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My grandson is really sick, so please say a prayer for him. He’s five years old and has been in the hospital for several days. This is why I couldn’t get the chapters posted this weekend.
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 72—Family Affairs
“So this is how the other half lives.”
Ace follows me down to my parlor where we will most likely have the most privacy. Ms. Solomon brings coffee down to us before we actually get started.
“Yes, I guess it is,” I say. I never aimed to have this kind of wealth in my life, but I have to admit, it’s very nice. There’s a nice fire burning in the fireplace and we have a view of Lake Washington out the large window. “There’s quite a bit to talk about. I don’t know if we’ll have enough time.”
“Time is money,” he says honestly, “but my afternoon is free.” I sigh.
“That’s good to hear, because I’m positive that we’re going to go over an hour. I don’t even know where to start.”
“Well, you’ve missed a couple of sessions. So, we can either go chronologically or in order of importance.” Oh, geez, that makes it even harder.
“That doesn’t help,” I tell him and just start talking. “Christian thinks I have a negative body image.” He looks at me skeptically.
“Do you?” he asks. I shrug.
“I could,” I reply.
“That’s not uncommon for a woman who has just had a baby, you know… although I have yet in my life to see a woman have a baby and look like you!” he admits.
“That’s what everybody says, but nobody’s carrying around these boobs and this ass!” I retort. He raises his eyebrows.
“Ana, your children are just seven weeks old. You can’t expect to go back to your prebaby weight and shape in that amount of time after a pregnancy, although you’re doing a pretty damn good job. But some women never lose their baby weight. They never fully get back to that size. Now, with hard work and exercise, you may achieve that goal, but you can’t beat yourself up if you don’t. You’re still a very physically fit, very shapely young woman…”
Ace and I talk for a while about my body image issues and he even helps me to set some realistic goals about how I want to look and what I want to tone. I promise him that I won’t do anything drastic or unhealthy and that I would be sure to follow up with my doctor to make sure that I’m on the right track. The hard part is going to be believing everyone when they say how good I look and not berating myself if I don’t reach the plateau that I’m hoping for and finally, accepting myself however I look and no longer looking down on my body. Embrace my curves as they will most likely be a part of me for the rest of my life.
Next comes Mr. David. I had told Ace about discovering that Edward’s business had been crooked, but not about turning the business over to the Feds or about the trip to Walla Walla, which I tell him now. Then, right in the middle of my weekend fuckfest with my husband, we get the news that this bastard has shed this earthly coil and made his transition to hell.
“How does that make you feel?” Ace asks.
“Relieved,” I answer honestly. “The fact that he was breathing the same air as me was troublesome. But if I’m honest, the fact that I was relieved that he was dead unnerves me. I drank champagne, for God’s sake!”
“That’s cold, Ana,” he says, “and I’m glad you feel unnerved by it. You’d have to be so kind of cold-hearted bitch not to feel anything at the simple loss of life.” I shrug.
“Don’t give me too much credit, Doc,” I say, “I don’t so much feel this way because David died. I feel this way because I feel this way because David died.” Ace nodded.
“I get it,” he says. “To the laymen, that might have been a bit confusing, but I get it. You’re not pleased that you felt pleased… or relieved… that your ex, your captor, and the man who hurt you and broke your heart and later tried to saddle you with the legal responsibility of his illegal activities, had done the world a proverbial favor and taken his own life.” I nod feverishly.
“I couldn’t have explained it better myself,” I tell him. “You’ve hit every nail directly on the head. What kind of person is happy or feels any kind of relief when another person dies?”
“A human being who has suffered a lot at the hands of that person,” Ace says matter-of-factly. “I’m not saying this is a good thing; I’m just saying it means that you’re human. I’d be concerned if you felt any other way, even if you felt nothing at all about this situation. Now, you just have to find a healthy way to deal with these feelings.”
We talk more about David and hashed through the glee I felt when I told him that his company had been turned over to the Feds. We both agreed that there was nothing particularly unhealthy about that—that was just retribution and closure. Not a person alive would admit to not feeling at least a sliver of joy about that even if they can empathize with human suffering.
We had gone well past our hour by the time I had gotten to Elena’s trial and all the fallout from that—losing my cool when the video was shown; Daddy shutting me out when I tried to tell him about the lifestyle; the verdict…
The day before…
Dinner with Daddy and Mandy was tense at first. Nobody really knew what to say, how to broach any topic that plagued us this week. Emotions were still high after hearing the verdict this afternoon, and I still haven’t gotten a full answer why my father suddenly had a change of heart about me and Christian and the lifestyle. I didn’t want to beat a dead horse, but I didn’t want this to be a point of contention later, either.
“Well,” Daddy says after Mandy brings him and Christian a drink—Scotch, I think, “that was interesting. I’ve never seen that happen in real life, only on the news or on TV shows. I’m surprised that woman had no reaction to the verdict.”
“How could she?” I ask. “Either way, she wasn’t going to see the light of day for at least 25 years. I think this trial was just for show… a three-ring circus. No matter what happened, she would most likely be dead before she served the term for pedophilia. That’s why she looked like she did when she received the verdict—she was no better, she was no worse, and she knew it.”
“Yeah, but even then, after 25 she would be—what? Seventy-five when she was released?” Daddy says.
“If she lives!” I add. “How many 75-year-old prisoners do you know that get released?”
“Even if that was the case,” Christian interjects, “she’s released at 75—she has no children, no family to speak of except for her crazy German aunt. She doesn’t have her submissives anymore; she doesn’t have her money; she doesn’t even have her home. In her old age, her best bet—her closest hope of having someone to take care of her was…” He trails off and I immediately know what he was going to say.
“You,” I finish. “Her best hope was you, and that’s one thing she was counting on.” Christian shrugs.
“Well, it’s a moot point now,” he says. “Today’s verdict guarantees she’ll be a resident of the Washington Department of Corrections for the rest of her natural life.”
He’s right, of course. The jury saw right through her bullshit and found Elena Lincoln mentally competent and guilty of assault with a deadly weapon, attempted murder, and illegal possession of a firearm. She will never see this side of prison walls for the rest of her days. She had been completely stoic when the jury foreman had read the verdict. There were no outbursts, not even a whimper or a shoulder drop. It was like someone was reading the weather reports.
I think she knew the outcome after she had bungled her testimony on the stand. Her attorney most likely told her as much, and there won’t be an appeal. Why bother? The best that she could hope for is to be an old decrepit woman when she’s released and the attorney has no hope of being paid for his efforts. Her sentencing is scheduled for two weeks from Friday and Christian is already preparing his statement to read in court.
The conversation lulls for a moment as Mandy serves up some delicious roasted chicken and vegetables with braised potatoes. Daddy starts talking about some mundane thing to get us through dinner as only certain things should be discussed at the dinner table. Wine and drinks flow after dinner, but I stick to coffee as I have every intention of feeding my children when I get back to the Crossing… and of having this conversation that is an elephant in the room.
“What made you change your mind, Daddy?” I blurt out, no longer able to keep my curiosity at bay. Hell, it was more than curiosity. It was the need to know why he couldn’t believe me when I tried to talk to him about the lifestyle, but apparently, he could believe someone else.
Daddy sighs. He knows that I’m not going to let this go until I get a satisfactory answer—one that can explain the suffering I had to go through, even though it was thankfully only for one day. I’m like a dog gnawing on a bone and I won’t be sated until he makes me understand this level of betrayal that he subjected me to.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get you to understand, Sunflower,” he says with no malice after taking a swallow of his beer. He reaches over and takes Mandy’s hand. “There are a lot of people in my life that I love. You know beyond everything, I loved your mother. I loved your mother with a true, deep, longing love that would have lasted forever, but she couldn’t return that to me—not like I gave it to her. We were happy for many years, but she, too, was younger than me and needed something more. I was a consolation prize for her after she lost Harry, and although she eventually loved me and I eventually made her happy, it wasn’t enough. She wanted something that I couldn’t give her, and I wasn’t enough.”
Why is he telling me this? This has nothing to do why he couldn’t hear me when I tried to tell him about the lifestyle. I know all this already. I know that my mother is and was a selfish bitch. What does that have to do with the here and now?
“I always felt like Carla was my first true love,” he continues. “She was the first one that made me feel that longing in my heart, that crushing ache that makes you want to be part of someone else…” He pulls Mandy closer to him and she responds, gently stroking his cheek with the back of her hand—a tenderness that is so natural between them. “She was my first lust, my desire, my hunger, my first want and need…” He pauses, choked up a bit. “… But my first love, that was you, Annie.”
I’m gob smacked. Oh, my God… what a thing to say! I’m completely speechless.
“I’ve watched you grow from the tiniest little helpless thing, totally dependent on me and your mother. When we were a team, we were a great team, and you never wanted for anything no matter how she tried to later make it appear that your life was lacking. It was her life that was lacking, and when she ripped our family apart, you paid the worst price. I never forgave myself for not fighting harder of you.”
Mandy reaches up and gently wipes a tear from my father’s cheek.
“You went through that terrible, horrible thing in Vegas… and I couldn’t save you. I couldn’t save my Annie…” His voice cracks. “I didn’t even know you had gone through this until I drove down there and demanded answers. She was never going to tell me. That spiteful, hateful, selfish bitch was never going to tell me.” The tears fall harder and Mandy can only lay on Daddy’s shoulder.
“But you rose from all that,” he says, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand. “My First Love came out of all the drama and trauma victorious. I tried to rescue you… I was still unsuccessful, but in the end, you rose out of it and I got My Love back.”
My heart is breaking; tears flowing freely down my cheeks as I listen to Daddy describe this beautiful and painful relationship with this being that could have been anybody, but turned out to be me.
“And then, I hear this thing… this painful, horrible, terrible thing… and that one thing that I couldn’t save My Love from came flooding back to me, only… it appeared that she was walking into hell willingly.” He drops his head into his hands. “I couldn’t hear… I couldn’t see… I could only feel pain… anger… pure rage… and pain…” He tries to compose himself, but just allows his head to fall back onto his sofa, tears freely falling from his eyes as he speaks.
“I know you tried to talk to me, but I couldn’t hear you. I was hurting too much. I was trying to block it out so that I could just get from day to day.” He choked on a sob. “Then Christian called. He said that you were missing. Then he asked me if I hated you.” I looked over at Christian, who is examining his drink as if It might come alive or something. “I was hard on him—very hard, but he didn’t hear that. All he knew was that you were missing… somewhere most likely hurting because of me. He knew. I was still being an asshole, and he still knew. I said terrible things to him, and he retorted in a way that made me feel so small, so unreasonably stupid, but I didn’t feel it until after the fact.” He never raises his head. “If I haven’t said so, Christian, I’m sorry for how I spoke to you.”
Christian doesn’t raise his head. He simply nods, still looking down into his drink. Daddy looks at his hands.
“Al called next,” he says. “I almost didn’t answer my phone, but Christian said you were missing, so I couldn’t avoid the call. Anyway, Al had questions. He didn’t know what was going on. As the conversation progressed, Al became upset as well—told me that he had never been disappointed in me until this moment. I tried to explain to him what you were doing and why I felt the way that I felt and he said he already knew. I was horrified, but then he said the strangest thing to me… something I never would have expected to hear from someone that I consider a son. He told me that if I hold my wife down or restrain her in any way during sex, I participate in it, too. Then he told me that Annie had escaped to her condo and nobody knew that she was gone. He told me that she was in her room surrounded by memorabilia of me, Carla, and her and her childhood; that if I cared about her at all, I needed to get my ass over there before she had a psychotic break.
“I was still so confused,” he says. “So hurt and confused. The sick shit that I saw in those clubs and on those sites could not be the same as holding my wife’s hands while we make love—it couldn’t. So… I talked to Mandy.”
My tear-filled eyes turn to Mandy. I had asked her to talk to him. She said that she wouldn’t and I understood why.
“I… never practiced anything to do with BDSM, but I am acquainted with it,” she says. “I have a few friends who have practiced the lifestyle for many years. Some of them didn’t even know I knew. Three of them were at my baby shower. One of them left in a hurry and I think it was because her Dominant called, though she never admitted it.”
No, it was because her ex-Dominant was at the party and she had to make a quick getaway. We agreed that she would go back to the party even after seeing Christian, but I think it may have been too much for her and she left anyway.
“Anyway, I know I said I would stay out of it, but it was getting out of hand. I tried to explain to Ray that it happened more often than he thought, that even some of the most clean-cut and professional people he’s ever known are probably closet submissives or dominants. Ray couldn’t get past what he already knew about the lifestyle, so I took a very brave step… and showed him a video.”
“A video?” I exclaim. “Of what?”
“Of a consensual BDSM couple enjoying sensual activities and fulfilling sex in the lifestyle. I had to search for it, but it wasn’t that hard to find. He was reluctant, of course. We’re talking about his little girl here.”
“I’m not a little girl anymore, though, Daddy.” I protest.
“I know, I know,” he says. “That was the first thing I had to get past. My little girl… my first love… not so little anymore.”
“She’s my first love now, Ray,” Christian interrupts. Ray raises a skeptical eye to him. Christian meets his skepticism head on. “Why do you think that woman in the courtroom is so crazy?” he adds. “For years, that woman taught me not to love. She taught me to do that sick shit that you saw on those videos and in those clubs—maybe not to the degree that you saw it, but as far as women would let me go. I know women loved me before or thought they loved me and wanted me to love them back, but I couldn’t. I didn’t know how. Nobody could get in here.” He pounds on his chest.
“Nobody could break those walls. Nobody could even touch me. Restraining them meant they couldn’t even touch me. I could do whatever I wanted to them, but they couldn’t touch me. Did you know that because of her, my mother got her first hug ever from me only two years ago?”
Daddy’s mouth falls open and Mandy gasps.
“I’m 30 years old. My mother adopted me when I was four and I only started hugging my mom two years ago because of her.” He points at me. “Do you know that no one else in the world can do this…” He grabs my hand and slams it flat to his chest. “… But her? My baby sister can come close. She can lay her head on my chest, but she can’t do this. That’s why that woman in court is so crazy. She programmed me to love no one—no one—and to believe that no one could love me. Butterfly showed me different. She broke down all of my walls without lifting a finger. The cosmos drew us together against our will and I discovered that I did have the capacity to love. Before that, I loved no one. I was very fond of people—my family, even Elena—but I loved no one.
“Then she came along…” He drops his head. “… And I felt things for another human being that I didn’t think were possible. And yes, I’ll tell you honestly that my first thought was that I wanted her to be my submissive, but fate and my heart clearly had other plans for us…”
“But from what I understand,” Daddy interjects, “she is your submissive.”
“That’s right,” Christian confirms, “and I’m hers.” Both Daddy and Mandy gaze at us, thoroughly confused. “We meet each other’s needs in whatever ways are necessary. I demand control in many if not all of my daily functions. She helps me to maintain that. By the same token, there are some times when the opposite is needed to ground me—to ground us and our relationship. There are times when she has to exert dominance over me to kept our relationship on an even keel, and it works for us. Then there are times when our D/s relationship is purely sexual…”
“D/s?” Daddy asks.
“Dominant/submissive,” I clarify for him. Christian takes my hand from his chest and caresses my pulse point.
“There are times when I restrain her or she subdues me strictly for our mutual pleasure and enjoyment,” he says, his gray eyes piercing me.
“What do you get out of that?” Daddy asks. “I mean, Mandy showed me some videos that I thought were… kinky—still a little unnerving, I’ll admit, but kinky… not disgusting. I just don’t see what someone would get from that.”
“It depends,” I interject. “Each aspect may have its own appeal. The blindfold deprives you of one sense so that the others are heightened. So, where a feather on your skin may be just a slight tickle, it becomes extremely intense when you’re blindfolded, particularly because you don’t know what it is or where it’s going to touch you. An erotic spanking or flogging brings the blood to the surface of your skin, also making you hypersensitive to touch and even causing your body to release pheromones.
“Restraints serve many purposes, the biggest I would say is power exchange. You have to trust someone completely with your body and your pleasure to allow them to restrain you. There’s a give-and-take involved in that and it goes both ways. It’s hard to explain, but I can tell you this. Being restrained usually means that in some way, you can’t move. So, you’re forced to sit there—or stand there or lie there—and absorb all the pleasure being bestowed on you. You normally can’t move or grind or rock or anything. You just have to be still because you’re either physically or mentally bound, and the outcome is often quite cosmic for both parties involved.”
“So why do people do that crazy stuff that I’ve seen online and in those clubs?” Daddy asks, and I can hardly believe that we’re sitting here having an open back-and-forth about our kinky sex life.
“For the same reason that we do what we do,” Christian says. “That’s what gets them off. I used to be one of those people. I couldn’t express love and emotion in the traditional way because I couldn’t make a connection. That was all I was taught, so that was all I knew. Of course, I knew how to satisfy a woman, but it usually came along with some pretty hardcore shit.”
“But why?” Daddy pressed. Christian undoes his ties and begins to unbutton his shirt.
“Because that’s what she taught me,” he says. “I didn’t know anything else. I couldn’t be touched; people couldn’t get close; and as far as I knew, love came with a price. So, if I wanted any kind of satisfaction, I had to pay the price.” He opened his shirt to reveal the scars there. Mandy gasps.
“Are those… cigarette burns, son?” Daddy asks. Christian nods. “How is that part of this lifestyle… part of this ‘satisfaction?’”
“It’s not,” Christian says, buttoning his shirt until only the top two buttons remain open. “I was terribly abused before Grace adopted me, and I was adopted at four years old. I was unbelievably emotionally scarred. I don’t have time to even explain to you how deep the damage goes and how it nearly ruined my life. What Elena did distracted me—redirected me, and yes, it did help me in some ways. But it was still wrong. She took an emotionally damaged kid and took advantage of him for own enjoyment. I’ll be honest and say that what she did bridged the gap between not being able to be touched at all and the loving relationship that I have with my wife, but the road I took to get there probably wasn’t the best one.”
“Okay, now I’m really lost,” Daddy says. “You’re contradicting yourself, here, Christian. On the one hand, she did this really great thing for you that helped you make a transition. On the other hand, she’s a horrible pedophile. Which is it?”
“Unfortunately, it’s a little of both,” Christian replies. “What Elena did to me should only have been done between consenting adults. Had she done this when I was 18, I might feel differently about it. Had she done this to truly help me gain control and not to get off on little boys, I definitely would feel differently about it. That’s what I thought it was all this time until I found out that she was recruiting others. She wasn’t doing any of this to help me gain control—that was a byproduct. It was an afterthought. The distraction helped to control my destructive behavior, so it clicked in her head that she could use the distraction to help control my destructive behavior.
“She wants everybody to believe that she set out to help me. She didn’t! It was an accident—a lucky and fortunate discovery. She wanted me, she wanted to control me, and I was a horny, damaged kid who couldn’t be touched. Fifteen years old and a virgin who couldn’t be touched and this is what I was exposed to? Of course, I went nuts! Of course, I wanted more! There was nothing she couldn’t do to me, nothing she couldn’t expect of me, and she exploited that power to the very end.
“At one point in my young life, I thought I loved her. She made it clear that was impossible, and she was right. I was attaching emotion to an orgasm and the anticipation of the next orgasm, and subsequently attaching that anticipation to the person. There was no emotion, no connection, no love between us. Even what she’s feeling right now and what she was feeling over the years was and is simply the fear of loss.”
Daddy is sitting there gaped-mouth, as is Mandy. This is more information than they ever knew about Christian and he just gave it all to them in one sitting. At least, I was somewhat spoon-fed.
“I had no idea you had endured so much,” Mandy comments.
“Well, I don’t advertise it. That’s why when she kept saying that she was trying to save me, I couldn’t understand it. If anything, Anastasia saved me from her without even knowing. Granted, I escaped her clutches before Ana and I started dating, but seeing what the love of a real woman could do for you—one that knows all of your dirty secrets and still loves you—will certainly ensure that you won’t go back down the path of destruction.”
“But if you say that that distraction helped to refocus you, wasn’t it a good thing for you? Disgusting in the eyes of society and any logical person, yes—because you were a minor, but still…” Mandy trails off.
“Cocaine is an immediate distraction from whatever it is that you’re doing. Is that a good thing?” Christian asks and allows the question to settle in. “It may be a drastic comparison, but it’s still the same. There are kids whose lives she has completely destroyed; others who are trying to put their lives back together. My situation is not ‘Oh wow, look how great Christian turned out because of what Elena did.’ My situation is ‘Good grief, she better be glad I didn’t go the other way.’ This situation had the possibility of ending with her staring down the barrel of a gun and me with my finger on the trigger.”
“I can see that,” Daddy says, and I think it’s the first thing he’s understood since we started this conversation.
“This is why this relationship is so important to me,” Christian continues, entwining his fingers with mine. “I could never hurt Ana and I trust that she could never hurt me. We both have horrendous tales and both came out on the better end of it. Yes, I practiced a taboo lifestyle before I met her and yes, it still excites me. When I talked to her about it in the interest of total honesty and full exposure, she told me that she already had experience with it from her college studies. She expressed a growing curiosity in the lifestyle and so far, we’ve just been testing our limits and enjoying ourselves. I’ll be honest and say that the most intense play excites me, makes my pleasure more enjoyable. However, my wife doesn’t go for it so much. A Dominant knows his or her submissive. While he or she may test or push those limits, they still have to honor those limits. A D/s relationship is still a relationship, based more on mutual trust and respect than most traditional relationships.”
Poor Daddy is still shaking his head, trying to comprehend what he’s hearing.
“I know this is a lot of information for you to digest, Daddy,” I say, “and now, I understand why you couldn’t get it when I was trying to tell you. I, of all people, know that this was a conversation that I shouldn’t have had with you over the phone, but like you said… I’m your little girl and you’re my Daddy. Face-to-face, this is hard. The main thing I need you to take from this conversation is that Christian and I love each other very much. We practice an alternative lifestyle in the privacy of our home that may one day become public knowledge. I wanted you to know before you heard it in the press, but he doesn’t hurt or abuse me. We don’t even do the extreme things that you’ve seen. With all that we’ve told you, I’m still sparing you the details of what we do, but honestly, it’s just exploring our sexuality and heightening our sensual experience. That’s all.” Daddy sighs and rubs his forehead.
“I never in a million years thought I would be openly discussing aspects of my daughter’s sex life with her,” Daddy admits, “especially never something so intense as this!”
“Join the club,” I tell him. “But Daddy, I’m so not a little girl anymore. I’m a Mom, now. I’m a woman. I know it’s hard for Dads to look at their daughters as sexual beings, but guess what? I’m a sexual being.” Daddy puts his hand up.
“I know… I know,” he says as Mandy rubs his back attempting to soothe him.
“If it’s any consolation, Daddy,” I tell him, “I had kind of the same reaction when Mandy first revealed that she was pregnant with Harry.” Daddy raises surprised eyes to me and after a few moments, Mandy’s face reddens.
“Oooohh, I can’t believe you brought that up!” she says, with nervous laughter.
“I didn’t give any details,” I say with mirth in my voice.
“Okay, what did I miss?” Daddy asks.
“Nothing, Ray. Nothing,” Mandy says covering her face, blushing and stifling her giggles while I laugh shamelessly at her distress. Daddy turns to her, gently pressing her for information. Christian does the same to me, leaning in to whisper, “Okay, what did I miss?” I lean in and whisper,
“Apparently, my dad’s a stud.”
“Well, the bad guy gets it in the end—or girl in this matter—and your father now knows a whole lot more about your sex life than you intended to tell him,” Ace summarizes.
“No shit,” I say. “We won’t know what happens to Elena for a couple of weeks, but even if she only gets ten years for this, she’s not getting out of that place.”
“I can see that,” he says rising to his feet. “You have quite a bit of homework, Mrs. Grey. I expect full reports on progress each week.”
“I know,” I say rising and walking to the door to escort him back upstairs. “I’ve kept you for quite some time. Stay for dinner.” He shakes his head.
“Thank you, but no. Mrs. Ace will be expecting me.” We take the elevator to the main floor and I walk him to the door. Thanking him for a Saturday appointment. I’m almost attacked by the women when I get back to kitchen.
“That’s your therapist?” Gail asks, incredulously. I can’t help the laugh that escapes.
“Yes, that’s Ace,” I say.
“Ace is right!” Ms. Solomon chimes in.
“I thought James was good-looking, but damn!” Gail comments. “Where do you find these hot men?” I laugh.
“Actually, he was a surprise,” I tell her. “I was looking for another therapist and he didn’t even have a picture attached. His credentials were stellar, so I made an appointment. Imagine my surprise!”
“Damn, Ana, do you attract man candy?” Gail asks. I just shake my head.
I try not to focus on my ass so much in an attempt to accept my curves. It’s so much bigger than it ever has been in my life and if I’m honest, I didn’t know that I could actually ever have an ass this round without enhancements.
I guess I better just start embracing my ass.
I started the self-defense classes at the Center on Monday. It was a larger turnout than I expected. Even Jack and his son showed up for the classes. It was a good workout for us all and I’m happy that I decided to do it, but I really couldn’t wait to get home to my babies.
A lot had happened in the past week and it seemed like I was away from them more than I was with them. I didn’t like that. I knew there would be withdrawal from having to spend time outside of the house away from them, but until the fanfare and fascination with Edward’s death and Elena’s verdict dies down, I won’t risk taking them to the center. Luckily, there seemed to be no mention whatsoever in the press of the BDSM lifestyle in association with the Greys… yet. The PSA has been running again, and it looks to run for about another ten weeks, at least. But putting all these faces to abuse, it helps to take the focus so much off of us.
Throughout the course of all of this, James and Allen nearly postponed their wedding. The date is actually only two weeks away, and we haven’t solidified one single thing for the ceremony. I tell him that there’s no way in hell that we’re going to postpone this wedding date.
“I’ll tell you what,” I tell him. “Let’s just do this. Let’s plan a fabulous party, and in the midst of that party, there’ll be a wedding.” Al smiles widely.
“That’s why I love you, Jewel,” he says, kissing my cheek. “You know, I’d be fine with Food and Libations.”
“In essence, that’s really what it’s going to be, but it’ll be bigger, you know that,” I say with a smile. So, Marilyn and I quickly get to work on Operation Wedding-In-Two-Weeks. Determined not to lose my mind like we did with Mandy’s ceremony, we plan a fabulous indoor/outdoor spring party for my best friend’s wedding at Grey Crossing. I am taking full advantage of being Anastasia Grey and paying everybody to come in and do this work for me. It’s so much more fun to just sit back and let someone else do the work for a change.
“Christian, can I talk to you for a minute?” Jason is standing in the doorway of my study looking quite maudlin on Wednesday. What’s happened?
“Come in,” I say, standing from my desk and gesturing to the chairs in front of it. He sits down and thrusts his hands into his hair, his forehead resting on his palms.
“Something has happened… something that may affect my future in your employment.” Oh, fuck, that’s serious. I try not to panic. Jason has been with me for years… many years. What could have possibly happened that means he would have to leave?
“What’s happened, Jason?” I ask, sitting in the seat across from him. He sighs heavily, the weight of the situation dragging his shoulders down.
“I don’t have all the details, yet,” he begins, “but it looks like Shalane has been arrested.” Shalane… arrested. Fuck! “I have to go get Sophie.”
“Where’s Sophie?” I ask.
“At headquarters right now. If I don’t get her, they’re going to send her to Spruce Street.”
“Spruce Street?” I ask horrified. “Why the hell would they send her to Spruce Street? Isn’t that a detention center for runaways?”
“Yeah, but it’s a residential center, too.”
“Oh, hell, no,” I say, sitting back in my seat. “So, what’s the problem? Go get her.”
“You know I’m suing my ex-wife for custody, but we didn’t expect for things to happen this quickly,” he says. “Like I said, I don’t have all the details, but I know that drugs are involved and that my daughter is at the police station. This means that either they were together or the police picked Sophie up from home. If they had picked her up from home, she would have called me when they got there…”
“So she must have been with Shalane when she was arrested.” Jason nods. “Fucking hell!”
“She wouldn’t even call me. They had to dig into the records to find out who the hell she was and that’s how they got me,” he sighs. “So this presents a bit of a problem for me, Sir. Immediately, I need to be concerned about Sophie’s living conditions. In the future, I may need to be concerned about my line of work… if I’m going to be a full-time father.”
“Okay, so I understand your long-run dilemma and we can cross that bridge when we get to it, but what’s the problem with the immediate?” He raises his eyes to me.
“Sir, I don’t own a home, yet, and this is not my house. I can’t make assumptions…” He’s joking, right?
“You’re kidding, right?” I verbalize my thought. “I mean, you’re not serious. You can’t be…” He says nothing. I frown. “Are you serious, Jason?” I ask, appalled. “Fourteen thousand square feet! More bedrooms than we know what to do with… you and your wife live here! Your daughter is about to go to a group home…!” Unless… “Do you not want her to live here? Is that it?”
“Of course not!” he hisses. “That’s not it at all!”
“Then what is it?” I ask, waiting for an answer. He just looks at me, eyes glassy and lost—and we’re wasting time. “Goddammit, Jason. Activate two-way communications!” I’m about to blow a fucking gasket. “Locate Gail Taylor.”
“She doesn’t know yet!” he says, panicked.
“Well, she’s about to!” I shoot.
“Yes?” Gail’s voice comes over the intercom at my desk.
“Gail, where are you?” After a very pregnant pause,
“I’m in the nursery with Ana and the twins.”
“Good. Fetch some of that overpaid staff that we employ and have them sit with our children. I need to see the two of you in my den, double quick time! We have an emergency.”
“Christian, is everything alright?” I hear Ana ask.
“No, everything is not alright! Please, stop asking questions and get down here. Bring the kids if you have to.” I manually end communications and pass through the French doors to my den. Jason walks in behind me and sits on one of the sofas.
“How long since you spoke to the police?”
“Right before I came to you,” he says, broken.
“Well, get on the fucking phone and tell him that we’re on our way to get Sophie,” I say as I dial my mother’s number.
“Hello, Christian,” Mom says cheerfully.
“Hi, Mom. I hate to impose on you, but are you at home?”
“Yes, son. Is everything okay?” she asks, no doubt sensing the urgency in my voice.
“We’ve got an emergency, Mom. I promise to explain later, but I really need you to come and sit with the twins.” There’s a moment of silence on the phone. “Mom?”
“Yes, Christian. Of course, I’ll be right there.”
“Thanks, Mom. I really appreciate this. I’ll see you soon.”
“Why does your mother need to come and sit with the twins?” I raise my head to the piercing blue questioning eyes of my wife. She didn’t leave our children in the nursery. One of them is in Gail’s arms and the other is snugly wrapped in a baby wrap around my wife. I turn to look at Jason who is looking out the window while talking on the phone.
“Ladies, sit down,” I say gesturing to the sofa.
“I’d rather stand,” my wife replies in a rebellious tone.
“Ana please!” I hiss between my teeth before I realize it. I don’t have time for this—sit your ass down! Her demeanor changes immediately and she and Gail take seats on opposite sofas facing me. Jason ends his call and turns around to face us.
“I had to leave a message with… the person in charge,” he says, noting that our wives are in the room. I take a deep breath and let it out.
“Gail, Jason has something that he needs to tell you,” I say, leaning on the desk. He sits down next to his wife and sighs, taking her hand.
“Love, I would never ask you to do anything that you didn’t want to do,” he begins, “but I have to make a major life change starting right now.” Ana looks up at me and I give nothing away.
“Jason, you’re scaring me,” Gail says, worry lacing her face. Jason quickly recounts what he knows about Shalane and Sophie while Gail listens wide-eyed and Ana covers her mouth, clearly horrified.
“Where is Sophie now?” Ana asks.
“She’s at the police station,” I reply.
“The police station?” she asks. “That’s no place for a child!”
“It gets worse,” Jason says. “If I don’t get down there to pick her up, they’re going to take her to Spruce Street.” Butterfly’s head does that delightful angry-bobble-head thing she does. She can’t believe what she’s hearing.
“Spruce Street!?” she nearly shrieks. She deals with troubled teens and broken families. She knows exactly what Spruce Street is. “Are they crazy?”
“Jason, we have to go and get her,” Gail says, her voice small. “We have to go now!”
“We are, Love,” he says. “We’re just waiting for…”
“I’m here,” my mom says, coming into the den with Mia in tow. “What’s going on?”
“Mom, I have to tell you later, we’re going to have to leave…” Jason’s phone rings and he answers it. “Thanks, Mia. I appreciate your help, too.”
“No problem, Christian. Mom says it’s an emer…”
“WHAT!??” Jason roars and I know everything just went from bad to worse. Both of my children begin to cry and Butterfly quickly begins to unwrap herself. Mom takes Mikey from Gail, who then assists Butterfly in undoing this baby mummy body wrap. Jason is still roaring into the phone as Mia takes Minnie from the wrap and Butterfly allows it to fall to the ground.
“Please, Grace, take them to the nursery,” Ana says. “We have to leave right now. I promise we’ll explain everything later. Gail, go. Get your purse. Meet us in the mudroom. Go, now!” Gail takes a moment to get her bearings, then takes off out of the den. Butterfly leaves with Mom and Mia and I have to calm Jason down.
“You’re fucking kidding me! I’ll kill that bitch!” he roars.
“Jason!” I yell. He glares at me. I don’t know what he heard, but he could rip me apart right now. “Sophie!” I say. He composes himself, but only infinitesimally.
“I’m on my way!” He hisses into the phone and marches out of my den. I fall in stride behind him and our efficient wives are at the mudroom door when we get there. We enter the garage and I hold my hand out to Jason, waiting for the keys.
“I’ll drive,” I say, and he doesn’t protest. He and Gail get in the backseat while Butterfly and I ride in the front. He’s silent for the first few minutes until we get on the I-90.
“The bitch told them I’m dead.” I almost hit the brakes.
“What?” I hiss.
“She was doing a drop, Christian,” he growls. “Cocaine.” Butterfly gasps. “Four fucking kilos with my kid in the car, and she tells them that Sophie’s father is dead!” He says the last part through his teeth. The car falls silent for a few moments, and I step on the gas.
We get to headquarters not a moment too soon. Just as we enter, two women and two officers are in the lobby with a hysterical Sophie. I can’t hear what she’s saying, but she’s obviously pleading with them. Jason’s voice barrels over all the voices in the room and causes a dead silence.
“Sophia!” All heads turn towards the bear loose in the lobby.
“Daddy!” she wails, her voice sounding helpless and terrified. Jason squats down and opens his arms.
“Come to Daddy, Baby Boo,” he says. Sophie wrenches away from the worker holding her and sprints to her father’s arms. He scoops her up and stands upright while she weeps bitterly on his shoulder.
“They’re going to take me away!” she sobs. “I don’t know where! Mom wouldn’t let me call you!”
“It’s okay, baby. It’s okay. Daddy’s here, now.” Gail steps closer to them.
“Ms. Gail,” she weeps, “they want to take me away!”
“Don’t you worry, Pumpkin,” Gail says, stroking Sophie’s hair over Jason’s shoulder. “If we have anything to say about it, you’re not going anywhere.” I stand by silently, holding Butterfly’s hand while Jason and Gail try to calm Sophie, and the workers and police look on.
“Are you Mr. Deleroy?” one lady asks. She looks like one of the workers.
“No,” Jason nearly hisses. I put my hand on his shoulder to calm him. “I’m Jason Taylor.” Her eyes pierce and she looks in the file. She raises her head.
“You’re Jason Taylor?” she says. “You’re Sophia Taylor’s biological father?” He just glares at her. “Ms. Deleroy said you were dead!” she exclaims.
“I know,” he growls. “She won’t have to worry, though. I’ll be dead to her after this.” Her eyes narrow. Cool it, Jason. “I don’t understand why you wouldn’t check into this before you tried to send my daughter to a group home. There’s an open custody case. She has a file with child services. Why didn’t you allow Sophie to call me?”
“We’re really sorry, Mr. Taylor. Under the circumstances, she wouldn’t be allowed to make any calls just yet…”
“So why didn’t you call me? Sophie knows my number by heart! I made sure of it—for just such an emergency!” He’s losing his patience again.
“Mr. Taylor, you have to know that there are protocols that we have to follow. Your wife…”
“My wife?!” he roars again. “She’s. Not. My. Wife! This is my wife!” He pulls Gail forward and she rubs Sophie’s back gently. The worker takes a deep breath.
“Mr. Taylor, I assure you, that we would have gotten to the bottom of all of this. All of this would have come out in the investigation and Sophia would have been placed with you as next of kin…”
“But not before you put her in a group home and traumatized her after whatever craziness has occurred with this batty ass woman!” he accuses.
“Your…” she catches herself before she says it again. “Ms. Deleroy is facing some very serious charges. She had a child in the car with her while she was transporting four kilograms of cocaine. We had to first get the child to safety, then interrogate Ms. Deleroy. She contended that you were dead and that if Sophia insisted that you weren’t, it was a fantasy of hers to help her cope with your untimely death.”
“I see,” he says. “So you’d take the word of a lying, drug-toting, cracked-out criminal over that of a frightened and terrified 12-year-girl. Real bang up fucking system you’ve got here!”
“Daddy… bad words.” Sophie’s muffled voice brings Jason right down. He embraces her warmly and rubs her back.
“I’m sorry, Baby Boo,” he says to her, and she nods on his shoulder. “So what happens now? You know that I’m Sophia’s biological father. She’s not going to any group home, so what do we need to do? She’s traumatized and she looks like she needs some rest and some food. This is no place for my daughter, let alone Spruce Street.”
“We’ll just have to ask you a few questions and then Sophia can be released to you,” the worker says.
“Well, let’s get on with it, then,” he says, never releasing Sophie.
“Hi Ms. Ana… Mr. Chris… you guys came to get me, too?” Her voice is small, frightened, and hopeful. Butterfly chokes back a sob.
“Yes, pretty girl,” Butterfly replies, “we came as soon as we heard. Everything will be alright soon, okay?” Butterfly kisses Sophie’s hand resting on Jason’s back. Sophie sniffles deeply.
“Okay,” she whimpers. It’s clear that she’s exhausted.
“Ana… Chri… Christian and Anastasia Grey?” One of the officers clarify. I sigh—here we go.
“Yes, sir,” I say, as humbly as I can. Oh, please, don’t let my presence ruin this for Jason.
“If you don’t mind, may I ask what your role in this is?” the officer asks.
“Yes, sir. Mr. Taylor is head of personal security for my family and my estate. Mr. and Mrs. Taylor are both in my employ.” The officer nods and writes something down.
“Doesn’t that mean that Mr. Taylor is away from home a lot?” the worker asks. She still hasn’t introduced herself.
“Ms…” Let me help you with that.
“Ironically, my name is Mrs. Taylor,” she says. Gail flinches.
“Mrs. Taylor, Jason lives and works on-site. Except for a normal workday for the most part, he’s not away from home. Additionally, Mrs. Taylor is manager of our estate. She’s there most of the day and night. She also serves as part-time nanny when my wife needs assistance caring for our twins.”
“And if Sophia goes home with you all tonight, where would she reside?”
“She would stay in one of the several spare bedrooms of our mansion or in the private suite with Mr. and Mrs. Taylor, whichever Jason prefers.” Mrs. Taylor turns to Jason.
“You all have a private suite?” she asks. He kisses Sophie on the cheek and puts her down. She immediately goes over to Gail and wraps her arms around Gail’s waist. Gail bends down and kisses her hair, paying attention only to Sophie at this moment.
“Yes,” Jason says, “we have a private apartment on the estate, but we spend most of our time in the main portion of the house.”
“Is that a requirement of your employment?” she asks without malice. Jason turns to me.
“May I answer that, Mrs. Taylor?” I ask, pushing the alpha male back with brute force so that Jason’s chances aren’t ruined by my aggression.
“Yes, sir, please do,” she says. She seems accommodating and professional. Let’s hope this goes well.
“Gail and Jason spend a lot of time in the main portion of the house not only as part of their employment, but also because they’re like family to us.” I have reverted to using first names to drive my point home. “Jason saved my life—literally saved my life. He found my wife when she was kidnapped. He’s my best friend. That’s not just an expression, he is my best friend and he was the best man at my wedding. I walked Gail down the aisle and gave her away at their wedding. She runs my household like a well-oiled machine. She helps to care for my children. She has nursed my wife back to health on more than one occasion, and she and Ana are very close. If Sophie came to stay with us, she would become part of that family. She would be well cared for, her schooling wouldn’t be interrupted, and she would be around familiar people who are very fond of her. I think that would be a much better option in the best interest of the child than going to a group home… don’t you?” My voice is hopeful and questioning. Mrs. Taylor nods.
“Yes, Mr. Grey, I would have to agree with you,” she says after a pause. “Mr. Taylor, Mrs. Taylor, I will have to speak with you in private.” Gail kisses Sophie’s hair and releases her hand. The second worker moves toward them after Gail releases her hand. Sophie turns glassy, frightened blue eyes to Butterfly.
“Ms. Ana?” she says, her voice desperate. Butterfly holds her hand out to Sophie, who runs to her and wraps her arms around Butterfly’s neck. At twelve, she’s only about half a foot shorter than my wife. Butterfly embraces her warmly, kissing her hair like everyone has done before.
“Don’t worry, Sophie,” she whispers, cradling Sophie’s head. “We’re not going to let them take you away.” Sophie nods and clings to Butterfly. I look at Mrs. Taylor.
“She can stay here with the Greys for now,” she says to her colleague. “She’ll be fine.” Her colleague nods and they escort Jason and Gail to the back. Butterfly guides Sophie to a seat and the shrink comes out.
“No one’s been unkind to you, have they, Sophie?” she asks. “Nobody’s hurt you or anything?”
“No,” Sophie says, calming a bit. “Mom told them Dad was dead, and they wouldn’t listen when I tried to tell them that he wasn’t. I don’t know why my mom’s such a bitch!” she hisses. I look up at the officer at the front desk who is eyeing us speculatively, but Butterfly and Sophie are in their own world, paying him no attention.
“It’s not nice to talk about your mother that way,” Butterfly scolds softly.
“But she is,” Sophie whines. “Why would she do this? Why would she do something stupid and then let them take me away instead of telling them about my father? How could you do something like that to a kid?”
“I don’t know, Sophie, and I’m not saying that it’s nice, but you still shouldn’t talk about her that way, okay?” Sophie nods. The officer rises from his desk and comes over to us.
“Listen, the lobby’s no place for a kid. All kinds come through here. Why don’t you guys let me take you to the back… to a private area… clean, more comfortable, no exposure to any riffraff?” I look at his badge… Sullivan.
“What’s you first name?”
“Joseph,” he says.
Thank you, Joseph. That’s very nice of you. Yes, I think we’d like that.” He nods. He makes a quick call and then stands.
“Please, come with me.”
This is the first time that I’ve had a pleasant experience with the police. He leads us to a door where another officer opens and leads us inside. He silently takes us to a room with a table and chairs and two comfortable sofas.
“Can I get you something to drink?” he asks. “Coffee or soda? Water?” I shake my head and Butterfly replies, “No, thank you.” Then she adds, “Sophie, are you thirsty?”
“No,” Sophie says, softly. The poor child is exhausted. I take in my surroundings very carefully as the officer nods and leaves the room. I give Butterfly a quick kiss on the cheek as I whisper, “The room is probably bugged—audio definitely, visual maybe.” Like the pro that she is, she looks at me adoringly, smiles sweetly and nods.
“Come on, Sophie. Let’s get comfortable. Are you cold at all?” she says as she and Sophie take a seat on the sofa. Sophie shakes her head.
“Did they try to ask you any questions before we got here, Sophie?” I ask her in a non-threatening tone. I squat down in front of her so that she’s looking down at me instead of up at me to help her feel more comfortable. It works.
“Yeah,” she says with a nod. “They wanted to know if Mom went anywhere while I was in the car, but Daddy always told me not to answer questions for the police unless I was in trouble. In that case, I only needed to give them my parents’ name, address, and phone number. Well, my parent was there and they wouldn’t listen when I tried to tell them about Daddy because Mom already said that he was dead.” She shakes her head. “It didn’t matter because I didn’t know what was going on anyway.” I nod at her.
“You did just right. We’ll get to the bottom of this,” I say with a smile before sitting on the sofa.
“Sophie, why don’t you lay down and rest for a while? I’m sure Jason won’t be too much longer and then we can go home, okay?” Sophie nods and lies down. Butterfly places one of the sofa throw pillows on her lap and Sophie lays her head on it. Butterfly strokes her hair like she does mine when I’m stressed about something, and Sophie is out cold in 30 seconds flat.
“I better keep my eye on you,” I tell her. “You’re too good at that.” She chuckles.
“She wasn’t going to rest any other way. She’s too worried,” Butterfly says, still stroking Sophie’s hair. “She’s an old soul still trying to be a little girl, stuck in this uncomfortable-turned-terrible situation and I don’t think she has the slightest clue how to handle it. Do you have any idea what’s happening?” Conscious that the room is bugged, I shake my head.
“Near as I can tell, it has something to do with drugs, but I don’t have any details. Jason was more concerned that he would have to quit.” She frowns.
“Quit? Why?” She’s horrified.
“He thought he would have to. He didn’t know how comfortable we would be with Sophie coming to live with us.” Her face falls.
“You’re not serious,” she says. I nod. “Oh, that’s ridiculous! That huge house with all those damn bedrooms, someone around 24-7…”
“I know, I know, I told him the same thing,” I say before she goes off on a rant. She sighs.
“She told them that he was dead,” she says. “That’s awful. That’s one really bitter woman. I would be afraid to even put something like that in the universe.”
“Tell me about it,” I concur. She lays her head back on the sofa.
“What I wouldn’t give for a nice long stretch of quiet and boring for a while,” she says mournfully. I wipe away the loan tear that falls from her eye with my thumb.
“We’ll have our day, Mrs. Grey,” I tell her. She looks longingly into my eyes and sighs. I keep stroking her hair and her eyes become heavy. In no time, she’s asleep with Sophie. I kiss her forehead, pull out my phone and begin to check my emails.
This short talk went on for quite some time, because I’m nearly done with emails and Butterfly is stretching and waking up now… and still no Gail and Jason. She cracks her neck and looks at me.
“How long have I been asleep?” she asks. I look at my watch.
“I don’t know, maybe an hour.”
“An hour!” she replies quietly, trying not to wake Sophie. “What’s going on in there, the Spanish Inquisition?” I stand and pop my neck.
“They’re just being thorough, baby. Her mother just took her on a drug drop from what I understand.” Butterfly shakes her head.
“Poor child,” she says, looking down at a still-sleeping Sophie. “She’s exhausted… probably hungry, too. A few months ago, she was at a Build-A-Bear with me! She built High School Musical bears of Troy and Vanessa and now we’re rescuing her from a drug drop and group home! This is insane!” She’s whisper-hissing, but her anger is palpable. “I swear to God, if I ever see that hideous woman again…”
“You, me, Jason, and Gail… get in line, baby.” She shakes her head vigorously and pulls out her phone.
“I need to call Grace,” she says. “We left with no explanation and I at least want to check in… and I want to check on my babies.” The phone is up to her ear in moments and she turns her head away from the door. “Grace, hi… No, I can’t talk about it over the phone, but hopefully we’ll be home really soon and we’ll explain everything… Yes, I know, Christian and I were just having the same discussion…” As she’s talking, the door opens quietly and in walks Jason, Gail, and Mrs. Taylor. I found it strange that they felt the need to keep quiet, further confirming my suspicion that the room is bugged. Butterfly keeps talking to Grace while I furrow my brow at Jason. In that manner that we’ve perfected for years now, he throws his eyes briefly up to the corner of the room, informing me that we have in fact been on Candid Camera for the last hour or so. I give a discreet nod and turn back to my phone while they observe Butterfly on the phone with my mother.
“How are my babies?” Perfect timing, Butterfly. Mom says something that makes her smile. “She knows it’s Mommy… Put the phone to her ear… Hi, Minnie!” she says in the sweetest little voice. “Mommy loves you, Minnie. I’ll be home as soon as I can, be good for Gammy. I love yooouuu…” she scoffs. “Oh, Grace!” Apparently, my mom took the phone back. “Where’s Mikey?… Oh, I shouldn’t be surprised. He needs his rest, he’s Mommy’s little hell-raiser… Well, hopefully we won’t be much longer… I know this is strange, but we’ll tell you everything when we get home… Thank you, you’re wonderful. Kiss my babies, tell them Mommy will be home soon… Bye, now.” She ends the call.
“Minnie’s fussing a bi… Oh!” She covers her mouth and stifles a startled scream when she sees the room is full of people, all smiling at her conversation with her daughter. “That was mean!” she whisper-hisses again.
“We didn’t want to interrupt your conversation with Minnie,” Jason chuckles. Butterfly sticks her tongue out at Jason.
“You’re fired… again!” she says as she gently tries to rouse Sophie. “Sophie?” She only whimpers and snuggles into Butterfly’s lap. Butterfly shrugs.
“Don’t,” Jason says. “Let me get her out of here, first.” Butterfly nods and Jason scoops Sophie into his arms bridal-style.
“Come on, Baby Boo, let’s get you home.” She nuzzles into her father’s chest and doesn’t wake.
“We’ll be in touch, Mr. Taylor,” Mrs. Taylor says. “Mrs. Taylor.” She proffers her hand to Gail who accepts the shake.
“Mrs. Taylor,” she says with a chuckle.
We emerge from the back of the station only to discover our troubles are just beginning.
“Fucking hell!” I breathe. Paparazzi… en masse, more than I’ve seen in quite some time, even at the hospital after the babies were born. I turn to Jason. “I’m sorry.”
“This is not your fault,” he says. “If anything, we all got pulled into this by the b…” he looks down at a sleeping Sophie. “…Cow that brought us here.” Butterfly springs into action. I take off my jacket and cover Sophie’s head and face.
“Can’t you help us?” She says to the officer behind the counter. “These people are just trying to get a story and there’s a child involved here… please…” The officer looks at her, then picks up the phone.
“One minute,” he says as he makes a call. I tuck Butterfly under my arm and we wait. A few minutes later, four uniformed officers come from the door behind the counter and walk to the front door. I turn back to the officer.
“Thank you, Joseph,” I mouth and he nods at me. When I get to the door, I hear the officers telling the press to move away from the stairs or risk being arrested. A black-and-white drives up with lights flashing. I look at Jason and smile.
“Your ride is here,” I say. He smiles at me and he walks out of the building with Sophie, Gail, and a police escort. We stand back and make sure that they’re in the car before we try to leave. I take my wife’s hand.
“Ready, Mrs. Grey?” She smiles.
“No impromptu interviews this time.”
“Yes, sir,” she says. I squeeze her hand and we leave the station.
We make it home without incident as even the press is not dumb enough to follow the police with lights and sirens blaring in an obvious attempt to evade them. Jason and Gail get Sophie comfortably to bed and Butterfly goes to check on the twins. I later find her in the kitchen having coffee with Mom and Mia, explaining the evenings events when Jason comes in to join us.
“How’s Sophie?” Butterfly asks.
“Already traumatized,” he says, retrieving a soda from the refrigerator. “Can you talk to her, please?” he asks Butterfly. “I’ll pay you.”
“Jason!” Butterfly says in a scolding voice.
“I just didn’t want to assume…” he begins, and Butterfly throws a threatening look at him. That conversation falls dead in the water. He shrugs. “Gail is wiped out. She asks if you can handle the twins tonight.”
“Of course,” Butterfly says, sipping her coffee. “We have a new problem, now.”
“What’s that?” I ask with a furrowed brow.
“Gail’s a stepmom now. She can’t focus all her attention on our children and neglect hers. She’s going to need some help.” Oh, hell, I hadn’t thought of that.
“Another nanny?” I ask in despair.
“It doesn’t have to be live-in like Gail,” she says, “but she is going to need some help. Worse, who am I going to find that I can trust with my children?”
“I can ask around,” Grace says. “You know in my circles, there’s always a line on good—and bad—staff.”
“I’d appreciate that, Mom,” I say with a sigh.
“And you can ask some of the members at your country club,” Mia says.
“Oh, good God, we haven’t even been to the country club with everything going on,” Butterfly laments. “Wasn’t there supposed to be some kind of Meet-N-Greet?”
“Yeah,” I answer, uninterested. “I don’t remember when it was… or when it’s supposed to be.” I turn to Jason. “What took so long at the station? She said a little chat and it almost lasted two hours.”
“They had to change the records that I wasn’t dead, then get an emergency placement order for Sophie. I never did see Shalane and I really don’t want to. I bet I won’t have any problems getting custody now. But get this. I still have to pay her child support until that court changes the order, even though the kid is with me. Isn’t that rich?”
“Gotta love our system,” I say, sipping my coffee.
“That’s okay. It’s fine. I’ll do whatever they tell me to do, but she’s never getting her hands on Sophie again. Here’s a day she’ll mark in her calendar, if she hasn’t marked it already. God knows I have. Ironic.”
“How is it ironic?” Butterfly asks. My question exactly. I can see tragic, but I can’t see ironic. Jason scrubs his hands over his face.
“A year ago today, that blonde psychopath shot me.”
A/N: 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