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 56—Surprises Abound
I’m more than a little surprised on Wednesday morning when the Ben announces that Courtney is at the front gate.
“I know she works at the Center, but I didn’t get clearance that it was okay for her to visit the house,” Ben says.
“Why is she here?” I ask.
“She says that Grace asked her to drop off some modules to you and that Marilyn isn’t at the Center.” That’s because Marilyn’s here.
“She’s okay, Ben. You can go on and send her in and have Windsor show her to the office. If you need to tell Jason, please do.”
“Okay.” A few minutes later, Courtney walks into my office and she looks really good, dressed very professionally.
“Well, well, well,” I say. “I hope Grace didn’t put you on the bus in that outfit. You look great.” She chuckles.
“No, I’m driving the Center van,” she says, giving me the modules Grace sent. “She said she would call you. I’m sorry this was a surprise. I didn’t mean to cause a commotion.”
“Don’t worry about it. They’ll get their records together. Why the wardrobe change? New job?”
“As a matter of fact, it is,” she says. “Miss Grace said that I did a really good job with Jack, so she’s going to let me help out with the teens.” She shrugs. “It could be because of where I come from. I really do know about that life. It’s just… you know… you forget.” I nod.
“I see. So, you’re going to be hanging around for a while,” I say.
“Well, yeah. The state is going to help me put a down payment on a place. Since I won’t be making much at the Center, we’re going to see about income-based housing.” I frown. Those places are horrible. “I know, but it’s all I can do right now. It’s beats the street and trust me, even the worst places I’ve seen here beat where I came from. You gotta start somewhere, right?” I nod.
“That’s right… are you sure you don’t want me to call your grandmother?”
“No!” she says vehemently. She rolls her eyes and sighs. “Ana, I accept that I was horrible to my grandparents. I accept that I was horrible to you… to Mia… to just about everyone I’ve met. I accept that I get what I deserve and I have a lesson to learn and I’m learning it. I accept that I hurt my grandmother and I regret it and I wish I could take it back, but…” she trails off.
“But what?” I ask.
“But she hurt me, too,” she answers almost inaudibly. “She said horrible things to me. She treated me like an animal. I would never say those things to anybody ever! I probably deserved every word she said to me, but it still hurt… way too badly. Maybe I’m wrong for feeling that way after what I said and did, but I do. I lay awake at night thinking about the things she said to me and the way she treated me. Please don’t misunderstand me—I’m not saying that she was wrong because I was a real bitch, but it still hurts, and I just think that with all the hurt between us that we should just move on and go our separate ways.” I frown. That’s a really sad state of affairs.
“That’s a strange situation to be in, Courtney, but you’re only human. I’m sure she meant for you to hurt. That’s why she said those things.”
“Well, it worked,” she says with a sad smile.
“You don’t think there will ever be a time you guys can sit down and talk about things?” She shakes her head.
“I was waiting for my Grandma to die to get her money. She told me I was good for nothing more than replacement parts. I think that ship has sailed.” She picks up her purse and the keys to the Helping Hands van. “And now, I’m going to make a speedy getaway before I turn into a blubbering idiot. Call Miss Grace after you go over those modules and projections, please. She’s waiting for your call.”
“Drive safely…” Just as Courtney is leaving my office, she runs face first into Mia coming in. Shit! I forgot she was coming to go over birth announcements with me. I was expecting Mia when security told me that it was Courtney. Courtney tightens her lips and sighs.
“Hi, Mia,” Courtney says, closing her coat and walking past Mia out the door. Mia is only momentarily stunned before she replies, “Bye, Bitch.”
“Have a good day, Mia,” Courtney calls back.
“Eat shit and die, Courtney,” Mia yells. I shake my head. That ship has sailed, too. “What was she doing here?”
“She’s working with troubled teens at the Center. She was dropping off some papers for me to go over for Grace.”
“Hmm, troubled teens… she should know,” Mia quips. “Anyway, I’ve got a couple of choices for you to look at and they can be printed the same day the babies are born…”
As I bend the corner to go into the kitchen, I get a funny twinge—kind of in my stomach, but some in my side… and there’s a tiny bit of pressure in my back. I brush it off and proceed to the refrigerator for my snack.
Several minutes later, I’m sitting at my desk looking at the modules for Helping Hands and I feel the twinge again—nothing alarming, but different. Could it be? The timing is perfect. Dr. Culley says that I’ll most likely deliver the twins a little early and this is what… week 37? Week 38?
Oh, shit. There’s that twinge again.
“Marilyn?” She looks up from her iPad.
“I don’t want you to panic, but I think we might want to keep any eye on Ana.” Her face changes.
“You okay?” she asks, concern lacing her voice.
“Yeah, I’m fine. It really could be nothing, but since this is my first baby… babies… we just want to be alert, okay?” She nods.
“Okay. Should I call Jason? Or Christian?”
“No! Absolutely not! I won’t interrupt my husband’s day for a twinge. If it becomes any more intense, we’ll alert Jason to be ready, but we won’t alarm Christian until we’re sure.”
“Fair enough, but know that I reserve the right to overrule you if I get spooked.” I sigh.
“Anything specific I need to know? Seriously, in case you’re unconscious and have to be rushed to the hospital?” I shrug and sigh again.
“It might surprise you—especially because I’m a doctor—that Christian and I have decided that if there is a situation where a choice has to be made between me and the babies, the choice is to save me.” The shock on Marilyn’s face is alarming.
“This is a surprise,” she admits. I nod.
“Emotionally, it’ll rip me apart. It’ll rip us both apart, but we weighed the pros and cons of both decisions without the emotional hero aspect of ‘sacrificing myself for my children…’” Dear God, please don’t let it come to that. I’m not sure I could survive without my beans. “The truth of the matter is that choosing the children over me would not only mean that Christian would have to raise the twins on his own, but also that the babies would be a constant reminder of the wife he lost during childbirth. The children would be constantly reminded of this as well. Though he would spare them this information when they’re young, at some point, they would want to know the truth. We both think it would be far less cruel on them and on him if we saved me. Then, after we’ve healed from the emotional and physical pain, we could try again.”
“Do you really believe that?” And there goes the twinge again. Shit, I think this is it. I’m a little scared.
“I don’t know what I believe, Mare,” I say honestly. “I just pray to God that we don’t have to find out. We have the best doctor; we’re going to the best hospital; we’ve taken all the necessary precautions. These babies are miracles already. I’ve heard of more than one instance where women have lost children from just one of the things I incurred during my pregnancy. These little superheroes have held on through a lot. I don’t think they intend to abandon me now.” She smiles.
“’Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature,’” she says.
That’s beautiful,” I say. “Where did you hear that?”
“It’s a quote by St. Augustine. One of those useless pieces of information you pick up throughout your life.” She shrugs. I smile and fight the tears.
“Not useless,” I say, my voice cracking. She doesn’t know just how much I need that at this moment. “Thank you.” Her smile widens.
There’s another twinge, only this time, there’s a little more pressure in my back and some slight tightening in my pelvic area.
“I’m going to the family room to sit in my recliner. Meet me there after you go to the twins’ nursery and get my bags.”
“Bags? As in plural?”
“Yeah… Christian. Once we started Lamaze and he really got into reading the baby books, the packing became obscene. It’s only two, but it’s down from four.”
“Four!” she laughs. “Okay, I guess two isn’t so bad then.” I nod.
“Put the bags at the door, then alert Ben and Chuck to be ready, but let them know that I will call Jason.”
“Got it, bosslady,” and off she goes. I take my phone and my laptop and proceed to the family room. Chuck has started doing some ride-alongs with Jason, but more getting back into the swing of things with Ben and me, so he’s been shadowing Ben’s duties around the Crossing as of late.
This chair was the best purchase I’ve ever made in my life. The moment I sit in it and turn on the lower lumbar heat and massage, I almost forget to call Jason… almost.
“Ana? Are you okay?” I know he’s shocked to see my number come across his phone.
“I’m fine,” I tell him. “I’m having some… activity in the abdominal area. Nothing serious, but I’m just putting you on notice just in case. Please don’t alarm Christian. This could so be false labor…”
“Are you having contractions?” He’s alarmed. Great.
“No. I’m not having contractions, just some twinges and some pressure. It could just be the babies positioning themselves.” The line goes quiet.
“Your Highness… have you forgotten I’ve been through this with Shalane and Sophie? You’re at week 37. The babies are already positioned.” Well, so much for that theory.
“Please, just let me see what’s going on before we call the fire department… or His Majesty… please?” He sighs.
“You or Marilyn better update me every thirty minutes and I mean every thirty minutes on the dot! If you don’t call me, I’m calling you. If you don’t answer in three rings, we’re at DEFCON 1—no negotiations. Understood?” God, he’s worse than Christian!
“Understood, Admiral,” I jest.
“We’ll discuss that error at a later time. I gotta go. Ben is calling me, probably with the same news.”
“I told Marilyn to tell him that I would call you. He didn’t trust me?”
“No offense, Ana, but he’s not supposed to. He’s under strict instructions to call me under these conditions with no exceptions. You’re forgetting that he’s on disciplinary probation after the incident with Neanderthal Bitch…”
“Monster Bitch,” I correct him.
“Whatever. Now, I gotta go before he hangs up. Thirty minutes!” and he’s gone. I put the phone down and continue to work on my planning duties for Helping Hands. I turn on the television for background noise just as Marilyn comes into the family room.
“That snitch Ben called while I was on the phone with Jason,” I tell her. She frowns.
“I told him you said you would call,” she replies bemused.
“Yeah. Apparently, he’s on probation and has strict instructions to call Jason under these circumstances no matter what. Speaking of which, set your alarm to call Jason every thirty minutes on the dot or the National Guard may come bursting through my back door.” I mock Jason’s voice on the words on the dot. “That first call should be in about 23 minutes.” She shakes her head.
“Geez! He’s worse than Christian!” she exclaims as she sets her alarm.
“My words exactly!”
I awake to discover that I have fallen asleep in the recliner. Marilyn’s tablet is on the ottoman next to my chair, so I know that she’s still here and most likely not too far away. I wiggle out of the wonderment that is that recliner and find that my thighs are terribly wet. I’ve been reduced to nocturnal incontinence.
I‘m trying to get to the nearest restroom, but the trickling doesn’t stop. Well, this is embarrassing. I make it to the restroom only to discover that I’m not peeing. Funny—my only concern right now is if I ruined my recliner until I realize…
I look down into my panties and there it is… the mucus plug.
“Mare?” I say in a voice so small that I can barely hear myself. “Mare?” I call more frantically. “Marilyn?” I scream, scared to death that my babies are going to be born in this toilet.
“Ana, where are you?” I hear her muffled voice and she sounds like an angel.
“The bathroooooom!” I scream. I’m losing it. I have to calm down. She shamelessly throws the door open. Without saying a word, she looks at my face, then at my wet clothes and the mucus plug in my panties. She takes a deep breath and cracks her neck like she’s about to fight.
“Are you having contractions?” she asks clearly.
“No… I… no.” Respirer, Grey, respirer…
“Good. Activate two-way communications.” The familiar beep, then “Locate Gail Taylor.”
“Yes?” I hear Gail’s voice after several beeps.
“Gail, it’s Marilyn. Where are you?” Her voice is amazingly controlled. I’d be screaming into that thing right now!
“I’m… in the owner’s suite,” Gail answers unsure.
“Perfect! I need you to bring me a pair of clean underwear and a pair of clean pants for Ana. We’re in the bathroom off the family room. Oh! Look in the dressing room and bring me two large hospital pads… and a pair of clean socks, too. Her water just broke.”
“Oh! Hell! Okay!” And just like that, she’s gone. “Locate Benjamin Lawrence!” Marilyn’s voice is more frantic when she’s talking to the intercom than when she’s talking to people. Just as Ben answers the intercom with “Lawrence,” my first real contraction hits. I gasp hard… I wasn’t ready.
“Ana?! Ana, are you okay?” Ben’s voice is frantic.
“Get the car, Ben! Come in and get the bags! We’re on the move. Call whoever you need to call! We’ll be at the door in less than five!” Marilyn is barking orders at Ben like he works for her.
“Got it. See you in five,” and he’s gone too. Gail comes bursting into the door just like Marilyn did.
“Towels are in the cabinet,” she says, pointing to the cabinet on the other side of Marilyn. Mare grabs two towels while Gail gingerly removes my wet pants and soiled underwear.
“Eew,” I lament as my friend undresses me from the waist down.
“Ssh!” Gail scolds quickly, and that one gesture along with her facial expression lets me know that there will be no more discussion of any kind about my currently ill-placed modesty. “Do you still feel the trickle?”
“Yes,” I say, my voice sounding like a mouse.
“Okay, so that means we’ll have to put the pad on the second that you stand up. I didn’t see a sanitary belt, so you’re just going to have to hold it up with your thighs.” Yeah, that won’t be a problem.
The ladies work as a team drying my legs and butt, then sliding clean socks, underwear, and pants onto my ankles. Marilyn helps me off the commode while Gail quickly situates the pad between my legs to catch the trickling amniotic fluid. That feels so much better. Gail pulls my pants and underwear up just the intercom lets me know that Ben is looking for me.
“Family room!” I call out as Gail and Marilyn assist me in walking from the bathroom to the family room. Seconds later, Ben comes around the corner, takes a second to assess the situation, and then nearly snatches the air out of me when he lifts me into his arms.
“Seattle Gen,” he barks at Marilyn. “You ridin’ or drivin’?”
“Riding,” Marilyn says as she falls in line behind Ben, who is now carrying me out to the car. Once he places me in the back seat, I put on my seat belt and sit back, praying that we hurry and get to the hospital. Nothing will go wrong. Nothing will go wrong. About ten minutes into the ride as we’re crossing the bridge…
“Ana?” I raise my head and look at Marilyn. “It’s Christian. He wants to talk to you.” She’s handing me her phone.
“Hello?” and there’s the mouse voice.
“Baby? Are you okay?” He sounds positively frazzled!
“Yeah,” I answer, unconvincingly… and here comes another contraction.
“Are you having contractions?”
Yeeesss!” I cry through the contraction.
“Why didn’t you call me sooner?” he scolds. Son of a…
“I was asleeeeeeeeeep!” You asshole!
“Okay. Okay.” That’s more like it. “Are you breathing?” What the… now, I’m getting irritated.
“Of course, I’m breathing!” I bark. “I’d be dead if I wasn’t breathing!”
“Not that breathing, baby, the Lamaze breathing.” Oh, yeah, I forgot about that.
“Oh! Yeah! That! How do I do that again?” My brain is mush.
“When the pain hits, in through your nose, out through your mouth—slow and deep…” Why am I thinking about sex at this particular moment? The contraction is starting to wane and I’m able to speak like a human being. “When the pain gets more intense, fast breaths in and out of your mouth. I’ll be by your side in a few moments. Will you be okay until then?”
“Yes, baby, I’ll be fine,” I say, already a little breathless.
“That’s my strong, brave girl. I’ll see you in a moment. Let me talk to Marilyn.” I nod to Marilyn and she takes her phone back.
“Hello… In just a few minutes, I think… No, Christian, I haven’t timed this drive. So, yes, I think…” He’s giving her the third degree and by the sound of her voice, she’s giving it right back to him. Mare has never been one to kowtow to Christian, especially after that last exchange they had a couple of weeks ago. “Yes, I have been timing her contractions. I’m not a complete idiot. They’re twenty-two minutes apart.” Twenty-two minutes? They feel a lot closer than that. “Yes, that’s a really good idea. Go get a wheelchair. We’ll be there in a minute!” She ends the call and turns back to me. “How are you holding up?”
“Twenty-two minutes? That’s all?” I ask dismayed. She nods.
“Yeah, bosslady, the two that you had were 22 minutes apart.” I groan. That means I’m in for a looooooooooooooong labor.
“I think you two are related somehow,” I point out. “His bossiness irritates the hell out of you and scares the hell out of everybody else.”
“Well, he’s not my concern right now. You are,” she responds matter-of-factly. A few minutes later, we drive up to the emergency room entrance. Christian is pacing in front of the door and I swear his hair looks like it’s standing straight up on end. I afford myself a small giggle at his appearance.
“What took you so long?” he snaps at Ben as Jason helps me into the wheelchair.
“The speed limit,” Ben retorts, and both Christian and Jason glare at him, but he doesn’t back down. Christian rolls his eyes at him and takes my hand, walking next to me into the hospital.
“Name, please,” the admitting nurse says.
“Anastasia Grey!” Christian barks impatiently. She nods at someone next to her who starts typing and she walks over to me.
“Hello, Mrs. Grey. How are you holding up?”
“Okay, so far,” I tell her.
“Has your water broken already?” Her voice is kind. I nod. “Do you know how long ago?” I look at Marilyn.
“About 45 minutes,” she tells the nurse, who nods.
“And how far apart are your contractions?”
“Twenty-two minutes,” Christian and Marilyn say at the same time. The nurse smiles.
“You have quite the support system here,” she points out. I point to each of them.
“Husband. PA,” I say, a little weary.
“You’re tired. We’re going to get you in a room in just a moment, okay?” She extends her hand to Christian. “Mr. Grey.” He releases my hand to shake hers. “It won’t be much longer now, sir.” He just nods. “Lisa, have you found her?”
Hmm, I like that. She treated us with such courtesy and didn’t know who we really were.
“Um, yes.” The second nurse gestures to the first. I hear her tell the first nurse who we are and that I am a patient of Dr. Culley’s. A suite should be ready for me at all times since this is a multiple birth.
“Oh, we have local celebrities,” the first nurse says sweetly. “Welcome back to Seattle Gen. We have a wing named after you.” I smile weakly while Lisa, the second nurse, gazes longingly at Christian. I don’t have an opportunity to get miffed about it before the first nurse springs into action. “Well? Is the suite ready?” she barks at Lisa, who jumps at the sound of her voice.
“Um, I don’t know.”
“Well, stop standing there with that monkey glare on your face and jump to it!” she hisses through her teeth at Lisa while snapping her fingers twice very loudly before pointing to me. “She can’t be very comfortable. She’s sitting there in water!” Lisa gets back on the phone and the first nurse just shakes her head.
“You’re preregistered, Mrs. Grey,” she says to me. “We’re going to go on up to the maternity ward. We’re not going to wait.” She looks at Jason, who is pushing my chair. “The elevators are a few feet down the hall and to your left.” She turns back to Lisa as Jason pushes me away. “Tell them we’re on our way up and they better have something ready when we get there.” She quickly falls in line with us just as we get to the elevator. Once inside, I’m hit with another contraction. Holy fuck, that one hurt!
“That was 22 minutes?” I lament nearly in tears. Marilyn is already looking at her watch.
“No, bosslady, that one was 18,” she informs me. The nurse nods.
“They’re coming closer together,” she says. “Have you already made a decision concerning pain management?”
“Epidural!” I announce as I squeeze Christian’s hand, the pain lancing through me and cutting me in two. We empty out of the elevator and she stops at the nurse’s station. “Anastasia Grey.”
“Room 3221,” the nurse at the counter replies.
“Is Dr. Culley on duty?” she asks.
“No, but she’s been notified. She’s already on her way.”
“Who’s on duty?”
“Let him know that this patient wants an epidural. Her contractions are 18 minutes apart, her water has broken, and she’s a multiple birth.”
“On it.” She’s on the phone paging the doctor on duty and the first nurse moves to Jason.
“I’ll have to take it from here, sir,” she tells him. “Only the expectant mother and father are allowed in the room while we set her up.” Jason steps away. “You guys can come in as soon as we get her changed and on the monitors.”
This is a hospital room? I think to myself as the nurse rolls me into the birthing suite. This is incredible! It looks more like a hotel! A luxury hotel at that! Dr. Culley told me that the room would be extravagant, but this is even more than I expected.
“Where did they get the money for this?” Christian asks, the CEO coming out in him.
“Honestly, another benefactor, just like you,” she says, while helping me out of the chair. “He didn’t like the accommodations we had when his daughter was about to deliver, so he actually had one suite built just for her. He then funded the entire wing. It’s cash only—insurance won’t pay for it. The cost for nightly services can run from $4000 to $8000 a night, half of which is kept to maintain this wing while the other half goes to the leukemia ward.”
“Instructions of the benefactor?” Christian asks while I get undressed. The nurse nods.
“Yes sir, kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. Not everyone can afford a room of this magnitude, but if you can, know that it means that not only will your wife be getting the best care in the most comfortable surroundings possible, but that you’re also directly funding the treatment of cancer patients.” She hands me a gown, not one of those ugly hospital gowns—a pretty, flowy gown that goes over my head. Christian nods his approval.
“You can’t argue with that,” he says.
The suite is two sitting rooms and the actual bedroom, along with a really nice bathroom. It’s decorated beautifully and except for all the necessary monitors and equipment, it’s pretty damn cozy. I only have a moment to enjoy the surroundings pain-free before my uterus reminds me why I’m here.
“Fifteen minutes, Mrs. Grey,” the nurse says. “Let’s get you into bed. Things are moving kind of quickly.” She pulls back the bedding to reveal a bed pad already there. This is good because she took my hospital pad and I’m still leaking. I stiffly climb into the bed as she puts two baby monitors on my stomach. God, I hate those things.
“I’ll be right back, Mrs. Grey. I want to see how far away your epidural is and we have to set you up with an IV, okay?”
“Okay,” I pant, breathing through the last part of the contraction. It’s just me and Christian now and he has been deathly quiet since we got here, with the exception of asking about the birthing room. “Christian?” My voice is more impatient than I intended, but I realize that I feel a bit neglected. Yoo hoo—woman having babies here! He turns his attention to me and sighs as he takes off his suit jacket and tosses it on a nearby sofa.
“You’re a million miles away,” I say in an accusatory tone. I can’t help myself. I don’t want to attack him. It’s just coming out this way.
“I’m sorry,” he says in a low voice. “We and hospitals just don’t do well.” He sits down in the seat next to my bed. “Me nearly starving myself; you being kidnapped; nearly losing my whole world in the accident…” He chokes on the last word. “Cholometes beating the hell out of me; you suffering from depression and neglect and then the high blood pressure scare… I’m just… trying to… overcome these feelings of dread, for lack of a better phrase.”
Oh, God. I can’t do it, not this time. I can’t hold him together and me, too. I’m tired and weak and scared and this is just beginning, and he’s having flashbacks of the bad old times. My heart breaks and I start to weep. I can’t do it. I just can’t do it.
“Baby!” His voice changes immediately. “Butterfly!”
“I need you, Christian!” I wail, my chest hurting from despair. “I can’t do this on my own! I can’t!” My body is shaking with sobs and I’m suddenly overcome and drowning in grief.
Nice going, Grey! What happened to that whole new, sunny outlook and shit? She’s in labor, you dumb fuck! Since when did this become about you and feelings, you selfish, inconsiderate bastard? You’re about to become a father! You’re about to meet Michael and Mackenzie. This is about to be one of the most significant days of your fucking life! Get a grip, you asshole!
“Butterfly, I’m sorry,” I say, sitting on the edge of her bed and trying to move her hands from her face, but she won’t let me. She just keeps crying. She’s inconsolable.
“Baby, you’re not doing this by yourself,” I try to convince her. “I’m here with you every step of the way. This isn’t about me, it’s about you…”
“No, Christian, it’s about us!” she wails from behind her hands.
“Okay, okay, it’s about us. Please, don’t cry. Please…”
“Uuuuuuuuuuuuggggggghhhhhhhhh!” Okay, that’s a contraction. Now, she’s crying and hurting. She falls back on the bed, her head on the pillow and her face turned away from me. I make note of the time—4:12. I move to the other side of the bed and kneel on the floor beside her. She has a small sheen of sweat on her forehead, most likely from dealing with the contraction. She’s trying to breathe through the pain and when it looks like it’s subsiding, she just lay there with tears still streaming down her face. I gently stroke her forehead and decide to recommission a song that once meant despair for me:
For all the times I felt cheated,
I complained, you know how I love to complain.
For all the wrongs I repeated,
Though I was to blame, I still cursed that rain.
I didn’t have a prayer, didn’t have a clue,
Then out of the blue
God gave me you to show me what’s real
There’s more to life than just how I feel
And all that I’m worth is right before my eyes
And all that I live for though I didn’t know why
Now I do, ’cause God gave me you
Her cries have turned into sniffles as she looks into my eyes. I sing the rest of the song to her as her tears subside and I wipe the rest of them from her cheeks.
“I’m here for you, Butterfly,” I say softly. “This is the first day of the best of our lives. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Please forgive my selfishness. I’m fine now.” She looks into my eyes and I try to portray all the love and contrite apology that I feel in my soul. She says nothing, but she nods. I kiss her forehead gently before looking at my watch—fourteen minutes since her last contraction. I take her hand and take a deep breath.
“Get ready, baby,” I warn. Her eyes question, then constrict and sharpen. “Squeeze,” I instruct her. She squeezes my hand hard and whimpers. I start to breathe like the Lamaze instructor taught us and she mimics my breathing. Good girl. That’s my brave girl. You’ve got a job to do, Grey. Your wife needs you and nothing else matters.
“How are we doing?” Dr. Culley asks when she comes into the room. It’s now nearly midnight and Butterfly has been in labor for hours now. If we start from when she got the first twinge nobody told me about, it’s been roughly fourteen hours. Only one of her sacs broke, so they had to break the other one. Butterfly was none too pleased with swimming in bed, but they were quick and efficient in cleaning her up before the water soaked the mattress.
“She’s been resting peacefully,” the maternity nurse says, who is coincidentally named Anna.
“How far is she dilated?”
“When we last checked, she was nine. That was about an hour ago,” Anna replies.
“Good,” the doctor says. “We should probably check again.” The nurse nods and rises from her seat. Dr. Culley gently rouses Butterfly and I make sure that I’m right in her line of sight. “Mrs. Grey?”
Butterfly opens her sleepy eyes and takes a moment to focus. Once she sees Dr. Culley, she immediately searches for me. Chuck and Keri are here now in the sitting room and have graciously brought me a sweatshirt, jeans, and sneakers from the mansion as well as the expressed colostrum from the freezer. Relief floods her face when she sees me.
“I want to see how far you’ve dilated, okay?”
“Okay,” she says in a sleepy voice. Dr. Culley removes the blanket and checks Butterfly’s cervix. She nods at the Anna, who returns the nod and leaves the room.
“Okay, Ana,” she begins, “everything looks very good. The babies still have a strong heartbeat and I don’t see any complications at the forefront. You’re almost just at ten centimeters, so we’re going to get you ready and move you to the operating room, okay?” Butterfly nods calmly. “Remember, there may be no need for a cesarean, but we want to be prepared just in case. Now, a few instructions before we go.” She takes the seat I’ve been sitting in for most of the day and night. Anna comes back in and begins to assist me in getting dressed for the OR.
“These go over your clothes, Mr. Grey,” she whispers and I start to put the pants, gown and shoe covers over my clothes.
“When we get to the OR, we’re going to stop your epidural. You’re going to feel your contractions as soon as the epidural wears off, which will be a few short minutes, maybe less. They’re going to be hard and fast—about two to three minutes apart, so I want you to be prepared. Don’t push until I give you the go-ahead. You could hurt yourself and the babies. Utilize whatever breathing or pain-management techniques you’ve learned until I tell you to push, and when I tell you to stop pushing, you stop immediately. Do you understand that part?”
“Yes, doctor,” Butterfly says. I see the determination in her eyes even though she’s still tired. She’s knows that it’ll be time to meet our children soon.
“Now, when I tell you to push, you take a really deep breath and you push from here,” she points to her pelvis. “Push like you’re having a really hard bowel movement. Mr. Grey?” Oh, she’s talking to me. “You’re going to be her coach. You’re going to give her an even 10-count—ten seconds, use your watch if you need to. One, two, three…” Is she seriously trying to teach me how to count? “Ana, you don’t stop pushing until he stops counting. Then you wait for me to give you the go ahead to push again. Do not push through your face,” she warns. “You will be tempted. Pushing through your face will only result in broken blood vessels in your eyes and cheeks and it won’t help any of us. You will be able to tell the difference. The moment you feel yourself pushing through your face, stop and start pushing through your pelvis. I’ll be able to tell the difference, too,” she warns.
“You will be tempted, but please, don’t cry out,” she cautions. “It’s labor, I’ll expect to see some tears, but don’t scream. It causes the diaphragm to pull back…” She does a rising, pulling motion with her hands to illustrate the pull of the diaphragm. “That will suck the babies back in. That can mean the difference between fifteen to thirty minutes of pushing and forty-five minutes to two hours of pushing and a possible C-section.”
“Got it,” Butterfly says in a less weary voice, giving the doctor the thumbs up. She nods, then turns to me.
“Are we ready, Dad?” Dr. Culley asks.
“Ready,” I assure her.
“I hear that from fathers all the time and at the first sign of blood, they’re out cold on the floor.”
“That won’t be me,” I assure her while putting the ugly protective cap on my head.
“Okay, let’s get moving. Anna, as soon as you get to the OR, stop her epidural and assess. I’ll be there as soon as I change.” And she leaves.
“Mrs. Grey, you’re about to meet your babies, are you ready?” Anna’s voice is comforting and encouraging.
“More than ready,” Butterfly confirms as she adjusts herself in the bed. Anna, who is now dressed like me, calls for assistance to roll Butterfly’s bed out of the room. I stop to assess the scene in the birthing suite as Butterfly rolls by. All of our family and friends are scattered between the two sitting rooms in the suite. Even Maxine and Phil are here with their baby. I look over at the dining table and there’s my brother—no Valerie, but Elliot is here. He rises from his seat and gives me a huge hug, which I feverishly return.
“Thank you,” I whisper in his ear.
“Bros before hoes,” he whispers back, giving me a squeeze before releasing me to join my wife.
Okay, things really move quickly once we get into the OR. That epidural is stopped and the pain starts in something like three minutes. Just like that, the show is on. Butterfly is sobbing through the pain with her oxygen mask on, but she follows all of the doctor’s current and prior instructions. She never once cries out and is an excellent pusher. Thirteen minutes after we roll into the OR, Mackenzie Anastasia Grey is born at 6 pounds and 7 ounces and a final Apgar of 8 with a head full of red hair. She makes one quick cry of disapproval and just looks at her mother as if to say, “Hey! What gives?”
Butterfly doesn’t really get a chance to enjoy the comedy of the situation because Michael is being a bit stubborn. You want to stay up in there like your old man, huh, Mike? Sorry, son, but you’ve got to come out. It takes him a little longer to make his debut—twenty more minutes, in fact. I had never heard of a multiple birth taking that much longer and I was worried that he might have been in distress. He makes his presence known, though. Nothing like his demure, quiet, shy and retiring sister, Michael Allen Grey makes the rather long and loud announcement that he is not pleased to be ripped from his warm and quiet womb. As with Mackenzie, I’m able to cut his umbilical cord and he is placed immediately on his mother’s chest.
“Hey, you,” Butterfly says weakly. “What’s with all that noise? You and your counterpart over there have been playing Dodgeball with my insides for the last several months and you have the nerve to be displeased?” Michael instantly quiets, almost as if to say, “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
Michael is taken from his mom just as quickly as Mackenzie. He’s a little light—only 4 pounds 15 ounces, but not a major concern. His Apgar is 7 but Dr. Culley assures me that there’s nothing to be concerned about. He’ll most likely gain weight just fine with the extracted colostrum and a little time in the neonatal unit.
“You did great, Mommy!” I tell my beautiful wife as I kiss her on the forehead.
“Thank you, Daddy,” she says, really exhausted now, her hair sticking to her face. “I don’t hear them crying.”
“Your babies are beautiful, Ana,” Dr. Culley says almost in response to Butterfly’s concern. “I should warn you that your little girl is over here flirting with Dr. Mays.”
“That’s not funny,” I warn, and Butterfly chuckles a bit. Dr. Culley comes over to the bed.
“Your little boy is resting comfortably,” she says in a soothing tone. “He’s a little small—4-15, but that’s not terribly small. One ounce from five, so that’s good. He’s going to spend the night in Neonatal Intensive Care and we’ll see how he’s doing tomorrow. Remember, this is why we had you to expel the colostrum for just such a situation, but in my professional opinion, he’ll be just fine. He’s got a good, healthy color, strong lungs as we all heard, and his Apgar is 7, so no need to worry.” She smiles and gives Butterfly a wink.
“Oh, okay…” She’s starting to fade.
“Let’s get her placenta delivered,” Dr. Culley says. “Ana, can you give me one more push?” What? It’s not over? A couple of pushes later and the placentae plop out into a small tub at my wife’s crotch.
Eew, that’s probably what made grown men pass out. I look down at my wife and she’s shaking… profusely!
“Dr. Culley!” My alarm causes the doctor to rush to her bedside. She puts her hand on Butterfly’s shoulder.
“Another blanket?” she says softly.
“Y-yes… p-please…” Butterfly answers wearily. Dr. Culley nods. They begin to clean her up and remove the stirrups.
“It’s normal, Mr. Grey. She’ll be fine,” Dr. Culley says with a nod. I look back down at my wife, who hasn’t stopped shaking yet. I feel a little like window dressing right now, not quite sure where I should be or what I should be doing. I watch in silence as my wife’s shaking body is cleaned as much as possible, her vaginal area stitched from the slight tearing, and her soiled gown replaced with a clean one. The entire process takes less than ten minutes—and I’m still standing here wondering what my purpose is. The next nine words I hear answer that question for me.
“Mr. Grey, would you like to hold your children?”
I freeze. Would I like to hold my children? You bet your sweet ass I’d like to hold my children! But… Butterfly…
“G-go,” she whispers when I turn my gaze back to her. “M-m-make sure… our ch-children… are o-o-k-kay.” She’s still shivering while they transfer her from the table to the bed, then quickly throw heated blankets on top of her. I turn around and two nurses are waiting patiently with two small bundles of linen. My heart swells as I instinctively position my arm for my daughter… my beautiful girl, Mackenzie. She’s heartbreakingly gorgeous. I can’t tell if she knows who I am, but she is just lying there in my arm and looking up at me. I’m so a goner. She just stares at me, her little eyes asking “So, what now?” I almost laugh until I remember that my other arm is empty. I position my arm for my son, and the second nurse places Michael in my arm. Michael—a strong name! It means “gift from God.” Michael is the archangel closest to God and responsible for carrying out His judgments; St. Michael is the patron saint of soldiers… a strong name, indeed. Michael started out a couple of steps behind his sister—born second and smaller—but right now, here sleeping and yawning in my arms with his mouth forming the perfect little “o,” he takes up just as much room in my heart as she does.
I’m warm and the room suddenly feels like it’s full of light. No, not light, sunshine… huge beaming rays of sunshine that warm and light the four corners of the earth!
“Beautiful!” is all I can breathe. “H… hey, you two,” I push the words out of my mouth, unable to recognize my own voice. “I’m your dad,” I say in the same feeble voice. “Welcome to the world.” Mackenzie’s little non-seeing eyes say, “yeah, yeah, yeah, I so own you,” while Michael nuzzles into the blankets, his puckered mouth saying, “wake me when it’s feeding time.” I look back and forth between my children and sigh heavily.
“They’re beautiful, Butterfly,” I breathe, “perfect and beautiful.” I turn my gaze to my wife and she has stopped shaking and is fast asleep, resting with a content expression on her face.
“Perfect and beautiful,” I whisper to her sleeping form. They’re all perfect and beautiful—my gorgeous, strong, remarkable wife and my beautiful, healthy, wondrous children. I’m overwhelmed with how blessed and lucky I am at this moment. A tear escapes my eye and lands on Mackenzie’s blanket. Another one soon follows and before I know it, I’m weeping heavily—almost mournfully—over my children; my wondrous, glorious family.
All too soon, my babies are ripped from my arms and taken for their newborn tests and my beautiful wife is cashing in on a very much needed date with the sandman. I’m having a hard time composing myself when Dr. Culley comes over to me.
“Go take a walk,” she says softly. “Get something to drink. Get a bit of air. Tell your family the good news. Start with something wonderful, because your red eyes are going to make them think the worst.” I nod obediently, but try to dry my eyes. I look back at my Butterfly.
“She’ll be back in the suite in about twenty minutes.” I nod and lean down to my wife.
“Thank you,” I whisper tearfully in her ear, stroking her forehead gently so as not to wake her. “I love you, beautiful, beautiful, girl.” I kiss her softly before leaving the OR.
I find the nearest restroom and just take a moment to take a few deep breaths and compose myself. I look like shit. I remove the ridiculous blue cap from my head and splash some water on my face and swollen eyes. I dry my face with that horrible hard paper towel and leave the restroom. When I get beyond the OR doors, Chuck, Jason, and Lawrence are all standing there waiting for news. I can only nod and hope they understand what I’m trying to say. Just as I think I’m regaining my composure, part of the team from the OR bursts through the door, laughing and chatting and rolling my children right past me—Mackenzie in her bassinet and Michael in his incubator.
“Those are mine,” I choke, pointing at the two beautiful pink babies.
“No kiddin’?” Jason says, watching them roll my babies away for testing, talking and joking with one another. “Everything okay?” I know he’s referring to Michael in the incubator. I just nod. I’m getting choked up again and I’m trying to hold it together to tell our family and friends that everything is okay.
“Her Highness?” Jason asks, concerned, most likely perplexed by my emotions. I point to the OR doors and just nod. The collective sigh among the three of them is audible and the relief is palpable. Don’t worry, fellas, I’m upright so Ana is fine. If something were wrong with her, they would be rolling me out of that room!
I take a deep breath before I walk back into the birthing suite. All conversation stops when I enter. The suite is full of the usual suspects and you could hear an ant breathing in this room right now. In the sea of faces, my sight settles on my mother, her eyes caring and concerned—and I lose it all over again. I’m weeping in the middle of the room in front of all of our family and friends. My mother is in front of me in moments.
“Christian,” she says, her voice anxious. She cups my face. “What is it?” Start with something wonderful, you blubbering idiot.
“They’re… beautiful, Mom,” I say through shuddering breaths. “They’re the… most… beautiful little creatures… I’ve ever seen… in my… l-life.” Come on, Grey. Pull yourself together…
“Jewel?” Allen’s is voice is laced with fear. Well, put him out of his misery, you moron!
“She’s… f-fine,” I manage to squeak out. “She’s… they’re getting…” I can’t for a complete sentence. “She’ll be here… in a… minute.” I barely get the last word out before I crumple to the floor. Pride be damned, I can’t hold it in anymore. I’ve been strong all this time—for my Butterfly, for my babies—and now my soul is wrenched from all the fear I’ve hidden, from the overwhelming love and emotion that’s taking over me, from the immense relief that’s flooding my soul. They’re taking over me as I sit here on the floor of this $8000 birthing suite, sobbing like a child. My dad and Elliot help me off the floor and into the bedroom, away from prying eyes. They deposit me on the loveseat and my mother sits next to me, cradling my head while I continue to cry tears of joy and relief.
I awake extremely rested. I didn’t know that I had fallen asleep. I’m curled up on the loveseat and someone has covered me with a warm blanket. Mom, no doubt. Butterfly is sitting up in bed flipping through channels and looking as fresh as a daisy, and as beautiful as a rose. Her brow is furrowed though. I sit up and stretch—no kinks, no cricks, no tight muscles… surprising. I roll my neck and look at her and her gaze is on me, now.
“Good morning,” she says, softly. “How do you feel?”
“Ravenous,” I growl. “How are you?” I ask, my voice softening, and suddenly I can’t wait to be near her.
“The same,” she says, scooting over and welcoming me into her bed. I put my arms around her and kiss her gently on the scar on her ear and then underneath her earlobe. My hands instinctively reach for the beans and I’m momentarily alarmed by her nearly-flat stomach confined in a hospital waist belt. I rub it and sigh.
“That’s gonna take some getting used to,” I say, smiling softly and looking down at my hand on her stomach.
“I know,” she says with a sigh, placing her hand over mine. “I felt the same way, but when I saw Mackenzie, it was all worth it.” My smile widens, then falls.
“You didn’t see Michael?” I ask.
“He’s still in NICU. I wanted to wait for you.” I nod. I think she’s needs support because she’s afraid of what she’ll see.
“He’s beautiful, baby,” I reassure her. “I tried to show you, but you were already asleep. You looked so angelic and after the ordeal you’d just had, I couldn’t wake you.”
“It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be,” she admits. “Well, most of it wasn’t. I thought the labor was going to be much longer, but waking up to intense pain was not fun. I won’t have the 48-hour labor story, though, thank God.”
“Well, I’m going to rustle us up some food and see if I can rustle up our children.” I stand up and stretch. “Why were you frowning earlier?”
“Oh! Well, for upwards of $8000 a night, you would think we would be able to get some premium cable channels. I can only get basic and only the substandard channels at that.” I have to agree with her on that one.
“Let me look into that, okay? What do you want for breakfast?”
“I’m just hungry,” she shrugs. “Something delicious.” She smiles.
“Coming right up.” I go out into the sitting room and Allen and Elliot are both asleep on opposite sofas. I guess I should send out for breakfast for them, too. When I leave the room, Jason is just about to switch with Williams, who has been here all night with two other members of the security staff. Chuck has come with him, too.
“Good morning, sir,” Chuck greets. I appreciate that even with our newfound friend-and-family relationship, he—like Jason—can fall back into professionalism as needed.
“Good morning. Back on duty?” I ask.
“Not just yet, sir… our version of a ride-along to get me back in the swing of things.”
“Keri?” The light immediately leaves his eyes, but he tries not to show it.
“She’ll be leaving in two weeks. She has stayed as long as she possibly could and she has to get back. She has a job and a life, you know… family and friends…” I realize that he’s saying this more for himself than for me. I nod. I don’t want to make it any harder on him, so I just nod.
“Maybe his ride-alongs can wait another week or so,” I say to Jason as discretely as possible. “It’s going to be rough on him when she leaves. Let him spend time with her.” Jason turns a scrutinizing eye to me.
“You’re getting soft,” he mumbles.
“Shut the fuck up and do what I said,” I growl. “And my wife is hungry, and so am I… and I’ve got two freeloaders lying on sofas in there, so you may want to get them something, too.”
“The beloved Mrs. Taylor and some of the staff are way ahead of you. They should be here very soon with a special push breakfast for Her Highness.” Push breakfast. That reminds me… I need to put some fire under my push gifts. I should have had them ready by now, but I was so sure I would have a little more time even though Dr. Culley warned us that the twins would most likely be born early. “Earth to Christian…”
Jason snaps me out of my train of thought and I realize that I’ve been daydreaming.
“I’m going to the nursery. I’ll be right back.”
“Do you need an escort, sir?” Lawrence asks. I shake my head.
“I think it’s okay,” I say before taking the long hallway to where my little princess is residing. I can hardly wait to see her again, but when I turn the two corners to get to the nursery, a very unwelcome sight greets me.
Valerie is there—gazing into the window. Her hands and face are pressed so hard against the glass that you would think she was looking at her own babies.
“You’re a beautiful, beautiful little girl,” she says just above a whisper. “I’m your godmother, even though you don’t know it yet and it may never be official, but I’m going to love you anyway. I’ll love you from afar and I’ll take you places and buy you special things that’ll be just between us when you come to visit your Uncle Elliot.” She smiles widely. “I never dreamed you would be so beautiful. I’m glad that I was here to see you. It may be a while before I meet you in person because King Christian thinks I’m the devil and Queen Ana hates me so much…”
Now, she’s right about how I feel right now, but Ana? Ana doesn’t hate her. Ana never hated her. In fact, Ana’s still really hurting over the breakdown of their friendship. Something is so not right with this picture, but I don’t have the time to analyze it myself and as much as I want to get my hands on my daughter, something won’t allow me to interrupt Valerie’s exchange. Instead, I walk around the long way to the neonatal ICU to check on my little prince.
“He’s doing wonderfully, Mr. Grey,” the intern says as she walks with me to Michael’s incubator. “He’s taking his colostrum very well and his coloring looks much better. We were a bit concerned about his extremities—they were a little more blue than usual, but he pinked up very nicely overnight. He has a healthy set of lungs, too, and he’s opening his eyes more today.” Just when she says that, I look down and he’s looking at me… or at least I’d like to think he’s looking at me. I know that he can’t see much beyond maybe a blob about a foot in front of him, but those little non-seeing eyes are on his old man right now.
“Hey, little guy,” I say, bringing my face as close to the incubator as possible. “I hear you’re doing really well. That’s the Grey blood in you, son. You hurry and put on some weight so we can get you out of this thing, okay?”
He wiggles a bit, then settles again and I would like to think he somewhat understood what his dad was saying. My mind knows better, but my heart won’t listen. I choose to go with my heart right now.
I spend a few more minutes with my baby boy before thanking the intern and heading back to the nursery for Mackenzie. I’ve given Valerie enough time to bond with my baby. When I get there, Valerie is gone and so is Mackenzie. I knock on the nursery door.
“Baby Girl Grey?” I ask when the nurse opens the door.
“Oh, they took her to be fed. She should be with her mom right now. Are you the father?”
“Yes,” I say, trying not to show my relief too much. She nods.
“She has your hair. It’s going to get a little darker as she gets older, but when the sun hits it, it’s going to shine just like it is right now. My husband’s a redhead, too, so our son came out quite the little ginger.” She laughs. I return her smile.
“Thank you,” I say before leaving the nursery room door and returning to my wife’s side.
The food has arrived and Gail, Marilyn, and Ms. Solomon are setting up at the dinette table. I’m ravenous and the food smells so good, but I have to see Mackenzie first. I knock on the bedroom door, which is now closed, before barging in. The sight that greets me is enough to bring any man to a crumpled mess on the floor all over again.
My wife is breastfeeding our daughter.
She hasn’t noticed that I’d entered the room as she is focused solely on Mackenzie. She’s cooing at our baby, who is hungrily feasting on her mother’s nipple while holding on to Butterfly’s thumb with the strength of Solomon.
“That’s my good girl,” Butterfly coaches gently, though I don’t think Minnie Mouse here really needs any coaching. I stand against the door, gazing at my girls for I don’t know how long until our solace is disrupted by a knock on the door.
“Quit hogging the baby and open the door before the food gets cold!” Of course, it’s Allen. That man needs a kid, I swear.
“My wife is exposed, so you’ll just have to wait,” I tell him.
“What? It’s too soon to be doing the nasty!” he scolds. I’m about to retort, but Butterfly silences me.
“Just stop,” she says, softly. “He’s been working for you for a year and you don’t know that you’re just egging him on?” she laughs. “Besides, I think we’re done here.” She positions Minnie Mouse and gently rubs her back until she gives up gas. “Good girl,” she says. “All done?” She tries to latch Minnie back on, but my daughter has had her fill.
“Were you watching us the whole time?” she asks and she closes her robe.
“I was,” I respond. “You looked so beautiful… I couldn’t turn away and I dare not disturb you.” She smiles again.
“You’re so sweet, Christian.”
“And you’re remarkable,” I say, smiling back at her. “Should I let the ruffians in? They come bearing edibles.”
“Oh God, yes, please!” she exclaims. I open the door and Allen is the first to lead the charge. He has two hefty plates stacked with everything I saw on the table for Butterfly’s gourmet push breakfast:
Baked currant doughnuts; semolina pancakes with honey; butterscotch sticky buns; a wheat breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, feta cheese, and spinach; eggs benedict with smoked salmon and hollandaise; cinnamon and brown sugar brioche French toast with Nutella and fresh fruit; and chicken-apple sausage. Marilyn is right behind him with fresh squeezed orange juice and coffee.
“No, I’m not hungry, but thank you,” I say sarcastically as Allen breezes by me. He turns around and glares at me.
“When you push two human beings out of your genitals, I’ll bring you breakfast in bed.” He ceremoniously turns back to Butterfly, placing her plates on a nearby rolling tray. “These are for my Jewel. I didn’t know what you might have a taste for, so I brought you some of everything.”
“I just may eat it all!” Butterfly groans. “I feel like I haven’t eaten in weeks.”
“Well,” he places flatware on the tray and rolls it over to Butterfly, “you take the food and give me my goddaughter.” He looks over at me. “May I, Mr. Grey?” I nod once.
“By all means, Mr. Forsythe,” I reply. Butterfly gently hands our daughter over to Allen, who becomes lost in “Cooville” in a nanosecond. Butterfly digs into breakfast, groaning with every bite. She worked very hard to bring our children into the world. She can have whatever she wants.
“Elliot?” I say, capturing my brother’s attention. “Can I talk to you for a sec?” Elliot’s expression is a combination of confused and concerned, but he follows me out of the suite into the hallway.
“What’s up, Bro?” he asks.
“Elliot, I think your girlfriend needs a psychiatrist.” Elliot sighs
“Look, Christian, I’m very aware of how you feel about Val. Can we not do this right now?”
“Please, Elliot, hear me out.” His demeanor changes immediately. I don’t know why, but I can only assume it was my tone of voice.
“Okay,” he acquiesces.
“You saw how she treated Butterfly at Christmas. It was no secret. It was like she loathed her. Butterfly never responded once, but Valerie just wouldn’t stop until I checked her. Then she acted like she had no idea what I was talking about.”
“I remember!” he snaps, as a means of shutting me up.
“You’re with her all the time. You see it, too. You know what I’m talking about.” He doesn’t respond. He just put his hand on his neck. “When I went to the nursery to get Mackenzie, Valerie was there at the window talking to her. She didn’t see me. She talked about how much she loves Mackenzie and that she’s still going to be Mackenzie’s godmother even though—and I quote—‘Queen Ana’ hates her so much.’” Elliot frowns deeply.
“What?” He’s truly shocked by this revelation. “Ana doesn’t hate her…”
“You and I know that! Butterfly knows that! Valerie doesn’t!” I declare. “Valerie is not attacking Ana when she sees her. It’s attack in the form of defense! Valerie is defending herself. I don’t know if she’s bipolar, schizophrenic, or just plain delusional, but something’s not right in the belfry!”
“Elliot, something is wrong!”
“You don’t think I know that?” he hisses at me. “I’ve tried to talk to her! I tried! Now she’s pushing me away!” He knows. Shit, of course he knows. “I love her, man. I love her…” He’s fighting his emotions. This is not a repeat of Katherine Kavanaugh. Something is really wrong and Elliot is miserable.
“Is there anything I can do? Any way I could help?” I hate to see my brother like this. I must admit, absolutely nothing panned out from the tail I had on her, so I just had it stopped. It was a waste of time and money. He shakes his head.
“I don’t even know,” he admits. “I don’t even know what to do. You could do one thing for me.”
“Sure, Bro. Anything you need.”
“You can explain to Ana what you just explained to me,” he beseeches me. “She doesn’t hate Ana. I know she doesn’t. I just don’t know what’s wrong.” I nod.
“Sure thing, Elliot.” I pat him on the shoulder.
“I’m going to go and find her… and we’re going home, okay?” I nod.
“Do you want to take some food with you?” I offer. “It’s enough to feed an army.” He shakes his head.
“No, we’re just gonna go,” he says, defeated. “I’m glad Ana Montana and the babies are okay.”
“Thanks again for coming. I really appreciate it. And Elliot… please do what you can to get her some help.”
“I’ll do what I can,” he says as he sulks away down the hall. I sure hope he figures out what’s going on with his girl. At first, I thought she was just being a bitch, but what you say and do when you think no one’s watching makes all the difference in the world. I’m sure that there’s something going on that none of us knows about.
While I’m out here, I remember Butterfly’s television situation.
“Excuse me, nurse?”
“Yes, sir?” the nurse at the station greets me.
“I don’t mean to be a nitpicker, but we’re paying a hefty sum for this room, and my wife can’t get HBO?” She sighs.
“Yes, sir, unfortunately that’s true. The administration is working on it, but right now, every room gets the same basic cable package. We can’t get different signals to different rooms. She does have a blue ray player in the entertainment center underneath the flat screen, and we have a very large selection of DVDs if that will help.” I nod.
“I see. I’ll find out what she wants to do.” I turn around and go back to Butterfly’s suite, torn between the sympathy I feel for my brother and the glee I feel at the birth of my children.
A/N: So alas, the day has finally come. I hope you have enjoyed the birth of Christian and Ana’s children and look forward to the adventures yet to come in their lives.
God Gave Me You—Bryan White… The song Christian was singing to Ana while she was in labor.
You can find the song along with pictures of places, things, and fashions 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 🙂