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
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.
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?”
“On Garfield near 42nd.”
“Oh, that’s a nice neighborhood. I’ve always wanted to live there.”
“I know. I remember. I think you’ll like the house.”
Kiss, kiss, kiss…
“I’d really like to see it…”
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…”
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.”
“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…
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