I haven’t sent out an email yet because I need to update the mailing list and just wanted to get the story posted. So if you haven’t received an email, don’t panic—nothing’s wrong, I just didn’t send it. I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write in a while with everything going on, but this weekend I took a little time to jot down some ideas and the Muse went batshit! So many damn ideas that this story will NEVER fucking end!
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 45—More Holiday
Jason and Gail part ways with us when we leave the Fairmont. Chance and some other guy—Clements, I think his name is—follow us to Bellevue so that Ben can spend some time with his family. Luma is the first person we see when the butler lets us in and takes our coats. As usual, she’s doting on Burt, and Herman is not too far away. Herman’s fondness for Luma is a bit more obvious today. She’s wearing a beautiful, floaty tangerine dress and her hair is styled in a carefree chignon with tendrils hanging loosely about her head.
Our security unloads our gifts for everyone and takes them into the great room where the other gifts grace the Christmas tree. Our attempt at an impromptu entrance is foiled by an eager Celida leaping to her feet and running across the room.
“Hi, Mr. Christian!” she declares while streaking across the room. Christian quickly squats to her level and laughs heartily as she runs into his arms. He scoops her up as Luma watches adoringly.
“How is my girl?” Christian says and Celida beams in his arms.
“Good, Mr. Christian! I got a doll and some games and a pontuter for Christmas, but me and Riah have to share. Dat’s okay cuz I like to share with Riah. She shares with me all the time.”
“That’s very good, Celida,” he says. “Now say this with me… com-pu-ter.”
“Com-pu-ter,” Celida repeats.
“One more time.”
“Com-pu-ter,” she says.
“Very good,” Christian says, giving her a sincere, 32-tooth smile. Celida returns his smile and hugs him tight around his neck.
“I’m glad you’re here, Mr. Christian,” she says softly.
“I’m glad you’re here, too, Celida,” he says when she releases him, looking into her eyes. He points to his cheek and she gives him a little kiss. They share another little moment as Mariah comes and pats my stomach.
“Hi, Ms. Ana,” she says softly. “The babies still not here yet?” I smile down at her.
“Not yet, but soon,” I say to her sweet little face.
“I hope so,” she says. “I want to kiss them.” I can’t help my giggle.
“I want to kiss them, too,” I confess, holding her hand. “And I promise, I’ll let you know as soon as they get here.” She smiles widely.
“Okay,” she says, and she seems content with the promise. I look to my left and Celida is now at my side, beckoning me with her finger. I lean down to her and she whispers in my ear.
“I know you’re married to Mr. Christian, but when I grow up, can I marry him, too?” I have to stop myself from laughing out loud.
“Celida, you can’t marry Mr. Christian!” Mariah says, quietly. “He’s already married!” Celida’s little face falls like someone has broken her heart. I take her little hand.
“Mariah’s right,” I tell her, “but one day, you’re going to meet someone who’s really sweet and handsome, just like Mr. Christian, and then you can marry him. Until then, I’ll share Mr. Christian with you. Do you think that will be okay, Mariah?”
Mariah contemplates the idea like it needs her sincere consideration. Celida waits patiently, hopefully, for her big sister’s approval.
“I guess if it’s okay with you and it’s okay with Mr. Christian, then it should be fine,” she says. Celida smiles widely.
“I’m sure it’s okay with Mr. Christian,” I say softly, turning back at Celida who wraps her arms around me tightly, like she did Christian moments earlier.
“Thank you, Ms. Ana!” she says sincerely, and I think I just gave her another Christmas present.
“You’re welcome, Celida.” I hold my arm out to Mariah and she hugs me, too. “Thank you for your approval, Ms. Mariah.” She giggles.
“You’re welcome, Ms. Ana.” She smiles widely at me and takes her sister’s hand. Off they go to parts unknown, like we didn’t just strike up a deal on some sort of quasi-polyamorous relationship.
“What was that all about?” Christian asks when I finally stand upright.
“Oh, nothing,” I tell him. “Celida and I just agreed to become sister-wives.” I slowly look up at him and the expression that comes over his face is utterly priceless! It’s confusion and bewilderment and horror and something else that I can’t even identify. I cannot stop myself from breaking out into gut-wrenching laughter and I literally have to hold the babies in.
“What are you two doing?” Grace says as she comes from the kitchen with a tray of hors d’oeuvres.
“I think I just stunned my husband, that’s all,” I say, attempting to compose myself. Although I haven’t seen Al and James yet and wonder what’s keeping them, the next voice I hear slices my laughter right out of the air.
“Hmm, they say black is supposed to be slimming. I guess it’s not true for everyone.”
How the fuck did I not know that she was here? She’s been sitting not twenty feet from me since I walked in and I totally zoned her out. I’m not here a full ten minutes and the barracuda has started already. She’s not speaking loudly, but loud enough for me to hear her.
“Don’t start, Val,” Elliot chides, quietly.
“What?” Val hisses, annoyed.
“How can you not see anything wrong with what you just said?” he scolds.
“I’m just making a statement of fact,” she retorts, folding her arms.
“It’s opinion and it’s vicious and I want you to stop it right now!” he snaps, quietly. Luckily, the rest of the family can’t hear this exchange and I don’t think they know that I can. I discover from his expression that Christian has heard it, too. He puts his hands on my shoulders and kisses my hair.
“She or he had better keep it in check,” he says. “I will not have you upset on Christmas and I will barbeque that woman today without a second thought.” I reach back and caress his cheek, smiling like we’re sharing a special little secret.
“Let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that,” I say, sweetly before turning to Grace. “Allen and James left before I did. I don’t know what could be keeping them.”
“Oh, they’re here already. Allen went off to Carrick’s study to discuss something with him and James just went along. We’re still waiting for Amanda and Ray, though.” I frown.
“I hope everything’s okay,” I say. “Should I call Daddy?” Grace shakes her head.
“It’s still early. I wouldn’t worry just yet,” she says, squeezing my shoulder. “How are my grandchildren?”
“Resting blissfully, thank God,” I tell her as I rub my baby bump. “I feel like I’m 110 months pregnant. Please make it go away,” I whine.
“You look it, too,” Valerie says, only not as quietly as her first statement. In an instant, every eye in the room is on her, glaring at her like she’s some unwanted demon from hell. Elliot closes his eyes and sets his coffee on the table.
“Put a sock in it, Valerie,” he says, his voice menacing.
“What?” she asks in that same what did I do tone.
“What?” Elliot mocks her tone. He’s getting angry.
“I’ll tell you what…” Christian begins and instinctively, my hand shoots across in front of him. I don’t know who’s watching whom, I just know that the room is silent. My eyes are to the floor and my hand has halted my husband in his tracks like an invisible force field. No doubt, all eyes are on me. I silently walk into the dining room, away from the action and the observations. Taking a seat in one of the chairs that line the outside of the room, I take a deep breath. No fighting with Ms. Marshall today. If she wants to act like an untrained banshee from the wild, she’s going to be doing it on her own. She’s Elliot’s problem, not ours.
Christian comes into the dining room a few moments after I’ve left the great room.
“Are you okay?” he asks, squatting down in front of me.
“I’m fine,” I say, looking into his concerned gray eyes.
“Why did you stop me?” he asks.
“Because Elliot was handling it,” I tell him. “He’s the one that has to deal with her, not us.”
“But if she’s talking to you that way, making you feel uncomfortable in my parents’ home, then we have to deal with her!”
“Please,” I beseech him, “just let him deal with her, okay?” I can’t let the holiday be about Valerie. To have this happen, I could have stayed with the Davenports. Part of me wishes that I had, except that I want to see my Daddy and Mandy and Harry.
“He better deal with her, Butterfly, or I swear to God, I will,” he says firmly. I sigh.
“I know.” And there goes Christmas. At that moment, Liona comes into the dining room from the kitchen, carrying dishes for the table settings. Her eyes rest on my husband for a moment and I just sigh quietly. Here we go with this again. She surprises me, however, by straightening her stance and walking over to us.
“Mrs. Grey, Mr. Grey, Merry Christmas. Is there anything that I can get for either of you?”
To say that I’m taken aback is an understatement. Is this the same woman who was almost fired for treating me like crap because she’s in love with my husband? I think Christian is equally stunned, but he manages to find his words before I do.
“May I have a glass of water for my wife?” he asks, a bit bewildered.
“Certainly, sir,” she says with a professional nod. “Would you like ice, Mrs. Grey?”
“Yes, please,” I say softly. She nods again before doing a somewhat military turn and leaving the room through the same door she entered. Christian and I just stare at one another.
“Who is that and what has she done with Liona?” Christian asks.
“I don’t know, but let’s not question the fates. I like this person!” I tell him.
Liona brings my water back in and excuses herself to finish the Christmas preparations. I stay in the dining room until Grace comes in to check on me and tells me that my father and Amanda have arrived. I assure her that I’m okay and go back into the great room to join the rest of the family.
“We’re so sorry to be late,” Mandy says. “Harry’s teething and we were trying to get him settled a bit before we brought him out.” I see her carrying a baby seat with a little fluffy, fussy mound inside.
“Hey, Sunflower,” Daddy says, kissing me on the cheek. “How are you feeling?”
“Fine, Daddy,” I lie, “ready to have my babies,” I add as a reason for my melancholy.
“It won’t be long now, Annie,” he says sympathetically. Really, I just want to get out of the room with Valerie Marshall. I don’t want to be in the same space with her. I don’t want to be the butt of her jokes or give her any reason to say anything to or about me. I want to be anywhere but here, and any bit of attention that anyone shows me seems to fuel her fire. I even hear her sighing heavily as my father dotes on his very pregnant daughter. I’m suddenly very tired and my head hurts. I rub my scar to ease the ache a bit.
“Baby, why don’t you come over here and sit down?” Christian says, taking my mind away from my stinging scar. He sits me in a comfortable chair on the other side of the room, as far away from Ms. Marshall and her sneer as possible. In moments, Mandy is next to me.
“Do you want to hold Harry, Ana?” she says sweetly. “It’s time for him to come out of this seat for a while.” Over her shoulder, I can see Christian summoning Elliot out of the room. I turn my attention back to Mandy and she has now unwrapped my fussy little brother.
“Wow, he’s gotten so big,” I say looking into his discontent little eyes. Suddenly, the world falls away and there’s nothing but fussy little Harry. I hold out my arms to him and she puts him in my hands. He’s so wiggly and unhappy.
“You don’t want to be here, either, do you, Harry?” I say, low enough for only my brother to hear. He looks up at me as if he understood what I said. His little face frowns up and his lip pokes out as if to say, “No, sis, I don’t.” I know, Harry. It kind of sucks. I’d rather be somewhere eating ice cream or something, not sitting in a room with a woman who was once my best girlfriend and now can’t stand the sight of me.
“We’ll comfort each other, Harry,” I say, bending my legs and tucking my feet under myself in the large chair. I snuggle Harry in the crook of my arm, close against his niece and nephew, and it seems to calm him a bit. He’s still a bit discontent, though, so I sing him a little lullaby, one that no one else can understand so that it’ll just be between Harry and me…
L’était une une petite poule grise
Qu’allait pondre dans l’église
Pondait un p’tit’ coco
Que l’enfant mangeait tout chaud
L’était une p’tit’ poul’ noir
Qu’allait pondre dans l’armoire
Pondait un p’tit’ coco
Que l’enfant mangeait tout chaud
Harry is mesmerized, like he totally understands the French lullaby about a little boy eating eggs as fast as the colorful chickens could lay them.
L’était une p’tit’ poul’ blanche
Qu’allait pondre dans la grange
Pondait un p’tit’ coco
Que l’enfant mangeait tout chaud
Maybe Harry and I were both French in a prior life. Of course, that’s my running joke to explain my fascination with the French language, but wouldn’t that be something… if my brother and I were both French reincarnates and we somehow found each other in the big earth all over again? How romantically delusional, I laugh to myself.
L’était une p’tit’ poul’ rousse
Qu’allait pondre dans la mousse…
Six verses Harry sits through with me, while a gray hen laid an egg in a church and a black hen laid an egg in the closet; a white one in the barn; a red one in the moss; a beige one in the snow; and finally a brown one on the moon. And somehow, the mischievous little boy followed every chicken and ate each egg, fresh after it was laid. By the time our little galloping gourmet has finished lunar meal, Harry’s little mouth forms the perfect little “o” and widens as he squeezes his eyes shut tight.
“Êtes-vous somnolent, frère Harry?” I ask my little brother, and his little eyelids are so heavy that he can barely keep them open.
“C’est Noël,” I protest. “Les petits garçons ne dorment pas sur Noël.” My little brother cares nothing about the fact that little boys shouldn’t be sleepy on Christmas. His lids are at half-mast and he’s falling fast.
L’était une une petite poule grise
Qu’allait pondre dans l’église…
By the time we get back around to the white chicken again, Harry’s fast asleep. I remember the conversation that I had with Christian when I found out that I was pregnant, how I didn’t want to bring my children into such a hateful, spiteful, and dangerous world. Then, I remember the first time I held Harry in the hospital when they let him out of the NICU and again at Daddy’s and Mandy’s in his room… when we were formally introduced. I think we bonded that day. I told him how screwed up I was and hopefully I wouldn’t be so screwed up by the time he was old enough to really know me. Then I gave him my closest friend ever. His name was actually Fuzzy Whiskers, but at three years old, I couldn’t quite pronounce it. So he became Mr. Fuzzlewuzzers. I turned him over to Harry—he’s a dream-catcher of sorts. I’ll have to make one for my children.
I continue to sing to Harry, lost in the contentment of his little face and happy that he’s not fussing anymore. Babies may fuss, but ultimately, they bring peace…
“Come on, sleepyhead, it’s time for dinner.” Christian’s soothing voice rouses me from my sleep.
“Huh?” When did I fall asleep? I look around and realize that I’m still in the large chair the great room with Harry snuggled in my arm next to the babies. Mandy is nearby to retrieve her son.
“I didn’t have the heart to wake you,” she says, smiling, “so I figured that Harry could eat when we did.” That was nice of her.
“Thank you,” I say, handing Harry off to her and unfurling in the seat. The stretch feels so good. “I don’t know what came over me. I wasn’t even sleepy.”
“That has nothing to do with it, darling,” Mandy says. “It’s the hormones. The moment you find yourself in any kind of comfortable position, they take over.”
“It’s usually not like that unless I’m upset or under some kind of stress or…” Right at that moment, my eyes meet with Valerie’s glare. Instinctively, or maybe purposely, Christian throws himself right in my line of sight.
“Come on, Baby, let me help you up,” he says, reaching out for me. Thank God, because this chair wasn’t going to release me easily.
“Bend at the knees for heavy lifting,” Valerie says sarcastically.
“You worry about your own wide load,” Christian retorts. Valerie and I gasp at the same time.
“Christian!” I say, unable to hide my mirth.
“Hey, I’ve issued my warnings. The gloves are off. If she can dish it out, she had better be ready to take it.” He helps me effortlessly from the chair. “Light as a feather,” he says with a smile and tucks my hand into his elbow. “Now, may I escort you to dinner, Lady Anastasia?” I smile widely.
“You may, Sir Christian,” I say, following my husband to the dining room and floating on air.
Dinner is pretty uneventful in terms of Valerie and her one shots. She throws a few double entendres, but no one pays her any mind because it is truly getting old. No one knows the reason for her ire—least of all, me—and after a while she was just being treated as the spoiled little brat that she was acting like. I partially feel sorry for her, because the only ones that will engage her in conversation are Pops and Herman. Mia had more to talk about with Celida and Mariah, and Elliot is busy conversing with his family. It turns out that Daddy and Elliot knew each other before I even met Christian. They’ve worked on some projects together and still collaborate on things from time to time. Talk about six degrees of separation!
Our attention is captured by Allen gently tapping his fork on his wine glass.
“I don’t mean to interrupt coffee and dessert… well, actually I do,” he says, eliciting a laugh from the table. “I don’t really have a toast, so to speak, though it may sound like one before I’m done. I want to thank Mr. and Mrs. Grey and Chris and Jewel for inviting James and me to spend the holiday with you all. I think I speak for both of us when I say that we feel much more welcome and at home here with you than we did last Christmas.”
“Hear, hear!” James says, lifting his coffee cup, again eliciting a small murmur of laughter.
“We appreciate that you have welcomed us into your home and your hearts, without judgment. It really means a lot.” He holds his head down. “Jewel and I have been through a hell of a lot. Fifteen years now, right, Jewel?”
I nod, pursing my lips at him because I know that he’s going to make me cry.
“It ain’t been no cake walk,” he continues. “You moving to Vegas and leaving me to fend for myself… then you having to fend for yourself…”
And the tears start.
“The horrible things that happened before…” He swallows and James quickly takes his hand. “… Before you came back to us, and then the horrible… things that…” He chokes and James has to rise out of his seat to comfort him momentarily.
“I’m fine,” he says, after a few moments. “There’s a purpose… for all this, Jewel,” he says as James hands him a handkerchief. Christian’s rubbing off on you, huh, James? Al smiles at his fiancé.
“You know I have one, dear,” he says, taking the hanky and wiping his tears.
“I know,” James replies, softly. Once Al has composed himself, he reaches into his suit jacket and pulls out a thick envelope.
“With everything that’s happened, I’m very happy to see you content, in love, and starting your family, able to move on beyond all of the harrowing events that have stained your past. Although there are so many doors that still remain open, I’m glad that we can finally bring closure to one of them.” He walks around the table and hands me the envelope.
“Merry Christmas, Jewel.”
My brow furrows, but I take the envelope, gently tear it open, and begin to read:
In the Superior Court of King County, State of Washington;
Anastasia Rose Steele-Grey, Plaintiff versus Edward Robert David, Defendant;
Civil case #3:16-JU-154-KI-015
I gasp loud and long, covering my mouth. Christian puts his arm around me looks over my shoulder at the papers.
“What is it?” he asks, trying to read the papers.
“How?” I gasp.
“Keep reading,” Al says, smiling. I try to read the papers, but my eyes fill with tears. Christian takes the papers from me and begins to scan them, page after page.
“Fuck me,” he says quietly, but not quietly enough because his mother hears him.
“Christian!” she scolds firmly.
“I’m sorry, Mom, but… fuck…” Well, that was no better.
“Well, come on, Bro, don’t keep us in suspense!” Elliot says. He touches me on the shoulder as I’m nearly sobbing. I just nod. I haven’t even read the rest yet.
“It’s her judgment… against David,” he says.
“I thought he got thirty years or something,” Mia says.
“No, this is her civil judgment,” he says.
“Lawsuit?” Daddy asks. I don’t hear any answer, but Christian reads:
“It is ordered, adjudged, and decreed that Anastasia Rose Steele-Grey, Plaintiff, is granted judgment as to liability to actual damages as well as reasonable attorney’s fees to which she may be entitled to have and recover against Defendant Edward Robert David as follows: Lost wages from July 20, 2013 – August 3, 2013 totaling $9,000; Itemized medical expenses, including but not limited to Life-Flight transport from Vashon Island, hospital stay, convalescent care, medications, testing, and private specialists totaling $106,120.32; Credit card theft and recovery expenses totaling $8,417.63; Punitive damages totaling…”
He trails off. By now, Al has given me his handkerchief and I’m wiping the tears. I look up at Christian.
“Fuck me,” he says lowly again. Grace rolls her eyes, but doesn’t bother to scold him again.
“What?” I say, now impatient myself. He looks up at me and back down at the paper.
“Punitive damages totaling $4,575,500.00.” He looks back up at me. “You cleaned him out.” He looks at Al. “She cleaned him out.” I look over at Al.
“I thought he was worth six mil,” I say, bemused.
“Not after legal fees,” Al says. “He had a trial—botched up though it was—and a lawsuit. He had to pay those people.”
“We were going to settle,” I say. How did I possibly get what I asked for?
“This was the settlement,” he says. “Remember, we asked for five. He didn’t have anything left. The idea of being yours—and possibly Christian’s—veritable indentured servant should he ever see the light of day again didn’t appeal to him. So he turned over everything he had left—investments, bank accounts, retirement funds, his business, everything. The settlement is written such that you have the option to liquidate his assets and take a cash payout of the worth as a settlement, or keep them intact as is—including his business—and see if the market value and goodwill will satisfy the lawsuit.” Either way…
“I won.” I say quietly.
“You won, Jewel,” he says. “You can close this book.” I’m nearly hyperventilating. I can’t get out of my seat fast enough, but he already knows what I’m trying to do. My best friend and soul mate makes his way around the table and I throw my arms around him, holding him as close to me as I can.
“It’s over,” I breathe. “It’s over. Thank you. Thank you…” I’m so grateful that I don’t know what to do with myself. I pull back from him. “About how much of that is liquid?” Al does quick calculations.
“If we liquidate the investments and the retirement fund after penalties for early withdrawal, combined with the bank accounts without auctioning off any other assets, I say we’re looking at about a solid mil, more or less.” My eyes go straight to Grace. She gazes at me for a moment before she catches my drift.
“No!” she says emphatically.
“Yes!” I protest. “What else am I going to do with it? I mean, really, Grace, what else am I going to do with it?”
“We’ve talked about this, Ana,” she retorts.
“And it won’t come from me, it’ll come from him!” I say emphatically. “There are at least three women that were brutalized because of him, two of them directly by his hand that we know of! Isn’t this what we do? Isn’t this what we fight to prevent? Shouldn’t one of the bastards responsible for this kind of crap contribute to preventing it?” Grace looks over at Carrick, who nods in agreement, then back at me. “One way or another, this money is going to some charity. Why not ours?” Grace sighs deeply.
“I’m sure glad you’re on my side,” she says. “I’d hate to have to be the opposition against you.”
“Yeah, like that’ll ever happen,” I say with mirth. “So, Al, as soon as you can make it happen, liquidate as much as you can, run the numbers through GEH’s accountants, and make a check out to Helping Hands.” Al nods happily, just as Valerie finds an opportunity to take another shot.
“Yeah, it’s not like Lady Anastasia is going to be needing it anytime soon,” she says with disdain. Christian throws his napkin on the table in front of him and I know there’s no stopping what’s about to happen. Grace makes to say something, but she’s too late and I want to tell her so badly that it’s no use. The bull is loose.
“That’s it!” he snaps. “I don’t know what your problem is, but you’re going to stop treating my wife that way.”
“Christian, don’t…” I try to stop him.
“Don’t you see how pregnant she is? How much she’s been through? She doesn’t need this stress. She almost died, for fuck’s sake! Are you that much of a disagreeable bitch that you have no compassion?” he barks.
“Christian!” Elliot shouts. Valerie is sitting there wide-eyed and gaped-mouth.
“No!” Christian retaliates. “She keeps doing this because nobody tells her how fucked up it is! I don’t know what happened. I only saw the fight at the vacation house that ruined Ana’s birthday weekend, but the way she treats Ana is criminal. I, for one, am not going to sit by another second and watch her torment my very pregnant, very fragile wife! I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt. I tried to let them work it out on their own, but every time she sees Ana, she vindictive and spiteful and hateful and I’m not going to stand for it anymore. Make a choice if you have to, Bro—I understand—but if your girlfriend berates my wife one more time, she’s going to have to deal with me!”
I drop my head and don’t look at anyone in the room. I’m humiliated… not because Christian came to my rescue—I love him for that—but because it was necessary for him to come to my rescue. I feel so helpless, so lost, but I won’t cry even though I want to. I struggle to get around the table. People try to help me, but I reach for no one. I’m heartbroken again, but I won’t show it here. I don’t know if someone says something behind me, but I hear only silence as I slowly and deliberately walk out of the room.
I said that I didn’t want to be around her and this is why. I didn’t want to give her the chance to hurt me again, but I stayed when I should have left, trying to be part of the family celebration. My heart wants to cry, but my eyes won’t let me. They’ve decided that they’ve cried too many tears over this particular situation and the water refuses to fall.
I escape to my refuge in Grey Manor, Grace’s parlor. I sit in one of the large chairs and throw my legs across the arm. It’s surprisingly comfortable. I close my eyes and drift off into my native tongue again…
“Des yeux qui font baisser les miens,
Un rire qui se perd sur sa bouche,
Voilà le portrait sans retouche
De l’homme auquel j’appartiens
Quand il me prend dans ses bras
Il me parle tout bas,
Je vois la vie en rose
Il me dit des mots d’amour,
Des mots de tous les jours,
Et ça me fait quelque chose…”
I never understood why the English version of this song was nowhere near the French translation. The English version talks about casting magic spells and heaven sighing when you kiss, but the French version translates into whispering in her ear, entering in her heart, and seeing life in pink.
I like the French version better.
“Il est entré dans mon cœur
Une part de bonheur
Dont je connais la cause.
C’est lui pour moi, moi pour lui dans la vie,
Il me l’a dit, l’a juré pour la vie.
Et dès que je l’aperçois
Alors je sens en moi
Mon cœur qui bat.”
Just as I opt to hum the repeat of the verse, I hear his deep, melodic voice pick up where I left off…
Quand il me prend dans ses bras
Il me parle tout bas,
Je vois la vie en rose.
Il me dit des mots d’amour,
Des mots de tous les jours,
Et ça me fait quelque chose.
Il est entré dans mon cœur
Une part de bonheur
Dont je connais la cause.
C’est toi pour moi, moi pour toi dans la vie,
Il me l’a dit, l’a juré pour la vie.
Et dès que je t’aperçois
Alors je sens dans moi
Mon cœur qui bat
And just when I thought I liked the French version better, he helps me out of my chair and begins to dance with me, singing the English version in my ear…
Hold me close and hold me fast
This magic spell you cast
This is la vie en rose
When you kiss me heaven sighs
And though I close my eyes
I see la vie en rose.
When you press me to your heart
I’m in a world apart
A world where roses bloom
And when you speak, angels sing from above
Everyday words seem to turn into love songs
Give your heart and soul to me
And life will always be la vie en rose.
I can almost hear the trumpets playing as we glide around Grace’s parlor. I almost forget what happened only moments prior until he tells me that he has said our goodbyes and we have to leave.
“No, Christian,” I protest. “I don’t want her to chase me away.”
“Actually, Mrs. Grey, they’re already gone, but we do have to go because there’s a mini-crisis boiling at the Crossing.” I frown.
“Oh?” I ask.
“We have an uninvited guest. We really need to get home.”
Shit. Who’s at my house?
“She hasn’t seen Ana for weeks!” I hissed at Elliot. “She hasn’t even spoken to her since before the accident. She wouldn’t even spend Thanksgiving with us. What the hell is her problem?”
“I swear, I don’t know, Christian,” he said, wearily. “I’m trying to keep her in check. You see me trying.”
I did see him trying, but Valerie wasn’t listening. I won’t let her abuse Butterfly today. I simply won’t allow it to happen.
“Elliot, I’m not trying to give you a hard time, I swear to God, but that woman in there is carrying my children. She has to watch her blood pressure because it’s dangerous for her and for the babies. I may need to get her back to the neurologist because I think when she gets upset, her head starts to hurt. There are some other things that I need to keep an eye on and I don’t have time to play games with Valerie. I don’t give a fuck about her feelings because a—she’s not carrying two babies in a high-risk pregnancy, b—she didn’t spend almost two weeks in a goddamn coma after a nearly fatal accident and c—nobody knows why the fuck she’s acting like a premenstrual shrew, not even you. Whatever her issues are, she better get ‘em in check, because if she fucks with my wife, I’m fucking with her. Are we clear?” Elliot rubbed the back of his neck.
“We’re clear, Christian,” he said, never raising his head. I sighed as I examined my brother.
“What’s going on, Elliot?” I asked him.
“I don’t know,” he said, exacerbated.
“Kate?” I asked.
“Worse,” he lamented. “I don’t know what’s happening. She’s two different people. I’ve been thinking about leaving…”
“Really?” I asked him. “It’s that bad?” He nodded.
“When I was at your house for Thanksgiving, it was so peaceful. I wanted to stay so badly. I didn’t even want to go back.” You’ve got to be kidding me.
“Why do you?” I asked.
“Because I love her,” he said. “I have to find out what’s wrong if it’s the last thing I do. None of you have to stick by me. None of you have to be around her or deal with her, but no matter what happens, she’s my Angel, and I have to figure out what’s wrong with her.”
He was desperate, I could tell. He would pay for answers if he had to. I just nodded.
“I won’t antagonize her, Elliot,” I promised him, “But if she attacks my wife…”
“I understand,” he said, “really, I do.”
When we step out of the den back into the great room, Valerie is gazing at my wife, almost longing. I’m caught off guard and I look at Elliot. What’s this? He just shrugs.
“She’s two different people,” he had said. “I have to figure out what’s wrong with her.”
Well, here’s a perfect example, because if I didn’t know better, I’d swear she would leap from her seat, run to Butterfly and hug her right now. I look over at Elliot, who only shrugs again. He’s just as clueless as I am.
Butterfly is singing a French lullaby to a sleeping Harry—“La Petite Poule Grise.” What’s funny—and cute—is that she’s actually singing herself to sleep, too. Since it appears that the barracuda is going to leave her alone, I go over to my grandfather.
“Hey, Pops,” I say, noting his pale color. “How are you feeling?”
“Not so good today, Christian,” he replies honestly. “More tired than I would like.”
“Dialysis hasn’t been going so great,” Uncle Herman adds. “He seems like he’s worse off when he’s done than he is before he goes.”
“Dialysis is tiring,” Luma says. “It’s hard on the body.” Herman shakes his head where Luma can’t see him. I know what this means.
“What’s the doctor say, Pops?” I ask.
“There’s not much that he can say that I don’t already know,” Pops responds. “I’m an old man and I need a new kidney. The ones I got are no good, and almost every day they have to filter my blood through a machine so they can clean me up and I can live a little longer—long enough for them to filter the blood through a machine again, and again, and again. I’m tired all the time. I’m asleep more than I’m awake. My creatinine levels are astronomical and getting higher before they get lower. I don’t see the purpose of this exercise anymore.”
“So that you can live longer,” I protest.
“But what kind of life is this?” he asks. “I can’t walk. I won’t be able to play with my grandkids when they get here. I can barely stay awake and there’s a lot of pain, Christian, a lot of pain…”
“Pain?” I ask incredulously. He nods.
“Aches and pains all over or some infection somewhere that’s got me taking antibiotics that don’t work anymore. I have frequent headaches, blood clots, I have a hard time breathing… and they don’t have any good news for me. The only good news that they could have for me right now is that they have a kidney, and that news ain’t coming. I’m so sick that I’m at the top of the list and so old that I’m at the bottom. That news ain’t coming for me.” Pops struggles to get out of the wheelchair. “Get me to bed, Herman. I just wanted to be around the family for a little while. I’m tired now.”
“Can I come and sit with you for a while, Grampa?” Mia says, leaping from her seat. Pops smiles accommodating.
“Of course, you can, child,” he says sweetly. And he, Herman, and Mia begin the tedious trek up the stairs. I don’t dare try to talk to Dad about Pops. It’s clear to see that he’s at the end of his rope, but I’m not willing to accept that yet, so I know that Dad’s not there yet. Elliot has joined his girlfriend on the sofa and they talk in hushed voices. I head to the kitchen to talk to my mom and Ana’s parents for a while until dinner is ready.
We almost make it through our meal. Allen telling Butterfly about the settlement was the best present ever! My push gifts are really going to have to be spectacular to top that. Kate… I mean, Valerie, was taking minor shots at Butterfly ever since she woke up and left the Great Room, but when she had something to say about Butterfly donating David’s readily liquid assets to Helping Hands, I had enough. I quickly let loose on that woman, leaving her in a stunned silence and effective chasing my wife from the room. Before I can turn around and really let loose on this harpy, my phone rings. It’s Jason.
“Grey,” I answer out of habit, walking to a corner of the dining room out of the way of prying ears.
“Sir, I think we need to get back to the Crossing,” he says.
“I just got off the phone with Alex. Joseph Davenport got past the ‘no fly’ and was on his way to SeaTac.”
“Was. He just stepped out of a taxi. He’s at the guard’s booth at the Crossing right now.”
“Shit!” I hiss, forgetting where I am. “Are the Davenports still at the Fairmont?”
“They are, sir.”
“Have they been notified?”
“I don’t know. I don’t doubt that Joseph has tried to contact them a time or twelve since landing in Seattle.” I look at my watch. I smile to myself. It’s the Hublot that Butterfly bought me as a wedding present. I wear it often these days.
“The party might be winding down by now. Some of the family has to get back to their destinations. Contact Williams and Clements. Tell them to bring the cars to the front. I’ll go get Ana. What’s your ETA?”
“You’ll be there before we are, sir,” he says. Gail’s family is in Redmond, I think. “The staff is on alert. They’ll be fine without me. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
“We’re on our way,” I tell him and end the call. I turn around and I have the attention of the entire dining room.
“On your way where, Christian?” Mom says, a little firmly. Here we go.
“Ana and I have to leave,” I tell her. “We have a situation brewing at home that we have to take care of right now.
“It can’t wait?” she says, insistently. “It’s Christmas.” I look my mother squarely in the eye, with intent, but apologetically.
“I’m sorry, Mom, but it can’t,” I say with finality. “Ana and I have been working on something for the last few days that is very delicate and we have to get home and see to it.” Mom sighs.
“Okay. I’ll have Jordan get your coats.”
“Thank you, Mom.” Elliot and Valerie are rising from the table. They have already retrieved their coats and Valerie is marching indignantly from the room. I wait until they pass the parlor door before I go inside, and there she is, cuddled in a chair singing “La Vie En Rose.” Boy, she’s really feeling the French today. I come into the room, take her from the chair and finish singing the song to her as we dance around the room, just the four of us. God, I love my wife!
After our dance and my impromptu serenade, I tell her that we have to leave and take care of a minor catastrophe at home.
“We have an uninvited guest. We really need to get home.”
“Oh, hell,” she says, following me into the vestibule as we put on our coats. Mom hands us several bags and bowls of leftovers and kisses us on the cheek. Williams and Clements have already unpacked the gifts from our car and repacked the car with gifts from our family. A few moments and a repacked car later and we’re off to the Crossing.
“I think Pops is giving up,” I tell Butterfly on the way back to the mansion.
“I don’t think he’s giving up, Christian. I think he’s accepting his fate.” Butterfly says. “The aches, the pains, dialysis isn’t really working anymore… he’s kind of settling into what’s happening.” I try not to glare at her while I’m driving.
“You talk to him?” I ask frowning.
“Regularly,” she says.
“Dignity therapy?” I ask, almost horrified.
“Of sorts, I guess,” she says. She looks like she’s thinking about it.
“Why didn’t you tell me or someone in his family that you were having end of life therapy with him?” I snap. I would have liked to know that my grandfather was dying! She sinks back defensively in her chair, frowning at me.
“First of all, as a medical, mental health professional, I can’t. What I’ve already told you is unethical, but you put two and two together, so I just let you go with it. Second of all, your grandfather doesn’t talk to me about death. He talks to me about life. He sits there talking to me about the good times that he had—vacations with his wife, watching his children grow, our wedding. He doesn’t sit there lamenting about things that he didn’t do, things that he should have done, or things that he did wrong. Third of all, when Pops is ready to let you know that he’s dying, he’ll let you all know. That’s not my responsibility, so don’t put that on me.” She’s ready for a fight if I’m ready to give her one. We’re already at the bridge. And I don’t want to fight with Butterfly.
“You’re right. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to accuse you. Let’s handle one catastrophe at a time. Joseph is at our house.”
“Shit, you’re kidding me! Is Chuck there?” she laments, quickly changing gears.
“No, but I have no doubt that he’ll be…” Before I can finish my sentence, my phone rings. Now it’s Nelson.
“Nelson?” I answer.
“Christian, are you home?”
“On my way now.”
“Have you heard?” he asks.
“Yes, I have.” He sighs.
“We’re on our way back to your house. The party is winding down. The family that’s staying will meet for the brunch tomorrow before we say goodbye.”
“Do you need us to come and get Chuck?” I ask.
“No, my rental will do us just fine. We’ll see you there in a few.”
“In a few, Nelson.” I end the call. “They’re meeting us at the Crossing.”
“Oy! This is going to be interesting.”
When we get back to the mansion, the gates open and we whizz right past Joseph standing outside in a coat, jeans and hiking boots with a duffle bag in his hands. I get my wife to the portico and help her out of the car. As we are walking into the house, Nelson’s, silver rental pulls up right behind us. Williams opens the doors to let the occupants out of the car. Chuck steps out of the car and walks on his crutches next to Keri into the house. Nelson and Maddie step out of the car and upon seeing his parents, Joseph rushes to the vehicle.
“Mom, Dad, why weren’t you answering your phones?” he says in a scolding voice. Nelson looks at him, puts his hand in the small of his wife’s back and escorts her into the house.
We all settle in the dining room after Windsor has taken our coats and Ms. Solomon quickly springs into action, preparing coffee, tea, and nightcaps for those who want them. Chuck is absolutely glowing. I’m certain that no one told him that his wicked brother is here, but I discover that I’m wrong when Joseph finally gets the balls to enter the dining room with the rest of us.
“Oh wow, Joe, you missed it!” Chuck exclaims, like a thrilled little kid. “Everybody was there—Aunt Marie and Uncle William and the boys; Aunt Terri and Uncle Robert and Sarah and Phineas; Marlon and Sean; Roger’s engaged to be married and did you know Rachel and Martin had a baby? Scott and Rita couldn’t come, but Christian had them on a big screen on Skype!” You would have thought he was talking to his best friend. Joseph doesn’t quite know what to make of it. He came to give Chuck a piece of his mind, but he finds him elated and sharing his joy. Yet, Chuck had one fatal blow to throw, and he saved the best for last. “Even Sunny was there! God, the boys are getting so big!”
Joseph’s eyes pierce. He looks as if he could hit his brother. Every man in the room gets the same vibe and we are all at the ready to pounce if he even flinches in the wrong direction.
“So now you’re going to just rub it in my face? In front of everybody? People I don’t even know?” Joseph says.
“I didn’t ask you to come here,” Chuck laughs, apparently unable to feel anything but joy and laughter. “I said that you were dead to me… or did I say I was dead to you? Either way, we were dead. Dead people don’t talk to each other. Whatever you’re feeling right now, you could have avoided all of it by just staying away from me, but no. You had such a well thought-out plan because you thought the only thing that I had going for me was a bottle of Vodka. You didn’t expect me to have any resources, any friends, any back-up—why? Because Joe said so. You certainly didn’t expect me to have any family because you hid me for mine and mine from me for over a decade until a group of genuine people with huge hearts adopted me into their family because they saw what you couldn’t. And what did you do when you saw that?” Chuck laughs. “You came here and insulted them because they had my back. People whose dirty laundry you’re not worthy to wash and you have the nerve to be looking down on them.
“You have no idea of the humble beginnings that man came from.” He points to me. “He came from nothing—worse conditions than you could even imagine, and he ended up with this.” He flourishes his hands around the Crossing in a Vanna White-type demonstration. “You came from these wonderful, hard-working people who gave you everything.” He gestures to his parents. “You even had a gorgeous wife who gave you beautiful children and where are you now? Living above a storefront somewhere in Spearfish in an apartment that could probably fit in one of these bathrooms. Yet you look down on these people. You come here under the guise of getting money for our parents when you really needed it for yourself, then you throw a thousand-mile temper tantrum with those immature text messages and voicemails when you get caught.”
The entire time Chuck delivers his speech, he’s smiling. I don’t think he could be angry right now if he tried.
“But here’s my real Christmas present, Joe,” he says, his smile growing wider. “Yeah, I got my family back, and that’s the fucking best, but I gotta tell you, Bro. You tried everything—you lied, you dissed me, you belittled me. You almost made me take a drink. You besmirched everything I did, everything I accomplished; you did it when I was weak and you did it as a representative of the family, even though you didn’t have that authority. I just didn’t know it at the time. When you showed up, I thought you were the Davenport ambassador, and that’s what you wanted me to think. You wanted me to think that you were bringing the thoughts and feelings of the entire family to me, but you weren’t. They were just yours. Thank God I thought to change my next of kin and look for my parents or I never would have known what you had done all these years and neither would they. So as luck would have it and the Good Lord would fix it, I found my mom and dad, and we combed through all your lies. So all these years while you’ve taken everything away from me and I suffered so badly for so long for no reason, this year will be the one year that I finally got that one thing that’s better than any gift I could have ever hoped for—vindication. This year, my name is clear, and now you’re the bad guy. This Christmas—2013—will be the year that everybody remembers that Chuckie came back to life and Joe fucked up. So thanks, Joe. Best present ever!”
Chuck’s smile is brighter, wider, and more genuine than I think I’ve ever seen it. Joseph just glares at him, then turns to his father.
“So, you’re just going to let him talk to me like that, Dad?” Joseph says to his father. “After everything he’s put this family through? All the pain and humiliation and he just gets to say this shit to me?”
Nelson looks incredulously at his son, his mouth open like he wants to say something, but at this moment, the only thing he’s good for is catching flies.
“And what pain and humiliation is that!?” Maddie declares. “For God’s sake, Joe, haven’t you done enough?” she says finally. “My God! You don’t even have enough conviction to feel sorry! What happened to you? I don’t know what happened to you, but whatever it is, you can’t blame Chuckie! You’ve hurt so many people—me, your father, your brother, your children, your wife, yourself… and you’re still blaming Chuckie! What happened?” She’s screaming at him. She wants answers and she doesn’t care who’s in the room. “Fifteen years of anger and hatred and for what? Because it can’t be over a goddamn cake!”
Joseph looks horrified at Maddie, then back at Chuck.
“Now you’ve turned my mother against me?” Joseph nearly shrieks. What?
“That was all your doing, Joe,” Chuck says with a snicker.
“You just ruin everything you touch, don’t you?” Joseph accuses, “Nothing is ever right, all because of you!”
Maddie does this screeching thing and the next thing we know, there’s this loud, sharp clap ringing through the room. It happened so fast that I don’t think any of us see it, but we sure as fuck hear it. Joseph is staring at his mother, stunned, holding his face where she has just slapped lightning out of his cheek. Maddie is standing in front of him—a good foot shorter than he is—glaring up at him and breathing like a bull.
“I can’t take it anymore! I can’t take it!” she screams, her fists clenched.
“Momma!” Nelson calls, trying to calm his wife.
“How dare you!” she snarls accusingly at Joseph while swatting her husband’s hands away from her arms. “How dare you! That’s my son! My baby! My child! Fifteen years! Fifteen fucking years! You had no right! You had. No. Right!”
She is furious, damn near hysterical. She’s going to need a sedative. Nelson wraps his arms around her in a futile attempt to subdue her, but Joseph is going to hear what she has to say if it’s the last thing she does before she passes out.
“How could you?” she wails. “How could you be so selfish? To keep a mother from her son? To let her believe that he was dead—that he was gone, that I would never see him again? How could you?” She’s sobbing now. She has finally released her happiness for seeing her son alive and now, she has to release her grief.
“Mom…” Joseph finally sounds contrite. “I’m… sorry…”
“No…” she weeps, as she sinks to the floor in Nelson’s arms. “No, no, no… how could you do this to me? How could you do this to meeeeeeeeee?” Her anguish almost makes me want to cry. Butterfly walks around me and kneels down to Maddie, effortlessly—like she’s not eight months pregnant. Maddie is weeping and muttering about her pain and suffering, about a mother being without her child for nearly half his life, and everyone in the room with a child is looking at Joseph like we could all kill him with our bare hands… even me, and my children aren’t even here yet.
“You took him away!” she wails, and she’s sounding a bit delirious. “You took my baby away from me! I’ll never forgive you! I’ll never forgive you for taking my baby away…” Yeah, she’s gone. Butterfly looks up at Lawrence.
“Ben… please,” she says, and he’s by her side in moments. “Nelson, do you mind?”
Nelson shakes his head. Butterfly takes his hand and they stand together while Lawrence effortlessly lifts Maddie’s tiny little sobbing form off the floor.
“Guest room four,” she whispers, and Lawrence starts to take Maddie away.
“Keri?” Chuck says, his eyes beseeching her and his smile fading for the first time this evening. She nods.
“Yes, Choonks,” she says, and falls in line behind Nelson and Butterfly as they all walk toward the elevator.
“Don’t you touch my mother!” Joseph barks, and begins to make a move towards Keri. Again, with the Davenport lightning speed, Chuck swipes Joseph’s legs with one of his crutches and pushes him solidly in his chest. Joseph’s feet go flying into the air and he lands on his back on the marble floor with a loud thud. I can tell that nothing’s broken, but I know that shit had to hurt. Keri never even broke her stride. Her man told her to go, so she left. Chuck is looking down at a groaning Joseph, examining him curiously before Chuck points at him.
“Stay down Joe,” he says with a menacing calm, “Don’t let the crutches fool you—I will fuck you up.” Joseph stares back at his brother as Chuck puts both crutches in one hand and squats down to Joseph.
“You see,” Chuck says, matter-of-factly, “broken bones, broken ribs, six to eight weeks to heal. Once I stopped being afraid of ibuprofen…” he spits the word out angrily, “… the healing process moved along pretty quickly. Today officially marks the beginning of week eight, so I’m suffering a bit of cabin fever and I’m ready to get out of this fucking thing.” He knocks on his cast. “The crutches are a formality so that I don’t faceplant while I’m moving around, but make no mistake. I can walk. I can move just fine, and I’d love to show you some of the things that I learned in advanced training, since you seem to think that since I won’t just immediately rise up and whip your ass that I can’t do it. But honestly, you’ve got other things that you need to be concerned about. Your parents are fucking pissed at you and you’re going to have to find some way to fix that… without blaming me, because they’re not buying that shit anymore. But Joe…” Chuck stands. “Don’t make any more sudden moves or derogatory statements towards my woman again, because if you do, you’re going to be taking your teeth home in a jar and I’ll make it look like an accident.” Joseph painfully pushes himself up on his elbows.
“That’s pretty big talk from a banged up, washed out drunk,” Joseph declares.
“Says the man lying flat on his back, tripped by a crutch,” Williams jabs. Chuck smirks.
“I don’t care if you believe me, Joey, just try me and see what happens.” At that moment, Jason walks into the dining room, dragging Gail behind him just as Chuck is finishing his statement.
“Damn! I always miss the good shit!” Jason laments, looking down at Joseph. “What’s with the trash on the floor?” I can’t help my snicker, then I turn to Gail.
“Would you please go to guest room four and see if they need anything? Maddie had a bit of an episode.”
“An episode! That doesn’t sound good…” she says as she rushes back down the hallway.
“Maddie? A little cozy with my mother, aren’t you?” Oh, God, this fucker doesn’t know when to quit.
“Joseph, get your useless ass up off the floor and get the fuck out of this house,” Chuck says calmly.
“Not until I know what’s going on with Mom!” he says haughtily, getting to his feet.
“Why? So you can finish her off?” Chuck says angrily. “Get the fuck out!”
“You don’t have the power to throw me out!” Joseph says.
“Actually, he does,” I interject. Joseph turns to me. “As part of my family, he has the power to ask you to leave. As a member of my security team, he has the authority to physically throw you out of my house. So you might want to listen to him.” Joseph’s eyes narrow at me.
“I’m. Not. Going. Anywhere,” he says.
“Listen, asshole,” Jason jumps in, “I and five of my guys will take you out back and beat you beyond recognition just for the fun of it, then say we just came back to the mansion and you were trying to get into the house. We tried subdue you and you resisted. So what’s it going to be? Are you going to leave on your own free will or are you going to have a few contusions? Your choice.” He looks at Jason, his brow furrowed.
“You can’t do that,” he says.
“Yes, he can,” I interject again, “and with the trouble you just had at the airport, who do you think the cops will believe?” All the color leaves his face.
“How did you kno… that was you?” he asks, affronted. I glare at him.
“I told you to stay out of Seattle. Don’t you wish you listened now?” I hiss at him and I see that small chip in his armor that I’ve been looking for. Checkmate, asshole. “Do yourself a favor. Don’t cross me again. You don’t want to know what I can really pull out of my bag of tricks.” I look at Jason. “Get him off my property and don’t dirty your nails with him. If he tries anything, just call the police.”
“Will do, sir.” He grabs Joseph by the arm and he immediately begins to struggle. Jason does a submission hold, twisting his arm behind his back and bending his hand perpendicular to his arm at the wrist. Joseph is immediately docile.
“If you like this hand, I suggest you stop resisting,” Jason says calmly.
“My bag,” Joseph says through clenched teeth. Jason looks around and locates Joseph’s duffle bag.
“Chance…” He gestures with his head and Williams retrieves the bag.
“This is not over, Chucky!” Joseph hisses.
“You bet your ass, Joey!” Chuck retorts, and his brother is forcibly escorted from the mansion. I turn to Chuck.
“What now, Chuck?” I ask. “He’s going to be out for blood. Do we need to watch him?”
“Yeah, we do,” he says, “and I need to talk to Al, because I want to sue my brother for slander and defamation of character.” Okay, now I’m really taken aback.
“He doesn’t have anything,” I tell him. “What do you hope to prove?”
“He stole nearly fifteen years of my life. I don’t know what would have happened, but I know that I could have had my mom and dad and my family for the last fifteen years and I didn’t. Who knows, I may have had a wife and kids by now. Granted, my life turned out okay, but it was in spite of what happened, not because of it. And now my mother is upstairs having a nervous breakdown because she’s mourned the loss of a child for fifteen years only to find out that this was a plot of one of her sons to keep her away from the other one. She mourned my death, so to speak and now, she’s mourning all back over again. No, he may not pay a dime, but he has to pay somehow. Something besides the Court of Conscience has to tell that fucker that he’s wrong, because he doesn’t have one!”
Chuck has finally had enough and needs true vindication. He’s seen his family. He’s seen what he’s missed and he wants some of it back. This is his chance, and I can’t blame him for taking it.
“Tell me what you need,” I say. “I’m at your disposal.”
A/N: So our beloved Chuck is beyond mending and ready for action.
Yes, Val is still a bitch. Nope, I’m not revealing her story yet. It’s not time. When it is time, I’LL let YOU know. 😉
I didn’t translate the French songs or Ana’s conversation with Harry, but hopefully her narration gives you a gist of what was being said. The full version of the songs—if you would like to hear them—are on my Pinterest page at https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/becoming-dr-grey/
You can join my mailing list on the “Contact Me” page. Just click the link and it will lead you to a form to join the list.
Love and handcuffs 🙂