The last chapter brought some mixed reviews, several people totally forgetting Ana’s reasons for wanting to join a country club. I’m not sure if it’s because people read so many stories that they lose track of the premise of my story OR they compare my story with someone else’s and totally lose the thrust. Nonetheless, I can only hope that if this is the case that people go back and read the story and reacquaint themselves with the characters so that they don’t lose touch with the storyline and the characters’ intentions.
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 37—Bad Boys
So apparently he got that call from whomever he made it the moment I left Harbor Club—just as we suspected. This is not going to be a fight. I refuse to allow this to be a fight. I just don’t have the strength for it. I just don’t…
“That’s my intention, yes,” I reply.
“I never thought the country club set was your cup of tea,” he says.
“Well, after talking to Adelaide, I see a lot of benefits to being a member of a country club,” I tell him matter-of-factly. “It’s a wonderful networking environment. It’s like a fraternity for adults. The resources that you find just among club members are phenomenal! I had no idea!”
“Anastasia, I know everybody—people in every industry. Whatever any situation needs, I have the resources and connections.”
“That’s right,” I say flatly. “You have the resources. You have the connections. I can most often get a lot done because I’m Mrs. Christian Grey, but as Dr. Anastasia Steele-Grey, Assistant Director of Helping Hands, I can’t get much done without you or Grace. I’m window dressing, Christian, and that’s not what I was meant to be!” He examines me for a moment.
“I didn’t know you felt that way,” he says after the pause. I drop my head.
“I didn’t either,” I respond, breaking eye contact and looking back down at my desk. I feel more like the “little woman” now than I ever did, and I’m trying so hard not to fall into that stereotype. Even as big as a whale, I’ve got to be effective. True, I’m going to deliver in less than two months. Most likely, I’ll be delivering in six weeks, but a lot can happen in six weeks.
“This is a really big decision, Butterfly,” he chides, gently. “Country clubs usually don’t want just one of us. They want us both. Why didn’t you consult with me about this before you made this decision?” He’s not angry that I can tell. He just appears to be looking for answers. I have answers for him. I can do that…
“Because you would have said ‘no’ again.” The words are out of my mouth before I can catch them. Strangely, I don’t regret it… much. I didn’t want to say that, though. Like I said, I’m not trying to start a fight, but that’s why I didn’t say anything to him. Had I continued to seek membership after he’d said “no,” then I would have been deliberately defying him—and we all know what happens when I do that.
“I don’t say ‘no’ on everything, Anastasia,” he protests.
“No, not everything… but lately, it seems like if it matters to me, you do,” I can’t find a way to say it without sounding confrontational.
“Are we talking about the radio spots?” he asks. I nod. “With everything that’s gone on, you still think that would have been a good idea?”
“We’ll never know, Christian,” I say in a controlled tone. “I could have been in front of a microphone laying on the Anastasia Steele charm and drumming up donations for Helping Hands while you were somewhere nearby, throwing the evil eye at the producer and threatening to buy his legacy instead of in the office suffering any of the catastrophes that befell you over the last two weeks or so.” I lean back in my seat, trying to get comfortable, but having a hell of a time now that the other two people in my body are demanding more space.
“Maybe the things that happened would have happened anyway, I don’t know, but I have a purpose to fulfill and I’m going to do it,” I finish.
“I bet Mom’s in seventh heaven with you around,” he says, matter-of-factly. I shrug. Yeah, and Courtney’s in seventh hell. “I still wish you had talked to me first. I don’t like finding these things out second hand,” he scolds again. I sigh.
“Christian…” I begin, unable to hide the petulance in my voice.
“… And I could have told you not to waste your time with Harbor Club. They were started during a time when a woman’s place was solely in the kitchen or on the boss’s lap, and they’ve evolved into an Old Boys’ Club for the most part. I would have gladly steered you away from that place had I known you were headed in that direction.”
My brow furrows. I knew he would get a call from them most likely, but this isn’t quite how I expected this portion of the conversation to go. Is he saying that I shouldn’t have wasted my time with Harbor Club, or I shouldn’t have wasted my time with any club? My silence and, no doubt, my bemused expression were his cue that he probably shouldn’t leave the conversation hanging where it is.
“I got a call from a business associate of mine—no one of any great importance, just someone that I know in the industry… one of the Old Boys and a long-standing member of Harbor Club. I think he’s a proprietary member, in fact. Anyway, he said that you had met with the general manager and that you may have been less than impressed with the facilities. He was hoping that he could get me to come down to the club and spend a little time to see if he could persuade me to persuade you into a change of heart.” This doesn’t surprise me.
“Long story short, I just told him that I would talk to you and we would let them know if they were one of our choices…” which is exactly what I told them. “Harbor Club is struggling because their tactics don’t work anymore. Their original membership is faithful, but dying off and so is their legacy. To that end, they’re not able to secure new membership. This is one of the reasons why I wish you would consult with me before you started visiting country clubs. You would do better to start with Bear Creek or Broadmoor.”
Okay, now I’m really stunned. Am I mistaken or did my antisocial, control freak husband just give me his approval for us to join a country club?
“Huh?” is the only thing I can say.
“Why are you so surprised? What was your plan—to ambush me?”
“Quite frankly, yes,” I respond pointedly. “I was going to do my research and bring you the best choices and solid reasoning why I felt that we should join. If you shot me down, I was hoping that I could find some clubs that would accept me on my own and if not, in the process, I was hoping that I would make a few friends and contacts—draw people to me based simply on the idea that I’m looking at the country clubs. It’s already started, so I know that I’ll be able to network that. Once I’ve built a solid foundation of a few useful women, if you decided to ixnay the idea or drag it out too long like I know that you could, then I would garner the sympathy of the women in my newfound circle that my husband feels that it’s not a good time to join a country club. I would tell them sincerely that I value the relationships that I have built with them and hope that they won’t end because I’m not a member of a specific club. My hope is that the thought of losing my acquaintance once they’ve gained it will maintain my standing as needed with the foundation group. I would then be invited to functions and affairs on that merit where I would then be able to make a name for myself and build my own network instead of constantly riding the coattails of Mr. Christian Grey.” Now his eyebrows furrow.
“Is that what this is all about, Baby?” he asks, expecting. I drop my eyes to my baby mountain.
“Yes,” I say, without raising my eyes to his again. I don’t want to see disappointment or anger… I just don’t want to deal with it.
“I was wondering why you used the phrase Anastasia Steele charm.” And now he sounds bruised. I look up at him and I’m right. I twist my lips at him and shake my head. I don’t even have the energy to be angry.
“Christian, when are you going to see that this particular thing is not about you?” I say with no malice. “It’s not about not wanting to be Mrs. Grey. It’s about wanting to be Anastasia.” I can’t explain this to him anymore. Hell, I can’t explain it to myself. Over the last two days, I’ve been having an “Elephant Girl” crisis, so I can’t explain to him why I feel like I’m having an identity crisis, too. All the thoughts are so overwhelming and it seems so simple, that he’s such a smart man that he should just be able to clearly see what I’m trying to tell him and I don’t understand why he can’t. The idea of having to walk him through this and the idea of possibly having another fight fills me with anguish and dread. All of the screaming thoughts swim around and culminate in a single tear that rolls down my cheek and lands on the baby mountain, staining my dress. The three-second funnel produces a single thought that I speak without raising my head:
“I just want people to see me instead of always seeing me standing behind you.”
A few moments pass before I hear him rise and walk over to me. He sits on the edge of my desk and takes my hand from my stomach. Bringing it to his lips, he kisses my knuckles gently. With his free hand, he wipes my tear with his thumb and lifts my chin so that my eyes reach his.
“You shine on your own, Baby. You just don’t see it,” he says, before kissing me softly on my lips. “Start with Bear Creek and Broadmoor. Ask Addie about her club. I think Mom and Dad belong to one, too. Let me know what you come up with.” Should I tell him that I’ve already visited Broadmoor? “I’m going to check on dinner. It should be ready by now. Do you want me to bring you some tea or something if not?” I shake my head.
“No, I’ll be up soon,” I say. I feel the rush coming. He nods and kisses me on the cheek.
“Are you okay?” he asks. I nod. He pauses before he leaves, closing the door behind him. I wait for a few moments before I drop my head on the desk and weep. I have no idea why I’m crying, but once the flood gates have been opened lately, I just have to let them flow. I don’t know if these are tears of confusion, sorrow frustration, or relief, but they just flow, and I just let them. Get them all out before I go upstairs to dinner. I’ve got to regain control somehow because this is getting ridiculous.
Butterfly was quiet at dinner last night… too quiet. She was in deep contemplation, I could tell. She finished her meal and turned in early, saying that she was extremely exhausted and needed to get into the Center this morning to conduct a tour of the facilities. It’s one of the requirements of state certification and accreditation and she wants to make sure that everything is in place before the delegates arrive to tour the facilities. She was up and dressed before me and although I didn’t see her in her office, she hasn’t said goodbye yet, so I don’t think she’s left for the day.
I think I surprised her when I agreed to us joining a country club last night. I’ll admit that it’s not something that’s on the top of my list of priorities as I still prefer to keep my private life private. However, as a couple, our lives have changed significantly and Ana is the catalyst of that change. She has made us… different. I can’t continue to be the miser that I once was because I’ve married a social butterfly and I can’t keep her in a cage.
I finally take a chance and look in the mirror today. Most of the bruising on my face is gone except for the eye that was swollen shut. Now there’s some deep red bruising under the eye and that’s pretty much the end of it. A few more ice packs and a couple more days of Gail’s tea and you won’t even know that I’ve been in a fight. My teeth aren’t even tender anymore, after only two days, but that could be the pain killers. Either way, things are really looking up.
Or so I thought…
I’m examining the list of names of people whose heads will roll at that Mercer Island insane asylum we were originally transported to last week when the intercom at my desk beeps to notify me of two-way communications.
“Are you alone, sir?” Jason voice inquires through the speaker. Well, if I weren’t, that would certainly arouse suspicion.
“Yes, I am. Why do you ask?”
“Sir, we’ve got a situation out here at the front gate. You’re either going to need to come out here and handle it, or we’re going to need to bring it to you.” I need to handle it? Why the hell do I have security if I need to handle something at the front gate?
“What the hell is going on, Jason? Why can’t you handle it?”
“Cholometes, Boss. He’s here.” He’s here? At my home?
“What the fuck is he doing here? He’s on the proscribed list! Get him the fuck out of here.”
“I can do that, Sir, but he has already guaranteed me that it’s going to take half our staff, a lot of noise and a lot of undue attention. There will more than likely be cameras here faster than we can blink and what’s worse is that there would be no way to keep the situation away from Her Highness and this fucker knows that.”
“Temper, temper, Taylor,” I hear Cholometes say.
“Don’t address me, you fucking worm,” I hear Jason retort. “You’re a clear and present danger, an immediate threat, and you’re making my goddamn job harder. We have the same tactical training and I know a few things that you don’t, so don’t fucking test me!”
Whoa! Jason is pissed, and I’m sure if he could get away with it, he’d leave that man for dead right where he stands. He’s right, though. The paparazzi is never far away just waiting for something to happen, and a brawl at the front gate of Grey Crossing with someone being forcibly removed, served up, and ready to talk is perfect front page fodder. We’d never get any peace from the never-ending hell he could stir up. On top of that, the unwanted fanfare—for lack of a better word—would probably send my wife’s blood pressure through the goddamn roof.
For that same reason, I can’t meet his ass at the goddamn gate. It would look like a fucking drug drop, but what’s to stop him from unleashing hell if I allow him into my home?
Possible hell that can be contained inside the house versus certain hell at the front gate in the public eye. Butterfly’s blood pressure. What a choice.
I could sneak him around the back into the study, see what the hell he wants and get his ass out of here. No matter what I do, this will not turn out well.
“I don’t want him here. I don’t want him showing up at my home whenever he feels like it,” I say. “I won’t have him holding me hostage with threats and tidbits anymore. I don’t fucking care.”
“You won’t see me again after we finish this,” he says. He can hear me? Good.
“Your word doesn’t mean shit to me!” I say. “Your second threw in the towel which means I wasn’t supposed to hear from you now, you worthless, lying piece of shit. Yet, you’re on my property threatening disquiet. I should have you arrested and let that make the news!” I hiss.
“You don’t want to do that, Boss,” Jason says.
“Yeah, you should listen to him, Boss,” Cholometes taunts.
“One more smart ass comment out of you and you won’t be able to talk for a week and I don’t care who you call once you regain the ability to speak.” Jason’s voice is controlled and vicious and I can only assume by the obvious silence that Cholometes must have reconsidered trying his hand.
I know what Jason is referring to. Cholometes has too much on us for us to set him loose on a police station. We have stuff on him, too, but tempting the hands of fate is something that we don’t want to do.
“You have ten minutes,” I hiss. “After this, I swear on my life if I see you anywhere near me, my family, or my home, I will shoot you with a Bazooka!” Nothing. “Bring him around the back—through the barbecue kitchen. Make sure that Butterfly is not in her office, the parlor, or anywhere nearby when you bring him in. I don’t want him seeing her or talking to her. She’s made it quite clear that he’s dead to her.”
“Yes sir.” Jason ends the call and no doubt, begins the death march.
I don’t want him here. I don’t fucking want him here. Why didn’t I just tell them to make him leave? Shit, what the fuck is wrong with me? This man is nothing but headache and trouble. Why didn’t I just tell security to get him the fuck off my property? He’s bad news. He’s nothing but bad, bad news. This is going to end badly. I know it is!
He’s escorted into my study by three members of security and Jason is tucked away very nearby. He’s not standing as tall as I’m accustomed to seeing him and he’s laboring a bit in his movement. He’s still in pain. I may still be sporting a bit of my bruising, which is quickly healing thanks to Gail’s tea. Even my gums aren’t as sore as when they first wired my teeth together two days ago. Amazingly, they barely bother me at all, but a week later, he’s still hurting.
“I’m surprised you agreed to see me,” he comments.
“I’m surprised you came,” I respond, dryly. “Why are you here?”
“I promised that this would be the last that you would see of me, and it will, but first we have some unfinished business. I’m coming to collect on our wager,” he says confidently. I frown.
“Excuse me?” I scoff. “Were we in the same fight? Last I checked, Jason wasn’t the one who signaled my surrender!”
“The way I see it, I won that fight. I haven’t been off work for several days—you have. Our deal was that if I won that fight, you would buy me a house anywhere I wanted to live, even if it was next door to you.” This guy is unbelievable.
“You can barely walk,” I observe. I’ve seen some delusional fuckers in my life but this one takes the cake! “So you bruised the façade, which is almost all healed up and knocked a couple of teeth loose, which are pretty again…” I flash my perfect winning smile at him, “still all mine, by the way. You’re in so much pain, you can’t even straighten your back! If a good, stiff wind comes by, you look like you’ll crumble at my feet, yet you have the audacity to be standing here—oh, I’m sorry—leaning here declaring victory?” I ask incredulously.
“You couldn’t even show your face in public for a whole week, Grey,” he taunts. “So you got a couple of solid body blows. So what? I put you out of commission! Your multibillion-dollar empire had to run without its golden boy. Why? Because you were too embarrassed to show people what I did to you!”
It’s at this moment that I realize I’m arguing with the schoolyard bully. He takes pleasure in antagonizing and he’s never going to stop. It was a huge mistake letting him in here and Butterfly is going to have my balls in a sling if she finds out. It’s time to get him out of here, but not before one last nail in the coffin.
“You’re right,” I concede. “You didn’t have to hide your face for several days. Even though Welch threw in your towel so that I could stop beating the hell out you while you were curled up helplessly on the floor, you didn’t have to spend an entire day and night in the hospital recuperating. Oh, you spent some time in observation as I understand it, but you weren’t blinded and helpless. You’re absolutely correct, I lost—but I didn’t lose the fight. When evenly matched, you’re not a better fighter and you didn’t beat me up, because I beat your ass and that can’t be disputed. I lost because my beautiful wife stayed up all night and didn’t get any sleep because she was so worried about me; because the only way that I could sleep was nestled between her bosom and her baby bump while she partially sat up in bed. I lost because my beautiful wife’s blood pressure skyrocketed the next day because I collapsed at her feet. I lost because my beautiful wife spent the night in the hospital at risk of losing our children and is still on permanent watch until the babies are born.”
I pause for a moment and watch his pupils constrict as I describe what his actions did to Butterfly, not what they did to me. I can take a beating, Sport, but in your efforts to deface me, did you really consider what it would do to Ana? Now it’s time for the death blow. Finish him!
“In short, I didn’t lose because of what you did to me, Brian. I lost because of what you did to Ana. So I concede that victory to you without exception or protest, because if I had this to do all over again—seeing the results of what happened to my life-mate because of it—I would walk away. I would let you say and do whatever you wanted from now to eternity to protect her from this. So, go ahead. Bask in your victory, and every time you look at your property, you’ll remember what you did to Ana. So where do you want your house, because I will keep my word.”
“You most certainly will not!” I turn to see a very angry, pregnant woman come marching into the room. I hear a change in her voice, one that I haven’t heard in a while. I hear that gentle authority underneath a controlled and angry exterior. Oh, shit…
My Domme is here.
I swallow hard. I don’t know how to react right now. I don’t know how I feel about Cholometes seeing this—seeing us—but right now, it doesn’t matter. I have to take cues from her, from my Mistress, or I’m certain that I’ll regret it.
Cholometes and I both stand silent, a bit awestruck, as she strides into the room. She’s wearing a striped dress that fits from neck to knee and a pair of strappy high-heeled sandals. Her hair is pulled back with her bang hanging to the side and swooped back into a mile-long ponytail. She looks completely luscious with her full breasts, round hips and baby bump on full display—covered, but deliciously showcased in this sexy cotton dress. She sashays into the room with the confidence and majesty of a queen, and I have to stop myself from falling to my knees in front of her. She throws a look at me to let me know exactly who I’m dealing with. I fight not to hold my head down in front of Cholometes, but after that gaze I’m careful not to make eye contact with her without permission.
Yes, Mistress… anything you want, Mistress.
“You’re seriously standing in my home expecting a prize for what you did to him?” she says with a menacing calm. “It’s not enough that you caused us both mental and physical anguish? It’s not enough that I’m at risk of losing my babies over this? You still want more? You’re an even bigger monster than I thought.”
Oh, she’s playing this man like a violin. She has shifted from controlled Domme to battered and bruised love interest, horrified by the acts of her suitor.
“That wasn’t my intention, Ana,” he responds, his voice small.
“No? What was your intention, then?” she asks, putting her hands on her round hips and accentuating her beautiful shape. God, give me strength. I had almost forgotten what it was like to have her dominate me, and I’m nearly panting with this display. I got just a small taste of it the other night, but nothing like the power and authority that she’s emanating at this moment.
“I’ll admit that I did take my frustrations out on him. I did want to hurt him and I did want to send a message, but I swear to God that I never meant to hurt you or cause harm to your babies.” Mistress scoffs angrily.
“You’re kidding, right?” she says with no mirth. “I made it clear to you months ago that anything you do to that man, you do to me! I was damn near hysterical when I made you stand in my living room at Escala and swear to me that you would protect him, and what did you do? You pounded him in his face—several times! Yeah, you took a little trip in the ER. Some little doctor poked you in your sides and told you to go home and rest because he got more body blows on you than the law allows. We had to spend the night in the hospital because you hit him repeatedly in the most vulnerable part of his body with intention of deforming him. You were deliberately vicious and malicious and you know it. He lost his equilibrium, temporarily lost his sight, and you grossly disfigured him. After promising to protect him, you send him home in a state where he nearly had to be carried up the stairs and his face such a fright that his own mother winced when she saw it. You two can debate all you want who won that fight, but he’s right about one thing—I’m the biggest loser here! I’m the one who laid awake all night crying and reliving every blow he took to his face even though I wasn’t there. I’m the one who had to fight who had to fight with incompetent nursing staff while eight months pregnant in a high risk situation because of all this. I’m the one who had to pretend I was well so that we could be transported to a real hospital without incident. What’s more, on top of all of that, I’m the one who had to look at my beloved husband—bruised and beaten, trying to hide the pain, blinded and terrified and struggling with his speech. I’m the one who had to take care of him, put the eye drops in his eyes, and treat his wounds and you have the balls to stand here and look me in the eye and tell me that you didn’t mean to hurt me? What did you expect—for me to throw a fucking party?”
Please, Mistress. Please don’t get upset. Remember your blood pressure.
As if she felt my pleas, she closes her eyes and takes a deep breath… and my Mistress returns.
“Ana, you have to know how much I care for you,” he says, a last ditch effort to win my Mistress’ affections, no doubt. “I know you love him. I understand that, but I love you, too, and I just don’t want to see you hurt by him.” He loves her. He told my wife—my mistress—that he loves her.
“Hurt by him!” she says appalled. “Christian has done nothing but protect and love me from the day we first proclaimed our feelings for one another, and you’re worried about me being hurt by him?”
“Like when he called the wedding off?” he retorts. Mistress freezes for a moment. “Didn’t think I knew about that, did you?” Mistress throws a diamond-and-platinum-clad left hand up to his face.
“Mrs. Grey!” she declares, jerking her hand violently in his face on each word. “Mrs. Christian Grey, you pathetic, obsessive, desperate, deaf idiot! Anastasia Rose Grey, you moron! Grey! That’s what it says on my driver’s license; that’s what it’ll say on my tombstone! Grey!” That’s not a nice visual.
“She was pregnant, Ana.” Mistress falls silent. Oh shit… Naomi. Now, he decides to bring up Naomi. Finish the story, asshole. She’ll think she was pregnant when she died!
“Who was pregnant?” she asks, waving her hands.
“Naomi.” Mistress immediately looks over her shoulder at me. That’s my cue.
“Cholometes came to my office to inform me that Naomi was pregnant last year two weeks after we split up. That’s what started the fight,” I say.
“Because she was pregnant?” she says, now on a fact-finding mission.
“No, because he just wanted something else to hold over my head,” I conclude. She pauses for a moment.
“You knew about this?” she asks me.
“No,” I reply. Cholometes scoffs. We both glance at him before Mistress turns her expecting glare back to me. “I didn’t know until he brought me the news last week.”
“You usually know everything about your…” She stops short from saying it. I don’t want him to think he has something else to hold over my head.
“He knows.” I glare at him. “Don’t you, Bri?” I hiss. He looks obviously uncomfortable as Mistress throws side glances at both of us. “Yes, I do usually know everything about my ex-submissives…” Her head jerks back to me. “… But I didn’t know this.” She turns slowly to Cholometes.
“You did the research. Where’s the kid?” she barks. Cholometes is taken aback and momentarily struck dumb while Mistress glares at him awaiting an answer. After what feels like an eternity of silence, she demands, “Well? If my children have a brother or sister out there, I want to know where they are!”
“She… lost the baby,” he mutters. Mistress folds her arms. She’s getting angrier by the second. Pressure, Mistress.
“Excuse me?” she asks incredulously.
“She had a miscarriage. That’s how I discovered the pregnancy.” Mistress does the angry bobble-head thing, her expression ending in gaping-mouthed disbelief.
“Pregnant two years ago and she had a miscarriage?” Cholometes doesn’t respond. “No baby? Nothing? No lost, wandering heir to the Grey fortune?” Still nothing. Mistress scoffs loudly, disgusted. “What the fuck good does this information do for me now? I didn’t even know the man, yet. What purpose could this possibly serve?”
“I… just thought you might have wanted to know,” he says hopefully. She examines him with an expression and emotion on her face that I can only describe as pure hatred. Her brow furrows deeply and her hatred is now mixed with confusion and disbelief.
“So this—ALL of this…” She’s waving her hands dramatically and frantically in the air… She’s loud and her blood pressure is obviously rising. “… The hospital stays, the brutal beating, my health and the risk to my babies, the stress and the worry, people could lose their jobs; his teeth are wired together, for fuck’s sake—all of this was because you wanted to hold some dead girl’s poor, dead baby from over a year ago over his head?”
Fucking hell. I mean it really is pathetic, but when she puts it like that… And again, Cholometes has no response.
“You worthless bag of flesh!” she spits. OUCH, that hurt! “You haven’t learned a damn thing from this experience, have you? Why did you think I would want to know something like that? Why would I possibly want to know something like that? What—did you think that little of me? Did you think that I was so petty that I would care that I wasn’t carrying Christian Grey’s first child? I’ve always been prepared that some desperate woman is going to show up with a child that she’s been hiding from him. I thought you knew me better than that, Brian! Have you forgotten my story? Have you forgotten that I’m tainted goods? That I was pregnant before, too—that these are not the first occupants of this here condo?”
She’s gesturing madly to her stomach and our children. She’s talking about the rape and the baby she lost and even though she’s standing here as my Mistress, I have to resist the urge to grab her and shake her and declare that she is not tainted goods!
“Ana…” Cholometes begins.
“Shut up!” she commands! He silences immediately. He’s obeying my Domme. This situation is quickly getting out of hand. “You have nothing else to say that I want to hear… ever!” This is about to get heated and I need backup or I may end up in the hospital again. I quickly pull out my phone and shoot off a text to Jason, shoving it back in my pocket before Mistress sees me.
**Get in here now***
“No more talking from you, now, you listen,” she commands again. I swear he looks a bit weak in the knees at her tone of voice. He’s as ready to take position two right now as I am. “I’m going to let you in on a little information that you probably already know, since you know every goddamn thing else. Fifty percent of what he owns belongs to me, sixty-five if we part. If he buys you property—if he so much as buys you a ballpoint pen—I will sue you and him for ownership of whatever he purchases for you.” He stifles a gasp.
“Why are you so shocked, Brian?” she asks coolly. “Did you expect me to condone this little transaction? This wasn’t business, this was personal. That means it completely affects me.”
She walks over to him and stands in his face. She has her back to me, but she’s breaths away from him. He looks down into her face with… what? I can’t explain…
Oh, fuck! I know that look! He’s frozen. His lips are parted and he’s trying not to pant. His hands are cupped at his sides and he couldn’t move if he wanted to. He’s in full sub mode afforded an opportunity most submissives don’t get—to look into the eyes of their Domme… my Domme… my Mistress. She could control with a word him right now. Stop, Mistress! Please, stop! If you’re trying to make him go away, this won’t do it. He’s even more intrigued now.
“The fact that you’re expecting a prize for this is just beyond me, but I’m not concerned with it anymore. Unless you hold a contract that says he owes you a house, you can forget it, buddy. Now, wherever you found the guts to come to my house, drop them at the gate on your way out, because you won’t be needing them anymore. I meant it when I said that I never want to see you again and I certainly don’t want you contaminating my home. What you did to me and my family is irreparable and unforgivable, and if you say that you didn’t mean to do it, then you should have thought about that before you did it. If you come to my home ever again, I will have you arrested for trespassing.” She turns to leave and sees Jason standing in the door, who made it to my study in record time.
“Get him out of my house, now!” she hisses and Jason nods. She turns back to Cholometes.
“I knew somebody like you once,” she says, standing there with her arms to her side in the door of my study, draped in an aura of regality. “Two people in fact. They were both just as delusional as you are—still are, I think. Both of them are spending the better part of the rest of their lives in prison. One had an accomplice. He’s dead, now. Don’t end up like them… just in case you get any not-so-bright ideas!” Good God almighty. Her voice is soft, almost soothing, but her words cut like Laertes’ poisoned sword.
“Anastasia… I would never…” he begins.
“Save it!” she snaps. “You’re the enemy now. I don’t trust you anymore. When I see you coming, you mean me no good. If you’re ever coming for me, if you’re ever seeking revenge on my family which means you’re seeking it on me, have the decency to come at me in the open. Don’t sneak around corners or come at me with information or blackmail me or ambush me. Just come at me head on and empty both barrels! Put me out of my misery—don’t make me suffer this way! Even criminals are spared cruel and unusual punishment!”
Cholometes is struck completely dumb, an awestruck expression on his face and not a good one. Mistress turns her glare to me.
“I’ll deal with you later,” she threatens before she carries that beautiful body out of the room. Her words hang in the air after she leaves, a promise of what is to come.
Three men stand staring at the door my Mistress just exited—silent. You can’t even hear us breathing, that is until Colostomy tries to quietly release his breath. Jason and I both turn to him, expecting. Balls in your court, asshole.
“I…” He’s nearly choking on his words. He’s not emotional, but he’s rattled—clearly rattled. “I won’t bother you and your family anymore.” He shakily pushes the words out of his chest before brushing past Jason and out of my study. Jason frowns at me and I return his frown with an impassive gaze. I’m still verklempt from the display from my Mistress. He falls in behind Cholometes to show him to the door and I finally release the breath that I’ve been holding all this time.
I blindly watch the scenery passing by outside the window of the Audi as we cross the bridge on the I-90. The water is usually very soothing to me, but not today. Today, I’m livid and quite inconsolable. I want to hit something. I want to have one of those sparring sessions with a heavy bag that leave me limp, useless, and breathless. Yet another reason why I want to hurry up and have my children already. I’m too pissed off to even cry.
How the fuck did that asshole get into my house? Christian had to let him in—Christian and his band of Merry fucking Men. Nobody gets into Grey Crossing without their permission. Nobody even gets onto the goddamn grounds without them knowing. He’s supposed to be on the proscribed list! He wasn’t even supposed to get past the fucking gate. How the hell did he get into the house?
They had to sneak him in. I know they did. They had to conspire and sneak that fucker into my goddamn house. After everything he’s already put us through, these genius idiots somehow thought it was a good idea to let this asshole into my goddamn home. Am I the only one with an ounce of sense in this equation? Seriously, my husband had to have his teeth wired together! This is just unbelievable to me. Then to find out that all of this stemmed from the fact that this worthless piece of shit ignited this whole thing from a perfectly useless piece of information that would have done no good or harm even to absolutely no one—no one anywhere dead or alive! The woman is dead. The baby is gone! There’s no proof whatsoever that the baby was even Christian’s! His only purpose was to cause problems and doubt and issues in my marriage.
Oh, I could just fucking kill him right now!
And Christian! Ugh, Christian! You fucking fell for it! You and your macho, bravado, Master of the Universe, control in all things, bring a boardroom to its knees, never let ‘em see you sweat attitude… You completely lost your cool because of the threat of the rumor of a baby from a prior relationship with a girl who isn’t even alive anymore because your biggest rival for my affections—who, by the way, doesn’t stand a snowball’s fucking chance in hell of getting close to me—could maybe have something else that he could hold over your head… again. What about when that’s done? There’s going to be something else, and something else, and something else. You’re a billionaire with a lot of rivals for a lot of things—romantic, business, just plain don’t like your looks. This is never going to end.
We’ve had this conversation. There’s always going to be somebody waiting in the rafters with some kind of ticking time bomb waiting to explode all over our perfect little lives. There’s always going to be a boogey man around the corner or a monster under the bed. The key to staying sane throughout this journey is that we don’t allow them to win. Yet, my master and protector did just that and let this sucker disturb our peace with this pointless endeavor that served only to land us both in the hospital and disrupt our lives.
My master and protector… so quick to punish me when I do something to jeopardize my health or safety.
I need to stay away from the house today. I’m angry and acting out of anger is never good. I’m glad I don’t feel like crying, though. Lord knows, I’ve had enough of that shit.
“Is everything alright, Ana?” Grace asks when I come back into my office after the tour with the state board officials.
“Yes, everything’s fine. Why do you ask?” I may have been a bit enthusiastic about my tasks today to keep my mind off the situation at home. The last thing I want is to talk to my mother-in-law about her son and his asinine adventures as a wayward control freak.
“You just seem a bit out of sorts today,” she observes. Just a bit?
“Did I say something wrong?” I didn’t screw up the tour, did I?
“Oh, no. You were very thorough. I would say that our certification should be a shoo-in after this. I must say, you were quite enthusiastic with making sure all of our bases were covered. I think the representatives were quite impressed.”
“Well, a lot of people have worked very hard to bring this to fruition,” I say, which is true. “A lot of work and preparation has gone into making sure that we’ve brought the building up to code and that we have the appropriate people on staff. With the proper accreditation, we can get state funding in addition to the fundraising that we currently do. That can open so many doors for us. I just want to make sure that everything falls into place.”
“No one has worked as tirelessly as you in such a short amount of time,” she says. “I just wonder if you may want to consider slowing down a bit.” I chuckle at her.
“That will come soon enough, Grace,” I say, taking a seat at my desk. “I’ll be grounded for while once the twins are born and then I’ll have to regroup all over again.”
“Yes, but you’re going to need to rest before the twins get here,” she chides. “Once they’re here, trust me, you’re going to have your hands full. One baby is lot of work. You’re going to have two.”
“Yes, but I’ll have help, too,” I remind her. She smiles at me.
“Trust me. Take a break before the babies are born. You’ll thank me for it,” she says with a knowing smirk. “So how’s Courtney-watch going? I know it’s early, but I haven’t seen her today.”
“That’s because unless she’s hiding somewhere, she’s not here,” I say, looking at my watch. “She’s not ambitious enough to find a task to do on her own or go in search of somewhere to be useful. I was going to file a few notes about today’s tour and check in with Marilyn to see if she has located her…” Almost as if I summoned her, Marilyn comes into my office with her iPad in hand.
“No sign of her. Nobody’s seen her or heard from her,” she says. I check my watch. It’s nearly 3pm.
“Were you posted at the door at 1:00 like I asked?”
“From one to two, just like you said,” she says. “Security was on watch when I left to look around and see if I could find her and Felix said she never showed up.” I sigh and call Addie.
“Hey, Ana,” she answers. “Is my granddaughter misbehaving again?”
“I don’t know. She’s not here,” I respond.
“Not there?” she says after a beat. “She left here at noon saying that she was going to the Center.”
“Well, she still hasn’t gotten here. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, please make sure she’s okay and nothing has happened to her,” I say calmly. “It’s only been a couple of hours. I was doing a tour with some representatives from the state licensing board. I had Marilyn waiting at the door for her for an hour, so it’s not like she could slip by. Any ideas where she might be?”
“She could be anywhere,” Addie says calmly, “and while you want to give her the benefit of the doubt, I’m certain that she’s somewhere she shouldn’t be since she should be there with you!” I don’t have time for this. I’m already dealing with issues of my own; I’m not going to deal with this spoiled little girl. I sigh heavily.
“Suspend her debit and credit cards and turn off her cell phone. If she’s in trouble, the police will call you. If she’s not, she’ll be home in an hour—maybe two.” I wait for Addie’s response.
“Cut right to the chase,” she says. “And the trust fund?”
“Ten thousand down and one month added for every hour from this moment that it takes her to contact you; fifty thousand extra if she lies to you; six months more if she gives you lip.” She whistles.
“You’re pretty brutal,” she says, matter-of-factly.
“I think I’m being generous,” I say, flatly. “I haven’t resorted to monthly stipends, yet, and those can go down to an hourly wage.” She hisses.
“I’d hate to get on your bad side,” Addie says.
“So we’re in agreement?”
“We are. No doubt, your disgruntled student will be there tomorrow.”
“No doubt. Let’s plan to have lunch within the next couple of weeks. Correspond with Marilyn—of course, she knows my schedule better than I do. Hopefully, we’ll be able to discuss some progress. If not, a new, more stringent strategy…”
“Or a plane ticket back east.” I get the feeling that this is Ms. Courtney’s last chance.
“Decisions, decisions,” I say. “I’ll let you know if she shows up.”
“I won’t hold my breath,” Addie says. “I’ll talk to you later.” We end the call and I look up at Marilyn and Grace’s questioning eyes.
“Well, it looks like Courtney has decided not to grace us with her presence today,” I inform them.
“Well, that’s obvious, but where is she?” Marilyn asks.
“Addie doesn’t know,” I reply. “She’s certain she’s out up to no good, though, so she’s cutting off her credit cards and her cell phone service to sniff her out.”
“What was that about the ten thousand and the fifty thousand?” Grace asks. I’m pretty sure she already knows, though.
“Her trust fund,” I say. “I’ve been holding it hostage so to speak to ensure her cooperation since it’s the only thing that makes her behave. I don’t know what made her think she could ditch today and she wouldn’t pay for it—figuratively and literally—but she’s about to find out.” I make some notes on my calendar and sync with my iPad and Marilyn’s.
“Mare, please call and make sure that we’re on schedule for the deliveries and the grocery line of credit for Radcliffs. Make sure the stores call before they make the deliveries. One of the deliveries was refused and I think they may have had the wrong address.”
“I think not, Bosslady,” Marilyn says. “I got a call from the baby boutique this morning. They said that their delivery was refused, too. I double-checked the address and it’s correct. They said that some guy told them that they didn’t order it and refused to accept the delivery.” I frown.
“So what did they do with the baby items?” I ask.
“I had them reroute them to Grey Crossing until we could figure out what was going on. I called Chance and told him to expect them. I didn’t want to bother you with it until the tours were complete.” I nod.
“You did right,” I said, dialing Thelma Radcliff’s number. I get the message that the phone has been disconnected. “Great, now we can’t even call before we make deliveries.” My hand goes to my scar. It irritates me a bit these days when I’m irritated. “We may need a plan B. I’m not sure what’s going on, but I don’t want to send deliveries out there if they’re being refused. Maybe her husband thinks the items are actually being delivered to the wrong place and he doesn’t want to be responsible for the goods if they are.” I sigh. “Call the vendors and find out who can hold the deliveries until after the weekend. Christian and I will be visiting them on Sunday and we’ll straighten the whole thing out.”
“Anyone who insists on making the delivery?” she asks.
“I’m sure that no one will, but if they do, reroute the delivery to Grey Crossing—unless it’s furniture. If it’s furniture, get a refund. We’ll take our business elsewhere.” She nods.
“You got it, Bosslady.”
“I’ll be in the dorms if you need me,” I say, rising from my desk. “Grace, would you like to join me?”
“Sure,” she says, falling in step behind me.
We check in on the families in the dorms, making sure that they are comfortable and that they feel safe at the center. We always keep track of if any of them have heard from violent spouses or significant others, although that’s not why every family is here. Some of them have just fallen on hard times. I’m happy to discover that one of our families—a mother and her three sons—have transitioned on to a new apartment. She has secured employment and the family is doing very well. We’ve expanded the dorm space a bit, so we have room for more families. Everyone works together to keep the area clean and tidy, and some of the mothers that are still looking for work will even help out around the center and will offer to babysit while others have job interviews. We’ll have licensed day care once all of our permits are approved, which I’m sure will be in no time, or at least I hope so. It’s something that I would like to see come together before the babies are born and I have to take my maternity leave.
My tasks are now all complete for the day and I must turn my attention back to home and my insubordinate husband. I’m not angry anymore, but I’m still highly displeased. I feel like he takes leave of his senses when it comes to Brian and we can’t have that keep happening. One day, this cock-strut-pissing-contest these two keep having could end up being very dangerous. He promised me that he wouldn’t take undo chances and he broke that promise to get a piece of Brian. After the pain and distress Brian caused us, he let that snake in our house… and for what? I still don’t know. Do my wishes and pleas mean nothing to him? Are my words ineffectual?
We’ll just see about that.
I stop by my office and make a quick call. I need some things and they’re going to take some discretion that I don’t have being shadowed everywhere I go. Christian and his Merry Men!
“Ben, I need to go to Escala,” I tell him when I get into the car. He turns around to look at me, his eyes questioning and I already know what he’s thinking.
“Ben, listen carefully,” I begin, my voice clipped. “I am making a stop at an address that I own. I would like to pick up some things. I’ll be meeting someone there who will be bringing these things to me. I’ll be home soon enough, and my husband will very soon know who that someone is. In the meantime, if there are no fires, floods, or hurricanes, I would appreciate it if we could just for once eliminate the lights and sirens that accompany reporting my every move to my husband and your boss—or am I the only one from whom our security staff is privy to keep secrets, like allowing someone from the proscribed list into my home?”
My tone and impatience catches him off guard and his instant loss of color alerts me that he was one of the Merry Men in on the Brian Smuggle.
“Yes, ma’am,” he says, and without another word, he turns around and starts the car.
Escala seems so cold and empty. Nothing is missing that I can see. Everything is still here. All of the furniture at the mansion is new, but there’s no warmth here. There’s no life, it seems. Even when I go back to my condo, it feels a little warm and homey—kind of foreign because I haven’t been there for a while, but certainly not cold. Escala feels… I don’t know, commercial, for lack of a better word.
I go to our bedroom and get a large tote bag. I go to the utility room behind the stairs and retrieve the keys that I know are there. After ascending the stairs, I unlock the door to the first room on the right. Everything is just how we left it—a bit dusty, but still intact. I select the items that I need and load them into the tote bag before closing and locking the door behind me. When I return the key to utility room, I notice that one very large item is missing.
“Ben,” I say, coming back to the great room. “Do you know where Christian’s piano is?”
“He had it moved to the mansion, this afternoon, in fact,” he answers. Boy, talk about timing.
“Is that why you were looking at me strangely?” I ask.
“Some, yes, but you were partially correct. I did want to call Jason. Still do.” I think he’s asking for permission. Well, I’m not giving it to him.
“We won’t be much longer,” I tell him, placing my tote on the sofa and looking at my phone. Just as I’m about to text my expected guest, my phone rings.
“Dahling, can you come and get me? The Queen’s Guard won’t let me pass.”
“Hand him the phone please.” A few moments later, “Front desk.”
“Marc, it’s Mrs. Grey. Please let him up.”
“Passcode, please, Mrs. Grey.” I have to give it to him since he didn’t call the landline. We came through the garage, so he didn’t see us come in.
“Zero nine one two two five,” I say confirming the code.
“Thank you Mrs. Grey.” A few moments later. “See you in a sec.”
“In a minute.” I end the call. “You’ll be out of your misery soon, Ben.” A minute or so later, there’s a knock at the door. I walk to the door and open it.
“Michel, it’s been ages,” I say, reaching my hands out to him.
“Stacy, you’re with child! How did I not know this?” he says, stepping in and giving me air kisses.
“My best-kept secret I guess, and it’s children,” I say, rubbing my baby bump. “Please come in.” He steps in rolling a travel bag behind him. “Is all of that for me?”
“Yes, Dahling. Freshly packaged and ready to use. It’s easier to travel this way. Prying eyes, you know.”
“Oh boy, do I know. What do I owe you?” I ask, reaching for my purse.
“Oh, no, no, no,” he says, holding up his hand. “We’re much more civilized than that. I’ll email you the invoice, Dahling. You pay it on my website. You can use your card or a PayPal pseudonym, whichever works for you.” I smile.
“You’re a doll for coming through on such short notice, Michel. Thank you,” I say sincerely.
“Anytime my dear. How did your last… situation work out?” he asks.
“Like a charm. I plan on employing those tactics again. We’ll have to see how that works out.” He sighs dramatically.
“Oh, how I wish I could stick around for the dirty deets, but I have to go. Cupid needs help all over the city. Now listen, once those beautiful buns are born, we’re going to have to have lunch or tea or something and you’re going to have to show me those wedding pictures. I’m still so miffed that I wasn’t invited!”
“Well, you know how that is,” I say, waving him off. “We won’t even get into the fight that was the wedding list.”
“You don’t have to tell me,” he says, giving me more air kisses and heading for the door. “Love you mean it!” he yells before heading to the elevator.
“Love you more!” I wave after him. Once he’s gone, I grab the tote with the remainder of my necessary items in it and head for the door, rolling the travel bag behind me.
“I should check that,” Ben says, gesturing to my travel bag.
“Not on your life,” I say, walking out the door and summoning the elevator.
I was able to get into the house and up to the bedroom without being discovered. I know that Mr. Grey won’t come looking for me until I call for him. I’m sure of it. He doesn’t know what to expect. He has a good idea, but I’m certain that he’s not ready for what I have in mind.
I empty the items from the tote and travel bags, cleaning what needs to be cleaned and opening what needs to be opened discarding the packaging and arranging items as I plan to utilize them—my first items, clothing and toiletries.
I take a long, delicious shower, gently cleansing every inch of my body with a vanilla and cinnamon body wash. It smells so good that I almost want to kiss myself. I know the fragrance will drive my poor husband out of his mind. I’m counting on it.
I dry off and cover my skin with the vanilla and cinnamon lotion that accompanies the body wash. It smells even better than the soap. It’s doing wonders to get me in the perfect mood. When I step into the boy shorts, stockings, and stilettos, I feel so sexy… I haven’t felt this sexy in months! I slide into my lingerie—long, black, sheer, and barely there. A deep burgundy stain adorns my lips as I saunter into my sitting room and double-check the items I have arranged there on the mantle and the ottoman. I have specific plans for the large chair and maybe even the floor. I haven’t decided about the bedroom yet.
I go to my dressing room and take one final look at myself, clad in black from head to toe save my burgundy-stained lips. My negligee drapes over my stomach and my hips are round and inviting, my breasts swollen and plump, my nipples dark and protruding from the thin fabric. I look fertile and ripe, luscious. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so sensuous in my entire life. I don’t know what it is, but I’m glad it’s here. I go back to the sitting room and turn the lights down to a gentle glow.
“Activate two-way communications.” Beep. “Locate Christian Grey.”
“Yes?” His voice sounds surprised, like I may have been interrupting him.
“Mr. Grey, I need to see you in the bedroom,” I command and wait for his answer. Five, four, three, two, one. “Mr. Grey?” I repeat, impatiently.
“On my way!” he replies, nearly panting. I can’t tell what happens next, but I hear Jason call his name and he has obviously forgotten to deactivate the two-way. Jason is questioning him about what’s going on and what he’s going to do about my obvious unhappy mood.
“I don’t know, but the longer I keep her waiting…” Mr. Grey says, beseeching Jason to allow him to leave.
“Go, man, go,” I hear Jason taunt, and not thirty seconds later, I hear eager feet pattering up the staircase.
Run, Forrest, run…
A/N: “Laertes poisoned sword”—in the fight scene at the end of Hamlet, Laertes and Hamlet are supposed to be having a friendly display-type duel—like fencing—but King Claudius convinces Laertes to dip his sword in poison, which is ironic because Laertes, Hamlet, and Claudius all end up being cut by the sword and dying.
“Band of Merry Men”—the Merry Men were the outlaws who followed Robin Hood. For those who don’t know, Robin Hood was an outlaw in English literature (around the 14th or 15th century Middle Ages) who lived in the woods. Very skilled with a bow and a sword, he and his band of Merry Men robbed from the rich and gave to the poor.
“Run, Forrest, run.”—Jenny from Forrest Gump. When the boys used to chase him home from school, Jenny used to call after him “Run, Forrest, run!” so that they wouldn’t catch him.
Pictures of places, cars, fashion, etc., can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/becoming-dr-grey/
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Love and handcuffs 🙂