Becoming Dr. Grey: Chapter 79—Grey House of Renewal

 

Still getting those lovely idiots that keep reading even though they hate my characters after 229 chapters (SMH). Please see the disclaimer below and the lovely email I sent out. Pay special attention to the words right before “just go away.” 😉 

Love you guys! 😀

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 79—Grey House of Renewal

ANASTASIA

My body is not having the beating that I’m imposing upon it. Several nights without sleep, complete emotional breakdown, then the combination horny/affectionate make-out/kiss-fest that I had with my husband last night—my head hit the pillow and I slept for 13 hours straight. It’s well after 1pm when I finally make my appearance in Grey Crossing. Gary and Marilyn are leaving and Christian and Jason have laptops, iPads, folders, files and cell phones all spread over the dining table. I want to get some food in me, but I was hoping to speak to Mare about what information she found for possibly moving a cancer patient into your home.

“Talk to him,” she says, smiling at Christian before kissing me on the cheek and taking Gary’s hand, dashing towards the door.

“What is she talking about?” I ask Christian, pointing at Marilyn while simultaneously trying to see what they’re working on with this mountain of information I see before me.

“Hey, Butterfly.” Christian rises from his seat and kisses me. “Did you sleep well?”

“Yes, but I’d like to know why Marilyn was here. I wanted to talk to her about what we talked about last night.”

“That’s what this is,” he says, taking a seat and gesturing for me to do the same. I sit and he pushes his laptop in front of me, open to the Mayo Clinic website. “As you can see here, it’s totally doable that Valerie can move into the Crossing and continue her recovery. We’ll have to clear it with her doctor in terms of what special equipment she would need. The American Cancer Society website gave us some valuable information, too…” He hands me his tablet and I start to scroll through the information. “We would want to find out if she’s receiving chemo and what kind of radiation she’s getting. If it’s external radiation, then it doesn’t pose a threat for anyone else, but if it’s systemic—like drugs or intravenous—she could actually be radioactive for a while after treatment, and that could cause problems in terms of the twins.” I shake my head.

“No, she’s fine,” I assure him. “She had chemo right after surgery and her radiation is external. I found that out when I started visiting so that I didn’t pose a danger to the twins.” He smiles at me.

“Very good, Mrs. Grey, so that’s one problem down.” He flips to another site that shows a barrage of medical equipment. “This company is based out of Seattle and serves Seattle Gen. It has everything from medical beds to heart monitors to feeding tubes. We could actually have someone on life support here if we had to. The equipment can be delivered in one day… same day depending on what we order. I think the best space would be the second guest room. It’s very roomy and has the walk-in shower, so we can easily modify the space for what she may need for her care.”

My God, he’s been very busy. Apparently, Marilyn came by and shared her findings with him and he just took the ball and ran with it.

“What about the radiation treatments?” I ask. “She’s still in the hospital because she has to have them five days a week. I think she still has two or three weeks of those things left.”

“Yeah, unfortunately, she still has to have those at the hospital, so that would involve transport. That’s easy enough to secure, but here’s the thing. The radiation treatments are 15 to 30 minutes a day. Granted, they wipe her the fuck out, but she’s spending 24 hours a day, seven days a week in that same room. I don’t need a website or a pamphlet to know that healing is 90% attitude, but I have one if my brother needs convincing. If we can get her out of that hospital room and into more familial, more pleasant surroundings, where she’ll be more comfortable and have a better view, it would definitely speed up her healing process and help with any depression she might be suffering. We would just have to convince them that the daily commute is worth her being here at the Crossing as opposed to her being there at the hospital.” I smile widely.

“Well, I guess there’s nothing left to do but convince Elliot and Val, huh?” I say, kissing him on the cheek. “Thank you.”

“I can’t take all the credit,” he says sweetly. “I called Marilyn this morning and she gave up her Saturday morning plans to come and explain her findings to me. I think she was cuddling when I disturbed her.” My brown furrows.

“You called Marilyn? She didn’t just come over?” I ask. He shakes his head.

“She didn’t give me a hard time or anything,” he adds. “She came immediately as soon as I ask…” I silence him with a deep kiss. I touch my forehead to his after I pull my lips away.

“Like I said,” I say, just above a whisper, “thank you.” He gently strokes my cheek.

“You’re welcome, Mrs. Grey.”

*-*

“I don’t know, you guys,” Elliot says, looking just as much like hell warmed over as he ever has, even more so since yesterday. “She’s getting the best care here.” Valerie looks a little pale… very tired and disheartened. I know she’s awake, but her eyes are closed and she’s slouched over to the side.

“When was her last radiation treatment?” I ask him.

“Um, yesterday,” he says, scratching his head.

“She looks like she just had one this morning,” I tell him. “Today and tomorrow are supposed to be her days to recuperate, and she’s not recuperating. There’s no music, no television, there’s no color in this room. Even the flowers are gone. It’s drab, it’s dull, and it screams of institution. And I love you dearly, Elliot, but you look like a train ran over you. You guys are not mending. You’re not healing. You’re just here. You’re getting the best medical care, but you’re not getting the best emotional care or support.”

“I can take care of my Angel!” he protests vehemently.

“I know you can,” I tell him softly. “You’re vigilant. You’re by her side every moment, but couldn’t you do it better in friendlier, more comfortable surroundings? Where you can lay in a real bed and get a good night’s sleep? Where you guys can get good food, whatever you want and need; where she can wear her own clothes and nightclothes; you can give her a real shower. You can sit in the family room or the theater room and watch movies or you can walk around the grounds and get some fresh air. We’ll have nurses coming every day and 24-hour caregivers on staff, medical transportation to the hospital for her treatments and Elliot… we can take care of you, too. You can’t go on like this.”

“I’m doing fine!” he defends.

“No, you’re not, Bro,” Christian chides gently and Elliot turns his gaze to his brother. “No… you’re not.”

He makes to say something, but Valerie’s small voice garners his attention.

“El…” It’s barely audible, but he barrels to her side as if it had come through a loudspeaker.

“Yes, Angel? I’m here, baby.” He’s so tender with her, so attentive, but he’s on pins and needles right now. If he could just see that he’ll have someone else to help him, maybe he would be able to relax. He’s right in her face, stroking her head and talking only to her. They have a brief exchange and he kisses her on the forehead. He stands up and swallows hard, still holding her hand.

“Nobody makes any damn decisions without me,” he says with finality, his voice shaking.

“No,” I begin. “We would never…”

“Nobody!” he says again, his eyes piercing. “This is my Angel. My Angel! I have power of attorney! I can take care of her and nobody does anything without my permission! Understood?” He’s visibly shaking now, holding one of Val’s hands in both of his. His voice is shaking terribly like a frightened child as he waits for us to acknowledge his demands.

“You’re the boss, man,” Christian says. “Nothing without your permission.” Elliot nods shakily as a tear falls from each eye.

“She wants to go,” he says, pushing the words out of his mouth with all the breath in his lungs. I almost can’t retain my relief, but I walk over to Elliot and take his face in my hands. I press a firm, lingering kiss on his cheek.

“We’re going to take care of you, too, big brother,” I say, wiping the tears from his face. He raises tired blue eyes to mine and I gaze at him with all the sisterly love and sympathy that I can muster. He collapses in tears on my shoulder, wrapping one arm around me while still holding Val’s hand. I hold him tight and allow him to cry, catching a glimpse of the weak smile on Val’s face just beyond his shoulder.

*-*

Christian had already called home to have the second guest bedroom with the walk-in shower broken down in preparation for remodeling for Val’s arrival. This is normally something that Elliot would do for us, so I called Daddy while we were still at the hospital, negotiating, and asked for his assistance in the matter. He could only pretty much oversee some things and maybe get some guys to help, but it’s late Saturday afternoon, so whatever the staff couldn’t do, couldn’t be done. I mainly ask Daddy to start making the preparations for the bathroom to be medically converted and completely handicapped-accessible. We would work on everything else.

Our biggest battle is with the doctors, as we suspected it would be. Dr. Hill agrees to run a few tests and if the tests come back favorable, he’s all for Val being released to recuperate in more friendly surroundings. Her oncologist is not nearly as accommodating. This woman insists that the care that Val needs can only be administered at the hospital. Apparently, she has never had to debate with the likes of Christian Grey.

“Dr. Moab,” he argues, “while I agree that the radiation can only be administered under doctor’s care and supervision in an approved facility, that process only takes 15 to 30 minutes of the patient’s day. Many cancer patients have outpatient radiation therapy. In fact, most of them do. There’s no risk to Ms. Marshall’s health in our home or not even in her own home. However, in our home, she would have around-the-clock care by licensed caregivers, daily visits from the nurse, and we are not more than 20 minutes away from Seattle General Hospital on Mercer Island.”

“Mr. Grey,” she says in a condescending tone, “while I can appreciate the vast accommodations your wealth can afford Ms. Marshall, the fact remains that here at Seattle General, we are prepared for any eventuality should Ms. Marshall have any complications during her treatment.” Christian narrows his eyes.

“Well,” he begins in the same condescending tone, “since she’ll be here during her treatment, that’s good to know. However, when she’s not having her treatment, she’ll be resting and recuperating comfortably at home.” There’s that determined tone. Back off, lady.

“Maybe I didn’t phrase that correctly,” she says more firmly. “I will not advise that Ms. Marshall be released as the hospital is better prepared and more equipped to help her if there are any complications resulting from her treatment.” She folds her arms.

“She’s been on treatment for, what, two weeks now? Has there been any prior indication that there were complications?” Christian asks.

“I’m not at liberty to tell you that,” she says matter-of-factly.

“She’s been on treatment for, what, two weeks now?” Elliot says, rising from a seat where he’s been listening quietly. “Has there been any prior indication that there were complications?” She turns her gaze to Elliot. She knows who he is. She sighs impatiently.

“No,” she begins, “but these things have a way of…”

“So, now when we decide that getting her the hell out of this hospital might lift her spirits and aid with her healing, you suddenly come up with these convenient complications.” Elliot’s voice is low, intolerant, yet very professional—like I’ve never heard him before. He has put on the armor, and this lady isn’t going to be able to break through it.

“There’s nothing convenient about complications, Mr. Grey,” she retorts.

“I agree,” he responds, “which is why I’m wondering why the possibility of complications is conveniently showing up now. Every other time you’ve come into her room, she’s been ‘great, fabulous, doing so well,’ and now all of a sudden there’s a possibility of complications.” Nothing he’s saying is formed in a question after the first questions he asked her, repeating after Christian. Everything else is more of an “explain yourself” statement.

“Mr. Grey, if you really want Ms. Marshall to get the best possible treatment…”

“Are you suggesting that I don’t?” And that’s his first question, the first time his voice fluctuates. Dr. Moab is silent for a moment. “Do you know how long Ms. Marshall has been in this hospital?” He closes the space between him and the front of her desk. “Five hundred thirteen hours and…” He looks at his watch. “… Seventeen minutes. Do you want to know how many of those hours I have been in this hospital? About 500, and I’m estimating low!” he hisses. “Would you like to rephrase your statement?”

Dr. Moab is at a loss for words. I know her type. She’s got a God complex. She feels like she does this magnificent work and the rest of us mere mortals must bow down to her. But she’s never had to contend with the Invincible Brothers Grey, and when it comes down to their women, either you tread lightly or you don’t tread at all.

“Mr. Grey, I never meant to insinuate that you wanted anything less than the best for your girlfriend. I’m sorry.” Elliot closes his eyes and shakes his head.

“She’s so much more than that,” he says, his voice laced with anger. “So much more.” He takes a deep breath. “We’re going to wait for the tests from Dr. Hill and see what his recommendations are. If he clears her from his service, we’re going to go on the assumptions that she’s going to continue to do great and we’re going to take her home, because that’s what she wants. My brother is right—for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, you shoot her full of radiation. For the other 23 hours and 30 minutes—24 on the days that she doesn’t have treatment—we sit in that drab, bland, life-sucking room and deteriorate more and more every day, a little bit at a time. I don’t know what medical book you read that says that’s good medicine, but we talk to people every day in that treatment room that are outpatient, that come in for the exact same treatment and go home to their families and their own beds. So, once Dr. Hill gives us clearance—and he will give us clearance—you can either act in the best interest of my Angel and release her or we’ll get out of here AMA. Either way, we are getting out of here.”

Elliot turns on his heels and marches from the room. Christian and I watch him leave and we’re still standing where we were in here office. I’m not leaving until Christian does.

“Let me make this clear,” he says, when she glares at him with that ‘are you still here’ look in her eye. “We’re going to take Ms. Marshall home and we’re going to bring her back religiously for her treatments. As her oncologist, if you give us treatment instructions when we leave the hospital, we’ll follow them to the letter. However, if her condition mysteriously deteriorates after we take her home just so that you can prove a point, no malpractice insurance, no attorney, court, judge or even God Himself will be able to save you. And before you ask, yes, that is a threat.”

Without another word, Christian turns and walks out of the office behind his brother. I watch my husband walk out and turn back to this arrogant bitch who has talked down to us the entire time we’ve been here. Although there’s not really anything that I can say after that, I add only this after examining her horrified expression.

“You heard the man.”

*-*

“Jimmy called me today,” Christian says as he’s helping me make the bed in Val’s new room on Sunday. We were able to get just about everything delivered today, including a top-of-the-line adjustable queen bed for Elliot and Valerie. It was a better choice than the standard hospital bed because it’s more comfortable, has more adjustments for Valerie’s and Elliot’s comfort and it’s just as easy to get Val in and out of this bed as it would be to get her in and out of a medical bed. The only thing that we weren’t able to get done was the adjustments to the bathroom, so we brought in portable accommodations instead, like a portable shower chair and a higher potty seat. She lamented hearing that she would have an electric scooter to get around the house, but laughed about it at the same time.

“Jimmy?” I question.

“Radcliff,” he says.

“Oh,” I respond, fluffing the pillows on the bed.

“He wants to see Thelma and the baby,” he says. “I told him that I would tell you, but I don’t know what’s involved in that being able to happen.”

“We would have to get word to Thelma and let her make the decision.” I put fresh towels in the bathroom. “I’ll probably have to call Grace. I have those meetings with you all week and then getting Val back here and situated tomorrow afternoon. I don’t see how I’m going to be in all those places at the same time.”

“Well, if Mom has to do it, I’ll call her,” he says. “You’ve got enough on your plate.”

“That would help a lot,” I tell him, going over the list of things Elliot gave me that he and Val want us to retrieve from their apartments. “Grace seems a bit helpless without me these days and any kind of contact that I have with her results in an hour-long conversation that really could wait.” He nods.

“I’ll call her later today, then, and see what needs to be done to make this happen. It’s been three months now and the split wasn’t what I would call ‘equitable.’”

“To say the least,” I concur. “It’s hard to say whether she’ll even see him or not.”

“Do you have any reason to believe that she won’t?” he asks as we finish up what we need to do in the room and prepare to go to Elliot’s. I shrug.

“Not that I know of,” I say. “She’s not vengeful as far as I can tell. She really… just doesn’t talk about him all.” Christian frowns.

“That can’t be good,” he says. “He was so lost without her, he was ready to do himself in.”  I had forgotten about that.

“I’ll, um… I’ll call her today. I may have her phone number in my call logs.” Christian eyes me warily.

“I can talk to Mom,” he says, his brow furrowing.

“It’s okay, baby,” I say, heading towards our bedroom to get my phone. He stops me with a gentle grasp of my elbow and I turn to face him.

“You okay?” he asks, tentatively. I just stare at him for a moment before I reveal the cause behind my urgency. I sigh and lean against the nearest wall.

“I saw you, Christian,” I begin. “You had already died.” He frowns, waiting for me to explain. “When I came back from Montana, you were already gone. There was nothing left. You had already died, and you brought death with you when you walked into the room. When I saw you again, I didn’t even recognize you. There wasn’t even the life there that I saw in you when I first met you. Not that hateful arrogance or anything, just… dismay, like you were wandering around waiting for death to come and get you. The penthouse was cold and lifeless when I walked in and when you got there, it became even colder.”

I get a chill just thinking about it, remembering Christian walking into the great room in his black suit with that horrid ponytail in his hair. He still walked tall and with purpose, but there was nothing of my loving fiancé in that person that wandered into the penthouse that day. I could imagine that he wasn’t eating because Death didn’t need food—just his hood and scythe.

“If James Radcliff feels anything like what I saw, he needs to see Thelma as soon as possible,” I add. He examines me for a moment, then nods, pulling his phone from his pocket as I go to retrieve mine.  I scroll to a number in my call log that I think is hers and ready myself for the “I’m sorry, wrong number” message.

“Ana?” Thelma’s voice comes through the phone. Apparently, she saved my number in her phone.

“Thelma, hi. I hope I haven’t disturbed you.”

“Oh, no,” she assures me. “Nothing in the world to do on this lazy Sunday afternoon. What’s up?” I take a deep breath and get right to the point.

“I don’t know if I mentioned this, but my husband has been in close contact with your husband.” She’s silent for a moment.

“Um… yes, you may have said something about it when I took Jimmie to the hospital,” she replies.

“Well… I’m calling because… he told Christian that… he wants to see you and the baby.” The line is quiet for long seconds. “Thelma?”

“He… he does?” Her voice is breathy—that sound that you make when you discover that the guy you’ve had a secret crush on for months actually likes you back.

“Yes, Thelma, he does,” I confirm.

“Hoh, Hokay… when?” She’s almost breathless!

“I… don’t know. I’ll have to ask Christian. I think you should name the place.”

“Um… someplace neutral… not the Center, too many bad memories. A park, maybe…”

“No, too many people,” I tell her. “Too much distraction, way too public. A cozy restaurant, maybe…”

“No,” she says. “I don’t want our first meeting to be somewhere he’s expected to pay some money. It’s just me, I don’t think it’s a good idea. Plus, little Jimmie may act up and never settle down.” Well, this is getting nowhere fast. While I’m trying to think of somewhere for them to meet, Christian pushes the door open, his cell phone in his hand.

“He’ll meet her in the middle of Fifth Avenue, as long as she agrees to meet him,” he says, obviously talking to James Radcliff and having heard our indecisive conversation.

“Ana? You… you still there?” she asks, her voice somewhat panicked.

“Yes, I’m still here,” I assure her.

“He says a restaurant is fine,” Christian says. “He just wants to see her and the baby. He doesn’t care.”

“She doesn’t want a restaurant,” I protest, “for reasons of her own, one of which is that the baby may not settle.” Christian rolls his eyes.

“Ana, are you talking to him??” she asks frantically. “Is he there?” I get the feeling she would teleport herself on a magic carpet if she could get to him right now.”

“Yes, we are and no, he’s not. Christian has him on the phone,” I inform her.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” Christian says, turning back to his phone, exacerbated. “Jim, can you get to Mercer in an hour?” I look at him in horror.

“Thelma hasn’t agreed yet!” I hiss. “And she doesn’t have a car!”

“Agreed to what, Ana?” Thelma asks desperately on the other line. Christian pauses for a moment.

“If she agrees, we’ll send Lawrence to get her. Find out if she can be ready in 30 minutes.”

“Ready for what? God, please tell me!” This woman has ears like a bat! And now I realize that she would plow through Purgatory to get to this man at this moment. I just shake my head.

“Be ready in half an hour and give me your address. I’m sending Ben to get you and the baby. James will meet you here at my house… for dinner.”

*-*

“You’re like a high school girl about to go to her first dance,” I tease Thelma as she paces around the patio waiting for our husbands. She’s wearing an adorable vintage tea party dress—white with blue flower and a structured halter bodice with a ruched sweetheart neckline. A white, short, three-quarter-sleeved cardigan compliments the dress along with a pair of white strappy sandals. She has pulled her hair into a relax chignon with curls falling carelessly around her face. Unless she walks around all day looking like this, she has pulled off the perfect “I look like it took me hours to get dressed” look in less than 30 minutes. She so self-conscious, though, that she doesn’t believe it.

“I’m nervous,” Thelma says. “I can’t help it… it seems like it’s been so long.” She keeps smoothing her clothes and checking her appearance. Little Jimmy is sleeping contentedly in his baby carrier in the family room while his mother fends off a full-fledged nervous breakdown.

“Well, three months is kind of a long time to be without your husband.,” I tell her.

“Do I look okay?” she asks, smoothing her clothes for what has to be the hundredth time.

“Yes, Thelma, you look fine,” I say with a smile. She sighs nervously. She’s gained her healthy weight back and quite frankly, she looks stunning.

“Jesus, I hope I don’t look like…” She freezes mid-sentence looking at something over my shoulder. I turn around to find that Christian and James Radcliff are standing in the doorway between the patio and the family room. He’s just as speechless and spellbound as Thelma is. He looks nice in crisp jeans and a pullover sweater and what looks like a fresh haircut—a lot different than what I saw before when he came barging into the Center last Christmas.

“Oh, wow,” Thelma says wistfully, “he looks… really good.”

James gazes at his wife, swallowing hard and obviously sharing her sentiment. He walks slowly through the door while Christian hangs back. He pads his way over to his wife, stopping almost at the halfway point between the space separating them.

“H… hi, Bunny,” he says, his voice small and hopeful. Thelma’s lips part and she releases a small breath. She walks over to him, closing the remaining space between them. Walking right up to him, she’s breaths away from his face.

Okay…

He looks down at her, never taking his eyes off her. Her eyes dart from his eyes to his lips and back again. It’s obvious what she wants to do, but he won’t move until she does. She raises her hand and touches his cheek. He leans—only slightly—into her touch, closing his eyes and shivering visibly at the caress, his Adam’s apple bobbing in his throat. That was the only confirmation she needed. Her hand moves into his hair and she surprises us all—even James—by standing on her toes and pulling him down for a kiss, a soft, gentle kiss that you can tell is full of yearning even as an onlooker.

James is taken aback, caught between how to react to the kiss and what to do with his hands currently fisting at his sides. He gives in to both urges and leans in to kiss his wife, a sigh escaping them both simultaneously, while his hands grasp her possessively around the waist. Both of her hands seek his hair while she presses hungry, but controlled kisses on his lips. They’re barely breathing when their lips finally part, but still nearly no space between their mouths.

“How have you been, Jimmy?” she breathes, her words, no doubt burning on his lips, her fingers still thrust in his hair.

“Missing you,” he replies, “like crazy.”

“You’re thin,” she says after kissing him again, gently, on the lips.

“I wasn’t well for a while.” His hand glides from her waist up her back, pulling her close to him until she gasps. “I’m fine now.” He closes his lips over hers.

I throw a wide-eyed glance at Christian, suddenly feeling like a voyeur in my own home. He just shrugs and holds his hand out to me, gesturing me to join him. I walk around the couple tenderly and affectionately making out on my patio while holding one of the most harmless and normal “getting to know you again” conversations between kisses that I’ve ever heard. Christian puts his arms around me as we watch the two of them, unable to release one another as they catch up on what’s been happening in the other’s life over the past three months. They’re not vulgar or even very passionate—their kisses are gentle caresses, soft tastings of the other’s flesh like they are sampling a rare delicacy as Thelma tells James about milestones in little Jimmy’s development and James describes the new house and how he’s doing on his job. I fully expect them to mount each other right there on the patio, but their touching never goes beyond what we see right now.

“Have you ever seen anything like this?” I ask in awe as I settle into his arms and body, my back to his front.

“No,” he says, wrapping his arms around me, “but I’ve felt it.” I look over my shoulder at him. “When you came back from Montana. Just wanting to hold you and kiss you… and make sure you were real.”

I turn back to the couple in front of me and realize that’s exactly what they’re doing. His gentle caress of her back, arms, and waist. How he leans down into her, tilting his head to angle his lips to hers as she softly strokes his nape. There’s no overtly burning passion on display—just small sips to quench an obvious thirst; small touches to satisfy a yearning to be near each other; and the most innocent “what’s new” conversation is still going on between them.

“Where’s the new house?”
Kiss, kiss…

“On Garfield near 42nd.”
Kiss…

“Oh, that’s a nice neighborhood. I’ve always wanted to live there.”
Kiss, kiss…

“I know. I remember. I think you’ll like the house.”
Kiss, kiss, kiss…

“I’d really like to see it…”
Kiss…

And they kiss and talk and kiss and talk and after about four minutes of this, I look to Christian and say, “I think we should leave them alone.”

“It wouldn’t matter,” he says, kissing and nuzzling my neck. “An atom bomb could go off next to them right now and they wouldn’t hear it.” He takes my hand and leads me back into the family room where Keri is looking down into the baby carrier.

“Ees dat Jemmie?” she asks, pointing at the baby. My eyes widen.

“Yes!” I say in near amazement. “How did you know?” She shrugs.

“I nevah fohget a bebe,” she says with a smile.” Her accent has gotten so much thicker since she went home. I wonder if it will thin out again the longer she’s here? Either way, I like listening to when she talks. “Hello, Jemmie,” she says, sitting on the sofa next to his carrier. “You’ve gohten soh big…”

We leave Keri to bond with little Jimmy while we go to the kitchen to see if dinner is ready. We can see them through the window, still touching and kissing one another, talking into each other’s mouths—their way of connecting, no doubt. What a lovely way to communicate.

“Christian and I will have dinner now,” I tell Ms. Solomon. “I think they might be a while.”

*-*

“We’re very sorry for that display from earlier,” Thelma says as she and James prepare to leave. He’s going to take her back to her apartment. They’ve decided to move slowly and work their way back together, spending time with each other again while James finishes preparing the house for his wife and child to come home. With the way that they split, they both agree that it’s not the best idea to run back into living together until they talk through who they are now and what they expect from a relationship and each other—although you wouldn’t know from that greeting earlier.

“That’s okay,” Christian says as we show them to the door. “We know the feeling.” Thelma frowns.

“You two?” she says incredulously. “That’s impossible! You’re one of the most loving couples I’ve ever seen!”

“It ain’t always been sunshine and roses,” Butterfly admits. “But now you know what to look forward to.” Thelma looks lovingly up at James who kisses her on her temple.

“Yes, we do,” she says. “I never doubted his love for me. We just… have to work some things out.”

“We will, Bunny,” James says, his voice full of promise. “We will.” She looks up at him and smiles. We say our goodnights and ask them to please keep us posted. I turn around to my husband.

“We never got the chance to get to Elliot and Val’s to pick up their things. They’ll be here tomorrow,” I say.

“We’ll do it after the meetings,” he tells me, leaning in to kiss my neck and lick my clavicle. He puts his hands on my hips and squeezes. “Right now, I need a little Butterfly time…”


CHRISTIAN

After the Radcliffs’ affectionate reunion inspired a night full of sensual lovemaking and orgasms, my wife shocks the shit out of me Monday morning as we’re getting ready to leave the Crossing and go to Grey House. She descends the curved staircase in an ensemble sure to grab the attention of anyone who sees her today. Butterfly has had a gray Tom Ford suit—circa James Bond—tailored to fit her gorgeous body in such a way that you know it’s still a man’s suit, but only a beautiful woman can wear it. With it, she’s wearing a plain white dress shirt and pocket square and what looks to be one of my gray Anderson and Sheppard textured ties with a somewhat modest pair of four-inch professional pumps. Her hair is in this gorgeous high full-bodied ponytail with a swooping bang to cover the short spot. It’s fucking flawless.

“What the hell, Ana?” I say. Hell, she looks better than me.

“What?” she says. “It’s a business meeting, isn’t it?”

“I mean, damn. You’re sure to capture attention looking like that.” I reminded of Katherine Hepburn in her glory days—beautiful woman no matter what she wore, but known to grace the cover and pages of Time Magazine in a suit and look damn good doing it. Butterfly’s attire doesn’t get past Jason and Chuck as we get into the Audi SUV to head to Grey House. I’ve informed Butterfly that I want her with me when I meet with the department heads. I plan to announce her partnership in our business. She apparently wants to look the part and just when I thought I was doing pretty good in black Prada, I suddenly feel like a troll.

Butterfly looks like she’s ready to rule the world when we step out of the SUV in front of Grey House. She has donned her large Jackie-O sunglasses and is carrying her briefcase, walking in long confident strides across the lobby towards the elevators while we mere mortals fall in step to her pace, only to make her look good… or vice versa. Either way, the murmurings in the lobby as we pass are unmistakable. People want to know why Mrs. Grey is here and why is she dressed like that and what’s going on and so on and so forth. She has caused the buzz that she was hoping she would. At one point, I see her turn her head sharply as if she recognized someone or heard something, but quickly faces back to the elevator.

“You okay, Butterfly?” I ask, putting my hand in the small of her back.

“Yep, I’m fine,” she says quickly, just as the elevator arrives and we step on to ride up to my office.

I’m sitting at the head of the conference table with Butterfly sitting to my immediate right, Allen to her right, Alex and Jason to my left, and the rest of the department heads wherever they can fit.

“Girl, you look fierce,” I hear Allen say in Butterfly’s ear. “You know there are already hateful bitches in here, right?”

“I knew it when I got on the elevator,” she says, replacing her Jackie-O’s with those sexy ass reading glasses while she examines the itinerary for the meeting.

“How are you going to handle it?” he asks. “They can be some real barracudas in here.”

“Keep your eyes peeled, Mr. Forsythe,” she says. “My teeth are sharper than theirs.” Oh, shit. Somebody has already fucked with the tiger. They have no idea who they’re fucking with. This is her meeting. I plan to open that cage, step back and let her loose.

“If we can all take a seat and settle down, I’d like to get this meeting started as my wife and I have a full schedule ahead of us today.” The room quickly silences as some people stand and others sit in whatever seats are available.

“You all know that I will be meeting with each of you individually to make sure that we are all on the same page with GEH’s vision for 2014 and the future. However, this meeting has been called for a specific purpose so that I can make this announcement once. Of course, an interoffice memo will follow with the formal announcement. Some of you may already be aware of this as this development has been in place for quite some time, but the particulars of the situation still had not been resolved. As those particulars are no longer an issue, I would like to announce that my wife, Dr. Anastasia Steele-Grey is now officially part owner of Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc.” There are murmurings in the room.

“Sir?” Devereaux from R&D raises his hand and I acknowledge him. “When you say part owner, does that mean that Mrs. Grey has an interest in the company or that she actually partially owns it?”

“I mean that Dr. Grey,” I stress the word to correct him, “actually partially owns GEH. She holds a 50% interest in the company.” Of course, there are harsh whispers of “Fifty percent” spreading around the room.

“Excuse me, Mr. Grey? Fifty percent? That means she’ll have exactly as much power as you?” he asks, his voice a little condescending. “With the same decision-making power and everything?” I straighten my jacket and undo the button since this is my cue to take a seat.

“As that question should obviously be directed to Dr. Grey, I think now would be a good time to let her have the floor.” I take my seat at the head of the conference table and sit back. “Dr. Grey, the floor is yours.” I gesture for her to take over. She gives me a polite nod and half-smile before standing.

“Good morning, gentlemen,” she says, clearly. Various greetings float back to her. “Ladies,” she adds, and the few women in the room respond. “I must say that it pains me that I see so few women in this room. I’m going to believe that this isn’t an intentional decision and that, being the brilliant businessman that he is, my husband chose the best person for these positions and not just the best man.” She throws a glance at me and my hands move strategically to hide my lips, feigning contemplation, but actually hiding my mirth.

“About a year ago, I was in this same room,” she starts walking around the room, much like Al Capone circling the table at the banquet. The metaphor isn’t lost on me, or the other people in the room. “It was a very different meeting at that time. My husband was trying to convince four people why I should be 50% owner of his company. They knew what was going on before I did. When I discovered it, I thought he was mad!” She says it in such a way that brings a round of laughter—albeit nervous laughter—from various department heads. “I tried to convince him that I didn’t need that, but he couldn’t be swayed.”

Damn straight.

“Several weeks ago, I found myself in a position where I needed to exercise a bit of that authority. Some of you may know that I received a company as a part of a settlement from a situation that happened to me in 2012. It turns out that the company was a façade for numerous illegal activities and once this was discovered, it was necessary to alert the appropriate government agencies to the situation. Although I was 100% owner of that company and my decision would be the final decision no matter what, my instructions to the staff of the company for which I am 50% owner concerning that particular company were met with indifference and cold disregard.”

Two of the men that were at that meeting at our home when we were discussing David’s business are present in this room. She makes immediate eye-contact with them both, pausing for a moment, so that there’s no misconception of whom she is speaking and causing them to shift a bit uncomfortably in their seats and no doubt, wonder if one or both of them will be today’s John Scalise.

“Once that meeting was over, I had a meeting with my husband and informed him that I did not want to be 50% owner of his company. It wasn’t something that I had requested in the first place. It wasn’t something that I needed. This is his baby. He built it with his own blood, sweat, and tears and I didn’t want him to hand over half of his hard work and his legacy as a wedding present for the little woman.” And there’s that fucking phrase. I visibly cringe when she says it. The gesture doesn’t go unnoticed.

“I told him that I needed him to give some serious thought to placing that kind of title upon me and that kind of responsibility in my hands. Granted, although I ran a successful practice before I became assistant director of Helping Hands and I minored in business management while receiving my doctorate, I’m not the businessman here. I don’t eat, sleep, and dream mergers and acquisitions—he does. He built this empire on his back, the same empire that affords me and all of you the lifestyles that we enjoy today. He nurtured it from birth just like I nurture my twins. He watched it flourish and grow, took delight in its successes and pains in its failures for many years until it became the successful conglomerate that it is now. Then along comes this woman that no one has heard of and bam! They’re married and now she owns half the company.”

I can see by the looks on many of their faces that she’s walking around in their yard and about to call them out.

“She’s young; she’s pretty; she’s basically an unknown. She must be a gold-digger. She’s out for his money. Be the ideal trophy wife and attach herself to his lifestyle—the perfect social climber—only to stick around for a couple of years and wipe him out in divorce court.”

The room has fallen completely silent. That proverbial rat is walking around pissing on cotton somewhere.

“It’s okay, I already knew it. The public had me pegged. I couldn’t possibly be with this man because I love him. It must be the money. And now, I’ve achieved my ultimate goal of 50% ownership of his company! I got him now!” She rubs her hands together like the typical storybook villain. “Only, that was never my M-O, but I couldn’t tell anybody that, because nobody believed me. No matter what I said, it was the money. I had an ulterior motive. That had to be it… right?”

She stands there holding her hands out waiting for an answer. None of these people are going to answer because of their fear of me. Now, I know why she wore that suit. She needs to strike some fear of her own. She silently, but confidently strides back to the front of the room, but slightly off to the side so that she’s not standing near me.

“I’m not a ball buster and contrary to popular belief, I have nothing to prove to anyone in this room. However, because I respect my husband and I respect his business and the work that he’s invested in it all these years, that means that I need to respect each of you because you wouldn’t be in the positions that you’re in if he didn’t trust you to do what needs to be done. I ask the same of each of you because believe me—regardless of the intimacies of our relationship, I wouldn’t be here if he didn’t trust me. To be quite frank and quite vulgar—ladies, forgive me—I could give him the best head of his life and it’s still not worth 50% of his company.”

Oh. My. God. I have to physically muffle a scoff as does Allen, Jason, and Alex. Mac just turns her head, covering her mouth like I did when the speech began. The looks on the faces of these people are beyond priceless. I’m hoping this meeting is being recorded so that we can go back and do a freeze frame of this reaction! They range from appalled gasps to just visibly gaping mouths.

“Yes,” she continues, “I said it. That statement is for those of you who feel that the sole reason that I’m standing here is due to the amount of time I spent on my back and my knees! You have very little regard for Mr. Grey if you think he’s going to hand over his hard-earned name and reputation to some flighty female who does a really good job of handling his genitals and I would say that I’m more offended for him than I would ever be for me.”

Backs straighten and various people try not to give away that this is exactly what they were thinking.

“Having said that and having already dealt with the scrutiny in a business setting, not once, but three times of being made to feel insignificant in my role as Mrs. Christian Grey, I will make one thing painfully clear.” She pounds her fist into her open hand, making a slapping noise that gains the attention of everyone in the room. “I will not tolerate being treated like I’m standing on the outside of the Boys’ Club. Nor will I tolerate being treated like the little woman, or being approached and regarded with the ‘Who does she think she is’ attitude.” That last statement is directed, and when I follow her gaze after a long pause, I see her glaring at Linda Simmons from Facilities Management, who shifts uncomfortably in her seat. Hmmm, this should be interesting.

“I have no intention of coming into the company and attempting to take over. He’s the mastermind behind this machine and although he wants me to have a more hands-on relationship with the business, 99 times out of 100, I will only be an informed observer and maybe sometimes an advisor. I would suggest not getting the bright idea of ever trying to play us against each other because while you work here, we live together. If my husband says that a certain thing must be done a certain way, don’t come to me to try to get me to dispel what he said. If I have made a decision or a request of you, don’t go to my husband for clearance. You already got from me.

“Having said that, there will be times when one or more of you will have to take instruction from me or interact with me for any number of reasons. My hope is that I can garner at least a portion of the respect that you feel for—or at least show to—Mr. Grey, because of who he is. However, because of who I am and that I now represent 50% of Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc., you might want to get used to showing me that same respect no matter what you may personally think of me. If for some reason, you can’t find it in yourself to wholeheartedly show me that respect, you better fucking fake it ‘til you make it because I won’t be disregarded or besmirched.”

That’s my girl.

“My husband would describe me as personable—I’ve heard him say it before. For some of you, this is your very first time meeting me and I’m certain that personable is not the word that immediately comes to mind as a first impression. I only ask that you forgive my candor. I haven’t had many encounters where I’ve had to deal with those of you with your fingers on the pulse of the business, but of those few times that I have, there have been some unpleasant experiences. As an owner of this company, I find it repulsive and disrespectful. As a person, I’m sick of it!”

There’s silence for a moment, then Butterfly leans down to me.

“The two at the end of the table giggling and sharing a sweet little secret… who are they?” I look up to see who she’s talking about.

“The one talking is Annette Smith, Training and Instruction. Her cohort is Melissa Duncan, Transportation Management.” Butterfly nods and stands up straight.

“Ms. Smith!” she barks loudly. The two ladies snap to attention. “Am I boring you?”

“Um… no, Mrs.… Dr. Grey.” Good, she’s stuttering already.

“Do you have information that you’d like to share with the rest of us?” Butterfly entwines her fingers in front of her.

“N… no ma’am, I don’t,” she says, dropping her gaze to the table.

“No?” Butterfly goads. “Ms. Duncan, maybe you would like to enlighten us on what had you giggling in the middle of what I would consider a very important meeting.”

Ms. Duncan looks from Butterfly to Ms. Smith and back to Butterfly. Getting no support from Ms. Smith, she blurts it out.

“She was saying that Mr. Grey must certainly have his hands full with you and that you give him a run for his money,” Ms. Duncan says. Ms. Smith doesn’t flinch and doesn’t raise her head.

“Did she now?” Butterfly says. The statement was made as a private joke between the two women—an insult, but being the Butterfly that she is, of course, she’s going to turn this around for her benefit. “You’re a very astute judge of character, Ms. Smith. You should have said that out loud.” Ms. Smith raises her eyes in surprise to Butterfly. “I give him hell. Every day. There are some days when, for him, the sun rises and sets in my eyes. Then, there are other days when he has no idea how to deal with me. If you think he pulls his hair here, you should see him at home.”

There’s more laughter around the table, not so nervous this time.

“I’m only a delicate flower when I want to be. The rest of the time, I’m a gun-toting, ass-kicking, articulate, intelligent, tiny ball of hell that should be reckoned with. I’m no different with my husband, my family, or my friends and yes, that makes me quite a handful. But ladies…” She pauses to gain their attention. “In the future, when someone is speaking, you give them your undivided attention and save your comments for after the meeting or when you have the floor. It doesn’t matter who’s standing here—myself, another department head, a third-party vendor, the janitor… it’s common courtesy to make sure that the person who has the floor has your attention. To forego that courtesy is a sign of bad etiquette and lack of training. Okay?”

The two ladies nod silently and Butterfly concludes with her meeting like nothing happened.

“I was saying that I hope I haven’t made a horrible first impression on you all and I still hope that’s the case. If I have, I can’t do anything about it. Either way, I hope that we’ll be able to work together in the future and develop a relationship of mutual respect. But please know two very important simple truths about me. First, what you see is what you get. It is what it is. I’m not one person in your face and another person behind your back. If you don’t like what you see as time progresses, then you’ll probably never like me—and if you do, it’ll be because you changed, not me. This is it—there is no other me…”

Except Mistress, but they’ll never see her.

“Second, you get what you give. If you give me bullshit, disrespect, and a hard time, that’s what you’re going to get back, only it’s going to be a lot harder for you because my job is not in your hands. If you treat me with respect and the willingness to work as a team, if you approach me with a sincere and pleasant attitude, that’s what you’ll get in return, and we’ll be fine. We’ll just have to see how it goes. Thank you for your time and attention.” Butterfly takes her seat to my right and nods to me to take over, sitting regally in her chair. I turn my attention to the attendees of the meeting, some of them a bit stunned.

“Is there any other business that needs to be discussed that won’t be handled in our individual meetings?” The room is silent. “Good. This meeting is adjourned and we will see each of you this week during your allotted times. Thank you.”

I stand, thinking that Butterfly and I are going to make a hasty getaway since the room was virtually silent after her presentation. Boy, was I wrong! Butterfly is literally swarmed by department heads—male and female—clamoring to introduce themselves to her, indicating which departments they represent and offering their assistance in whatever way possible. I take notice that some attempt to wait to speak to her, but realize that the crowd is too thick to get to her and most likely opt to wait for their individual meetings with the hope of speaking to her then. Others show no interest and leave the room the moment the meeting is over.

The gracious and personable Butterfly comes out to those who introduce themselves. She’s smiling and shaking hands, showing a deep interest in each of them as they speak, some of them comfortable enough to reveal a personal tidbit or two. That little mingle lasts for another 30 minutes while different people step over to me and ask questions or divulge information that could well wait until their separate department meetings. I can’t blame them for trying to get a moment with a real-life Butterfly.

I’m sitting on the edge of my desk when we get back to my office. Butterfly is sitting in the chair across from my desk.

“That could have gone either way,” I say, folding my arms.

“I’m sure it already has,” she says, crossing her legs and sitting back in the chair. “I couldn’t go into that room being Mary Poppins. One of your female department heads saw me downstairs getting on the elevator and had already started making her comments!” That must have been why she was glaring at Ms. Simmons. “I see women dressing like men every day—in suits and ties or slacks and dress shirts with ties, but because I did it, it’s ‘Who does she think she is.’ She had to know who I was because I was walking with you and the entourage. Maybe she’s never seen a woman make a Tom Ford look this good,” she huffs. She’s getting flustered and we have our first meeting with Ros in about twenty minutes.

“Come here,” I say, jerking my head to her to come to me. She stands militantly and walks into my arms, placing her hands on my biceps. I put my arms around her waist. “You did fine, baby. You were easier on those jackasses than I would have been.”

“That’s easy for you to say,” she says. “You’re you. You’ve already proven yourself. I’m just the trophy wife who got 50% of the company because I can give a mean blowjob.” My dick actually twitches when she says that, although she has to know that’s not why she got half of GEH.

“You know that’s not true,” I protest.

“They don’t,” she retorts, “but it doesn’t matter. As long as they respect me as half-owner of this company, we’ll all get along fine.” I kiss her neck.

“You said that you had to deal with undue scrutiny three times in relation to your role as Mrs. Grey. Refresh my memory about those three times,” I say against her skin.

“I should have said four,” she says with a shiver, craning her neck and further exposing the skin to me. “The lawyers during the prenup, the Fairlane Meet-and-Greet, the meeting at the Crossing about Edwise, and today with the ‘Who does she think she is’ comment. She saw me getting on the elevator with you and security and I’m in the news enough that the Amish would know who I am.”

I bring my mouth out of her neck and close my lips over hers. She relaxes immediately in my arms, moaning into my mouth as her hands travel up my biceps, over my shoulders, and into my hair. I move my hand from her waist to cup and squeeze her beautiful ass while the other travels inside her suit jacket, brushing softly against her breast until I feel her nipple pebble even behind her bra and the breast pad.

She’s hot… so hot that this small gesture has her shivering.

I kiss her hungrily and move her so that one of my legs is between hers, forcing them to open a bit. Holding her firmly around the waist with one arm, I unzip her slacks and stick my hand inside.

“We don’t have time,” she breathes against my lips.

“There’s always time for an orgasm, baby,” I retort, moving her panties to the side and sliding my fingers through her folds. She’s wet as fuck! She releases a sensual whimper when I use my middle finger to spread that wetness to her clit. She’s clinging to my suit as her legs part a bit more to give me deeper penetration.

That’s it, baby. Let me get you off and we can continue with our day and these boring ass meetings.

I caress that sweet clit while looking down into her face, my lips only breaths from hers. Her eyes are closed and her lips are parted.

“Still think we don’t have time?” I say sliding my finger up and down the length of her lips over her clit.

“I…” She’s panting, and before she has enough time to answer, I slide my hand back down her pussy and slip my finger into her core. “Ah!” she whispers at the penetration, her legs trembling a bit. That’s right, I’ll take away your ability to protest. I pump my finger deep inside of her, replacing it with my thumb on her clit and massaging deeply. This needs to be fast.

“Oh…” she whimpers quietly as I nip at her lips. I hold her tight against me, continuing my thrust and massage while caressing her tongue in deep, sensual kisses. I quickly add another finger to the thrust and curl my fingers in the massage. Pulling my mouth away from hers, she gasps loudly, rising quickly as I stimulate her walls and massage that sweet spot from the inside and the outside.

“Quiet,” I whisper, “quiet. You don’t want Andrea or Luma to hear you.”

She starts a small tremble and occasional squeaking whimper from her throat as she bites her lip.

“Open your eyes,” I breathe. Her eyes shoot open and she so close that I can only see the blue… only see her pupils. At first, they’re dilated almost to black, and then the blue starts to eclipse turning to that dark shade that I’m accustomed to seeing. She stiffens in my arms and the ascent begins and peaks very quickly.

The orgasm rips through her, causing her to shiver and make the most helpless squeaking whimpering sounds in her throat while her mouth hangs open and she pants feverishly. God, I would give anything to watch her come 24-7 if I didn’t think she would die of exertion… or starvation… but that helpless, sensual look she gets when pleasure racks her body and that piercing royal blue that glares back at me that makes me know that my girl ain’t faking it, not to mention the wetness of her arousal oozing down my hand—so wet that the fingers inside of her actually feel pruney.

“Ssss, baby,” I hiss. “You look so good.” I kiss her deeply as she rides out the rest of her orgasm. When she starts to wane and falls limp in my arm, I remove my drenched hand from her pants and put my fingers in my mouth, sucking hard and cleaning them of her juices. Then she does something that totally blows my mind. She licks her own juice from another part of my hand and from the finger not in my mouth. My dick springs to immediate attention.

“Damn, baby!” I exclaim violently taking her mouth again. “That’s so fucking hot!” Now we don’t have time to do what I want to do as my dick is instantly hard as stone!

I kiss her a few minutes more, but know that we have to stop before our meeting with Ros, due to start any minute now.

“My panties are useless,” she tells me.

“My dick is throbbing,” I confess. We laugh at each other’s calamity.

“I’m going to have to take them off. They’re too wet,” she confesses. “I’ll be back.” She heads for my bathroom, but opens the door to her right to the unfinished construction site that hasn’t been touched since last March. “Are you ever going to finish this?” she asks. I shrug.

“I hardly see a need for it at this point,” I say.

“I do,” she says, suggestively. I raise my eyebrows at my wife as she disappears into the bathroom, and I have about two minutes to talk down a boner that has now gone from stone to steel.


A/N: Four more to go…

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

You can join my mailing list on the “Contact Me” page. Just click the link and it will lead you to a form to join the list.

~~love and handcuffs

 

 

 

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Becoming Dr. Grey: Chapter 78—Conversions

My procedure went very well and the tests came back clean. Daddy and Baby Bronzy took really good care of me this weekend. I sincerely want to thank everyone who sent me messages, IM, emails, texts, positive thoughts and prayers, and any other little things. My cup runneth over. I love you all. 

Don’t forget to add those crucial email addresses and let me know if you’re still not getting emails. I found that some emails transferred from the new list and others didn’t, while yet others are just not getting the emails even though my mailer says they have been sent. 

bg.holmes@butterflysaga.com
AND
bronzegoddess@butterflysaga.com

If you are not getting the email, please check your spam folder and if you have Gmail, check in the “promotions” folder.

NOTE!!! If you put in the comments below that you haven’t received an email from me, you have to include your email address or I don’t know how to look for you. The best way to let me know is the “contact me” link in the menu to the left.

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 78—Conversions

ANASTASIA

I’ve been keeping up a maddening pace and I’m not really sure how much longer I can do it. I know that one of my biggest time hogs has been alleviated now that Al and James are married and off to their honeymoon in Bali. So, that’s one less thing I have to worry about. But I’ve still got a lot on my plate that I think is going to catch up with me soon:

Gail is still helping out with the twins as requested, but I’m not really getting the reprieve that I was hoping for since Sophie’s here now and Gail needs to be a stepmom to a twelve-year-old. This means that she has to make sure she’s up and ready for school, pack her lunch, be there when she gets home from school, help with homework when needed… you know, be a mom. Couple that with being the manager of this mini-resort that we live in, wife to her husband, and nanny to my kids, she’s walking around with one eye open about as much as I am—which means that I’m up at all hours with the twins more often that I was hoping.

Then, I’m trying to get back into the swing of things with Helping Hands with all the changes going on. As soon as I was ready to get the ball rolling, nine other things seemed to get in my way. I’m trying to do these self-defense classes a few times a week to help me get back in shape and teach women and victims to not feel so helpless, but that’s taking a lot out of me.

Then there’s Valerie. Fuck if what happened to her didn’t just knock the wind out of my goddamn sails. I’m at that hospital every day without fail. I don’t care what’s going on or what time it is; I’m at that damn hospital and she’s seeing my face. She still won’t let us contact her brother or her father, but under the circumstances, I can see why. She lit up like a Christmas tree when we showed up in the room to have Al and James’ ceremony. She was weak and exhausted—I could see it all in her face—but it was most likely the highlight of her year thus far. I pray that it’s not too late for more highlights for her.

Then, there’s all the other unfinished business in life—I haven’t done anything with the country club. We haven’t decided the safest and most reasonable course of action for taking the twins in public as I’d like to go into the office more often and I can’t do that without a feasible plan for keeping the twins safe from the Paparazzi. PR is going crazy and we haven’t made any definitive decisions about when and if I’m going to make any public appearances—and those requests are simply pouring in.

The emotional toll of all this stuff—the up and down of it all—David dying; She-Thing’s trial along with the Green Valley trials starting; Sophie moving in and the custody battle as well as dealing with her crazy ass, drug-addict mother; having my babies; caring for my babies; Al’s wedding; Val’s recovery…

… Wanting to get some semblance of my life back…

And now, after I spend the day at Helping Hands without my babies and my trusted bodyguard and checking in on Val at the hospital, I come home to find out that yet another aspect of my life may be turned completely upside down.

“Chuck is going where?” I ask in horror.

“To Anguilla,” Christian says. “He’s flying out in the morning.”

“What’s wrong? Is something wrong with Keri?” I ask, probing for more information.

“Something’s wrong, but he’s not sure. One of her friends called him in the middle of the night and told him that Keri’s not doing well. From what he described, it sounds like she’s not taking care of herself to the point of it taking a serious toll on her health.”

I sigh heavily. I love Keri. I really do, but I know how Chuck feels about her. I saw that painful goodbye at the airport. If he thinks that she can’t survive without him, he’ll leave his life and stay down there with her.

That terrifies me.

“So… he doesn’t know what to expect when he gets down there,” I say, a statement, not a question.

“No, and he’s not making any decisions until he does.” I sigh again. I know what that means. I need to prepare myself to lose my bodyguard and friend. I wouldn’t expect him to leave Keri if he gets down there and discovers that she’s deteriorating without him.

I don’t get any sleep that night for worrying about Chuck and Keri for part of the night, Val for another part, and trying to comfort irritable little babies for the rest of the it. I end up sleeping in the next day and don’t bother going to Helping Hands. I wouldn’t be of much use anyway.

“Ana, can I impose on you to help me with something?” Gail asks while I’m sitting at the breakfast bar well into the morning.

“Bosslady, Grace emailed some documents that need your attention. She said that you guys were supposed to look them over together this morning when you came in. I let her know that you probably won’t be in today because you weren’t feeling well and she understood. But she asked if you have time could you look them over and get back to her.” Marilyn in her ever-efficient manner is letting me know that she has put out that “I need Ana and I need her now” fire that always seems to be set under Grace. I didn’t know that woman was leaning on me as much as she does until I wasn’t always around for her to lean on anymore. It makes me wonder how she ever functioned without me.

“Thanks, Mare. Did you look at the reports?” She shakes her head.

“Waiting for clearance from high command,” she says teasingly. I nod with a chuckle.

“Take a look at them and let me know if there’s a fire,” I tell her. She nods and she’s off to see what needs to be addressed so urgently about Grace’s reports. I turn my attention back to Gail before taking a large gulp of my coffee.

“Okay, Gail, what can I do for you?” I ask.

“Well, we’re trying to decide where Sophie should stay in the house,” she says. “The apartment is just not big enough for the three of us, so of course she’ll have to have her own room. We were initially thinking one of the guest rooms, but they’re so far away from us. I realize that she’s not a toddler and she’d be fine in one of the guest rooms without a problem, but let’s be realistic. The guest rooms are on the second floor on the west end of the house and we’re on the ground floor on the south end of the house.”

“It’s no different than it is with the twins,” I remind her.

“Yes, but you’re right next door to the twins,” she points out. “I feel awkward with her being so far away from us even though she’s in the same house. It feels like she’s an afterthought.”

I can see why Gail would feel that way. You almost need a golf cart to navigate the inside of this place and we already have three to navigate the outside.

“The other alternative is for her to have the third apartment downstairs near us. In terms of proximity, that would be ideal… but a twelve-year-old girl in her own apartment. I don’t know how I feel about that.” I can’t resist the laugh that escapes me.

“I’m sorry, Gail,” I say to her puzzled expression, “but it’s just a cluster of rooms downstairs next door to you guys. It’s not like she’s moving to her own condo in University Place,” I say, trying to lighten the mood. “I actually think the apartment is a better idea. It’s closer to you and you’ll feel better with her being closer to you. Also, it’ll give her a little sense of responsibility. She’ll have to keep her apartment clean; she can decorate it how she wants to; she has the option of being in her space and having time to herself or coming out and being around everyone else.

“With your permission, she’ll be able to have company over in an area that allows her some privacy with her friends, but still allows you and Jason to supervise the visits and who comes and goes. It would be awkward for her to bring her visitors in through the house and up to one of the guest rooms. But once she starts to make more friends, there’s an entrance through the patio with closed-circuit monitoring. You can see who’s coming and going and when the weather gets warmer, she and her friends will have easy access to the pool. With her about to become a teenager and under the circumstances with her military dad that you know won’t allow her to step wrong, I think it’s an ideal set up.” Gail’s face twitches.

“I guess I’m a little old fashioned and the whole ‘kid in her own apartment’ idea just gives me the heebie-jeebies, but when you put it that way, it really does make more sense for her to have the apartment,” Gail concedes. “Now, how do we decorate it?”

“That, you’re going to need Sophie for,” I tell her. “It’s going to be her space and you’re going to want to let her make it her own. It’s an apartment and it’s kind of scary, so you have to make sure that she knows you’re not deserting her. By the same token, give her carte blanche. Let her have fun. How many of her friends will be able to say that they have their own apartment?” A smile forms on Gail’s face.

“You’re right. This could really be fun,” she says. “Will you help me when the time comes to decorate? You two get along so well and I just want her to feel comfortable with her choices.”

“Of course, I will, Gail,” I tell her. It’s midweek and I haven’t heard anything about what’s going on with Chuck and Keri. It’s really making me worry that he won’t come back and this will be a welcome distraction. That afternoon when Sophie comes home from school, I ask her how she would feel about living in the apartment alone.

“Well, it’s not like being at home alone,” she says. “This is a really big house and somebody is always here. It’s just a bunch of rooms that’s separate, that’s all. So, I guess that’s cool… kinda neat, really. I’ll be the only seventh grader with her own apartment!”

I had a feeling this would be how she reacted, so Sophie, Gail, Marilyn, and I do an afternoon of cyber shopping for the initial ideas for Sophie’s room. I think it’s important for her to have this time with Sophie even though she admits that Sophie connects with me more. I agree with her on that note, but as she is to be Sophie’s stepmother, there has to be a more hands-on approach with her than there has been in the past, especially since the time will come when Gail will have to discipline Sophie.

They fall easily into conversation and I’m able to examine the dynamics of their relationship more closely. They’re friends, of course, but it’s going to take some time before Gail can slide into the maternal position. She’s still handling the situation with kid gloves and I’m afraid that when the situation calls for a firmer hand, she may be in for a rude awakening. We’ll just have to see what happens in time.

We’re very surprised to learn that, when given carte blanche, Sophie’s taste for her living space is very simple and quite sensible. She likes clean lines, basic colors, and nothing too flashy. She definitely wants her electronics, like any tween would, but she’s not overly demanding or even slightly unreasonable as you would expect a child with a basically bottomless pocketbook to be.

As I watch her choices and interactions with Gail throughout the afternoon, I can’t help but feel a bit melancholy. She seems a bit too sensible—too realistic in that she hasn’t had the opportunity to really be girly. I was expecting to see the Sophie that bought the High School Musical Build-A-Bears on Black Friday. Instead, I more see a Sophie that looks a lot like the young girl who attended Chaparral High School in Las Vegas before Sophie was even born—the girl who saw only too soon how real and cruel the world could really be. I know that she hasn’t suffered anything so horrible as what I did, but that doesn’t minimize the impact of having a situation snatch away your childhood.

Sophie’s bedroom was a very easy decorating choice. She saw a model of a black and white simple setup and fell in love, telling Gail and me that she felt it would be ideal for her—plain white walls where the bed was set in a recessed cubby that held drawers and shelves on either side as storage and nightstands. Minimal wall décor so that she could plaster posters, art, bulletin boards, or what have you around the room with a small workstation against one wall painted in an accent color. This accent color was a muted purple and the area held a basic box white desk with floating shelves and shadow box shelving. The most extravagant thing was a regal looking desk chair—black with silver trim—that looked like a DIY job. She goes completely gaga over the set-up and we simply can’t deny her. We place the order for the paint and the furniture the same day.

When it came to decorating the rest of the apartment, we somewhat drew a blank. What do you put in an apartment for a twelve-year-old girl? For this task, I set Marilyn and Sophie in the library together for the evening until dinner with the instructions to build a scrapbook of ideas and just let me know what they come up with.

This turns out to be a sensational idea. Once set to her own devices, Sophie’s mind goes completely free and I’m able to see that young girly-girl I thought may have gotten lost in the “too much is going on in this poor child’s life right now” shuffle. She had things in her scrapbook like a traditional papasan, a welcome mat that read “you’re like, really pretty,” and a sign that said “babe cave.” I’m starting to feel a little better about the tween coming of age in her little space now. I even start to see her pictures of her beloved High School Musical. I just can’t get over the uncanny resemblance of that Zac kid to that asshole Cody Whitmore…

By Thursday, I still haven’t gotten the swing of things like I would like. Marilyn and I go to the Broadmoor for lunch just for the hell of it, to get the feel of the country club and just to be seen. The food and service are outstanding and it gives me an opportunity to think in a different setting than what I’ve been in—Helping Hands or my office or the nursery or the hospital. Ben is, of course, tagging along with us along with Marilyn’s guy—I can’t think if his name right now.

I lament that although my butt is tightening and doesn’t wobble so much, it hasn’t gotten much smaller. The firming is sexy, though, and I don’t look so deformed like I did before. So, I’ll keep working on it. In the meantime, it’s time to call Vickie and get started on that spring wardrobe. No use in looking frumpy.

“I’ve been waiting to hear from you,” she says when I call her from the Broadmoor on Thursday. “I’ve been seeing you in the news and wondering when I get to dress that hot new little body.”

“Watch it, Vic. I thought you liked breathing,” I warn playfully.

“What is it with you straight women?” she says. “You’re hot. We appreciate it. Get over it. So, do I have carte blanche again or do you have something in mind?”

“A little of both. I want some of the latest spring fashions, but I definitely want something that accentuates my new figure—both sensually and professionally. I used to love my Lindy Bop dresses, but with the new ass, I’m certain that I’ll come off looking more like Jessica Rabbit when I wear those. That’s not the kind of look I want for the office. Maybe an after-five thing every now and then, but not running around the Center.”

“I see… sexy professional. Got it. Plans for the summer?” I twist my lips.

“I don’t know. We were actually planning a trip to Italy, but so much has been going on now, I don’t know if it’s still a go or not. I’ll have to let you know.”

“Okay. So, right now, we’re just doing spring/summer coming out party pretty much, right?” I can hear her typing away on her computer.

“Yep.”

“Shoes and accessories?” I ponder the thought again. I have more shoes than are legally allowable.

“Accessories, definitely. Shoes, only if there’s something extremely cute and new out there and the outfit screams for them. You know I already have more shoes than Imelda Marcos.” Vickie laughs.

“That you do. I’ll put some things together for you. Need anything in a hurry?”

“No hurry. A week, maybe?” I reply.

“Okay, so I’ll need to come by and take some new measurements…”

“Tomorrow morning?” I ask.

“That’s fine. I’ll see you then.” I end the call and get back to lunch with Marilyn.

“Paps outside,” she warns looking at her phone. I raise my head to her.

“How do you know that?” I ask her.

“It’s my job to know,” she says with a smile. “But I have instant alerts on you and when I get an alert that you’re having lunch at the Broadmoor before we’ve even decided on desert, that means Paps outside.” Shit. Just what I need. I fire off a text to Christian.

**At the Broadmoor for lunch. Paparazzi outside. Will need to lock down security for the twins. **

The response is almost immediate.

**Already on that. Update on Chuck. Emergency situation needs immediate action. Meet me at the Crossing in twenty. **

Double oh shit.

“No time for lunch, Mare. Fire on the home front,” I say, gathering my purse and belongings.

“Oh, shit,” she says, putting her phone away.

“My sentiments exactly.”

*-*

“Okay, wait a minute. Why in the world do you have to go to Anguilla?” I ask. He’s going to Anguilla and he’s taking Jason. That means that the two most capable members of our security staff along with the head honcho are all going to be in a foreign country for I don’t know how long and he’s leaving his family in the capable hands of Ben and Chance? Seriously?

“It’s only for a couple of days, max,” he says. “We’re going down there to get him and bring him back. You know the trip is twelve hours and even with relief pilots, there has to be some rest time.”

“I still don’t see why both of you have to go.”

“Moral support,” he replies. “It doesn’t look good. Even though Keri’s not well, it doesn’t look like she’s going to be returning with him. And there’s some psycho fucker down there that’s vying with Chuck for Keri’s attention. I don’t have all the details, yet, but from what I understand, Chuck is staying in a hotel now because the asshole tried to kill him in his sleep.”

“Fucking hell, seriously??” I say and Christian nods as he continues to throw a few items into a duffel bag.

“He can’t stay. If he does, he’ll never get a good night’s sleep. He’ll constantly be watching his back and Anguilla’s what—eight square miles or something like that?”

“Yeah, something like that,” I concur. “God, Christian, he was in terrible shape when they said goodbye in February. This is going to damn near kill him having to do it again.”

“I know,” he says, zipping the duffel. “Now you see why I have to go.” I nod and kiss him passionately.

“Have a safe trip, baby,” I say against his mouth. He drops the bag and wraps his arms around me, pressing me hard into his body and kissing me deeply until I’m dizzy.

“I have a jet waiting,” he says, brushing my lips with his, “but when I get back, I’m feasting on this body until I get my fill.”

“Okay,” I breathe, still kiss-dazed and dizzy. I wobble a bit when he lets me go and just watch as he walks out of our bedroom. I sink down onto the bed wondering if this week could possibly hold any more surprises.

Again, sleep evaded me last night and I feel like a fucking zombie this morning. My man is in Anguilla, maybe for another whole day, and I haven’t heard anything yet. I didn’t get a chance to ask him about security for the twins. It completely slipped my mind with the whole “I’m leaving the country for a day or so” thing. So, with the Paparazzi hovering around, the children will stay nestled in their nursery, or as of late, in this adorable two-baby carrier I received as a gift from one of the volunteers at Helping Hands. It’s wonderful when they are both awake and I just want to have them near me, or for doctor’s appointments, and it’ll truly come in handy when I’m at Helping Hands.

Baby Carrier

Maneuvering being a mother of twins is turning out to be a bit more emotional than I thought. I know parents are not supposed to have favorites and believe me, I love my children equally, but I find that they need different levels and amounts of attention from me which requires me to spend differing amounts of time with them. Because of that, I’ve grown fond of each of them in different ways, but I’m still concerned sometimes when I spend time with one of them that the other may not be getting the attention that he or she needs. I tried to address that concern with Ace once and he admits that this was outside of his area of expertise and that I might want to talk to my pediatrician about it, unless I truly feel drawn to one twin more than the other—then, that would be something that we could discuss. Thankfully, that’s not the case.

Mommy’s Little Boy is the introvert—quietly taking in his surroundings while pondering the meaning of life. I have a feeling that My Little Extrovert—Minnie—however, will one day rule the world. She must be heard and won’t be silenced! I’m certain now that she was the one scoring all the illegal goals in my belly while Mikey silently stood by watching her curse the referee for “bad calls” while shaking his head.

Minnie doesn’t latch as hard—she eats, she’s done. Granted, she likes being there; she coos just like her brother and caresses the soft skin of my mounds while she’s feasting, looks lovingly into my eyes and all that. But when she’s done eating, she doesn’t have to sit there latched onto the breast. She can be held or rocked or put in her seat, swing, or napper… but no, not Prince Michael! Nine times out of ten, he has to fall asleep with a mouthful of nipple and a handful of tit! He’s going to be a breast man.

Last night’s stay at the hospital was an overnighter, though my visiting time was actually short. Val is wiped out from her treatments and Elliot looks like hell. He obviously isn’t getting any rest as he’s watching over her like a guardian and he won’t sleep. I agreed to spend the night in the hospital with them so that someone could be awake with Val and he could get some sleep. He needed it. He was going to have a psychotic episode any second if he didn’t close his damn eyes. Even then, he still slept fitfully.  As such, I got no sleep last night.

When I get back home this morning, Vickie’s at the Crossing. Shit! I forgot we had fittings this morning. I’m yawning and scratching my head when I get to my office where she, Marilyn, and Courtney are all waiting for me.

“I’m sorry, Vickie,” I tell her. “I haven’t had a shower or anything. I’ve been visiting a sick friend in the hospital.” She raises an eyebrow at me.

“Oh?” she says with a knowing look. “Who’s in the hospital?”

“My friend, Valerie,” I say, scrubbing my face. “Christian’s brother is dating her. We just discovered that she had a brain tumor…” I ramble while searching around on my desk for God knows what. “It’s a really long story, but the short version is that I stayed with her last night so that Elliot can get some sleep, which he still really didn’t sleep. We’re going to have to do something about that. That man is going to die if he doesn’t sleep. She’s in the hospital, for God’s sake—you would think they could have someone sit with her for an hour or two so the man could sleep! God, he looks like shit. I wonder when was the last time he had a decent meal. Good God, I hope he’s got somebody capable running the business during this time. I’ll have Christian look into that when he gets back. Shit, when is he going to be back…?”

“Ana!” Marilyn calls my name and snaps me out of my tirade. It’s only now that I realize that I’ve had this entire conversation out loud. I blink at the women around the room.

“I’m sorry,” I say. “There’s so much shit going on… Courtney, what are you doing here?” I say as an afterthought, only just registering that Courtney normally isn’t here.

“Good morning to you, too,” Courtney laughs, pointing at a stack of files that I haphazardly pushed aside on my desk. “More deliveries from Miss Grace,” she says. “She says that she already knows that there’s a lot going on, so just look at them and soon as you get a chance and report back to her.” I nod.

“Will do.”

“And I wanted your opinion about something, but you seem a bit swamped so, I’ll just ask you at another time.” I turn my attention to her.

“No, it’s fine. What is it?” I ask.

“Nah, I need you focused. You’re sleep deprived, overwhelmed, got files to look at, probably haven’t eaten yet… Another time, there’s no rush.” She stands from her seat on the sofa and I watch as Vickie’s eyes rake over her body. She has taken to dressing like Marilyn—pencil skirts with high waistlines and strappy sandals or modest three-inch pumps, occasionally with a matching jacket to finish off the business look. Today, with the spring Seattle weather, she foregoes the jacket, but wears a stylish pea coat over her simple ensemble.

“Catch ya later, Court,” Vickie says, suggestively. Courtney throws a shy smile back at Vickie.

“Um… okay,” she says with a wave, her voice a little shaky. She raises her eyebrows at me and leaves the room. Marilyn laughs to herself and assumes her perpetual position of looking down at her tablet. Vickie watches Courtney until she disappears out the office door.

That was Courtney Wilson?” she asks incredulously. “Fred and Addy’s bratty little entitled granddaughter?”

“Yep,” I say, nearly falling into my office chair, after not finding what I have no idea I was looking for.

“What the hell did you do to her?” Vickie probes. “She’s… pleasant and… desirable… Damn, she’s hot! You’d never know with all that yapping she used to do. What the fuck? What happened?”

Life happened,” I reply. “The Wilsons disowned her, but to be fair, I think she disowned them just as much as they disowned her.” I can’t seem to get it together. I’m so tired.

“Coffee?” Marilyn says. I nod. If I hope to just make it back up the stairs, I better have a cup.

“Should I come back at another time?” Vickie asks. I shake my head.

“No, it’s fine. You’ve come all this way. It’s not your fault my family is falling apart.” I stand from my seat. “Where do you need me?” Vickie chuckles and rises from her chair.

“Word of advice. You’re hot and I’m gay. Don’t ever ask that question again, especially since that little morsel just walked out of the room and I didn’t jump her bones. Over here, arms out.” I snicker and move in front of her, assuming the position.

“You’re a horn dog, you know that?” I tease. She raises her eyes to me as she’s bringing the measuring tape around my breast.

“And…?” she says, as if it’s common knowledge. “I love beautiful women. I love their bodies, especially their breasts…” She looks at the number on the measuring tape and whispers “Damn” under her breath.

“Watch it,” I warn.

“Shut up,” she says, touching information into her iPad. “You grew a rack overnight. I have to measure it and don’t get to grope it.” She moves to my waist. “So, will you give me her number?”

“No,” I say flatly.

“Cockblocker,” she says, moving to my hips.

“Um, at least one of us would have to have a cock for me to do that,” I tell her. “I’m not your pimp, Vickie. I’m not giving you her number. But I will give her your number if she asks for it now that I know you’re interested. And if you want to pursue her, she’s at the Center almost all the damn time.” Vickie nods.

“Well, that’s a solid. Thanks for that much… cockblocker,” she teases and I laugh again. “Goddammit, Ana, what’s with the ass?”

Oh, I needed that like I needed another hole in my head!

“Thanks a lot, Victoria!” I shoot and the negative self-image starts to rear its ugly head.

“Oh, lighten the fuck up,” she snaps, without a missing a beat. “There’s nothing wrong with it. You were just so damn tiny before. Now, you’ve got a real ass. I’m gonna make that bun look good,” she says licking her lips and checking me out. Suddenly, the self-consciousness crawls back into the darkness where it came from.

“Go make me look fabulous, you horny bitch,” I say waving her off. She bursts out into hearty laughter.

“Just so that you know, not many people can talk to me that way,” she says, putting away her tools and iPad. “Same shoe size?”

“More people should,” I say. “And yes, nothing happened to my feet, thank God.” I don’t know what I would do with all those damn Louboutins if my feet had gotten permanently bigger.

“Okay. Next week? Same Bat time? Same Bat channel?” I nod.

“See you then.” She leaves and I sit at my desk for a moment to take a look at the files Grace sent to me. Marilyn comes back with my coffee and I take a welcome sip.

“Mare, I’ve got a project for you and I need it done kind of quickly,” I say.

“So, what else is new?” she chuckles. I nod. I know that I would truly be lost without her.

“I need you to find out what needs to be done to get Valerie home,” I tell her. “She’s currently getting radiation and chemotherapy and from what Elliot says, she’s done with the chemo, but needs at least two more weeks of the radiation. The hospital is doing a really good job, as best as they can, but he needs more moral and physical support and he’s not getting it. She’s going to need around-the-clock care; we want to know how feasible it is for her to go back to the hospital to get her radiation treatments or to even have them administered at home if that’s possible. I’d like to see to getting her out of there as soon as is safely possible for her condition.” Elliot is truly going to just tap out if he keeps up this pace.

“You want to try to get her this care at Elliot’s place or at her place?” Marilyn asks.

“Neither,” I tell her. “Here at the Crossing.”


CHRISTIAN

“Wake up, baby.”

I shower my wife’s angelic face with tender kisses as she’s sprawled across one of the sofas in my den. It’s about 1pm Friday when we return to the States, and we came straight to the Crossing after touching down. I’m dying to know how she ended up in here.

“Butterfly, wakey, wakey…”

“Hmmm…?” She raises her head sleepily and unfolds like a hot little kitten. I’m glad that I’m crouched in front of her in a comfortable pair of cargo pants or I would be extremely uncomfortable from this unreal woody that has developed in my pants right now. “Christian… hey, you’re back.” Her voice is wistful. “What happened? What time is it? Where’s Chuck?” She has barely opened her eyes and the questions are firing at me faster than a speeding bullet. I find it rather funny.

“First things first, what are you doing in here on the sofa?” I ask. She shrugs.

“I honestly don’t know,” she says. “I was tired and looking for a close place to lie down. This place won.” I shake my head.

“Somebody wants to say hi.” I hold my hand out and watch Butterfly’s face light up as Keri comes into view.

“Keri!” she exclaims. “You’re here! You’re back! What happened?” She sits up and holds her arms out and Keri walks into her embrace.

“Home wahsn’t home witout mi Choonks,” she says, her voice muffled in Butterfly’s neck.

“I’m so glad to see you!” Butterfly exclaims, pulling her down onto the sofa. “Wait… does this mean… you’re staying? You’re here for good?” Keri holds her head down and blushes.

“Ah don knoh,” she says softly. “Ah’d like to,” she adds.

“She’s here for good,” Chuck reinforces from the end of the sofa, catching glances from both of us, but none more adoring than from Keri. She smiles widely and turns back to Butterfly.

“Ah guess Ah’m heyah foh gud!” she says gleefully. She and Butterfly exchange a sincere embrace.

“Oh, there’s so much I have to tell you! But first, you have to tell me why you’re so thin,” Butterfly says concerned. Keri drops her head.

“I miss mi Choonks,” she says sadly. “I no miss food.” Butterfly cups her cheeks.

“No more of that,” she says. “We have to get you back to a healthy weight. Come! Come! There’s so much that you’ve missed!” She pulls Keri by the hand and leads her toward the door. “The twins have changed so much! They’re gorgeous! You have to come and see them. Are you hungry? We’ll get you a snack first. You must be hungry after that long flight. And Al and James got married, just last weekend. The ceremony was beautiful. They were going to have it in the backyard, but at the last minute, they decided to have it at the hospital. Oh! Valerie! Poor Valerie! Wait ‘til I tell you what happened to her…”

Butterfly and Keri have long since left the den and her voice can still be heard fading down the hallway. I turn to Chuck, who looks at me and shrugs.

“Your wife,” he says.

“Speaking of which,” I say, gesturing him to the French doors that lead to my office. “Are you going to marry her?”

“If I have to,” he says, without hesitation. “I’m eventually going to marry her anyway. I’m sure she would rather her wedding not be something that’s rushed for citizenship, but if that’s the only way…” He shrugs.

“Maybe we can get her a work visa, then you can take your time,” I suggest. “She’s a teacher, right?” He nods.

“A teacher certified in a foreign country with a heavy Jamaican accent. I can’t even begin to know what kind of paces they would put her through to get a job here.”

“Well, she’s on vacation now. We’ll talk to her; find out what she wants to do then work on getting her citizenship. If I know Butterfly, she’ll spend the first week fattening her up, the second week toning her up, the third week dressing her up… you’re going to have to jockey for time with her.”

“It may be a moot point,” he tells me. “She may already be carrying my child.”

Wha…?

“You had unprotected sex?” I ask him. He shrugs.

“The first time I was ambushed…” The first time? “The next time… well, the next several times…” Show off. “It was a foregone conclusion. She wanted to get pregnant. She wanted a part of me after I was gone.”

“And now?” I ask.

“Now, it doesn’t matter. Whatever happens, happens. She’s my family.”

“But you were going to leave her,” I accuse.

“I wasn’t going to leave her leave her, Christian,” he defends. “I would have taken care of my child, wherever he or she was. And eventually, wherever Keri was, I was going to be. If I couldn’t convince her to come here and be with me…” He trails off.

“You would have lost your mind… nothing to do but monitor that one psycho beach bum day and night. You would have gone stir crazy.”

“I would have gone crazier without her.” Jason comes barreling into the office.

“Your wife must have been bored!” he declares, upon entry. I frown.

“Why do you say that?” I ask.

“The apartment? Sophie’s bedroom? It’s finished! It’s got a painted accent wall and everything—dark fucking purple! It was bare when we left!” I put my hand on my hip.

“Excuse me—that’s your daughter in the space next to your apartment. How did this become something my wife did and not yours?” I ask, perplexed.

“Because she said that she was going to ask Ana for help before we left…”

“Help!” I interject. “Keyword… help, which means if anything, my wife was an accomplice, not the perpetrator. So, roll that back, Mr. Taylor.” Chuck struggles to suppress his laughter. “What are you laughing at? You’re not far behind.”

“You two might as well can it. They were both bored,” he says. “I gave you no notice before you flew to Anguilla. That means you gave them even less.” I roll my eyes.

“Well, the bedroom is completely finished. It looks like they brought an interior decorator in there. And the rest of the apartment looks like it just exploded in Teenage Mutant High School Musical.” I can’t suppress the scoffing laugh that escapes me. I can only imagine what new trends will be the “But Daddy, I have to have it” thing when Mackenzie is Sophie’s age.

“What are you laughing at? You’re not far behind,” Chuck says, using my own words against me. I just laugh some more. I won’t admit that I was thinking the same thing.

“I’ve got a long way to go before my baby is at that stage,” I say. “You’re right there with us with the bored wife/significant other.” He nods and rubs his neck.

“I would agree we need to find something for her to do,” he says.

“She just got here,” Jason says. “Give her a chance to settle in.”

“Yes, we know that, but sooner or later, we’re going to have to make some decisions about what’s going to happen with her,” I say. “We’re just getting a jump on things before they get a jump on us.” I walk behind my desk and sit down, having had this entire conversation on my feet. I’m really going to have to look at my schedule and what’s been going on over the last several weeks. I feel out of sorts—like things have been going on without me while I’ve been trying to sort out this mess that is my life—which is exactly what’s been going on, if I’m honest.

“Listen, liaise with Alex and plan to meet with me next week,” I tell them both. “Correspond with Andrea for meeting times. I want a debrief and department meeting on current security issues—a state of the union, so to speak.” Jason frowns.

“Is something up, Boss?” I shake my head.

“A lot’s been going on. I’m just really out of touch and I don’t like it.” I wake my computer and shoot off an email to Andrea to notify department heads to prepare for a “state of the company” meeting with each of their departments. Security, accounting, legal, and PR will be first on the agenda, as well as a meeting with Ros—my second in command—to bring me up to date on important issues that I’ve been out of the loop on because of life… you know, the birth of my children, my brother’s girlfriend’s brain tumor, the Pedophile’s trial… silly little things.

“There’s not much going on that you don’t know about,” Jason assures me. “The new guards for the twins have been vetted and they’ll be brought on site next week. Besides that, everything else is business as usual.

“That’s just it, Jason. I’ve been so out of the loop lately that I don’t know what business as usual is,” I tell him. He nods.

“Okay. I’ll get with Alex, and we’ll set something up for early in the week,” he says.

“I want updates on our latest watch list. You know what happens when we become complacent,” I tell him. He nods again. Complacency resulted in Butterfly getting T-boned and nearly killed. I send an email to Ros about meeting with me next week and liaising with Andrea with a good time. She responds almost immediately with a shot about this meeting being way overdue since Al probably knows more about what’s going on in my life than she does and with GEH than I do. I fire back an email with a slight warning tone praising her for her hard work during my personal quandaries, adding a not-so-gentle reminder of who’s the boss of the company.

She doesn’t respond.

I spend the afternoon combing through more GEH business from my study, setting up meetings for next week and looking through long overdue emails while Chuck gets Keri settled again in their apartment and Butterfly heads off to her therapy session with Ace. Chuck informs me that in the near future, he and Keri will move back to his house in Bainbridge, but not yet. He wants her to stay near the familiar until they decide exactly what their next move is going to be. I assure him that I have no problem with that.

*-*

It’s well past 9pm when I finally emerge from my study. I’ve got several meetings set up with departments and department heads next week, opting to move the usual department head meeting to first thing Monday morning. This meeting will only be to announce the “State of the Company” sessions that will be in progress as well as to make one other long overdue company-wide announcement.

I will be informing my department heads of my wife’s equal ownership of the business.

I know this may not go over well with some of them as I can clearly remember the reaction of my prior panel of attorneys when I announced this intention in our prenuptial agreement. However, things have changed significantly in my life and only look to change even more as time progresses. My family is expanding; the dynamic of our lives is changing in ways I never even imagined; and I’ve never been one to procrastinate, but if Elliot and Valerie’s situation has taught me anything, it’s that life is way too short and you never know what the fuck it’s going to throw at you. When my wife was nearly ripped from me, all I could think was “Please, bring her back.” When she came back, all I could think was, “I’ll never let her go.” I wanted to hold on for dear life and just stay suspended in the moment.

Then, Valerie got a brain tumor.

Who do you blame for a brain tumor? How do you prepare for that fucking contingency? What the hell do you do if the love of your life is ripped from your arms because of a malignant growth inside of her body that’s been slowly taking her away for months? What do you do with that information? Just as I was trying to process that information, Keri subconsciously damn-near starves herself to death!

Fucking hell!

I have never felt more ready to get my ducks in a row and make sure my life is in order than I do right now. GEH doesn’t need an overhaul or anything, but everything that has been going on has resulted in small changes that I need to be kept abreast of, and as a partial owner of the company, so does my wife. So, now is the time to make the official announcement, be brought up to date on things that might have slipped past me and bring Butterfly into the loop.

I’m rubbing my eyes and walking towards the elevator. I surprised to Butterfly in her parlor as I pass. She’s sitting on her sofa and staring at a roaring fire in the fireplace.

Uh oh… that usually means contemplation. I knock on the open door so as not to startle her.

“Hey,” I say, entering the room after she looks over at me.

“Hey,” she says, turning her attention back to the fire.

“Is everything alright?” I ask. She sighs.

“I went by to see Valerie after my rambling session with Ace,” she says. Rambling session.

“You had a lot to talk about?” I say, stating the obvious.

“Too much. It wasn’t very productive. More informative than anything—information to put in the file… on the shelf, so to speak.” She twists up her hair and throws it over her shoulder onto her back. Okay, her session with Ace was uneventful, so it must be Valerie.

“How is Valerie? Doing better, I hope.” She shakes her head.

“The radiation has her depressed and wiped out. I’ve been trying to get over there every day, to sit with her and bring her something palatable to eat. She mostly sleeps, but she says that me being there makes her feel better. She’s really bummed about her hair. I know the feeling. She cries a lot.” She’s lamenting over the condition of her friend. “She still feels horrible about how she treated me when she didn’t know she had the tumor. I keep trying to tell her that nothing she said or did back then counts because she wasn’t Valerie, she was Tumor Valerie, but it doesn’t help. She missed my pregnancy, the baby shower, Thanksgiving, the birth of the twins… somewhat.” She rubs her eyes and puts her free hand on her forehead. “You would think as a shrink I would know the perfect things to say to make this all better, but she’s inconsolable.” I move over to where she is on the sofa.

“I’m sure she’s just relieved that you two have gotten things together, as am I,” I say, sitting next to her and gently stroking her hair. “Give her time. Once this is over and she’s well again, this will all be just a bad memory.” Butterfly scoffs a bit.

“Imagine that,” she laments. “I hit my head and lose my memories—some of them forever, it seems—and she develops a fucking brain tumor.” She shakes her head. “Maybe we should get matching helmets and tin-foil hats.” I hope that was a joke because I chuckle a bit. “Elliot, though… your brother is a prince among men,” she adds. “This has been utter hell for him and he hasn’t faltered one bit. I don’t know what Grace and Carrick put in your milk when you two were younger, but I thank God for how they raised you every day of my life and I’m sure that Val does, too.” She’s looking at me with glassy blue eyes and I place a gentle kiss on her lips.

“We Grey men just know a good thing when we see it, Mrs. Grey,” I say, softly. She touches my cheek gently as a tear falls from the corner of her eye.  She looks at me questioning. “What is it, baby?”

“I… I know I have no right to ask, but…” I put my finger over her lips.

“Don’t ever say that to me,” I tell her. “You have a right to ask anything of me, do you understand?” Her eyes sadden.

“This is a big one,” she says. “A really, really big one.” I sigh and cuddle her in my arms.

“Okay, lay it on me.” She swallows hard.

“I know the timing is terrible, especially with everything already going on around us, but I’ve had Marilyn doing some research and I’d like Elliot and Val to move in here with us for a while.” I freeze. She’s right, that is a big one… huge!

“Um…” I’m at a loss of words.

“I told you it was big,” she says, her voice deflated. The sound guts me.

“Have you talked to Elliot about this?” I ask. “What does Valerie say?”

“I haven’t talked to anybody yet, except Marilyn to do so initial research on what would be involved. I wanted to talk to you first.” That’s oddly comforting. I half expected her to put her head together with Valerie and make the offer, then spring in on me… just because she so considerate and wants to help her friend. She pushes out of my arms and sits up to face me. I immediately miss the closeness.

“I know there’s a lot of people in the house, but we have a huge house. We could open a fucking bed and breakfast if we wanted to. Elliot is exhausted. He doesn’t leave the hospital. I don’t know who’s running his business, but they need to apply for sainthood… as does he. He doesn’t sleep. He’s not eating well. He’s worried to death about her. I’m sure that we can get her all the care that she needs here. She’ll be around friends; we can make her comfortable; she’ll have somebody with her around the clock—good food, good company… we can get her to her treatments or even get her treatments brought here if they can be, and he can get some rest! And Christian, there’s something else.” I look into her eyes.

“What is it, Butterfly?” I ask.

“I’ve lost so much time… we’ve lost so much time. It hurts… I can’t get it back—I know I can’t get it back, but…” Her tears flow freely now as she looks down into her lap. “Under normal circumstances… if we weren’t married… if there was no Elliot… this is what I would do. I would have put all of my patients on hold or moved to part-time and moved her into my guest room. I would have hired a nurse and a caretaker and I would have been there the rest of the time. I would have known the moment she was sick, the minute something was wrong…”

And there it is. She loves Valerie, always has, and I know that she still blames herself for not knowing sooner that something was ghastly wrong with her friend.

“Butterfly, you did know something was wrong. You said it more than once, several times, in fact. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink, baby.”

“I should have done something!” she shouts, shooting up from her seat. “I was all sensitive about my feelings and my wedding, thinking that she was inconsiderate for suggesting something in front of my mother-in-law and look what was going on! We’ve been friends for over ten years, Christian… ten years! I should have known something! I should have known something was wrong!”

She buries her face in her hands and weeps bitterly, her mournful sobs saying all that her words couldn’t. Agony rips from her chest with each of her cries and I can’t stand it. I would literally crawl on my hands and knees through hell, fire, and brimstone and bring her the beating heart of Satan himself to keep from hearing the sounds that are wrenching from her soul right now.

“Baby, please,” I beseech her as I wrap her in my arms in an attempt to comfort her and end my own pain as well. “We’ll find out as much as we can, and we’ll talk to Elliot and Valerie together and see what they think, okay?” Anything… please… just stop this. My chest aches… bleeds… no, stabs listening to these sounds tearing from her heart. “Sssshhh, baby, please…” I stroke her back and kiss her forehead, silently vowing to somehow make it right. She nods, her face buried in my chest, but her crying doesn’t cease. I lift her into my arms and take her back to the sofa, sitting down and placing her on my lap. I allow her to cry for a few more moments, but I just can’t take it anymore.

Butterfly… please…

I push her hair away from her forehead and kiss her repeatedly. I continue to brush her hair from her face, gently kissing wherever my lips can reach. She’s weeping so violently that she’s starting to sweat. I try to dry the wetness from her face, still kissing her temples, her eyebrows, her eyelids.

Please stop crying, baby…

I push her long locks off her face and they fall down her back. Stray tresses cling to her skin and I push them away from her face, out of my way so that I can kiss her tears away.

I’ll make it right, Butterfly… I promise… please, don’t cry…

Her weeping only wanes slightly as I shower her face with gentle kisses. I use my thumbs to brush away the tears that have collected on her cheek. She has shrunk into my chest with her weeping, but I force her to lift her face to me to that I can kiss her cheek, her chin, her jaw… anything to distract her from the pain that making her heart ache so much right now… and mine.

It’ll be fine, baby… it’ll be okay…

Her cries are slowly morphing into soft whimpers as she lies back in my arm… vulnerable, beautiful. God, I love her so much. I want to protect her from the world—from anything and everything that could possibly make her unhappy. I never want to hear the sound of anguish that I heard from her moments ago. It was like what I heard when she and Ray fought, and I couldn’t comfort her, then. It ripped my soul to shreds.

I love you, Butterfly…

I gently cup her cheek, her face upturned to me—tearstained and weary. I close my lips over hers… once… twice… God, her lips are so soft. I kiss her again softly… again… and again… soothing her aching soul and mine. Her breathing changes, but I don’t change the kiss except to gently run my tongue over her mouth and kiss her again. Her arm tightens slightly around my shoulders while her hand flattens softly against my chest. Her lips part and I’m tempted to thrust my tongue between them. Instead, gently lick the inside and continue the tender tasting of her mouth. Her soul calls to me… softly… a brief whisper…

Christian…

My spirit responds autonomously…

I’ve got you, baby…

I’ll talk to Marilyn… and Jason… see what needs to be done to get Valerie comfortably moved into the closest and largest guest room as soon as possible… but not yet. Not right now. Right now, I gently press my hand into her hair, caressing her scar where her hair is the shortest and supporting her head, savoring the flavor of her breath and showering her with tender kisses until our lips are numb and her mourning has long since ceased.

*-*

“Hello?”

“Good morning, Marilyn. It’s Christian. I hope I haven’t disturbed you.” It’s Saturday morning and I spent way too much time last night trying to get my lamenting wife to sleep. I can’t allow her request to wait another moment. I’ve waited as long as I could already.

“Um, hi, Christian… no, not really. Is everything okay?” No. My Butterfly slept fitfully all night and she tells me that you’re the first go-to person on this matter.

“I didn’t wake you, did I? I can call back…”

“I’m fine, Christian,” she assures me. “What’s up?”

“I didn’t know if you were planning on working today. Butter… Ana’s out of it. It was a long night, but… I need your assistance if you’re available.” There’s a long pause.

“You need me?” she says in surprise. I nod, forgetting that she’s on the phone and can’t see me.

“Yes,” I say, clearing my throat. “Butte…” fuck it. “Butterfly said that she asked you to gather information about possibly bringing Valerie to live with us. I know she just asked you to do it yesterday and I’m not trying to rush you or anything, but I was wondering if you had a chance to gather any information.” Another long pause.

“Um, yeah, actually, I have,” she says. “By the time I had gotten the information, she fell asleep; then Keri came home; then she went to see Ace; then she went to see Val; it got late… you know the drill.”     

Oh, good! Marilyn is nothing if not efficient as fuck. I know she will have gotten all the information that we need to get Valerie moved in if we can get her and Elliot to agree to it.

“I know you’re not… um, probably not… scheduled to work today, but… if it’s not too much of an imposition…” Why the fuck am I stuttering? If she wants to bring the information over, she can bring the information over. If not… “You can just email it if it’s too much trouble.”

“Christian, may I ask… what happened last night?” No doubt, she’s picking up on my obvious discomfort. “I hope I’m not overstepping my bounds. If I am, I apologize.”

And now I realize why I’m stuttering. The last time we really talked, our relationship was a bit strained. If she doesn’t give me the information that she has, I have to start from scratch. That being the case, talking to Elliot and Valerie and setting up what needs to be done with the doctors and nurses and home health care aides and any equipment delivery could be delayed for days… and seeing Butterfly in the condition that she was in last night for even one more moment is an unacceptable option. Bearing that in mind, I need to get that information that she has like yesterday and since she’s done the research, it’ll be easier if she goes over it with me.

“Butterfly…” I run my hands through my hair. “She’s having a really hard time with what’s going on with Valerie. She feels responsible for not knowing sooner that something was medically wrong as opposed to mentally. She took it really hard last night and… she had a very hard time falling asleep. I’d really like to get a jump on whatever can be done to make this transition as quick and easy for Elliot and Valerie as possible, but I can’t do anything until I talk to them and I can’t talk to them until I have information… and I can’t spend another night with my wife like that,” I add. “She feels helpless. She has to do something and the longer we wait…”

“I’ll be there in thirty,” she interrupts. “Gary will be with me.” I try—and most likely fail—to hide my relief.

“I’m sure Butterfly won’t mind… and thank you.”


A/N: First, Ana extends a ginormous “thank you” to Barbara (Beachycolor) for the gift of the double baby carrier. Guaranteed that she will get lots and lots of use out of it!  

Next, Sophie is going to be a bit more prominent in other parts of the story and maybe in a one-shot or short spin-off of her own. To that end, I’ve created a Pinterest page for her scrapbook. I would love for my beloved readers to help in the development of this character and her style. I’ve pretty much gotten in my head what her personality is going to be like, but I think it would be fun for people to see a piece of their suggestions in her. How can you be a part of this? I’m glad you asked. There are several ways that you can contribute.

1) If you have a Pinterest ID, you can send me a message on Pinterest and I will make you a direct contributor of the album “Sophie’s Scrapbook.”

2) If you are on my Facebook page, you can send me a direct IM with links, pictures, or suggestions.

3) You can click the “Contact me” link on the WordPress page and send a direct email to me with links, pictures, or suggestions.

4) You can email me directly at bg.holmes@butterflysaga.com.

I look forward to what we can come up with for this bright and beautiful little girl. There will be some mentions of her in the main story, but I honestly look forward to her having a little story of her own… nothing as detailed as the any one of the tetralogy (so far), but something to get an idea of who she is and what happens to her.

Five more to go…

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

You can join my mailing list on the “Contact Me” page. Just click the link and it will lead you to a form to join the list.

Love and handcuffs  
Lynn X

 

Becoming Dr. Grey: Chapter 77—Home Is Where The Heart Is

Hey folks, I had three comments—two from February and one from March—that somehow got lost in my site, but I had a notification of new comments and couldn’t find them, so I had to search for them. Staci, CJ, and Carolina—I hope you guys didn’t think I was ignoring your comments. WordPress just ate them up and I couldn’t see them until today. 

I have that procedure on Friday, so I may not post a chapter next week. It will completely depend on how I feel. Continue to keep me in your prayers.

Don’t forget to add those crucial email addresses and let me know if you’re still not getting emails. I found that some emails transferred from the new list and others didn’t, while yet others are just not getting the emails even though my mailer says they have been sent. 

bg.holmes@butterflysaga.com
AND
bronzegoddess@butterflysaga.com

If you are not getting the email, please check your spam folder and if you have Gmail, check in the “promotions” folder.

NOTE!!! If you put in the comments below that you haven’t received an email from me, you have to include your email address or I don’t know how to look for you. The best way to let me know is the “contact me” link in the menu to the left.

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 77—Home Is Where The Heart Is

DAVENPORT

“Hello?”

It’s the middle of the night and I don’t recognize the number or the area code. I’m never afraid to answer strange calls. In my line of work, it’s usually more hazardous not to answer an unknown call.

“Yehs, eez dees Chatles? Davenpolt?” I recognize the accent, but not the voice. It’s thicker, much thicker than hers, but I know where it’s from. I sit straight up.

“Yes, who is this?” I ask, my voice earnest.

“You don knoh meh,” she says. “I wuhk wit Keti. Shi’s my ftiend. Shi been sick. Vety sick. Shi won let nobody cahl you, tell you waht wrong. Shi won eat. Shi cont eat. E’ry time she try, her stomach jes give it up.” I throw my legs off the edge of the bed.

“Who are you?” I ask. “How did you get my number? Where’s Keri now?”

“Mah nem Tawni,” she answers. “I tek her phone when shi not lookin’. I hear about Chatles Davenpolt, but I no find Chatles Davenport. I find ‘Choonks.’ I call, and you Chatles Davenpolt. Shi sick, Chatles. Shi vety sick.”

“What’s wrong with her?” I ask, trying to keep the panic down in my voice “Does she have a virus? Has she seen a doctor? Does she still have that damn cold?”

“Shi nevah hah no cold!” Tawni says, flustered. “The doctoh no hep heh! Shi sick in heh hed and in heh haht! Soul sick! Shi lose weight like dah man put bad ju ju. Shi no wuhk. Shi no get owt de bed. Shi sleep ahl de time. Shi sleep shi sleep shi sleep till one deh shi sleep shi nawt wake up noh moh!”

What? I’m out of the bed now. Why didn’t Keri tell me that she was this sick, and why is she this sick? Did she contract something here in the States?

“What did the doctor say?” I ask, sliding into my pants.

“He noh say nuhtin’,” she says. “He tell heh get sum rest and food, dat nuhtin’ wrong with her, but sumtin is wrong! Shi no play wit da kids, no teach dem, no tahk to dem, no care no moh!”

“I talk to her every day,” I tell her. “She sounds a little tired, but nothing like this!”

“Shi only sond bettah for yuh,” her voice softens. “Shi die, Choonks… shi die.”

I cover my mouth. Keri is dying. Tawni knows. She can see if no one else can. I’m usually so happy just to hear her voice that I can’t hear that she’s dying.

“I…” I’m at a loss for words. “I need you to tell me everything. Were you there when she got off the plane? When she returned from America?”

“Shi wuz heppy to be ‘ome,” Tawni says. “Shi heppy to see heh kids and shi play wit dem, but only foh a little while. A few dez den shi sick. Shi stop eaten’ and sleepen’ an den shi sleep awl deh time. I ask, ‘Keti, you hav belly?’ Shi say ‘noh!’”

“Have belly?” I ask.

“Yez, hav belly… deh breed… dah baby!”

“Oh!” She was asking if Keri was pregnant.

“Dah doctoh say shi no breed, but shi sleep. Shi look bad. Shi crawny and shi look like Dett!”

That’s pretty damn bad. She’s been gone for two months and all this time, she’s been suffering and hasn’t told me anything.

“You’re sure it’s not a virus or anything?” I ask Tawni.

“Dah doctor seh shi nawt sick… shi just tiyed or sumtin’.” I sigh. What the fuck.

“Is this your number, Tawni?” I ask.

“Yez.”

“Keep me posted, please. I… I gotta figure some things out… and thank you for calling. I’ll be in touch.”

“Okay, Chatles, I weel,” and she ends the call. I want to throw this fucking phone across the room.

“Fuck!” I bite out. I’m only just now getting to where I don’t think about her every goddamn moment of every day; only just able to maybe sleep two nights out of seven without her next to me and not even the entire night; only just getting to the point where I can function without hearing her sweet voice in my ear, touching her soft skin, tasting her lips…

“Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” and now this! Goddammit, somebody up there hates me. I scrub my hands over my face. I had that accident and she was here in a minute. She had secured a three-month visa and she was by my side in no time—no questions asked. Across oceans and continents, she was here… but I just got back to work. The babies are here. I can’t shirk my responsibilities… but Keri…

“Fuck!”

I get fully dressed, put on my coat and decide to take a walk around the grounds, hoping the fresh air will help clear my head. What do I do? First and foremost, I have to know what’s wrong with her. The doctors are saying that she’s fine, but she won’t get out of bed, she won’t eat, and she’s sleeping all the time. When I talk to her, she sounds fine—maybe a little tired, but that’s all. She didn’t tell me that she wasn’t working. She gave me no indication at all that anything was wrong. My mind is racing a million miles a minute.

How did she ever find out that I had the accident… did Jay tell her?
She’s on my emergency contacts list now, but am I on hers?
Tawni said she basically had to hijack her phone to find me, and my name isn’t in there, just my pet name. If something really goes wrong with her, how would I know?
Just how bad off is she if her friend felt the need to invade her privacy to call some guy in the states that she doesn’t even know to tell him that Keri is sick?

The speculation is killing me. I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. I have to know what’s going on with her, I have to. If something happens to her… if she’s really sick and I don’t do anything…

But then there’s my job and my responsibilities to Ana and the babies. I love them very much and I don’t trust their safety to anyone else. They’re as important to me as my blood family… more important than some of them—one in particular. I can’t desert them now.

But Keri…

I walk around the grounds until the sun comes up. I don’t know how many times I’ve lapped the property, but apparently enough times for one of the snitches in the guard’s booth to alert Jay that I was up pacing all night.

“What’s going on, man?” he asks, walking up to me as I get back around to the mudroom.

“Nothing,” I say, not quite sure that I want to share what’s happening.

“Something’s going on,” he says. “Yancy says you’ve been walking around the estate for at least the last three hours and probably more. You want to tell me what’s up?”

“It’s personal, Jay,” I tell him. “I really don’t want to talk about it.” I wouldn’t know what to say anyway. I don’t even know what to do right now.

“Is it your family?” he presses. I think about the question.

“Kind of. You could say that.”

“That asshole Joe?” he keeps digging.

“Jay, please stop digging. I really can’t talk about this right now.” He twists his lips. I know he’s feeling a combination of things. He’s my boss and my friend and I won’t tell him what’s going on.

“Fine, but you’re grounded today.” I spin around on him.

“What?” I ask appalled. “You’re grounding me because I won’t tell you what’s happening in my personal life?” I’m suddenly angry.

“You know me better than that,” he says impassively. “Because of who you are—who we are, you’re going to tell me what’s going on sooner or later. You’re grounded because you’re obviously distracted. Whatever this is, it’s got all your mind and concentration. You’ve walked these grounds for several hours and that’s going to hit you in a while. You’re going to be tired, cold, and out of focus. Take a sick day and get some rest. Once you’ve done that, decide what you’re going to do about whatever this is. If after an entire night of walking around in the cold, you still haven’t come to a decision, you need to get some sleep and look at it with fresh eyes.”

Part of me resents him for grounding me today. The other part of me knows that he’s right. I just nod and go back to my apartment.

Trying to sleep did no good. I just lay there for hours and look at the ceiling, thinking of Keri and the reasons that Jay grounded me today. I’m no good to Ana or the babies if my mind is full of Keri. Hell, it’s been full of Keri all this time, but this is different. She was just away and I missed her, not sick with some unknown ailment that may be killing her slowly. I need some advice fast, and I know just who to ask.

*-*

“What do you mean you don’t know what’s wrong with her?” Christian asks me as I’m sitting in his den.

“I mean I don’t know what’s wrong,” I tell him. “I talk to her every day. She does sound a little tired, but nothing else. She got a cold or some kind of virus when she first got back to Anguilla, but we all chalked it up to the sudden change in climate, including the doctors. But according to this Tawni person, she never really got any better. Tawni says that she only sounds better on the phone when we talk, but she won’t eat and all she does is sleep.”

Christian frowns and stands from the sofa, pacing around the room. We’ve been talking for quite some time as I lay all the details of my dilemma out for him.

“Do you remember last year when Butterfly and I took that trip to Napa? The Wine Train?” he asks. I laugh.

“Yeah,” I reply. “You sent me to get that damn lock.” He nods.

“While we were there, we happened upon a wedding—on the deck outside of the hotel. The bride and groom saw us dancing to their music and invited us to join them. He told me the story of how they met, classic rich girl/poor boy story. Odds were obviously against them and they broke up. He moved away, but he returned five years later after he made something of himself. He found her still with her family, a shell of her former self… ailing, thin, and feeble. He took her away from her uncaring family and it took him six months to nurse her back to health. He married her two months after that. She was wasting away from a broken heart, from not being able to be with the man that she loved and being around a family who didn’t care.”

Keri’s heart can’t be broken. I love her too much. I want her with me. I begged her to stay.

“You’ve been in my employ since Butterfly and I have been together. Remember the tie incident? Ana ended up wine-drunk and almost strangled herself with my Andersen & Sheppard? Remember the subsequent week when I ended up in the hospital after a bourbon diet? Remember when Ana was brought to the hospital after the kidnapping and the four-day hunger strike?”

Fuck, he’s scaring the shit out of me right now.

“When Ana thought she wouldn’t see me again, that’s what she did. The mind is a powerful thing, Chuck. She closed her eyes, she went to sleep, and she met me in her dreams. When she woke up and I wasn’t there and she was still chained to that bed, she went back to sleep.” Oh, my God.

“This can’t be what Keri’s doing. She knows we’ll see each other again. We talk every day…”

“Keri’s been gone for two months. Someone that you don’t even know called you to tell you just how bad off she is without Keri’s permission. You talk to her every day and she wouldn’t tell you and you didn’t pick up on it. Something is not right… very not right in the worst way and she needs help. I can’t tell you what decisions to make when it comes down to your life and your future, but I can and will tell you this. You have to go down there and see her for yourself. You have to go, Chuck; there’s no question.”

I sigh heavily. I know that I have to go, but…

“Ana,” I say. “The babies…  I just got back to work. They’re my responsibility.” Christian nods.

“Yes, it’ll take two people to make one of you, and the twins’ guards are supposed to be starting soon since Butterfly wants to take a chance on taking them in public next week. We’ll do fine. I hope it’s your choice to come back, but we’ll all understand if you don’t. Right now, you need to go to her.” I nod reluctantly.

“I’ll book a flight,” I say.

“You’ll do no such thing. You’ll take the jet,” Christian corrects.

“I can probably book a flight faster than you can get the jet ready,” I protest.

“Like hell you can,” he retorts.

*-*

He’s right, of course. Seventeen hours later, I’m landing in St. Marteen when the soonest commercial flight would have gotten me here more than a day later. I take the ferry to Anguilla and begin to lament over how I would figure out who Tawni is. I look around at the faces on the peer and see a sign with my name… Charles Davenport.

That has to be Tawni.

I walk over to her and she looks right through me, somewhat perturbed that I’m standing in front of her blocking her view.

“Tawni?” I ask, wondering why she won’t acknowledge my presence. She looks at me a bit annoyed, then does a double-take, annoyance morphing to astonishment.

“Chatles?” she says in clear disbelief. I nod, uncertainly. She’s silent for a moment, then says, “You white.” Wha…?

“She… didn’t tell you?” I say, a bit dismayed.

“Noh,” Tawni answers, still dumbfounded.

“Is that a problem?” I ask. She throws a look over her shoulder to the man sneering at me like he could kill me with his bare hands, and I know immediately that it is a problem.

“Come,” she says, softly. “I tek you to Keti.” I fall in step behind her and this guy, who I don’t know and don’t trust, attempts to fall in step behind me. I freeze and turn around to face him.

thick-curly-haircut-black-men-haircut-chart“And you are?” I ask, looking down into his face. He’s got a lot of hair and it’s a bit distracting, but I focus on his angry, piercing eyes, trying to ascertain the level of threat he’ll be to me—because he’s clearly a threat.

“Nun ohf yoh cunsun!” he shoots with disdain.

“I beg to differ,” I retort. “It’s completely my concern if you think you’re going to be walking behind me.” We square off for several moments, neither of us backing down to the other.

“Eash nuh,” Tawni says, stepping between us, “ahl fruits ripe.”

“Yack!” he hisses before spitting on the ground. “Stinking fassyhole!” I smirk and lean into him over Tawni’s shoulder.

“Don you bruck out, now bredda, or I put you down, seen?” I may not imitate his accent well, but I have Keri’s to perfection. He narrows his eyes at me as Tawni pulls my arm ushering me towards the street and a parked vehicle there.

The ride is short to what I discover is an apartment shared by Tawni and Keri. It’s small, but clean and comfortable and right by the water. Then again, everything in Anguilla is right by the water. I’m led through the small, but tidy apartment to a rather large, modestly furnished bedroom. There’s a beautiful balcony and the doors are open, allowing a breeze to bellow in through the burgundy sheers. Near the far side of a pretty large bed is a very small person…

That can’t be Keri… that can’t be my beautiful, voluptuous Island Girl…

I quietly drop my bags on the floor and go over to the bed. Her skin is dull—dusty-looking. Her eyes are sunk into her face. Although she’s asleep, she looks utterly exhausted and troubled… so troubled. I squat down to the side of her bed and take a good look at her face. She looks sickly and feeble, like some horrible disease has taken hold of her and won’t let go. I squat down next to her and gaze at her face for long moments, trying to figure out what could be going on with her body that could be emaciating her so badly, but…

“The doctor says nothing is wrong with her?” I ask Tawni. “Have you gotten a second opinion?” Tawni shrugs.

“Shi tek many test. Even goh to dah Big Island to anudah doctah. Nuhtin’ wrong wit huh.” I shake my head. Something is wrong with her—they just don’t know what it is. I reach to touch her face and the guy who has silently brooded all this time while throwing threatening looks at me finally speaks.

“Don touch mi galfren!” he hisses. I raise angry eyes at him. What the fuck did he just say?

“Kibba yuh mouth, Tyree! Yu nuh knoh nuhting bout dat!” Tawni slaps Tyree hard on his chest. “Keti not yoh galfren. Neva wuz! Shi no waan yu!”

Tyree glares at Tawni, then back at me. Stay where you are, Tyree… Mi wi lick yuh inna yuh face. I turn my attention back to my ailing Anguillan beauty. I gently touch her dull locks, usually so healthy and vibrant looking. Then I gently stroke her cheek, also sunk in. I’m afraid to see her body. She’s lost a lot of weight; I can tell by her face.

Be strong, Choonks.

“Keri?” I say softly, trying to rouse her from her sleep. It doesn’t take much. Cloudy, sleepy brown eyes open to greet me. There’s my love. There’s my beautiful Island Girl. I smile softly at her as she fights to focus. I’m certain she doesn’t believe what she’s seeing, so I speak.

“Hi, baby,” I say, softly, stroking her cheek.

“Choonks?” she squeaks, her voice barely there, and it breaks my heart. “Whut ahr yuh doin’ heyah?”

“I came to see you,” I say.

“You did?” she gives me a soft weak smile.

“I did. I want to know why you’re sick.”

“I not sick… I tiyed,” she protests. “You com ahl de time… but wen I wake, yuh goh.” She closes her eyes again. She thinks she’s dreaming. I squeeze my eyes tight to squeeze out the tears, then wipe them quickly.

“Baby?” She opens her eyes again. “You’re not dreaming.”

She gazes at me for a long time, then focuses some more. Then she moves to sit up, but I can tell that her head weighs a ton.

“Easy nuh,” I say as she tries to get into an upright position.

“Tis is cruel…” she says softly. “I dream of you, but I can’t touch you…” Her accent is almost nonexistent. I frown. I take her hand and put it on my face. Her breath catches.

“You’re not. Dreaming,” I say again. Her eyes grow large and her lip trembles. She brings her other hand to my face and gently touches it with her fingertips.

“Cho… Choonks?” Again, the words barely escape her lips as tears pour from her eyes. I move to say something, but she falls into my arms weeping. I prepare to catch her weight on my lap, but she doesn’t weight a hundred pounds. That means that she’s lost between 25 to 30 pounds and most of that was muscle. I pull her effortlessly into my arms, holding her close to me while she sobs mournfully, her nightshirt falling over her like a moo moo. I recognize this shirt. It’s not a nightshirt… it’s one of mine.

“Oh, baby,” I lament into her ear as I cradle her in my arms. I don’t know how long we sit there, me squatting on the floor and her tiny frame literally sitting on my lap, but we have enough time for Tawni to warm some conch soup and bring it back to the nightstand.

“Will yuh see if yuh con geht heh to eat?” Tawni says. I nod. She’ll eat it; don’t worry.  I raise my head and Tyree has made himself comfortable in the only chair in the room. What the fuck is up with this guy? Do I have my own version of Cholometes here? I just shake my head and look down at my Keri.

“Hey,” I say, lifting her chin to me. She’s still crying.

“Yoh… rahlly… heyah…” she says, her breaths shuddering.

“Yes, I’m really here,” I say, kissing her forehead.

“How… did yuh… geht heyah…? Wheh… did yuh… com… from…?” I chuckle. I can tell her thoughts are a bit disjointed.

“Seattle,” I say, “in the big metal bird?” I tease.

“I mean… how… did yuh…” She’s weeping again. I stand up and sit on the bed with her on my lap and my back to Tyree.

“Tawni called me,” I confess. “She hacked into your phone. She was worried about you.” She nods. We hear a loud thud behind us that startles us both. We don’t have to turn around because we soon see Tyree brush past both of us out of the room. Next, we can hear him arguing with Tawni in the next room.

“Who is that guy?” I ask.

“Tawni… bredda,” she says through her shuddering breaths, her tears now subsiding a bit.

“When I reached for you, he told me not to touch his girlfriend,” I inform her. She shakes her head weakly.

“Not his… galfren,” she says, laying her head on my chest.

“I know that and you know that, but does he know that?” I ask. She sighs. I have a feeling she’s had this conversation more than she would like. There’s plenty of time for that later.

“Baby, what’s wrong? Tell me what’s wrong,” I beseech her.

“Nuhtin’ wrong, Choonks, I just tiyed,” she says, her voice weak.

“Baby, this is not tired. Something is wrong. Something is really wrong.” I hold her as tight as I can without hurting her, burying my face in neck and looking for her warmth and her scent. It’s not there. She’s not herself at all. My Keri… my beautiful Island Girl… what’s happened to you?

“Tawni brought some conch soup. It smells really good. Please eat some for me,” I coax gently. She nods, so I position her back on my lap and begin to feed her the soup. She takes it obligingly at first, but the further we get into the bowl, she begins to take it anxiously, hungrily chewing the pieces of fresh conch, yam, carrots and other vegetables. That makes me feel good. She dribbles a little down her chin. I look around for something to clean it with. Finding nothing, I gently clean it away with my mouth.

There was nothing sexual about it and we both know it. It was just tender, a gesture that I intend to take care of her. She gazes at me, her eyes full of love and gratitude.

“Tell me what’s wrong, baby,” I say softly, gently stroking her cheek with my thumb. “Why are you so tired? Why aren’t you eating? Please talk to me.” I try to see into her, try to see why she’s doing this to herself. She wanted to come home, so I can’t believe that she’s unhappy to be here. What else could it be?

“I jus…” She trails off. Her sad eyes fill with tears again. I shake my head.

“Please,” I say, kissing her eyelids before the tears fall. “Please don’t cry anymore. We’ll talk about it later, okay?” She nods and the tears fall anyway, though she’s not weeping like she was before. “Can I just… take care of you?” I ask. She nods again. I take her hand lead her from her room to the bathroom. I put the toilet seat down and tell her to sit while I run her a bath, adding some of the tropical bubble bath I had become accustomed to smelling on her skin. While the tub fills, I go to her dresser and get clean underwear and a clean gown. Looking at the gown, I think better of it and open my suitcase, removing one of my shirts instead.

When I get back to the bathroom, the tub is just about full and the water is perfect. Good. I notice a few candles strategically placed, like they’re always there for bathtime, so I light them with a candle lighter that I find in the cabinet over the commode. I look back at my beautiful Island Girl who already looks like she’s getting some of the color back in her face. Maybe I’m just wishful thinking, but she looks a whole lot better than she did when I got here a while ago.

I’m just about to undress her when I remember that we’re not alone in the apartment, a fact driven home by another pair of eyes glaring at me from the hallway. I turn to see Tyree staring at us just as I’m about to disrobe my girlfriend. This motherfucker is working my last nerve. I angrily slam the door in his face, thinking this would solve the problem.

How wrong I am.

This fucker actually opens the door and proceeds into the bathroom with his arms folded.

“Do you want to die?” I bark before I can stop myself.

“Wut? Yuh gwine cock it up befoh shi even bettah?” he accuses. I. Am. Burning! I have traveled two oceans and a sea and two countries over 16 hours for this asshole to try to cockblock me while I’m trying to take care of my girl and two people have already told me that his claim to her is imaginary, one of them being my girl? I clench my fist and walk towards this fucker. I’ve taken all I’m going to take from him tonight.

“And if I do,” I growl, my voice rumbling from my chest, “that’s nobody’s motherfucking, goddamn business but ours. Now if I were you, I’d take that misplaced sense of possession of yours, ball it up and put it back in your pocket. Make no mistake, bredda, that one is mine. If I’m here, she’s mine. When I’m gone, she’s mine. She is and always will be mine! So doah cut yu eye affa mi bwoy and quit yah tongue waggin’… before I choke you with it… Yu undastan wah mi a seh, Tyree?

“Easy nuh,” my Island Girl’s voice and gentle touch on my arm brings me back to myself. “Easy nuh, Choonks.” When I look up, I’ve backed Tyree out of the bathroom and against the opposite wall. I’m bearing down on him, waiting for him to breathe or speak or anything. He still has the same defiant look in his eyes as he sneers up into mine, not showing any fear, but not waggin’ his tongue anymore either.

“Tyree, goh,” I hear her say, but he doesn’t move. He’s still glaring at me. “Goh, now, Tyree! Tawni!” A few seconds later, I see Tawni come from another room around the corner.

“Tyree!” she says, and she bursts into a string of Patois that I can’t even begin to attempt to interpret before snatching her brother off the wall in front of me and dragging him towards the door. I take a deep breath, not even bothering to look in the direction they went and turn my gaze back to my girl. I smile and lead her back into the bathroom, closing and locking the door in case Tyree happens to return. She allows me to undress her and help her into the bathtub.

“Is the water okay? It hasn’t cooled too much, has it?” I ask her. She smiles that beautiful smile at me.

“It’s puhfect, Choonks,” she says sweetly. I want to get to cleaning that beautiful body, but the condition of her hair has me in complete despair. I’ve seen her shampoo enough to know how to do this, so I rummage through the bathroom to find the ingredients I need… baking soda, distilled water, vinegar, tea tree, and her beloved rosemary oil. I combine the ingredients except the rosemary oil and rub it generously into her hair and scalp. Her locs are brittle and I can see that they’re in danger of breaking, so I’m as gentle with them as I can be. The water and products will make them heavier than they already are, so I have to prepare myself for some of them to break while I’m caring for them.

I allow the cleaning mixture to sit in her hair for several minutes while I take a natural sponge and meticulously clean her entire body. She groans in contentment as I massage different parts of her body, bringing life back into limbs that have laid in bed for days. How is she living if she’s not working? Is Tawni taking care of her? What about her students? Who’s teaching her classes? I have so many questions.

After I’ve cleaned and touched every inch of her beautiful, but now frail body, I rinse the mixture from her hair that takes a lot of dirt and dandruff with it before I give her locs a thorough washing with her natural shampoo. I take care in wringing and drying her hair and just as I feared, we lost a dew in the process. Luckily, not many. I know that’s a combination of not caring for her hair and not eating right. I won’t leave her like this. There has to be a resolution to this issue, some kind of resolution. I can’t see her this way ever again.

Once I’ve gotten as much water from her hair as it appears will come out, I wrap her hair in a towel. We’ll allow the towel to soak some of the water for a while before I massage the rosemary oil into her locs and scalp. I help her into her panties and then into my shirt. She smells like Keri now… and me. She looks at me with those beautiful brown eyes and I’m lost immediately in my love for her. I’ve missed her so much. I cup her face in my hands and bring my lips to hers, kissing her deeply.

She moans in her chest and grabs my shirt, returning my kiss, hungrily, like her life depends on it.

Mine does.

I wrap my arms around her tiny body and try to meld her into me. When I press the small of her back like I normally do, she responds immediately and her fingers gently stroke the nape of my neck and behind my ear, sending immediate shivers down my spine. I lap deliciously into her mouth, relaying all the hurt, anguish, and loneliness I’ve felt over the last two months while trying to absorb her despair into me. When our lips part, we’re breathless and weak with want, but I rein in my hormones, breathing deeply and remembering that my Island Girl is not one-hundred percent. I close my eyes with my forehead touching hers, trying to control my raging emotions and not just the ones below my waist. My heart is beating so fast that I’m certain she can hear it. When I open my eyes, her loving brown irises stare back at me and I know I’m completely broken.

“Oh, God,” I lament, bringing my lips to her temple, then her cheek, then her neck. “What have you done to me?” I whisper, holding her close to me and caressing her back. “I won’t be able to leave you again… not after this…”

*-*

“It’s really bad,” I say to Christian after I’ve put Keri to bed. It’s the wee hours of Wednesday morning Anguilla time, so I know it’s still Tuesday in Seattle, just barely. “She looks so sick and she’s lost so much weight. I was washing her hair and her locs were coming out in my hands.”

“What?” Christian nearly barks into the phone. “What’s going on down there?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t had a chance to talk to her yet.” There’s silence on the line.

“You’ve been there for hours. What do you mean you haven’t had a chance to talk to her yet?” I’m on the balcony outside of her room where I can hear her if she wakes, but I won’t disturb her with my conversation.

“Fuck, man, you won’t believe this fucking day!” I say scrubbing my face. “Let’s start with the fact that I get off the goddamn ferry and Tawni’s looking for somebody else completely. Why? Because she didn’t know that I was white.”

“Whoa,” Christian exclaims softly.

“Yeah,” I concur. “Interracial relationships are hard enough without the element of surprise. She told me that her friends knew that I was white. I don’t know how Tawni didn’t know. Speaking of surprises, Tawni is standing there with this goon looking kid, about 5’10”, maybe 5’11”, pretty big curly natural with that perpetual scowl on his face—you know the type, like they’re always angry…”

“Yeah, okay,” Christian urges.

“So, we’re walking to the car and this guy seems to think that he’s going to walk behind me.”

“Oh, bad move,” Christian says.

“Bad move, indeed. So, I turn around to find out who he is and now, I’m squaring off with this kid and I don’t even know his name.”

“Do you ever find out who he is?” he asks.

“Oh, I find out alright,” I tell him. “When we finally get to Keri’s apartment and I see how bad she looks, I reach out to her and this fucker tells me not to touch his ‘galfren!’”

“What?” Christian roars.

“My sentiments exactly. As it turns out, the kid is Tawni’s brother and he has a thing for Keri that’s apparently not mutual.”

“How did you make this discovery?”

“It was confirmed by Tawni and Keri, but this kid has balls the size of Texas. He actually burst into the bathroom when I was about to give her a bath, and he knew what I was doing before he did it because I had just slammed the door in his face.”

“Holy fuck, did you kill him?” Christian asks.

“I would have if Keri and Tawni hadn’t been there. They both made him leave. I’m hoping he got the picture now. Here’s the problem, though. I don’t know if the kid is a past boyfriend, a boyfriend hopeful, a stalker, or what. I just know that in his head, Keri is his woman and I have no right touching her, no right near her and I need to get the fuck out of Dodge.”

“Shit, man, he sounds like Edward David,” he warns. I ponder the thought.

“Nah, he’s different,” I say. “David felt like Ana was the problem. She was the one betraying him and cheating on him. This guy feels like I’m the problem. He’s not possessive; he’s protective. I’m going to confirm with Keri later, but I think I just answered my own question.”

“And what’s that?”

“That woman is addictive. If he had slept with her, he wouldn’t only be tearing down doors to get to her. He’d be in her face, too. He’s only in mine, so there’s nothing between them. He just wants to scare away hopefuls. I don’t how long he’s been chasing her, but along comes a little white boy and…” I trail off.

“I get the idea, but you keep calling him a kid. How old is he?” Christian asks.

“I don’t really know,” I tell him. “I just get that feeling about him. He’s Tawni’s brother. Tawni and Keri are around the same age—that I do know, so I just assumed he was younger. He looks it anyway. He acts it, too. He could be older for all I know.”

“So… what’s the next move?” I sigh.

“I keep asking her what’s going on and all she keeps saying is that she’s tired. I have to get her past ‘I’m tired.’ She’s been to her doctor here in Anguilla and to a doctor on St. Marteen. They’ve run blood tests, done physicals, and they both say that nothing’s wrong with her, but something’s wrong with her. She’s lost 30 pounds at least.”

“Shit, that’s a lot of weight for two months, Chuck,” Christian says.

“You’re telling me!” I exclaim. “I thought Tawni was being dramatic when she said Keri was dying, but if you could just see her…” I trail off again.

“So, what are you going to do?”

“I don’t know,” I say honestly. “I can’t leave her like this. I have to get to the bottom of it. I have to find out why this is happening.”

“You can’t leave her like this, or you can’t leave her?” he asks. He knows the right questions to ask. I won’t lie to him.

“Right now, it’s both,” I tell him honestly. “I don’t know how this is going to turn out; that’s why I have to talk to her, but I will tell you this. Whatever happens, there’s no way in hell I’m leaving her like this.” I hear him sigh.

“I get it. Lord knows, I get it. Keep me posted.”

“I will.” I end the call and go back into the room where Keri lies sleeping. She ate a little fruit and cheese before bed, and a little bread. If I can keep her eating, get her out of bed, maybe she’ll put some of her weight back on. I take off my shirt and shorts and keep my boxers and T-shirt on before I climb in bed behind her.

God, this feels good. I had almost forgotten how good this felt, to have her this close to me, her warmth against my body. She stirs for a moment before snuggling contentedly back into me and once again, we fit together like a puzzle, like we were meant to be here. I’m defenseless against the comfort and sleep comes to me quickly.

I can feel the Caribbean sun attempting to invade my eyelids, but even more so, I feel gentle fingers caressing my eyebrows. I open my eyes and gaze on the caramel goddess lying next to me, looking longingly into my eyes.

“I ptayed dat yuh wuld com,” she says just above a whisper. “I din’t tink it wuz possible, but I ptayed anyway, and yoh heyah.”

She kisses me gently, another kiss full of love and longing… and then she crawls on top of me. I gasp.

Oh, shit.

She settles her hot cleft on my morning wood and I can feel the heat through my boxerS.

“Ah! Shit, baby. Wait… should we… be doing this?” I ask. “You’re not well.”

“Ah’m fine, Choonks,” she says, grinding against me. “Yoh heyah, now.”

“Ah!” I put my hands on her hips. If I grab that round apple-bottom ass, I’m gone. “Keri…” It’s been two months. Two whole months… Three months of wild, hot, deep, searing monkey sex anytime I wanted it, then two months of nothing—and I mean nothing. I haven’t even jacked off because I wanted her too much. She moves like a master and I discover too late that she’s already out of her panties. My cock is out of my briefs and inside of her in seconds.

“Baby, wait!” I protest in vain. “Fu-uck, baby… wait…” I’m not wearing a condom. I didn’t even bring one. She feels so good… so warm and tight. I feel like a hopeless, horny teenager.

“Is okay, Choonks,” she breathes, her voice thick with arousal as she rides me. “Is okay…”

“No… condom…” I breathe, truly helpless, totally at her mercy, the burn so deep, the tug in my balls already beginning. “I can’t… I can’t stop…”

“Is okay, Choonks,” her arousal now thick, heavy lust with her orgasm lingering moments behind. “I need yuh… please…” Her lips lock with mine and fire shoots straight to my loins. There’s that fucking kiss again, that goddamn kiss that could make me come all by itself. I mold into her as she grinds her hips into mine. She’s wet and hot and tight and I ache for her. I ache for her in my heart and my soul and my dick and my mind all at the same time. The ache is so big and so strong that I can’t control myself. As hard as I try to maintain some kind of self-control, I just want to do everything for her, be everything for her, turn the world upside down for her.

“Hold mah cheeks, Choonks,” she breathes salaciously against my mouth and without remembering why I wasn’t holding her cheeks, my hands grab her round, juicy ass, bouncing hard on my dick and molding perfectly into my hands.

I’m a goner.

“Baby… I’m gonna… come…”

“Noh… Choonks… weht… nawt yet… weht…” Shit, I can’t wait! It’s been too goddamn long!

“Keri… baby…” I warn, the torture more than I can bear. I can’t fucking wait. She feels too good. Too goddamn good.

“Keri… please… stop…” I beg, my dick already starting to come inside her. I can feel it. It’s too late, I can’t stop it.

“Uuuhh! Chatles!” My name is a high-pitched litany on her tongue and she comes madly, tightening violently around me and sucking every bit of my semen from my blissfully throbbing member, along with all of my sense of reason…

“Why did you do that?” I ask while she’s kissing my face after I’ve finally caught my breath. She stops kissing me and her eyes meet mine. I reach up and gently cup her face. “We didn’t use a condom. I could have gotten one… we could have waited.” She turns her lips to meet my palm.

“If I becum ptegnant, I will hahv a piece of yuh wit mi wen yuh goh,” she says softly. “An if I don, I don.” She smiles sadly. I bring my lips up to meet hers and kiss her softly.

“If you have my baby,” I begin, “I’m going to want to do everything for you… for the two you.” I’m hoping she catches my meaning. If Keri gets pregnant with my child, we must be together, wherever we are.

“I knoh, Chatles,” she says, “yuh will be a gud faddah.” I still don’t think she understands what I’m saying, but if she gets pregnant, she will. I kiss her again.

“I want you to get out of the house today,” I tell her. “Show me your Anguilla.” She smiles.

“Mi Anguilla is nawt ahs glahmohtous ahs wut yuh saw wen yuh stay de las time.”

“I know, but I still want to see it,” especially if I may be forced to stay here with you. She rises off me and we both wince at the sexy separation—my limp, wet dick sliding from her thoroughly anointed pussy. It was yet another sexual moment that has us grasping at and kissing each other before we get out of bed. God, I’ve missed this body.

I pull my shorts over my briefs just in time for Keri to open her sliding doors and recoil with a gasp and a yelp. I’m behind her in moments only to see Tyree standing right in the doorway. It doesn’t take a genius to know how long he’s been standing there.

“Totally mah bizness!” he hisses, scowling at me as he backs away from the door and walks down the hallway. I turn to Keri, pointing at his retreating form with my thumb.

“He’s a fucking psychopath!” I say. “He stood at the door and listened to us having sex. Who does that? What’s his fucking deal?”

“I don knoh!” Keri says, obviously shaken. I grasp her arms and look into her eyes.

“Keri, why didn’t Tawni know who I was?” I ask. She raises her eyes to me. “The night before you left America, we talked about your friends. You made it sound like they all knew who I was, but Tawni didn’t have a clue. She didn’t even know I was white.” She’s momentarily speechless, then she shakes her head as if to shake loose a thought.

“Mi and Tawni meet aftah,” she says. “I need hep wit da bills, so I get a woommate. I only knoh heh couple monts. Tytee like me, I knoh, but I don like Tytee.”

I nod. A possible Fatal Attraction fucker who hasn’t even gotten the pussy, I could move her out of here, but he would just follow her. No doubt, he knows where she works. He’s never had any competition before now, because I know she’s never given anyone on the island the time of day… at least not since we’ve been together.

“Let’s just go out and have a good time,” I tell her.

We get dressed and stay sex-funky, enjoying each other’s scent on ourselves, while she takes me to see all of Anguilla that you don’t get to see as a tourist. We eat at her favorite eatery for lunch and go by her school to see her children… and the person currently doing her job. I don’t ask if this is a permanent situation. That question will come in due time. We even go to Kel’s, still open, but there’s no Ma behind the ice cream counter anymore. I’m sad to discover that she passed away only a few weeks ago. She couldn’t wait any longer to get to her good man.

img_2252I’m also remiss to discover that Anguilla’s beaches are really quite filthy—smelly and cluttered with the world’s garbage. The high resort fees they collect mainly go to keeping the most inhabited beaches clean. I don’t know how they do it with so much beach and so much sea life, but it appears that they do the best that they can.

Keri and I talk all day about what’s been going on since she got back home, which has really been a whole lot of nothing. The more I listen to her description of what she’s doing, how she’s feeling, what’s she’s planning, and what’s been going on, the more I get images of Ana handcuffed to that goddamn bed, only Keri’s bed is an island… and it’s her home.

When we get back to the apartment, Keri and Tawni fix a dinner of curry crab and red peas soup. Keri’s appetite is back with a wonderful fury and that’s makes me happy. Then again, I know why it left. While she’s cleaning the kitchen, I take the time to talk to Tawni, to find out about her psychopathic brother, more about Keri’s behavior after she returned from the states and if she knows anything about Keri’s position at the school. None of the answers that she gave me left me felling any better about my girl’s current living conditions.

“I may need a little backup,” I say to Christian when I’m talking to him later that night. “I don’t know if or how Keri’s going to stay here without me, and I don’t know if I can stay here with her. I love her, man, but there’s nothing here for me. I would become a sick, possessive asshole and we would end up resenting each other. Not only that, for all intent and purposes, I don’t think she has a job anymore.”

“How is she paying her bills?” Christian asks.

“Her savings and her roommate,” I tell him. “Tawni didn’t know about me because they’ve only known each other since Keri came back from Seattle. Right after she fell ill, Tawni responded to an ad and moved in to help out, but she’s like a boiling turtle, Christian.”

“Okay, you gotta help me out with that one.”

“She loves her home. I know that and I understand that, but there’s nothing for her here. There’s another school, but they’re not hiring. I could probably get security at one of the hotels, but who here would need the kind of skills that I offer?”

“Only every high roller who ever turns up on the island,” he says matter-of-factly.

“Who always brings their own security,” I add. “You know how we look at hotel security. It doesn’t matter what credentials they have behind their names—we never see that. As far as we’re concerned, they’re all Hilton Rent-a-cops and that’s it. That’s no life for me. No, it’s back to the states for me. My only question now is what am I going to do about Keri?”

“So, when you said backup, you need Ana to try to convince Keri to come?”

“No, I don’t think that would work anyway. I was being funny when I said that. Tawni’s brother Tyree has officially stepped over into stalkerdom. And knowing that she only knew him for two months now… this dude was standing outside of the bedroom door while we were fucking.” Silence.

“What?” he barks into the phone.

“Yep. My girl had just climbed off my dick and had she opened that door two seconds earlier, that asshole would have seen it swinging.”

“You gotta be kiddin’ me!” he says in disbelief.

“Nope. So then, there’s him.” I shake my head. “I came planning to find one problem and I find like twelve and yes, all evidence points to loneliness and depression as the cause of her illness. It was all self-imposed. She thought of Anguilla a lot when she was with me, but she never starved or hurt herself when she was in America. This is unhealthy and unacceptable, and somehow, I’ve got to convince her of that. I don’t want her to do anything that she doesn’t want to do, but she has to see how this is no good for her. I can’t see anything good coming from her staying in Anguilla at all… especially since she acts like she’s trying to get pregnant.”

“Whoa! Goddammit! Slow the fuck down, man. Can you let me get over one shocker before you throw something else at me??” Christian exclaims. “She’s trying to get pregnant and she doesn’t even have a damn job?”

“I don’t think she’s thought this out, Christian. She’s running on emotion and pain and there’s no logic in it. She climbed on top and there was no stopping her—not that I wanted to. I was gagging for it, but I didn’t have a condom. I didn’t come down here to fuck. I did try to stop her, if you can call it that, but you tell me how successful you’ll be with getting the warm, wet pussy of the woman you love and yearn for off your dick after two months of nothing.”

“Yeah… no,” he concurs.

“When I asked her why she did that, she admitted that if I leave her, she’ll have a piece of me with her.”

“That is not smart,” he says.

“I told her that I would take care of her. Who am I fooling? If she stayed here with no job, I would take care of her, but I just don’t want her to stay.”

“Do you think that’s what this is all about?” he asks me. “I mean, we all know and love Keri, but could that be a possibility? A free ticket to the states? Citizenship? Someone to take care of her while she stays in Anguilla?” I shake my head as if he could see me.

“I begged her to stay before she left,” I tell him. “I asked her to marry me more times than I can count. I even asked her to marry me at the door of the plane and listened to her weep all the way down the gangplank. I talk to her every day and hear the longing in her voice and what I saw when I got here can’t be faked. She’s goddamn skin and bones, Christian, and her long, beautiful dreads are falling out. If this is all part of some intricate plot, then goddammit, she wins!” I hear myself getting angry at the fact that he could think something like this about my Island Girl.

“Okay, okay. I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying to offend you or insult Keri. I just wanted to make sure that you were sure,” I sigh heavily.

“I’m sure,” I say, putting my hand on my neck. “I’m very sure. I’m sure enough to damn near throw her over my shoulder, put her on a plane, and drag her back there kicking and screaming if she doesn’t come willingly.”

“Well, let’s not resort to that,” he says. “You know I’m at your disposal. You only have to ask for what you need.” I rub my eyes. I’m suddenly so weary.

“Yeah, I know…”

The hairs on my neck are rising. My surroundings seem a bit surreal, but my skin and instincts sense danger. Whatever’s going on, my training tells me that I have three seconds to make a decision or possibly risk mortal danger. I reach beside me between my hip and the sofa cushion and palm my Glock. It only takes 1.5 seconds to raise it to that fucker’s face and shove it right in his mouth.

“Move one muscle and this is gonna be a closed-casket funeral.”

For the first time since I’ve been here, I see fear in his eyes. I fell asleep on the sofa after I talked to Christian, thinking about my next move with Keri. Force of habit caused me to stuff my piece where I can quickly get to it and it’s a good thing I did because I was facing certain death and dismemberment a few moments ago.

I slowly rise to a sitting position, then stand to face him in the dark. This asshole is standing in front of me with what is easily a one-and-a-half to two-foot bladed machete, poised and ready to take me down… over some pussy he hasn’t even tasted yet.

This is the last straw.

“Move real slow and put it on the floor… one hand.” He releases the weapon and slowly moves to put in on the floor. Before he can stand upright, I kick him so hard in his jaw that I damn near dislodge it from his fucking face. Yeah, it’s a sucker’s move, but I don’t care. The son-of-a-bitch just tried to kill me. He rolls over and crawls backwards away from my Glock pointed at his forehead.

“Get up and get the fuck out of here right now. Don’t come back to this house while I’m here. If I see you on this side of that door one more time while I’m still here, they’ll have to identify you by dental records. Now get your ass out of here before I give you a third eye!”

He doesn’t bother getting up. He just crawls backwards like a crab past the threshold and doesn’t attempt to get to his feet until he’s on the porch. When he does, he scurries down the road away from me and my Glock.

*-*

“Choonks!” her voice is panicked. “You leave?”

“No, baby, I haven’t left.” I just can’t sleep in your apartment anymore because your admirer tried to behead me last night. “I’m in a hotel. I… just wanted us to have some more privacy when we’re together.” She sighs audibly on the other end of the phone. Shit. This can’t go on. This is unacceptable. It’s only a matter of time before that psycho motherfucker knows where I’m staying and one of us is going to die if we both stay here. As cliché as it is, this island is truly not big enough for the both of us.

“I’ve got a car,” I tell her. “I’ll come and get you. We’ll spend the day together and… talk.” She’s quiet on the other line.

“Okay, Choonks. Ah’ll be wehting…” I end the call with my Island Girl. I checked into a hotel the moment the sun rose and I knew that psycho fucker was nowhere in sight, but I still needed sleep and the hell if I was getting sleep at that apartment. I left Tyree’s machete at Tawni’s door with instructions to give it back to her brother. Apparently, she hasn’t passed this bit of information on to Keri or she would have mentioned it when she called.

When I come back to pick her up, I’m wearing my holster and firearm in plain view. My credentials give me license to do so and I want no more misunderstandings from Keri’s SBM that I will take his ass down if he so much as sneezes in my direction anymore. Sure enough, he’s brave enough to be on the premises when I get there, but smart enough to follow my instructions to the letter. He’s not beyond the threshold. He’s outside in the dirt with three of his friends. Their intent is to jump me, but I know the type. They’ll part like the Red Sea when I walk up with my Glock cocked. I glare at him from a distance and shake my head. He’s not giving up. My decision is made. This is just one thing in many that lets me know it’s time to get the hell out of here. I take out my phone and quickly dial the number.

“Grey.”

“Send the jet tomorrow…”

Keri and I talk all day about what’s going on. I leave out the part where her bwoyfren-hopeful tried to kill me last night. Everything else in and of itself should be enough for us not to want to be here anymore. We finished dinner in my hotel room when I try once more to convince her to return to Seattle with me.

“Anguilla mi home, Choonks,” she protests, “I love heh.”

“And I love you,” I tell her. “I only want you to be happy, and you’re so unhappy here without me, and I can’t stay.”

“But I may have a paht of yuh, Choonks,” she says, holding her stomach with hope, “a paht of you wit mi alwez.” I sigh heavily. You may not make it that long, baby.

“Please think about coming back to Seattle and being with me,” I say as I pull her to me and place my forehead on hers. “I won’t rush you. Take all the time you need. The door is always open. You can come now… in a day… a month or a year… just, please…” I let the words trail off. The pain of leaving her again is nearly more than I can bear, and I’m leaving tomorrow right after the jet has time to refuel and the second pilot is ready to go. I’m going back to Seattle… to my home.

“I tink abut it, Choonks,” she says softly. That’s not a no. Last time, it was no. This gives me hope. I brush my lips against her temple, my soul aching for her again.

“Let me make love to you, Island Girl,” I whisper against her skin. She reaches up and caresses my chest, sending warmth and chills through me at the same time.

“I mek yuh feel gud, bebe,” she says, brushing her lips against mine.

“No, Keri… you made me come, and you made me come hard, but right now… more than anything, I need to make love to you.”

She looks at me with a sadness in her eyes. She could always read me. She knows me well. She knows this means something. It does. I hope it doesn’t mean what I think it means, but if it does, I have to find a way to live with it.

But not tonight. Tonight, I just want to make love to her until we have both had our fill, then I’ll take her home so that we can both think clearly.

“Yes, Chatles,” she says, her voice cracking. “Please…”

I close the space between us and gently stroke her cheek. I need to take my time tonight, to savor her flavor, absorb her… gently… just like that last time in Seattle, in case I have to be without her for another two months…

Or three…
Or six…
Or a year…

I move behind her and spread my fingertips gently across her throat, my thumb behind her ear, just enough to hold her to me while I bury my mouth in her neck and feast hungrily, possessively on her skin. She moans quietly, seductively, and I feel my Island Girl coming back to me… and slipping away at the same time.

She leans her head back, granting me full access to her neck, her jaw, that sensitive spot under her earlobe. I lift her shirt and gently caress her navel, feeling her shiver under my touch. She doesn’t know what to do with her hands since I’m standing behind her. I reach down and untie her wraparound skirt, allowing it to fall to the floor. I walk in front of her and gaze at her with hungry eyes before gently nipping her lips while caressing her full ass over her lace panties. Still nipping at her lips, I squeeze her hips and rub the lace hard against her skin. She swallows hard, panting against my mouth. I back her up to the bed and lay her down over the duvet.

She looks delectable in her white lace panties and peasant blouse, and I can clearly see that she’s not wearing a bra underneath. Her breasts are firm and perky, so she doesn’t need one, but right now, while she’s highly aroused, her nipples are standing at full attention and beckoning me through the soft cotton. I remove my deck shoes and pull my T-shirt over my head before moving next to her on the bed. I run my hand up the outside of her bare leg pausing to appreciate her hip and the lace panties, then to softly tease her belly and brush lightly over the mound of her breasts before stopping at her neck, gently and possessively clasping it again and placing soft, sensual sex kisses on her lips that are full of promise.

Yes, baby, I plan to taste you and love you until neither of us can stand anymore.

I move my lips from her plump, juicy, tender mouth down her neck and between her breasts. Rolling on top of her, I take both of the ample mounds in my hands and torment the nipples—first one, then the other—through the cotton of her blouse until she’s shivering with need.

“Choonks,” she gasps, digging her head back into the bed and pushing her breasts into my hands and mouth, “don mek meh weht…” she pleads.

Fuck, that’s torture.

Do you have any idea how much I want to fuck you right now? To just be inside you… to mark you and claim you…

But that’s not what this is. That’s not the purpose of this exercise. The purpose of this is to give myself over to her—to completely open myself raw to her. This is a plea and we both know it. When this night is over, all of my cards will be on the table. The final play will be Keri’s…

But tonight is mine.

I force the elastic of her blouse to the side with both of my hands, exposing both of her nipples to the air—to my fingers and mouth. I suck them hard, hungrily, allowing them to pull then pop back out of my mouth. She groans in anguish.

“Chatles, please…” she begs. In due time, Island Girl, in due time.

She’s eager when I take her shirt by the hem and begin to pull it up her body. She sits up immediately and helps me to pull it over her head. And now those beautiful caramel mounds are on perfect and full display for me.

Control yourself, Chuckie…

I dive into her lips again, cupping her the flesh in both hands and running my thumbs across the nipples before dragging my mouth down her body to feast again on her bare breasts. When she’s writhing with desire, I move down to her belly button and the sensitive skin right above her pubic hairline. She trembles under my touch, my kiss, my lick, and I slowly place both hands underneath the lace of her panties and sensually drag them down her legs.

“Oh, Choonks, why… why, why, why…?” she begs silently and I know that she wants me to put her out of her sensual misery, so I kiss my way back up her legs and do just that. Normally, she likes it when I play in her pubic hair, tracing through it with my tongue, but not tonight. Tonight, I grab that beautiful ass, lift those hips to my mouth, and zero right in on that clit.

“Ah! Ah! Chatles!” she cries out, her back bowing and her fingers digging into my hair as much as fingers can dig into my cropped hair. “Chatles! Please! I come too fahst!”

Oh, no, baby, you wanted it, you got it. I suckle that tasty little button, pressing it hard with my tongue, then sucking again with my lips until I feel her hips start to tremble. That took almost no time.

“Chatles… please…” she pants, “Too… fast… ple… aaaaaahhh!” but it’s too late. Once that tender bunch of nerves starts to pebble in my mouth, I don’t dare stop. I suck, kiss, and lick that tasty little morsel until she’s clawing at me for relief. Once I know her orgasm has wafted through her and she’s on the decline, I quickly slide out of my jeans and over her until our mouths meet. I thrust my tongue deep into her mouth so that she can taste herself on me. She groans as I press my cock into her folds and let it slid between her lips.

“Baby,” I breathe, “you’re so hot and wet for me.”

“Yes,” she whispers. “Only foh yuh.”

I can’t take it anymore. I sink into her with a gasp. She’s so tight and I want to fuck her so deep and hard, but I have to concentrate. Good God, do I have to concentrate! Deep, she’ll get, but it will be slow and gentle, burning, and meticulous. Completely and absolutely mind-blowing… for both of us.

I pull my hips back slowly, gently and start to move.

“My God, you feel so good,” I choke, “I love you so much, Keri,” I say, my arms framing her face and my lips brushing hers. “You taste so good and you smell so good. Mmmmm, you were made just for me…”

I love her deep and slow, my hips rolling into hers until I begin to feel her trembling again.

“Oh, baby, you’re so hot…” I can feel her insides starting to ripple again starting to wrap around me…

“Chatles,” she breathes, pushing her head back, her lips parted so that she can breathe. “I love yuh, Chatles…”

I close my eyes and allow the words to wash over me as I thrust my fingers into her hair and my aching erection into her core. My chest tightens with the weight of the emotion that I feel and I gently bite her chin and nip down her jawline.

“Hold me, Island Girl,” I breathe when I get to her ear. She brings her arms around me and places her hands flat on my back. It actually burns. How will I live without you…?

The smell and feel of our bodies together overwhelm me more than the feeling of being inside her, of wanting to come inside of her—skin to skin having already thrown caution to the wind. She feels so magnificent around me, but more importantly, she feels magnificent inside of me.

I open my eyes and watch her otherworldly expression of ecstasy as I drive her to yet another orgasm. I can only watch for a moment as the beauty is unbearable and threatens to tip me over the edge, along with the sensual sounds oozing from her throat and chest as we move as one body. I clamp my eyes closed to fight back tears that threaten to fall as I continue to love her deeply, strongly, with all the passion that my heart, mind, and soul can muster.

“You’re so beautiful,” I breathe as I thrust. “I’ll love you forever. I’ll give you anything… everything… You’re my air… My soul…”

I love her until she weeps, then I kiss her tears away and love her some more. I pour myself into her again and again with my love, my words, my body, and my seed, filling her until she’s overflowing and begs me to stop. When I do, I hold her, kiss her, and caress her, unable to cease my professions of devotion until I finally decide as the sun is rising to take her home so that she can rest… and think.

*-*

“Dude, of all the gin joints in the world, you had to come to Anguilla and fall in love.” Jay ribs me while I pack what’s left of my things in the hotel room.

“Yeah,” I say with no mirth. “Fucking sucks.” I grab my duffle bag and suitcase and don’t even go over the room to see if I left anything behind. I’m leaving this place worse than I was when I got here. I didn’t stay nearly as long as I planned to and though I found out what was wrong with Keri, I didn’t solve anything. At the very most, I knocked her up. Nice going, Choonks.

I didn’t tell Keri that I was leaving today until this morning. I didn’t have the heart to tell her last night when we were making love. She’s brave and acted strong when I broke the news to her, but I could almost see her slipping back into that depression I found her in when I got her. We’ll stop by her apartment before we go to the pier to catch the ferry back to St. Marteen. Christian is settling the bill with the front desk when we get downstairs. I throw a look at him and he just twists his lips at me, picking up my duffle and walking out the door.

Once we get to Keri’s apartment. Tyree is sitting outside like the good little gargoyle he is. He scowls at me, but it’s soon replaced with a knowing smirk as this time tomorrow, he’ll have my girl all to himself. I shiver at the thought.

“Is that him?” Jay says, gesturing to Tyree.

“Yeah, that’s him,” I respond.

“He doesn’t look like much,” Christian says.

“Yeah, well, he looks like God when he’s standing over you with a machete,” I say.

“Duly noted.” I get out of the car and go inside to once again say goodbye to my love.

She’s sitting on the sofa—the same sofa where I nearly lost my life—looking every bit as forlorn as I found her a few days ago.

“Choonks…” she stands, but says nothing else. I can’t beg anymore. She has to make this decision on her own. I walk over to her and palm her cheek with one hand.

“I love you so much,” I say softly, kissing her gently, reverently. “I’ll love you forever. Wherever you are, I’ll always be there for you. I hope you are carrying my child, because I’ll know that I’m always with you.” I kiss her again and again. I can’t do long goodbyes like we did in Seattle. It’ll only rip us apart and prolong the inevitable.

“I want to sing the words to some corny song, something to remember me by, but I can’t think of one.” I kiss her again and taste her tears on my lips. I take her hands in mine, entwining our fingers. “Instead, I’ll just say… palm to palm.” She chokes a sob.

“Haht… to.. h… please, don leave mi, Choonks!” She throws her arms around my neck and sobs bitterly. It breaks me. It breaks every bit of resolve that I have and I nearly tell Jay and Christian to get on the plane and leave me here. How can I possibly leave my heart—my love and life—behind?

“I can’t stay,” I whisper through my own tears. “On top of everything else, it’s not safe for me here.” Her tears stop and she wrenches herself from my arms.

“Waht…” she begins in disbelief. “Waht yuh tahkin’ ‘bout?” I frown. I hadn’t intended to tell her this, but there’s really no reason not to.

“I did want us to have some privacy, but that’s not the only reason I stayed at the hotel for the last two nights,” I tell her. “Tyree tried to kill me in my sleep.” She frowns deeply. I can take him, but only when I’m awake. This motherfucker is crazy. He’ll gut me while I’m in the bathroom taking a shit.

“Watt???” she shrieks. I tell her about waking up to a near-beheading and she screeches like a banshee. She’s out of that apartment and on top of that man like a hurricane from hell. Jay and Christian are out of the car in a moment, but I hold my hand up to them to stay back. She’s screaming Patois curses at this man like I’ve never heard and beating new meaning into old words as she wails blow after blow on him. I’m stunned. He never gets off the ground—not that he could—and only covers his head to shield himself from the worst of the assault.

“Yuh too foofool fi si seh mi nuh waan yuh an yuh try to kill mi Choonks?” She spits on him, then spits on him again. “Fyah fi yuh!” She kicks sand and dirt on him as she curses him continuously. I finally wrap my arms around her to stop her onslaught. She’s so frail and petite, so much smaller than I remember, that it takes no effort at all to subdue her.

“Ssssshhh,” I soothe her, breathing into her hair. “Easy nuh, baby… easy nuh.” She weeps for a moment, all of her energy leaving her at once.

“Tek mi,” she says through shuddering breaths, “tek mi wit yuh. Anguilla is mi ‘ome, but naht witout yuh… naht witout Choonks…” She falls limp in my arms, but continues to weep. I lift her effortlessly off the ground. She’s so light that it scares me. Tawni was right… she’s dying; she wasting away before our eyes.

“Keep an eye on him,” I say to Jay as I carry Keri back into the apartment, Tawni close behind.

“Keti?” she says when we get back to her bedroom. The word is full of questions as I place Keri on the bed.

“It ahl change, Tawni,” Keri says, her voice weak. “I hav tah goh.” Tawni’s eyes are sad as she takes her friend’s hand.

“I knoh,” she says. “I knoh wen I cahl him. I knoh wen hi com.” Tawni stands and goes to the closet, pulling clothes out and placing them on the bed. There are tears on her cheeks when she turns and smiles at her friend. “Eet’s spring in America. Pick sumtin ptetty…”

*-*

She only packs two suitcases, one packed mostly with the things that she bought when she was in Seattle and the other with many keepsakes and important documents and information. She loads her carry-on with whatever necessities she feels that she may need during the 12-hour flight back to Seattle, making sure that her identification and passport are in her purse. We’ll sort out the conditions of her residency later. Right now, we just need to get her into the country.

Tawni has agreed to pack the rest of her things for her. She’ll contact us when they’re ready and we’ll have them shipped to my house in Bainbridge. I wish this was happening under different circumstances, but either way I’m bringing my baby back home.

She takes one last look around her apartment, then hugs her friend warmly before walking out the door. Tyree is still on the ground, now sitting against the wall with his legs bent and his arms resting on his knees. She looks at him contemptuously, but says nothing before walking to the car and getting inside.

Once again, the ride to the ferry is short, and this time, Christian has chartered a private ferry back to St. Marteen. Once our passports are all cleared, we board the jet, finally bound for Seattle so that I can nurse my girl back to health and begin our new life.


A/N: SBM–Single Black Male

Six more to go… and now Keri is back where she belongs.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Becoming Dr. Grey: Chapter 76—Happy Endings… er, Beginnings

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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 76—Happy Endings… er, Beginnings

ANASTASIA

“I can’t do this.”

The words ring out over the crowd as if he were speaking through a bullhorn, but Al’s voice is barely audible as he says the words. Christian and I make eye contact and we—along with everyone else in attendance—can barely believe our ears.

“What?” James says, in disbelief, his expression shattered, his voice even less audible than Al’s moments before. “Allie?” Al raises his eyes to his fiancé before he quickly grabs James’ hand, his eyes large with realization.

“Baby, I’m sorry. That’s not what I meant!” Al says apologetically. He gently leads James aside, away from prying eyes and ears. I’m positioned in front of the Justice of the Peace in a beautiful creation that Al chose for me to wear to stand with him as his Matron of Honor. Christian stands directly across from me as James’ best man since his best friend Cedric is out of town this weekend and couldn’t make the ceremony.

Murmuring has begun among the partygoers as we all wait anxiously to see what’s going on with the grooms-to-be. Al has his back to us and I try to read James’ expression, but he gives nothing away as Al speaks to him. After several moments, James closes his eyes and nods, and I can’t tell if it’s reservation or relief on his face. Al turns around and gestures to Christian to join them. Christian looks at me and shrugs before walking over to Al and what looks like a forlorn James, whose gaze remains downcast.

I’m still getting nothing from the exchange from the three men, but after a minute or so, Christian comes over and says something to the Justice of the Peace. She nods and walks over and joins James and Al before following them back into the house. Christian has a brief conversation with Jason, who nods and gestures to other members of security. Before I can find out what was said and what’s going on, Christian takes me by the hand and hurriedly rushes me towards the house.

“Come on,” is all he says as he hurries me along.

“What? Where are we going?” I ask. My best friend is supposed to be getting married. What’s going on?

“I can’t tell you, but you better come on,” he says, dragging me behind him through the house, through the mudroom and into the garage. James’ Mercedes is already gone… oh, shit. What’s going on? Christian holds the door open for me so that I can get into the RS7. I hesitate, but he gives me a look that lets me know that there will be consequences if I don’t get my ass in the car. I roll my eyes and get into the car, more than a little perturbed that he won’t tell me what’s going on. We ride in silence for about ten minutes before his phone rings and he answers the line through the docking station.

“Yeah,” he says.

“Where are you?” Al’s voice bellows through the car speakers.

“About five minutes away,” Christian replies.

“Allen Michael Forsythe, what the hell is going on?” I demand. There’s silence for a minute.

“You didn’t tell her??” Al’s voice portrays utter horror.

“You told me not to!” Christian defends.

“I told you not to tell anybody. How could you not tell Jewel?”

“Jewel is somebody!” Christian retorts.

“She’s coming with you!! Why wouldn’t you tell her?” Al is getting more and more flustered.

“Well, we’re almost there, now, so she’ll know in a minute,” Christian says, shutting the conversation down. Al sighs.

“Chris, you’re an idiot.” And he ends the call. I just shake my head. Wherever we’re going, we’ll be there in a minute, so I’ll know what’s going on shortly. I’m quite surprised to find us pulling up at Seattle General.

Why the hell are we here?

We go inside and head to the elevators that lead to the private rooms on the cancer unit.

The cancer unit… of course.

“He couldn’t do it,” I say, finally realizing what’s going on. “After all the planning and all the preparation, he couldn’t say the vows without her.” I look at Christian and he nods.

“I misunderstood when he said don’t tell anybody. I guess that didn’t include you and I’m sorry, but of course you can’t tell a house full of guests that you’re blowing them all off for one person.” I nod.

“No, I suppose you can’t,” I say. “They’ll be fine until we get back. There’s plenty of food and booze to go around.”

Valerie has been moved to a much nicer, much larger room on the cancer unit of the hospital since she’s improved enough to leave ICU. She’s still not completely out of the woods and has begun radiation and chemotherapy, but she’s nowhere near well enough to leave the hospital yet. Al and I have spent every free waking moment here with her catching up and making up for lost time. We all planned the party of the century for Al and James’ wedding today with Val being her usual bossy self, throwing in fabulous ideas for themes and decorations. It turned out to be an unusually beautiful spring day in Washington, completely accommodating for my best friend’s wedding, and as much as we wanted everything to be perfect—knew everything would be perfect, it wasn’t perfect without Val.

“What… are you doing here?” she says softly when we enter her room. She looks at the clock and back at James and Al, complete in their Calvin Klein best and me and Christian not far behind. “It’s not even 3:30 yet… I know the ceremony can’t be finished that soon.” She’s a little tired and Elliot is in bed with her, cradling her close to him, her bald head resting on his chest. Al walks over to her and takes her hand, kissing it reverently.

“It hasn’t even started yet,” he tells her. Val’s eyes grow large as the Justice of the Peace walks into the room. “I had my Matron of Honor with me, but I didn’t have my Best Girl. I can’t get married without my Best Girl.”

I’m not sure from where she got it, but the Justice of the Peace produces a crown of daisies attached to a band of lace and Al places it gently on Val’s bald head. Of course, she smiles weakly and starts to cry, as do I.

“Now, we can get married,” Al says.

“Not without us!” Phil and Maxie breach the doorway with Gary and Marilyn close behind. I don’t ask where Mindy is because I know she wouldn’t be allowed on the cancer unit.

“I thought you said you didn’t tell anybody,” James jests.

“He didn’t,” Gary says. “You guys are predictable. Jason with that ‘nothing to worry about, folks—there’s been a slight delay’ bullshit and the entire wedding party disappears, including the officiant. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that shit out—just someone who knows you well enough. Now let’s get this show on the road before the entire reception shows up at the door.”

There really wasn’t anything else to say—or do—except to start the ceremony. Al and James face each other at Val’s bedside, with Christian and I standing close-by, and our friends huddled in corners wherever they can fit. There are way too many people in this room, so we just hope we can complete the ceremony before the doctor comes by and kicks us out. Bearing this fact in mind, the Justice of the Peace speaks softly.

“Well, this is certainly not the most unique ceremony I’ve performed, but it is one of the most touching,” she begins with a smile. “It always amazes me what people are willing to do to show how much they love one another and how important it is to share this moment with the special people in their lives, no matter the obstacles. Today, Allen and James have chosen to join together and share their lives, no longer choosing to live as two men, but as one being, one heart, one soul, in love and in life, in the eyes of the law and of family and friends. They have asked these people present to recognize and bless their union.

“I ask that you face one another and take the other’s hand.” Al and James face each other and join hands. “You are holding the hand of your best friend, your life mate, the one that will carry you and love you through the years when no one else will—through the storms of sickness and distress and through the fair weather of joy and happiness. These hands will bear your burdens, share your pain, build your life with you; support and uphold your dreams, defend you against all enemies, comfort you in times of sorrow and rejoice with you in times of celebration. Hold fast to these hands, for there will be none other like them from this day forward.”

James and Al both gaze into each other eyes, consciously stroking the other’s hands with their thumbs.

“And now, James and Allen would like to exchange their own vows.” James takes a deep breath and releases it before he begins to speak.

“Once upon a time, there was a man who traveled a very long way to find his fortune in life. He was heartbroken and downtrodden and only wanted to find happiness. He began to put the pieces of his rugged and ragged life together and thought he had found the happiness he was searching for only to have his heart ripped apart once more. He gave up, focused only on working and trying to be successful, making something of himself so that he would never have to return to his roots.

“One day, in a casual and chance encounter, he set eyes on a sandy-haired, brown-eyed boy who took his breath away. He was afraid to say anything to him, afraid to approach him and resolved himself to only admire the gorgeous creature from across the room in one of the worst cliché moments you can ever imagine.” Soft giggles rumble across the room. “Alas, the sandy-haired beauty put the man out of his misery and closed the distance between them that night. From that moment, the man knew that he could never be separated from him again.

“You took chunks of your beautiful heart, shoved them into the holes of my damaged one and made me whole again. Where I was bleeding… dying… you saved me. You are my life… my love. I breathe you, Allen. I’ll never be without you. I’ll always be with you. I’ll always love you. I’ll always belong to you, protect you, comfort you, cherish you—from now and forever, you are mine… and I am yours.”

There aren’t many dry eyes in the room. Even the men are a little misty, even if they won’t admit it. At the very least, they’re quite amorous, looking adoringly at their significant others, stroking their hands or kissing temples or foreheads. Allen is totally tearstained as he attempts to compose himself to recite his vows. By now, a small crowd of nurses and staff have gathered at the door, most likely originally intent on emptying the room of the too many occupants, but thinking better of it upon observing the ceremony inside.

“I…” Al begins with a shuddering breath. “I never thought in a million years that I would get married. I spent most of my life denying my sexuality… trying to be something that I wasn’t. When I finally accepted who I was, those around me couldn’t with the exception of a chosen few.” He throws an adoring gaze at me. “I struggled so hard just… to find myself… I never thought… never expected to find love. I was grasping…”

His voice breaks. He gets choked up and has a hard time getting his words out. James squeezes his hand and reaches to his face, gently stroking his tear-stained cheek—more for encouragement than to wipe away his tears.

“I was grasping at whatever happiness I could get, no matter how brief. Whatever ray of sunshine God would give me, I would accept, even if… if He chose to take it away…” Al’s voice cracks so hard that the last words are almost inaudible. Tears are flowing freely down James’ cheeks and one hand cups Al’s face, his eyes downcast as he can barely get his words out.

“Loss after loss after loss,” he chokes, “I couldn’t see how anything good would ever be for me, and then… He gave me you…” He’s weeping full-on now and the entire room is silent as Al pours his heart out to the man he loves.

“Allie…” James breathes, unable to bear his love’s pain anymore. Al shakes his head to silence him.

“I love you,” Al weeps. “I’ll strive every day to be worthy of you, to be worthy of the gift that God has given me… I’ll truly cherish every single moment that I have with you because you are so, so precious to me, more than you’ll ever know. You say that I saved you, but you saved me! You saved me, Jimmy, and I will love you for the rest of my life and when I’m gone, my soul will continue to love you for all eternity. I am bound to you until the universe ceases to exist, my love. Mere words are not enough… my life, my body, my soul… are yours.”

Audible weeping can be heard in the room and the hallway. There’s more love in this small space than I think this little room is able to hold. I’m delighted to see that Marilyn, Gary, Phil, and Maxie all had the wherewithal to pull out their cell phones and record as I was pulled from the house so quickly, I didn’t even have time to get my purse.

“Well,” the officiant says breathily. “Where are the rings?”

Al and James exchange wedding rings with traditional vows, as much as my best friend can choke them out over his emotional tears. I’m so glad there was no make-up involved in his wardrobe because he would be completely melted right now.

“In as much as Allen and James have pledged to spend their lives together by the exchanging of vows and the giving of rings, by the powers vested in me by the state of Washington, I now pronounce that they are married. Gentlemen, you may salute your groom.”

James cups Allen’s face and places a tender, yet passionate kiss on his lips. Allen melts into his husband, grasping his lapels and absorbing his love as a quiet applause sweeps through the room. Elliot gently wipes tears from Val’s eyes and kisses her head and she smiles, watching the happy couple share this tender moment. James breaks the kiss, smiling lovingly at his husband as he removes a handkerchief from his inside pocket.

“Don’t cry, my prince,” he says softly to Al, still cupping his face and drying his tears. “You’re my husband. There’s no getting rid of me now.” Al chokes a laughing sob and nods at his new husband.

“As if,” he says, his voice thick with his tears. Congratulations are given from the various members of the staff and, as expected, Dr. Hill comes in to tell us that we can only have a few more minutes, then we have to allow Valerie to get her rest. She had a rough bout of radiation today and although she took it like a trooper, she’s tired. We quickly take as many pictures with her as we can before leaving her to rest, promising to come by to check on her tomorrow, like we do every day… except maybe for Al as he and James will be leaving for their honeymoon in Bali.

Being the orator that he is, Al extends the apologies to the guests back at Grey Crossing when we arrive, explaining that he couldn’t enjoy the ceremony while his beloved friend was ill in the hospital completely unable to attend. The sentiment was generally well-received and for those who didn’t like it, fuck ‘em. The only guests that remained were some people from James’ job, some staff from GEH, some of the attorneys from Al’s old office, and the usual suspects—the Greys, Luma, Marlow’s family, Daddy, etc.

“Well, I would have liked to see the ceremony, but I’m glad you guys are happy,” Mia says, kissing Al on the cheek and giving James a hug. “Let me see the rings!”

I must admit that I did expect for Al to be a bit more extravagant when it came to this day, especially when we gave him carte blanche with the Crossing. Surprisingly, he, like James, is more conservative than I thought. Their wedding theme is black and white—opulent, but simple. He and James wore black shadow-striped Calvin Klein tuxes with white embroidered vests and matching ties. He dressed me in a simple white sheath mini-dress with a floral overlay and nude peep-toe sandals while Christian donned a simple three-piece white linen suit.

The rings are also a statement of opulence. Both on black gold, James’ ring is 8mm, milgrain hammered in the center with shiny edges while Al’s ring is all black gold with two white gold stripes through it—all shiny. Even Mia had to say that she had never seen black gold before… tungsten, yes, but not black gold.

The weather actually smiled on us this day, permitting us to use every outdoor area for the celebration—the patio that opens from the kitchen and family room; the jungle patio; the outdoor dining room; and the barbeque kitchen and dining area. It means that the forty or fifty people plus security that are meandering around the property aren’t all sitting on top of each other. Food and drink flow freely and everyone seems to be having a good time. Pops and Herman stick around for longer than they did at Christmas and Pops gets a chance to see Mackenzie and Michael. Oh, the look on his face when he saw his great-grandchildren! Mikey actually stares while Pops talks and talks and talks… mostly about Carrick. Luma and Herman just look on, watching attentively while Pops appears to shed years talking to his great-grandson.

Once Gail takes the children to put them down for their nap with Luma’s assistance, I take to opportunity to talk to Pops and Herman. I haven’t had the time to talk to them in a while since the birth of the children and I’m sad to discover that Pop’s health is deteriorating faster than we thought. I don’t think it comes as any surprise to Pops, but Herman is more than a bit out of sorts with the progression of his father’s illness. In fact, the moment Mikey is taken from his arms, he seems to deteriorate right there in front of my eyes. I tell Herman to take him to one of the guest rooms to rest for a while and instruct Ben to assist so as not to draw attention to him. The entire Grey family would revert from celebration to concern if we alert them of his exhaustion and quite frankly, this is just part of the territory.

Marlow is once again clustered with the girls keeping a close eye on all of them like the guardian he has come to be. He and Sophie talk for hours while Jason keeps giving him the side-eye, Sophie still rolling her eyes at her father in that scolding way much like she did on Thanksgiving, informing him that a high-school sophomore would have no interest in a seventh grader, though I get the feeling that she might hope it were different. I worry about Sophie sometimes. I think she knows too much to be so young, but I hope that her knowledge will serve her well one day.

My best friend has shed the melancholy that accompanied his vows and is having a wonderful time at the party celebrating his marriage. I’m glad that there seem to be no hiccups, no jealous ex-lovers, party crashers, attention hogs, Paparazzi, what have you… although that wasn’t the case earlier in the week. In fact, we almost didn’t have a wedding… or so I would have thought. Some small social column somewhere got wind that Al was getting married—Christian Grey’s and GEH’s attorney. Al made light of it.

“Good grief,” he had said, “Don’t these people have anything else to write about? Christian Grey got a haircut. Christian Grey’s maid got a hangnail. Christian Grey’s dog went to the groomers!” We had a good laugh at how ridiculous, but true, the whole thing really was. What color socks is Christian Grey wearing today? Boxers or briefs? Granola or oatmeal? Jogging or treadmill? Good grief! We had no idea what kind of shitstorm was on the way from this obscure little article.

On Tuesday evening, there was a visitor at Al’s apartment, an old flame named Patrick that he had a romp with in law school. Just a romp, as Al put it, but this was during Al’s confused years—that time that we don’t really talk about. Al had a span of several years where he was sexually confused. They were really bad years for him and during that time, he had some pretty seedy relationships—encounters would be better words for them. I always considered Patrick his Single White Female—somewhat of a Fatal Attraction, for lack of a better word. He didn’t really seem dangerous. He was just clingy as fuck and wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. Nonetheless, the guy hung around for about a year and once Al graduated and went to work for the first law firm he worked for out of law school, Patrick faded into obscurity.

Now, this article pops up and so does Patrick, out of thin air. Al calls me to tell me that Patrick had left a note with his number at his apartment, but that Al had no intention of using it. But the next course of events throw me completely for a loop.

The Prior Wednesday

“Hello?” I answer my phone without fully focusing on the name. I’m rubbing my eyes and I’m only vaguely awake, having recognized the ringtone as something familiar, but not fully coherent yet as to who is on the other line.

“Jewel?” Al’s tortured tone breaks through my sleep-induced haze and I now recognize the ringtone after the fact—“That’s What Friends Are For.”

“Al?” There’s a pause on the line and then he chokes out a sob. What? “Al?” I throw the covers off me in a fit, scrambling to sit up in bed. “Baby, what’s wrong?” Christian stirs in the bed next to me.

“Wha…?” he says, confused, his baritone voice three octaves lower than normal, as if that’s even possible. “What is it?” his gravelly voice squeezes out. I put my finger to my lips in a “ssh” motion.

“Al, talk to me. What’s going on?” I beseech him. Christian sits up slightly in bed at the mention of Al’s name.

“J… James,” he weeps, “he’s… he’s gone.” My hand flies to my chest. Gone? Gone where? Gone how? Is he… has something happened to him?

“What do you mean gone?” I ask cautiously. “What happened? Did he… is he alright?”

“Oh, I’m sure he is,” Allen bites out sardonically. “He left. He’s been gone for hours. I don’t know where he is.” He sobs again. I swing my legs out of the bed.

“What happened, Al?” I ask, rubbing my eyes.

“We had a fight,” he says. A fight? A fight about what?

“You guys never fight,” I say.

“Yes, we do, you just haven’t seen it,” he says, laughing tragically through his tears, “and never like this.”

“What was it about?”

“About the wedding,” he tells me. Oh, one of these.

“What about the wedding?” There’s a pause.

“Patrick came by here again,” he says. “I never called him, Jewel. Never encouraged him. Hell, it’s been—what—six years since I talked to that guy? Why the fuck would he just show up out of nowhere expecting something from me?”

“Well, what happened?” I press.

“I made the mistake of inviting him in. Whatever conversation we were going to have, I didn’t want to have it in the hallway. You know me—I can protect myself. I wasn’t worried about this guy or anything. We fucked. It was good, but it was six years ago. I’m getting married—I made that clear, but he kept talking about old times and bringing up the past and how good it was.”

Oh, shit, I can see where this is going.

“Well, you know what happened next,” he sobs. “The fucking fates fucked with me again, determined to dash my happiness against the stones the minute it’s within my grasp… three days before my goddamn wedding!”

“You fucked him, Al?” I ask horrified.

“No!” he screeches into the phone. “But the fucker timed a kiss right when my fiancé was walking in the goddamn door!”

“Oh, God, you gotta be kidding me!” I lament.

“What?” Christian asks.

“Wait!” I snap. I’m still getting details, dammit. “Al, what happened? What’s going on now?”

“I pushed the asshole off me, but of course it looked like I only did it because James walked into the room. I tried to explain everything, but I don’t think he believed me. Patrick didn’t help. He acted like we were lovers and we had just gotten busted. I called him a liar and told him to get the fuck out of my apartment and he was like, ‘Okay, call you later,’ and left. James was furious.”

“I can see how this could pose a problem,” I say.

“Ya think?” he weeps. “I tried to reason with him… tried to tell him that after we had been together for two years, why would I do something like this three days before our wedding? All those plans we made—all the promises, the time we’ve been together and he doesn’t trust me? I let him go out with Jose when I knew Jose wanted him back and I knew he didn’t know how he felt about it. He kissed Jose because he wanted to… he admitted that! And he doesn’t trust me?”

“Where is he now?” I ask.

“I don’t know. He looked at me like a pariah and then he walked out.”

“Well, maybe he just went out to walk it off,” I say, trying to ease his concerns.

“He would have been back by now…”

I spend several minutes on the phone with Al, trying to comfort him and talk him back from the cliff. I even ask if he wants to come over and spend the night here. He refuses, saying that he wants to be home in case James comes back. He put me on hold about forty-five minutes into the call to take a call on the other line. I sigh, hoping it’s James calling to tell him that he had come to his senses, or even to fight, but just put my friend out of his misery. I’ve never seen him like this—well, maybe once, not this bad, but close… it was James, then, too. It was the night he went to see Jose.

“I gotta go, Jewel,” Al comes back on the line in a huff.

“Why? What is it? Is it James?” I ask concerned.

“That was the bartender at the CherryPicker. He’s there. He’s had too much to drink. I need to go get him.” I frown deeply.

“The CherryPicker?” I say aghast. “What the hell is he doing in a place like that?” Christian gets out of bed and goes to his en suite. Al sighs.

“I used to slum there, I guess you could call it. We both did. It was… is… was an old haunt of mine. The bartender there knows me. James and I… we even did a role play there once… when we first started dabbling.” Oh, hell. That’s why the bartender called him. He knows  Al. “Shit, I have to go, Jewel…”

“Not by yourself, you don’t!” I say, leaping out of bed and running to my dressing room. I put him on speaker and rummage through my drawer for a pair of jeans.

“I’ll be fine. I need to go get him, now,” Al says and I hear him scrambling. Shit! I need to move faster. I slide into my jeans and pull on a sweatshirt without even grabbing a bra.

“Goddammit, Allen Michael Forsythe, if you go to that bar alone, I’m going to show up with my Beretta and shoot you in the foot on sight!” I’m quickly pulling on my socks and reaching for a pair of sneakers.

“Well, you better start loading, because I’m out the door,” and he ends the call. He hung up on me. He fucking hung up on me.

“Goddammit!” I tie my shoes and grab a ponytail holder on my way out of the dressing room. I head for the door and Christian is standing there with his arms folded. He’s in black jeans, a black T-shirt and black Timberlands—looking flawless, dangerous, and totally fuckable.

“Goddammit, Allen,” I curse under my breath as I walk pass him and out of our bedroom.

*-*

Allen is talking to the doorman when we arrive at the club. There are several gay men lined up outside the meat market trying to get in and Al clearly just wants to get his man and go. The bouncer won’t let him in and Al is desperately trying to get in touch with the bartender who called him, but there’s no answer.

“Why would they call me to come and get James and then not let me in?” he huffs, now frustrated and angry. “Did you have to bring the whole crew, Ana?” Now, I know he’s upset. He never calls me Ana. He eyes Christian and Jason who have accompanied me to this little local establishment.

“You should have known that I wasn’t coming without back-up,” I say, unapologetic.

“Of course,” he huffs. “Did you bring the Beretta, too?” he says sarcastically.

“Didn’t I say that I would?” I reply, impassively. “It’s loaded, too, so hide your toes.” His smug expression falls.

“You can’t get in here with that thing,” he says calmly, but in a warning tone.

“I know that,” I reply. “It’s in the car.” I don’t think he heard my response as he immediately turns his attention to his phone, then puts it up to his ear.

“Hello… I’m outside trying to get past your human shield!… I have friends with me… Three…” He looks at Christian and Jason, similarly dressed like they’re on some covert mission. “Two of them look like bouncers… Okay.”

We wait for a moment before the doorman/bouncer is gesturing to us to come to the front of the line. There are many protests from the patrons standing in line as we enter the establishment.

courtney-peta-sheep“You lost, Sugar?” one of them calls to me as I wait to get in. I turn around looking for the male voice that greeted me only to find a queen standing there in a short white tutu-type dress with thigh-high stockings and white sky-high stilettos. Adorable outfit and I can’t help but think of Little Bo Peep. So, I respond,

“Well, I’m not, but if you hurry, you still might be able to find those sheep.”

There’s a thunder of laughter behind her… erm, him, and Christian grabs my hand.

“Come, my love,” he says, pulling me into the bar behind him and Jason with Al in the lead.

We find James immediately, seated at the bar with his head held down, only he’s not alone. There’s a guy next to him clearly putting the moves on him, but James is paying the guy no attention. When the companion hopeful next to James puts a hand on his back, I can literally see the hairs stand up on Al’s neck. He takes a deep breath and walks over to his fiancé. This can go either way.

“James,” he says, his voice controlled.

“Push off, sister, he’s got a date tonight!” the companion-hopeful declares, attempting to hook arms with James, who raises his head to see Al.

“Is that so, James?” Al says calmly. “Do you have a date?” I know Al’s demeanor enough to know that the outcome of his relationship hangs on James’ answer.

“Random Guy?” he begins. “This is my fiancé, Allie. Allie, this is some random guy that just sat next to me. No, he’s not a date.” James’ voice is dragging with inebriation, but he’s not slurring his speech.

Alley?” the guy repeats. “Like Alley Cat?” He laughs heartily. “Fiancé… that’s means you’re not married, yet, so you’re still available, Boo.” No, he didn’t just use my word! I look at Christian who just shakes his head and walks over to Al and James.

“James,” Christian says, “don’t you wanna get outta here, man?” Christian and James have developed a relationship over the last year. He’s hoping to get James to listen to reason.

“I think that’s up to Allie,” he responds.

“How is that up to me?” Al asks, his demeanor still cool. “I’m not the one sitting drunk in a bar with Random Guys hitting on me.” Random Guy scoffs at Al’s statement in a high-pitched feminine voice and stands from his seat.

“I’ll be right back, Chocolate Goodness. You can…” He looks at Al, Christian, and me and gestures flippantly to all of us. “… Handle this while I’m gone.” Still listening to the conversation at the bar, I watch Random Guy walk with very exaggerated hip rolls over to a table of other men.

“Oh, really?” Al says, disgusted.

“You know why I’m here,” James replies, pushing away an empty glass in an attempt to get another drink… I think, I’m not sure. Nonetheless, the bartender cuts him off and tells him that he can have water if he wants. James is a sensible man, and nods at the bartender who reaches under the bar and gives James a cold bottle of ice water.

“You want a glass?” the bartender asks. James shakes his head, cracks open the bottle of water and drinks it half down.

“No, I don’t know why you’re here,” Al says, his voice losing a bit of its control. Uh oh… James, let’s get the hell out of here. “The last time I was here, I was trying to get laid, and so were you, and we did… with each other. The last time I was here, I was with the love of my life. Since then, I haven’t come back here. There was no need… until tonight. So, no, Mr. Fleming, unfortunately I don’t know why you’re here.”

Mr. Fleming. Shit, this is bad and it’s about to get worse. Random Guy, having said something to a table full of gentlemen, is now pointing in our direction. All the men look toward us while RG explains whatever he’s explaining and Al rips into James for coming to a gay meat market.

“Christian,” I say, garnering his attention. When he looks up at me, I gesture to the table of conspiring men in time to see one of them nod at RG.

“Oh, shit,” Christian says, catching my drift immediately. He looks over at Jason, who also assesses the situation in three seconds and rolls his eyes.

“Just fucking great,” he says, under his breath, just as RG begins his “You Better Work” diva stroll back in our direction. Is this Queen Night or something? Not all gay men act like this, but we seem to be surrounded by them tonight.

“James, this is a very worthy conversation, but I really think you two should have it back in your apartment,” Christian presses.

“How did you even know I was here?” James says, but almost before the words are out of his mouth, he looks up at the bartender. He leans down so James can hear him.

“I’ve got my wedding invitation, Jimmy,” he says quietly and James says nothing. “Finish your drink. You want one for the road?”

James eyes get a bit misty and he holds his head down—like it was when we got here—and nods.

“Let us help you, man,” Christian says, putting his hand on James’ shoulder. James nods, finishes his water, and takes the unopened bottle from the bar. As he stands, he wobbles a bit, and RG is there to catch him.

“Hey there, lover,” he says to James like there’s not four other people standing around him, one of which is his fiancé, “It looks like you’ve had one too many. We need to get you home.”

We will,” Al says, now shooting daggers at the one-night-stand wannabe currently holding his man up. “Now, if you would kindly release my fiancé, we’ll be going now.” He’s talking through his teeth. Step back little man, you don’t want to release the Kraken!

“I think your fiancé can speak for himself!” RG says, glaring at Al. Before I can say anything to stop it, Al’s quick right hook meets its mark squarely in the jaw in seconds. Almost as if he anticipates it, Christian catches James before he hits the floor and RG is flying backwards from the force on the impact of a hard fist to the jaw.

“What the fuck!” Christian gasps and after quickly assessing the situation, hooks James’ arm over his shoulder and drags him from the bar yelling, “Go! Now!” as he leaves.

“Now, Allen! Now!” I demand before RG gets his bearings. The men from the other table start to rise as Al and I fall in line behind Christian and Jason in line behind us.

We parked next to Al’s Jag in the back parking lot and as he presses the key fob to unlock the doors, I have Jason unlock the SUV. As we’re trying to get James safely into the passenger seat of the Jag and I grab my Beretta from my purse, a gaggle of men come bursting from the back door of the club. Not knowing yet who’s foe and who’s just coming to see the show, I pull my gun into plain sight.

Don’t make me use this, fellas.

One guy catches a glimpse of “the shiny” and puts his arms out to stop the crowd. Three men, one of which is Random Guy, continue in our direction to face off against Al. I guess it’s clear now who’s foe and who’s just watching. Al locks his doors again—before we get the chance to get James into the car—and fearlessly walks toward the trio with long, controlled steps. Christian curses under his breath and gently sits a passed-out James on the ground against the car. Also sensing trouble, Jason retrieved his Glock from the glove box at the same time that I was getting my Beretta. He puts that holster on like a pro because I swear it only took him three seconds!

“Did you think you were going to sucker punch me and get away with it, you cock-blocking bitch?” RG says, putting his hands on his hips and taking a diva stance.

“It wasn’t a sucker punch,” Al bites. “I hit you straight on, you fucking flamer!”

That’s it. The Kraken has been released.

Al never uses derogatory gay terms or even terms that can be considered derogatory, not even when we’re joking around—except for calling me his fag hag, so shit just got very real.

“Don’t get mad because your man came looking for a good time you couldn’t give him!” RG taunts.

“Well, if I can’t, you certainly won…” Before the words are out of his mouth, Al takes a hard right cross to the eye, so hard that spit flies out of his mouth.

Now that was a sucker punch.

He’s momentarily knocked off balance, but recovers quickly and unleashes the ass whipping from hell! He comes back with a right cross, then a quick left, followed by a right hook that knocks RG back into his friends. The whole thing happens so quickly that no one knew exactly what was going on, not even RG’s friends… no one, that is, except me.

RG shakes off the attack and comes back at Al, hitting his center of gravity by grabbing him around the waist and pushing with his shoulder. If he can get Al on the ground, he might even the playing field or maybe even get the best of him. What he doesn’t know is that Al learned the hard way—from more than one hate attack—not to go down in a fight.

Al’s feet falter a bit, but he stands firm. Locking one hand over a closed fist, Al brings them down on RG’s back like a sledge hammer. I can feel the pain when the mallets come down on his back not once, not twice, but three times before he finally drops to the ground. This is the signal for the other two to get into the melee, but apparently, they can’t take a hit like RG can.

One attempts to grab Al’s arms from behind while the other one intends to attack from the front. Al shakes his restrainer off like a fly, causing the front attacker to run right into Al’s open hands. Al grabs his shirt and gives the guy two bitch slaps so hard that they echo off the buildings. One last good backhand and he’s on the ground, rolling away from Al’s feet. Al turns to face off with his would-be restrainer who now has fists up ready to take his swing. Christian and Jason are now ready to join in the melee—much like the fight in Anguilla when the guys in the bar accosted Gail at our table. I put my gun in my pocket and run up to stop Christian and Jason, stretching my arms out in front of them.

“Step back, gentlemen,” I tell them both. “He doesn’t need you.” They both frown at me.

“What do you mean?” Jason says. “It’s three on one!”

“No, it just looks like three-on-one,” I inform them. “Keep your eyes peeled, fellas. If he needs you, you’ll know.” I turn back around to face my friend and his fight. “But right now, you’re about to see Barroom Brawler Allen.”

“Oh, God, more nicknames?” Christian laments. I see Al has been telling him about my many personas. This will be the first time they’ll meet one of his. Prepare yourselves, boys.

The third guy takes a wild swing or two at Al, completely missing his mark. The third is a solid punch to the ribs, followed by one to the gut. I wince, now wishing I had let Jason and Christian intervene when I hear the wind release from Al’s lungs with the last hit, but he still doesn’t go down. I know that shit had to hurt, but in true scrapper fashion, he stands up—coughing and winded—snatches the guy’s shirt and pulls him down hard and fast just as he brings his knee up to meet the guy’s chin.

I think I heard something crack.

This guy also rolls away from Al’s stomping feet, once he shakes the stars from his head and remembers where he is. I’m watching RG and the first guy rally back to their feet when I hear male cooing from behind me.

“Oh, my, that man is sex dipped in chocolate, dripping in honey, with whipped cream and a cherry on top. I’d let him ride me to the moon!”

I turn around to see where the sex-drenched voice is coming from thinking that I may have to stand guard over James’ passed-out form to keep him from being taken advantage of. I’m surprised to see yet another queen looking in our direction and literally drooling. Wait a minute… are you looking at my husband? Is there going to be another fight tonight? Don’t you know I will whoop your ass?

He and his other skirt-clad… girlfriends? Boyfriends? Whatever they are, they come and stand behind us. I’m trying to watch the fight to make sure no one bests Al, but I’m also watching the sextrollers behind us and trying to keep an eye on James all at the same time. One of them laughs sardonically.

“Don’t worry, Sugar Plum, you’re safe,” one of them giggles at me. I raise an eyebrow at him.

“Obviously,” I reply, looking distastefully at his mismatched outfit and wondering if he swapped shirts with someone inside as that ensemble definitely doesn’t go together. Christian glances over his shoulder and reaches down to take my hand, either to show that I’m not here alone, or to show that he’s not here alone, I’m not sure which.

I turn back around to see Al swiftly kick one of his assailants in the stomach, knocking the wind out of him and sending him sailing back against the wall of the bar. Jason flinches uncomfortably and at first, I think it’s because of that impressive kick. I discover that I’m wrong when he turns around to the drag group and says in a menacing voice, “Whoever just touched me, if you want to keep that hand, you’ll keep it to yourself.”

I have to stifle a chuckle. They weren’t looking at my man. They were scoping Jason! Do you guys not see the harness with the firearm in it?

Immediately catching my drift, one of the queens from the group turns to me and says, “Oh, don’t worry, Lemon Drop,” she… or he… says, gesturing to Christian. “He’s gorgeous, but he’s got ‘henpecked’ written all over him. This one…” He gestures back to Jason, “he’s got some danger and fire left in him.”

“To the moon,” the other one says, and I recognize his voice as the first voice I heard.

“Touch me again and I’ll give you a one-way trip, and not in the way you’re thinking,” Jason warns. Christian squeezes my hand, bringing my attention back to Allen and three wobbling gay men.

“We’re going to have to get him out of there,” he says to me. I shake my head.

“Not until he drops, they drop, or the cops show up,” I tell him.

“Allie!”

James’ voice rips through the crowd. He’s awakened from his brief drunken black-out and calls to his fiancé. Al doesn’t respond. I can tell from his slight reaction that he wants to, but he can’t. He’s the main event in a three-on-one brawl and he’s not taking his eye off any of these people, even though one is still standing against the wall still holding his stomach and gasping for air. Another is sitting on the ground, bleeding, and his eye is nearly swollen shut. The third has taken a bit of a beating as well, but is still on his feet, failing to engage the enemy.

“Have you bitches had enough?” Al barks. “I’ve got more left if you want it!” he threatens. The three previously pugnacious brawlers take a moment to examine their situation and the fact that their mark is not only not going down that easily, but also appears to have gotten his second wind. Apparently not wanting to pursue tonight’s conquest any further, they assist each other in getting back to the bar. Al stands there for a moment, watching them as they get to their feet and use each other to stumble to the door before disappearing inside. Al takes several deep breaths. Christian moves to encounter him, but I squeeze his hand and pull back on his arm. When he looks at me, I shake my head.

“Do not engage,” I warn him. “Wait until he comes to us.”

Christian looks at me warily, but heeds my words. Right now, I’m not sure who would win in a fight between him and my best friend. He wisely backs away. As if he were reading my mind, Jason leans in to Christian.

“I’m glad you didn’t piss him off too bad on your wedding day. I’m not so sure we could have taken him so easily.”

After a few tense moments, Al walks over to a stunned group of men. Me… well, I’m not so stunned.

“Allie…” James begins.

“Get. Your ass. In the goddamn car,” Al growls at him, unlocking his car with the key fob. Almost as if he were the submissive, James falls silent and turns away from the group, walking over to Al’s Jag and quietly climbing into the passenger seat before closing the door. Al turns his attention to us.

“Thank you… for coming,” he says sharply to Christian and Jason.

“We thought you might have needed backup,” Jason says. “How wrong we were.”

“Not always,” Al admits. “It’s a crap shoot. Win a few… wind up in the hospital a few,” he adds, throwing a knowing look at me before scrubbing his face with his hands. I move to hug him, but he puts his hand out to stop me.

“Not calm enough yet,” he warns. I look at him with sympathetic eyes and gently kiss him on his cheek.

“You’re going to have a shiner,” I say.

“I know,” he replies.

“I’ll make sure that you get some of Gail’s miracle tea.” He nods.

“Thank you.” I smile sadly.

“Eucalyptus bath,” I say softly.

“And plenty of Arnica cream,” he adds with a weak smile before turning away and walking to his Jag. The three of us stand there while they drive away and the crowd disburses before we head back to the Audi SUV. Once we’re inside and Jason is headed back to the Crossing, I take my gun from my pocket and put it back in my purse. I press the button that raises the smoked privacy class between the front and back seats.

“What are you doing?” Christian asks, puzzled. I release my seatbelt and climb feverishly onto his lap, straddling him. If Jason weren’t in the car. I’d fuck him right here.

“Goddammit, Ana! Seatbelts!” he groans before I slam my lips into his. He groans loudly, his hands immediately gripping my thighs. I’ve been wanting to get my hands on him ever since we left the house. I grind my hips against him and he’s hard immediately.

“Fuck Ana! No!” he protests, trying to still my hips, but I want him so badly that I can’t even see straight. I don’t know what’s gotten into me, but I need to fuck this man—hard!

His hands slide roughly to my ass, gripping hard. He liked my ass before, but he adores it now. His hands always gravitate there and he uses it to push me against him every chance he gets. My mind immediately wanders to him roughly taking me, holding just my ass and bouncing me hard on his dick. I’m immediately wet down there and hot all over.

“Ana, shit!” he growls as grips my ass, moving his hands in perfect rhythm with my grind. He tilts his head and plunges his tongue into my mouth, kissing me hungrily. I match his fervor, gobbling his kisses and grinding him in one of the sweetest dry fucks we’ve ever had. His hips momentarily match my grind, digging in through my jeans straight to my clit. Fucking hell!

“I won’t come like this,” he says after several minutes, his voice strained. “I won’t. I won’t come until I’m inside you.” He quickly undoes my jeans and I wonder if he’s going to try to do it as we cross the Morrow bridge! Instead, he thrusts his hand into my pants and panties and two fingers right into me! I cry out at the surprise and the pleasure. He circles and thrusts and I’m going fucking mad. I feel the car slow, then start moving again, then stop and cut off.

We’re home. Good.

I take a brief moment to take in our surroundings. We’re in one of the garages and Jason gets out of the front seat and leaves us there.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

I get off of Christian’s lap and quickly shimmy out of my jeans and underwear. Taking the cue, he removes his seatbelt, undoes his fly and drops his jeans and boxer briefs. He doesn’t get them off, just down to his ankles. I scramble back onto his lap and his impressively erect penis homes in to its counterpart without assistance. I drop down on it hard, without warning, taking him deep all the way to the hilt.

“Sssssssssssssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhiiiit!” he bites out, pressing hard back into me as much as my hips will give him purchase. We just sit there for a moment, clinging to each other with him buried so deep inside me, you would think we were actually attached. The move took so much wind out of me, tearing me open and assaulting my core with such sudden pain and pleasure that I could only squeeze my eyes shut and pant. I don’t want to move. I just want to stay here and feel him filling every crevice of my sex. It’s so fucking hot and I want him to feel exactly what I’m feeling, so I tighten my Kegels around him.

“Uuuuuuuuuuuuuugggghhhh, baby…” he groans such a deep, seductive tone that causes the muscles to clench on their own. “That feels soooooo good.” The rumble in his voice stirs something deeper inside of me and I feel like… like an animal! I want to fuck him savagely, like a goddamn Klingon!

I roll my hips into his, hard and deep, and he groans again. He pushes his hands under my sweatshirt and his skin on my skin sends searing heat through me. I lean my head back and roll my hips again.

“Fuck, baby, you’re killing me!” he protests, feverishly gripping my skin and stroking my bare back, and it just spurns me on. Gasping the seat behind him, I really start to move—hard, painful grinds into his pelvis, circular strokes so that he hits all my walls, and viciously tightening Kegels that not only suck his dick into me, but also pulls all the pleasure to my center. I feel like I did the very first night that we fucked in my apartment, riding him hungrily and viciously against the dining room wall, in the dining room chair, grabbing and milking that delicious dick with my hot, pulsing core and wondering where this sex god had been all my life.

“Damn it, Ana! You’ve been without a bra all this time?” he groans as his hands work their way up my back. “Gimme those tits!”

He pushes my sweatshirt up and takes a hard, hot nipple in his mouth, groaning in ecstasy and sucking hard. I yelp from the sensation and start to move faster and harder on his lap—methodical, rhythmic, rolling strokes that drop so hard on him that I bounce back. His pull on my breast is electric and I can’t prevent the hungry sounds of satisfaction that escape from me as he sucks them. When he releases the nipple, but replaces his lips with his teeth and bites down just enough, I literally scream his name, the word bouncing off the walls of the small space in the back seat of the SUV. I grab a handful of his hair and pull hard, the other hand still on the back of the seat to stabilize me.

He growls when I pull his hair and his hips rise hard each time I drop to meet my thrusts. The sounds we are emitting sound painful now, as if someone was losing air with hard punches… much like the fight we witnessed a little while ago. His mouth is switching from breast to breast, nipple to nipple, biting, pinching, and sucking, and I know that he’s marking me. It feels so good and I love it! I hold his head against the spot he’s sucking—the mound of one breast and the skin there. I roll my hips again, deep and hard—and he groans and bites down into the meat. That spot is sure to be purple in morning.

When I feel his shaft getting thicker, harder inside of me, I really start to ride—hard and fast so that the friction now sparks a flame that’s ready to burn.

“Oh, yes, baby, drop that pussy on me!” he coaxes. “Ride this dick, baby! Ride it hard!”

And ride it, I do! Pretty soon the friction and heat are so much that they actually hurt and burn. I feel him inside me, reaching further and hitting spots so deep. God, I can’t stand it! Before long, we’re grunting like animals, clawing at each other and fighting for sexual dominance as we torture one another’s organs. Words are no longer appropriate as primal lust takes over and we lose ourselves, each attempting to subdue the other.

He has slid to the edge of the seat, giving him more purchase to move. He attempts to hold me down as he pumps up hard into me, clutching my ass and digging his fingers into the tender meat like he did those weeks ago in my dream. It’s deliciously pleasurable, but I won’t let him take over completely. The tiny bit of resistance makes it all that much yummier. I push off of him, but meet his angry, forceful thrusts with thrusts of my own. Now too far from the back of the seat to reach comfortably, I use his shoulder to stabilize me and help me push off of him before I drop back down on his expecting thrusts.

His body is hard and stiff like a statue—the bronze statues I compared him to when I watched him masturbate—and as I’m rising and falling on his hot, hard dick, challenging him and meeting him piston for piston, a small, logical part of me is wondering why every possible, dirty, hot, sexy thought and encounter that I’ve ever had with him is coming to me now. Oh God, what’s happening to me? I feel like a fucking sex fiend! Like I’ll never get enough.

“Goddammit, Ana, your pussy is starving for me!” Christian declares in a deep, sex-drenched voice as he quickly wraps my hair around his hand and pulls.

“Aaahhh!” I scream, but I won’t let my head lull back. I’m looking slightly down at him, now. We’re both pulling each other’s hair and glaring into each other’s eyes, each of us chasing the lust and hunger that we find there.

“You’re going to come!” he declares in a hot, breathy voice. “I want you to drench my dick, baby! I want to feel your juices slide all over me and drip down my motherfuckin’ thighs!”

Holy fuck. My hips take on mind and movement of their own and I’m pumping into this man with fury. At first, he’s giving it back to me, stroke for deep stroke, with all the force that my hot, angry pussy is giving him. But as the deep, throbbing pleasure in my muscles slowly starts to move from burn to ascent, my pace and rhythm slowly becomes too much for him. He tries to keep up, still glaring into my eyes as I feel my release slowly creeping up on me—teasing me and making me angry and impatient.

A growl escapes my chest, and his pupils dilate nearly to black at the sound. He releases my hair and grabs my ass again, not pushing, but feverishly squeezing with each stroke, only able to raise his hips to every second or third pounce of mine.

“Fuck me,” he pants, hot and nearly helpless, but still trying to maintain a semblance of control. “Yeesss, fuck me… fuck me baby.”

He’s pounding hard inside me now, throbbing viciously, and I know that his orgasm is not far away just like mine, and it will be explosive.

Feeling my climax teetering dangerously close, I take both hands and wrap them around his neck, the palm of my right hand right at his Adam’s apple. His eyes change slightly, constricting, then dilating again, and I squeeze, just as my orgasm starts to work up my legs and immobilize me.

So close… so, so close…

“Tighter,” he breathes, and I squeeze harder, pressing my palm against his throat. He’s clutching my ass and his hips only rise infinitesimally as he absorbs all the sensations I’m lavishing on him at this moment.

“Fuck me,” he whispers, his face starting to blush. “Harder!” he breathes. God this is so hot and I oblige, riding and bouncing mercilessly on the beautiful dick. “Tighter,” he gasps. “Squeeze… tighter…” I squeeze tighter around his neck, feeling him swallow against my hand. I still won’t give it all my force because I won’t know my own strength when I’m coming, which should be right about…

“Ye-es… y… yes… tha… that’s it… ri… right there… right there!” He can barely breathe. His head falls back on seat and he’s still gripping my ass. As long as he’s gripping, he’s still alive. “Squeeze it…” he chokes, his eyes closed. “Fuck me… fu… fuck me…”

ShitfuckinghellgoddammitsomebodyfuckinghelpmeIthinkI’mgoingtodie!

This volcanic eruption that explodes through my body is enough to frighten demons and make angels weep. At first, I’m totally immobilized, my muscles all constricting like I’m being electrocuted—which is why I didn’t want to squeeze too hard on Christian’s neck because…

“Ye… yes… fuck… yes… G… God… Go…God… God…” he’s choking and I can’t let go. I’m trying, but I can’t let go. I’m struggling to get back to myself, to fight the crippling pleasure of this orgasm, and I can only imagine that my pussy must be tightening and sucking him in, giving him the best vaginal head job he’s ever had in his life.

But he’s still gripping that ass.

“Ye… ye…” he can’t get the whole word out as he’s gasping for air. He’s like a boiling turtle that doesn’t know he’s dying.

The orgasm finally begins to release me, but the pleasure still holds on as it continues, locking my hips against his. My loosened grip allows him to get air in and he gasps.

“Don’t stop! Don’t stop! Please, don’t stop!” he begs as I stiffen again, and I have to ride out my orgasm bouncing on his dick. It’s mind-blowing and painful and deliciously searing. I’ve released my hold on his throat as I don’t have the strength to squeeze anymore. I’m lightheaded with pleasure and weakness trying to keep the rhythm going when he grabs me around the waist and slams me down hard on his erection, burying his face in my sweatshirt and bosom and groaning loud and hard, deep in his throat. Our bodies are so connected in that place that as he empties endlessly into me, I actually feel his orgasm. The pulsing in the muscles of his pelvis synchronize with the pulsing in mine and I’m dizzy as I feel his climax. His throbbing shaft and my simultaneously tightening walls—when a pained cry rips from his throat, I know exactly what he’s feeling. I squeal in my chest and he holds me tighter, still emptying into me. My legs start to tremble and I hold my head back for air. Oh, God, will this ever end? Will we live through it if it does?

I’m cradling his head, holding on tight, and the throbbing finally begins to cease. I dare not move. I’m fighting to breathe. Christian coughs into my chest, still holding me down on his pulsing member.

“My God,” he breathes, finally, “You’re incredible.”

Meanwhile, back at the wedding…

Of course, Gail’s tea took care of the shiner that barely surfaced on Al’s face. We were certain it would have scarred more with the hit he took that night, but as fate would have it, it was not to be. James’ heart—and ego—mended soon enough after watching Al brawl with three men that night at the Cherrypicker. He later admitted that his thoughts had wandered back to Jose for more reasons than one when he walked in and found his love with his lips on another man, the least of which was revenge for his prior transgression and former uncertainty about his feelings when Jose returned. Al spent the next night at the Crossing, not MIA, just—as he put it—some much-needed time away from the love of his life if there was ever a hope that they would still get married in two days. James’ response today to Al’s impromptu announcement with no initial explanation was a knee-jerk reaction to this argument. In James’ own words, “Allie scared the shit out of me.”

a2aae382b5ef7174c15973bf62218375Christian sported high collared dress shirts and turtlenecks for the rest of the week as the result of our Klingon sex in the back seat that night. I was horrified when I originally saw the petechial hemorrhaging on his face that soon went away and the brutal choking bruises on his neck that didn’t fade as soon as I would have liked. I caught him admiring them more than once, fingering them fondly with the same explanation as I shook my head at him…

“Battle scars, baby… battle scars.”


A/N: Ana makes a reference to Patrick being Al’s Single White Female and Fatal Attraction. Both of these movies are cult classics from my time.

Single White Female  was about a girl who got a roommate after she broke up with her boyfriend and the roommate turned out to be an obsessive psychopath that imitated the girl’s hair, clothes and long story short—it doesn’t end well. When the girl advertised for a roommate, she advertised as a “single white female,” hence, the title of the movie.

Fatal Attraction was about a man who has an affair on his wife with yet another obsessive psychopath who stalks him and follows him and eventually comes to his house with his wife and kid to kill him. You may have heard an old expression, saying, or reference to a woman who cooks or boils a bunny. That reference comes from this movie. The wife comes home to find something simmering in a pot on the stove while the daughter is looking around for her pet bunny. Psycholady somehow gets into the house, kills the bunny, and puts him in the pot. So, guess what wifey finds when she takes the top off the pot?

Seven more to go…

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

 

Becoming Dr. Grey: Chapter 75—Emotional Rollercoasters

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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 75—Emotional Rollercoasters

CHRISTIAN

“Mr. Grey, how do you feel about the verdict and the sentence?”

The Paparazzi are all over us the moment we leave the courtroom. With my hand tightly clenched to my Butterfly, I take a long, deep breath of the beautiful Seattle air and reply,

“I’m glad it’s over.”

Butterfly and I take the stairs and slide into the back of the SUV, releasing each other’s hand only long enough to secure the seat belt. We’re well on our way back to the Crossing, as I recall the morning’s events in my head.

No one else said anything. The only sound that could be heard in the courtroom is Lincoln’s quiet keening. That’s when Judge Burgess drops the boom.

“I have to say that this has been one of the most incredulous cases I’ve ever sat on, and I’ve seen more than my share. I’ve listened to the testimony, heard the verdict now entered into the court records, and reviewed the evidence in an attempt to render fair judgment in this case. When I came to the decision, I waited to see if the statements from this day would sway me in any way as each person speaking would hope would happen. I’m surprised that Mrs. Lincoln had nothing to say on her own behalf when given the opportunity, but I can only assume that she must have felt that her testimony was damaging enough.” He turns his attention to the defense table.

“Mr. Underwood, I’m not in the habit of insulting defense attorneys in my courtroom and I won’t start now. So, please, take this statement with all sincerity when I say that I have no idea what made you think you could bring that defense into this courtroom. I understand that our justice system isn’t perfect, but I hold nothing but contempt for anyone who steps into a court of law and attempts to make a blatant mockery of it. I feel like you tried to become famous on the back of your client and that if anyone else is willing to touch her after this that she has a solid case for appeal, because you didn’t defend her. I don’t know which of you came up with that cock-and-bull plea and defense, but you’ve been watching too much television and you would have done better to plead her out than to present that nonsense to this forum. Maybe you felt that you had nothing to lose, and maybe you’re right, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a worse defense in my life than I saw during this case. I hope you’re satisfied.

“In response to your statement, you have to forgive me, but I truly feel that if your client was ‘well on her way to rehabilitation’ as you so proudly proclaim that she would never have come in here and tried to insult this court into believing that after 50 years on God’s green earth, she was exempt from responsibility for the consequences of her actions. No, Mr. Underwood, I believe exactly the opposite is the case with your client, and since you have chosen to introduce the facts and sentence of a prior case into these proceedings, let me also inform you that the only sense of justice that I feel was served by that light sentence she was given for the many charges against her is the fact that the State of Washington did not have to waste money on a trial and drag the lives and suffering of many innocent people and families into the public eye. But make no mistake, sir; I may have my opinions about the prior case and I can’t do anything about that, but in terms of this case, I will not allow your flowery speech and your fancy footwork to persuade me to hand down a sentence that will set a precedence to one day allow an attempted murderer to walk free.”

Underwood looks totally deflated and although I never bring my eyes to the Pedophile, I’m sure that she feels the same way.

“Mr. Grey’s statement was profound and powerful and most likely gives voice to those who suffered in silence, didn’t speak, or no longer have a voice. While I can’t do anything about the prior sentence, and although the sentencing in this case for Mrs. Lincoln has already been decided, his words ring such truth that I can only hope he feels that some sort of justice will be served in this court today.”

Justice was served right there at that moment… when somebody heard me and acknowledged. She could get a one-day sentence for her crimes for all I care. I’d be fine from this point on.

“Will the defendant please stand for sentencing.” It was a statement, not a question. The Pedophile stands and never raises her head. “Elena Gabrielle Lincoln, having been found guilty by a jury of your peers, I hereby impose the following sentences for your crimes:

“For possession of a stolen firearm—a Class B, level V offense, I hereby sentence you to 17 months and no possibility of parole.

“For first degree assault—a Class A, level XII offense, I hereby sentence you 129 months with a deadly weapon enhancement of five years with the possibility of parole after twelve years.

“For attempted murder—first degree assault with intent to inflict great bodily harm—a Class A, level XII offense, I hereby sentence you to 129 months with a deadly weapon enhancement of five years with the possibility of parole after twelve years.

“These sentences are to be served consecutively after any other imposed sentence with no credit on this sentence for time served. You are hereby reprimanded back to the custody of the Washington Department of Corrections.”

Sweet relief… sweet, sweet relief.

“Christian! I love you! I’ll love you forever!” she wails as she’s being dragged from the courtroom. Thirty-three years total—well, thirty-two years and eleven months—served consecutively with her other sentence, which holds no possibility of parole. That means 58 years, and she has to serve 25 from the first sentence, then a year and a half from the second. Then she has to go into the third sentence and serve at least 12 years from that one, and if she just so happens to have a parole board of bumbling idiots that would parole her from that one, she would still have to serve at least 12 years of the fourth sentence. This means that if someone looked at her old decrepit ass and said, “Hey, let her out on her paroles,” she still wouldn’t have any hope of seeing the outside of prison walls until she was 99 years old. It’s all I can do not to cheer and do a fist pump when I see her disappear behind those doors, never to be heard from again.

“Are you fucking kidding me?”

Jason’s roar after we get to the bridge snaps me back to the here and now. What the hell? We just got great news—what now?

“Dammit! Thanks, Jax.” He ends the call. I’m glad Chuck is driving right now and not Jason. I didn’t even hear his phone ring. He’s dialing another number frantically and I’m waiting to find out what’s happened. “Manny, keep your eye on Tweety-Bird. The bitch made bail.”

Shit! I know what that means. Tweet-Bird must be Sophie and from the sounds of it…

“Jason?”

“Shalane made bail,” he hisses. “She put her house up and they let her ass walk.” He’s pissed.

“Sophie?” I ask.

“She’s got a detail at the school with her,” he said. “Even though I told them about the custody issue and that I’m now the parent of record, I don’t trust them not to let her take Sophie. I want to change her school, but we’re so close to the end of the school year that it wouldn’t be a good idea just yet.” We ride for a few more moments and just as we get into the gate at the Crossing, Jason gets another call.

“She did?… Good man. Maybe I’ll let her stay after all.” He speaks for a while longer, then ends the call. “She went straight from the jail to Sophie’s school. She didn’t even stop to change her clothes. Manchester headed her off, but couldn’t prevent her from going into the school. She couldn’t get Sophie, though. The school wouldn’t release her.” Jason chuckles. “She caught a cab,” he says. “She didn’t even get her car out of impound. She better spend that money wisely. She won’t be getting any more.”

When we pull into the garage, Butterfly says that she wants to go to the hospital. I debate if I want to go or not, but I think of Elliot and decide that I’ll go, too. She wants to change into something more comfortable. I’m only wearing slacks and a turtleneck, so I opt not to change. I notice that Chuck seems distracted while we’re waiting for Butterfly to change.

“You okay, Chuck?” I ask. My question brings him back from his daydream. He nods.

“Yeah,” he says. “My little catastrophes have nothing on what’s been going on in this house.”

“Little catastrophes?” I repeat. He waves me off.

“It’s nothing, really,” he says. “Joe got served with his papers from court last week. It turns out that we had to file in South Dakota, where Mom and Dad live. He’s blaming me because Mom is suing him, but what else is new?”

“Wow, he and Elena would make a great couple, don’t you think?” Chuck half-smiles. “Is that all?” Chuck shrugs.

“Keri,” he says. “She’s not doing too good. She had this cold… or at least we thought it was a cold. It hit the minute she got back to Anguilla and we thought it was just from the weather change. It held on for weeks. Now, she seems to be over it, but she sounds so weak and tired when I talk to her. I want to keep her on the phone to hear her voice, but at the same time, I want to let her go so that she can rest.”

“Do you need to go to her?” I ask. He shakes his head.

“I want to, but the babies have just been born and I can’t duck out now. Besides, I can’t fly to Anguilla every time she sneezes.” I raise my eyebrows.

“No… you can’t,” but you still look sick yourself that you can’t be with her.

“I’m fine, Christian, really. I’ll keep you posted,” he says, a bit too eager to get out of my presence. He misses her. I know he does, and the fact that she’s not well can’t be making that situation any better.


ANASTASIA

So, we finally get Sophie settled into the house and talking about things… and Shalane is trying to show up again. That has all kinds of implications. As much as Jason wants to keep her away from Sophie, that may be easier said than done.

Elliot has gone to stretch his legs. The pain and discomfort from sitting in one spot for more than 24 hours was more than he could tolerate. Christian coerced him to go for a walk the moment we got back to the hospital and I promised to stay here with Val, of course. She has no hair left. They shaved her completely bald… and I was complaining about a bald spot.

“Just have to outdo me in everything, huh?” I say. “I get in an accident and lose a patch of hair. You get a tumor and get your whole damn head shaved. You always had the coolest friends, the best clothes, the money… you were popular… but you never made me feel like less than a person, and you never let anybody else do it, either. That’s why I knew something was wrong when you changed. You were so cold. You were nothing like my sister.” I sigh.

“More than once, I wanted to find out what was wrong, but you wouldn’t let me in. You wouldn’t let me get close. But I never stopped loving you, Val. It was one of the worst break-ups of my whole life.”

I lay my head on her bed and, contemplating life with her gone and no hope of reconciliation, I weep. I weep until my chest rocks and feels like it’s going to cave in. I feel like it’s the end of the world. There’s no way that she can die without knowing how much she is truly loved. There’s no way she can die at all. It’s just… way too soon…

“There you go… with that… weeping shit again.”

A weak, barely-there voice causes me to turn my head to face her. It’s too heavy to lift off the bed, so I just lay there—still sobbing—watching her watching me. She’s watching me… am I dreaming? If I am, just let me stay here for a minute. She may say or do something sweet and if I move too suddenly, I might wake up. This may be the only way that she can reach me right now and I just want to stay here with her for a minute. But why is she still so weak? Dreams are funny things, I guess.

She raises her hand very slowly and lands it heavily on my cheek. She slightly moves her thumb in an unsuccessful attempt to wipe my tears away. It only makes me cry harder. I cover her hand with my own and turn my lips to her palm, kissing it repeatedly, just in case this is goodbye. Maybe that’s why it was so easy for Elliot to leave. Maybe she said goodbye to him, too.

Thank you, Val, wherever you are. I’ll always love you… always.

“Settle down… before you… hyper… hyper… ventilate, Steele… Grey…” she slurs. I’m trying, but it’s hard. My friend is here and I’m filled with relief, but for how long?

“You’re a terrible bitch,” I weep. “Why didn’t you tell me? Why did you go through this alone?”

“I wasn’t… alone… I had… El…”

“But you didn’t have me… or Al… or any of us… and we love you!” I snap quietly.

“I know, Steele… I just…” A single tear falls from her eye.

“I should have known,” I say, gently stroking her cheek. “None of this was like you, not in the slightest, not even on your worst day. I should have known.”

“I treated you like shit,” she protests, her voice slightly stronger.

“That’s why I should have known!” I wail. “You’ve never treated me badly. Even when I needed a smack upside the head, you were right there beside me.”

“How could you know?” she slurs. “It’s my head and I didn’t know.” I shake my head vigorously in denial… vigorously. No waking up! I’m awake! I’m awake and she’s awake! Don’t panic… don’t panic…

“I’m supposed to be your best friend. I should have known.” I squeeze her hand and kiss the back of it, my voice shaking and trying to remain calm, trying not to let her know that I thought I was talking to a figment of my imagination all this time. “Please get better soon. You have to meet your godchildren.” Her eyes become glassy and the tears fall.

“I… you ha… I’m still the godmother?” she weeps weakly.

“I couldn’t choose anybody else. It was always you.”

“Oh, Ana…” she’s weeping as much as her weakness will allow. I stand up and gently stroke her cheek.

“Ssssshhhh, relax now,” I soothe, “Don’t get upset. It’s not good for you.”

“I treated you so badly,” she sobs quietly. “I couldn’t control it. I could see it, but I couldn’t control it.”

“Ssh, no more,” I coax her as I push the call button. “It’s forgotten. It wasn’t you. I know now that it wasn’t you. When you feel like this, remember—it wasn’t you. It was the tumor, okay?”

“I’ve lost all of my friends… the people I love… my job.”

“You haven’t lost anybody, Val,” I tell her. “Look at this room. Do you think this is all Elliot?” She weakly looks around the room. “This…” I pick up a little arrangement with a tiny bear on it. “This is from Mindy. Maxie said she picked it herself… well, as much as a baby can point at a bear.” I laugh nervously and Val smiles at me. “I’m going to activate the contingency—not that I really have to. Everybody’s been here every day. Our friends will be here before day’s end. I promise.”

“Do you think so… after how badly I’ve treated everybody? Oh, my God… Al!” she laments.

“Especially Al. He’ll have a few of his choice gay words for you, but he’ll probably be here first.”

“Oh, God, how can I face him?” she weeps and I just sit on the bed and hold her hand. She’s going to beat herself up for a while over this and there’s really nothing I can do about that. I stroke her cheek with my free hand and just let her cry. There’s a commotion at the door and the nurse and a doctor comes into the room with a disheveled Elliot in tow behind them. He freezes when he clears the door.

“Angel?” I hear Elliot’s wispy voice over my shoulder.

“El,” she says longingly, her prior tears halting.

“Angel! You’re awake!” Whatever he has in his hands is now on the floor and he rushes to her beside. I quickly scramble to give him his place and he cups her face gently, kissing her several times.

“I didn’t know… I didn’t think you…” He can’t get a sentence out as his tears fall on her pillow. They need this moment, and I need to activate the contingency. I move to the door.

“Ana!” I turn around and there’s a panicked look in Val’s eyes. “Please… don’t stay away. Please come back.” I smile warmly at her.

“I will… and I’ll bring reinforcements.” She sighs sweetly and smiles before turning her attention back to an obliviously weeping Elliot. I step outside of the room to give them some privacy. Christian is standing there waiting for news.

“She’s awake,” I say, my voice barely there. His eyes grow large.

“She is?” he says and I nod. His eyes ask the question that his mouth doesn’t.

“She’s back,” I wail. He puts his hands on my upper arms.

Back back?” he asks, and all I can do is nod. “Oh, thank God,” he says, closing me in his arms. I know it’s been hard seeing me suffer all these months—even harder watching Elliot these last several days. So, I know his relief is genuine. I indulge in a relieving cry for a while, sinking into his chest while he holds me, then I pull myself together.

“I’m fine. I need to call Al,” I say. He nods and releases me with a kiss to my forehead. I dial Al as I’m walking towards the waiting room.

“Hey. What’s up, babe? I’m on my way to the hospital.”

“Well, that’s good, because you’re not going to want to miss this…”


CHRISTIAN

She looks very pale and frail when I Butterfly and I walk back into the room. We waited until the doctors and nurses left and gave us the go-ahead before we entered. Elliot is laser focused on her, so he doesn’t notice when I enter, but Valerie makes immediate eye-contact with me. She’s obviously weak and it’s hard to read her emotions right now, but she answers my question about her thoughts of my presence with two words…

“Hi, Christian.”

Her voice is so soft, so faint… I can barely hear her. I suddenly feel a twinge in my chest, like this is so serious and none of us really wants to lose her.

“Hey, Valerie,” I reply, my voice also very small. “How are you feeling?” I ask, sincerely.

“Bald,” she says, forcing a smile.

“I’m sorry,” I reply.

“Don’t be,” she says softly. “It’s for the best.”

She releases Elliot’s hand and holds her hand out to me. Her arm shaking and I know it’s hard for her to hold it up, so I don’t keep her waiting… though the gesture is more than a bit surprising. Elliot allows me to sit on the edge of her bed and I take her hand—much like she held mine when I was crying over Butterfly’s Montana sabbatical. The moment our hands touch, she starts to weep gently.

“I’m so sorry,” she squeaks, through her tears.

“Ssssshhhh,” I soothe, “None of that,” I say, caressing her hand for comfort. “I haven’t known you as long as Butterfly, and even I knew that it wasn’t you.”

“Yo… you’re a good man, Christian,” she stumbles, “A won… derful husband… to Ana and… I need you to know that… I would never… willingly treat her… that way… She’s my… Jewel… too…” She’s so overcome with emotion and weakness that she can barely speak. Butterfly immediately gets choked up, and I know that it can’t be good for Valerie to be this upset. “Please… forgive me.”

“There’s nothing to forgive,” I tell her, squeezing hand a little tighter and looking her in the eyes. “We. Know. It wasn’t. You. An intruder took you over and changed who you were, and we’ll all be by your side to chase that intruder away. Do you understand that? We’ll all be here.” I didn’t know I had closed the space between us. There’s maybe only a foot between my face and hers, and I have her hand clasped close to my chest.

That’s a first. I feel a little funny, now, but I won’t move until she understands that she’s not alone. My brother loves her; that makes her family. She’s about to go through a horrible ordeal after nearly pushing away everyone that could have walked through this with her. She needs to know that she’s not alone.

“Yes, Christian,” she says softly, her teary eyes concentrating on mine. “I understand.”

“Never alone,” I reinforce.

“Never alone,” she repeats.

“Damn straight!”

We all turn to the door to see where the added confirmation came from and find Al standing there more casual than I think I’ve ever seen him, in a T-shirt and jeans. His hair looks like mine does after a grueling day, so I know he’s been pulling it or torturing it somehow, and his eyes are bloodshot. James is standing behind him, just inside the door and I swear he looks like he’s holding Allen up.

“You bitch,” he says as the tears start to flow again. “I’m supposed to be the goddamn drama queen!”

Valerie breaks into laughter as much as her body will allow. Al breaks free from James and rushes to her bedside. Butterfly moves quickly and allows him access to their friend. She hugs him with her free arm and he kisses her repeatedly on the face and lips. I feel a small comfort knowing that he doesn’t just do that to Butterfly, but this is his family and he almost lost one of them.

“You’re a horrible human being for stealing my spotlight, but thank God that you’re back,” he weeps, holding her face in his hands.

“It’s good to be back,” she says, and the mournful tears start again. “Please, don’t ever forget that I love you…” She looks around the room at each of us. “… All of you. If this thing comes back…”

“It won’t!” Elliot says emphatically.

“But if it does,” she continues, “please don’t forget. Please don’t ever forget. I know this could kill me, but I’d die anyway if you all didn’t know how much I love you.”

You could hear hearts cracking all over the room. Each of us have had our own moments over the last several months of wondering what the hell was wrong with this woman… and each of us are feeling our own convictions now.

“We love you, too, you cow,” Al says, his voice still shaking.

“Ditto,” Butterfly squeaks.

“In my own way, I love you, too,” I confess, eliciting a small chuckle from Valerie’s throat before she turns her gaze to Elliot.

“Hey, you already know how I feel, Angel,” he says, longingly. “My life would be empty and lost without you.” The love that swells up in her eyes could chase away every ailment in her body. Part of me hopes that it will, as Elliot will be inconsolable if she doesn’t make it through this.

“And none of that dying shit,” James pipes in. “It would be a less exciting world without you, so you’re not allowed to die. You fight this thing!” She smiles weakly at James.

“Yes, sir,” she whispers.

*-*

Elliot feeds Valerie ice chips while Al and Butterfly try to catch her up on what’s been going on in the world. Al tells her all about the wedding, set to take place at our house next weekend—something intimate during a spring, sit-down party. The three of them immediately start discussing promising ideas for the wedding as well as what could be disastrous. Valerie suggests an indoor/outdoor thing since spring in Seattle is unpredictable and usually rainy.

Shortly thereafter, the rest of her friends come into the room, and the reunion of the Scooby Gang is complete, just as it should be. They talk about everything, catching Valerie up on all the things that have happened since she first blanked out, as she calls it…

The babies are here, of course. She will see them once she’s out of ICU.

I’m calling more people by their first name, including members of my staff who are now family instead of just staff.

David’s dead.

Dead dead?” she says, her eyes growing large. “Like graveyard dead?” Butterfly nods. “How the hell did that happen?”

Butterfly explains the whole thing about the crooked company, culminating with David’s “suicide.” Valerie looks a little remiss.

“He was an asshole,” she says, “but I never wished him dead.”

“Well, you’re a princess among women, because I had champagne when I heard the news,” Butterfly announces. “After everything he did to me, including handcuffing me naked to that bed and allowing that man to assault me, he’s lucky I didn’t drive to Walla Walla and spit on his remains!” And that’s the end of that conversation.

Sophie lives with us now because her mother is a drug addict that tried to sell her into slavery.

Chuck reunited with his parents and is suing his brother for a small country.

Keri was here and now she’s gone back home to Anguilla, but she’s been ill since shortly after she left and that has Chuck concerned.

While Butterfly closed her practice, Maxie is considering opening her own so that she can focus more on her family, which is timely since Phillip just got a raise and a promotion.

Sometime in the near future, we will be traveling to Italy as one of Butterfly’s push gifts was an Italian villa.

Garrett and Marilyn are pretty much the same and have no complaints. According to them, there’s enough going on in everyone else’s lives that they can just watch and be entertained.

“I need to say I’m sorry, you guys,” Valerie begins.

“Angel, no…” Elliot protests. Valerie put her hand on his bicep to silence him.

“I know, El,” she says, her voice gaining more strength, although she’s still clearly weak. “But I really have to say this. So, please, shut up and let me… I’m sick, you have to do what I say.”

The nervous chuckle that wafts through the room is more accommodating than sincere.

“If I could tell you what it was like being in this head for the last several months,” she begins. “It was like watching a terrible horror movie, only I was watching it and I was starring in it—a character in a real-life horror movie, where you can see the psychopath coming at you with the machete. You know he’s about to chop you up, but you can’t do anything about it. Then there’s the me that was in the audience, screaming at the dumb character to run out the door and down the street instead of upstairs and hiding in the attic where she was sure to meet her doom—but she couldn’t do anything but watch.

“I saw the looks on Ana’s face when I said those horrible things to her… the look of reservation at Maxie’s house when she handed Mindy off and left. That’s when I knew I had completely lost one of my best friends. It cut me to my soul, but I still couldn’t do anything about it. It was like, in my head I was saying something completely different, but when I opened my mouth and started hurling that stuff, all I could think to myself was ‘are you crazy?’

“After that, the alien just took over completely and I could do nothing but sit in the corner and watch while it pushed away everything and everyone I loved. There were moments when I came to myself and I thought I said something to let someone know what was going on in my head, but then I’d look around and I was alone—a solitude that I brought all upon myself.” She shakes her head.

“It wasn’t until El packed his things and I knew the last person that I had in the world was going to leave me that I was able to agree to see someone. Even then he had to take the reins… I still couldn’t do it. He told the doctors how I was acting and what was going on. I barely said anything.” She reaches over and takes his hand. “He saved my life. No matter what happens from here, he saved my life. He gave me back my mind… and I’ll love him forever for it.” She gazes into his eyes. “I want to spend my life with you, Elliot,” she says, her voice shaking. “Please don’t ever leave me.”

“Not a chance in hell,” he says, kissing the back of her hand. She smiles weakly at him before taking a breath and releasing it.

“I know everybody had… and has their theories about what was going on with me or what I was thinking. Grace and Mia will probably never speak to me again, especially after all Elliot had already gone through with Kate…” I don’t say anything about how Mom reacted when I told her about Valerie. I figure that when she’s ready, Mom will come and talk to her. “Whatever happens, know that I’m just glad that I was able to talk to you all and say that I’m sorry for anything that I said or did to offend you. I know that it was the tumor talking, but it was still my voice and my mouth, and I’m sorry if I caused any of you pain.”

“And that’s enough of that,” I hear my mother’s voice say from the entrance to the room around the corner. She has a huge bouquet of purple and white blooms as she comes completely into view. “Well! It looks like no one invited me to the party… and there’s no room anywhere for these.” Mom scans the room for a flat surface to put her flowers.

“I got it, Mom,” Elliot says, taking the monstrous bouquet from our mother and making room for it on the windowsill, currently already full of several bouquets from the rest of us.

“Grace, they’re beautiful,” Valerie says weakly. “What are they?”

“Windflowers and peonies,” she says. “They denote health and healing.” She sits next to the bed in the chair Elliot vacated to put her flowers in the window. “My son has never been so happy and so grounded as he is when he’s with you. I secretly prayed that we would figure out what was going on, although I never prayed for anything like this. You’ve only ever been a remarkable person, especially when that wretched woman tried to lay a child at his feet that didn’t belong to him. You stood by him, became his rock… I wouldn’t have expected anything less from him during your time of need.

“I’m so sorry you had to go through this. I’m certain that you’ll make a full recovery because you’ll get the best medical care that money can buy and you’ll have all the love and support that you need until and after you are whole again. I may be speaking for everyone, but for no one more than myself, when I say that I’m so glad that you’re back.” Valerie bursts into weak tears.

“I’m glad to be back, Grace,” she weeps. “It was awful! I so sorry…” My mother moves to sit on the edge of the bed next to Valerie and cradles her while she cries.

“There, there now,” Mom says as she rocks Valerie in her arms while we all watch in silence. “You get this all out, and then there will be no more crying about this. We all understand and we’re so glad that you’re here with us. You’re going to be fine now… just fine…”

*-*

“Christian!”

My wife gasps my name as she tightens around me, my rock-hard dick buried balls deep inside of her. I clench her ass and hold her against my throbbing member as she sits on my hips having dropped her weight hard onto my pelvis and grinding deliciously on my shaft as she holds onto the headboard. Her head thrown back, her face to the ceiling, she pants and moans loudly as she trembles atop me and my balls and penis empty wildly inside of her.

“Ffffffffffuuucccckkkkkkkkk!” I hiss, squeezing her ass so hard that I’m sure there’ll be handprints when I’m done. I want to get her into that new playroom and do some kinky, freaky shit to her, but with everything going on in the last few weeks, we haven’t even been able to look at the finished product yet, let alone take it for a spin. My dick throbs harder, empties faster, and burns hotter as I contemplate the things I want to do to her in that room.

“Dammit!” I pant as she falls over on top of me, spent and sated. “Goddammit!” I grab her head with one hand and guide her lips to mine, the other still squeezing her ass as I catch my breath. “Fuck, that was good.”

“Yes… it was…” she pants between kisses, her pussy still clenching my dick. I push up into her a few more times, my dick still burning and tender inside of her. What would be discomfort to someone else turns me on and I roll my hips so that the burn intensifies inside her quivering walls.

“You feel so fucking good,” I breathe against her lips as I wind myself up for round two of mid-Saturday morning sex. We had all stayed at the hospital for quite some time last night once Valerie regained consciousness. If I’m honest, all I wanted to do after all that damn emotion in that room was come home and bury myself inside my wife—to feel her tremor and clamp around my angry dick just like she did this morning. But when we got home, the twins demanded her attention—our attention, and she was just too wiped out to do anything after caring for our babies. So, I just brought her to bed and held her until she fell asleep.

However, when I woke up with morning wood so hard that I could barely go to the restroom and piss around it, I climbed back into this bed, pushed up that night shirt, ripped those panties off, rolled that body on top of me and dropped that hot, juicy, wet pussy right down on my full-staff pole. At first, she protested, but only for a moment—only until she felt that stiff, rock-hard thickness reaching so deep into her body, pumping up into her so hard and fast that her entire body was bouncing in the air and she momentarily couldn’t speak. Then, she ripped off that nightshirt, grabbed those tits and rode like the wind!

That pussy was so hot and tight that I almost blew before she did. When that burning, agonizing, vise-grip hold became soaked, slippery, juicy goodness with her cum secreting from her walls and sliding down my dick, I fucking lost it, gladly mixing my juices with hers until we were both a slippery, sticky, gooey, hot, erotic mess grinding into each other and about to start the fire again, until…

Beeeeep…

Fuck.

“Ooooohhh,” Butterfly groans. “Ana,” she calls into the air as I continue to tease her with my stiffening dick and we wait to hear the cooing of our two little angels.

… But nothing.

“Ana,” she calls out louder, but still nothing. She partially pushes herself up and looks at me. I half roll my eyes and call into the air.

“Yes?” I call out, perturbed and angry to be interrupted.

“Sir, it’s Benjamin Lawrence. I’m just getting to the Crossing and there’s a development at the front. I tried to call J and I don’t know if he’s asleep or what…” He’s probably fucking, just like me! “… but his ex-wife is here demanding her child. She’s making a terrible scene. If he gets here, we’re going to need more reinforcements than just security.”

“Shit!” I hiss, pissed as fuck that I have to pull out of my goddamn happy place for this sad excuse of a human being at my front gate. Butterfly slowly rises off of me, recognizing the seriousness of the situation and the glide is agonizing… almost orgasm-inducing.

“Fuuuuuuccck!” I exclaim at the separation, the burn almost unbearable and only making me harder. She covers her mouth, her eyes wide.

“Sorry!” she whispers loudly as I clench my teeth and my dick throbs.

“Sir?” Lawrence beckons.

“I’m on my way, goddammit!” I hiss, my eyes squeezed tight. “End two-way…” and she grabs my dick.

“Fuck! Just leave it alone please just leave it alone!” I would fucking safeword right now if I thought it would help.

“I can’t just leave you like that,” she protests.

“We don’t have a choice—just leave it alone, please!” I beseech her.

“Sorry, sir,” bellows across the room and pisses me the fuck off.

“Fucking end two-way communications!” I belt into the air. At least his voice cured the erection.

*-*

I’m nearly too late by the time Butterfly and I are cleaned up, downstairs and outside in our portico on this brisk March morning. Gail and Sophie are standing just outside the door, Gail with her arms draped protectively over Sophie’s shoulder while Sophie clings to both of Gail’s hands with her own. Jason is already marching toward the guard house and front gate where Shalane is screeching like a banshee for Sophie to come and get in the car. I’m only lucky that the property of the Crossing is so large and somewhat obscured from prying eyes by walls, fences, and foliage, because this woman is really creating quite the scene. Butterfly stays at the door with Gail, pulling her warm sweater around her while I quickly fall in step behind Jason. He’s likely to kill this woman once he reaches her.

“Open the goddamn gate!” I hear him hiss.

“No, don’t,” I say to Williams in the guard’s booth. Lawrence is still on the other side of the gate with Shalane. “She’s unstable enough to drive that car through here if you open that gate,” I tell Jason. He narrows his eyes—not in defiance, but in anger. I think he was getting laid. We both look like angry bears right now.

“Just enough for a person,” he hisses, and the gate opens enough for him and I to walk out. I won’t let him talk to her alone. He might kill her.

“So now you need a bodyguard, Mr. Taylor?” His spiteful ex shoots as we walk through the gates.

“No, but you might,” I say before I can catch myself. I have no love lost for this classless, snippy, drug-addict little… “I’m here for your protection.” She fixes her mouth for a comeback, but Jason beats her to it.

“You’re trespassing and you need to leave,” Jason says quietly. “You can’t see Sophie at all. I don’t want you anywhere near my daughter.”

Your daughter?” she laughs haughtily. “Have you forgotten?” Shalane taunts, attempting to pull a trump card that she thinks she still has. “I’m her mother and I have a court order that says I have custody of her.”

“Not anymore you don’t,” Jason says, holding up the order from the judge. “This is a court order placing Sophie temporarily in my custody until the custody hearing. You can only have preauthorized and supervised visitation with her. If you show up any other time without invitation, I will have you thrown off the premises and arrested. If you continue to call my phone like a crackhead looking for her next fix, I will get a restraining order against you for harassment. If you show up at my daughter’s school, at practice, or at any of her extracurricular activities, I will have you arrested for violating a court order. But you know what?” He leans in closer to her.

“Let me make this perfectly clear to you so that there’s no misunderstanding. You. Will not. See Sophie until I say so, and right now, I say ‘no.’” She’s panicking, already shaking from what appears to be withdrawal. I can see her mind racing for a comeback.

“You can’t keep me from seeing her,” she says shakily. “You said that document at least says that I can have visitation.”

“It does,” he says calmly. “Preauthorized and supervised visitation, but I don’t see any time in my immediate schedule to preauthorize visitation for you. I’ll let you know.”

Shalane is seething. She appears to be losing every bit of her grip on reality.

“You can’t do that to me!” she screams. “You can’t keep me from my daughter!”

“You mean like the many times you kept her from me over the years?” Jason retorts. “I had reasonable visitation—not preauthorized or supervised and you wouldn’t let me see her at all! How does that feel? Not so good, does it? I would love to say that I’m doing this to get back at you, but I’m not! I’m doing this because you’re dangerous to my child!”

“You know I’d never hurt Sophie…” There’s a back and forth between them for a while and they have forgotten that other people are watching them for a moment, but out of the corner of my eye, I see a small frame walking quick time down the driveway and across the lawn towards us. Shit—Butterfly is coming to give this woman what for, no doubt. I’m surprised to see that the small form isn’t Butterfly at all.

It’s Sophie!

I’m trying to get Jason’s attention, but he’s too busy arguing with Shalane to pay me any attention. Shalane, however, stops the argument when she sees Sophie running in her direction with Gail and Butterfly running quickly behind her.

Shalane squats to scoop Sophie in a hug, but I can tell by Sophie’s expression that this isn’t going to be the tender reunion Shalane is expecting. Before any of us can stop her, before Jason even sees her, Sophie runs full speed—hands out in front of her—and slams into her mother. Totally unprepared for the blow, Shalane falls back hard on the gravel portion of the driveway. She’s stunned into silence as she scrambles into a sitting position.

“Sophia!” Jason yells, not pleased that Sophie struck her mother even though she may have deserved it. “What are you doing?”

“Really, Mom? Really?” Sophie is screaming, tears streaming down her face, fury in her voice and posture. “You were going to let those guys take me? You were really going to let them take me, Mom? Really?” She kicks the gravel onto Shalane lap as Jason tries to stop her. When that’s not enough, she takes handfuls of it and throws it at her mother, yelling insults about her being a drug addict that hates her daughter and was about to sell her off for a fix.

“All this time, I listened to you blame Daddy and I never understood why,” she cries as Jason finally restrains her, keeping her from hurling rocks at her mother. “He would never say anything bad about you except that you wouldn’t let me see him, but you called him all kinds of terrible names and told me that he didn’t have time for me. It was all lies. I know it was now. I see how he and Miss Gail live. He’s got plenty of time for me!”

“Sophie, I’m…” Shalane is broken, still sitting on the ground and now, crying.

“No!” Sophie interrupts, no longer flailing in her father’s arms. The fight is gone out of her, but she has a lot to say. “You spent all the money on drugs. You lied to me about my father. When there was nothing left, you were willing to give me away!” Sophie accuses, sobbing. “You took everything he ever gave me, and when you were about to go to jail, you wouldn’t even let him come and save me!” Her cries are mournful now. She truly doesn’t want to fight anymore. “You tried and tried to make me believe that Daddy was the bad guy when all this time… the bad guy was you.”

Jason’s grip drops from his daughter. He’s anguished seeing her hurt like this.

“Sophie, no,” Shalane says, weeping sincere tears at her daughter’s accusations. Sophie pushes her again—one last time.

“Go away, Mom,” she weeps bitterly. “Go away!” Sophie launches herself into Jason’s arms, squeezing him around his neck like she’s drowning and he’s the lifeboat.

“Don’t cry, Baby Boo,” he says, stroking Sophie’s bright blonde hair, trying to calm her, but Sophie is inconsolable. “I want you to go with Gail, okay? I need to take care of this. I’ll be in shortly. I promise.” She nods, still weeping and releases his neck. He kisses her on the cheek and hands her off to Gail, who takes her hand and she and Butterfly lead a heartbroken Sophie back to the house. He turns back to Shalane.

“You heard her… go away,” he says flatly. Shalane gawks gaped-mouthed up at him, still sitting in the gravel of the driveway.

“I bet you wish I were dead, now, don’t you?” he adds and she pales. She finally stands and attempts to straighten her clothes.

“I only told them that because I thought they would let me go,” she defends. “I thought they wouldn’t lock me up if they thought that I was all Sophie had.”

“That’s bullshit and you know it!” Jason retorts, no longer willing to be any kind of civil with this woman, for lack of a better word. “You didn’t want me to know what was going on! What the hell did you really think was going to happen? You were moving four kilos of cocaine with a 12-year-old girl in the car and then you tried to trade her to those fuckers! What the hell is wrong with you?”

“I wasn’t trying to trade her!” Shalane lies.

“Well, tell me, what the hell was it? Why the hell did she have to tell you that she wasn’t going with those assholes?” Jason retorts.

“She misunderstood!” Shalane cries.

“Well, she misunderstood the fuck out of that conversation then!” Jason hisses. “But I didn’t! And neither did the shrink she spoke to… or the police! And neither will the judge in family court!” Shalane’s face pales. She can’t talk her way out of this and she knows it.

“What you do with your own life, I couldn’t care less. But when it comes to Sophie, you fucking have to deal with me! You’ve been doing your very best for the last seven years to erase me from her life, and you’ve failed miserably, but now this? I shudder to think what could have happened to our daughter on a goddamn drug drop if the police hadn’t shown up, let alone with you trying to sell her into human slavery for your goddamn drug habit!” He is seething, so much that Williams has placed himself in position to intervene should he lunge at this sorry excuse of a woman.

“Getting caught was the best thing that could have happened to both of you,” he continues. “My guess is that your dumb ass was an offering from the fucker that sent you out there, and you took our daughter with you—for leverage, no doubt! Then you don’t have the good sense to call me when you get caught. I might have been able to help you in all of this, but no, you tell the authorities and Child Protective Services that I’m dead! If I hadn’t already filed a case, my daughter would be down at Spruce Street right now, and that would have been just fine with you, wouldn’t it, you contemptible bitch? Anywhere’s better than being with me, right? Her loving and devoted father who continued to pay you alimony and child support? Even paying for her to attend an exclusive private school while you continuously found ways to deny my court-ordered visitation because you were the cheating slut who couldn’t keep her legs closed! Anywhere but with me, where she could discover just how much of a lying, conniving, sniveling, greedy little bitch you really are!” Her face is now showing signs of fight and insult.

“You don’t have the…” she begins.

“SHUT! UP!” Jason growls. Williams steps forward and puts his arm between them, unsuccessfully trying to push Jason away from his ex-wife while whispering, “J, chill.”

“You have nothing to say to me!” he continues. “You put my daughter’s life in danger and then you tried to prevent me from saving her! She was traumatized. She was weeping when I got there. I don’t know if you’re going to get off on the drug charges, but now, there are separate charges against you for child endangerment. Did you know that?” Her expression says that she did.

“I knew you had bats in your fucking belfry, but I didn’t know that you were that goddamn crazy! You don’t get to see her unless she asks for you. Don’t you dare fucking call me. I’ll call you when she wants you. Unlike you, I won’t keep her from you if that’s what she wants, but she has to say so and I won’t force her. And if you get the bright idea to just take her from any location where she may be, not only will there be an arrest warrant issued for you for kidnapping, but there’s nowhere in the world that you’ll be able to hide from me. I will hunt you down like the filthy dog that you are and believe me, lady, I will find you. I’ve found people in witness protection. Finding your ass won’t be any harder than ‘Where’s Waldo.’”

His voice is menacing when he talks to her. She was married to him once and I’m sure she believes him when he says these things. She had better—I’ve seen him find someone in witness protection. She could treat him any way she wanted when she had Sophie. She doesn’t have Sophie anymore.

“Now get your ass away from this property, you selfish, treacherous cunt!” I know this conversation is over, so I step in before she tries to poke the monster anymore.

“You need to leave,” I tell her, stepping close to her and pointing to her car.

“He can’t just…” she begins, her voice desperate. As much as Jason doesn’t want to hear anything this woman has to say, I want to hear even less.

“Ms. Deleroy!” I declare in the sharpest, loudest Dom voice I can muster, “Leave! Now!” She shrinks back and gasps at the sound of my voice, frightened and whimpering as she scurries to her car, gets in, and makes a U-turn in the driveway to enable a hasty retreat, taking out part of the landscaping and three of the lane lights on her way out. I look at Williams who is still holding Jason.

“I’ll make the call and get it repaired, sir,” he says. I nod and put my hand on Jason’s shoulder and Williams releases him. He looks over at me, his eyes still fiery and menacing. They don’t scare me, though.

“Come on,” I say, gesturing with my head to the house. “We have families waiting for us.” That breaks his angry resolve. He looks one more time in the direction that his ex-wife traveled, then turns and walks with me back towards the house, towards our wives and children.

*-*

My wife looks adorable cooing at our daughter while our son is in his seat nearby and Sophie looks on, starry-eyed and content, like the horrible incidents of just an hour ago never even happened.

“So,” I begin, “your apartment only has one bedroom. Sophie can’t stay there. So, what are you thinking—maybe the other one-bedroom suite next to you guys? Do you think she’s old enough to stay in there alone? Or would you feel better with her in one of the guest rooms upstairs on the second floor?” Jason gazes at me for a moment.

“I don’t have custody, yet, Christian,” he says. “We might be jumping the gun.” I wave him off.

“No judge in his or her right mind would place Sophie back with her mother. And even if they tried, Sophie would protest… and win! Look at the comparison! Huge mansion on Mercer Island where father and stepmom are live-in employees and stepmom is at the residence all day as nanny for twins or… drugged-out mother living alone who disappears for several days at a time who took her daughter on a drug bust and then tried to use that daughter as a bargaining chip. Was arrested and almost let the child go to a group home, then had to put her house up as collateral for bail. Oh, did I mention that she’s been charged with crimes in relation to the drugs for which she has not been tried which means Sophie will most likely have to find someplace to live anyway. Yeah, I can so see a judge deciding that sending Sophie back to Shalane is in the best interest of the child,” I finish sarcastically.

“Okay, okay, I get the point,” Jason says. “It’s just that I never dreamed that I would ever be in this situation where I would be able to have custody of Sophie without the bitch dying, that’s all. It’s so surreal!” I nod.

“So, I think it’s time we start making preparations to have a teenager around the house.” Jason scrubs the back of his neck.

“Yeah, she’s going to be thirteen really soon,” he says. “So, what do we do?”

“I don’t know,” I tell him. “I’ve never had a teenager around the house.” He shrugs.

“Sophie’s so smart,” he says. “She’s wise beyond her years. She’s tried to hold on to her childhood, but things just keep happening and then she has to be an adult. She’s too young for that. I want to have some of her childhood, but for other parts of it, I know it’s too late.” He sighs. “I’m trying my best not to hate Shalane. She kept Sophie from me for so many years. All that time I could have been spending with her… as it was, our time together was like stolen moments. I was only able to spend time with her when it somehow served Shalane. Now, she’s going to be here full time and I don’t know what to do.”

“Well, this is the point where you have to take advantage of your resources,” I tell him. “You have a pediatrician who adopted three children at varying ages and raised them to adults at your fingertips. I’m sure she’d be more than happy to help you with what you should expect from Sophie in the coming days, weeks, and years. In addition, you live with a shrink.” He looks at me, blinking.

“I couldn’t see Ana professionally,” he says. “She’s too much like a daughter to me. I know I’m not that much older than her, but… you just can’t help how you feel.”

“So?” I say. “Does that mean that you don’t value her opinion? Let’s not forget that she’s the one who inadvertently discovered what Shalane was planning with Sophie and got Sophie to tell you and the police.”

“It’s not that, it’s just…” His sentence trails off.

“Use your resources, man. And if not, go talk to a child psychologist somewhere. Waste good money when you’ve got one of the best head doctors in the greater Seattle area living under the same roof as you.” I shrug.

“You’re biased,” he teases.

“You’re right. I am… and it’s absolutely true. How many lives have you watched that woman put back together again, including her own?” He ponders the thought as he looks over at Sophie and Butterfly and the fact that Sophie truly appears to be unscathed at the moment no matter how traumatizing the entire experience has been—and will be—for her.

“And again, you’ve made your point,” Jason says.

*-*

“Please… oh, God, please!”

Her hands are bound above her head, the restraints on each wrist attached to the opposite leg of the bed.

I’ve tormented her for several minutes with soft licking and sucking of her clit while her legs are tied open—her thighs restrained wide to the bed frame. I hold that delicious pussy open with my fingers—sometimes one side with one finger, sometimes both sides with my index and middle finger—just enough space to allow my tongue to get in there and torment those lips, the sides of her clit, the hood and the raw, sensitive underside over and over again, creating that intense burn that never goes away until she’s sated… gently tasting, licking and teasing with just enough moisture on my tongue to give her the slightly rough, gravelly feeling against that precious bundle of nerves and the soft, slick burn that edges her into insanity and keeps her right on the edge of orgasm until I want her to come. She’s blindfolded and the way her arms are bound, crisscrossed over her head, they press against the sides of her head, too, blocking her ability to hear.

I press down on the mountain of flesh right at the top of her slit… her Mons Venus… and it becomes firm and starts to pulse—hard—under my hand. Her orgasm is right there, violent, powerful and waiting. It only takes one never ender circle of the slightest increased pressure against her clit to…

“Oh, Goooooooooooooooood!” she wails, the Mons under my hand contracting hard and violently as this orgasm ripples through her, ripping her apart. I continue the circular pressure and she continues to wail, attempting to writhe, completely at my mercy. Only when there’s the slightest cessation of the bunched muscles under my palm do I stop my massage and quickly position my painfully aching and anxious cock at her opening. She’s still panting, still coming, still contracting underneath me.

Holding her hips down with both hands, immobilizing her, I push deep into her still quivering pussy.

“Fuuucckk!” I hiss as her pulsing walls and lips kiss and suck me deep. “Fuck, fuck, fuck…” I move my hips slowly, rhythmically, rolling our pelvises together and my dick inside along, around and against her walls at the same time, my full weight pushing down on my hands and her hips so that she can’t move a muscle. The feeling is agonizingly good—a truly deliciously painful burn, and I move slow and deep, so, so slow… deep grinding circles that have me shaking almost in no time.

“God, help me!” she chokes, her upper body trembling as her lower body has absolutely no purchase to move. God, she is so tight! I fight to keep my thumping, growing dick rolling, stroking, burning, slowly—so slowly, deep in that pussy.

“Fucking hell!” I hiss, stretching my tongue out of my mouth as I watch my dick, shiny and wet, slide in and out of this wet, shaved pussy, a ring of white cream being spread back and forth over my dick with every stroke, her arousal anointing me more and more with each push and pull, each in and out, and those pussy lips wrapping around my goddamn cock our juices mixing as I know I’m contributing precum to this delicious, hot, slick, silky mix.

“Fuck, baby!” I say, damn near drooling as I watch and feel the burn, the stroke, the blinding pleasure of our joining. “This shit is sexy as fuck!” I roll my hips so that the head hits each wall on the in-stroke. “Oh, God…” I groan as I almost lose it to the pleasure.

“Christian…” she wheezes, “Christian… God…”

I’ve got her now. Her pussy lips are hot… pink… wet… pulsing. Her mouth is open and she’s panting… lost in a world of passion and mindless ecstasy. I’ve hit that sweet spot and with her legs spread open and her hips held down, she’s at my mercy. She can’t do anything but absorb the pleasure.

“Yes, baby,” I coax as I roll my hips again, trying to block out the burning in my balls signaling my pending orgasm until I can get one more from her… one more fiery release. “I got you, baby. That’s it. Feel it, baby. I know you feel it. Shit, it feels so good… so hot and sweet and wet…”

She starts to tremble and pant, making no sound now, her body twitching uncontrollably… where she can move, that is.

That’s it, baby. Take it all…

I feel her pulsing, contracting, and though she’s silent and I have no idea if she’s coming or not, the feeling is so good—her tightening and throbbing and burning around me—that I can’t stand it anymore. I groan deep in my chest and bury myself hard inside her pussy, grinding so deep in that short, hard, inward and upward stroke against her that my body bows and arches backwards painfully. My jaws tighten so that my face actually hurts and my body stiffens so that my arms tremble from trying to support my weight as I push into her, grind into her, throb into her, empty painfully into her.

I hold my breath as this orgasm grasps my pelvis and holds me immobile with Nirvanic bliss. She pulses and tightens madly, milking and sucking every bit of nectar from my loins. When I finally release my breath and I’m able to move from the two massive hands that had my entire body in a choke hold, I look down at my wife—covered in a thick coating of sweat, gasping gently for air from her parted lips. Her chest rises and falls quickly, showcasing her gorgeous round breast and beautiful, taut nipples super-pink and pebbled from her intense arousal and orgasm, involuntarily spilling life’s milk down the sides of her mounds. I’m weak from the force of my orgasm… and my love for her, my awe at how beautiful she is in her ecstasy right now and how I want to kiss her and love her all over.

Still nestled between her legs, still cuddled in her sex, I release the restraints that hold her legs open. I rest my weight on her… still weak, sated… I release her wrist restraints and remove her blindfold. I gently lick the milk on the side of her breast that has escaped from her nipple. She doesn’t open her eyes. She’s too weak. I roll her over on top of me, her hair splayed over the back of her body. She releases a long breath and in seconds, she’s asleep on my chest. The weight of her body is so comforting atop mine that I don’t think I could count the breaths before I’m slumbering with her.


A/N: Eight more to go…

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Love and handcuffs  
Lynn X