rich bitches, I see.” I turn around to meet the eyes of the smirking woman that made the comment.
“You know what? I could be a bigger person and pretend that I didn’t hear that, but I don’t want to,” I say with biggest, phoniest smile I can muster. “ My treatment alone screams that I need a to launch an all-out fact-finding mission and campaign to ascertain just how many people feel they have been mistreated at this hospital.” Her expression hardens. “I’m a billionaire’s rich, pampered bitch wife, right? So I have nothing but time on my hands,” I snarl. Her hardened expression softens and a hair of concern flashes across her face. Another time for this shit. Right now…
I fold my arms and wait silently there for Jason. Christian must not be far away, unless this hospital is only as big as a shoebox, because Jason is walking towards me in record time.
“Ana! What’s going on? Why aren’t you in bed?” he scolds.
“You tell me!” I say my arms flailing. “As far as I can tell, I was brought to this trade school because my blood pressure was high and I passed out. My blood-pressure most likely shot up because my husband fell unconscious at my feet. I woke up in a hospital room with nobody there and no idea how I got here—you know how well that went over the last time it happened.” I point to Annie Wilkes. “She won’t answer any of my questions about where my husband is and has most likely called this Party of Five to restrain me. My security wasn’t outside my door and she’s been speaking to me in a condescending tone since I met her instead of answering my questions. I still don’t know if Christian is dead or alive, incapacitated, distressed, shanghaied by pirates, what. She’s supposedly so concerned about my goddamn blood pressure, but won’t tell me where my fucking husband is!” Jason is waving his hands now.
“Okay, okay, okay. Wait, wait, one thing at a time.” He turns to Ben. “Why weren’t you at her door?”
“I was told that I wasn’t allowed to be in this area, sir,” Ben responds. “I stayed as close as they would allow me and I always had the door in my sights.” Jason sighs heavily like he is trying to reign in his temper.
“You are NEVER to be outside of six feet of her if she’s incapacitated. If she’s in a hospital or some type of private meeting, you are NEVER to voluntarily leave your post outside of her door unless you are relieved! If anyone besides one of your colleagues tries to make you leave your post, you vehemently refuse. If they try to remove you by force, you have the right to defend yourself—then, we sue them.”
The Party of Five is slowing putting more distance between them and us as Jason simultaneously scolds Ben while informing these idiots that they really don’t have the power they thought they did.
“Most likely, if you don’t cooperate with their demands,” Jason continues, “they will threaten to call the authorities. Let them. They will either back down at that point or proceed to call the police. When the authorities arrive, if you are polite and explain the situation, they most often take our side. If, on the other hand, you have that rare occasion where they are not on our side, you still don’t leave your post unless they drag you away in cuffs. As you already know, we have a bail fund for things like that. Then we’ll sue them all. Is anything I said unclear?”
“No, sir,” Ben answers dutifully, “quite clear.” Jason turns to me then scans the halls quickly. Finding a linen cart just beyond the nurse’s station, he snatches a blanket and throws it over the back of me and my shoulders—no more breeze on my butt.
“Your husband is currently in a room resting peacefully. He’s had some tests done and his wounds have been dressed. They should have been dressed when he sustained them, but we couldn’t see them for the swelling and he wouldn’t have let us near them anyway. he barely let the paramedics check him out when they carted that other asshole to the hospital. He’s under some pretty heavy meds because he needs the rest. I’ll take you to him.” I sigh and nod.
“Jason, in the future, if we are not in immediate danger of exsanguination, Seattle Gen. If we’re not suffocating and in need of an emergency tracheotomy, Seattle Gen. If I go into labor and there’s a baby’s head sticking out from between my legs, SEATTLE GEN!” Jason grimaces at the thought. “You’re a father. Stop acting all squeamish!” I close the blanket around my body. “Get Grace on the phone. Get us to Seattle Gen. You have an hour.” He nods once and starts dialing. “And find out who she is!” I snap, pointing to the smart-aleck bitch that made the comment about me earlier. I turn to Ben.
“Get my personal effects, get me a wheelchair, and get me to my husband. You have five minutes.” He nods and walks to the nurse’s station. I turn to Annie Wilkes.
“Get out of my way!” I don’t give her a time limit. She steps aside and I walk back into the room. I find a second gown and put it on over and opposite the first one to cover my ass. I clean the blood off my arm with a washcloth and some cold water. The bleeding has stopped, so I don’t bother looking for a bandage. My hair is a fright and there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m feeling lightheaded and realize that there probably is an issue with my blood pressure now that my adrenaline is beginning to drop, but they won’t be treating me here. I probably was a bit of a bitch, I don’t doubt it one bit, but I don’t care. This could have all been avoided had she simply given me the information that I asked for. In scanning my surroundings and myself, I notice that something very important is missing.
Ben knocks, then steps into the room and hands me a small bag. He’s saying something, but I can’t hear him. I reach into the bag and remove the long maternity shirt I was wearing.
“Is this it?” I ask horrified.
“That’s what you were wearing when the ambulance arrived, ma’am,” Ben responds. That wasn’t all I was wearing!
“Where are my rings?” I demand. Ben frowns.
“What?” His eyes immediately go to my hands.
“My rings! Where are my wedding rings?” I’m getting a little frantic now and he’s not answering fast enough. “Jason!” I snatch the door open. Annie Wilkes is still standing there and so is Jason, now with a wheelchair. He’s not on the phone anymore, so I assume he has already made that crucial call. Now, he’s looking at me with a look in his eye that screams “Where’s the fire now?”
“Wedding ring!” is all I can say. If my rings are gone…
“I have his ring,” Jason says in an attempt to douse the fire before it rages out of control.
“Not his! Mine!”
“Uh-what?!” His eyes, like Ben’s, go to my hand. While Ben’s exclamation was more of surprise, Jason’s is seeping with anger. He turns immediately to Ben.
“You don’t have her rings?” He hisses at Ben, who turns white. Jason, on the other hand, turns red. “Go. Find. Her fucking. Rings!” he barks threatening. Ben scurries off like a wounded dog. Jason stands behind my wheelchair and I quietly take a seat. I can’t say anymore. I’m exhausted. I just want my husband and my rings. Though I can’t see him, I can imagine the snarl that he must be giving to the people standing in front of us because they part like the Red Sea. He begins to push me down the hall to the elevator.
“Jason,” I say softly when we’re out of earshot.
“Yes, Your Highness?” he responds curtly.
“Don’t be too hard on Ben,” I advise. “You’ve been with us for years. You know the routine before we do. Chuck’s been with me for a while. He would have known what to do. Ben…” I don’t want to make Ben look bad at all, so I just let my last words leave the impression. “Don’t be too hard on Ben.”
“He better find those fucking rings,” he says after a pause.
“I’m with you on that,” I concur.
Yes, the hospital is about as big as a shoebox, because in no time flat, I’m sitting next to my husband’s bed. There’s gauze around his head, covering his eye—the one that’s not swollen shut. When he wakes up, he’s going to be frantic, because he won’t be able to see. There are more bandages on his face and a brace on his wrist. Neanderthals…
I wheel myself up to the head of his bed. I kiss his forehead and gently stroke his curls. I can’t stop the tears that fall. I don’t understand why they had to do this. To the victor goes the spoils, I know, but there was no fight to begin with. I love Christian. I don’t want Brian. I never wanted Brian. Nothing good could have come from this. This is all my fault. I wasn’t firm enough with Brian, or I didn’t make it clear enough to Christian that he’s the only man for me. What could I have done to prevent this?
“Mrs. Grey?” A man’s voice breaks me from my contemplation, but doesn’t halt my tears. “I’m Dr. Alexander. I’m Mr. Grey’s doctor.” I don’t really acknowledge his presence as I can’t quite stop crying. “He’ll be fine, Mrs. Grey. He just needs rest.”
“That’s… good to hear,” I say with shuddering breaths, never taking my eyes off Christian.
“Would you like to know what’s going on?” he asks. His voice is soothing, like he’s talking to a frightened animal. Right now, he is. I just nod as I continue to stroke my husband’s hair.
“I’m told you’re a doctor. It’ll be refreshing not to have to translate.” He pauses for a moment and waits for a response. I don’t have one, so he continues. “Both eyes have suffered traumatic injury. The red eye—iritis, commonly called uveitis. We’re treating it with steroid drops. It should be better in a couple of days, completely fine in a week. He’ll want to return to his regular doctor for follow-up after that.” Geez, does Christian have a regular doctor? That’s something I never knew.
“The other eye—just a really bad black eye, for the most part. He’s just going to have to wait for the swelling to go down. Ice packs and rest, that’s all we can really do for it at this point. He has three loose teeth. One of them is really loose. He’s going to need to see a dentist. We ran a CT scan to be safe. He has some mild contusions to his head—nothing life threatening, but he’s going to have a headache for a while.” I keep stroking his hair.
“Anything else I need to know?” I ask, still gazing at my husband.
“No ma’am. Rest and meds. He’ll be fine.”
“Thank you, Dr. Alexander. Please make a copy of his chart and have it ready for transfer. I’ll be transporting him to Seattle General very shortly.”
“Mrs. Grey, I can assure you that we can take extremely good care of your husband here.” I turn my gaze to him.
“That may be so, doctor, I don’t know; but your staff has made it perfectly clear that they can’t take care of me.” I speak with no malice and wait for a reaction or rebuttal. I get none, so I turn my attention back to my ailing husband. I only have a few moments to sit alone with him and lament his condition before Ben steps quietly into the room, his face solemn. He immediately presents my wedding and engagement rings.
“They were in the hospital safe,” he says. “Ana, I’m sorry.”
I take the rings from him and put them back on my finger where they belong. I take a deep cleansing breath and let it out as relief floods through me for the first time today. I look up at Ben, who is gazing at me with sincere apology in his eyes.
“I’m with my husband. I have my rings. Don’t worry. Everything’s going to be okay,” I say in a comforting voice. He nods once and turns to the door. As he’s leaving, Jason is entering. I shake my head and say nothing. I had to go into the hallway nearly naked and scream for Ben, but Christian’s room is Grand Central Station. God, I miss Chuck!
“Do I need to hire a private ambulance to get us the hell out of here?” I ask Jason softly.
“No. No, that won’t be necessary. I spoke to Dr. Grey and she’s making all of the arrangements at Seattle Gen. Gail and Marilyn will meet us at the hospital to make sure you have everything that you need. Of course, neither of you have your phones, so they’ll be at the hospital…”
“I don’t want to talk to anybody,” I tell him. “I don’t know who you need to call to tell them about Christian’s condition—Ros, Al, I don’t know—but he’s going to be out of commission for at least a good week or two.” He nods.
“Ana?” He calls my name gently, like a father. “When you get to Seattle Gen, would you please do what they ask you to do? If anything happens to you because of this, he’s going to kill Cholometes, and none of us is going to be able to stop him.”
I know that he’s right, because I want to kill Cholometes right now. I nod.
“I will, Jason,” I reply, mostly because I’m exhausted and I have no fight left in me. He sighs almost unnoticeably and I realize that this must have been a stressful situation for him, too. Both of us were incoherent and he had to make whatever decisions he could.
“Transport should be here in a few minutes or so.” I nod and he leaves the room.
“Ada! Ada!” Christian’s frantic voice awakens me. I must have dozed off. He still has the bad lisp from his swollen mouth and loose teeth. His arms are flailing and his hands immediately fly to his eyes. I grab his wrists before he has the opportunity to start clawing at his bandage.
“Baby! Stop! Please, stop!” My voice is urgent, but gentle. He calms only slightly, his hands still shaking, panting wildly. “You’re fine, baby. Your eyes are fine. Remember, one is swollen shut. The other has a bandage over it. You need to rest them, okay?”
“Okay! Okay!” He attempts to calm himself, but I can tell that he’s still frantic, anxious, and displaced.
“I’m here, baby,” I say calmly, bringing his hand to my face. “I’m right here.”
“Okay,” he says again, his breathing calmly marginally. “Okay.” A few moments later, Jason walks into the room and sees me basically lying on top of Christian holding his arms.
“What’s wrong?” he asks immediately.
“He woke up and couldn’t see,” I tell Jason. He looks over at Christian.
“You okay, boss?” he asks, concerned. Christian’s Adam’s apple bobs as he swallows hard.
“Juth… juth gimme a minute…” He’s still breathing heavily.
“The ambulance is here,” Jason says, lowly. Christian’s muscles tighten.
“We’re at some quack hospital on Mercer Island and I demanded that we be transported to Seattle Gen immediately!” I say firmly. He needs to know that I have this particular situation under control.
“Okay,” he says. His “okays” are a little less breathy and frantic now. EMTs come into the room.
“Seattle General?” I ask, expecting.
“Yes, ma’am,” one of the EMT’s respond and I nod. I turn back to Christian.
“Baby, I’m going to move and let them transfer you from the bed to the stretcher, okay?” He freezes again but nods.
“Okay.” I think that’s all he can say right now.
“Where’s the other patient?” the EMT asks. “I was told that there were two patients.”
“No, we only need one,” I say, making desperate gestures for him to shut up and that I’ll go down in the wheelchair. Thank God, he’s a quick pick-up.
“Yes, ma’am. Will you be riding in the ambulance with him?” He tilts his head a bit to ask the question. I know what he’s asking.
“I definitely will,” I say, opening my arm and showing him the site of my removed IV, now a little swollen and quite purple. He nods.
“Mr. Grey, are you ready?” The second EMT asks.
“Ada?” his voice is anxious again.
“I’m right here, baby,” I assure him. “I’ll be right next to you the whole time.”
“Okay,” and just like that, he’s back in cooperative mode. With a one, two, three, he’s off the bed and on the stretcher and I’m back in the wheelchair. In no time, they’re rolling us out of this correspondence school and loading us into an ambulance bound for greener pastures. Night has fallen and it’s only now that I realize that we have both lost an entire day in this fiasco. Jason helps me into the ambulance and I sit down next to Christian, taking his hand once again. Jason and the EMT’s begin to close the doors.
“Jason…” he pauses. “Don’t be too hard on him,” I remind him about Ben. Jason eyes me momentarily, then nods before closing the doors.
I’m only remembering bits and pieces of what’s happened. I remember telling Butterfly that I needed to go to the hospital and then nothing. I remember waking up and I couldn’t see, then hearing her sweet voice tell me that everything was okay. I remember her holding my hand through the ambulance ride and stroking my hair. It was very relaxing and I wanted to go back to sleep, but I couldn’t. I was too wound up. The next thing I know, I’m waking up again. I’m in the bed alone. I know that she’s not with me and I try not to panic.
“Vutterfly?” I call to her in a controlled voice. I hear movement in the room.
“Hey, Boss.” It’s Jason—comforting, but not the voice I expected.
“Jathon,” I respond.
“How are you feeling?” he asks.
“A little dithplathed without my thight,” I answer honestly. “Vare’th Vutterfly?”
“She’s here,” says. “She’s resting.”
“Vy ithn’t thee rethinck over here vith me?”
“Well, you gave us a real scare, Boss.” His voice gets closer. “There’s a few things I need to tell you… as your friend. I need you to stay calm. Nothing’s wrong, but I need to bring you up to speed on some things. Can you stay calm while I do that?”
I sigh heavily. We’re in a hospital. I’m hearing Jason’s voice instead of Butterfly’s voice, I can’t see, and I don’t know what’s going on. He wants me to stay calm. How the fuck am I supposed to stay calm?
“Can you thit me up, pleathe?” I ask. I hate lying on my fucking back. If Butterfly were here… awake, she’d know this. Jason does something and I hear the hum and feel the top of the bed rising. I’m going to have to stay calm because I’m going to serve nothing by getting upset and even if I do, there’s nothing that I can do without my eyesight.
“You haven’t answered my question, Boss,” he says. I take in a deep cleansing breath and let it out. It’s surprisingly relaxing.
“I’ll thay calm,” I say, my voice resolved.
“Ana’s here. She’s in the room with us. You’re in a double-room, private with two beds. She’s asleep in the bed next to you. When you passed out, her blood-pressure skyrocketed. Once she got help to you, she crashed and passed out, too. We had to bring you both in. That’s how you ended up at the medical center in Mercer. You were both unconscious and we didn’t know if either one of you were in distress, so we had to get you to the nearest facility. The situation turned out to be a fiasco, because Her Highness woke up first and the staff was less than accommodating to her requests. I’ll let her tell you about that experience.
“Anyway, she grabbed the bull by the horns, raised hell, turned that place upside and got you both transferred to Seattle Gen. Grace has been in twice to check on both of you. Basically, you both just need rest so that you can mend and recover. Her Highness is in danger of hypertension and preeclampsia. They couldn’t get her IV’s in and they couldn’t get the baby monitors on because she wouldn’t leave your side, so she had to be gently sedated so that she can rest and bring her blood pressure down.
“This is what we need from you now. We need you to know and understand that everything is okay. Even though you can’t see, we need you to be the strong one. You just need rest so that your eyes can heal. You took a pretty bad beating; they did a CT-scan; you’re fine. You know as well as I do that it’s pretty common to be light-headed after the beating that you took. Her Highness, on the other hand, is at a higher risk than you. If she does develop preeclampsia, she may have to deliver those babies early. So we need her to stay calm. If she’s worried about you, that’s not going to happen. She needs to be comfortable, quiet, and she needs not be excited about anything. It’s severe enough that they are willing to get you two out of here and get you home and send a nurse to the Crossing, because they know she’s not going to relax here.
“I know that being without your sight is a debilitation that no one wants, but I need you to be the strong one here because if you don’t, she will, and that could be catastrophic. Can you do that, Boss?”
None of this is what I want to hear. He keeps saying be calm; he keeps saying everything is going to be okay; then he drops this horrible bomb on me. Quite frankly, I’m freaking the fuck out right now, but if I don’t cover this shit like a pro, Butterfly is the one that’s going to pay for it. I’m literally up for the performance of my life!
“I have thum quethtionth,” I say calmly.
“Okay.” I hear caution in his voice.
“You thay ve vere at thum hole on Merther. Apparently, that’th vare her high vlood pwethure vath thithcovered. Correct?”
“If they vere tho contherned about hyperthenthion and preeclampthia, vy vere they leth than accommothating to her?”
“She would have to tell you that. I walked into the middle of it and by the time I got there, they were all either stunned or scrambling like roaches. As I understand it, she dropped the bomb that heads were going to roll because of the way that she was treated and she fully intends to execute that promise.”
“Thee’th not goink to exthecute anything,” I clarify. “You are. Vind out every perthon that gave her throuble or cauthe for conthern; every perthon that vithheld informathion or thithn’t immethiately rethpont to any of her requethth. My vife ith in danther of developing a condithion that can cauth the premathure birth of our children. Any of thothe motherfuckerth that thithn’t treat her like the goddamn queen of England, I vant to know who they are. I vant somebody’th head lopped off and mounthed on my offithe wall by the end of the week. Any quethtionth?”
“That’s him!” Jason exclaims quietly. “That’s the guy I’m looking for. That’s who we need. Anything else you want, Boss?”
“Do you have any idea vat her vlood pwethure vath like before thee vent to thleep?”
“Well, they won’t tell me much, because I’m not… you, but I could visibly see that she was doing better once we got you guys out of Mercer. She was a little high once we got you guys here and started to get you settled in, but she’s wearing this cuff that takes her blood pressure every few minutes, and it looks like it’s down. It’s going to be lower while she’s asleep anyway, though.” I nod.
“That’th good. Let her reth, then.” I take a moment to recall the conversation before we left the first hospital. “Tho there vere two pathientth that had to be tranthported… thee vath the thecond.” There’s a pause.
“Yes sir, that’s true,” he admits. “She was hand-signaling and gesturing wildly so that no one would let the cat out of the bag. We were lucky that the EMT’s were quick on the pick-up. Real professional guys. Grace met us at the door when we got here and took care of everything else.” I nod.
“Vat time ith it?” I ask. More silence.
“It’s about 11am, Boss. It’s Friday morning.” Friday morning! I lost a whole damn day!
Stay calm. Stay calm.
“How long hath thee been athleep?”
“Tho ve’re talking like twelve hourth?” I ask.
“Yes, sir.” I sigh heavily.
“Can you pleathe find out vat’th okay for my vife to eat, then get it here. No hothpital food. Thee won’t eat hothpital food. Onthe it geth here, find out how ve can gently routh her. Thee needth to eat and thee needth to feed the babieth.”
“Yes, sir. Williams is outside the door. He can hear you if you call, but I’ll be right back after I find out what she can eat.”
“Good man.” I hear the doors open and close, then silence except for an occasional beeping from the machines next to me, or next to Butterfly.
I feel like a stupid fool—a grade-A stupid asshole. I let this jerk egg me on until he goaded me into a fight. He got just what he wanted from this. I can’t talk and I look like hell. On top of everything else, my beautiful, delicate wife is now sick and in danger of having to deliver our children. I am an idiot!
“Christian?” Her voice is frail and weak. She’s still under the sedation. Showtime.
“Are you okay?” she squeaks.
“I’m fine, Baby. Jathon ith gonna get uth thum food. I vant you to reth until he cumth back, okay?”
“Okay.” I swear not ten seconds later, her breathing is rhythmic again. I take a bow and the curtain falls.
All this time she’s been strong for me. She wouldn’t even let me know that she was the other patient. She was still taking care of me when she was in danger herself. None of this would have happened if I hadn’t given in to that asshole.
Her blood pressure had probably already been high since Wednesday night. I was pretty out of it, but I remember Jason telling her that she wouldn’t be able to get me upstairs. That means that she tried. She already knew how bad it was.
When I woke up in bed alone after collapsing the moment we got to the owner’s suite, I remember going in search of her. She was in her parlor on the phone with someone. I wasn’t sure who it was, but later discovered that it was Cholometes and Ray, and she was furious…
“Bullshit! Those hits were deliberate. You were trying to prove a point. Congratulations, you proved it. He looks hideous! And you know what? I’m going to go back into that room and I’m going to put my arms around him and I’m going to hold him until he feels better. I’m going to dress his wounds, I’m going to wait on him hand and foot, I’m going to kiss him wherever he can tolerate a kiss, and we are going to stay in this house until he feels better. So congratulations, you selfish sonofabitch, your stunt only proved to bring us closer. Now, I mean it, Cholometes. I never want to see your fucking face again in my fucking life! Goodbye, Daddy!”
I wished I could have been a fly on the wall when Cholometes heard those words, but through my good eye—or what I thought was my good eye—I could see my wife weeping bitterly. That’s when her blood pressure was rising, either then or when her not-so-prize-fighting husband came home unable to raise his head.
The next day—yesterday—I remember her talking to Gail about bacon puree… yuck! I don’t even remember her getting out of the bed, but I do remember waking up to her yelling at somebody. When I stood up, the room was spinning like I was hungover, but I had to get to Butterfly. I made it to the landing overlooking the living room and I saw her yelling at her father after he told her that Cholometes had to go to the hospital…
“I wouldn’t care if he had to go to the morgue! That is my husband! My family! When that bleach blonde bitch attacked my husband with my gun, I tried to kill her! Had I not thought Christian was dead already, she would be! Now this asshole attacks my husband over something that he can never have… ever! He was brutal! And cruel! This wasn’t a fight—this was a message. Christian’s a smart man and I don’t know if he got it, but I got it loud and clear.”
My wife is very smart. She figured out exactly what that asshole was doing. Cholometes may have succeeded at defacing me, but it only served to piss my wife off, not make her turn away from me. I could still hear them arguing when I came down the stairs and I think I heard Butterfly kicking her father out of the house. His reaction when he saw me let me know that I must have looked pretty bad. I never bothered to look in a mirror at any time after the fight. I guess I should have…
“Christian, how are you feeling, son?”
“Not too good. I’ve seen better days.”
“Daddy, we’re going to have to give you a raincheck on breakfast.”
“Of course. I see, now, Annie. I understand. I’m so sorry, Sunflower. I hope you feel better really soon, son.”
“Thanks, Ray. Sorry about your friend.”
I remember feeling the room tilt and I knew I needed to get to the hospital. Something was really wrong. I don’t remember if I said it or not before I passed out, but I was just gone before I woke up in the hospital and couldn’t see.
It’s my fault that Butterfly isn’t well right now. She had better make a full recovery or Cholometes is a dead man, but it’s my fault that she’s here. I’m so damn cocky, always having to prove I’m the stronger man. I’ll admit that it felt good kicking his ass, but at what cost?
His biggest weapon was a dead woman that had a miscarriage last year. There was a possibility of scandal, but that was it. There’s no way to tie the baby to me since my relationships were not public. It had no effect on me whatsoever—it really didn’t, but the fact that he dug so deeply to find such an inconsequential morsel of information was proof positive that he was never going to go away. He was never going to stop and we were never going to have any peace. When I saw the opportunity to get rid of him once and for all without having to kill him, I couldn’t let it go.
Now, I’m going to have to be off from work for God only knows how long because I look like I was jumped in an alley somewhere. My wife is sick and I have to do everything in my power to make sure that she doesn’t complicate her current situation. She doesn’t have to worry, though. I have nothing else to say to Cholometes. Even if he reneges and stays in Seattle, I’m completely done with him. He’s officially on the proscribed list. As far as I’m concerned, this was a deliberate act against me, my wife, and my children and to keep from killing him, I can’t see or speak to him ever again.
A/N: Ana never ascertained who Hillary was, doctor or nurse, but she keeps referring to her as “Annie Wilkes.” For those who may not know, Annie Wilkes is the ex-nurse in Stephen King’s novel Misery who held her favorite author prisoner in her home and tortured him until he eventually killed her and is later rescued. You may remember the movie where she was portrayed by Kathy Bates.
“Party of Five” was just a play on words. It was an old American television series about five siblings who were orphaned when their parents suddenly died in a car accident, the oldest of which became guardian to the other four and continued to raise them. Five nurses/orderlies/whatever came to subdue Ana when Hillary was pushing some emergency call button.
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