Becoming Dr. Grey: Chapter 63—Reinforcing the Family Dynamic

So, I’m in the process of moving my mailing list over to a new mailing service and I noticed that quite a few people have email addresses that have bounced. I’ve tried to send emails manually to you all who have bounced email and thus far, only one person has responded. So… if you do not receive an email directly from my mailing list for this chapter, please let me know. We may need to update your email address.

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 63—Reinforcing the Family Dynamic

CHRISTIAN

“I would never want to be caught in negotiations with that woman,” Chuck tells me during debriefing. “She is vicious, cold, calculating—she can be manipulative, and when she goes in for the kill…” He whistles and shakes his head. He describes the meeting to me, how Butterfly used her feminine wiles to torment David, took every opportunity to exploit and expose his intentions, then dropped his position in his lap and left him sitting in his own squalor.

“Her mind works like a computer if she’s opposed to you,” Chuck continues. “She’s throwing the facts at him and as she’s talking to him, shit’s just dropping…” He’s snapping his fingers repeatedly to indicate how quickly the transactions and conversation are occurring.

“She’s reading his reactions and every time he reacts to something, more shit drops and she just throws it back at him. Just from reading his reactions, she discovered more shit that the Feds are going to find,” he says. I frown.

“Such as?” I inquire.

“Most likely, Edwise doesn’t have much income that can be traced to its actual business functions. From day one, it was probably just a storefront.” My eyes widen.

“Shit! Really?”

“Really. This is probably the reason why they quickly cleared Ana of any charges. If he’s been in business for just about five years or so and she just took custody about three months ago, ran an internal audit, then replaced any money she took out of it, there’s no way she could have been aware of what was going on. It was a simple matter of process of elimination on her part. But just sitting there, she figured out that he expected to drop the apple in her lap and for her to take the fall.”

“He couldn’t have, it’s an LLC,” I point out. Chuck shrugs.

“Yeah! Duh! We don’t know how he didn’t know this could happen. But I swear, she handled that shit like a mob boss. Who set up that meeting? Did you?” I shake my head.

“Nope. She did. She got on the phone first thing this morning as soon as she got that report. I don’t know who she talked to, but she was getting dressed before she even knew the meeting was approved. I cleared the information with Welch, had a couple of security precautions in place of my own, just for my own peace of mind, and that was it. For the most part, she did this all by herself.”

I could have protested, but I knew it wouldn’t have done any good. She needed closure. However, listening to Chuck talk about how she handled this asshole—her quick thinking and ability to read signals and exploit opportunities—is making me give some serious thought to any reservations I might have been feeling about her having to make any emergency decisions in terms of GEH. Not that I didn’t think she could do it, it’s just that GEH is in fact my baby, but I really can’t think of anyone else that I would trust in a time of turmoil if immediate decisions had to be made and I was incapacitated. I know that she would consult with the appropriate people for guidance on any matters with which she would be unfamiliar and I sincerely trust that she would make solid decisions to protect our legacy. I suddenly feel very foolish for my initial hesitation.

I didn’t even see her when she got home earlier. I had to find her and when I did, she was squirreled away in the nursery looking into Minnie’s crib. I approached quietly and found her so lost in thought that she didn’t even know that I had entered the room. She was still in that sexy white tuxedo that fell provocatively over her ass and I had to stop myself from grabbing it. I was going to say something, but I heard her murmuring to Minnie’s sleeping form and thought better of it:

“I’ll make sure you know how important you are; how special you are. The wolves won’t get to you—not because I’ll keep you sheltered, but because I’ll make you strong.”

I just backed away and out of the room and let her have that much-needed moment with her daughter. Now that I hear about the details of her meeting with David, I see why she needed to reinforce this fact with Mackenzie. It’s going to be an adventure raising a daughter with Lady Anastasia in the house. I turn my attention back to Chuck.

“What about David? What do you think we should be doing now? How did you two feel when you left that meeting?” I turn to Lawrence.

“He was decimated, sir,” Lawrence says. “He was face down on that table like a chastised little boy. He never even opened the envelope by the time we left, but I’m sure he already knew what was in it. I would say that we should probably know what kind of connections he has in prison, if any, because if he does, that’s who he’s going to be reaching out to, now. He’s not going to be able to do anything in terms of outside communication without the Feds knowing unless he has connections.”

“As far as I know, he doesn’t have any connections. I’ve got Welch looking into it,” I say. “As far as any connections that he has with his business, well, they’ve been laying pretty low. They let him ride out that fucked-up trial all by himself and now, like you said, the Feds are crawling up his ass. If they have any good sense, they’re all burning and burying paper trails right now, disavowing all knowledge of that fucker, but you never know. So, we’ll just keep our eyes open.” I steeple my fingers in front of my lips. “Decimated, huh?”

“Destroyed!” Chuck reinforces. I look over at Lawrence who splays out both hands and makes the noise like a building exploding. I smile inwardly. Don’t fuck with Madame Butterfly.

“Well, gentlemen, I think this operation was a success. We’ll keep our eye on Walla Walla, Washington and await word from the federal government on progress about Mrs. Grey’s company. My only regret is that I wasn’t there to see my wife in action.” Chuck laughs.

“I think you would have rather not seen it, sir,” he says. “There was a moment or two when she taunted that poor sucker and I thought he was going to crawl across the table at her.”

“Is that so?” I say, raising an eyebrow. He nods.

“Unfortunately, yes,” he says. “My only regret is that she only allowed me to hit him three times, and not the way I wanted to… well, once. I got a good gut shot.”

“Oh, now I’m jealous.” I say, eliciting a chuckle from the other men in the room. “I still would have liked to see her bring him to his proverbial knees. From the sound of it, he was primordial ooze by the time you all left.”

“Worse,” Lawrence says. “Primordial ooze would have been an improvement. That man was really in bad shape.” I look over at Chuck who nods. Well, think about his position. He’s lost all of his worldly goods. He has no connections. The Feds are coming after him. He’s already in jail for nearly 30 years and by the time the Feds are done, he’ll most likely be in there for life unless they show some mercy and let him serve his sentences concurrently, which isn’t likely with all the charges he’s going to accumulate. He’s going to run up a shitload of fines that he won’t be able to pay. His partners are probably going to come after him. And all of this was orchestrated by a woman that he claimed to love with all his heart whom he tried to destroy. She showed up at the prison, looking like the several billion dollars that she’s worth, dropped the bomb on him and left.

Yeah, I’d say he’s less than primordial ooze, because primordial ooze had the beginning cells of life in it. He doesn’t even have that right now. I’m just about to change the direction of the conversation when Jason bolts out of his seat standing straight up, glaring at his phone. Without a word and with no regard for anyone in the room, he makes a beeline for the door.

“Jason?” I catch his attention before he makes it to the door. I haven’t dismissed the debriefing yet. Where the hell is he going? He actually turns and gazes at me like I’m interrupting him. “Where’s the fire?”

“I… um… it… I’m sorry sir I’ll be right back.” He says it all in one breath and he’s gone, obviously with no intention of stopping or explaining. That’s enough to make your hair stand on end, but it can’t be a security emergency or he would have told everyone in the room. I will definitely need to have a private word with Mr. Taylor. Seeing as to how my head of private security has bolted out of the debriefing, I decide to dismiss the meeting.

“Chuck…” I hold him back once everyone has left. “How did it feel getting back in the game?”

“Pretty good,” he said nodding. “I was itching to get my hands on that fucker almost since day one, so it felt good to be able to slap him around a little bit.”

“I wasn’t too keen on Butterfly going up there before she was cleared by the doctor, but I knew there was no stopping her once she got that report. I appreciate you keeping her safe from that fucker. I know there wasn’t much that he could do to her under the circumstances, but… well, you know how I am.”

“Yeah, I know,” he concurs. There’s a pause before I ask, “Talk to Keri lately?” He sighs.

“Every day… I think she’s got a cold or something. She hasn’t been well for the last couple of days.”

“Has she been to the doctor?” I ask.

“Nobody goes to the doctor for a cold, Christian,” he says. I raise my eyebrows at him. “And before you ask, no, she’s not pregnant. I already asked.”

“You’re sure about that?”

She is,” he says. “She got her period, so no, that’s not it. She’s just under the weather. Think about it. It’s 35 in Seattle and 80 in Anguilla.”

“Okay, but I’ve never heard of anybody getting a cold from going from cold weather to hot… just the other way around.”

“Well, I have,” he says, “and I’m worried about her. She’s a nurturer. She doesn’t tend to allow others to take care of her.”

“If it’s just a cold, what are you worried about?”

“It’s just a cold now. If she doesn’t take care of herself, you know it can get worse.” He rubs his hand over his neck.

“How are you holding up?” I ask. He shakes his head.

“Don’t ask me that,” he says, lowly. “I can’t even say.”

“But if you hold it in, it only makes it worse,” I warn. “I don’t know your personal business, but I know enough to know that you don’t have a therapist. I know that you may talk to your sponsor when you want to take a drink, but you don’t vent to anyone and Keri’s been gone for nearly three weeks after being by your side for three months. So again, I ask, how are you holding up?” His shoulders fall.

“Not good,” he admits. “Day by day, that’s all I can do. I feel like I can’t breathe without her. No one has ever affected me this way. So, all I can do is work… concentrate on my job. Keep busy. Protect Ana, protect the twins. Protect myself. Stay clean. Do everything I promised her that I would do. One day at a time… that’s all I can do.” I nod. How is it that I can empathize so well with these men who have been without their women?

“I don’t know that I could have did what you did,” I tell him. “Let her go, I mean. It took guts for you to know that your life was here and to let her go to hers, but I just don’t know that I could have done it. Wild dogs couldn’t have kept me away from Butterfly.”

“That’s so different, man,” Chuck laments.

“Yes, and no,” I tell him. “Ana might as well have been on a different planet when we first met and I loved her almost from the very beginning. You were there, you saw it!”

“Yeah, I did see it,” he says, “I thought she was going to have to get a restraining order against you, and you had me watching her!” I gesture to him as if to say, “See?”

“I know a thing or three about not being able to stay away,” I say. “That night you led us to Canlis and we dismissed you… man, I crashed a date. I’ve never crashed a date! My women were mine! I didn’t take them from anybody. If I had to take them, they weren’t mine. I’m ashamed to say this, but that woman could have had a ring on her finger and I don’t think I would have pursued her any less fervently.” Chuck frowns.

“Dude, not cool.”

Dude, didn’t matter. I loved her too much to be without her. She threatened to put me in jail and had every intention of doing so and I still had to be with her! What does that say?”

“Why was she going to put you in jail?” he asks surprised. “How??” That’s when I realized that we never told him that part of the story.

“Remember that Spyder I used to own?” He nods. “Remember it got totaled?” He nods again. “I decked the guy who hit it… in front of a cop. He was drunk driving when he rear-ended me, turned my car into a tuna can, then when he realized that it was me that he hit, he said that I slammed on the brakes and caused the accident. I was in cuffs before he hit the ground. This I Don’t Go Easy On The Rich Judge Hammerfuck wanted to make an example out of me because he was vying for his seat on the bench that year and wanted to throw the book at me. He wanted to put me in jail, but it was my first offense and he couldn’t do it, so guess who got community service and group counseling… and guess who was the facilitator?”

“Whoa!” he exclaims. “Ana was your shrink?”

“No!” I snap, feeling a bit sensitive, I don’t not why. He looks at me with mirth. “She was the facilitator of the group counseling that I was forced to attend at the community center for anger management.”

“Bullshit you had anger management!?” he says it all in one breath before he caught himself. “Sorry, sir,” he said a little sheepishly. I roll my eyes at him, but laugh inwardly.

“I know, right?” I say to lighten the mood a bit. “I bought my way out of the community service, but you know that shit wasn’t working with Butterfly. She busted my balls from day one—hated the fucking ground I walked on; walked up the front of me and down the back of me. I couldn’t understand why she felt so goddamn high and mighty and why my charm didn’t work on her, but it pissed me the fuck off… and turned me the fuck on like nothing else in the world. I was gone almost immediately, but I refused to admit it. I tried everything—charm, intimidation, domination, bribery—nothing worked. It just got worse and worse.”

“I still don’t get how this situation is the same as mine, Christian,” he says, bringing the conversation full circle.

“Tell me which is worse… loving someone and wanting to be with them so much that you can think of little else and having them an arm’s reach away, but you can’t have them because they hate you… or having an ocean between you.”

He honestly has to ponder that thought. He’s hurting because Keri is so far away and he can’t be with her, but no doubt the thought of having her near him and he couldn’t have her because she hates him would be just as agonizing if not more.

“I tried to express how I felt about her—twice—and she ran both times. The first time, she bolted. The second, she called me everything including the spawn of Satan and then she bolted.”

“That’s when you sent me to watch her?” he asks.

“No, I sent you to watch her after the first time,” I correct him. He whistles.

“You had it bad.”

Real bad… still do. I hate to say that Elena was right, but she put a spell on me. I’m lost without her…”

“I know how you feel,” he says just above a whisper. I put my hand on his shoulder.

“I’m not saying that you’ve done anything wrong or that you’re a lesser man than I am for letting her go. I’m just saying that for weeks, I was in the same position that you are right now… sick and lost because she wasn’t there. And let’s not forget that time she went to Montana and turned my entire world upside down.” Chuck winces.

“Ew! Yeah! Forgot about that,” he frowns with empathy.

“Man, I thought my life was over, I really did… not in the sense that I was going to do myself in—although had I not had my company, I have no doubt that I would have—but in the sense that I didn’t want anything or anybody near me. I didn’t want friends; I didn’t want family; I didn’t want love; I didn’t want kindness; I didn’t want light; I didn’t want anything. All I wanted to do was run my company 24-7. I was having a sleeping quarters built in my office, which is still unfinished, and it would have been useless because I don’t remember sleeping. I wanted to surround myself with business and numbers and darkness and not think about what I had lost. Every room I entered had to have as little light as possible because light meant illumination and color and I couldn’t deal with it.” Chuck looks at me almost sympathetically.

“Dude, you were worse off than I am. I don’t feel like that,” he declares. “When I think of her, I think of light, love, and good things. I’m hurting because she’s not here and she’s not with me and I want her back. That’s the only darkness… the darkness that she’s not here and I try to chase that away, not run to it. I guess the difference is that I know I’ll see her again. I don’t know exactly when, but I know we’ll be together again.”

“Well, that’s a healthy attitude,” I tell him. “And the fact that you talk every day, that’s good, too. Those are things that I didn’t have.  But you can see how I felt the loss, can’t you?” He nods.

“Yeah,” he says, “I can. It was always hard to see you as human, but then again, you wanted it that way…” My phone buzzes in my pocket and I put my finger up to pull it out.

“Excuse me,” I say as I pull it out and swipe the screen. It’s a text from Jason.

**Will you please meet me in my apartment in ten minutes? **

I frown. In his apartment? This is personal and probably not good. Has something happened? Is someone hurt?

“Is everything okay?” Chuck asks, examining my expression. He didn’t get a text, so I assume this is quite personal and I can’t betray Jason’s confidence.

“I’m… not sure, but I’ll let you know,” I say before sending a text back to Jason.

**Sure. **

I talk to Chuck a few minutes more before taking the hallway from Security Central past mine and Butterfly’s office and down the corridor towards the lower level living quarters. I’m surprised to run into Butterfly in the community sitting room, still in her tuxedo pants and a sexy black sleeveless shirt and high heels, also headed in the same direction.

“Well, don’t you look scrumptious,” I say, halting her progress. She turns around, a bit startled like she didn’t expect to see me there.

“Hey,” she says, taking the few steps to meet me. I take her in my arms an inhale her scent, kissing her gently on the lips, then the neck, indulging for a moment in the opening in her blouse and the full mounds exposed there before coming back to her lips.

You put a spell on me…

“You get a text, too?” I ask breathily. Her brow furrows slightly.

“What do you think it is?” she says softly.

“I don’t know. Let’s go find out.” I take her hand and lead her to the living quarters.

When we get there, a somewhat frightened little girl sits in the living room in the large leather chair with her legs folded under her. Gail looks at us from the kitchen and Jason is standing after letting us in. I can tell that he’s been standing the entire time.

“Sophie?” Butterfly says in a soft tone. Sophie’s blue eyes tentatively turn to Butterfly, then soften slightly.

“You’re not pregnant anymore,” she says in a small voice. Butterfly looks at Jason, who nods once at her. She steps inside and stoops in front of Sophie.

“No, I’m not,” she says softly. “I had twins, a boy and a girl.” She smiles widely.

“Really?” Sophie says. “What are their names?”

“Michael Allen and Mackenzie Anastasia.” Sophie smiles.

“I like that,” she says. “They have regular names. I’ve heard some really weird names like Lamoria and no offense, but what kid wants to go through life with a name like Andromeda? We call her Drome!” she exclaims. Butterfly laughs.

“That’s not very nice,” she giggles.

“She told us to!” Sophie retorts. “You see how weird it is? Mackenzie’ll be Kay or Kenzie or Mac—that’ll be cool… or even Ana. Michael… he’ll be Mike… or Al. Nothing weird there.” Ana nods.

“This is true. I didn’t think of that. We just liked the names. I guess we made good choices…” The two-way communications system beeps before Butterfly finishes her sentence, but nothing happens. There’s four people in this room that this thing could be summoning, but my wife springs into action first.

“Ana.”

The response is the gentle hungry cooing of one of our children.

“Well, that’s my cue,” she says, standing to her feet. “Would you like to come and meet the twins?” she says to Sophie, “if Jason and Gail say it’s okay, that is.” Jason nods and Gail comes from around the bar in the kitchen. Sophie’s face lights up as she leaps from the seat.

“Yeah!” she says, unable to hide her glee. Butterfly smiles at her. “Um, but my hands are dirty and I’m all dusty and stuff from outside.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Butterfly says. “We’ll stop by my room, get you a fresh T-shirt, and there’s hand sanitizer everywhere!” She holds out her hand and Sophie quickly takes it. “End two-way communications.” The intercom disconnects, and the cooing of my child silences. “Um… Gail, why don’t you come, too and we’ll let the gentlemen talk and… we’ll come back?”

“Good idea,” she says, taking Sophie’s other hand. The youngster is now in Seventh Heaven, forgetting whatever trouble has brought her here as she trots off with Butterfly and Gail to tend to the twins. Jason closes the door behind them, then stands for a moment with his back to me.

“I’m off duty, sir, I’m going to fix myself a drink,” he says.

“Go ahead,” I reply. He goes to the kitchen cupboard and pulls down a bottle of some dark amber liquid. He pours two fingers of the fluid into a glass and quickly throws it back, bottoming out the glass. He replaces the bottle, rinses and replaces the glass, and joins me in the living room. He’s nothing else if not efficient.

“When I left the debriefing so quickly, I got a text from Bird at the front booth that a taxi was here looking to be paid, and my daughter was inside. Of course, I told him to pay the man and got up there as quickly as I could. As you can see, she’s not hurt or traumatized, just a little scared maybe. She’s been at that goddamn house for three days—alone! She hasn’t heard from her mother. She has no fucking idea where she is. Her cell phone is disconnected. There’s no way to get in touch with her. Some fucker has been coming to the house looking for her, scaring the shit outta Sophie.

“I don’t have custody of Sophie, just visitation that this bitch barely honors. I’m paying her a goddamn mint in child support. Why is her phone disconnected? Where the hell is she and why does my daughter look like she’s wearing hand-me-downs? And what the fuck do I do now? I can’t file a missing person’s report on this bitch. I’m not her next of kin.”

“No, Sophie is. What about her parents? Siblings?”

“Her mother’s dead. Never knew her father. I know she’s got a sister somewhere in… Colorado, I think. I don’t remember.” He thrusts his hands in his hair. “What should I do? I don’t know what to do.”

“Well, you can’t send Sophie back to that house alone,” I say, stating the obvious.

“Well, fucking duh!” he shoots. Okay, I had that coming.

“Let’s call Al,” I say. He nods frantically.

“Yeah! Yeah, that’s a good idea.”

“Can I ever ask for a simple day in my life with you guys?” Al laments on the speaker phone in my office. “Does this woman have a job?”

“You mean besides full-time pain in the ass?” Jason says. “No. She gets a shit-ton of child support from me and she was getting alimony before she married Deleroy. She kept that marriage from me for a year and had to pay back the alimony I paid her. I just made her put it in a trust fund for Sophie that can’t be touched until Sophie’s twenty-one, and even then, only by Sophie. I don’t know what Deleroy’s paying her, if anything.”

“Okay, so that eliminates trying to reach her at her job. You have to notify her that you have Sophie. Send a certified letter. Leave a letter at the house. Notify the school. Notify the authorities. If there’s no word after thirty days, file for custody of your daughter. I’ll have a process server try to reach her for the next few days. It might be a good idea to have Alex try to find her.”

“Yeah, as much as I would love to see her crawl under a rock and die—and no, I’m not taking it back—you might be right about Alex finding her,” Jason says.

“Should we actually file a missing person’s report, Al, or should we just notify the authorities that we have the child because she hasn’t been seen for three days?” I ask.

“Notify Child Services. They’ll notify the police so that they’ll have location of the child. Sophie can do a missing person’s report if she wants.” I look at Jason and he shrugs.

“I’ll give her the option. She doesn’t seem too shook up that her mother is missing, just afraid to be home alone. I’ll talk to her.”

“Yes, do that. You might have a bigger problem on your hands if this is a regular occurrence.”

“Only if I can prove it,” Jason says, running his hands through his hair.

“As Sophie’s father, you may not have a choice!” Al says emphatically. There’s silence for a moment.

“I’ll talk to Sophie,” Jason says.

After clearing it with Jason, I send an email to Andrea to draft a letter to Shalane Deleroy and send it via certified mail first thing in the morning notifying her of Sophie’s whereabouts and to cc a copy to Al in legal so that he can get it to a process server to try to have it served manually. Jason simultaneously contacts Alex and gives him Ms. Deleroy’s information and description and puts him on her trail in an attempt to locate her. He’s still talking to Alex when the two-way communications come to life and we both answer simultaneously.

“We were just trying to find out where you boys are,” Butterfly’s voice wafts over the intercom.

“We’re in my office, Butterfly.” I then hear Sophie say, “Oh, my God, ‘Butterfly,’ that’s so ca-yuuute!” Butterfly giggles and softly replies, “I think so, too.”

“You’re still on speaker, my love,” I inform her.

“I know this, my dear,” she responds. “Should we join you or wait for you here?”

“Join us here, please.” Once we get things cleared with Jason and his family, there a little talk I should have with Butterfly.

“On our way.”

“Who should we call at Child Services? Are they still open?” Jason asks, looking at his watch. It’s now well into the evening and we should be eating dinner soon.

“We’ll ask Butterfly. She’ll know what to do.” A few minutes later, Butterfly, Gail, and Sophie come into my office. Butterfly has changed out of her tuxedo pants and black shirt into one of her sexy wrap skirts and a wrap shirt and belly-wrap—all wrapped up like a present—and Sophie has borrowed a gray T-shirt with burgundy writing that reads “Vegan Zombies” with stick figures walking around in search of “grains” instead of “brains.” Clever. I can’t help but wonder where she got it and how long she’s had it… she’s not a vegan.

“Oh, my gosh, Dad, the twins are adorable,” Sophie says. “Miss Ana and Miss Gail let me hold them while I was sitting in the rocking chair. They’re sooooo tiny and pink. I don’t think I’ve ever seen babies that little before.” She looks around the large room with the dark furnishings. “Your office is kind of gloomy, Mr. Christian,” she says. We all smile at her innocence and marvel. Jason stands and offers his seat to his daughter. Gail takes the seat next to her and Butterfly hoists herself up onto my desk. God, she looks so sexy up there. Jason stoops in front of Sophie.

“Listen, Baby Boo, your mom has custody of you. I only have visitation. So, there’s a few things that we need to straighten out before we can continue.”

“You’re sending me back, aren’t you?” Sophie asks flatly. He shakes his head.

“Not… by yourself, no.” he says. “We just want to make sure that we cover all of our bases so that we don’t get into any trouble, okay?”

“Okay,” Sophie says, still unsure.

“I need to ask you some questions. You don’t really seem upset about your mom being gone, just that you were in the house alone. Why is that?”

“Well, she always comes back,” Sophie says.

“Always comes back?” Butterfly exclaims horrified before she could catch herself, then quickly covers her mouth. “Oops, I’m sorry,” she says.

“No,” Jason says, looking up at her. “It’s okay. I need your help.” Butterfly nods. She climbs all the way up onto my desk and crosses her legs lotus style before she turns back to Sophie. I imagine she does this so that she appears less intimidating.

“Sophie, how often does your mom leave… like… this?” she asks.

“You mean how often does she leave for days?” Sophie says, wise beyond her years. “She didn’t used to do this. Lately, it’s more frequent. I’m almost 13. I’m okay at home alone, it’s just…” she trails off.

“Just what?” Jason asks.

“This latest guy she’s seeing. He’s creepy. He came to the house and she wasn’t there. I don’t like him and I really don’t trust him. I didn’t want to be there alone if he came again.” Jason’s jaw gets tight. Butterfly brings the conversation back around.

“You said lately it’s more frequent. How frequent and how lately?” Butterfly asks. Sophie shrugs.

“Maybe once or twice a month for the last…” Sophie squints her eyes like she’s trying to think.

“Has it been months? Years?” Jason coaxes.

“It’s been months,” Sophie says.

“Since she divorced Deleroy?” Jason asks. Sophie shakes her head.

“Before that,” she says. “Maybe just about a year. A little less, maybe.”

“Just about a year, Sophia?” Jason says. “You were 11 a year ago, not nearly 13.”

“I know, Dad, but I’m okay. Nothing happened to me. God, you’re so overprotective.”

“I’m not overprotective!” Jason shoots. “You’re here at my house and you had to take two buses and a cab to get here at night! Why didn’t you call me?”

“Because my phone is off, too,” she says softly. Jason’s frown deepens.

“What!?” he nearly shouts.

“Jason…” Butterfly cautions. He looks up at her and she shakes her head. “You’re losing you temper at the wrong person.” Jason takes a deep breath and looks at the floor.

“She barely lets me see you; barely lets me talk to you. Who do you call in case of emergency?”

“You,” Sophie says, her voice small.

“You haven’t called me, though,” he says, his voice controlled, and not raising his head. “You said she does this twice a month. Who have you called before?”

“Nobody.”

“So, if you have no phone, how do you make a call in case of an emergency?”

“I try to go to a neighbor, or to Louie’s.”

“Who’s Louie?” Butterfly asks.

“The store… down the street.” Jason throws his hands ups, turns away and starts to pace. His ex-wife has all the original earmarks of a drug addict, although Sophie doesn’t look abused or neglected, thank God. It’s beginning, though… left home alone, strange men coming to the house. She basically has to fend for herself—I could see that on Thanksgiving. I’m dying to know why Sophie couldn’t spend Christmas with her father.

“Sophie, can I ask you a personal question?” Butterfly says and Sophie nods. “Have you ever been approached or… touched by one of your mother’s boyfriends?” Sophie shakes her head.

“I haven’t been abused, Miss Ana,” Sophie says softly, but matter-of-factly. “If I had, I would tell Dad… it just… I feel like she doesn’t know I’m alive. She doesn’t pay me any attention until I’ve done something wrong or she thinks I’ve done something wrong or I have to do something for her or help her look good in front of her friends. She’s never there when I get home from school and if she is, she’s never awake… or she’s shut in her room with one of her boyfriends.”

“One of her boyfriends?” Jason asks. “How many does she have?”

“Jason,” Gail interjects, “Shalane’s love life is really none of our business.”

“It is if she’s constantly traipsing strange men around my daughter!” he retorts, and I concur. It’s never good to have strange men around a young girl, but Sophie is at a delicate age right now and very pretty—pubescent and ripe for a pedophile.

“Really, Dad, they don’t pay any attention to me and I don’t pay any attention to them,” Sophie says. “It’s not like, ten, or anything like that, but I don’t keep track. I barely see them, if ever, and when I do, they completely ignore me. Except today…” She trails off again.

“What happened today, Sophie?” my wife asks.

“Well, that’s why I came over here. This guy Reggie came looking for her yesterday and she wasn’t there. I’ve never seen him before yesterday, but when I told him that she wasn’t there, he just kind of looked at me. It made me feel creepy. Then he left. He came back today and she’s still not there. He hung around for a bit and I just wanted him to leave. He really made me feel creepy. I was gonna call Dad, so I left the house to head for Louie’s, but then I just didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want him to come back and I was there by myself. So, I came here instead.” Jason’s lips form a thin line.

“Listen, Baby Boo. Do you want to file a missing person’s report on your mom?” he asks, his voice soft. She shakes her head.

“No, she’ll be back, but you know when she finds out I not there, she’s going to come looking for me.”

“Yeah, I know,” he says. “We’re working on that. Have you eaten anything?” Sophie shakes her head. “Well, you’ve come just in time for dinner, so we’re going to eat and we’re going to talk and figure out what our next move is, okay?”

“Okay, Dad,” Sophie says.

“So why don’t you go up with Gail and I’m going to talk to Ana and Christian for a moment.” She stands and gives her father a hug and a kiss, then walks away with Gail, headed for the kitchen. “Thank you both for your help in this situation.”

“So, what do you want to do now?” I ask him. He sighs heavily.

“I want custody of my daughter,” he says. “It sounds like her mother is going on drug binges and she’s leaving her there alone! She apparently has no way to get money to get a cab to safety, and her closest hope is Louie’s? Whatever and wherever the fuck that is.” He runs his hand through his hair again. “I hope this doesn’t mean that I have to quit, but if it does…”

“Use Al,” I tell him before he finishes the sentence. “She can stay as long as you like. If and when your apartment gets too small, you can use the guestrooms… or the boathouse… whatever will make your family comfortable. Have you talked to Gail already?” He shakes his head.

“No, but it’s something I have to do no matter what. If something happens to Sophie and I haven’t done everything I can…”

“Say no more,” I tell him. “You know we’ve already got that process underway.” He nods and turns to Butterfly.

“Child services,” he says. “Al says we have to notify them because I don’t have legal custody of Sophie. Who do I call?”

“I’ll take care of it,” she says. “Go spend time with your family. We’ll be up shortly.”

“Thank you again,” he says before turning to leave. Butterfly jumps off the desks.

“So, you know this means that we’ll have another child in the house… probably indefinitely,” she says.

“Yes, I do,” I say.

“Are you okay with that?”

“I’m fine with it. Are you?” she nods.

“Yes, it’s fine by me,” she replies. “If Shalane is on drugs, she sure hid it well at Thanksgiving.” I shrug.

“We weren’t looking for it. We were just trying to get her out of the house,” I say, pinching the bridge of my nose. “If she’s been doing this for a year… Jesus.”

“I’m going call Children’s Services,” she says, moving to leave. I grab her arm and stop her.

“Do you have to call them this second?” Her brow furrows.

“Uh… no, I can call them anytime. They have a 24-hour emergency hotline to report the whereabouts of a child.” I gesture for her to sit.

“I need to talk to you for a minute.” She pauses for a moment, then sits in one of the chairs facing each other in front of my desk. “I have to talk to you about your share of ownership of GEH.” She sighs heavily.

“Okay.”

“I don’t want you as partial owner of GEH.” She swallows and steels herself. She squares her shoulders and her eyes sharpen before she nods her consent.

“Okay.”

“I need you there.” It takes her a moment to register what I’ve said, then her brow furrows.

“What?”

“I need to know that if something happens and I’m unable to make decisions that someone that I trust with good common sense, scruples, critical thinking skills, the ability and knowledge to ask for help when they need it, a sense of commitment to our legacy, and the ability to command respect from others is going to be at the helm of my baby. I don’t trust anyone else but you. It has to be you. You will protect my baby like it was your own because it is your own, so I need you there.” She silently stares at me for a long time before a lone tear slides down her cheek.

“Are you sure?” she says, just above a whisper.

“The only thing I’ve ever been more certain about was marrying you,” I respond. She launches herself into my arms and plants a stinging kiss on my lips. Our bodies are melding into each other, kneading, yearning, unable to separate as the kiss burns us into one being.


ANASTASIA

I can hardly believe it. I didn’t know how much it meant to me that Christian really did want me to be partial owner of GEH until I thought he was telling me that it wasn’t what he wanted. I had convinced myself that I would be okay with the decision when he finally made it, whatever the outcome. After all, I’ve only dabbled in finances; he’s the real businessman. He built Grey Enterprises from the ground up with the first acquisition, and even though he had Pedo-bitch’s financial backing, he still did all the work to make the company great. I couldn’t be mad if he decided that he didn’t want to share the company with me even if he may have initially thought that it was what he wanted.

Now, not only does he want me to be part owner of his “baby,” but he’s made it clear that I’m the only person that he would trust to make sound decisions for our mutual interest if, for any reason, he couldn’t do it. That was a really huge concession for my billionaire master and all I wanted to do was kiss him. My heart was so overwhelmed by his unquestionable faith and trust in me that I knew—as I always did—that together, there was nothing that we couldn’t do. I was completely unable to speak, kissing him repeatedly until his massive body engulfed my small frame, kissing and gnawing at me hungrily—a warning to control myself lest we break down and fuck right here on his office floor…

And of course, that couldn’t happen… yet.

Once I had completed my wordless, emotional thank you, we tear ourselves away from each other to deal with the situation at hand—young Sophie. Where was her mother that Sophie had not seen her in three days? How often does this happen? Home alone, no cell phone, no house phone, barely communicates with the neighbors, no emergency plan, only twelve years old… granted, she’s somewhat mature for her age and I would imagine that she would have to be. It appears that she’s had to fend for herself more often than not, but she’s still only twelve—not even a teenager, yet. Is Shalane Deleroy strung out on drugs and leaving Sophie for three-day drug binges to fend for herself?

Child Services came out to the house the next day to talk to Sophie, Jason, and Gail. Sophie was pretty tight-lipped when they got there, like she had been coached for just such an emergency. She’s cool and calm when she speaks to the social worker, giving nothing away but that she and her mother often pass each other and don’t speak, so it’s not unusual for them not to see each other for days. Having not seen or heard from her mother for three days this time, she sought out her dad. It all sounds pretty harmless per se as Sophie wasn’t in any real danger, except that she was home alone with no real means of outside communication except Louie’s. I’m sure this is how Shalane had intended it.

Satisfied that Sophie was safe, the social worker left after giving Jason her business card. He informed her of his intention to immediately file for custody of Sophie, which he did that same day. The worker let him know that it may still be an uphill battle as this is the first situation that has come to light about Shalane’s behavior. Without Sophie’s cooperation, which is not totally forthcoming at present, Shalane could very well corroborate Sophie’s story that they were just passing and she never knew that Sophie wasn’t in the house. That speaks to the fact that she should be a more attentive mother, but it doesn’t make her abusive. If the home is well-kept, stocked with food, warm, and adequate for a twelve-year-old child, Shalane could walk away from this with a few parenting classes on the whole emergency plan thing and knowing where your children are… and Sophie… and child support.

“Her lawyer argued that my lifestyle and the fact that no one would be home with Sophie made giving me custody of Sophie a bad idea, and the judge agreed. Seeing how I live now—married with a wife who works from home, in a mansion, with a staff—you’re telling me that I’m going to possibly have trouble getting custody of my child from a woman who has left her home alone for four days now?” Jason asks incredulously. “What the hell is wrong with this system?”

“I understand your frustration, Mr. Taylor,” the worker says, “but I’m only stating the facts as they are now. Ms. Deleroy has legal custody of Sophie. She shows no signs of abuse and has indicated that it’s not uncommon for her and her mother not to see each other due to opposing schedules or what have you. It’s not an ideal situation for Sophie to be home alone with no telephone, but it’s not abuse. As this is the first that Child Services as heard of this, we will reach out to Ms. Deleroy and get to the bottom this to make sure that Sophie is not living in an unsafe situation. However, as it turns out right now, this is just not an ideal situation. It’s not yet cause to remove the child from the home. We have to talk to Ms. Deleroy first and see the condition of the home. However, as it stands, if she shows up with the police, she has legal custody of Sophie. She can take her home until and unless it’s determined that home is an unsafe environment for her. Having said that, without any further evidence, you’re going to be fighting on a level playing field attempting to get custody of your daughter. I wish I had better news for you, but I just want you to know the truth of what you’re dealing with.”

So, that’s that. Shalane can just go on a drug binge for however many days and just come back whenever and claim that she didn’t know Sophie wasn’t home. Never mind the fact that two of the days that Sophie was left alone was a weekend.

By Wednesday afternoon, Gail comes to me and informs me that Sophie is withdrawn and won’t leave their apartment. I noticed that Jason wasn’t at dinner after the discussion with the social worker yesterday and neither was Sophie. Gail left midway through to see what was going on with her family and didn’t return. She asks if I could talk to Sophie as she doesn’t know what to say to her right now.

When I get to the Taylor’s guest apartment, Sophie is sitting on the floor in the living room watching television.

“Hey,” I say when I see her. “Whatcha watchin’?”

“Spongebob,” she replies. She’s not sullen or moody or detached that I can see; just a kid watching cartoons.

“Can we talk?” I ask, sitting on the floor next to her. She mutes the television and turns her attention to me. “Gail is a little concerned that you won’t leave the apartment. Are you… upset with us?” She frowns.

“No,” she says, surprised. “It’s just… there’s no other kids here besides the twins and I didn’t think you guys would want me running around the house getting in the way.” I nod. That makes sense.

“It’s been five days now,” I say. “Have you ever not heard from you mom for this long?” She wraps her arms around her knees.

“I think the longest has been four days, but she always comes back,” she says. So, her binges are getting longer.

“You don’t think that something might be wrong with her?” I ask. “That she may be hurt or sick somewhere?” Sophie shakes her head.

“No,” she says. “She’s just hanging out with her friends somewhere, probably spending the nights over at one of their houses like she normally does.” I nod.

“I don’t know, I never had a real relationship with my mother, so I don’t know what it’s supposed to be like. We had one early on when I was really little. For what it was, it ended when I was about your age, but later, when it counted…” I shake my head. “So, if she had disappeared for a few days, I wouldn’t know what the hell to do because I didn’t know how to care.” She furrows her brow.

“You hated your mom that much?” she asks.

“I think she hated me,” I tell her. “We don’t even speak right now.”

“Yeah, that sucks,” she says, and it sounds like the speaks from experience. I sigh.

“It was a tormented, rocky relationship, the details of which I think you’re too young to be exposed to, no matter how mature I think you are.” I catch a glimpse of her out of my peripheral and I can see her smiling.

“You think I’m mature?” she asks. I nod.

“For a lot of reasons,” I tell her. “You knew to come and look for your father when you felt uncomfortable. Even the first time I met you, if there was the even the slightest crush on Marlow, you told your father to chill because Marlow was older than you and wouldn’t be interested, and you did so in front of a room full of people without flinching.” She shrugs.

“It’s the truth,” she says, noncommittal. “He’s in high school. What in the world would he want with a seventh grader? If anything, he’s got his hopes set on juniors and seniors!” Her speech shows once again that she’s wise beyond her years, probably from being exposed to way too many adults and not enough children her age.

“It makes me wonder why you defended your mom’s absence today,” I say. “Not that I blame you,” I add when I see her tense up. “If that’s what you really believe, that’s fine, but don’t you think it’s wrong for her to leave you for so many days without any contact?”

“She’s just being Mom,” Sophie excuses. “Mom does what she wants. She makes sure that I have what I need, but then she just goes about her business. It’s better than those parties she used to throw.” Parties? Unless they were quiet dinner parties, they couldn’t be something appropriate for a preteenager. Was she even that old when Shalane was throwing these parties?

“Everybody likes a party,” I say, treading carefully. “How can you not like a party? Music and food and dancing…”

“No kids, no music I like, half the time her friends were drunk and cursing all the time. One time, Ms. Fatima got so drunk that she got sick and threw up all over Mom’s white sofa… and all over some other lady.” She laughs heartily at the memory. I’m sickened by the idea that Shalane would think it’s okay to expose her young daughter to this, but I laugh, too, to keep the connection we’re building.

“Yeah, that would have pissed me off,” I say laughing with her.

“No kidding. The sofa was destroyed. Mom tried to get it clean, but it was useless. I don’t know about the lady.” Okay, that was funny.

“So… Jason is working in some way with Christian all day, and you know that Gail works here, too, so why do you stay locked in the apartment all day?” I ask.

“Well, like I said, there aren’t any kids here, either, and I don’t want to get in anybody’s way.” I nod.

“I can understand that,” I tell her. “I guess we need to make the house a bit more kid friendly, especially since I have two kids, now… but it’s got to be boring down here all by yourself.” She shrugs.

“I’m used to being alone. I find ways to entertain myself.” That’ll never do.

“Well, let me show you one of the ways that I entertain myself,” I tell her. “Come with me.”

We leave the apartment and walk through the community area. On the other side, I show her Atlantis.

“I’ve seen this,” she says. “The fish are really pretty. I’d like to learn what they are.”

“Watch this.” I tap on glass a few times—not too hard as it’s usually kind of bothersome to the other fish—and, just like always, my fish gracefully swims to the front. “That’s Marty. She’s a butterfly fish. I saw a fish like her on a scuba diving adventure in Anguilla and fell in love. So, when we bought this house, we had this aquarium built and filled it with fish from that trip. To my delight, Marty took an immediate liking to me.”

“So, that’s a butterfly fish?” she asks, her attention now attuned to Marty.

“One of them,” I say. “I’m told there are others.” She looks at me and frowns.

“Who told you?” she says with a little mirth in her voice. “Are you part of a fish society or something?” My turn to laugh.

“I’ve picked up bits and pieces of information here and there,” I tell her. “I’ve learned that while goldfish have a memory that spans for a few seconds, some fish have a memory that spans for up to twelve days. That would stand to reason that maybe Marty here would fall somewhere in between. However, a NatGeo article I read indicates that there are 114 species of butterfly fish and that many of them travel in schools while others are solitary until they find a partner and mate for life. If a butterfly fish mates for life, doesn’t it stand to reason that its memory span is more than twelve days? I mean, what happens… at day twelve, he looks over and sees this fish and goes ‘Oh, hello,’ and they just keep swimming?”

Sophie laughs at my analysis and I’m glad to see her loosen up.

“I guess I say that to say this. I chose Marty when I saw the fish in the reef and decided that it was my favorite, so Christian got one for my aquarium, but after that, Marty chose me. No matter how long I stay away, she… or he… swims to the window when I show up. She does tricks while I’m watching, but always stays near the front until I leave. I would say that means that her memory probably lasts more than twelve days.”

“You’re probably right,” she says, looking at Marty. “Are they trying to get you to talk to me… to get me to talk?” Hmm, she’s not a tough nut to crack.

“Yes and no,” I tell her. “Gail’s a little concerned about you not coming out of the apartment, not even for dinner. I asked if I could talk to you to make sure that you were alright. Even though Christian and I are at home for now, Jason still has his hands full with security and Gail helps me with the twins as well as runs the house for me.” She frowns at me.

“What do you do all day?” she asks.

“You promise you won’t laugh?” I ask and she nods. “I’m a shrink.” She screws up her face.

“A head doctor?” she asks. I nod. “For kids?” I shrug.

“Not necessarily,” I tell her. “I’ve worked with some kids, but I mainly just help whoever needs it. I have an office downtown, but I don’t see patients anymore. I’m assistant director at a help center now for displaced and abused families.”

“Oh,” she says. “When do you do that?”

“Not until the doctor clears me to go back to work. The twins are only four weeks old, nearly five now. I’ll be back to work in a week or so.”

“Then Miss Gail will take care of the twins?” she asks. I shake my head.

“Not all the time,” I tell her. “She’ll help a lot, but they’re my babies. Don’t you think I should take care of them?” She nods and turns back to look at Marty.

“How long… will you take care of them, I mean?” She asks. I frown.

“I don’t know what you mean,” I say.

“Is there a time when you’re supposed to stop taking care of them?” She looks up at me with inquisitive blue eyes. I sigh.

“Well,” I begin, “I guess it depends. When they’re babies and even as they grow older, they’re going to depend on me… and Christian… for everything. The older they get, the more they’ll be able to do for themselves, so they won’t need me as much for the smaller things. But they’ll still need me for other things. Like when they learn to go to the bathroom, I won’t need to change their diapers.

“But when they get older, Mackenzie is going to need my advice on boys… and school… and how to wear make-up and Mikey is going to need Christian to help him learn to be a man. Then, one day, she’ll want to go to college and I’ll help her pick a school; she’ll want to go on a date and I’ll help her get ready; she’ll want to get married and I’ll help her pick a dress. She’ll have kids of her own and I’ll have to share the stories about how she kept me up in the middle of the night.”

I frown a bit as I listen to myself going through the life of my daughter before she’s even out of the crib.

“I assume Michael is going to have those things happen, too, and Christian is going to have to help him through those stages in his life. So… I guess the answer is… no, there’s never a time when I’m supposed to stop taking care of them. I can’t see a time ever when my children would come to me for something and I wouldn’t be there for them, so… no.” I look down into her knowing eyes before she turns her gaze back to Marty.

“That’s what I thought, too,” she says.

*-*

I’m able to coax Sophie out of the apartment for the rest of the afternoon and evening. We watch two of the High School Musical movies and she has dinner in the dining room. After helping me and Gail with the twins, it’s time for her to turn in. I never let on that I knew what she meant when she responded to my answer about always taking care of my children. That little girl may not be abused, but she’s certainly neglected and she knows it. She protects her mom, because in spite of what everyone else sees, she loves her mother. There are obvious moments where she may not like her very much, but she truly loves her. This custody thing is going to be an uphill battle and very painful for all parties involved.

The next day, we get our first taste of just how painful the battle is going to be. I’m in my office with Marilyn working on some plans for the ultimate layout of the daycare area of the center and on what will be the casting call—so to speak—for the initial teachers in the center as accreditation, as well as my imminent return to work, are just around the corner. We’re deep in when the two-way communications come to life. Noting that it’s about time for the twins to be feed I acknowledge the system. Expecting to hear my cooing or complaining children, I’m more than surprised to hear Windsor’s voice over the intercom.

“Mrs. Grey, the police are in the grand entry with a Ms. Deleroy. They say that need to speak to you and Mr. Grey on an urgent matter.”

By the tone of his voice, I can tell that he has most likely gone to the small vestibule beyond the formal living room and is speaking to me from the landline there.

“They haven’t asked for Mr. or Mrs. Taylor?” I ask, surprised.

“No ma’am. They’ve asked for you and Mr. Grey.” I sigh.

“I’m on my way. End two-way communications.” I remove my glasses and pinch my bridge, trying to ignore the throbbing that’s beginning in my scar.

“Are you going to get Gail?” Marilyn asks.

“Not yet. They’ve asked for me. I’ll see what’s going on. Come with me; I may need moral support.”

I’m not in the grand entrance three minutes and I have been thoroughly insulted in my own home. The two officers—I don’t even bother to remember their names—have absolutely no control over this fucking harpy. She’s standing in my house, the epitome of the tacky ex-wife, in a rabbit fur coat, stretch pants, and thigh-high black stiletto boots. Her hair looks stringy and oily like it hasn’t been washed in three days and she has make-up caked haphazardly on her face that’s unable to hide her sunken cheeks and dark circles as she didn’t take the time to groom herself that she took on Thanksgiving. Her clothes look like they’re a size too small, including her thigh-high boots, and I would have guessed that she just rolled out of bed after a hard night of partying and two hours of sleep and showed up at my door. I’m appalled that she didn’t have the good sense to make a better presentation after not having seen her child for so long.

“Sophie hasn’t seen you in nearly a week and you step in my house accusing me of kidnapping??” I ask, horrified. “Have you even checked with the police to know that we’ve made a report that Sophie was here? Do you know that we’ve contacted child services? Where the hell have you been? She’s twelve years old!”

“This is not a good look on you, Mrs. Grey!” she says with contempt. “I don’t know what Jason has told you, but it’s really not nice to attempt to kidnap someone else’s child. I realize that Mrs. Taylor is barren, but I didn’t know that you were just as desperate to hear the pitter-patter of little feet!” My mouth falls open and I gasp audibly, pointing at her.

“Is she serious?” I say, looking from Marilyn to Windsor to each of the cops. “Is she fucking serious? I’m all over the fucking news, for Christ’s sake! Has she been living under a goddamn rock? Was she fucking high the last time she was at my house?”

“Ana…” Marilyn tries to calm me.

“Mrs. Grey, there’s really no need for that language,” one of the officers says. I turn and glare at him. He’s basically allowed her to say anything she wants since she walked into my house, including insulting me in my own home, and now you’re going to try to check me about my language?

“Fuck fuck fuckity fuck fucker motherfucker fuck fucker fuck this is my goddamn house!” I say all in one breath before I can catch myself. I’m losing it. I’m losing it faster than I can maintain myself. I turn to Marilyn. “Do you have your phone? I left mine downstairs.” She nods and pulls out her phone.

“Christian! Christian!” I’m doing this frantic clamping, grabbing thing with my fingers. She has that phone unlock, Christian’s number dialed, and is handing me the phone in less than five seconds. He had to go into Grey House today for business that needed his immediate attention and I’m about to interrupt his day.

“Grey,” he says as the line connects.

“Where’s Jason?” He pauses for a moment before he recognizes my voice.

“He’s gone to pick up Sophie from school.”

“Is he bringing her back here?” My voice is short and clipped. I’m barely keeping a rein on my anger.

“That’s the plan.”

“You may want to get someone to bring you back before he gets here.” There’s silence on the line.

“What’s wrong, Butterfly?” I speak loud enough for the officers—and Shalane—to hear me.

“Apparently, Ms. Deleroy has emerged from her bong, needle, or pipe long enough to come to my home and create a scene. She’s standing here accusing us—me in particular—of kidnapping and harboring her child when we have already notified all of the proper authorities, including her, that Sophie was here after she left her abandoned in that house for three days!”

I’m so angry I’ve started shaking while I’m glaring at Shalane. She knows that I’ve hit the nail and she can’t even deny it, so I know that I’m right about her being on drugs. She says nothing, but stands there with narrowed eyes examining me.

“Then she had the nerve to make some snide comment about me and Gail trying to steal her daughter because we can’t have children of our own. I guess that she was so busy trying to ride your dick at Thanksgiving that she forgot that I was standing right next to you at the time very heavy laden with child!” I growl the last words.

“She’s right in front of you, isn’t she?”

“Looking down my throat, flanked by two cops, and if she says another word to me, I going to catch a case!”

“I’m on my way,” he says.

“Bring Al,” I conclude before hanging up the phone. Simultaneously, the two-way communication system comes to life. Coupled with the knowledge that my twins are now awake and my rising anger and blood pressure, I feel my milk burst forth and begin to seep from my breast. Shamelessly, I stand and turn to leave.

“Um… Mrs. Grey, we do have a few questions,” the officer says.

“Windsor!” I call, unceremoniously and he appears almost instantaneously. I turn around to face the trio, my milk now leaking through my blouse. “Ana!” I call out to the two-way, and the room is filled with the sound of cooing babies. “Feel free to wait here. My husband informs me that he and our attorney are on their way and that Mr. Taylor and Sophia will be here any moment. I’ll notify Mrs. Taylor that you’re here and to meet you when Mr. Taylor, his daughter, and our attorney have arrived. My butler will be happy to get you refreshments in the interim. However, I am unable to entertain you anymore at the moment. As you can hear, I must attend to my children and as you can see, my milk is leaking!” They all fall silent and the men momentarily glare at my ample leaking breasts while Shalane glares at me and I glare right back at her. “End two-way communications!” I hiss, and the gentle cooing sounds of my children cease. I turn around on my heels and march out of the room.


A/N: So, as you can see, Shalane has caused a shitstorm in more ways than one. Any  guesses what’s going to happen when Jason returns and Gail emerges?

Pictures of places, cars, fashion, etc., can be found at  https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/becoming-dr-grey/

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Love and handcuffs 🙂 
Lynn X

 

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74 thoughts on “Becoming Dr. Grey: Chapter 63—Reinforcing the Family Dynamic

  1. Ann Shearer says:

    Just letting you know that yes i have got this amazing chapter 63….i love it you are the best BG..your story just gets better and more brilliant, you mean so much to me because you always bring light into my life dear friend, hope your ok sweetheart…thank you again love and hugs to you…love ann xxxxx

  2. emziiee90 says:

    OMG totally loving this chapter, and loving the ending can not wait to see what happens in the next chapter 😀

  3. My Simple Interests says:

    Amazing as always! You had me in a fit of pure laughter with the Shalane ending. Love your mind at work. Thank you!

  4. seralynsmom says:

    Wow. I think I might be speechless. Is this bitch serious right now? Like for real serious? And the two cops? What is it with police and the Greys? And please please please let someone have called someone to tell those two dumb fuckers with that crazy bitch that they’re idiots and let’s have some “we’re so sorry Mrs. grey, yes ma’am we’ll take care of that right now” dragging of that woman out of that house! There better be some groveling gentleman! And not just for being asshats but ogling the boobs! Christian is going to catch a case on that one!

    I hope Al has some way to keep Sophie from having to go with that witch at the moment, but frankly I’d love to see Gail slap a bitch as long as she doesn’t get arrested! And Taylor. Oooooooo I don’t want to see how red of face angry he’s going to get. And it’s so fricken sad that he loves his daughter so much but gets trod on like this. I know she loves her mother, but clearly she’s better off with Taylor. Ugh! Now I’m mad! Lmao.

    • All I can say right now is remember what the caseworker said.

      • seralynsmom says:

        Hmmmmmm I wonder what will happen then. Will Sophie stop protecting her mother? Will she go home with her only for social workers to find out that it’s worse than the girl let on and decide she’s unsafe there?

        All I saw as I read all that was Christian’s childhood and a movie I saw a long time ago called The Poker House. We know what the drugged up neglect of Christian caused. The burns on him, the pimp beating him, his mother’s eventual death. But even though he was just 4 the damage was done. So what happens to Sophie if the disappearances get longer? If her mom starts using at the house? If she starts brining home men worse that that guy that gave Sophie the creeps? The if you’ve never seen The Poker House, it had Jennifer Lawrence as one of the main characters and in it she lives in a house with her mom that’s pretty much a drug den. In the end the neglect of her mother causes the worst thing to happen, she’s sexually assaulted by her mother’s bf. if you haven’t seen it and can handle the contents you should see it. Winter’s Bone may have earned Lawrence her first Oscar- but The Poker House should have earned another.

      • Trust me, I can handle the content and look into the movie… I’ve lived through more than I can describe in this little box…

      • seralynsmom says:

        I meant that more for anyone else reading my comment. Lol. I know you can handle some ish! 😂

      • Girl, yes! (Le sigh…)

  5. Darcy says:

    Hey I wasn’t done reading, where’s the rest of the chapter! LOL

  6. Darcy says:

    I think Jason & Gail will get custody, I just have no idea how they are going to get there. You had me on the edge my seat waiting to read what happens next. Really great chapter. ❤

  7. Nicole says:

    Omg another awesome chapter! You rock you’re an amazing author!

  8. Bridget says:

    I was so not expecting the story to take this turn, but what a pleasant surprise. What a harpy! She’s definitely in for a battle and I love the bond that is forming between Ana and Sophie. Great chapter – cannot wait to see the fallout of these events.

  9. Kimberly says:

    Sophie’s mom should be arrested for falsely accusing the Greys of kidnapping. And if she is she will have to explain why it took her three days to realize her daughter was missing and why she thinks the greys would have her.

    • In the right world, you would be right. Unfortunately, in the real world, that ain’t always the way it happens. If there were no custody order in place, Sophie could just stay with Taylor and Gail. However, with a custody order in place, they have to prove that the child is in immediate danger or that going back with Shalane is not in the best interest of the child, and Sophie’s not forthcoming with that kind of information. She’s trying to protect her mother as we can obviously see, and she told the worker that sometimes they just cross paths due to conflicting schedules. So just like the worker said, if mom shows up trying to get the daughter… guess what? Also, of course she has to act like they kidnapped her daughter. If she calls the police and just shows up like “her father has her and I want her back,” she just looks like a woman scorned. Which she really is. The police most likely know that Jason and the Greys didn’t kidnap Sophie, but they have to treat it that way because Sophie is in the house with Jason and Shalane does have custody of her.

  10. Kelly-anne says:

    Awesome chapter. I loved Ana rant into front of the cops and Christian it was beautiful. Im loving this story and it makes me happy to see a new update. Please update soon 🙂

  11. Michelle says:

    Noooo! You can’t stop there! Haha! Fantastic chapter as usual! I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

  12. JYOTSNA says:

    Nooooooooooo you can’t leave me hanging…
    ………… Want moooooorrrreeee. Plllleeeesssseee……

  13. darcyluvr says:

    Another great chapter. I didn’t get an email update, I saw this on Facebook. So, if you could again try to put me on your list nirmal07@hotmail.com
    Thank you, Kari

  14. falalalynx says:

    Oh ho Goddess,

    You have put me in a tizzy. I think my BP is up right there with Ana’s. AND now I have to wait a week for more. sigh sigh again grrr sigh grin Masterfully done my Goddess. Whoa and holy fuck but you do know how to get me going. The Sophie situation has bothered me forever. And then today I’m reading and I get all excited, “Oh boy Goddess is going to give me what I want, Sophie with Jason and Gail. Silly Falala! I should have remembered nothing is free and easy in Goddessville. sigh I’m praying Sophie’s mom spouts off in front of the officers and they take steps to protect Sophie from ever having to return to her mother. The very idea that she might have to endure more makes my skin crawl. Oh Christian please please have four or five security around when Jason gets there and don’t let him do anything to hurt his case. PLEASE! I’m begging you. Sophie, innocent brilliant sweet Sophie ‘needs’ him to use all his skills to get her out of this situation. Oi! my mind is seeing all the darts to the heart this vile woman can throw into this group of individuals, Gail, Jason, poor Sophie and just the entire crew. I totally think Ana could wipe the floor with her. grin Could the cops just turn around for a minute. grin Okay Falala you need to calm down now. I know I know I just can’t stand children in jeopardy. I’m going to have trouble sleeping for the next week now. Bravo Goddess you have jerked my chain a but good.

    Falala runs off to clean up the yard of all the downed branches so she can break that woman’s neck over and over in her head. grin And the yard gets put in order in the process. grrr snap! Shalane you bitch snap! you don’t deserve this precious child snap! I hate you bitch snap! evil bitch snap! snap! snap! snap! grin Let Shalane stumble big time. She doesn’t have her shit together. grin This could be easy. evil grin and even funny. giggle AH Goddess the things you do to us.

    Peace, Falala

  15. Leah says:

    I need another chapter ASAP! As always you don’t disappoint.. Loved it!
    This deserved a bonus chapter!!You rock girl

  16. Ana says:

    Just stoping by to say I got this sent to my email.

    Another great chapter but that ending!!! Such cliffhanger!!! Shalane is a piece of work alright and the money Jason is giving her over Sophie where is it going?

  17. Lori says:

    I hope Jason and Gail get custody but I am not surprised that Sophie is still somewhat protective of her mother and not being entirely forthcoming. Sophie realizing that Ana was asked to talk to her was very realistic as well. Kids her age tend to keep a lot inside, especially with adults. A great job on a very difficult subject!

  18. MichelleCheri' says:

    Loving this chapter !!! My heart is full for them, especially Sophie. And would love to bitch slap the whore! Can’t wait until Jason gets there, they better get other security there to keep him from decking his ex ( or Gail)

  19. Got to love Ana. My favorite part was the cop telling her to mind her language. . Then she said the fuck in every way she could. It was perfect:) poor Sophie. She has to be so conflicted in her feelings. That’s still her mother and no matter what she does someone gets hurt including her. My heart breaks for the little girl.
    Thank you for this story! I always get excited for it.
    I have a silly question. How many words do you think you have written for this whole story?

    • I have no freaking idea! My chapters started out in Paging at about 3000 and now they’re not less than 10,000. so consider that Mending and Becoming are all 10,000 each, and Paging may have averaged out to 8,000 and I’m estimating low. Seventy chapter in Paging; eighty in Mending; sixty three so far in Becoming and still writing. That’s some crazy math. 😉 That’s about 1.5 million words.

  20. Janis says:

    The only one matter here is Sophie. She loves her mom even though things aren’t the way one would hope they should be, Miss Sophie still cares and worry about her mom. I think she in a difficult place between her father who worships her and her mom who has her own agenda.
    It seems to me they have the roles of sisters instead of mother/ daughter. And than you have that whole you don’t talk about family thing going on too. So there is a lot going on for a young girl of 12.
    We don’t even know if Miss Sophie even wants to stay with dad….seeing that the house is boring and not kid friendly.
    I have learned that what we read in this series is not always what we think it will be. Goddess always through in a curve to keep us on our toes. So I now have to stand back and take a 360 look again before I judge. My quick response would be take the girl from the mom…but will it be best for Sophie like this, I’m not sure.
    Talk about a cliff hanger, this is it!!

    I love that Christian sees and understands that his Legacy, his baby will continue if anything happens with him, through Ana it will continue. I feel that the talk with Chuck brought it full circle as to just how powerful Ana really is. That was really powerful.

    Again dear friend, Great chapter!

  21. Annette Tomplait says:

    Well “Damn”! You tell them Ana! What a piece of work Sophie’s “mother” is. And the so called Seattle PD. Yep I think Christian will hand them their asses on a platter along with stopping any monetary donations he has made along the way. Have I ever told you that your writing is so VIVID that you can see it before your eyes playing out. I am left wanting so much more but so happy to get this update. I so can’t wait for the next one. 😍

  22. asunder73 says:

    BG, we’re always hearing about how backed up the court system is, especially family court… It would be far more efficient if they streamlined the legal code and listed just how fucked up the parties have to be to lose in court ahead of time…

  23. Darla says:

    Great chapter

  24. Teri says:

    Oh Shalene….you stupid bitch…Ana is going to chew you up and spit you out. LOL.

  25. Barbara says:

    Oh, I’m so looking forward to the shitstorm that Jason & Gail are going to cause Miss Thang, Shalene!!! Great chapter!

  26. Jeangb says:

    I agree with Teri, (above). Look out for the storm Sharlene.
    Great chapter

  27. Christian618 says:

    Actually i did see Taylor heading into custody battle with Sophie’s mom but never did I imagine it would be for neglect. This is horrible for poor lil Sophie and the taylors!

  28. A french reader says:

    Hi BG, I’m a french reader. I’m sorry I never left a comment before even if I read the three books. I really love your interpretation of Fifty Shades. For me it’s better than the original. I like what you did and still do with the characters specially Ana! And I think I’m loving with your personality! You’re doing an amazing work. Keep going
    HS

  29. jjgoldmann says:

    OMFG Shalane has some nerve but then again Ana can hold her own! I so hope that those cops shut their mouths (or maybe not) because they are going to let the boom out on them when Christian comes home if they say the wrong thing, let alone they already did. Are those cops blind that can’t tell the woman in not right in the head for leaving her daughter along for 5 days? OMG I just had a horrible thought, what if she takes Sophie with her on her binges? (scratch that thought)

    I can’t wait to read what Jason is going to say to his ex when he gets there, if he gets the chance? Hopefully Jason does not to come in the front door with Sophie so that he can have a crack at her? Because I’m sure that he will have a few choice words for his daughters mother!

    Too bad they can’t do a drug test on her while she’s right in front of them to see if she is using.

    Loved the analogy that Christian gave Chuck to let him know that he understands how he feels.

  30. S. Hodgson says:

    GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH You can’t stop it right there OMG then tension there at the end is out of this world!!! Holy Hannah I’m gonna hyperventilate. Ok……………..I’m under control now. But what a cliff hanger. Those cops are either 1) part of her habit or 2) Retarded for not looking up any information prior to storming in the Crossing and interrogating Ana. Wow. PHEW. Goodness sakes alive……..

    Anyway great chapter overall. I feel for poor Sophie. Still has the child love for her mom that she’s overlooking her awful behavior. Can’t blame her though since nothing too awful has happened to her which is a BLESSING!!! When she started talking about that creepy guy I wanted to cry for her. Poor baby girl, there’s definitely something wired in us that just knows when creepers are around. I swear once I looked into the eyes of pure evil while walking on my college campus. He was sitting right where I was walking to my class eyeing up a couple of obvious freshman dressing like they don’t have a dress code anymore. But one look in those eyes and I felt like I wanted to hurl. Bleh. Thinking about it now makes me shiver.

    Can’t wait to read the next update. I’m hoping Keri comes back but I guess we’ll see. Maybe her mama will kick her out of Anguilla 😉 Hahahaha that’d be funny. You rock. Keep up the good work. Until next week……..hopefully 😀

  31. Gemini says:

    OMG!!! BEST. CHAPTER. EVER! I want to throttle Shalane. Poor Sophie is stuck in the middle because she knows that her mom is wrong, but she loves her mom. Ana should make them all stand outside. That trick has some nerve talking about Ana and Gail like that. I hope Christian calls Gerald and those dipsticks lose their jobs. I would ask Windsor to sit the trash out until Christian, Al and Jason arrive. I pray that Sophie opens up and tells the truth about what’s happening. This chapter has done me in. I cannot wait for the next chapter. I hope Shalane has drugs on her skanky ass and she gets arrested. Jason is going to have a fit!

    As for Chuck, Keri and the “cold.” When I was pregnant with my daughter (and did not know it) it disguised itself as a “cold.” It was a month after Hurricane Katrina and I was congested, stuffy, sneezing, sore throat……an older lady, who I used to work with, asked me what was wrong. I told her I was catching a cold. Even my voice sounded like I had a cold. Well, the older lady looked at me and asked me to lean in to her desk. When I did, she laughed and told me these exact words, “You have a cold alright, a 9 month cold. Sweetie, you’re pregnant.” She told me my skin was pasty (I’m a mocha color) and my eyes were peaked. That night, I took a test and sue enough it said “pregnant.” That next day I told her I had to eat crow because I was pregnant. She laughed and told me, “I knew that. I’m 64 years old. I’m old, but I know some things.” :-)…..to this day, she still calls me daughter her granddaughter 🙂 (She has 2 daughters and 8 grandchildren). I do hope Keri has the 9 month cold that I had, lol.

    Great chapter….now giiiiiirrrrllllll, you know we cannot wait a week to see what becomes of that hoe, Shalane, lol.

    • Lady J says:

      Giiirl that sound amazing I’ve never heard of a 9 month cold! Now I’m kinda excited to find out is Keri is with child….look what you did!!

    • Okay, I’ve never heard of that one–pregnancy disguised as a cold. I’m going to have to put that in my mental Rolodex of little know facts. Don’t be surprised if your “revelation” shows up in a book or a story somewhere… 😉

  32. Gemini says:

    ^ *sure* not sue and *my daughter* not me daughter……

  33. Lady J says:

    Oooooohhhhh! ! This BITCH! No she didn’t role up in somebody else crib looking like trash and talking mad shit! So she can’t read either huh? They left you a letter ho! Just oohhh!…Good chapter…my eyes was all big and glued to the words on my phone. Loved it, loved it! You know it’s a good story when your blood pressure high lol.

  34. Beachycolor says:

    Great. Thank you.. I am so impressed how you gave us so much on little Sophie today.
    A small but important character that we know so much better now.

  35. Julie says:

    Just…. Impressed. I really hope the system works in Taylor’s favour. Loved Anna’s description of Shalene wardrobe. I say Keri id preggers! Simply can’t wait for the next update!

  36. valentinesgenie says:

    The whole time I’m reading the last part of chapter I’m thinking to myself Ana please don’t kill this bitch cops or no cops that girl just had twins four weeks ago and she can’t get a moments peace this dusty bitch got the nerve to come to her house and insult her and accuse her and he husband of kidnapping . I wonder would she get off with temporary insanity cause it just seems like people like messing with Ana and this dusty broad needs a good ass whopping I have no sympathy for drug addicts my mother was one and the things she did to herself and my siblings just to get her next fix would have the toughest of tough in tears I hope they can prove she is a unfit mother because I can give you a couple go guesses as to what would happen to Sophie if she is left alone again and the creepy guy comes back, love the chapter see you next time take care….

    • I can’t begin to tell you the effect drugs has had on my family… although through the years, I probably already have. All I can say is that ANY kind of drug as far as I’m concerned is the epitome of “The wages of sin is death.” I think marijuana is pretty harmless, but I still don’t want it around me.

      • valentinesgenie says:

        Thank you Lynn for that because it makes me mad when people tell me to lighten up it’s not that serious it’s “just weed” or you are so boring you read for fun you mean to tell me you have never smoked weed my answer is and always will be no ,drugs destroyed a lot of things in my family life growing up and still to this day has some affects at the present moment I just never was into the whole getting high or wanting to try any of that mess I saw what it did to my parents marriage and my brothers and sisters and myself enough about that now onto the bonus chapter….

  37. asunder73 says:

    The worst part of this is since Shane is practically an invisible parent, it’s not as if her home is child friendly anyway. No-one can visit her and it’s not really safe for Sophie to leave. Without access to a phone, Sophie’s virtually under house-arrest.

  38. vamomoftwins says:

    Omg when she was on her fuck fuck motherfucker rant I was fist pumping the air!!!

  39. VRB (Mariposa) says:

    Wow, Taylor is in for quite the fight for Sophie. She is rather delusional, if she thinks that she has a chance in hell in this situation. Poor Sophie is in the middle of this shitstorm.. SMH. Wow, Lynn you don’t mess around. Amazing chapter. Thanks for the entertainment 🙂

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