Raising Grey: Chapter 5—Greys’ Night Out

I don’t want to name names, but I have a reader/friend whose mom just started chemo. From personal experience with chemo with my mom, believe me… it’s no joke. She and her mom will need all the strength and prayers that we can send out to her. I know it’s strange asking for prayers for a nameless person, but it’s her story to tell so… Just please send up some prayers and positive thoughts for “BG’s friend’s mom who just started chemotherapy.” 

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 5—Greys’ Night Out

CHRISTIAN

Neither Elliot nor I can keep our hands off or our lips off our wives on our way to dinner. I can’t speak for Val, but my wife is simply irresistible! She smells good, she tastes good, she feels good and I just want to be right in her personal space all damn night. She won’t be able to breathe without me right up under her, near her, in her. Damn, this is getting to be too much.

“Can we just skip dinner?” I jest, tasting entire mouthfuls of the skin on her neck while she nurses her second glass of champagne.

“Christian Grey!” she teases. “I want my night on the town.” I smile before delving into her skin again.

“What my lady wants, my lady gets,” I breathe into her neck, but I plan to make it as hard for her to resist me as it is for me to resist her. I gently run my tongue up the length of her neck before nipping her earlobe, moaning breathy sex sounds in her ear.

“Christian… please…” she protests as I feast on her ear. I feel the gooseflesh rising on her arms and watch as she conspicuously crosses her legs. That’s it. Now, you’re just about as hot and bothered as I am. At least you don’t have to fight off a public boner.

We arrive at our dinner destination, Art of the Table, and Elliot and Val exit the limo before us. I look over at my clearly flustered wife and smile knowingly.

“Are you ready?” I ask, my tone purposely suggestive. She takes a deep breath and releases it.

“Yes,” she breathes. I exit the limo first, then reach in for her hand to help her step out. I ask the limousine driver to find somewhere else to park until I call for him so as not to draw attention to the restaurant. I turn to my beautiful wife, put my hand in the small of her back, and lead her into the restaurant.

Despite Art of the Table being a staple of the area for the past several years, I had neither been here nor even heard of it before today. I took a chance on the location when Mia suggested it after I asked for good food with a high-end atmosphere, but more on the normal side than Canlis. The restaurant looks quaint on the outside, with small square tables and wooden chairs, but every angle of the room almost like a private little corner. It’s quite homey and well suited to our needs.

“Nice choice, Bro,” Elliot says, holding his wife’s hand. I nod.

“I hear the food is excellent, and I wanted someplace that would throw the paparazzi off our trail. This was a Mia suggestion, so we’ll see how that goes.”

We get a quiet table for four in the corner, but honestly, nearly every table in the joint seems like a quiet table in the corner. We sit next to our wives instead of across from them, considering that we both would probably have preferred to have them in our laps at that moment. I occasionally steal a glance or two at my brother and notice how he cups Valerie’s cheek and kisses her softly but passionately. The love that I see reflected for her in his eyes, I’ve never seen before from him to another human being. It was only a matter of time before he would have made her his wife—tumor or not. I can’t help but recognize that the near-death and imminent death experiences that we’ve been facing have a way of making you zero in on what’s important and how short life really is. Elliot and I were just talking about Pops and how we’re all not-so-anxiously waiting for his transition.

One day, Pops is not going to be here. That fucking sucks.

I inadvertently squeeze my wife’s hand, thinking about how precious and short life can be. Elliot nearly lost the love of his life a few months ago and I nearly lost the love of mine late last year.

“Are you okay?” Butterfly says, only softly enough for me to hear her. I close my eyes and press my forehead against hers, clasping her hand tightly while my free hand cups the nape of her neck, pulling her to me.

“Do you know how much I love you?” I breathe, feeling my chest constrict a bit at the thought of her not being here with me. “How much I can’t live without you?”

“Yes!” she gasps, almost immediately, her hand pressing against my chest while fisting my lapels. I brush my lips against her cheek, then her temple.

“You’re my life, Anastasia,” I whisper, almost unable to breathe. “I’m so lucky I have you. I don’t know what I’d do without you…”

“You’ll never have to find out,” she breathes, moving her hand to my cheek and pulling back to look into my eyes. “You’ll never have to find out.”

I gaze into her eyes for several moments, wanting to her to know and feel how much I love her, how I know that I’m a fucking lucky bastard that she loves me, too; how there’s nothing in this world that I wouldn’t do for her, nothing I wouldn’t give her, nothing she couldn’t ask of me… nothing!

“You’re my king, Christian,” she says softly, cupping my face in both her hands. “You’re the man of my dreams… dreams I didn’t even know that I had. You’re in every cell of me—my blood and my breath… I… don’t have the words…” She sounds like her breath is leaving her.

“I know, baby,” I say pushing my hands into her hair. “I know.” I close my lips over hers, not giving a damn about the other diners in the restaurant, and it would appear that they don’t give a damn about us, either.

Our meal consists of numerous gourmet-sized servings of just about every dish on the menu. Butterfly and I spend the evening licking delightful creations off each other’s fingers like Magret duck breast with caviar, marbled king salmon with bok choy kimchi, and seared Pleasant View Farms foie gras, to name a few. We kept ordering more and more dishes until the chef had to come out and see the table that was eating everything on the menu. He complimented our meal choices and commented that real chefs appreciate patrons with healthy appetites and an appreciation for food. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that although everything he prepared was delicious, he could have set plain porridge in front of me and it would have been delectable when licked from my wife’s fingertips. It was even easy for us to forget that we had dinner companions, seeing that Elliot and Valerie were just as lost in each other as we were.

I think it may have to do with spending the last several weeks in your parents’ house in your old childhood bedroom, not able to really worship your wife like you want. That doesn’t say much for us that we’d gladly take them right here on the table save the threat of being arrested for indecent exposure.

I could barely wait to get my wife back into that posh limousine. I want to ravage her body right here and now, but I have to be satisfied with some R-rated groping on our way to a local nightclub. I wasn’t so sure about this locale—also suggested by Mia—but in the spirit of normalcy, we go anyway. I’d heard good and bad things about this place, but I decide to give it a chance.

It was all good…

Havana Social Club is semi-public/semi-exclusive, sporting pictures of all the former celebrities that have frequented the place in the past. There are tables to sit and have a drink and socialize as well as a bar—of course—and a dance floor. The four of us manage to secure seats at the bar since all the tables are taken. I’ve noticed that after two glasses of champagne in the limo and two glasses of wine at dinner, my wife is just a slight bit tipsy. Since she’s eaten and has been careful to hydrate herself at dinner, I see no harm in continuing the libations. Valerie is none too worse for wear either. So, our ladies each order a Cosmopolitan while planting themselves like tasty little morsels at the bar, causing their husbands to close in on them like lions guarding the pride.

“So,” I say, turning my attention to the enticing Anastasia Grey. I take a swallow of my beer, then set it on the bar. “Come here often?”

She turns a questioning gaze at me before raising her eyebrows. She takes a dainty sip of her drink before crossing her legs in my direction.

“No,” she replies. “This is my first time.”

“Mmm, your first time, huh?” I say suggestively. “First times can be sort of adventurous.”

“So I’m told,” she replies, dropping her head a bit and looking up at me through her lashes. I take another swallow of my beer and she takes a long sip of her drink.

“So, what’s your name?” I ask, keeping up our little charade.

“Ana,” she says, sweetly. “Yours?”

“My friends call me Chris,” I reply. Her eyebrow raises again and she smiles—a beautiful, toothy, pearly-white smile.

“Chris…” she says as if testing out the name. “I like that.”

Funny, but when she says it, I like it, too.

“So, Ana, what brings you here tonight?” I ask. I gesture to the bartender for another beer and another Cosmopolitan.

“Just getting out to let my hair down,” she says, bottoming out her drink.

“Really?” I ask. “Rough day?” She rolls her eyes and laughs.

“You have no idea,” she says, part serious, part mirthfully. When the bartender brings us another round, she swallows half of her drink immediately. That signals me that she needs this night out more than she let on.

“Well, I’m a good listener if you need to talk,” I say, bringing my hand closer to hers on the bar and gently caressing her finger with mine. Her eyes go to our touching hands before she looks up at me.

“Do you… normally pick up girls in bars?” she asks, her voice a little breathy.

“No,” I say, my voice seductive. “This is my first time.” She swallows hard.

“You’re good at it,” she breathes, then blinks as if to bring herself back from wherever she went. “I’m told… that first times can be sort of adventurous,” she adds, looking at our hands again.

“Let’s hope so,” I retort, softly. I hear her breath catch and watch her pupils dilate as she takes another sip of her drink. “So,” I continue, slightly closing the space between us, “have you ever gone home with a stranger?” She licks her lips and moves the hand that I was caressing, brushing her fingers demurely up her chest to her shoulder.

“Well, not usually… but there was this one time…” she trails off and shyly takes another drink.

“Mmm… tell me more,” I coax.

“Well, he… seemed nice,” she says, rimming her martini glass with her index finger. “Attractive, well-built, seductive, rich…”

“Wow,” I respond, “that’s quite the package. Hard to compete with that,” I say, mocking disappointment. “How’d that turn out?”

“We had sex,” she says almost immediately, flashing a hungry look at me.

“Oh… so… you put out on the first date,” I state. She shrugs, dipping her finger into her drink, then bringing it to her lips, sucking the alcohol off her finger… and my pants suddenly get tight.

“Not usually, but…” The finger slides out of her mouth and down between the open leather lacing of her dress. “… He was sort of… irresistible.” I raise my eyebrows.

“Really?” She nods, and leans in to me. “How so?”

“He made me an offer I couldn’t refuse,” she purrs, scooting closer to me on her bar stool.

“And that was?” I nearly growl.

“He told me that he wanted me and he knew that I wanted him, too.” Her eyes suddenly look dreamy as she recites our first night together. “Then he asked if we were going to continue to pretend that wasn’t what was going on between us or if I would let him take me to bed and give my body what it so richly deserved.”

Did I say that? Shit, I’ve got some great lines!

“He did, did he?” I say. “Well, it’s kind of hard to top that, but I can tell you this.” I slide off the bar stool and close the distance between us, leaning down to her ear. “I want you so bad, we may not make it to bed. We may not even make it out of the car.”

She gasps as I bring my face back to look her in the eyes. We’re caught in a lustful gaze for several moments before and exuberant Valerie interrupts our exchange.

“C’mon, Steele! Let’s shake it up a little!” she says, grabbing my wife’s hand and dragging her to the dance floor. Butterfly squeals happily and joins her friend as Bruno Mars starts to sing “Uptown Funk.” Elliot moves to the bar stool next to mine and we sit leaning our elbows on the bar while watching our women dance. Butterfly looks carefree and happy like a college kid—not a care in the world. Her hips swing back and forth in that way that drives me crazy.

My God, do I love to watch that woman move.

“So,” some guy to my left decides to strike up a conversation, “you struck out with that one, huh?” I turn my attention to my brother for a moment, then back to the guy on the other side. “They might be a couple, you never know,” he adds, watching our wives dancing with each other. I must admit, they do look good together. I take a swallow of my beer while Elliot just smirks next to me.

“Don’t feel bad, buddy,” he says, giving my shoulder a pat. “The hot ones are almost always taken, gay, or not interested.” He swigs his beer like he knows what he’s talking about. I wonder how many women in this club have shot him down tonight alone. When I don’t respond, he keeps talking. “Mind if I give it a go? I mean, maybe you’re just not her type.”

“Yeah, I think I would mind if you gave it a go,” I say, calmly. His brow furrows.

“Why?” he asks. “I mean, no harm if I give it a shot since you couldn’t seal the deal, huh?” he shrugs. I take another drink of my beer, and put the bottle on the bar.

“Well, it’s like you said, the hot ones are almost always taken, gay, or not interested. You just happen to be right about them.” I raise my hand and show him my art-deco wedding band. Realization dawns on his face as his eyes shoot past me to Elliot. I catch him out of my peripheral flashing the ring on his finger as well.

“Oh!” the guy says. “My bad, man.” I take another swallow of my beer.

“Don’t sweat it,” I tell him. “She is hot.” The guy laughs.

“Good on you, dude,” he says, clinking his bottle with mine before taking a swallow of his drink. Almost on cue, the song changes and my wife comes over to the bar, takes my jacket in both fists and drags me to the dance floor in a fit of giggles. I happily follow her as a base beat begins to play… and my wife is momentarily stunned. I think because she’s only seen me ballroom dance, she thought that’s all I could do. She’s surprised to see that I can match her moves with a few moves of my own.

The girl in the song starts to croon, her words coming so fast that I can’t understand anything that she’s saying, but I just pay attention to the beat, moving with my wife so that she doesn’t show me up. Her mouth falls open as I continue to move, opening both hands and gesturing her to come closer with my fingers. Her eyes accept the challenge and she walks right into my body, moving to the same beat.

Game on, baby.

I know my wife can dance, so I can’t half-do it on the dance floor next to her. Whoever said dancing was like sex was absolutely right, because my wife has this hair seduction thing that she does when she’s dancing that’ll have every man in the room salivating on himself—particularly me since she basically fucked me with that hair when we first met, fanning those chestnut locs all over my mouth and chest while she gave me an amazingly unbearable blowjob. Her hands slide behind her neck, lifting her hair as she closes her eyes and moves sensually to the music.

Oh, no, you don’t, Mrs. Grey.

I can finally make out the chorus of the dance beat and the crooning woman says something about wanting to get “2 on.” I grab my wife’s body with both hands and begin a slow descent down her body. I purposely brush my thumbs across each nipple on my way down and her eyes shoot open.

Now that I have your attention…

I continue the slow descent down her body until I’m crouching in front of her, my face right at her pussy. When I look up at her, she’s wantonly gazing at me, her mouth varying between open pants and lip biting. She put her hands on my shoulders to steady herself as I slowly begin the ascent back up her body, never taking my eyes of hers.

“Fuck,” she breathes as my hands brush up her calves, then her thighs, pushing her dress up as I inch my way back up her body. I release the hem of her dress as I reach her ass… can’t let the rest of the club get a look at that deliciousness.

“I love to get 2 on
I love to let’s roll
I love to get 2 on…”

I still don’t know what the hell the song is talking about, but my wife is all a-flutter by the time I make my way back up to her face. She’s brazenly licking her lips and breathing heavily as the song changes. She licks my bottom lip and bites it gently before she turns around and presses her body to mine, her back to my front. Damn… I think my plan backfired.

“And if, in the moment, I bite my lip
Baby, in that moment, you’ll know this
Is something bigger than us and beyond bliss…”

I slide my arms around her waist, meeting at her stomach. Her arms loop behind her and her hands caress my face as she grinds against me. She’s lost in the music, in her own world, and she’s taking me with her.

“’Cause if you want to keep me,
You gotta gotta gotta gotta got to love me harder
And if you really need me,
You gotta gotta gotta gotta got to love me harder…”

Shit, she’s making me want to do just that. I gently squeeze her hips to slow her movement, but it only seems to spurn her on. At first, she brushes gently against my groin—back and forth so that I feel her round ass gently grazing on the skin of my cock. I bite my lip and take a deep breath. Fuck, she feels good.

“When I get you moaning you know it’s real
Can you feel the pressure between your hips?
I’ll make it feel like the first time…”

She shifts her movement, her hands in the air, totally feeling the music and no doubt the buzz from all the drinks she had this evening.

And I’m totally feeling her ass—grinding relentlessly against my dick, now throbbing in my pants and threatening to blow against this nymph who has always been able to make me come, even fully clothed.

“Love me, love me, love me
Harder, harder, harder
Love me, love me, love me
Harder, harder, harder…”

I grab her hips and pull her body hard against me, stopping her movement before we both have a moment that we can’t avoid. She gasps as I pull her softness against my stiff body.

“Baby…” I warn, my voice gravelly, “stop… or you’re going to have a wet spot on the back of your dress.”

She giggles playfully, the alcohol still obviously stripping her of her inhibitions.

“Sorry,” she says, sweetly as she stops gyrating that luscious ass against my dick. I close my arms around her as, thankfully, a slow song starts to play. She wraps her arms around mine and lays back on my shoulder as I move her to the music. The moment the artist starts singing about loving his woman until she’s 70, I fold my body over my wife and think to myself that I’ll be loving her much longer than that…

“And I’m thinking ’bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe just the touch of a hand
Oh me, I fall in love with you every single day
And I just wanna tell you I am…”

Suddenly, there’s no one else in the room as we curl into each other and sway. Song after song, I bury my face in her hair and lose myself in her scent. She turns around and wraps her arms around my neck and I hold her close to me. We move as one person until Sam Smith sings the last bars of “Stay with Me” and my brother taps me on my shoulder and breaks our little bubble.

“We gotta go, man,” he says, his voice anxious. I look at Valerie, who is unsuccessfully trying to clean up her smeared lipstick.

“I couldn’t agree more,” I tell him as I take my wife’s hand and we make our way out of the club.

We climb into the limo and luckily, the Fairmont Olympic is only five minutes away. Elliot and Valerie are out of the car before our wives have a chance to say Goodnight. I knock on the window as the signal for the driver to just drive before I immediately descend upon my wife.

“Christian…” she breathes and I can hear the protest in her voice. I press my finger against her lips.

“Sssshh,” I silence her. “I said we may not make it out of the car… I meant it!” I whisper. I bruise her lips with a hungry kiss and she moans into my mouth, grabbing handfuls of my hair. There’s plenty of room in this limousine and I want her now… no, not now… right now! I shrug out of my jacket before I pull her onto my lap. She’s still a bit inebriated from the nightclub and I have to say that I like her this way. Stumbling drunk is unacceptable, but tipsy is fun.

I make quick work of her zipper and slide her dress over her head, tossing it onto the other seat with my jacket. I make even quicker work of her bra and now she’s straddling me in just her thong and shoes.

“My God, these are beautiful,” I say, kissing the sides of both her lovely mounds. “So, Ana,” I say, playfully, while stroking her swollen breasts, “I see you’ve made it a habit of leaving with strangers.” She smiles coyly at me.

“Only handsome, sexy, rich strangers that give me their last name and make offers I can’t refuse…” She leans down to my ear. “… Like fucking in a limo.”

Oh, shit! Greystone is at full attention now.

I thrust my tongue in her mouth and kiss her deeply, grabbing her ass and grinding her against my erection. She moans deeply in her chest.

“You’ve got a fat pussy,” I say, keeping my rhythm. “I can feel it against my dick.”

“I… do?” she pants, licking her lips as she rises.

“Yes, you do… and I need to taste it. Unbutton my shirt.” She fumbles with the buttons, and finally gets them open, pulling my shirt out of my pants as I quickly lift her and turn, sitting her on the seat while I kneel between her legs. I quickly undo the last two buttons and my shirt joins our growing pile of clothes. I pull her ass to the edge of the soft leather seats and throw her knees over my shoulders. I can see the reflection in the tinted window of those sexy ass heels in the air, causing Greystone to pound even harder in his cotton prison.

Patience, boy. I’m hungry.

I lick her lips over the red thong, now drenched with her arousal, and her helpless keen coupled with her scent sends my mind into a tailspin. Fuck, what do I do with all this desire? I can’t fuck her yet. It’ll be over too soon.

“What do you want?” I say into her pussy.

“Ugh! Oh, God!” she cries. “You! I want you!”

“How do you want me?” I say, still breathing heat into her thong.

“Ohoho, God!” she whines. “Everything! I want everything!”

“Everything?” I say, still tormenting her as she squirms against me. “You sure about that?”

“Yes!” she screams, her thighs trembling. “Everything! Please!”

Well, then, everything you shall get.

She’s so responsive that I know her first orgasm is right there waiting for me, especially since I primed her earlier with the clothed foreplay, so I take it… right through her thong. I hum against her lips and breathe heat into her core. Seconds later, she’s screaming and clenching my hair, her legs trembling. Fuck, I love it when she’s like this! Before she comes down, I move her thong to the side and run my tongue over her naked clit.

“Oohohhohh, oh, God, please…” she protests, grabbing handfuls of my hair.

“Please, what?” I demand, still lathing my tongue over her clit. She arches her back and squirms.

“Please! Oh, God, please!” I know that she’s sensitive, but that means her second orgasm will come faster and I want more!

“You said ‘everything,’” I remind her, still talking against her clit. “This is ‘everything!’” I clamp my lips down on her clit and suck hard, careful to keep my teeth out of the way… for now. Her hips rise off the seat and I quickly grab her ass, holding her in that position to my face. She’s now pulling my hair hard, trying to stop the assault.

“Ah! Aaah!” No, no, no… there’s no escape for you, Mrs. Grey. I suck deep, giving her unbearable stimulation for several moments until…

“AaahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaohGoooooooood!” she cries out as her hips rise and she stiffens against my mouth. When she starts to tremble, I sit her butt on the seat to give her just a moment’s rest while I peel out of the rest of my clothes. I’m completely naked before she even has a chance to catch her breath and my dick is jutting up in the air seeking that “fat” pussy. I quickly flip her over on the seat so that her ass is sticking up in the air. I lick my lips in anticipation as I run the head of my dick over her clit from behind.

“You’re a bad girl, Ana,” I growl. “Didn’t your mother ever teach you not to get in cars with strangers?”

“My mother didn’t teach me shit!” she hisses, pushing her hips back so that her wet pussy rubs against the head of my dick.

“Not smart, Ana,” I hiss as my cock gets harder. “Not smart at all.”

“So, what the fuck are you going to do about it?” she snaps, and my dick is instantly as hard as stone. With one move, I pull back and slam into her pussy—deep… and hard!

“Aaaahh! Fuck!” she swears and I roar gutturally as the burn moves straight to my balls.

“Do you really want to taunt me, little lady?” I growl through clenched teeth.

“Is that all you got?” she goads from her throat and I can’t believe how hard she’s making me. I wrap one hand in her hair and grasp her shoulder with the other, pulling her back hard and mercilessly onto my angry dick. She braces herself against the seat back while I thrust, again and again, into her hot, wet pussy.

“Fuck!” I hiss as my abs start to tighten with the hint of the beginning of an orgasm.

“That’s it!” she pants. “Fuck me! Give it to me!”

Goddamn! I’ve got to get Cosmos into this woman more often. She is so fucking wet, I can hear my dick sloshing inside of her and her ass is slapping against me.

“You want everything, right?” I growl, still sliding wetly in and out of her.

“Every-fucking-thing!” she confirms with a matching growl. My dick slips out of her pussy and I begin to play with her rosette with the head. I release her shoulder so that I can gather some of her dripping wetness and spread it over her ass. Unable to control my heavy breathing in anticipation of taking her ass, I bite my lip and stiffen as I slowly start to push into her tight anal opening. She’s panting, too, now, pushing back onto me to rush the penetration. I drop my head back and try to absorb the pleasure as she’s so tight, I can feel her on every inch of the skin on my shaft. Too fucking good… Then, she surprises me by pushing all the way back on my dick, taking me to the balls in her ass.

“Fuuuuuck!” I growl, releasing her hair and squeezing her hips with both hands, my fingers sinking deep into the meat. “Fuck! Oh, fuck! Fuck!”

“Something wrong there, Chris?” she taunts. Shit! That shit is hot. I pull back and thrust into her ass.

“Yeah… fuck, yeah… this ass is too goddamn tight. I’m fucking going to come in your tight, little ass. You want that, Ana? Huh? You want that?” I thrust over and over, watching my dick get harder and pinker as it slides in and out of her ass.

“Show me what you got, lover boy,” she taunts, and my hand is back in her hair, the long tresses wrapped around my fist while the other is still digging into her hips.

“I got a big ass load coming for you, baby,” I say, pumping feverishly in her ass and feeling the tightening in my balls and abs again. “Oh, yeah, baby, fuck… it’s coming… it’s fucking coming…”

“Fuck me… harder! I want to feel you throbbing in my ass!”

That was it. I don’t know if it took three more strokes, but I was thumping hard in her ass, my cum spurting hot and angry inside of her, my abs flexing and pulsing while the muscles and veins in my thighs threaten to burst out of my skin. I’m coming so hard that I had to look down and watch and god-damn if it wasn’t the hottest fucking thing I’ve ever seen—my dick pulsing so hard and filling that ass so much that the semen is seeping out around the head; my muscles so tight with the orgasm that I can see and feel every sweat-drenched sinew. Fucking hell… I can see myself jacking off to this scene in the future.

“Shit, baby, shit… this ass! This fucking ass!” I protest through clenched teeth as the last of my orgasm squirts out of me, but my erection doesn’t wane. I take a moment to catch my breath before removing my still-hard dick from her ass, then retrieving napkins from the bar nearby to clean the dripping cum from her thighs and ass. I have to find something to clean my dick, because I plan on getting back in that pussy again. I’ll use water from the mini-bar and some of this champagne if I have to. I start looking through the two large drawers at the bottom of the bar and find a fucking treasure trove.

“Well, fuck me,” I exclaim in mirth.

“I thought I just did,” she retorts.

“No, I fucked you, but it’s not over yet.” I hear her scoff as I remove supplies from bottom drawer. She’s surprised when she feels moist wetness against her thighs and ass.

“What’s that?” she exclaims.

“The bottom drawer down here is full of condoms and individually wrapped sanitary wipes,” I tell her, opening another wipe and thoroughly cleaning my dick and balls. She gasps.

“You’re kidding,” she says, trying to look over her shoulder. I push her back down into the leather seat.

“Oh, no,” I warn. “I’m not done with you yet…”

And off we go. I take her from behind again, stroking my unrelenting erection into that sweet pussy again and again while she sits on my lap. I’m slowly building to another orgasm while I’m tweaking those sweet, taught nipples and cupping her breasts, watching her reflection in the tinted glass. My wife suddenly rises from my lap and sits back on the leather seat. Her ass is right at the edge and her legs are on either side of me, her feet wedged into a banister on the bar behind me right at my hips, still in those sexy ass shoes.

“C’mon,” she teases through her teeth. “Don’t stop now.” She glares at me seductively through banshee hair falling over her face. Fuck, she’s so fucking hot!

I raise up a bit on my knees and guide my eager shaft back into her pussy. I reach for her hips for traction and she protests.

“Don’t touch me,” she commands, “just fuck me!”

FuckingshithellfuckinghellsweetmotherMaryI’mgoingtodie.

I run my tongue across my teeth and thrust hard up into her, bracing my hands on the same banister that she’s bracing her feet against.

“There it is,” she growls primally. “That’s it. Make that dick work. Make me feel it.” I grind my teeth.

“You’re playing with fire, little girl,” I hiss as my dick prods deep into her. She raises an eyebrow.

“Little girl?” she taunts, lifting her hips from the leather seat. “Is that so?”

Oh, shit… what the fuck have I done?

The muscles in her arms tighten and become more impressive than any man I’ve ever seen as she balances her weight on her arms and drops that pussy relentlessly down on me. In the position I’m in, I can’t move. I can’t do anything but sit here and take it.

“I got your fucking little girl right here, big boy!” she hisses as her hips roll, grind, and drop mercilessly on my waiting, hard-as-steel dick. I’m trying to not pant like a little bitch, but she is working the fuck outta me. My dick doesn’t stand a chance.

“Yes… fuck!” I want to watch my dick, but I’m too busy watching her, glaring at me, challenging me while fucking me senseless, angrily pulling on my oh-so-willing cock with pelvic muscles that threaten to squeeze the life out of me… literally!

“Trying to show me up, Ana?” I grunt, attempting to hold on to what little manhood I have left.

“Not trying… doing… Chrisssss!” Oooohhh, fucking hell.

“Say it again,” I demand. I liked it when she said that name in the bar. I like it even more now.

“Chris!” she growls. Oh, fuck, I like that a lot! I lean back on the banister, angling myself for deep penetration.

“Again!” I hiss.

“Chris!” she breathes, dropping her head back and grinding hard on my cock. “Fuck, Chris, you’re so big!”

That shit sends a jolt through me. She’s riding my dick hard. Her naked body is writhing in front of me. She’s holding her head back and calling me Chris. Fucking hell.

“I’m gonna come!” I say through gritted teeth. She raises her head and glares at me with sharp blue eyes, her hair cascading over her shoulders and breasts and partially over her face.

“Then come, Chris!” she hisses, while writhing and riding on my dick. “Come real hard. I wanna feel you fill me up! Come on, give it to me, Chris.”

“Fuck!” She’s staring at me with those sexy ass fuck-me eyes and the orgasm that at first promised to be massive now vows to be cosmic.

“Dammit! You sexy bitch!” I croak before I can stop myself. Her tongue darts out of her mouth and she smiles devilishly.

“Chris!” she scolds as she continues to torment my shaft. “Language! You’re a bad boy!” she taunts. “Now empty those balls for me. Come on, I want to feel that cock throbbing inside of me. I want you to feel this nut in your goddamn eyelashes! Now stop holding back and give it to me.”

Oh, fuck… I’m doomed.

“Ah! Oh, God,” I whimper. She takes my hesitance as resistance and wraps herself around me like a vine, just like she did that first night against her dining room wall—and I’m fucking helpless. I couldn’t escape then and I really can’t escape now. Her thighs are locked on my hips and one arm is wrapped tight around my neck, her hand thrust into my hair. I think the other is grasping the bar.

“C’mon, Chris,” she hisses in my ear. “You know those balls are gettin’ tight. That dick is probably purple and painful inside my hot pussy. Can you feel me squeezing you? I know you can…”

Fuck, she’s going to kill me. She’s not even concerned about her own orgasm anymore.

“Ana…” I gasp.

“Ssshh,” she chides. “No talking… just listen… and feel!” she hisses. “Feel your dick rubbing against my walls—hot and wet and pulsing, ready for your cum. Stop teasing me! Give it to me! Give me what I want!” she demands.

I feel a gripping sensation from the top of my neck all the way down to the base of my spine. Fuck, what the hell is this? My feet slip from under me and I crash to my knees, but she still doesn’t stop. I grunt with each of her thrusts and I’m becoming one large sensation. I can’t tell the difference between my body parts anymore.

“That’s it… that’s it… Fuck, Chris, I didn’t think you could get any harder. Shit that feels so good… I’m not gonna come, Chris. I’m not gonna stop… I’m not gonna stop until you come!”

My grunts become long, breathless moans that match the agonizing pleasure that she brings with each grind.

“Fu… fu… fu…” I can’t even say the whole word. When I start gasping for air, she violently tightens her hand in my hair, pulls my head to the side, and sinks her teeth into my exposed neck.

My entire body combusts with the force of Mount St. Helens and everything but my lungs and arms are paralyzed with pleasure. I wrap my arms ferociously around her, trying and failing to hold her in place while my dick swells and thumps and erupts angrily inside of her. All the air in my lungs finally rips from my throat in cries for mercy as a never-ending orgasm send chills, heat, pain, and ecstasy throughout my entire body.

“Ah… uh… ah… ah… ah… uh…” I can’t get a full breath in and she’s not showing any mercy. She’s moving hard, hot and fast on my dick like I’m not coming hard enough to shoot her brains from here to Jupiter.

And my dick’s still not going down.

“Please! Oh, please, please! Please!” My balls won’t stop throbbing and she won’t stop moving. You would think I was storing up cum like chipmunks store up nuts for the winter! She slows her stroke, but doesn’t stop.

“What’s the matter, Chris?” she says in my ear. “You… wanted to… give me everything… I just… want to give it back.” I hear the pleasure in her voice. She’s not going to let up on me, and Greystone isn’t stopping… What the fuck?

“Baby… please…” I pant, almost mindless with surrender. I don’t know that I can take anymore, and after all that, I still feel an orgasm in my back!

“I’ll stop… if you will… you’re getting harder… I feel it… You’re getting harder inside of me…”

She’s fucking relentless, and my dick won’t go down. Fucking hell, I’m dying here!

“Hoh, God,” I yield, giving in to the fact that this ain’t over til she says it’s over.

“That’s it, Chris,” she says, sweetly. “Give in to me… you’re mine, now.”

And here I thought I was in control.

She rides for only a few more minutes before…

“I’m coming, baby… I’m coming on that hard dick… Can you feel it? I’m… I’m… fuuuuuuuuuck!”

Hell, yeah, I can feel it! And with that vise-grip-pulsing pussy, that orgasm in my back finally makes its appearance.

“God-damn!” I yell as she screams incoherently through her release… releases… I don’t know. I get the strength to turn her and plop her onto the floor, driving into her hard while my dick beats a mean tattoo inside her.

“Yes! Yes! Fuck, yes!” she screams, her nails digging into my arms.

I honestly don’t know which one of us taps out first. I just know that when I come back to myself, we’re coiled around each other on the floor, both sweating and panting and unable to move. I reach for my suit jacket and throw it over our bodies to give us time to catch our breath.


ANASTASIA

The limo driver drops us off at Escala. It’s easier than trying to get back to Grey Crossing after having driven around nearly all night. He seemed very pleased with the tip that Christian gave him, so I didn’t feel too bad for him having to drive around.

We still can’t keep our hands off each other during the ride up the elevator or while walking through the great room to get to our old bedroom. It’s not that we’re necessarily horny. We’re just very amorous. I’ve long since burned off the alcohol from earlier in the evening, but his reaction to me calling him Chris… fuck, that was cosmic. Will he be thinking about that when guys call him Chris from now on?

He strips me naked before shedding his clothes and we both climb into bed. I don’t know that I can say that this was the best sex we’ve ever had, but it was pretty damn close and probably the most fun—most likely because we’ve been so stressed out for the last couple of months. I expect for us both to fall right to sleep, but it doesn’t happen. I turn around to face him and we start to kiss again.

“Baby,” he says, getting my attention. “I need to be inside you.”

“Christian, you can’t possibly…” I begin to protest.

“No,” he says. “I don’t need to come. I just need to be inside you.” My brow furrows.

“What?” I ask, bemused.

“I don’t know why, but I just know… I won’t able to sleep tonight if I’m not inside of you.” I don’t get it, but I’m positive that this is going to lead to sex again. I never deny my husband, no matter how his sex drive might outlast mine, so…

“Okay,” I say with a sigh. He lifts my leg over his hip and pulls me close to him. His dick is semi-erect and he has no problem slipping it into my recently-well-used pussy. We both inhale deeply as he slides inside and I ready myself for round four… or five… or twelve, whichever one this will be. He snuggles close to me sinks in deep inside of me. He kisses me softly, then buries his head in my neck.

“Goodnight, baby,” he says, holding me in that position. That’s it? He’s really going to just go to sleep like this?

“Goodnight,” I say skeptically and guess what happens?

We fall asleep!

*-*

I wake before he does the next morning and we are still in the same position, only I forget that he’s inside me…

And he has morning wood.

I immediately ignite at the feel of him like we didn’t just fuck nearly all night the night before! I try to think about rainbows and donkeys, my children, Carrick’s horrible brother Freeman—nothing helps! My pussy is pulsing like a goddamn alarm clock… and Christian’s eyes fly open just like he heard it.

“Uh… morning,” I say, trying to act casual. He just looks at me and says nothing, then he brushes his lips across mine without closing his eyes. Then he kisses me without closing his eyes. Next, in one smooth move, he rolls me on top of him and starts to stroke gently. I gasp, because I’m still tender.

“Ssh,” he quiets me, his arms wrapped gently around me. “Relax,” he whispers. I do, and let him stroke into me.

“Lay on my shoulder,” he says, and I comply, still allowing him to stroke into me. He turns his head towards me and kisses me gently, and again, and soon, I’m rising slowly.

“Relax, baby,” he breathes. “Our bodies call to one another no matter what we may do.” Sure enough, a few moments later, I’m bursting into a satisfied release and he follows soon after—nothing cosmic and crazy, just something to take the edge off. We breathe through our orgasms and look at each other.

“Better?” he asks, stroking my back.

“Better,” I say.

“We’ve been too stressed out, Butterfly,” he says.

“I know,” I tell him.

“We have to find a way to do better,” he warns.

A lot of the stuff that we were dealing with is gone now,” I tell him. “We only have one big thing left to deal with.” I sigh.

“And a really big thing it is,” he says, and I burrow my head into his chest.

*-*

Jason picks Christian up from the penthouse and takes him in to Grey House while Chuck takes me back to Grey Manor. I can’t wait to see my babies, but they’re asleep when I arrive, so I have to wait until the mid-morning feeding for “twin-time.” I’m relaxed and loose as a noodle, though, and trying to make heads or tails of a somewhat strange request from the licensing board when Valerie comes into the dining room with her iPad.

“Have you seen this?” she asks and hands me her iPad. There are separate pictures of me and Christian and of Val and Elliot at the Havana Social Club last night, all of us behaving just barely acceptably on the dance floor. I was so lost in Christian that I didn’t even notice Val and Elliot getting a serious bump and grind going to the music. The accompanying blurb proves that we had absolutely no idea that we were the subject of someone’s photo shoot.

What are they putting in the drinks at Havana? Whatever it is, I’ll have a double. Sexy couples can be found grinding and groping on the dance floor on a Sunday Night at the local hot spot, including some of Seattle’s elite. Christian and Anastasia Grey—AKA AnaChris—are pictured above getting frisky and saucy and showing off their moves while Christian’s brother, Elliot Grey, and his new wife, Valerie, are pictured above at right getting just as hot and heavy in the moderately lit nightclub. Club goers confirm that AnaChris and ValLiot spent the evening in longing, lustful gazes with their significant others while sipping fashionable cocktails before heating up the dance floor and leaving well into the night. Will we be hearing the pitter-patter of little feet again soon? If there are more heirs to the Grey fortune born next April, remember that you heard it here, first!

“ValLiot?” Val exclaims in horror. “What the fuck is ValLiot? It sounds like some new drug to treat depression or erectile dysfunction or something! Can’t get it up? Ask your doctor about ValLiot.” She says the last part in a soft, commercial-type voice. “’ValLiot…’ good God, give me a break.” I can’t help my chuckle.

“At least they didn’t name you after the Destroyer of All Good Things. Hell, our name sounds like the first coming of the False Prophet! Beware the AnaChris! God shall smite thee!” My voice sounds more like Moses coming down from the Mount with the tablets. Val laughs this time.

“True, true,” she says. “Good Lord, famous by association.”

“Somewhat, but you married a Grey… welcome to the limelight, my friend.” Val rolls her eyes. “Remember when we talked about things changing?” I said. “Yeah, well, expect your security detail soon.” Her brow furrows.

“Oh, no, really?” she laments. I nod.

“Really,” I say. “Wanna get out while the gettin’s good?” She raises an eyebrow at me.

“Not on your fucking life.”

“Okay, what did I walk in on?” Mia’s voice cautiously interrupts us. I snicker and hand Mia Val’s iPad.

“Guess who got a new nickname?” I tease. Mia looks at the article and raises her eyes to Val.

“ValLiot??” she says in disbelief. “Seriously?”

“Seriously,” Val says, somewhat dismayed, falling down in one of the dining chairs. “God, they really need to get over this whole name-merge thing. It’s so Bennifer. What was that, like ten years ago?”

“Try twelve,” I correct her before turning back to Mia. “I was just telling Val to be prepared for her security detail any day now,” I declare with a smile. Mia hands the iPad back to Val.

“Are you ready for that?” she says. Val shrugs.

“It’s not like I have a choice,” she says. “The limelight has found me even though I wasn’t looking for it.” She shrugs. “They’re going to be pretty bored with me, though. Lately, my schedule involves doctor’s appointments, vegging out, and yoga.” She looks at her hands admiring her new French manicure. I, on the other hand, am paying close attention to Mia.

“What is it, Mia?” I ask. Mia sighs a cliché sigh, yet not so cliché…

“My wedding is in two and a half months… and Grampa is dying. The final dress fitting is this weekend—I’ve put it off as long as I can—but my Grandpa is dying. How can I possibly run around happily planning my wedding and finalizing caterers and cakes and DJs and whatnot when my Grandpa is dying? I’ve been thinking about postponing the wedding until… well, you know…”

“Until when, Mia?” I ask. “Until after Pops dies? I’m sorry to tell you this, Mia, but there’s no way Pops is going to make it to your wedding. I understand what you’re saying, but if you keep the date, you’re going to be getting married no less than a month after Pops dies… What do you think Pops would want you to do?”

“He’s already told me what to do,” she says. “He said to have the wedding. I told him that I wanted to spend time with him while I can. He scolded me.”

“He scolded you?” Val asks with a frown. Mia nods.

“He said, ‘these aren’t quality moments. Don’t spend time with the dying, child. Spend time with the living. Remember our moments when I was alive, not these times when I’m wasting away waiting to meet my maker.’” A tear falls from her eye. She sits at the dining table and quickly wipes it away. “I’ve only had my grandfather for a year. I never got the chance to bounce on his knee or listen to his bad jokes or tales about the good ole days. He was already sick when he got here. You have no idea how much I prayed and prayed for him to get better… for one of us to be a match so that he could get a kidney. In this whole nation, they couldn’t find someone who was a match for my Grampa. Thousands of people who flow through UNOS, and they couldn’t find one kidney for my Grampa.” She shakes her head. Val puts an arm around her.

“It’s not the easiest thing to hear,” I tell her, “but sometimes, it’s just that way. It’s harder to swallow when you’re watching it happen to someone that you love, but it’s still a bitter truth. Pops has been on dialysis for years. His body just can’t take it anymore.” I reach across and take her hand.

“I know you want things to be different. I know you want that kidney to magically appear for Pops, to be able to have him around for a little while longer, but it’s just not in the stars… and he’s at peace with it, Mia. He misses his wife and he’s ready for the suffering to be over. Quite frankly, I think you should take his advice and continue with your wedding plans, but if you really want a solid opinion on this, you should ask your parents.” She sniffles a bit, still wiping her eyes, but nods at my suggestion.

“I just don’t want to be disrespectful… planning a cake tasting or something at the very moment my Grampa is slipping away.” A shiver runs through her, visibly shaking her entire body. “I only gave him those vitamin drinks because I love him,” she says, weeping bitterly.

Vitamin drinks? What is she talking about?

Val envelopes Mia in her arms as she sobs, releasing a sorrow and sadness that she’s obviously been holding in for quite some time. I continue to squeeze her hand, vicariously feeling her immense sense of loss. Hell, my mother wasn’t even at my wedding. Who gets married without their mom?

But my mom isn’t dead. My mom is in Vegas, being a selfish bitch. Pops is going to die and never come back. He’ll be gone and we can’t run to his side and wish him better and talk to him and try not to feel sad because he’s feeling badly. No, he’s leaving for good.

This will be my first real experience with death. Steven, the walking moonshine still, doesn’t count. I was never close to Melanie, my dignity therapy patient and the one who ultimately blew the lid off the Green Valley case, even though I was present when she died. Edward—my psycho ex—was even less significant that Steven.

“I know it’s hard to try to move on, Meelo,” I begin, my voice full of sympathy, “but at the risk of sounding too detached, life does go on. Pops doesn’t want his last days to be about him dying, not even to him. He wants them to be a reflection of life—his and everyone else’s. If we all walk around looking over our shoulders for the Angel of Death, it would make his last days very miserable. I think that’s what he was trying to tell you. He was trying to tell you not to dwell with the dying, but to live with the living. Even Pops isn’t dwelling with the dying. We always talk about his wife and the life they had together, about where she is now and them being reunited. He never talks about his deteriorating state or his discomfort. He talks about living. Another. Life.”

I say the last part slowly because I want her to see Pops’ passing for what it is—a transition, a graduation of sorts to another realm that we’ll all one day have to do. She sniffs and nods through her sobs as I squeeze her hand. Several seconds later, she raises her eyes to me. I can’t quite read her expression.

“What?” I ask concerned.

“You… called me Meelo,she says softly. Did I? I didn’t intend to… “Nobody calls me Meelo, but Christian,” she adds. I suddenly feel very self-conscious. I open my mouth to apologize when she smiles and says, “I’ve always wanted a sister.” I sigh heavily and return her smile before she turns to Val and squeezes her hand, too.

“And now I have two,” she adds. Val smiles widely. We all share a moment, before I say,

“Talk to Grace and Carrick. See how they feel. Then share as many details of the planning as he can stand with Pops. I’m sure he’d much rather be a part of life than death right now.” She smiles softly and nods.

“It makes sense,” she says. “I will.”

“Well,” Val begins, while squeezing her hand. “I know you’re marrying a Kavanaugh, but you’re a Grey right now. Get ready for your name merge once the society page gets their claws into you.” Mia scowls.

“Oh, good God, what the hell do you think they’ll come up with for us?” she laments. We all look at each other for a moment before the three of us say it unison.

Methan.”


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

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~~love and handcuffs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Raising Grey: Chapter 4—Everyday People

I can’t remember which comment somewhere said that I had a link that was going to the original story. I didn’t know what you were talking about at first, but I figured it out later. Thanks for pointing it out! 

I just felt like a bonus chapter, so here ya go! I’ll email it out later.

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 4—Everyday People

ANASTASIA

I’m awakened with sweet kisses all over my face. I’m trying to open my eyes, but yesterday was emotionally trying from start to finish. First, Carrick’s brother shows up and acts like he wants to challenge the entire household to a goddamn duel! Then, that same asshole tries to get my husband arrested and since my husband already has a record, he was going to do jail time for sure. Next, I turn into a blubbering idiot because all this shit had to happen right around our anniversary and there’s nothing I can do about it, thereby proving that money can’t buy you happiness—not that I thought it could. To make that matter worse, Christian walks in on my sob-fest and Valerie promptly tells him why I’m crying while I was trying to convince him that it was just an emotional day. After that display, I fully expect to find that when we return to Grey Crossing, the Taj Mahal will have been relocated to my front lawn.

Finally, there’s Pops. He’s under no misconception of what’s happening. He’s fully ready to go. He’s suffered a lot and he’s just tired now. He talks about seeing Ruby again and the little boy that she miscarried… Carrick has never told any of us about that. I wonder if he even knows. I sat with him for a while before bedtime and he talked about how he wished his sons would come together before he died, so that he could see them all together one more time. He’s resolved that Freeman won’t do it. He had said that Freeman is bitter and unhappy. He’s been bitter for years and the family just chose not to fight him, but in the act of pacifying one son, he had ostracized another. His complacency almost meant that he could have died without seeing how well Carrick had done with his family. He said that he was happy to have come out and met us all, to see how successful and close we all are and to be a part of it if only for a little while.

He said that he felt like Mia was the daughter that he never had, and if he and Ruby were to have ever been blessed with a girl, he would have hoped she would have been just like Mia. He really loves Mia. She can be a bit overwhelming if you can’t tolerate her, but Pops thrived on her energy, even when she was making him drink those terrible health drinks. Her attitude and sunshine is contagious, and he wanted her around him all the time. Even now, she comes in after everyone is gone and some nights, she climbs into bed with him. He says that those are the nights that he sleeps the best. Just last night, she came in and laid down next to him while he and I were still talking. Ethan stood on the other side of the bed where Pops could see him, and Pops mustered up his breath to mutter to breathe a warning to him…

“You… take care… of my Mia… Don’t ever… hurt her… or be cross… with her… She’s a… gentle soul… and if you… mistreat her… it will… destroy her… and I… will destroy you.”

Whoa, Ethan. I’d take the warning of a dying man if I were you. I suspect he would come back and haunt you for hurting his Mia.

“I love her more than I can say, sir,” Ethan said to Pops with conviction. “I’ll never hurt her and I’ll kill the man who ever tries.” Pops nodded his approval at Ethan before turning to a teary-eyed Mia.

“You’ll make… a beautiful… bride,” he says, bringing a shaking hand to Mia’s cheek. “I wish… I could… be here… to see it… but… Ruby’s calling me… I’ll tell her… all about you… and we’ll… be lookin’ down… on you… when that man… makes you… an honest woman.”

Mia’s lip trembled, but she held her weeping in as she kissed her grandfather on the cheek, little dainty ladylike tears falling from her eyes.

“I love you, Grampa,” she said, her voice trembling.

“I love you… my sweet… sweet Mia.” He kissed her on the forehead and we finally left him to rest. When she was sure that she was far enough away from Pops’ door so that he couldn’t hear her, she collapsed into Ethan’s arms with heart-wrenching sobs. He scooped her into his arms and carried her up to the third floor to their room. I followed and went to our room and fell into an emotional, exhausted sleep.

Now, my husband’s soft lips are working their way across my jaw and down my neck. He groans into my skin as he kisses me and gently nips the skin as he moves along.

“Happy Anniversary, my love,” he says as his lips travel down my chest in my now open pajama shirt. Is he going to take me here? God, I want him to, but we’re in his parents’ house…

“Happy Anni… ah!” He sucks my nipple into his mouth and bites down gently on it, sending shocks all the way through me, straight down to my core. He continues to suck and bite on it until I feel like I’m going to lose my mind. He moves over to the other nipple as he snatches me up into his lap.

“Christian…” I breathe, the burning in my nipple matching the burning in my core. I’m straddling him, my thighs or either side of his as his hands slide down my back and into my pajama pants. He grips my bare ass hard, guiding my hips so that I grind against his steely erection. My head falls back and I thrust my hands into his hair as he rubs against me… higher… higher… higher I’m going as I feel his head and his shaft throbbing through his boxer briefs against my clit. I’m panting, rising to my orgasm, when he stills—holding me against him, no more movement. He kisses my lips gently, then again.

“Settle,” he says, his voice controlled like he wasn’t just throbbing like a madman against my pussy. I hate that he can do that. “I want you hot… all day. I’ve got surprises for you tonight.”

“All… all day?” I whimper, dismayed. He nods, looking me right in the eyes.

“Go shower. Don’t touch yourself. Mom is cooking for us, then I’m sending you out of this house for a while.”

“Sending me… what about the twins?” I protest.

“I’ve taken care of that,” he says. “So, pump if you need to, because you’ll be gone all day…” He kisses me with a wet open-mouthed kiss—short, but full of promise. “And all night.” I shiver when he says that and I can only nod.

“What should I wear?” I ask, trying to control my hormones. He thinks about it for a moment.

“Be comfortable,” he says. “Shorts.” I nod and smile. “Be quick. Mom is making us brunch.” I nod again. He kisses me again before releasing me and leaving the room.

Shorts. Comfortable. Okay.

I wait for a moment and stick my head out the door to make sure that he’s gone before I walk quietly down to Mia’s room. Her door is cracked, so I knock.

“Come in,” she replies. I walk in and she’s just putting some earrings on. “Hey, Anakins. Whatcha need?”

“Shorts,” I say with a shrug. “My best friend blabbed that I was sad about our anniversary, so my husband is sending me away for the day.”

“Yeah, I know,” she says, finishing with her jewelry and turning to me. “I’m helping out with the twins.” I smile at her.

“Thanks, Mia. I really appreciate this.”

“No worries. It’s good practice for when Ethan and I are ready, and I love spending time with those babies—once we get Minnie calmed down from the teething pain.” I frown.

“Yeah, it’s a bit much for her, but your mom’s miracle concoction is just that—a damn miracle!” We both laugh for a moment and then she looks me up and down. “Shorts—hmm… cute or comfortable?”

“Both,” I reply.

“You know I don’t have the ass you do. Boobs, yeah, ass, no.” I twist my lips.

“Anything gym short-ish that we can dress up?” I ask. “They stretch.” She puts up a finger and opens her mouth as if she has just made a miraculous discovery.

“I got it. I’ve got the perfect thing!” She disappears into her closet. I knew to ask her because she had to leave half of her wardrobe behind when she and Ethan moved into the new apartment. She comes back out with this adorable two-piece runner’s set with a long-sleeved hoodie jacket.

“Oh, that’s perfect,” I say, taking the set from her. Tiny little gym shorts that will just cover my ass and a matching jacket. “Sports bra or T-shirt?” I ask. She goes back into the closet and pulls out the cutest pink T-shirt. It’ll fit me, but I’m definitely going to have to pump so that the girls don’t leak.

“You’re going to give my husband a heart attack,” I say, looking at the darling little shirt that’s sure to accentuate my assets, with a logo across the boobs that says, “I’m So Om Nom Nom.” Come to think of it, he deserves it after working me up and leaving me hanging. I’m not going to be the only one all hot and bothered all day.

I take a shower and pump my milk. I wear a thong since these shorts are sinfully short and I don’t want any panty lines. I thought about a demi-bra, but this shirt is screaming “support those girls or there’s going to be a problem.” I put the outfit on with a comfortable pair of sneakers as I’m certain that I won’t get out of the house in heels with these on. Not feeling much like fussing with my hair, I put it in a messy bun and finish the look off with simple hoop earrings and lip gloss. I poke my head in to check on the twins before going downstairs to the dining room.

“I. Am going. To kill. Mia,” my husband says, gawking at me when I enter the room. I know what I look like—hot, but not trashy. I’ve finally been able to tone my hips and ass since the twins were born, but they are really toned… round and firm and beautiful, and I love them. So, I know my husband is having a cow right now.

Ana Ass

“What did I do?” Mia exclaims from the other side of the table where she sits with Ethan.

“You said shorts,” I say innocently. “I don’t have shorts here. Should I change?”

I catch a glimpse of Val snickering out the corner of my eye and Elliot is shaking his head.

“Don’t worry, Mia,” he says. “With Montana in that outfit, he’ll keel over before the day is done just thinking about it. He won’t have time to get to you.”

I know Christian wants to say “yes” because I’m sexy as hell and I won’t be with him all day, but he doesn’t want to come off as Tarzan, beating his chest and making me go change. So, instead, he just says, “Bring your sexy ass over here, woman.”

I smile coyly at him at walk across the dining room with my hands clasped in front of me. His pupils dilate as I cross the room to him and he’s practically salivating.

“Yep, keel over dead,” Elliot teases.

*-*

Christian has me sitting so close to him throughout brunch that we might as well be sitting in the same chair. We’re feeding each other fruit and stuffed French toast and maple sausage while conversation carries on around the table like we’re not food-fucking each other right now. Once coffee starts to go around, the conversation floats around to Pops.

“So… I’m going to sign the house over to Freeman and Stan once… well, you know, once Dad is gone,” Herman says. Luma squeezes his hand. She’s been by his side the entire time this ordeal has been going on. “Do you have a problem with that, Rick?” Carrick shakes his head.

“I never wanted the house,” he says. “Does it even have the value that it had before? I know it’s in the historical district, but… it’s still Detroit.” Herman nods.

“They’re building the city back up,” he says. “There were some hard times for a while with that asshat Kwame Kilpatrick and all the shit that followed once he was arrested. It was downhill for the city after that. But the new downtown is revitalizing the city, so property values may go back up. I think that’s what Freeman is counting on. The house is paid off so he’s hoping to make some money off the property.”

“Well, no,” Carrick says, “he can have it. It’s not like I plan to go back to Detroit for anything.” There’s a long pause. “Do you?” Herman raises his head and looks at Carrick.

“Do I what?” Herman asks.

“Plan to go back,” he says. “I mean… to Detroit.” Herman’s brow furrows. I look at him just in time to see him look at his and Luma’s joined hands.

“Well, I want to go see my kids, but if it’s all the same to you, I was thinking that I might want to stay in Seattle,” Herman says. Carrick sighs audibly.

“It’s all the same to me, brother,” he says with a wide smile on his face. He and his brother share a moment silently between him before Carrick says, “I just don’t understand why Freeman has to be so bitter.”

“Yes, you do, Rick,” Herman says. “He’s always like this.”

“Not always,” Carrick says, taking a sip of his coffee.

“Yeah, Rick, he was,” Herman says. “You two are the middle boys, and Freeman was determined not to fall into the ‘oldest, youngest, middle’ stereotype…” I frown.

Stereotype?” Christian asks for clarification. Herman turns to him.

“The oldest is the bully, the youngest is spoiled, the middle is abused or forgotten,” he says.

“I never heard of that,” Ethan interjects.

“Me, either,” Val says. I, however, am familiar with this dynamic. I’ve had more middle children as patients than I want to count.

The theory is that the oldest comes first and has Mom and Dad—depending on the family—all to themselves. Then, the second child comes along and the first child has to share the attention, often getting bumped aside since there’s now a new “baby” of the family. However, when the third child is born, the dynamic changes. There’s yet another baby in the family to take Mom and Dad’s attention away from the first two. The oldest has now most likely grown out of the attention-needing phase and has either become protector or bully. The baby is coddled and the middle child either forgotten or abused.

“Well, there are kids in our neighborhood who lived it, so if it’s not true, then someone somewhere believed it was. Anyway, Freeman and Rick are second and third born. Freem could’ve done without you, until Stan was born a couple of years later. Then, you were his best friend.”

“So, I guess I don’t get it,” Mia says, frowning. “Freeman didn’t like Dad until another kid was born?” Herman nods.

“I knew Mom and Dad were going to have more kids. They prepared me for it from the moment I could talk, telling me that I was going to be a big brother, so I expected it. When Freeman was born, it was no surprise. I guess Freem didn’t get the preparation that I got, because when Rick was born, he became the most miserable little bastard you ever met in your life. He stayed that way for two years until Stan was born. Then, there needed to be a unified front against the enemy… the enemy being Stan. Stan was oblivious to the whole thing. I saw it. It didn’t bother me much, but I saw it. I was just happy Freem wasn’t such a miserable bastard anymore.

“He latched onto Rick like a leech when Rick was two years old. He was that manipulative at four. He orchestrated this friendship where the rest of us—even Mom and Dad—were on the outside looking in.” Carrick frowns.

“I never got that feeling,” he said. “I always thought we were just… close.”

“In your eyes, you probably were,” Herman says. “In his eyes, it was the two of you against the world. Only it wasn’t the two of you against the world anymore when you went and married Grace. He always thought the brothers would get married in order of birth, so he would get married before you. When you got married first, you deserted him. You jumped ship, and the fact that you married money made it even worse.”

“That’s just ridiculous!” Carrick interjects. “We lived in a big house in one of the best parts of the city at the time. We didn’t want for anything. Christmases were insane; we didn’t have to wear hand-me-down clothes, even though most of the kids we knew were doing just that. Hell, some of them even wore our hand-me-downs. We lived a great life. We were not poor! What was or is his huge aversion to money?” Herman sighs.

“You ever watch The Little Rascals, Rick?” he asks after a pause. Carrick frowns.

“Yeah, haven’t we all?”

“Not all of us,” Elliot pipes in. My husband throws a look at him and Elliot shrugs. “I haven’t seen it,” Elliot replies in a what did I do tone. Herman continues.

35e1820e04e9d86ee47f6bfc626e7765

“Well, for those of you who don’t know, Alfalfa was the neighborhood ‘crooner’ in love with Darla, the neighborhood sweetheart—the proverbial girl next door. Waldo was the rich kid who went to their school, also with his sights set on Darla. There was a constant battle between Alfalfa and Waldo for Darla affections, and she played right up to them both.”

“I always thought Darla was a trifling little tramp, but I felt bad saying that about a kid who was all of eight or nine years old,” I say to no one in particular.

“Well, as you know, in the end, Alfalfa always won Darla’s affections. Not so in the real story. Freem’s ‘Darla’ stayed with him for three years until they graduated high school. Freeman went straight into the factory after high school. He wanted that factory money and Dad got him right in. That’s a really good living for a man with a family, but for a single man, that’s a mint!

“’Darla,’ or Rachel in this case, went to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor right after prom and ‘Waldo,’ a guy named Kevin Higgins, followed her. With no ‘Alfalfa’ to interfere, Kevin charmed the pants off Freem’s girl… literally. Freem stopped hearing from her. She wouldn’t contact him when she came home from school. She was never in her dorm or anywhere to be found when he went up to see her.

“She came home for Christmas in her junior year and Kevin came back with her. Freem showed up demanding answers, and she finally told him the truth about her and Kevin. The next year, when Rachel and Kevin came back for summer vacation, they were married at Kevin’s parents’ estate in Novi—no long engagement, just ‘marry me,’ ‘okay,’ and they did it. Freeman waited for that girl for three more years after graduation hoping that she would come back and when she did, she had a husband and that husband came from money.

“Freeman was convinced that it was the money that won her over, not that the two of them were spending time with each other and just fell for each other in Freeman’s absence—which is most likely what happened. Rachel was faithful to him in high school and Freeman couldn’t believe that for reasons of love and love alone, she went to Kevin and not him. Freeman had saved up so much living with Dad and having no expenses that he couldn’t even see that he was pretty well-off on his own. He lives in a huge house in the suburbs. His kids go to the best schools; his wife drives the best car. He’s living a little beyond his means to still try to show Rachel what she missed after twenty years, but he’ll never forgive her for leaving him for money.

“When Rick married before he did, and married into money, he had the worst fit I had ever seen. A line was drawn in the sand, not because we were upset with Rick, but because Freeman was still living at home with Dad and Stan, Mom was dying, and we were just trying to keep the peace. After Mom passed and you married Gracie, Freeman wrote you off. You were oblivious to the situation with Rachel because he didn’t want to tell you. Stan was oblivious to everything because he was young and it didn’t roll down to him. But I saw it all—my brother has been a self-serving bastard since the age of four when he started priming you as part of the ‘us against them’ party. You never fell into it, although you and Freeman were really close, but he didn’t see that. You were his wingman; you would always have his back.

“Along comes this young beautiful blonde—with money—and Freeman’s left out in the cold again… for money. It couldn’t be the fact that you loved her, like Rachel did Kevin. They’re still married, by the way—two kids, a lovely home, and very happy as far as I know. You all saw for yourself that Freem married, too, and he’s got two kids, but he still doesn’t forgive the money. As far as he’s concerned, you betrayed him just like Rachel did.” Carrick shakes his head.

“All these years,” he says. “All these years, I’ve been wondering why he hated me so much. This is so unbelievably ridiculous that I can’t even wrap my mind around it. He thought that I would turn my back on my family for money?” Herman shook his head.

“Not that you would… you did,” Herman says. “In his eyes, you chose the dollar. A lot of times, we thought to contact you and it just fell by the wayside because it was such a huge fight. And that was our fault—Dad, Stan, and me—but we never felt like you deserted us. Freem was just a force to be reckoned with that we didn’t want to battle. When we got the invitation to the wedding, Dad had just had enough. He said that you’re his son, too, and he wasn’t going to allow Freeman to steal another minute away from him. I think he knew then that his days were numbered and he wasn’t letting Freem dictate what was going to happen to him or whether he could see his son or not. So, Freeman’s current animosity isn’t towards you anymore. It’s more of a transference of what he can’t show to Dad.”

“That’s not possible,” Carrick says. “Freeman hates me… not Dad.”

“He doesn’t hate Dad, but he’s mad at Dad, even more now that Dad’s here. Trust me, it’s not you, Rick. It’s Dad.” Carrick frowns.

“Well, I know he’s mad at me because of Dad…” Carrick says, still trying to understand.

“No,” Herman says, “he’s mad at Dad. He tried to keep Dad from coming out here for the wedding. He threatened to have him declared mentally incompetent until I reminded him that I was Dad’s power of attorney and trustee over his estate. He’s been trying to get Dad back to Detroit since the day after the wedding. When I told him that Dad and I were staying, he flipped his lid. Then I suggested sending Dad back, but I wasn’t coming. I never would have done that, but I wanted to see his reaction. You know what he did? He sent me a request to change power of attorney and a manila envelope full of nursing home brochures. He was going to put my father in a nursing home if I didn’t come back to take care of him. That’s the last contact I had with Freeman before Dad’s health deteriorated, and that was right after New Year’s.

“Freeman is really upset right now because there’s no one on his side. And he’s really pissed at Dad because of what Dad said to him that day he showed up and because he knew you guys were fighting.”

“What did he say?” Carrick asks. Herman pulls out his phone and thumbs through it, placing it on the desk and swiping something on the screen. He puts the phone on the desk and we hear Pops’ voice.

“You need… to let it… go. You… need to… make peace… with your… brother… Life… is too… short to be… fighting and… mad… all the time… Don’t you… get tired… of being… angry… all the time… Freeman?”

“I just want what’s best for you, Dad,” Freeman’s voice says over the phone. Pops coughs a bit, but it’s not until I hear the next words that I realize that he was trying to laugh.

“I love you… Freeman… I want… you to know… that… but you… never did… anything… unless… it was… what… was best… for you.”

Uncle Herman picks up the phone and swipes the screen.

“That’s it,” he says. “That’s all of it. Shortly after that, he came down and got into the fight with Christian… if you can call it that,” Uncle Herman laughs. Yeah, I call it dumb ass crossed the wrong Neanderthal and saw his fucking life flash before his eyes. Christian scoffs.

“Yeah,” he interjects, “One minute, he’s all ‘you feelin’ froggy, kid?’” He did a horrible imitation of Freeman’s voice. “The next minute, he’s ‘officer save me—that caveman could have killed me.’” There’s an uncomfortable laugh around the table.

“What made you record that?” Carrick says to Herman.

“I saw where the conversation was going,” Herman said. “Freeman came up the stairs looking like he has just gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson in his heyday. Dad looked at him and tried to ask what happened. Freem called you a hothead and said that you instigated the whole thing…”

“Of course, he did,” Carrick said, shaking his head. Herman nods.

“Dad didn’t buy it,” he continues. “He bought that you had beaten the hell outta Freem, but not that you instigated the fight. He asked Freeman what he said and Freeman denied saying anything to you. That’s when I started opening my phone and told Dad that Freeman called your children bastards and you came at him with a hard right.”

“Oh, dear,” Grace says, sipping her coffee. Herman shrugs.

“I wasn’t going to have him badmouthing Rick when he wasn’t there to defend himself. Anyway, he dug a hole for himself because he mumbled that they would never be Greys and that’s when Dad told him that he needed to stop being mad all the time.” Herman sighs. “So now, he gets to carry the burden of knowing that the last time he saw Freeman, his son left angry at him because he’s too big of an asshole to think of anyone but himself!” Herman spit those last words out just as I hear a slight commotion behind me.

“Um, hello everyone… bad timing?” I turn around to see my best friend standing in the doorway. It almost seems like forever since I’ve seen Al and I can’t help but go to him and wrap my arms around him.

“Hi, Al,” I whisper in his ear.

“Hey, Jewel,” he says, bringing his arms around my waist.

“What are you doing here?” I ask.

“We’re taking you out for a day of fun!” Al says, trying to make his voice sound more chipper than the solemn mood that has settled over Grey Manor.

We?” I question.

“Me and Val. We’re going to go have some fun like we did when we were teenagers and forget about being adults for a while.”

That’s when I realize that the short suit is perfect, because I truly look ten years younger and not like a mother of twins. I nod before I release my embrace.

“I could use a little fun,” I say with a sad smile. I turn around to face my husband. “What about you?”

“Don’t worry about me,” he says. “I’ll catch up with you later.” He rises out of his seat and puts his arms around me, shamelessly putting groping my ass—a cheek in each hand. “Have some fun and I’ll see you this evening.” He kisses me softly, and then again.

“Okay, okay, no making out in front of parental units. Damn!” Elliot hisses, just as Val gives him a sweet kiss. I rip myself away from my sexy ass husband and follow my friends out of the Manor.

*-*

63026a45c33b335a847fe73d08884480Christian arranged covert security for the day and I don’t even bother to look for them. So, with Val and Al on my arm, we go straight to the mall. The first place we hit is Accessory Palace. Val and I used to spend hours in here when we were in college. Val finds two big bows with ponytail holders on them, promptly buys them and puts my hair in two “anime girl” ridiculously long ponytails. I swear I look like I should be in high school!

LollipopDetermined not to give away my identity, Val pays for our accessories, which includes a costume “key” to go on my earring like Janet Jackson wore in the “Control” video. We couldn’t resist finding a store with lollipops and taking several shots and selfies of us posing like naughty schoolgirls.

Next, we play nine holes of indoor miniature golf on a course in the mall that actually glows like cosmic bowling! I’m not really one for miniature golf, but it turns out to be a lot of fun. My white sneakers light up with the lighting effects and Al jokes about how it won’t be hard to find me on the course. Val wins, still not sure that I didn’t let her win. Al bitches about the whole game since he finishes 37 under par, which he only got because if you got six strokes and you still didn’t get the ball in, we gave it to you at six. Al got six strokes 4 times! I was 18 under par to Val’s 10, and I really didn’t let her win. One of Al’s complaints was correct. A lot of the “holes” had a little lift around the outside of the rim. So, if you didn’t hit the ball just right, it would roll to the hole and look like it’s going in, but instead, roll down the outside of the rim and back down the hill. I figured that out around the third hole and adjusted my stroke, so he doesn’t have an excuse… sore loser.

Before we leave the mall, we spend some time at Gameworks. Now, could Ana just play some games quietly and have fun? No! Ana had to go all out and play the games that would draw attention to herself, like the dancing game where your feet have to move at the speed of light causing your ass to jiggle and your boobs to bounce. I don’t know how long I stay on that game working up a sweat before I realize I’ve drawn a crowd—not because I’m so good at this, but because my ass is jiggling and my boobs are bouncing. I have a good laugh at my own expense, then get off the machine before I cause some poor pubescent boy to nut himself.

 

 

Val and I then challenge each other to air hockey, which I most certainly did not let her win and what happens? More pubescent and not-so-pubescent gawkers. Why? Two beautiful women bending over an air hockey table battling it out to the death and giggling maniacally. You tell me.

After several games where I win several tickets, we wrap our arcade trip up with an interactive video game called “Police 911,” where you step inside this little frame that reads your body movements and puts you in the game. So, if you physically move to take cover and keep from getting shot, the screen moves with you in first person. Needless to say, I drew a crowd on this game, too, because I played for quite some time on two tokens while listening to things like, “She can protect and serve me anytime,” and “She’s going to beat my high score,” and “Damn, that bitch can shoot.” Shortly after the last comment, I give my last “life” to a kid standing near the game and we leave the arcade, not necessarily because of the comment, but because it was time and I wanted to do something less physical.

Now, I’ve lived in the Seattle area on and off for the better part of nearly thirty years and I’ve never seen or even heard of what my friends called “The Gum Wall.” It’s exactly what it sounds like—it’s a wall in an alley near Post Street covered in already-chewed gum, and my friends thought that this was something that should be on my bucket list. This wall actually draws tourists who will add to it, take pictures in front of it, and even touch it. The truly brave among them—or truly stupid, depending on your perspective—will even lick it. It’s disgusting!

Going to the Space Needle was more my cup of tea. Even though I had been several times before, riding up that elevator and going to the observatory never loses its splendor for me. It’s like a party in the observatory and I always get butterflies in my stomach riding to the top in the elevator. I always loved the observation deck and even the butterfly ride up to it…

Seeing Mt. Rainer off in the distance and listening to the elevator operator tell us that it’s one of five active volcanoes in Washington and the highest point of the state…

Looking over Elliot Bay and seeing my condo, wondering if I should sublet it or just sell it or keep it in case I need an escape…

Just letting the wind and the breeze blow through my pigtails and erase all manner of worry and stress as I gaze out over the Pacific…

“Chocolate’s mom called.”

I look over my shoulder at Al and frown. His husband, James, has very little to say about his family, but none of them were invited to their wedding a few months ago.

“Really?” I ask curiously. “What’s up?”

“She wants him to come home for the Fourth of July,” he says, looking over the ocean with his binoculars. That was another sore spot for James that I knew about. He went home to Arizona for Thanksgiving, taking Al with him. The reception was less than warm, to put it kindly, and he has no desire to return. He was part of the Faces of Abuse PSA that we did last year and although I don’t know—or can’t remember—the particulars, I know it has something to do with his childhood and him realizing at an early age that he didn’t like girls.

“Are… you guys going?” I ask. Al shakes his head.

“Not likely,” he says, “but it’s put him in a foul mood. I’m expecting some kind of scene later when I get home.” I raise an eyebrow.

Scene as in having a fight making a scene or scene as in wrist restraints and riding crops?”

“The latter,” he says, a small smile playing with his lips. “I shouldn’t be happy about it. It’s coming at the expense of him being upset about his family, but I can’t help it. He’s a natural at this! If I didn’t know better, I would swear he’s done it before.”

“Have you asked him?” I say, walking around the observation deck. He nods.

“He says he hasn’t, but after you and I talked and we dabbled, we met with that guy you told us about—Michel—and his boyfriend. They helped us along and now Chocolate is king, let me tell you!” Al momentarily gets a lusty, glassy look in his eye and once his pupils dilate, I snap my fingers.

“Yo, Forsythe, step away from the playroom,” I say quietly. His blinking and slight head shake lets me know that he had indeed wandered to some area involving a spreader bar or a St. Andrew’s Cross.

“That’s Fleming-Forsythe to you, Missy,” he hisses, while sticking out his tongue at me. I like the fact that he and James took each other’s last name without having to make too many changes to legal documents. Al is Fleming-Forsythe, putting James’ last name before his, so that if a document still says Forsythe, it’s still legal. In turn, James is Forsythe-Fleming for the same reason.

“Come on, you two. We’ve got ice-cream and pampering to do,” Val says, pulling our conversation away from the lifestyle and back onto the day ahead of us. Christian and I could definitely use some playroom time. He’s wound tight as hell and I just don’t feel like myself these days after everything that’s been going on in the last couple of months.

I love the fact that we’re just having an average day like we used to before I became Anastasia Grey. I miss doing simple things like going to the Marketplace and the aquarium, even going to kick Luc’s ass at some Krav Maga or doing yoga in one of the local studios. The fact that I’m dressed like a damn teenager and I don’t have a horde of security around me turned out to be one of the best disguises in the world. I’m hiding in plain view and all I had to do was dress and act like a normal person.

Fortunately—and unfortunately—our cover is blown when we walk into a Baskin & Robbins to get two-scoop waffle cones. The clerk serving us ice-cream recognizes me immediately under those pigtails and ridiculously large and goofy sunglasses that I wore as part of my disguise, not my normal Jackie-o’s. It was fortunate because we were going straight from here to Miana’s to pamper and primp, so our entire day couldn’t be ruined by the paps. It was unfortunate because if we didn’t hurry and get the hell out of here and stop taking pictures with the misled, start-struck ice-cream clerk, the rest of our day would soon be ruined by the paps. Luckily, we slipped out before any cameras showed up.

Val’s last spa day was my disastrous birthday weekend last year, so she took full advantage of the facials and massages and body wraps for the rest of the afternoon. I was plucked, scrubbed, polished, buffed, kneaded, and threaded within an inch of my life before Franco shows up with this gorgeous red creation for me.

“Mr. Grey demanded that you be wearing this when your treatments are finished,” he says. I already feel so pretty—my hair falling down over my shoulders in bountiful, soft waves; flawless model makeup gracing my cheeks and lips; and now Franco brings me this stunning ensemble that informs me that the night will surely be as memorable as the day. It’s a basic red hourglass tunic dress the falls just below the knees, but grommet-inset leather starts at the shoulder, crosses the breast, and ends at the other hip. Leather laces are threaded through the grommets to hold the dress together so that if you untie the laces, the dress can be as demure or as raunchy and you want it to be. There’s a cute pair of strappy sandals with 4-inch heels along with two Cartier boxes that, no doubt, carry at least $100,000 worth of jewelry. My breast pump has also miraculously materialized, so I plan to take full advantage of that having not seen my children all day.

“Mrs. Grey?” I turn to see another of Miana’s employees standing there with another garment bag, only she’s not looking at me. She’s looking at Val. I clear my throat and get Val’s attention.

“I’m not the only Mrs. Grey in the room anymore,” I tell her, gesturing to the lady standing next to her. Val turns and her brows furrow, then raise to her bangs.

“Wha…? It’s not my anniversary,” she says, bemused.

“Apparently we’re going together open the bag!” I say all in one breath. Val opens the garment bag to find a cold-shoulder purple mini that has a draping top and a fitted skirt. She has a matching pair of purple Louboutin stilettos and three accompanying Cartier boxes.

“Wow… I guess we are,” she says, giggling like a schoolgirl.


CHRISTIAN

“She knew about Flynn. She knew about my guns. She had way too many details from after her mole was gone. How? She knows about you dismantling businesses. You still own the salons, so she couldn’t be talking about that. It has to be the miscellaneous subsidiaries or something else.”

My wife’s words from the Pedophile’s trial play back in my head. I’ve since had Alex and Barney working on locating any other possible leaks in our system and nothing has come up. I’ve also had them screening every employee who has come and gone for the last three years and the well is still dry. I can’t take another fucking hacker situation, that’s for damn sure. That shit seemed to drag on for-fucking-ever and when it was finally finished, I had no damn closure—just more unanswered questions. I still don’t know where the fuck the crack whore’s pimp is. For all I know, he could be somewhere perusing through my files as we speak. But Barney and Alex say that’s not possible. There are no footprints anywhere.

Alex has given me another theory, though. Myrick, Jr., infiltrated all of my files, even my phone when he leaked the ultrasound pictures of the twins. We had no idea that he was lurking around in the system until last fall, but he had his eye on me and Butterfly since at least the Thanksgiving of the year before. That’s when he was able to get Butterfly’s keys and make copies—while we were staying at the Manor over Thanksgiving weekend. We know that he was working with Lincoln, which is how she got the keys anyway, or at least how she got the gun.

The key to this mystery is going to be in finding out who the accomplice was that actually went into Butterfly’s apartment. Whoever that was, I’m sure that they have more information on the topic, but we don’t even know where to start. Then again…

“You want what?” Alex asks.

“Every video from every camera from every angle from Cristalla Condos from February 23th and 24th of last year. I want an account of every person that was in that building those two days. If a door opened in that building over those two days, I want to know where that person started and where they ended up. If there is anyone who doesn’t have a definitive destination, that’s where we’ll start investigating.” There’s silence on the line.

“Why did no one think of this last year when it happened?” he asks.

“Because we’re idiots,” I say. “We’d been lulled into a false sense of security all the way up to the point where that man hacked into my computer systems. Get started. I’m going to want to see the results and the videos and Butterfly may need to see them, too. We may be able to identify someone.”

“Yes, sir.” I end the call and shoot off an email to Andrea and CC Ros that I will be in the office tomorrow after all. I have two important issues on my agenda. The first is to find out how I can get my uncle, Stanley, here to say goodbye to Pops. He seems like a decent enough guy—nothing like his brother, Freeman. He just needs additional means to get here and at this point, there’s no time to waste.

The second is to welcome the third in command that we hired when I discovered that Pops was dying and I knew that I would need to spend more time with my family. His name is Lorenz Fineman, and according to his background check, he has held three high-level executive positions in the last 15 years. Each company has recognized vast net profits while he was on the board and he has never been asked to leave an organization. He only moves on when he feels like he’s given the company all that he can really give them.

He has a wife and three children in private schools and a home in The Highlands, so he’s a stable family man. He’s in his mid-thirties—not much older than me. Even though GEH is well-established and needs no help in the growth department, he understands the concept of needing more capable hands in executive leadership so that each member is able to invest in family life without leaving the company teetering on one leg. He interviewed well with all of us and Ros feels like he’ll be a good fit. Butterfly profiled him a bit from a personality point of view and decided he appears to be truthful and solid in all that he says and that if he is hiding something, we’ll have to wait him out.

I haven’t told Butterfly yet, but Joshua Shaler accepted the position as Mac’s assistant in the PR department with a few stipulations. Of course, he had to sign an NDA, but he’s somewhat working undercover. He’ll be behind the scenes, pulling the levers and working things out for us while Mac will be the front man… er, woman that presents GEH to the press as usual. He wants to remain freelance and we’ve been able to work that out. Without the appearance of not being biased, he would lose some of his connections and the ability to obtain information.

Joshua is one of those unconventional people with hidden talents and resources that you want to have on your team. He’s rare to find—like Allen—and when you have an opportunity to acquire that type of asset, you don’t let it slip through your fingers. He’s already proven to be worth his weight in platinum. Hell if I’m going to pretend that he’s not exactly what GEH needs.

I’m finalizing the plans for this evening when my phone buzzes in my pocket. I slide my finger across the screen to reveal a picture of my girl in that tight ass “Om Nom” shirt with schoolgirl pigtails in her hair and her luscious red lips wrapped around a fucking lollipop. My dick gets so hard so fast that I literally have to unzip my jeans to free it in an effort to relieve the ache. I’m fucking going to kill Allen Michael Fleming Forsythe and Valerie Whatever-Her-Middle-Name-Is Grey for putting me through this! That short set she wore when she left earlier was clinging to her ass like a second skin, just barely covering her ass cheeks—sexy enough to cover the goods and still leave a little to the imagination. I wanted to ravish her right there and then, and now, they torment me by sending me this and I can’t get my hands on her all day. Fucking hell!

Elliot is only too happy to assist with hijacking our women for a night on the town, complete with limousine service. I begged Mom and Mia to keep the twins for the night so that I can celebrate with my wife. Besides, if Pops died today, I wouldn’t want to be here for it and I wouldn’t want my wife to remember our anniversary as the day my grandfather died… nor would I. We need a break from this if just for a moment. Elliot agreed that he would take Valerie away from the situation for a day as well since she had gone through so much with her treatment right after they married and they never got a honeymoon. So, when I gave him my plans for a “normal people” evening to complete the “normal people” day that my girl was having, he was all in on surprising our girls for the night.

Well, maybe not-so-normal since we’ll be riding around in an Audi Q7 Limousine.

I called Butterfly’s stylist and my friend Victoria Stewart and promised to pay her at a premium to come up with something last minute for both our wives, which she did, thank God. When I explained to her what was going on and why it was so important for our wives to decompress, she was only too happy to help. She produced simple but stunning dresses and shoes for both women while Elliot and I made quick trips to Cartier to find appropriate accessories.

I’ve become fond of Valerie in the past few months. It’s quite obvious that she’s totally and completely smitten with my brother, but she’s a wonderful friend to my wife, too. I didn’t totally understand why Butterfly fell apart so violently after their “break-up” last October, but seeing her since the removal of her tumor—seeing the real Valerie shine through—I have to say that she’s one of the kindest, most selfless people that I know. This is the Valerie that held my hand last February when my then fiancée left me and escaped to Montana without a word. I only got a brief glimpse of her then, but I’ve seen her in full glory over the past several weeks.

Ever since she awoke from just after her surgery, she’s been more concerned with other people than she has with herself. Yes, she concentrated on her treatment and healing, but she’s been the empathetic ear, the solution finder, the shoulder to lean on—her outlook on life is carefree and happy and she’s been an amazing friend and sister-support-system to my wife when Valerie is the one that really needed the support in the first place. Had it not been for Valerie, I wouldn’t have known that Butterfly was feeling the way that she was about our anniversary. So, I’m only too happy for her and my brother to spend our special evening with us.

I’ve always appreciated the impact of a well-fitting black suit while my brother is usually a bit understated. So, while I don the black on black shirt and slacks and a black suit jacket with iridescent specks, Elliot sports a purple shirt that matches his wife’s dress along with some black slacks and a gray textured tie.

“I want to take her away,” Elliot says to me as we cruise down the I-5 headed for Miana’s. Elliot drove his truck to the Fairmont Olympic where he and Valerie will be spending the night and I had the limo pick him up to retrieve our wives. “We didn’t get a chance to take any kind of honeymoon because she was sick. Now, that she’s so much better, Pops is not doing too well. It seems insensitive to just say, ‘Hey, let’s take a trip after my grandfather dies.’” He takes a sip of sparkling apple cider out of crystal stemware from the bar.

“But in actuality, isn’t that what you’re doing?” I ask him. “And what’s so wrong about that? You want to take your wife on a well-deserved vacation and you don’t want to do it while Pops is on his death bed. I mean of course I don’t expect you to be pulling out to board a plane right after ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust,’ but life goes on, man. It’s okay to live it after someone passes on.” He shakes his head.

“I know, but it seems so wrong… like I’m just waiting for him to kick,” he says with a frown.

“I hate to tell you this, Lelliot, but we’re all waiting for him to kick,” I say solemnly. “It’s not because we want him to die. It’s because we’ve all uprooted our lives from what they were before in preparation for the inevitable. We’ll all go back to what was normal once he’s made his transition, as much as normal can be after you’ve lost someone that you love. It’s not because this is what we want. It’s because it’s inevitable.” I sit back in the plush leather seat of the limo and watch the scenery go by outside the window in front of me.

We’ve never had to deal with death this close to us… on this level. I immediately think about the crack whore and those feelings of helplessness when she lay cold and dead on the floor in the kitchen when the sun rose and set once… twice… three times… four times…

“What are you thinking about, Bro?” Elliot says, bringing me out of my daydream.

“I was going to say that we’ve never had to prepare for death this way… then I thought of your parents dying at the same time in that car accident…”

“Or your mom dying when you were four,” he adds. I nod.

“We still didn’t have an opportunity to prepare for death,” I say. “My mother OD’ed and your parents were snatched from you in a very untimely manner.” I throw back the rest of my champagne. “I was only saying that to say this. You can’t live in grief and Pops wouldn’t want you to. Once we make sure Dad is okay and Mom will have a handle on things—and Luma is comforting Uncle Herman—plan that trip. You and Valerie both need it.” He nods and sits back in his seat. Things were silent for a while before he started speaking again.

“You know, we’ve done some hiking and things—family trips and such, but we never really just hung out before,” he says. “Yeah, I’ve been a tagalong, like when you wanted to check out that club you bought a while back, but for us to hang out like we’re doing tonight, or for us just to hang out as bros, we don’t do that.”

“Maybe that needs to change,” I say to my brother, he smiles widely at me then nods.

A few minutes later, I call Franco to let him know that we’re arriving at Miana’s and that I and my brother are in a limo outside waiting for our wives. He promises me five more minutes before our wives will ascend from the salon, so Elliot and I step out of the limo to greet them when they exit the building. True to his word, Franco had our wives exiting the building in five minutes.

Have you ever had that moment where time stops and everything moves in slow motion… like the Baywatch babes running on the beach? Yeah… that happened.

dgspvm

 I saw a flash of purple out the corner of my eye, but my sites were set on this vision in red floating towards me. Sleek and sexy, classy and demure with flirty, sexy sandals wrapped around those ankles… fuck, I chose the apparel and my mouth is watering as she walks toward me. I feel like I’m in a damn dream watching her walk toward me, her hair riding the wind behind her—total movie star quality. I have to take deep breaths, breathing shamelessly through my mouth while trying not to pant like a dog. Her beauty is leaving me light-headed and breathless.

maxim-lovesadriana-limas-wind-blown-hair

She strides right up to me and pushes her hands under my jacket, flattening them on my chest. I’m startled by the contact, almost in disbelief that this gorgeous creature is real and now touching me, cherry-red lips beckoning me to kiss her.

“One day, Christian Grey,” she breathes dangerously close to my lips, “I’m going to find a way to match how indulging you are to me.”

“You’re doing a really good job already,” I croak, my throat constricted and my voice raspy while my fingertips sink into her hips.

“What is this jewelry?” she asks. “A hundred, a hundred twenty thousand?”

“I don’t know,” I say, lost in her beautiful blue eyes, and it’s the truth. “I just know what I like.” I know that she’s wearing the Etincelle De Cartier classic diamond cuff bracelet and the High Jewelry diamond earrings set in platinum, but ask me what they cost and I couldn’t tell you exactly—somewhere in the one-fifty to one-seventy-five area, I think. My hand travels from her hip to her long, slender neck. She tips her head back slightly to allow my gentle but firm caress.

“I wanted you to wear a collar, but then I wouldn’t be able to kiss your neck.”

“Yes, you could,” she breathes, her voice denying her arousal.

“I could, but it would be hindered. I like this better.” I lick her neck from the collar of her dress all the way up to her ear. She closes her eyes and her breath catches in her throat. I can’t help but sample those juicy, moist, cherry-red lips, which I do. She matches my kiss, her tongue caressing mine as her fingers flex on my chest. God, she’s delectable. I pull my lips from her and look into her bottomless blue eyes. I could devour her right here, but it’s probably not a good idea to do that on the sidewalk right before dusk.

“I hope you brought some back-up lipstick, because I plan to kiss that off of you in the next few minutes,” I warn.

“It’ll keep,” she says sweetly, breathlessly, “but I have.”

I fully expected some kind of “get a room” comment from my brother, but I look over at him and a similar scene is playing out about five feet away from us. Valerie has him pushed against the limo—decked in a purple number with gold Cartier accessories. Her hands are thrust in his hair and he has her trapped in a passionate embrace, their lips locked in an R-rated kiss while he pulls her body against him like he hasn’t seen her in weeks.

I know how you feel, Bro.

“We better go,” I choke, walking my wife towards the back door of the limo. I open it and she climbs inside, the motion jolting Valerie and Elliot from their kiss. Their faces only breaths from each other, they stare into the other’s eyes, still locked in their embrace and breathless.

“I missed you,” Elliot breathes.

“I missed you… too…” Valerie pants before gently kissing her husband again. She takes another deep breath and turns to me. I’m still standing here, holding the door for her. “Hi, Christian,” she says with a grin. I return her smile.

“Hi, Val,” I say. She pauses for a moment before getting into the Limo. Yes, I know, Val. She smiles widely and steps inside, Elliot right behind her. I get in with my family and we’re off to enjoy the evening.


A/N: Kwame Kilpatrick—this is a difficult story to tell, so I’ll just give the Reader’s Digest version. Kilpatrick was the mayor of Detroit. Right after I left Detroit in 2008, he was involved in several huge scandals—one of which dated back to 2003 and involved the murder of a 27-year-old stripper. Without recounting details with which I’m not completely familiar, he was charged with all kinds of criminal crap, pled to some of it, ended up losing his position as mayor of Detroit, yada, yada, yada. Needless to say, this brought all kinds of bad publicity to Detroit and I subsequently heard that families were leaving the city and that it was almost, if not completely, bankrupt. I got word that schools were closing and everything, and we all know that once schools start closing, the city is dying. I don’t know if one had anything to do with the other, but it happened.

While there are some big, beautiful houses still in Detroit’s historic Boston-Edison district, there are some that are really very run down as well. In addition, it’s a beautiful place, but it’s not the safest area to live. It’s like a suburb right in the middle of “not the safest place to live.” What Herman is alluding to is that while the historical district is still considered one of the premier areas of the city, that Kwame’s actions and the national negative publicity he brought to the city may have even affected the property values of that respected and coveted area.

THE PINTEREST LINK IS CORRECTED NOW. IT GOES TO THE NEW PAGE AND IT OPENS IN A NEW WINDOW BY ITSELF… SORRY ABOUT THAT!!

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

Raising Grey: Chapter 3—Sibling Rivalry

I really love the fact that I was able to throw so many people off the scent for once. Only a handful of you expected it to be Elena and most of you were surprised that she was even a consideration.

Hiding in plain sight…
The curve ball that didn’t curve…
That’s really cool for me!

Happy Birthday to the original Christian Grey (hubba hubba!)  

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 3—Sibling Rivalry

CHRISTIAN

“You brought Dad out here to die?” Freeman shoots. “Alone? With him?” He gestures over to my father. “He hasn’t been around for twenty years and now, he’s suddenly the golden child? Why—because he has money? Dad wasn’t good enough for Mr. Moneyman to care about him for twenty years, what’s changed now?” He turns to my father. “Do you think you’re going to get the house, Rick? Is that what this is about?”

Herman put a call in to his brothers, Stanley and Freeman. Stanley couldn’t come… or refused to come, I don’t know. But since Pops has been on hospice for two weeks, Freeman has showed up at my parents’ house roaring like a bear. Even after he sees how my father is living, he still maintains that the only reason we wanted Pops here was to get control of that house in the historical district of Detroit. He either doesn’t know or doesn’t care that Uncle Herman is the one that has control of that house. No matter what, my father has to be the villain.

“We were only trying to help him,” I interject. “We were trying to see if any of us were a match to give him a kidney. He chose to stay. We didn’t force him.” Freeman turns around and glares at me like I’m vermin.

“I. Don’t. Know. You,” he says with disdain. “I don’t care how much money you have and I don’t care what name he plastered onto you, you’re not a Grey. You have no say-so here, so don’t you dare try to tell me what’s going on with my father!”

I’m instantly enraged. I don’t care who this son-of-a-bitch is, he has no right to tell me that I’m not a Grey. I have the guns loaded and I’m ready to fire when Dad takes over for me.

“Now you listen to me and you listen good.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard my father speak through his teeth… well, once, when I told him I was dropping out of college. “That man lying in that bed has my blood pulsing through his body just like you do, and as much as you want to sit on your high horse and pretend that I don’t have a say in what happens to my father, you’re wrong—legally and morally. So, you can put that high command shit right back in your pocket where you got it from because I’ve had about enough of it. This isn’t about you! This isn’t about me or Herman or Stan or even about that house! This is about Dad! So, while I appreciate that this is a difficult time for all of us, if you have nothing constructive to contribute, then shut the fuck up!” He closes the space between him and his brother.

“I have never in my life insulted Burtie and Nollie. If you ever stoop to insult one of my children again, I will make you regret the day you were born.” Freeman smirks at my father. Oh, no…

“You feeling lucky there, Ricky?” he taunts. “You think a little age has made you tough? Well, give it your best shot!”

“Freeman, stop this!” Uncle Herman tries to make peace. “This is ridiculous!”

“No!” Freeman barks. “He moves as far away from us as he can get—why Washington? Why not Alaska? Then he adopts some poor little orphans from God knows where and I’m supposed to treat them like family? Like hell! He can send those bastards right ba…”

Before he can finish his sentence, Dad comes at him square on with a solid right cross. He’s stumbling and confused, but when he gets his bearings, he comes right back at Dad with everything he’s got. They’re brawling in the great room like two street fighters, rolling around and landing hits on each other that would take out a bear half their age. Mom is appalled and horrified and Freeman’s wife just stands there with her hand over her mouth, sporting the same stunned look as Butterfly and Valerie. Uncle Herman is trying to break up his brothers, and I look over at Elliot. In seconds, we have a silent conversation with our eyes and make our way over to Dad and Freeman. With Uncle Herman’s help, we manage to pry them apart. Uncle Herman is able to hold Freeman, but it takes both me and Elliot to subdue Dad. I’m able to hook my arm under his so that both hands clasp his shoulders. He’s not getting away, but he’s hard as fuck to hold! I knew my dad was fit, but I had no idea that he was this strong.

“Dad! Dad!” I whisper strongly in his ear. “Don’t do this!”

“Dad! Stop! Please!” Elliot is in front of my father, putting his body between Dad and Freeman. Dad struggles a bit, intent only to get his hands on Freeman again.

“Freeman, stop it! You’re making a fool of yourself!” Herman scolds firmly.

“He swung first, the goddamn coward! Got more than you bargained for there, Ricky, didn’t you?”

“You hit like a girl!” my father retorts, shoving Elliot out of the way and attempting to lunge for Freeman again, but I see it coming even though Elliot’s caught off guard and I had tightened my grasp before he made the decision.

“Cary!” My mother’s voice is tortured. It makes all the men stop and turn their attention to her. Butterfly is holding her by the arms and she’s weeping. Okay, you made my mom cry. That’s enough of this shit. Luckily, I think Mom’s emotions has thrown ice cold water all over this situation. Freeman looks at Herman.

“Are you coming?” he growls. Uncle Herman examines him.

“You are my brother and so is Rick. I love you both and I’m not going to choose between you. If you want to be that asshole, you be my guest. You guys want the house? Fine, do whatever you want to do with the house, just don’t tell Dad, and I’m sure Rick will agree with me.” He looks over at my father, who is now sitting on the sofa turned away from his brothers with me standing over him. He disgustedly waves off the entire situation without raising his head.

Freeman straightens his clothes and runs his hands through his hair. Is that a family trait? According to this asshole, I’m not family, so I must have picked it up from Dad.

“I’m going upstairs to say my goodbyes to my father,” he says to Uncle Herman, his voice cold and controlled. “When he passes on, you be sure to have a funeral for him here—with people he barely knows! When you’re done saying your goodbyes, get my father back to Detroit where he’ll have a proper funeral with his family and friends, and people who love him. And he can be laid to rest next to Mom where he belongs.” He turns to Dad. “You’re not welcome… brother!” With a final glare at my father, he turns and leaves the room. His wife doesn’t know what to say or do, so she just goes behind him. Herman walks over to my father and gently clutches his arm.

“You alright, Rick?” Dad snatches his arm away from Uncle Herman.

“I’m fine!” he yells. “I’m fucking fantastic!” He pulls a handkerchief from his inside pocket and wipes the blood from the corner of his mouth. “Our father is up there dying. He has days left—hours, maybe—and all that selfish asshole can think of is that I moved away! I didn’t hide! You always knew where I was—he always knew!” Dad gestures up to indicate Pops lying upstairs, “but because I didn’t come crawling back to Detroit a failure with my tail tucked between my legs, he’s holding it against me! Then he insults my children—in my home! Who the hell does he think he is?”

Dad picks up a tumbler of scotch that was sitting on the coffee table and launches it into the fireplace, causing an eerie silence to fall over the room. He walks over to the mantle and leans on it, stroking his lips in angry contemplation. Mom walks over to him and places her hand on his back. He spins around and glares at her and in a moment, the walls fall. She looks lovingly into his eyes and he begins to weep—softly at first, then mournfully, bitterly. He all but collapses into her arms as soul-wrenching cries exude from his chest.

Elliot is the first to leave. He angrily pushes a chair out of his way and storms out to the terrace. Valerie is right behind him. We’re alike that way, and now is no different… we can’t stand to see our father cry. It happens so rarely and, quite frankly, it’s unbearable. I have to get out of this room. It’s everything I can do not to run up those stairs, grab that man, drag him outside and beat the living shit out of him—but I have to remember my father’s words.

This is not about me. It’s about Pops.

I escape to the foyer, which doesn’t help much because I can still hear my father, but I can’t see him. I’m a visual man, and the sight is more than I can take. I have to stay close, though, in case my father needs me. I pace a few steps before I see Uncle Herman and Butterfly exit the great room together. She gives him a hug before he turns and walks towards the stairs. She searches the room and, finding me, she heads in my direction.

“Not the family reunion we were all hoping for,” she says, sympathetically.

“Not even close,” I respond, trying to block out the sound of my father’s cries. “When I was a kid, Dad had this client—a young woman in her twenties. Her father had passed away and he had a million-dollar life insurance policy. He left most of it to his wife—his second wife, his first wife had died. He had three adult children of which this young woman was one. Her father had left his wife the house and all the contents as is the law for married couples. He also left her $550,000 in the life insurance policy. He left his three adult children $150,000 each.

“The day after he died, his children descended upon that house to lay claim to his personal possessions—things to which they had no legal title or right. ‘This belonged to my mother’ and ‘He brought this with his first wife and I’m taking it with me.’ The widow had to call the police and have them forcibly removed.

“When the daughter came to see my father, he thought she was contesting a will. She paid his retainer and gave him the information that he needed to begin discovery. After four days, of course Dad never found a will because there was none. He contacted the widow to find out who her attorney was in the case and she had no idea what he was talking about. The woman didn’t even have an opportunity to grieve her husband before these people showed up and started making demands and throwing orders at her. They were even trying to tell her how to dispose of his remains. They never once asked any questions or they would have known that he had already handled his final arrangements so that his wife wouldn’t have to.

“Dad listened to everything this woman told him and it was a real horror story. He called his client back into his office and told her that there was no will and nothing to contest. She wanted to contest the life insurance policy.” Butterfly frowns at me. “Yeah, I know, but she wanted him to do it anyway. I was home when she made her last visit to my father. I heard her tell my father how she had planned on hiding her father’s remains so that this woman couldn’t visit him; how she had actually found a judge that was willing to put the widow out of her house until and if she and her siblings could go in and clean it out. She claimed to have an up-to-date copy of the life insurance policy that left everything to the children and nothing to his wife. She had no idea that in any state, you can disown your children, but you cannot disown your wife. She tried every dirty trick in the book to make sure that this woman—who had spent the last 18 years of her life with this man—was left penniless and homeless.”

I run my hands through my hair as I recall that young woman. I was only 10 at the time, but I never forgot what she looked like. She was very pretty—blonde hair with brown or red in it, very shapely, and she looked like Satan. She was pure evil and she wore it like a badge.

“I asked my mother why she was so mean… why she wanted to take everything the woman had. My mom just said, ‘You know, Christian, sometimes death just brings out the worst in people.’ I didn’t understand it when she said that. I kept thinking that when the crack whore died, I was sick and unhappy. I didn’t want to hurt anybody; I just wanted my mom back. I hadn’t had any other experience with death up to that point, so I didn’t know how to rationalize what she was saying. Once I got older, I understood it better. Death turns the living into monsters! They want to be the favorite child; they want to inherit everything; they want to make all the decisions. They don’t care about each other at all. They just care about themselves.”

I shake my head, realizing that ironically, this is what my father is experiencing. His brother—or brothers, I’m not sure—had pretty much disowned him. They thought they could take away his rights to have any say-so over his father, except for Uncle Herman. Then my wedding happened, and Pops decided that he wanted to spend his last days with the family that he hadn’t seen in 20 years. This enraged his other sons and Freeman showed up in Seattle to set the record straight. However, Uncle Herman has power of attorney, and Freeman just assumed that Herman would side with him. When he didn’t, all hell broke loose.

“What ever happened to the widow?” Butterfly asks, breaking my train of thought.

“Dad gave the daughter back her retainer and took the widow’s case instead. The daughter didn’t have a case at all and the widow needed protection, so that’s what Dad did. He contacted that judge and let him know that he had taken the case and would take the whole thing public if the guy tried to illegally strong-arm the widow out of her house.” I drop my head. “Now he’s fighting with his brother. This will not end well.” She rubs my arm.

“We’ll be here for him, and we’ll be here for Pops. That’s all we can do.” It’s really not that simple, yet, it really is that simple. I nod and she stands on her toes and kisses me on my cheek. “I’m going to go check on the twins, okay?” I nod and watch her as she heads into the parlor-turned-nursery. Once she disappears, I see Freeman and his wife coming down the stairs. I’m trying not to glare at him, but I can still hear my father weeping in the great room. I fold my arms as he approaches. He turns his head to the great room, then keeps walking, not even caring that he has broken my father. He proceeds in my direction and examines me. I must be looking at him like Death itself.

“You feeling Froggy, too, kid?” he taunts. I have no respect for this man, his station, or his situation. He insulted me and my brother and sister, he insulted my father, and insulted my mother by disrespecting her home. He’s the enemy as far as I’m concerned.

“You’ve got good moves, but don’t let the suit fool you. I’ll leave you face down in a pool of your own blood.” My voice is menacing even to me, my words even more frightening to someone who I should consider my uncle. His wife gasps and clutches his arm. “I think it’s best that you get the fuck out of this house before I forget that you’re my father’s brother.”

“I’m not his brother,” he says, his voice lacking the cockiness it had a moment ago. “He’s dead to me.”

“All the more reason to get the fuck out of this house,” I say with a menacing calm. He grabs his wife’s hand.

“Come on, Shari. These people are nothing but trash with money.” And now he’s taking shots?

“Those are tall words coming from someone who’s broke and classless,” I retort.

“I’m not broke,” he says spinning around, “and I have more class in my little finger…”

“Whatever!” I hiss, cutting him off. “Say it while you’re walking!”

“You think you’re better than me, don’t you?”

“You know what I say every time somebody says that to me? No, I don’t—but you do. In fact, you know it. That’s why you asked. Now kindly leave my parents’ house. You’re not welcome here; you’ve already said we’re not family, so get the fuck out.”

“You really think you’re something, don’t you?” he laughs. “You think that because you have a couple of pennies to rub together, that makes you better than me?”

“No, that’s not what makes me better than you. However, I realize that you have no idea who we are, so let me enlighten you. I have more than just a couple of pennies to rub together, sir. I am a self-made multibillionaire. I own several companies across the United States and abroad, including the company that provides the steel to the plant where you work!”

His face falls. I think he believed I was just Ricky’s rich son who made my money from a trust fund.

“You own…” he begins, but I interrupt him.

“That man there,” I say, pointing to Elliot as I catch him in my peripheral vision, “is wealthy in his own right as he owns Grey Construction—his company. He works for some of the richest people west of the Mississippi. One of his most recent projects was rebuilding a 14,000-square-foot mansion on Mercer Island—my mansion! Of course, you’re familiar with Mercer Island, you know—where Paul Allen, Howard Lincoln, and Frank Shrontz live. Don’t recognize any of those names? How about Bill Gates? He lives right around the corner in Medina!”

He’s awestruck. His mouth is hanging open, but I continue.

“My sister, Mia, who you managed to insult without even seeing her, is one of the most successful interior designers and event planners on the west coast—her own company, too, by the way. That beautiful woman there, that’s my wife. A few months ago, she gave birth to twins, our first children. Two months before that, she was in a car accident where she was T-boned which left her in a coma for two weeks. When she awoke, she suffered from temporary amnesia. She’s still fighting to get some of her memories back.”

Shari looks over my shoulder at Ana, who I now discover is holding Minnie.

“Before the accident, she was—and still is—one of the most sought-after mental health professionals in the greater Seattle area with a waiting list as long as you are tall. Yet, she chooses to volunteer every moment of her spare time to a charity for abused and displaced families. They pay her for her services, but she gives the money right back.

“That woman, there, that’s my brother’s wife. She’s a very successful marketing executive who just a few months ago, suffered from a brain tumor that should have killed her. Instead, she kicked that cancer’s ass and came back better than before. She might have been responsible for the jingles that put the food on the shelves for half of the things you’ve eaten here in Seattle.

“Why am I telling you this? Because I think you may be thinking you’re dealing with a bunch of trust fund kids and trophy wives. You couldn’t be more wrong. Every one of us is self-made and if I have a trust fund, I sure haven’t seen it yet. So, if it means anything to you, I was abused at the age of four, Elliot is an orphan and my sister was a crack baby, and none of us live off Mommy and Daddy. We worked hard for our money just like you do—we just have more of it!”

“I couldn’t care less where you come from, kid,” he retorts, finally regaining his ability to speak, “and I care even less where you’re going. All I see here is a bunch of stuck-up people with your stuck-up family and your stuck-up wives…”

I don’t even remember what happened. I just remember this man’s eyes bulging out at me and his face losing its color. Elliot is grabbing my arm and yelling at me. Freeman‘s wife is screaming. I can hear Valerie calling my name and I don’t hear Butterfly at all. When I come back to myself, Freeman is dangling from the floor and I swear I’m trying to squeeze the life out of him. I place him slowly on the ground, my arm still holding him against the wall by his neck.

“You are a miserable human being!” I hiss at him. “You are the most wretched, selfish, loathsome man I’ve ever met in my life, and that says a lot! Now take your wife, your smart-ass mouth, and your despicable attitude and leave my parents’ house. We may not be welcome in Detroit, but that’s fine because you’re not welcome here.” I lean in to him a bit. “You wanted to be dead to us, you almost got your wish, literally! Now keep your mouth shut and get the hell out!” I snatch him off the wall by his jacket and shove him towards the door. He’s rubbing his neck when he turns around to me.

“You know…”

“Out! Now!” Elliot growls between his teeth. Freeman rubs his neck, then looks from Elliot to me, takes his wife’s hand and drags her out the front door.

“Good riddance!” I hear in a low voice. I look up and my father and mother have come out of the great room. I don’t know how much of the spectacle they saw, but Dad makes it clear that he has no qualms about me ridding the manor of his toxic brother. He makes eye contact with me for only a moment before heading up the stairs with my mother close behind him. Elliot takes a moment to compose himself before he turns around to face me. “Dude, are you okay?” he asks.

“I could have killed him,” I hiss. “I could have fucking killed him.” Elliot put his hand on my shoulder.

“I know,” he says. I just drop my head as Butterfly sighs.

“Val, would you please come… bring Mikey back to the parlor and help me with the babies?” I hear her say.

“Sure thing, Ana,” Val replies and I watch them both go into the parlor.

“I think she’s mad at me,” I tell Elliot.

“No, I think she’s just scared,” he says, putting his hand on my shoulder again. “You gotta control that temper, Christian.”

“I know,” I lament. The last thing I want to do is frighten my wife. He nods.

“I’ll go check on ‘em,” he says, giving my shoulder a squeeze before He goes into the parlor. I sit on a bench in the hallway and bury my hands in my hair, resting my elbows on my knees. I don’t know how long I sit there before I feel her hands in my hair. I reach for her and put my arms around her, laying my head on her stomach and inhaling her scent.

“It was me, wasn’t it?” she asks softly. I nod against her stomach.

“I think so,” I say. “I believe so. I don’t know, I think it was just the last straw. I wanted so badly for him to see how wrong he was about us, but when he just started throwing insults to be spiteful…” I sigh and pull her closer to me, resting on her as she gently massages my scalp.

“I love that you love me,” she says, “that you’re so protective of me, but you’ve got to gain more control of yourself when it comes to me. You could’ve killed him. That son-of-a-bitch certainly wasn’t worth it.”

“I know. He’s all hot air and bullshit.” I shake my head. “What a fucking asshole.”

The landline next to me on the hall table rings and I answer it without thinking.

“Grey… residence,” I correct myself from my usual answer.

“May I please speak to Herman… or Rick… um, Carrick?” The voice on the phone sounds like Dad, but I knew Freeman wouldn’t be speaking this politely to me.

“Who’s calling?” I say, almost demanding.

“Uh… this is Stan… Stanley Grey.” Stanley Grey… Dad and Uncle Herman’s other brother. I run my hand’s through my hair.

“Look, Stan… Stanley. My father’s had a really bad day. We just had to throw Freeman out of here because he got into a physical altercation with my dad. I don’t think he’s in the mood for any more today.”

“Jesus,” I hear him say on the other line. “He’s such a fucking hothead,” he adds under his breath and I don’t know if he’s talking about my father or Freeman. “Look, I’m not trying to cause any trouble, I just… couldn’t get out there. It was impossible. I don’t have the money and my job won’t let me go anyway because Dad’s not dead yet… Look, if you could just tell Herm or Rick to give me a call please? I don’t know if I’ll be able to see Dad before he dies, but I’d like to talk to him.”

“Is this about the house?” I ask, “because Pops is in no condition to talk business.”

Pops,” he repeats the word. “Who is this?”

“This is Christian Grey. Carrick Grey is my father,” I tell him. He’s silent for a minute.

“It’s nice to meet you, Christian,” he says. “I… didn’t know Rick had any children.”

“I’m adopted. Me and my siblings… my brother and sister.” I’m short, probably shorter than I should be.

“Oh. Well, that’s interesting. What do you do?”

“I’m a billionaire… self-made. My brother and sister are both entrepreneurs—construction and interior design.” Butterfly looks at me questioning, but I offer no explanation.

“Wow. That’s impressive,” he says with a calm voice. “Rick must be really proud of you.” My mood softens. He’s not like Freeman. He’s listening.

“Thank you,” I tell him. “He is, and we’re proud of him, too. He’s been a pillar of strength for all of us… until today.”

“Look… Christian… I heard you say something about the house and… I don’t really care about the house. I can’t do anything with it. But if it’s at all possible, I really want to speak to my dad.” His voice cracks at the end and I know he’s broken up about his father.

“Stanley, I…” I sigh deeply. “I don’t think Pops can talk. He’s got an oxygen mask on and he hasn’t said much in the last several days.” It sounds like he’s choking back a sob. “But why don’t you let me see what I can do, okay?”

“Thank you,” he croaks. “Thank you, I really appreciate it.” I put the call on hold before walking to the stairs. Just as I start to ascend, I think about Dad being on the other side of the country—dying—and I can’t get to him. I thought about how I would feel if I couldn’t say goodbye. I sprint up the stairs to my parents’ room and grab the cordless landline.

“Stanley, do you by any chance have access to an iPhone?” I ask with no prelim. He pauses.

“I’m… on my iPhone now.” I look at the number on the caller ID while walking briskly to Pops’ room.

“Hang up,” I instruct him. “I’m going to call you right back.” He pauses again.

“O… Okay.” I end the call and dial the number from my iPhone requesting a video chat. I enter the room to Uncle Herman and Dad sitting on the same side of the bed, talking quietly and looking forlorn. When Stanley answers, I take a moment to look into the face of yet another version of my father—younger, eyes a different color, jawline softer, but Dad nonetheless.

“One second,” I say as I walk over to the other side of the bed with Uncle Herman’s and Dad’s confused eyes following me the entire time. Pops weakly turns his frail head towards me and I lean over the bed, gently placing my hand on his shoulder.

“Somebody wants to say ‘hi,’ Pops,” I tell him as I turn the screen to his face. There’s a pause again before I hear Stanley’s voice.

“Dad!?” His voice almost sounds frantic. “Hi, Dad!”

Pops struggles to focus, but lifts his frail, shaking hand to the phone.

“He’s having a hard time talking with the mask, but he’s touching the screen,” I inform Stanley. You can hear him laughing a bit through tears.

“It’s so good to see you, Dad.” His voice sounds like a toddler, small and soft… and longing. Pops actually smiles under the mask and I know he’s trying to say Stanley’s name. Stanley has a one-sided conversation with his Dad about how much he misses him and loves him. Pops isn’t able to respond much, but I describe Pops’ every reaction to Stanley’s words, including the single tear that falls down the side of his face and the Hawaiian “hang loose” gesture that he takes all his strength to make. This reduces Stanley to laughing tears again as this is apparently a private joke between him and his father. After as many minutes as Pops could stand, I bring the screen back to my face.

“He’s really tired now,” I say, remorsefully. “It’s been a really emotional day.” Stanley’s face is covered with tears when I see him again. He nods as he works to compose himself.

“I wish I could be there,” he says softly. “This may be the last time I ever see him and I can’t even say goodbye.” He weeps softly and the wheels start spinning. I own the steel company that supplies the factory he works for. There has to be someone that I can call that could help me get Stanley here to say goodbye to Pops. It would put Pops at ease, too, I’m sure.

“Why can’t you come, Stanley?” I ask, walking away from Pops’ bed and talking lower so that Pops can’t hear me.

“I have to work,” he says. “I work at the plant and I used up all my vacation time on… well, partially on vacation and partially when one of my kids was in the hospital. He’s fine, now, but there’s no time left for me to take off.”

“So, it’s the money,” I say, knowing that wouldn’t be an issue if I can get him to accept my help. He nods.

“That and the fact that I can’t get the time off. I love my father, but I have way too many responsibilities to lose my job.”

“Well, what about FMLA?” I protest. “Your father is deathly ill.” Certainly, that company offers something for times like these.

“I’m not the primary caregiver,” he says. “I can get bereavement time when Dad dies, but as long as he’s alive, I can’t get any time off.” I run my hand through my hair.

“Let me make some calls,” I tell him. “There has to be some loophole or something that we can exploit that can get you the time off and money is no object if it doesn’t offend you to take it from me.” He frowns.

“I appreciate that, kid, I really do, but I don’t think there’s much you can do unless you know the owner or something.”

“Well, no, I don’t, but I own the company that supplies the steel. You and Freeman work in the same place, right?” His mouth falls open and his eyes widen.

“You’re that Christian Grey?” he exclaims. Before I have the chance to answer, he says, “Shit, I never would have put that together! I mean, I’ve joked about you being part of my family, but I didn’t know you actual were. I thought the company that supplied us was out of Russia or something.”

“Yes, it’s overseas, but I still own it,” I tell him. He does a scoffing gasp.

“Damn, you have ‘I-have-companies-in-Russia’ money.’ Freeman’s going to be really pissed.” I raise an eyebrow at him. “Freeman has a thing with the rich. He feels like the only way that they get rich is from stealing from the poor, which isn’t true… well, not always true depending on who you’re talking about. According to him, the only honest dollar is a dollar that you’ve earned by hard work.”

And here I was spouting about my family, their money, and our accomplishments when that only made us look worse in his eyes.

“We’ve met,” I say, attempting to stamp down my anger, “and I’ve earned every damn dollar I have. I started my company ten years ago with a $100,000 loan and office space. I flipped and built and burned and cried and sacrificed everything close to a normal life for years to build my empire. Nobody gave me anything and I never stole anything. Your brother Freeman is just a blind, jealous, ignorant bigot who can’t see the forest for the trees.”

“Yeah, you’ve met him,” Stanley confirms. “Look, if it’s any consolation, I don’t share my brother’s views. I just never spoke up against him because it just wasn’t worth the fight. I have my own family; living my own life. I realize now that was selfish because that left Herm to take care of Dad all these years… and Rick, I just didn’t fight. I just wanted to keep the peace. You would think something like this would pull us together.”

“You would think,” I lament. “Stanley, just… stay put and let me see what I can do, okay?” He shrugs and nods.

“I can’t end up any worse off than I am,” he says. “Can I… speak to Herm?” I nod.

“Sure thing.” I walk back over to the bed and hand Herman the phone. “Hey, Herm,” I hear him say.

“Stan, I thought that was you. It couldn’t have been anybody else. How’d you hook up with Christian?”

“I called the house and got him,” he says. “He seems like a good guy. He said he’s met Freeman.”

“Yeah, he has,” Uncle Herman says.

“No doubt, that didn’t go well.”

“No doubt,” he says and turns the phone to Dad.

“Rick! How the hell are ya, man? You look like shit! What happened to you?”

“Freeman,” Dad bites out. “He’s a fucking asshole.”

“This is a real fucked-up situation, guys,” I hear Stanley say as I exit the room. So, I would have to contact someone directly at the steel company or the plant to see what can be done for Stanley. I can’t just call human resources because they don’t know who I am. This is Saturday. Who might be working today?

*-*

I’m using Dad’s study to chase down who I need to contact to get Stan the time off that he needs so we can get him to Seattle. Pops is on borrowed time and I’m certain that if we don’t get him here before week’s end, we might as well not bother.

I was planning to bring him and a caregiver on the last leg of our Italian vacation. I want to be able to fix everything, but I know that I can’t. I wanted to extend his life, but it wasn’t in the cards—not even with all my money. So, I at least wanted him to see Italy before he dies, but his health deteriorated so quickly that travel is out of the question. In fact, we had to postpone our Roman holiday because I don’t want to be across the world and get the word that my grandfather has passed away.

“Christian?”

My mom’s voice breaks my train of thought. When I look up at her, all the color has drained from her face. “There are two police officers at the door that want to speak to you.” I frown.

“Did they say why?” I ask. She shakes her head.

“They just asked for you, son,” she says. Why the hell do the police want to talk to me? I push back from Dad’s desk and walk to the door to find an audience of people there… Elliot, Val, Butterfly…

“What can I do for you, officers?” I ask after I work my way through the curious onlookers.

“Christian Grey?” the officer at the door says.

“Yes?” I answer with a frown.

“We have a warrant for your arrest, sir,” he says.

“Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaad!” Elliot yells like he’s twelve years old. That call will bring my father running from anywhere in the house.

“A warrant?” I ask, bemused. “For what?”

“Assault and battery, Mr. Grey,” the other officer says. I look over his shoulder and see Freeman in the back seat of the police car. Fuck! This is my second offense. I’m doing time.

“I assume you’ve arrested my brother, too, then.” I hear Dad’s voice behind me. Jesus, where was he? He just fucking materialized! The officer frowns.

“No, sir, he’s the complainant,” he says.

“Oh, well, in that case, you might want to confiscate his passport and his plane ticket, and arrest him as well, because if he presses charges against my son, I’m pressing charges against him,” Dad declares.

“What?” the officer says. “That man looks like he’s been beat all to hell!” I didn’t inflict those bruises on him—Dad did! But I’m not letting that cat out the bag.

“And I don’t?” Dad points to his face and the swollen lip and bruising that have now become evident over the course of the day.

“Mr…” The officer pauses and waits for Dad to give his name.

“Carrick Grey,” Dad says coolly, “Esquire.”

Oh, shit. Dad pulled out the Esquire. This means war.

“Um… okay. One second.” He goes to the car and Freeman and his wife step out and walk to the bottom of the stairs.

“That’s far enough,” Dad says. “I’m concerned about my safety with him on my property.”

Your safety?” Freeman shoots. “That bastard reject of yours tried to kill me! My wife’s a witness!” Stay cool, Grey…

“Oh, you have a witness,” Dad says. “I have six that will confirm that you came into my home, insulted my entire family, incited a physical altercation with me where my brother and both of my sons had to break it up…”

“Eight if my infant twins could talk,” Butterfly’s voice comes behind me as her hands move to my back, calming my ire immediately.

“You were told to leave several times,” my father continues, “but you refused and instead, stood there spewing insults at my children. That makes you guilty of trespassing, which means I, my family, or any member acting as security on my behalf can have you forcibly removed. In case you aren’t aware, first degree trespassing is considered a gross misdemeanor in the state of Washington and is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. You can’t leave the state—assuming you make bail—until your trial, and you’ll need to come up with room and board while you wait. That’s not including the battery charges that are written all over my face. As you say we’re ‘trash with money,’ so you know we have the resources… and we live here, so we have nothing but time. So, how far do you want to take this spiteful façade that you’re only executing because Dad is dying in Seattle instead of Detroit, Freem?”

Freeman’s eye’s narrow and he glares at my father. The officers now wait for his response, clearly seeing that this is nothing more than a family feud being used to facilitate revenge. Freeman’s wife puts her hand on his back like Butterfly has her hand on mine.

“Enough, Freeman,” she says softly. “Let’s just go home.” You can tell he wants someone to go down so badly, but that means that he has to go down, too.

“I withdraw my complaint, officers,” he snarls, so angry that he could spit right now.

“Are you certain, Mr. Grey?” one of the officers says. “This could be considered a false complaint.”

“It’s not a false complaint,” Freeman growls. “I maintain that I was battered by that caveman standing at the top of the stairs.” His eye flash to me. “But apparently, according to the laws of your state, it was a misunderstanding because I had it coming.”

“That would be determined in an investigation, sir,” the officer says.

“An investigation that means I would have to sit in jail because that asshole would have me arrested for those love taps he got on his face,” Freeman says now glaring at my father. “No, I’m fine. I need to get out of this den of pretentious fuckers before I end up in jail for sneezing.” He takes his wife’s hand and walks back to the police car. It’s got to be easier for the officers to see how this whole mess came to be, just by the way he’s acting now.

“Well, it looks like we have no complaint, so… we’ll just be on our way.” One of the officers says to Dad. “Sorry to have disturbed you Mr. Grey, Mr. Grey.” He nods to my father, then to me before walking back to the patrol car.

“Excuse me, but…” the other officer begins, “did you say that your father was dying?”

“Yes,” Dad replies. “I did.” The officer shakes his head,

“Don’t you think this should be a time when you two should be comforting each other? You know, burying the hatchet?”

“You would think,” my father says, never taking his eyes off Freeman, “but death turns the living into monsters… which wasn’t a far stretch for him.” The officer tips his head.

“I’m sorry for your grief, sir,” he says as he walks back to the car. We watch as he gets into the driver’s seat and they drive off down the circular drive in front of my parents’ house. Dad squeezes my shoulder before going back into the house. Fuck, that was a close call. This could have been an even bigger disaster than it already is.


ANASTASIA

We’ve been staying at the Manor for the last few weeks. About a month ago, while attending my baby brother’s first birthday party, we got the call that Pops wasn’t doing well and had to be rushed to the hospital. Because his health was already so fragile, we rushed to Seattle General to see what the prognosis would be. He was only there for a moment before they told us that the situation was grave. He stayed there for a short time while the doctors did everything they could. Finally, they sent him home on hospice so that he could be more comfortable since nothing else could be done for him.

Herman had called his brothers the night Pops went into the hospital for fear that he wouldn’t make it out alive. I didn’t hear the entire conversation, but I heard enough to know that it was tumultuous. It was my understanding that one of the brothers couldn’t come because of work obligations and the other brother wouldn’t come because he’s a raving asshole.

As it turns out, the asshole made it after all.

I was so worried about Val because she was completely wiped out after her and Elliot’s wedding back in April, after which she had to endure intensive radiation treatments for the next two and a half weeks. Her energy levels were deteriorating and she couldn’t keep anything down. It seemed like every time we thought we had a handle on things, something else happened. With Val looking like she was knocking at death’s door, Elliot and I took turns spending as much time with her as we could.

Looking at her now, just a month and a half after her final treatment, she looks great! You never would have known the ordeal that she’d been through just a few months ago. She wears her Val wig everywhere, so if you didn’t know that she was bald… well, not completely bald anymore—you never would have known that anything was ever wrong with her. She hasn’t decided if she’s going back to work yet, or doing something else completely, but for the time being, she and Elliot are staying at the Crossing—well, the Manor until we all go back home—while deciding if they want to keep one of their places or start fresh in a new place. I say start fresh, but I have that “start fresh” money. I can’t dictate what other people do.

So now, after all of this, this street-brawling asshole comes into Grace and Carrick’s house, making demands and accusations and insulting everyone in his path until he and Carrick actually get into a fist fight! I’ve never seen Carrick raise his hand to anybody! I can probably count on one hand the times I’ve heard him raise his voice in two years much less his fist, and these two men are trying to kill each other. This Freeman guy got a few good hits on Carrick, but Carrick pummeled his ass. Christian had to execute a brutal submission hold on his father to keep him from killing his brother while Elliot talked Carrick down. For a moment, I didn’t think Christian would be able to keep a hold on him.

Of course, the son of a bitch had to hit Christian’s sweet spot by saying something about me. You would have thought the ass-whipping he got from Carrick was enough. No, he had to go and knowingly poke the goddamn bear. That didn’t fare well for him.

It almost didn’t fare well for Christian, either.

That asshole comes back to our doorstep with the police, intent on pressing charges against Christian. He only backed down when Carrick threatened to put him in jail, too. Somehow, I feel like this is not over, but I would have been pissed if my husband spent our anniversary in the hoosegow!

Our anniversary… It’ll be two years tomorrow since the day we consummated our relationship—one year that we’ve been married. I always imagined that we would do something fun and exotic for our first wedding anniversary. We had planned to be in Rome, visiting the historical sites and seeing the lakeside villa that Christian bought me as one of my push gifts. But circumstances just didn’t see fit for that to happen yet. I never did get to re-plan Christian’s birthday celebration, either. Just… too much going on.

Now that the asshole from Detroit is gone, I look over at my husband who looks like he’s been run over by a freight train. I shake my head in dismay, knowing that he or none of the other Grey men will be able to keep up the saddening pace they’ve been forced to maintain for much longer. Feeling completely helpless about the situation, I rub Christian’s arm and go back to the parlor.

My beautiful babies have managed to sleep peacefully through the mayhem once they’ve been changed and fed. I look over into their Pack-n-Plays and remember that familiar feeling of dread about bringing them into such a terrible world. I fall into one of the nearby comfy seats and ponder my situation. They’re only five months old. What am I going to do when the real shit starts to hit them?

“You alright?” Val asks. Her demeanor has changed significantly since the tumor. She’s much more settled now… like she’s content just to be.

“I’m afraid that our men are going to self-destruct,” I tell her. “There’s just too much going on back-to-back. I thought Carrick was going to kill Freeman and I knew for sure that Christian would do it. And then…” I trail off.

“What?” Val presses. I shake my head.

“It’s selfish,” I say.

“Tell me.” I fight back tears.

“Tomorrow’s our anniversary,” I say, my voice cracking. “I had so many dreams and ideas of what our first anniversary would be because our honeymoon was interrupted, and now…” I sniff and wipe away the tear that has fallen. “It’s selfish, I know.”

“No, it’s not,” she begins. “Okay, maybe just a little, but not in the way that you’re feeling it. It’s selfish only because every girl dreams of her first anniversary. ‘Hey baby, we actually made it a year.’ It may seem small to someone who’s been married for ten years, but for us—newlyweds—it’s huge. It’s a ginormous milestone and yes, we want it to be special. So, no, don’t feel bad about feeling bad about it. Isn’t there enough to feel bad about without beating yourself up about this?”

I look over at my sister and best friend. I almost lost her and that scares me so much. Last October, she went totally batshit on me out of nowhere and after 10 years of friendship, my brain never once thought something might be physically wrong with her. It wasn’t until she had nearly lost everything and Elliot gave her an ultimatum that she finally said that she would talk to someone.

As I understand it, she went to the doctor first who ran a pregnancy test that, of course, came back negative. Yet, after hearing her symptoms, the gynecologist recommended that she see a neurologist. Of course, the neurologist performed the CAT scan and then a subsequent MRI and lo and behold…

Tumor…
Malignant…
Fuck!

I wanted to die when Christian gave me the news that his brother had given to him. He had to sneak over while Val was unconscious and tell us. She didn’t want anyone to be with her during the surgery except for Elliot because she was embarrassed by how she had treated everyone. Then there were her famous last words:

“Tell her that I’m sorry. Tell her that I didn’t mean it. I don’t want her to remember me the way that I was. I’m so sorry. Thank you for Elliot and thank you for Brandon. You’ll never know how much I truly love you.”

Even when she thought she was going to die, her last words were to tell me that she was sorry. It chokes me up all over again.

“Thank you for coming back to me,” I breathe, squeezing her hand and holding my head down as the tears fall. She puts her second hand over mine.

“You couldn’t get rid of me that easily, Steele,” she says sweetly. I just nod and weep, for all the sadness that’s surrounding me right now—Carrick’s crazy brother Freeman and the fight that ensued, Christian nearly killing the man, Carrick’s breakdown, Pops’ imminent passing and how we’re going to function once it happens, nearly losing my best friend…

She, Al, and I have fallen back into that comfortable relationship that we had before everything changed. I’d missed it so much, but the fact that I nearly lost it is never far from my mind and heart.

“What’s this?”

I hear his voice and regret that he saw me break down like this. He has so many other things that he has to deal with right now to have to worry about me. Now he’s going to focus totally on me and the fact that I’m broken right now.

“I’m fine,” I lie as he kneels in front of me, holding my arms. “I’m just a little emotional about everything, that’s all.” I feel him turn to Val and I raise my head in just enough time to see her point to her wedding and engagement rings. I throw her a look of daggers. Why did she tell him? Now, he’ll feel guilty. That’s the last thing I want! She gives me an unapologetic glance.

“Your feelings are important, Steele,” she says, softly. Christian turns back to me with a questioning glance that immediately turns to remorse. I roll my eyes. This is so the opposite of what I wanted.

“Baby… I’m sorry…” he begins. I cover my eyes.

“Please, don’t,” I tell him before both my hands cup his face. “Please don’t do that. It’s been an impossible last few weeks… months. I completely understand. These things can’t be avoided.”

“No, you don’t,” he laments. “Look at you. You’re falling apart.”

“Yes, I do,” I say, with beseeching eyes. “You’re a remarkable man, and you’re carrying so much. Please… I’m just being emotional. There’s a lot going on. Please, don’t worry about me, too.”

He examines me for long moments, his hands gently holding my waist.

“I’ll make this up to you,” he vows. “I promise.”

“I know. I know,” I say sincerely, cupping his face and looking into his eyes. I kiss him reverently, softly. “I know,” I say against his lips. His arms slip around my waist and he deepens the kiss, now passionate, but worshipping and apologetic.

“I love you,” he says softly, his forehead pressed against mine and his eyes closed. “I love you so much.”

“And I, you—you wonderful, wonderful man…” I breathe. He opens his eyes and kisses me once more before rising to his feet and walking contemplatively out of the parlor. My eyes follow him until he clears the door. I touch my lips and remember his lips there…

Then I remember I’m not alone in the room. It’s no use tearing into her.

“Now, he’ll probably present me with the deed to some small island somewhere,” I remark. Val laughs.

“He loves you, Ana. He deserved to know why you were hurting. You’re both going through what he’s going through and you’re both going through your own shit. You have to share the burden. You can’t take on what he’s feeling while discounting what you’re feeling. You’ll explode.” I raise my eyes to her.

“I thought I was the shrink,” I say, my brows furrowed. “What brought on this amazing insight, Marshall?”

“Walking through the valley of the shadow of death,” she says, profoundly reciting Psalms 23. It sends a chill through me.

“Oh, Val, please,” I say, my heart heavy again. She shrugs apologetically.

“I tell you, Steele, my outlook has… changed. I don’t even know what I’m going to do with my life from here. I wanted to be the best in my field, but now, I just want to focus on living and enjoying life… on those things that I didn’t think were important before—on Elliot and family; on you and Al and Maxie and Gary and Phil and Mindy; on watching those beautiful godbabies of mine grow and spoiling them silly; on having children of my own; on being here for Grace and Carrick when Pop passes on; on getting to know Herman and going to Mia and Ethan’s wedding… I don’t know how long this feeling is going to last, but right now, this is what I want and it’s because I had a glimpse of losing it; of leaving this world and you all not knowing just how much I love you. So, yes, right now, that’s my priority, and it’s because I walked through the valley of the shadow of death.” I smile and reach for her hand, squeezing it.

“I’m glad you walked through it and didn’t stay in it,” I tell her.

“Me, too,” she smiles, waving her ring finger at me. “You get neat prizes for sticking around.” We both laugh.

*-*

It’s not quite 9:30pm, but the house is pretty quiet. Even the twins are all tuckered out from the excitement of the day. Christian is down in Carrick’s study taking care of God only knows what. I sit in his childhood room—now our room for the duration of our stay—thinking about, of all things, Elena Lincoln.

Christian finally told me that the Pedo-bitch is the one who called the State Licensing Board on me. Based on their fucking logic, any disgruntled person in the world can call and drop a dime on you and it doesn’t even have to be true. It doesn’t matter; your license can still be in jeopardy.

Being a mental health professional, I can totally understand due diligence and making sure that a monster or unscrupulous person is not exploiting a position of power to abuse patients, especially since issues of the mind puts patients in such a vulnerable position. However, the way I was treated during my preliminary hearing was completely unacceptable, and while Christian is in the process of having the black spot removed from my record, I can’t help but think that there must be something more that I can do to improve the fact-finding process—not only because there needs to be some kind of evidence before you’re allowed to put someone’s life through that kind of upheaval, but also because convicted criminals are afforded a level of dignity that prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. Not that I need another project, but my treatment by the board has sparked a bit of a crusade on the whole “fair practices” thing involving complaints filed against doctors for abuse.

Christian allowed me to listen to the phone call, which sounds like it might have been a credible claim, had it not been made from a prison by the woman currently serving the equivalent of a life sentence for attempting to kill my husband for falling in love with me. Once again, there has to be some kind of accountability for making a complaint like this or any psychopath can make this kind of claim against any doctor anywhere. Of course, the board found nothing to substantiate the claim and the issue was dismissed, but look at what they did to my state of mind while I was already dealing with a difficult situation.

Wearing my silk pajamas, I wander down to Pops room just before bedtime. He’s there alone, but he’s not asleep. He’s looking out the window and gazing at the night sky. He’s wearing the oxygen tube instead of the mask when he turns his head to look at me.

“Ruby used… to love… the stars…” he says, his voice weak. “I… miss her…” I remember him telling me how his wife used the watch the stars for hours on a clear night from the porch of their home in Detroit.

“I’m sure she misses you, too,” I say, walking in and sitting in one of the seats next to his bed.

“I’ll be… with her… soon… enough… She took… really good care… of me and… the boys.” I nod.

“I imagine she did, but that’s what you do for the ones you love.” I take his hand.

“Thank you…” he says, “for letting me… talk about her… all those times.” He smiled. “She was… a beautiful ray… of sunshine… in my life. Thinking… about her now… makes this… easier.” I smile as he squeezes my hand as much as he can.

“You’re welcome, Pops,” I tell him. His breathing changes and I immediately panic.

“No, child…” he says, “it ain’t… time… quite yet… Sometimes… it just gets… hard to get… air in.” He slowly points to the oxygen tube with his other hand. I smile and sigh. “Where’s Mia? She said… she would come… and see me… before I go… to sleep.”

“I imagine she’ll be in before long. It’s not that late… I’m just beat,” I tell him.

“So… you met Freeman… I assume.” I drop my head. I can’t say anything nice to him about his son.

“Yeah,” I say, and that’s all. He laughs weakly.

“He has… that impact… on most people,” he admits. I turn to him.

“He tried to have my husband arrested, Pops,” I say, “for something that he provoked!” He laughs again.

“Yeah… that sounds… like Freeman… Still fighting… about that house… and still… pissed… because… Rick didn’t come back.” I frown.

“People move away all the time. I just don’t get it.”

“Freeman… and Rick… were really close… before Rick… married Gracie… Freeman… thinks Rick… turned his back… on his family… for Gracie… and her money… We… were never broke… We didn’t have… Trevelyan money… but the Greys have… never been broke… So, I… don’t know why… he would think that… He was… just upset that… Rick left… Left him… He felt like… he lost… his best friend… and he never… forgave the money.” I shake my head.

“Classic transference,” I say. “He better get over it.”

“I think… it’s too late… for Freeman. But Herm…” He coughs. “Tell him… I said to… marry Luma… A blind man… can see that… they’re in love… no matter how… much time she… spends with me… Beautiful lady… beautiful heart… those little girls… will give him… new purpose… when I’m gone… and she’ll… give him love.” I wipe my eye to quickly catch the tear that has fallen.

“I’ll make sure to tell him, Pops,” I say.

“When I’m gone,” he says with a wink.


A/N: So, the Brothers Grey… New drama formulating, and it appears that Pops isn’t as detached as everyone thinks he is. 

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

 

 

 

 

Raising Grey: Chapter 2—Beginnings and Conclusions

Okay, so, before all the medical practitioners and professionals that ever read my story decide to jump down my throat, PLEASE HEAR THIS! I’ve never been part of a medical investigation. However, in order to try to get this as close to real as possible, I researched the protocol and procedures of several states as well as talked to a few medical professionals—one of which actually took part in these kinds of investigations and admitted to me that the task was very stressful.

Having said that, please recognize that this is not only NOT going to be a by-the-book rendition of what may happen during one of these investigations, but also, I took a lot of creative license to develop this story line for reasons of my own. The last time I showed a doctor—ONE DOCTOR, not every doctor in my story, JUST ONE—in a bad light, I had a reader jumping down my throat, pretty much telling me that I was persecuting the medical profession by simply pointing out A PAINFUL REALITY that is unfortunately true with some doctors… SOME doctors!

I ask that you please put the torches and pitchforks away as you read this part of the story, because quite frankly, I don’t want to hear “That’s not how it happens!” I hate to tell you this, but research and discussion shows that part of this is EXACTLY how it happens while the other part is that great thing that we call FICTION! Speaking of fiction, Ana is now a 28-year-old psychiatrist. Explain it however it suits you. 😉

One more thing… Be sure that I have the email address that you want me to use on my mailing list. Also, be sure that you are checking that email regularly and that it doesn’t get too full. I sent my email out to the entire list last week and fifty-five emails BOUNCED! 

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 2—Beginnings and Conclusions

CHRISTIAN

“Talk to me,” I say to my father as Butterfly joins my side.

“He’s on oxygen, of course—he can barely breathe,” Dad says. “He’s becoming confused more often and he has awful muscle spasms. His skin is powdery…” Dad trails off. He holds his head down to try to rein in his emotions. “It… won’t be too much longer now.” I frown.

Pops’ condition deteriorated significantly not long after Valerie and Elliot’s wedding. Valerie finished radiation a couple of weeks later and Butterfly and I were planning our trip to Italy. Just when Valerie began to show significant signs of improvement, Pops’ health started to decline very quickly and he had to be rushed to the hospital. There wasn’t much that could be done for him. Without a kidney transplant, he doesn’t have much of a chance. To be painfully honest, it’s too late for a kidney even now. The hospital kept him for two weeks or so, but he has asked to come home. He has no unrealistic expectations. He’s certain that God still has miracles stored up there, but unfortunately, none of them are for him this time around.

“How long?” I ask. “Any idea?” Dad shakes his head.

“Weeks, maybe,” Dad says sadly, “but… I’d… put my money on days.” He squeezes the last words out. “That’s why we called everyone here. We’re most likely going to bring him home and let him live out the rest of his days in peace and comfort instead of alone in the hospital… and we just want everyone’s input.” I nod and squeeze his shoulder.

“Whatever you think is best, Dad,” I say softly. He nods and purses his lips. He looks over at Butterfly like he’s only just noticing that she’s there. She hands me the other baby carrier and hugs my dad. I’m glad she has so much faith in me carrying two of these things… not that I can’t do it.

“I’m so sorry, Carrick,” she says sweetly. “Please let me know if there’s anything I can do.” Dad nods while Butterfly cups his face. His strong façade almost cracks at her touch.

“Being here is enough right now. Thank you, dear girl,” he says. My wife kisses my father on the cheek before she relieves me of one of my children and we all walk inside.

Elliot and Valerie are already here talking to Mom in the great room, along with Mia and Ethan. I look up the stairs just in time to see Luma disappear around a corner. She has become quite at home here since Pops and Uncle Herman arrived. It’s one of those situations where you understand that everything happens for a reason—even the really bad stuff. She lost her family and we welcomed her into ours. Now, she’s helping us through a difficult time. Mom rises when I enter and I kiss her on the cheek.

“How are you?” I ask. She smiles tightly.

“As well as can be expected,” she says. “Cary is so tired; the whole thing is really taking its toll on him. Herman puts up a brave front, but…” Mom shrugs. “You know we just have to be pillars for our men.” I raise an eyebrow.

Our men?” I ask suspiciously. “So, have Luma and Uncle Herman finally made it official?” My mom smiles a knowing smile.

“I knew it,” she declares. “I told them the only ones that they were fooling were themselves. Who all knows? Everybody?” I nod.

“Yeah, I think that’s a safe assumption,” I say. “I mean there hasn’t been any family powwows or anything like that, but the way they look at each other and the way they sneak away for stolen moments…” I gesture around the room. “… Like now.” Mom nods.

“He’s going to need someone… when Burt is gone,” she says sadly. “The last several years of his life have been centered around taking care of his father and that’s going to change soon. He’ll need a diversion—someone to care for him, and maybe someone else to care for.”

I look over at my wife who has settled in next to Valerie and Elliot, talking in hushed tones about who knows what while she situates the baby carrier at her feet. I still have one of my children in the carrier in my hand, I don’t know which one yet.

“She’s been so good for you, Christian,” my mother says. “I never thought I would ever see you shed your anger. I hoped, but I never thought…” She chokes up before she can finish her sentence and I rub her arm. “But look at you now,” she says, sniffling and fighting her tears. “A family man with a wife and two beautiful children.” I reach in my pocket and hand her my handkerchief when she loses the fight. “I’m sorry. It’s just that… times like these make you realize how important family really is.”

I hug my mother with my free arm, which only makes her cry harder. This is something else she didn’t think she would ever see, but being with Butterfly has changed me in ways that no one ever thought possible… not even me. The little bundle in my carrier begins to fuss and Butterfly’s attention immediately turns to me.

“Oh, please, please, let me,” my mother beseeches quickly drying her eyes and reaching for the baby seat. I look to Butterfly who nods once with a kind smile. I remove the blanket off the carrier to reveal which child I have been carrying. It’s Minnie.

“There’s grandma’s precious little Minnie Mouse,” my mother says, taking a fussing Minnie out of her carrier. Mikey must have heard the cue and starts to fuss as well.

“That means that this must be my godson,” Valerie says, removing the receiving blanket from the carrier before my wife has a chance to protest. “Hello, Sir Michael. Come and give Tee Tee Val kisses!” My little boy is quite the ladies’ man, because the moment Valerie retrieves him from the carrier, he gives her the biggest toothless grin. Speaking of teeth, Minnie has already started teething and has been quite irritable over the last couple of weeks. Butterfly is nearly at her wits end with Minnie’s relentless unwillingness to settle. The baby’s constant crying upsets her because she doesn’t like hearing Minnie cry. Noting her obvious distress, my mother comforts her.

“Don’t worry, dear. It’s just one of the growing pains they’ll have. Let me take care of her for you,” Mom says. Butterfly nods, and soon Minnie’s cries are off in the distance somewhere after Mom takes her from the great room. It’s obvious that my mother needs a distraction and quite frankly, Butterfly needs a break. Even with the two nannies at home, Butterfly is extremely active in caring for our children. Mikey has gotten to where he can sleep through the night if he’s not disturbed, but once Minnie started teething, her unrest would disturb him and now, he’s awake at night again when she stirs. Knowing that her daughter is in pain, my wife can’t sleep through the night either, so her latest sleeping habits have somewhat matched Minnie’s and, although I won’t tell her so, she looks exhausted.

She keeps telling me that something is holding up the accreditation at Helping Hands, but no one can seem to tell her or my mother what it is. So, of course, that’s very frustrating. Then there’s the hearing before the medical board looming over us and now, the family is gathering to discuss Pops’ deteriorating condition. We were planning a vacation on our anniversary at the end of the month. I intended to take Butterfly to the Italian villa that I bought for her, but with everything going on with work and licenses and Pops and the twins, it doesn’t look like we’ll be making that trip this year.

I sit on the sofa opposite Elliot and Valerie. Butterfly comes to join me and snuggles under my arm. I watch as my brother and his wife coo over my son who is hungrily taking a bottle offered by Valerie. I lean down and kiss my wife on the forehead.

“You okay?” I ask. She nods.

“I can’t stand to hear her cry that way,” she says, her voice sounding defeated. “It’s so shrill and I know that she’s hurting and I can’t do anything about it. It pierces me right in the heart—like a rusty knife!” I rub her arm and kiss her again, sinking into the silence.

“Listen,” I say and pause. She listens, realization dawning only moments later.

“She’s not crying anymore,” Butterfly says. “I wonder what Grace did.” I shrug. I don’t know what my Mom did, but I’m very happy that Minnie is settled, even if only for a moment.

“Are you guys planning to have kids of your own someday?” I ask Valerie and Elliot. “You’re a natural with babies.” Valerie smiles.

“Someday, but it won’t be for a while,” she says. “The radiation needs to work its way out of my system and then we need to know for sure that I have healthy ovaries.” Obviously, they’ve talked about this. “Once I have the ‘all clear’ from all pertinent doctors, we’ll most likely start trying sometime after that.” Elliot smiles and I nod.

“That’s a good idea. I’m feeling the need to keep our family line going,” I say. “We’re losing one of the foundations of the family and I’m just feeling that need to keep the legacy alive.”

“Tell me about it,” Elliot says before tenderly kissing his wife. Soon thereafter, Mom comes back into the great room with a cooing Minnie.

“Is she asleep?” Butterfly asks. Mom shakes her head.

“Just content,” Mom says. “I put something on her gums to soothe the ache.” Mom reaches into her pocket and pulls out a vial. “It’s a lavender oil dilution with just a touch of clove oil—not too much as clove oil can cause irritation in some infants.” She gives a vial to Butterfly. “A little bit on your finger—just enough to coat it—and rub it on her gums. She should get relief fairly quickly. When you run out, let me know and I’ll make more. I know the right concentration and you can’t be too careful with infants and clove oil. In a pinch, you can also use German Chamomile hydrosol. You’ll probably have to get it online, but you can put it right on her gums.” Butterfly nods and rises to put the vial in the diaper bag… but she doesn’t quite make it off the sofa.

“Butterfly!” I exclaim, catching her just as she falls back down on the sofa. She puts her hand on her forehead.

“I’m okay,” she says softly. “Just a little light-headed.” My brown furrows.

“Exhausted, you mean,” I accuse, taking the vial from her hands and putting it in the side pocket of the diaper bag. I turn around to the questioning faces of my family and the convicted downcast gaze of my wife. I sit next to her again and cuddle her close to me, nearly pulling her into my lap.

“Why are you exhausted, Anakins?” Mia asks. When Butterfly doesn’t respond, I speak instead.

“There’s a lot going on and it’s happening all at once,” I say without being specific. “Some things that can’t be helped and some things that certainly can, and I swear, Butterfly—if you don’t get a handle on those things that can be handled, I’m going to do it for you.”

“You can’t rescue me, Christian,” she protests.

“No, I can’t,” I agree, “but I can assure that all this stuff you’re taking on doesn’t kill you. It’s going to be your choice or mine, baby, but I won’t lose you.” She drops her eyes again.

“I’m afraid he’s right, Steele,” Valerie says and Butterfly raises her head. Valerie starts to count on her fingers.

“You were there for me, and I needed 24-hour care. You’re there for two babies and you never faltered. You’re there for the help center. You do the radio spots. You went from the six-week check-up to that crazy woman’s trial to caring for me and planning my spur-of-the-moment wedding. And this is just the stuff I know about. That doesn’t include if something else is going on…”

“There’s a whole lotta ‘something else’ going on,” I interject and Valerie nods.

“You’re not looking well, Ana, and the moisturizer that you’re wearing does not cover the bags under your eyes. You’re spread about as thin as you can be. Do you need to pass out before you take a break?”

“Fuck, no,” I answer emphatically, until I hear my mother hiss softly. “Sorry, Mom, but fuck no.” This time I mouth the word fuck. Butterfly’s shoulders sag her defeat. I cuddle her close to me. I don’t want her to feel like we’re ganging up on her, but I’m glad Valerie chimed in and told her that her overworking herself is not invisible to those around her. She would have taken it as me being overprotective.

“We’ll work this out,” I tell her, “together, but baby, the twins and I need you healthy, fit, and happy, so something’s got to give. At your current pace…” I trail off. She raises sad blue eyes to me in surrender and nods, curling into my chest and allowing me to hold her. I think there might be a bit of shrinking involved, but I allow it this time.

I gently stroke her hair as conversation carries on around us about babies and life and Mia’s upcoming wedding—anything but the elephant in the room and the reason that we’re all here… Pops’ condition. A few minutes later, Dad, Uncle Herman, and Luma all come from different parts of the house and join us in the great room. Dad and Uncle Herman look as run down as my wife if not more. Valerie and Mom have gotten the twins settled and back in their carriers and my father and uncle find a seat. Luma has already taken a seat with Mia and Ethan.

“Well,” Dad begins, “Dad’s not doing well at all. He’s very weak and very frail. The number of symptoms piling up is more than we can even describe. He’s irritable, upset… quickly deteriorating and currently alone in a hospital bed. Dialysis really can’t do much more to help him at this stage. The disease is so advanced and with his advanced age and no new kidney on the horizon…” Dad trails off. After several moments of silence, Uncle Herman continues.

“We called my brothers back in Detroit for input. You can just about imagine how well that went,” he says, rubbing his forehead. “Anyway, we don’t have time for the bickering. We have to make a decision. Dad doesn’t have long left and he’s refusing dialysis because he knows this. He wants his last days to be as comfortable as possible. We’re considering bringing him home on hospice instead of leaving him at the hospital, but it’s certain that if we do that, he’s going to die here and not too far down the road. We want his family to be around him when that happens, maybe even to hear and see his great-grandchildren on his last day… Is she alright?”

Uncle Herman had turned his attention to me to weigh in on the great-grandchildren suggestion, but is now referring to my wife. I was so engrossed in what he was saying that I wasn’t paying attention to Butterfly. She’s in the most awkward position on my chest with her mouth hanging open—fast asleep. She wasn’t shrinking, she was cuddling and trying to get comfortable. I adjust her so that she’s laying on my lap and she doesn’t even stir. If it weren’t for the rise and fall in her chest, I’d be concerned about her.

“She’s overworked,” I answer Uncle Herman. Dad looks at Mom with a furrowed brow. “It’s more than that, Dad,” I counter, anticipating his thoughts. “There’s a lot going on.”

“I’m sorry, son. I didn’t mean to dump this on you while you two while you’re going through something…”

“Trust me, Dad, it’s okay. This is family. It’s just that everything is happening at once and I have to help my wife delegate some things. She’s not going to be happy about that, but she can’t continue the pace that she’s keeping.” I stroke her hair again while she’s lying on my lap. “Please, Uncle Herman, continue.”

“I… feel a little guilty asking what I want to ask now,” he says, looking over at Dad, who sighs heavily. “We’ve decided… to bring him home and let him go in peace. We’ve talked about it and… we’d like for anyone who can to move into the Manor for a while. Dad’s become accustomed to having the family around and if everyone stays away while he’s dying… well…” Herman trails off this time. This is very hard for my father and his brother. I’m certain that Butterfly won’t mind moving in with my parents for a little while. It’ll give me a chance to pull her away from the situation she’s in for a while, too. Not so much a vacation, unfortunately, but at least a breather from some of the things she has to handle. I’ll cut down on my work, too, so that I can keep an eye on her and help out with the babies while this is all going on.

“Um… we have nannies that help with our children. I’m sure security can probably set up in the pool house or the pool house, but the nannies…”

“Give them a vacation,” Mom says. “We’ll help you care for the children.”

“Yes,” Luma says. “I am certain that my boss will allow me a revised schedule for a family emergency,” she says with a wink, causing me to chuckle. “I will be happy to help out with the children.”

“Me, too, when I’m not forced to work,” Mia chimes in. “You know how I love babies.”

“More time with my godchildren? Count me in,” Valerie also says. “Besides, Steele needs a break in the worst way. We’re going to have to pry her away from those babies, because that’s where most of her energy is going and life in general is zapping the rest. Even with the nannies, she’s right there every time one of the children cries. She’s going to have to let go just a bit. That’s why she has nannies—to allow her the time to do the other things she wants to do, not to try to be a stay-at-home mom and carry a full-time schedule. They’re both full-time jobs. Geez, she even takes the babies to work with her.”

“You’re preaching to the choir here,” I tell her. “I’ll appreciate your back-up when it’s time to convince her.”

“You got it,” Valerie confirms.

“Does that mean that you all are willing to move in for a while?” Uncle Herman says. “We don’t know how long it will be… we just know that it won’t be long.”

Various affirmations around the room confirm that Grey Manor will soon become Grey Compound for however long it takes for Pops to make his transition. More conversation reveals that one brother in Detroit is on the fence about what to do while the other is adamant about leaving Pops in the hospital. His suggestion is to have Pops deemed incompetent and unable to make his own decision and forcing him to take the dialysis to extend his life. Yeah, that’s the kind of fucker I want to make my end-of-life decisions… not!

Luckily, for lack of a better word, even if Pops’ capacity may be slightly diminished, he’s not completely gone and still able to make his own decisions. Not only that, he has advanced directives that were put in place before his health deteriorated and the person able to legally make decisions about his care is already here—Uncle Herman has power of attorney and is already trustee for Pops’ estate.

Once we sort out what’s going to be happening over the next several days or weeks—however long this process takes—I take my wife to my childhood bedroom and put her to bed. She still hasn’t stirred. One good thing about being here instead of home… no two-way communications, so she can’t be disturbed by the babies crying.

I get to work immediately on what needs to be done for our stay, as does Elliot and Ethan. The women are left to coo over the babies and make sure all the refrigerators are stocked. Jason will set up Security Central in the pool house and have a of staff rotation working shifts while we’re here. Gail and Keri will be on-call and brought to the Manor only if needed as the place will already be overrun with people. I arrange for cribs and baby furniture to be delivered to the Manor to set up nurseries in two parts of the house as Mom and Dad don’t have the staff or accommodations that we have. Gail and Keri are packing the things that we’ll need for a possible month-long stay with my parents—including clothes for me and Butterfly.

Work schedules will be severely cut as well as appearance schedules for my wife. Marilyn will also be on call to handle most of Butterfly’s tasks so that she can finally get a little rest. We can’t avoid the hearing coming up next week and I’m hoping that my deposition in all of this will put this shit to rest. Sexual misconduct… what a fucking crock. Although, something that Valerie said earlier stuck with me…

“You went from the six-week check-up to that crazy woman’s trial to caring for me and planning my spur-of-the-moment wedding.”

In two years—two years—of being with my lover, my fiancée, and my wife, there were only three people with intimate knowledge who really questioned our relationship…

Ronald Carlisle, the director of the community center where I attended the group sessions. I’m sure he did so for professional reasons and we never heard from him again after the sessions were complete.

Brian Cholometes, Ray’s best friend and a serious suitor for Butterfly. Could his jealousy and need for revenge have caused him to want to harm Butterfly after ultimately losing her to me?

And of course, the crazy woman to whom Valerie is referring—one Elena Lincoln. She knew the circumstances under which I met Butterfly. She could very well be the one who’s trying to ruin Butterfly’s reputation.

There could be any other number of people who could have made this false report, including someone that was in the initial group sessions, but I’d like to focus on these three first—eliminate them and then move on to possible other suspects. It’s time to shake the tree and see if anything falls out.

“Welch.”

“I appreciate more than anyone that I can pick up this phone at just about any hour of any day and reach you, but damn, man, you need a life,” I proclaim into the phone.

“This coming from my boss,” he retorts. “Should I hang up and go find one right now?”

“Don’t be a smart-ass,” I warn.

“Don’t tell me to get a life. I’ve got a life—the life I want. Now what do you need?” I stop egging him on and get to the point.

“I know that we can’t really pinpoint who contacted the licensing board about me and my wife since the complaint was anonymous, but if you know who to look at, could you find out if they contacted the licensing board at all?” The line is quiet.

“It’s a place to start,” he says. “If someone was trying to cover their tracks, you may never find out. But if they were using their cell or office phones or home phones, it should be easy enough. If it was in writing, that’s trickier.” I shake my head as if he can see me.

“It was a phone call,” I tell him. “Allen got that much from the review board, but they wouldn’t give any further information.”

“What do you have?” I give him the names. “Has Ana tried talking to Carlisle to see if he had suspicions? Or you? Didn’t you see him separately for a while?”

“He had suspicions,” I say. “He openly asked us if something was going on. Separately, but he asked us.”

“Then why wait two years?” he asks, the same question I was considering.

“Whoever made the complaint waited two years,” I point out. “I’m just going through a process of elimination. Besides our family and close friends, there’s only a handful of people who even knew that Butterfly and I met in those sessions. I’d like to start with the obvious.”

“Brian… you like to give me impossible tasks, don’t you?” he says.

“Only because I know you can do them,” I retort.

“Lincoln will be the easiest one. I’ll start with her.”

“Good man. Let me know what you come up with.”

“Will do.” I end the call and go in search of my mother.


ANASTASIA

I slept like the dead. When I open my eyes, it’s still daylight, but I can tell that it’s somewhat late in the day. I can’t remember the last time I had that content of a sleep. I’m in Christian’s bedroom with no idea how I got here. I throw my legs over the edge of the bed, stand up, and go to the bathroom. After relieving myself, I wash my face and try to tame my bed-head hair. Once I’m satisfied, I go in search of my family.

There’s no one in the great room and I didn’t want to just start opening bedroom doors and maybe walk in on something I really don’t want to see. I head for the dining room and discover my husband talking to his mother. I hear my name and decide to hang back at the door for a while. I’m sure that quite a bit has been discussed while I was sleeping.

“You just wouldn’t believe the headache we’re having,” I hear Grace say. “I don’t want to dump it all on Ana, and I swear that I haven’t, but she takes it on anyway. She has all the plans for the school and the day care center—it was her baby from day one. She feels like it’s her responsibility to see it through to the end. That’s partially my fault for freaking out when she announced her maternity leave.”

“That’s water under the bridge now, Mom,” I hear Christian say. “What’s important now is that she doesn’t work herself to death. You saw her this afternoon. She’s running on fumes! She even has the communications system in the house wired so that if one of the babies makes the slightest sound and she’s not in the room with them, she’s notified even if she’s on the toilet!”

“Good God,” Grace says. “That’s a bit extreme.”

“Maybe. Maybe not. We have two nannies and two children. At first, it was Gail and Ana. But when Sophie came to live with us, we didn’t want Gail spread too thin, so we hired Keri. There are three women in that house that can care for those children, but Ana cares for them the most. I think that may partially be my fault for telling her that I didn’t want my children raised by nannies.”

That’s not his fault. We agreed that the babies wouldn’t be raised by nannies. I want my children to know who I am. They can know who the nanny’s are, but this is called being “Mom.”

“That’s Mom for you, son,” Grace says, verbalizing my thoughts. “Mom is going to be the one to kiss boo-boos. Mom is going to be there for birthdays and holidays and to tuck them in at night. Mom is going to parent-teacher conference and to hug Minnie through her first heartbreak and give Mikey advice on girls that you may not be able to give him. Moms care; nannies help.”

“I know,” he says, and I can see him in my mind’s eye running his hands through his hair, “but she’s killing herself, Mom. She’s exhausted. She’s going to make herself sick. She can’t do both full-time and everything else that she’s trying to squeeze in. Something’s got to give. She’s going to have to cut down to part-time on both or let one go or something… There’s no way in hell she can keep up this pace. I just need to know that you’re on the same page with me.”

I lean against the wall as I listen to Grace agree with my husband. His voice sounds… distressed, and this is one of those times when even though I may feel like Wonder Woman, my husband needs to care for me. It’s not the control freak in him—well, maybe it is,  just a little bit, but not really. No, this is genuine concern for my welfare and the fact that the slightest thing is causing me to snap or fall apart lately. Although I wouldn’t call discovering that someone is accusing me of sexual misconduct a slight thing, it took the staff three days to get my office back to par after that revelation.

“Our biggest problem is getting the accreditation approved.” Grace’s conversation brings me back from my wanderings. “Now, I’ve discovered what’s holding it up.”

She did? Why didn’t she tell me?

“I only found out late yesterday. With what I knew was coming with Burt and the hearing on Monday, I was going to wait until after to say anything to her about it,” she says, once again reading my mind.

“Well, what is it?” Christian asks.

“The director of the licensing board,” Grace says. “She’s been putting us through the paces for months, continuously holding up our license for one thing or another and we couldn’t figure out why. I researched the process to have an appeal or an investigation conducted to see why we’re being subjected to such scrutiny and if this is the usual process for organizations seeking accreditation. Every time we pass one test or another review and we’re led to believe that we’re going to get our accreditation, something else has to be submitted or reviewed. I think the steps are unnecessary, so my research led me to the head of the board. You won’t believe what I found.”

“What did you find?”

“Gloria Felton,” Grace says. The name sounds slightly familiar, but there are no alarm bells going off.

“Should I know this person?” Christian asks.

“No, you wouldn’t,” the response came, “but Ana and I would. I passed Gloria Felton up as Assistant Director for the Center and gave the job to Ana. Ana was overwhelmingly more qualified for the job, but Gloria was convinced that I only did it because she was dating you at the time. She was spewing threats on her way out the door and now, it appears she’s making good on them.” I burst into the dining room.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” I ask in a shrill voice. “Gloria fucking Felton? Really?”

Grace and Christian are both beyond shocked at my entrance.

“Ana! Were you eavesdropping at the door?” she asks.

“Yes, I was,” I admit openly. “I heard my name when I approached and I didn’t want the conversation to drop the moment I walked into the room. Gloria Felton? Is this a joke?”

“I’m afraid not,” she says.

“Was she the director back when she was trying to socially climb through the charity?” I ask. “How could she expect to do them both?” Christian raises an eyebrow at me.

“I don’t know,” Grace replies. “I don’t think so.” My scar starts to throb. Gloria fucking Felton. I only knew her as Gloria, which is why she didn’t ring any bells. All that work we’ve done can be just shot to hell because of somebody’s personal vendetta. Give me a fucking break. I notice the room has fallen silent and raise my eyes to see Christian and Grace both staring at me.

“I heard you,” I say, looking over at my husband. “You’re right. I’m exhausted. I can’t keep up this pace. I’ll talk to Marilyn about my schedule and work some things out, and I’ll utilize my nannies more…” I turn to Grace. “… But Grace, if something must suffer in this, it’s going to have to be the Center, because it’s not going to be my babies.” Grace’s face breaks into a sincere smile.

“I would expect nothing less, dear,” she says. Before I know it, Christian has gathered me in his arms and is holding me so close to him that I can’t move. He buries his nose in my hair and inhales.

“Thank you,” he whispers softly. “Thank you thank you thank you…”

I can only imagine that this is hard for him, what’s going on with Pops and watching Herman and Carrick fall apart before his very eyes, and now me—barely able to stay awake for a very important conversation. When he releases me, I open my eyes to see that Grace has left us alone in the dining room.

“It’s getting late,” I say. “Are we staying for dinner or shouldn’t we be getting home soon?” His lips form a thin line.

“Yeah, about that.” He returns to his seat, pulling me with him. I sit down in the chair next to him. “I’ve somewhat made an executive decision and I hope you don’t mind… you were asleep.”

“What’s going on?” I ask. Christian tells me about the conversation the family had while I was fast asleep on his lap; how all the siblings, their significant others, and Luma with her girls have all agreed to move into Grey Manor as a unified support system until Pops passes on; how Mia, Luma, Grace, and even Val have all agreed to become part-time nannies for the girls and for the twins while we’re here; how everyone wants to be present to support Carrick and Herman through this and help ease Pops’ mind knowing that family is around him during his final days.

“And I slept through this?” I ask horrified. “Christian, you let me sleep through this?”

“I couldn’t stop you, baby,” he states matter-of-factly. “I didn’t even know you were asleep until Uncle Herman asked if you were okay.”

“Why didn’t you wake me?” I protest. This was an important meeting and I slept through it like a toddler at naptime. He twists his lips.

“Baby, I moved you several times and you didn’t even stir.” He’s right. He got me off the sofa, upstairs and into the bed and I didn’t even know I was there. “Everyone understood, Butterfly. You tried, but you couldn’t hide it… you looked you were going to pass out.” I roll my eyes, admitting defeat.

“So… where are the babies going to sleep?” I ask.

“Well, we now have two nurseries—one in the guest room next to Mom and Dad’s room and Mom’s library has been converted to a nursery, too.” My eyes widen.

“How long was I asleep?” I ask.

“Several hours, baby.” I shake my head and stop arguing.

“Is there a space somewhere that I can commandeer as a makeshift office while I’m here?” I ask. “I’m going to have to meet with Marilyn—cancel some appearances, rework my schedule… I think Grace and I will have to alternate at Helping Hands for a while, and some days, they’ll just have to do without us both.” Christian smiles.

“I’ll see what Mom says about commandeering a room. I haven’t lived here in a long time, remember?”

*-*

Marilyn and I comb through my schedule on Sunday morning and cancel all my immediately upcoming appearances until further notice due to a family emergency. I know that this will lead to speculation, but right now, I can’t be concerned with that. As Christian and I prepare to give our depositions at the hearing tomorrow, he gets a call and decides to take it in another room. That makes me feel a little uneasy since it’s late Sunday evening, but I don’t squawk about it.

Mia and Grace take the rounds on baby watch so that Christian and I wouldn’t be late to the preliminary hearing for my license review in the morning. It’s an informal hearing, so I don’t necessarily need Al, yet, but the moment I enter the building, I begin to feel like I should have brought him with me.

I can’t even begin to express how ridiculous I think this exercise is. Just like in a real courtroom, Christian isn’t allowed hear my testimony and I’m not allowed to hear his. However, I’m quite surprised to see some of the participants of that same group that Christian was in as well as Ronald Carlisle in the waiting room, waiting to give their testimony. When I check in, I have to turn in my purse, my phone, and my watch before I’m led to a separate room where I sit all by myself… with an escort who’s not allowed to leave the room.

Why the hell did they take my watch?

I sit in that room with nothing but a table and no windows, and I slowly begin to lose hope. There’s no clock, there’s nothing to let me know how much time has passed. I sit and sit and sit in silence, and I feel like it’s been hours. I already know that I’ve been escorted to this room to make sure that I speak to none of the witnesses and I’m also certain that with the way that I’ve been treated—like a nobody, and I’m a licensed medical professional—that unlike a criminal trial where I’m innocent until proven guilty, I’ve pretty much been convicted, and it’s up to me to prove my innocence. I’m feeling more and more helpless the longer I sit here and I finally settle on a plan of attack, if you can call it that.

“Excuse me, why did they take my watch?” I ask the escort/attendant/guard or whatever the fuck she is.

“It’s protocol, ma’am,” she says in a clipped voice.

“But why my watch? What can I possibly do with my watch?” They didn’t take my wedding rings or my earrings or any of my other jewelry. What could I do with my watch?

“It’s protocol, ma’am,” she says again, and it’s obvious that she has no other words for me. I shake my head and sigh.

Just like I said, a nobody.

I close my eyes and meditate while I wait. I focus on my children, on my wedding day, my honeymoon, all of my best friend’s weddings; on Food & Libations and on holding my little brother for the first time; on dancing with my father and Christian’s proposal; on realizing that he loved me and I loved him even when I didn’t know who he was after coming out of the coma; on building a High School Musical bear with Sophie at Thanksgiving and on Keri’s return from Anguilla; on…

“Dr. Steele-Grey, the board is ready for you now.”

I look up at the escort who has been sitting silently in the cell with me all this time. That’s what this room is. It’s a cell, and after being stripped of my dignity this way, I’m resigned to accept whatever they say.

“It has come to the attention of the board that there has been an accusation of sexual misconduct against you, Dr. Steele-Grey.”

There’s some kind of introduction about this not being a formal disciplinary proceeding blah blah blah. I’ve already tuned them out. I was forced to walk about 100 feet from the door to a single chair sitting in front of a long Oxford wood table with four people on the other side facing me. They give me their names, but I don’t commit any of them to memory—two men, both over the age of fifty, a younger man and a woman… I can’t place her age. Christian’s got their names. I know he does. No matter, I already know what I’m going to say.

“You mean a conviction, don’t you?” I say, my voice controlled. All four of the people who sit in judgment of me raise their eyes to me.

“Excuse me?” one of them says.

“You said an ‘accusation.’ You meant a conviction, didn’t you?” I repeat. “I sit before this board accused by a ghost! Someone who can’t be bothered to come before this panel, show their face and proudly proclaim they openly accuse me of wrongdoing. No, I’m called before a disciplinary board and treated like a common criminal from the moment I entered this building based on opinion and conjecture. I’ve been sitting in a cell for four hours with no contact with anybody. I couldn’t even check on my children!”

“It’s not a cell, Mrs. Grey…”

“It’s Dr. Steele-Grey you haven’t stripped me of my license yet and have you been in that room?” I say all in one breath. They all fall silent. “If that’s not a cell, why did they take my watch? My watch! What can I possibly do with a watch?” I exclaim. “I remember a psychological experiment when I was in college where they put people in a cell with no window for days and deprived them of the ability to tell time. The subjects lost their minds. Is that what this was? Some kind of mind-freak experiment to break down my resistance? Stick me in a cell for four hours and hope I’ll confess to anything?”

“Mrs. Grey, that is not a cell,” he repeats, his voice sounding impatient.

“Excuse me, but is something wrong with your hearing?” I ask.

“I beg your pardon?” he scoffs.

“I repeat, is there something wrong with your hearing?” I ask, folding my arms. “Is your hearing okay?” I am pointing to my ears this time.

“There’s nothing wrong with my hearing!” he shoots.

“Eyesight good, too?” I ask. “I wear glasses, too, and I know things can tend to get a little fuzzy.” He’s really getting heating now.

“My eyesight is fine,” he replies as if he can barely maintain control.

“Well, I’m only asking because you keep addressing my sister-in-law. You see, she’s Mrs. Grey. I’m Dr. Steele-Grey, and when you called me in here and addressed me for the first time, that’s what you said. And when you look at that documentation in front of your face, that’s who you’re trying. And since you’re so sure that the description of that room is a matter of my own perception, I’ll tell you what, sir. You have one of these fine employees take you to that room, take your watch, and sit there with you for four hours without saying a word and then come back and tell me that it’s not a cell.”

He clears his throat and looks at his notes.

“We’re getting off the mark, here,” he says, bringing the conversation back to the cause of the hearing. “You know that you’re here because accusations of sexual misconduct have been levied against you.”

“By whom?” I ask.

“Christian Grey,” he says. I now notice that he must be the mouthpiece while the others just observe and take notes as he’s the only one who speaks.

“Would you like to rephrase that now or would you like to wait until I turn this over to my attorney for slander?” I say, impassively. He glares at me when the other older gentleman leans over and whispers something in his ear. He clears his throat again.

“What I mean to say is that the victim is Christian Grey,” he corrects himself.

“And again, I ask, accusations have been levied against me by whom? Christian Grey will tell or has already told you that there has been no sexual misconduct on my part while he was in my group session. So, what are we basing further hearings on? Who is my accuser and what is their evidence?”

“Mrs. Grey, you’re hardly in a position to make demands right now with the delicate nature of these proceedings.”

“It’s Dr. Steele-Grey, for the third time. And sir, if you’re not required to answer my questions, I’m not required to answer yours, nor will I defend someone’s opinion to this board.” They look at each other as I cross my arms and legs. That’s when the totally inappropriate questions begin.

“Did you wear provocative clothing to the group sessions you facilitated?”

“Did you ever act inappropriately around your patients or participants?”

“Did you and Mr. Grey have a lover’s quarrel during which time you outed him in front of the other members of the group for ‘mommy issues?’”

More and more questions exactly like this one are fired off at me. I shake my head at the line of questioning and laugh. I don’t answer a single question. When he’s done with his barrage, he asks one last question.

“You don’t have anything to say for yourself, Mrs. Grey?” I laugh again. Mrs. Grey. Okay.

“Yes, I do,” I say, rising and standing behind my chair. “Not one of those questions that you asked had anything to do with possible sexual misconduct except possibly when you incorrectly described a disagreement that I had with Mr. Grey as a ‘lover’s quarrel.’ So, since you have a problem wording your questions, I’m going to guide you in the right direction.”

“Mrs. Grey…” he begins.

“Mr. Grey’s first group session with me as a facilitator was June 11, 2012,” I begin without regard for this ass’s interruption. “Three days later, I learned that I would not be the right person to facilitate his anger management sessions because he—like you—did not respect me as a doctor at the time.”

I pause to allow that last statement to sink in for a moment. Old Boy #1 narrows his eyes at me and I continue.

“The following Monday, June 18, 2012, I had every intention of informing the court of Mr. Grey’s complete and total lack of respect for me as a doctor since he—like you—insisted on calling me Ms. Steele instead of Dr. Steele. At the time, he was trying to make me feel inferior, much like you’re trying right now by not correctly addressing me. However, I was going to use his unwillingness to participate in the group sessions as a reason for possible reassignment for him.”

“We really don’t…”

“Later that week,” I continue over his interruption, “I find out that he performed a background check on me, which caused me to fear for my safety. So, I had one performed on him as well, strictly on a personal level. This is where I learned about the unfortunate incidents of his childhood, including something to do with his mother. The argument that ensued the following Monday on June 25, 2012 had absolutely nothing to do with a lover’s quarrel, sir!” I hiss. “It had everything to do with the fact that I was tired of being antagonized by Mr. Grey for the prior two weeks when I was only trying to do my job, and I had had enough of attempting to help people who did not want my help. ‘Mommy issues’ was an unfortunate outburst that was subsequently followed by my resignation on the same day. If Mr. Carlisle told you correctly, I turned in a blank report for Mr. Grey so that someone else could evaluate his situation.

“I had no impact on Mr. Grey’s report or treatment for the anger management sessions. In fact, our romantic relationship didn’t begin until four days later when he interrupted a disastrous date that I was having that Friday night. That’s all I have to say. Draw what conclusions you need from that narration. Unless you have questions for me based on factual evidence, I’ve told you all that I’m going to tell you. And allow me to add that I’ve never been treated more unprofessionally by a supposed group of professionals in my life. If this is the governing body over my profession, I’m thinking that maybe I made the wrong career choice.” I turn away from them and begin the 100-foot walk towards the door.

“Mrs. Grey, this hearing is not over yet.” I stop and turn around.

“Yes, it is,” I say. “First of all, you keep calling me Mrs. Grey, so you’ve already made your decision. Second, and more importantly, this entire proceeding has been based on nothing but opinion. You haven’t presented one single fact—not one, and that’s not something that I think! That’s something that I know. The reason that I know is because none exist. There’s not one fact in existence that indicates that I have been sexually inappropriate with any of my patients. That is a fact! Your deliberations and decisions will be based on nothing but opinions, so what does mine matter? I’m the condemned…” I put my hand on my chest mocking contrition. “Oh, I’m sorry. I meant I’m the accused,” I correct myself sarcastically. “So, when you’re all done mixing all of your opinions in your cauldron and you come up with a decision about the fate of my impeccable record, I’m sure you’ll notify me if I’m deemed worthy to continue to practice psychiatry in these great United States!” I turn around march out of the room.

Christian is waiting for me outside of the hearing room when I come whooshing out the door. He stands immediately, his concerned gaze fixed on me.

“Butterfly?” he says, cautiously.

“Take. Me. To. My. Children.” I say. He nods once, puts his hand in the small of my back and leads me out of the building.


CHRISTIAN

I’m stepping off the GEH jet making the same trip my wife made a few months ago for pretty much the same reason. I’m about to ruin someone’s life more than it’s already been ruined.

Sunday, while we were planning our attack and testimony for her hearing, I received a call from Welch. Butterfly looked at me questioningly when I took it in the other room, but luckily, she didn’t ask anything.

Sunday…

“What do you have for me?”

“Lincoln,” he says. “She made a call to the licensing board a couple of months ago. As it stands, she saved up whatever credits she earned over the last year and used them to make that call. It’s hard as hell to save up those credits in prison because it’s basically a barter system. So, I can guarantee you that she’s been planning this for a long time.”

“Is there any way that we can legally get a recording of that call?” I ask.

“We can, but it would take more time than Ana has. You want to pull some strings on this one if you can, especially if you plan on using it to get her off the hook.” I run my hands through my hair.

“See what you can do to get it anyway,” I say. “And start working on getting me into that damn prison as early on Tuesday as possible. Get Holstein directly. I’ll need to meet with him personally.”

“On it,” Welch says before ending the call.

Today…

You would have thought the President was coming to Walla Walla with the cavalcade that met us on the tarmac. A caravan of police cars and motorcycles escort us to the prison as I remember the look on my wife’s face when she came out of that room.

“Take. Me. To. My. Children.”

She didn’t say a word about her testimony and she didn’t ask me about mine. She spent the rest of the evening basking in the love of our children and the support of our family and we didn’t mention anything about it, but once my testimony in front of those buffoons was complete hours earlier, I knew there would be a shakedown. Although I didn’t think it wise to tell Butterfly about Lincoln’s involvement in the whole thing just yet, I was bound and determined to bring everyone down that had anything to do with this farce, including that kangaroo-court panel of high-nosed assholes, and I made sure that they knew it.

Monday at the hearing…

“Why didn’t you tell me that Ana was inappropriate with you during her sessions?” 

I was surprised when Carlisle caught me at the fucking urinal and confronted me about the accusation. I already knew that it wasn’t him, but if I hadn’t, this would have driven it home. 

“It wasn’t me,” I assured him, “and we shouldn’t be talking about this here. It could hurt her case…”

I had answered all their ridiculous questions about my relationship with my wife when she was facilitating the group sessions, which was nothing but angry and tumultuous. I even answered questions about her demeanor and her style of dress—things that had absolutely nothing to do with the matter at hand. There was no romantic relationship until after she quit the sessions. The more they talked, the more I smelled a witch hunt, and that’s when I threw all decorum out the window because they weren’t looking for the truth.

“If an anonymous tip—and a fabricated one at that—is able to cause this much upheaval in the life of a respected doctor without first speaking to the supposed victim as well as considering the source before continuing with any formal or informal proceedings, then I feel sorry for all of the licensed professionals in the state of Washington and across the country for that matter who can be subjected to this kind of scrutiny based on something not even as reliable as a high school lavatory whisper. Even accused murderers are allowed to confront witnesses and accusers and yet my wife sits here fighting an apparition. She didn’t pursue me. I pursued her and I did so after she quit the center. That’s what you need to know. Those are the facts. We never even had a kind word for one another while she was my facilitator, much less a sexual relationship. She didn’t even know who I was and when she found out, she didn’t like me. After I kissed her for the first time, she fled my office. I literally had to crash her date and convince her that I wanted to be with her before she would have anything to do with me. There never was any sexual misconduct on Dr. Steele-Grey’s part towards me. Me towards her, that might be a different story.”

“What do you mean by that?” Carter asked. He appears to be the head man in charge of the board, because he’s the only one who speaks.

“I used every tactic I could think of besides whipping it out right in front of her to break down her defenses. At first, I thought it was because I wanted her to do what I wanted her to do. After a while, I realize that I just wanted her… and I’m an asshole.”

“Mr. Grey, profanity is not necessary,” Carter protests.

“What are you going to do—hold me in contempt of the board?” I say sarcastically.

“No, but we can have your testimony withheld from the proceedings.” No, he can’t. He’s being a jerk, but I’ll roll with it.

“You do that,” I say. “I’ll just give my testimony to the media. I’m sure they would love to hear how you ignored the statement of the supposed victim in a case of sexual misconduct.” His eyes grow large.

“I’m sure Mrs. Grey wouldn’t like that kind of publicity,” he retorts. I lean back in my seat.

“Let’s examine the facts,” I say, counting off on my fingers. “You’re disrupting her life right now and holding her license over her head not six months after she’s given birth to twins while our family is going through a major crisis. Your inquisition is based on accusations from a faceless, nameless person that she’s not allowed to confront. The victim is not some random patient that she treated with a possible ax to grind—it’s me! Her husband and the father of her children and I’m standing here telling that your claims are bullshit and you won’t even listen to me—the supposed wrong party! You’re dragging her away from running her charity and helping people for this nonsense and you think she would be averse to shining public light on this travesty? This three-ring circus? This unjust witch hunt? And with my resources, you don’t think I’ll find out where that anonymous tip came from and make that public as well?

“Have you not heard the radio spots that she’s been doing to drum up donations for the Help Center? If you seriously think that she wouldn’t jump on the opportunity to expose the injustice of attempting to defame her character and put her license and reputation at risk with absolutely no concrete evidence, then you have no idea who you’re dealing with. She’ll be on a radio spot or a television show before the ink is dry on the paper you sign.”

I’m sure there’s some kind of agency that polices the board, even if I don’t know who or what it is. If they pull Butterfly’s license or impose any disciplinary action on her without true just cause and evidence, somebody’s going to be investigated. To bring a public light to that situation is the last thing Carter wants, and I see it in his eyes.

“I can already tell that you’re not interested in the truth; only in tearing a young doctor apart and ruining her career for whatever reason. I can’t stop you, but I can tell you this. I won’t stop until I’ve turned over every rock and searched every crevice and I’ve gotten to the bottom of this. Whoever is under those rocks better beware. I don’t care how high I have to go and you know I have the resources to do it.”

So now, I’m being searched and allowed into the prison where Edward David drew his last breath… well, technically, it was at the hospital, but this is where it all started. I’m led straight into the restricted area and up into the superintendent’s office.

“Mr. Grey,” he greets. “Welcome. What can I do for you?” Ronald Holstein ensured Butterfly’s safety when she came to visit David that last time.

“I appreciate you seeing me on such short notice. I’ve imposed upon your kindness before and I was hoping that I might be able to impose upon it again,” I tell him.

“If it’s within my power, I’ll be glad to help you,” he assures me.

Twenty minutes later, I not only have the recording of the bitch’s phone call sent to Welch and to my phone, but also on a small recording device lent to me by Holstein so that I can play it for the Pedophile in case she tries to deny her involvement.

When I enter the small room, she’s sitting at a table with her head down. I swear I barely recognize her until she raises her head to look at me. Those cold, empty eyes begin to sparkle at the sight of me. I almost feel sorry for her for the hope evident in her irises.

“You just couldn’t leave well enough alone, could you?”

I’m sure that she was certain that she would never see me again except for the Faces of Abuse PSA, but here I am, live and in living color. I’m sure she wants to count this as a victory on her part. She’ll feel differently once this visit it over.

“Christian,” she breathes, relief and longing evident on her face. Mine remains impassive.

“I won’t bother with formalities or even the usual insults that I normally throw your way, because you won’t hear it. I will tell you this, though. I know what you tried to do to my wife.”

Her facial expression changes just for a moment before she dons her Domme mask, entwining her fingers like she did when she spoke to me as her pet.

And that just pisses me off more.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she says impassively.

“That’s fine. Just know that I know. I’ll make this quick because I don’t want to be in your presence any longer than I have to, but you need to hear this from me. You failed. I’m going to use my connections to have Ana’s record cleaned of these accusations. Not only that, but before my testimony was even complete, one of the board members declared that the entire hearing a waste of taxpayer’s time and money.

“I’m not sure what you thought accusing my wife of sexual misconduct against me was going to accomplish. Yes, an accusation normally could stay on her record for months, maybe even years… if I didn’t have friends in high places. I have the governor’s private cell phone number on speed dial, for God’s sake!

“To top it all off, you used prison resources to file a fraudulent claim against my wife that caused emotional distress and possible loss of income had these allegations become public. So, to start, we now have a restraining and gag order against you—again! You can’t even breathe my or my wife’s name without consequences.” She cackles loudly.

Consequences?” she asks in a disbelieving tone. She gestures around her. “Take a good look, Christian,” she says sarcastically. “Consequences? Seriously?” I match her cackling laughter with a sinister, deep, throaty laughter of my own—a sound that silences her immediately.

“Wait a minute,” I say through my laughter. “Are you seriously under the impression that… it can’t get worse?”

Her face falls again and fear materializes in her eyes, although she won’t cower. I lean over the table, towering over her.

“Listen carefully, Mistress!” I hiss. “You. Have. Nobody. Even your rich aunt has opted for self-preservation and abandoned you. If you were free, we would sue you for what you did to my wife. Since you’re not, we can sue the prison for allowing these actions occur since all your calls are supposed to be monitored. Guess how the warden felt about hearing that possibility?”

She sits solemnly listening to what I’m saying. She knows what I’m getting at.

“So, who exactly do you think would give a flying fuck if some unfortunate thing were to happen to you every day at 3:00? Death is too good for your ass, so I… we… would definitely want you to live through it.”

She begins to tremble a bit as her pupils constrict, her resolve breaking into nothing.

“Take your fucking sentence and don’t bother us anymore,” I hiss. “If you do, there will be no rest for you. There will be a steady flow of padded pockets to insure your unending pain and suffering—a lifetime of misery and unhappiness just like I wished for you in court. And to give you just a little taste of what’s in store, this is what you get for trying to ruin my wife’s reputation. When you leave this room, you’ll be taken straight to solitary confinement where you’ll stay for fourteen days. Let’s see how you like that tiny room with no light and no running water. Once your stint in solitary it complete, you’ll spend fourteen more days with a new cell mate. My understanding is that her name is Roberta Coleman.”

“Ber…” she breathes. “Bert!” She’s horrified. I smile.

“Ah, you’re already acquainted. Good. I suggest that you use the next twenty-eight days to ponder your situation… to think about if you want to face these or other consequences again if you cross me or my wife. And a piece of information, you sick, sadistic bitch, there are 206 bones in the human body. That’s 206 separate opportunities to break something on your worthless ass. Fuck with me again. The jury may not have believed you, but I do. You are a narcissistic, pathological, screwed-up cunt, and if you fuck with my family again, I will treat you with no regard. And by the way, since you so readily see the afterlife as an escape, you’re on suicide watch. The last time a Grey visited this hellhole, someone ended up dead. You won’t be so lucky. Enjoy your 28 days.”

I turn around and walk out of the room, half wishing that she—like David—would do the world a favor and off herself, but knowing that she’s too self-centered to try it.


A/N: So, the sigh heard ‘round the world—“It was Elena… that’s so predictable!” Well, maybe it was, but for me, that story was still left open-ended and I didn’t like it. Here’s why…

Elena went to jail still delusional, still thinking that Christian loved her, but was under a spell that Ana put on him. Make no mistake—every time Elena said that Ana had Christian under a spell, she really believed it. There was no possible way that Christian could want Ana over her after all these years and all the beautiful subs that were perfect for him that he turned away when they wanted more except that he had to be under the influence of something. She was completely convinced that if she could get him away from Ana, she could get him back. That’s why she wanted to kill him—to have him in the afterlife.

Now, why—after everything—did she do what she did? Well, she’s behind bars for life! What worse can happen to her? In her little mind, prison gives her some amount of protection from Christian’s reach. The prisoners already make her life hell, so if she can watch Ana be dragged through the mud and publicly humiliated, then that’s one bright spot… one thing to look forward to in her dismal little life. If there was no “Yes, I can reach you even in here,” she could always come back nibbling at them like a mouse. And what do mice do? They leave shit droppings, they gnaw into your bags of food and leave signs that they’ve been there. Then they get away before you catch them, and you have to set traps and bait for them or call the exterminator and hope that you get them all.

Nasty bastards!

So, Christian called the exterminator.

So, now here’s something that I don’t normally do. I’m giving three spoilers… listen carefully.

1—The person in the epilogue was NOT Elena.

2—A storyline will develop where Elena might have the potential to reach out and strike again. “Might” being the operative word.

3—I needed this to happen to Ana to lay the groundwork for a different storyline.

That is all.

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

Raising Grey: Chapter 1—Bursting Into A New Life

https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/raising-grey/Hello, my lovelies.

Welcome to the fourth installment of the Butterfly Saga. I am in the process of re-editing Paging Dr. Steele in my spare time as I have changed some of the storylines as some of you know—like bringing people back to life and changing names. It’s nothing dramatic. You most likely won’t even notice the changes unless you read PDS a while back and then you see something later that doesn’t quite fit and you go, “Hey, didn’t she say…?”

So, if you notice inconsistencies, let me know, but know in advance that it was most likely a plot change. For example, I’ve decided that I want Ana to be a psychiatrist instead of a psychologist. So, starting from this chapter, she will refer to herself as such and will be referred to as such. She will now be an MD instead of a Psy.D, as a doctor of psychiatry is in fact a medical doctor who specializes in psychiatry, and I have mentioned several times that Ana has gone to medical school as well as finished a clinical internship. You should see the gradual transition in the first three stories as well.

In Book IV of the Butterfly Saga/Dr. Steele tetralogy (or quadrilogy or quartet, take your pick), Christian and Ana deal with the struggles of family life on every level—immediate and extended. They will yet take on villains, old and new, foreign and domestic (so to speak), as well as make a few more mistakes, big and small, but they will continue to learn and to love. So, as you read the following chapters, you will often ask yourself… “Which Grey is being ‘raised?’”

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 1—Bursting Into A New Life

ANASTASIA

Just one…

One event can change the entire course of your life.

One tiny thing can set into motion the proceedings that alter history and the future forever.

What was that one event for me? People spend their entire lives pondering that question. It comes in many forms…

What did I do to deserve this?
What did I do to deserve
you?
Does God hate me?
How did I get so lucky?
Why is this happening to me?
Was I a saint in a previous life?
Why are the fates so cruel?

Some never get the answer. Do you know why? Because as far back as you can trace an event and you can mark it as a catalyst for the next series of occurrences that shifted your world on its axis, you can go even further and question the events that led to that occurrence. You may never have a cause and effect, because if you think about you, your cause may actually be an effect. It’s maddening if you think about it too long because the truth is that you can follow a line of events to their conclusion, but if you’re diligent enough, you could quite possibly trace the beginning of one single event to the beginning of life.

God, we’d never have any answers to anything…

Why did you kill that man?
Because I was born.

Why did you break my heart?
Because Eve bit the apple.

Why are we fighting?
Because Rome fell.

As ridiculous as it may sound, those pairings are all cause and effect somewhere in the world if you follow the causes back far enough through the six degrees of separation.

My current state of affairs—all of them—have me pondering that question in my life. When I look at where I’ve come from and where I am now, it’s hard to conceive my life ending up where it has.

I’m surrounded by family and friends and that group is consistently growing.

I’m filthy fucking rich and married to a Greek God with an endless money-pot, a dick that rivals John Holmes, and wooing skills exponentially more impeccable than Casanova himself.

I’ve never met my father and I don’t speak to my mother, but the people who aren’t biologically related to me have shown me more love than the one person I know who has my blood running through her veins.

I’ve had three extremely violent acts happen to me before the age of thirty when most people barely ever have one.

I’m a well-known face in the community and the state for several reasons.

I’m fit, beautiful, and only moderately insane, considering.

There are two gorgeous bundles of life gracing this earth that were nurtured in and brought forth by my body.

But, what one thing was the precipitator that caused or changed everything, thereby creating today’s version of Anastasia Steele-Grey? The day that I first laid eyes on Christian Grey changed my life monumentally, but was meeting him that one event—that catalyst—that sent my world into a tailspin?

If I wasn’t the facilitator of those group therapy sessions, I never would have met him.
If I hadn’t become a shrink, I wouldn’t have facilitated those group therapy sessions.
If I hadn’t been attacked, I never would have become a shrink.
If we hadn’t moved to Nevada, I never would have been attacked.
If my mom had never divorced my step-dad, we never would have moved to Nevada.
If my mom wasn’t such a raging bitch, she never would have divorced my step-dad.

Yeah, that’s where I drop the ball. So, by that reasoning—flawed or not—if my mom wasn’t such a raging bitch, I never would have met Christian.

Ridiculous, right?

Or how about this one…

If Christian had never been assigned to group therapy, I never would have met him.
If Christian has never belted that guy in the street, he never would have been assigned to group therapy.
If the drunk driver had not rear-ended him, then recognized him, Christian never would have belted that guy in the street.
If Christian were not a multi-billionaire-entrepreneur in the Seattle area, the drunk driver would never have recognized him.
If Christian had never started GEH, he would not be a multi-billionaire-entrepreneur.
If Pedo-Bitch hadn’t lent him the start-up funds for his business, Christian may have never started GEH.
If Pedo-Bitch hadn’t gotten her claws into him at fifteen, she wouldn’t have been inclined to lend him the start-up funds for his business.
If Grace hadn’t connected Christian with Pedo-Bitch in the first place—good intentions aside, Pedo-Bitch wouldn’t have gotten her claws into him at fifteen.
If Christian wasn’t such an angry and damaged teenager, Grace wouldn’t have connected him with Pedo-Bitch.
If Christian hadn’t been abused and neglected as a toddler, he wouldn’t have been such an angry and damaged teenager.

Now, depending on who’s telling the story, any one of those factors could be the actual catalyst:

From the beginning:
If Christian hadn’t been abused and neglected as a toddler, I never would have met him.

Somewhere in the middle:
If Pedo-Bitch hadn’t gotten her claws into him at fifteen, I never would have met him.

Near the end:
If Christian were not a multi-billionaire-entrepreneur in the Seattle area, I never would have met him.

It makes you wonder, how do attorneys argue cases when cause and effect can go all the way back to Creation—or the big bang, depending on your belief?

Yes, I’m having a big ole giant why moment at present, because there are too many goddamned “whys” in my life right now. While I’m madly in love with my husband, blissfully content as the mother of my two beautiful children, and feel like I’m the luckiest girl in the world with all the friends and family surrounding me, some fucker somewhere has accused me sexual misconduct in my practice and I don’t even get to know who the fuck did it. I know that Christian, with all of his connections, will find out who the culprit is, but by the time he does, Dr. Anastasia Rose Steele-Grey, MD could be a thing of the past.

Not only that, for reasons that we simply cannot fathom, Helping Hands’ final accreditation is being held up by the licensing board. We’ve done everything that we were supposed to do—filed every form, talked to every person, met every code—and this thing has been locked for months now when we were certain that we were a shoe-in back in January. I thought that my misfortune may have had something to do with it, but we just found out about the accusations of sexual misconduct. The accreditation has been bogged down for months, so one definitely has nothing to do with the other.

Also, on my list of things to worry about is my dear friend, Valerie. By the grace of God, she has made it through her last round of radiation, but nursing her back to health is a real task. The treatments have just wreaked havoc on her body and for a full week and a half after the conclusion of the treatments, she never got out of bed, slept all the time and had to be “guilt-fed” on more than one occasion. Elliot has been the ideal husband, staying by her side and caring for her, nursing her and loving her, even with around-the-clock professional caregivers on hand. I help out where I can, sitting with her and talking to her when she’s awake, but Elliot is like a machine, and sometimes, I have to focus on taking care of him since he won’t take care of himself until Val is okay.

And now, we have Fashiongate. Yeah, let’s not forget that one. I managed to do a couple of radio spots before the bottom started falling out from under us. Things needed to be shaken up a bit with donations somewhat at a standstill and the accreditation in the same predicament. Christian had already put the Faces of Abuse PSA back into rotation, so the timing was perfect. I used the spots to talk peripherally about how our family was doing, but more about Helping Hands and our current plight. Things went well until…

One Friday after I had appeared on a radio show the previous day, I had come down to the kitchen to grab a cup of coffee and a quick breakfast before going into Helping Hands, only to find a somewhat displeased Christian sitting at the dining table. When I inquired about his mood, he showed me a picture of me leaving KIRO-FM the day before. I was scanning the picture waiting to see what I was missing when he made a comment about my dress. I had gravitated towards white in the spring and late summer, and most of my new pieces were all white. That day’s ensemble was a white sleeveless pencil dress with a mock turtleneck and a peek-a-boo cut in the chest—below the knee, completely respectable—and a pair of white peep-toe Louboutins.

When I still couldn’t see the problem, he made a comment about showing off my after-baby body. At first, I protested, and then I immediately felt a little self-conscious and disappointed, so I made a hasty getaway to the Center. As the day progressed, I got more and more pissed. I’d been wearing wiggle dresses since the day he met me, and now it’s a problem? I immediately had flashbacks of the Fundraiser Fiasco and how he had a nuclear meltdown which turned into weeks of radio silence.

But this was nothing like the Fundraiser Fiasco.

I was deliberately looking for attention during that display. I wanted to feel desirable around those men, even though I was pregnant, and I wanted to possibly finagle a little more money from their tight fists for Helping Hands. I can completely understand why Christian was pissed that time, even if I didn’t like how he handled the situation, but this is different. This is just me dressing up nice because I want to look good—something I’ve done ever since I discovered peep-toe platform stilettos, which was long before I met Christian Grey!

With this goddamned hearing looming over me, the last thing I want to do is fight with this man about my wardrobe, but I’m sure as hell not going convert to wearing burkas because he doesn’t want anyone else in the world to see my body. So, being the ever so wise psychiatrist that I am, I chose not to talk this out with my husband so that we could understand each other’s feelings. Instead, I have chosen to wear whatever the hell I want whenever the hell I want as long as I didn’t feel that the clothing was flashy, tacky, or inappropriate.

Mr. Grey has noticed.

Oh, did I fail to mention that my baby brother had his first birthday that week and we had to go to his party on Saturday? Yeah, that Saturday started Operation Whitewash, also known as Fashiongate. I wore the cutest two-piece casual white pants set with slightly short legs and a tank crop top. It was adorable and fit just right in all the right places. Coupled with a pair of perfect strappy sandals, I stole the show without even trying.

“Ana, that suit is adorable.”
“OMG, where did you find that?”
“I would kill to have that body a few months after delivering twins.”
“My God, what did you do to get those six pack abs?”
“I’m glad my girlfriend had to work today. I think she’d leave me for you.”

I thanked everyone for their appreciation as it came, but couldn’t help but notice Mr. Grey stewing a bit in the corner. The stewing and bickering came to a momentary halt when we got a call from Carrick that Pops had to be rushed to the hospital due to a significant drop in his blood pressure.

Yes, another catastrophe in the midst of all the rest.

We took the twins back to Grey Crossing and went straight to the hospital to see about Pops. The news was not good. They’re doing all they can for him, but the prognosis is… he needs a kidney. So, there’s just one more thing to throw into the pot of all that’s going wrong right now. A few articles of clothing seem very trivial in comparison.

Apparently, Mr. Grey and his pouting didn’t seem to think so.

As a result, the rest of the week found me in beautiful white dresses and suits. Some were more provocative than others, but still, nothing inappropriate or flashy.

A knee length off-the-shoulder fitted dress with and small knee-split and long flare sleeves;

A white pants suit with short legs, a white bustier underneath, and a pair of sky-high platform stilettos;

But the piece de resistance had to be the following Thursday’s outfit—a perfect replica of Sharon Stone’s Basic Instinct “White Heat” dress complete with the matching coat and strappy sandals. When I go to the kitchen that day to get my coffee, his mouth falls open. I can only imagine that he’s wondering if I’m wearing panties underneath. He comes to the breakfast bar and stands right next to me while I drink my coffee and look at my iPad.

“Okay, Anastasia, you can stop this now.” My brow furrows and I turn to him.

“Stop what?” I ask.

“The sexy outfits. You’re a beautiful woman. You’ve made your point.” I scoff at him and shake my head. I’m amazed that he could give me a compliment, then deflate it all in the same sentence.

“This may come as a surprise to you, Christian,” I declare, “but I’m not trying to make a point.” I leave my unfinished coffee at the breakfast bar and walk out, going to start my day.

I guess he felt like he was punishing me by not speaking to me that night and not coming to bed. Part of me wanted to feel hurt about it, but the other part of me that truly felt like I could wear anything I wanted as long as I didn’t look like a hooker quickly squashed the hurt. The next day, a photography crew comes to Helping Hands to take some promotional pictures for a charity newsletter. So, I wear and white pencil skirt with a folded split in the front and a simple white button-down blouse with sheer sleeves, nude stockings with white stilettos any my hair down over my shoulders.

Grace loved it. She actually went in the same direction with a black pencil skirt and burgundy blouse with black strappy sandals, and we hadn’t even compared notes. She said it made us look young and flirty, but still businesslike without looking trashy. This was always the look I went for—with my wiggle skirts and Lindy bop dresses and skater dresses, that’s the exact look I was going for. Always fashion forward—cute and yeah, maybe a bit sexy, without being trashy. This is who I was when he met me; when I was wearing knockoff shoes instead of Louboutins, but they were platform stilettos nonetheless; when I was wearing Bodycon and bandage dresses… What the hell is his problem, now?

The house is quiet when I get home and I make it a point to call the hospital and check on Pops before I go upstairs to check on Elliot and Val and of course, my two little angels. I didn’t want to be distracted, so I didn’t take them to work with me today. Everyone is fast asleep, the adults included. It must have been a particularly rough day for Mr. and Mrs. Grey as it’s not even 6PM yet. I go down to the kitchen to get a snack before dinner, then I plan to stay in my office for a while, going over my schedule and the fucked-up shit going on in my professional life. I take a large drink of my cranberry spritzer before I allow my head to fall forward, stretching my neck and trying to rid myself of some of the stress and pinned-up emotions I’m feeling.

“So, is this how it’s going to be now?”

My hair has fallen over my shoulders, past my breasts and down to my waist, covering my face, but I don’t need to see him to know who’s talking to me. I sigh heavily.

“What do you mean?” I ask, exhausted.

“You’re avoiding me,” he says. I raise my head and turn to him.

“I am not,” I reply, more than a bit perturbed. “I just don’t think it’s fair to suddenly be denigrated for doing something I’ve always done. I’m not doing anything differently than when you met me.”

“You weren’t my wife then,” he inserts.

“What does that mean?” I ask, raising my head and gesturing wildly. “Yes, I’m a wife and a mother. Does that mean that I’m supposed to walk around wearing moo-moos and mom jeans now?” His eyes narrow as he glares at me. “Tell me,” I demand. “Tell me, what’s wrong with what I’m wearing right now because nothing I’ve been wearing is any different than this.”

“It’s too sexy,” he says, flatly.

“And that’s too general,” I retort. “I’m a sexy woman, so when I wear clothes, they’re going to be sexy. You said it yourself. Try again, Mr. Grey.” His face becomes impassive as he walks closer to me.

“Everything you wear fits you like a glove,” he admits finally. “Everything shows your ass and your tits—your shape. Everything!”

“Basically, the same way that I dressed when we met, before I married you, after I married you, and before I got pregnant. So, now we’re back to mom jeans and moo-moos,” I say folding my arms. He’s silently examining me for quite some time. “Christian, you leave this house every day in tailor-made suits and Italian leather shoes looking like power dipped in confidence and wrapped up in sex. The day I met you, that’s how you looked and two years later, nothing has changed. I’ve never given you a hard time about that. Even when women have overtly disrespected me, ogling you and coming on to you in my presence, I’ve never given you a hard time about that. Yet, suddenly, there’s something wrong with what I’ve been doing for the past two years, except for maybe six of the nine months I carried our children. Tell me, what. Is. The problem?”

I stand there expecting and some unknown emotion passes over his face before he moves to close the space between us… but he doesn’t touch me. He just looks down at the periodical that he has in his hand.

“Well,” he says, “at least your public appreciates it.” What the fuck? Without another word, he drops the paper in front of me on the breakfast bar and proceeds to walk around me. I look down at the headline staring back up at me from the pages of some gossip rag.

Ana’s Shining Like the Stars, But Where’s Chris?

“A tabloid?” I say to his retreating back. “A fucking tabloid?” He doesn’t stop. He just continues through the family room and, I would think, down to his study. I look at the tabloid and the two-page spread shows me in all my white glory, every outfit from the pencil dress that started this mess to yesterday’s “White Heat.” Somebody’s been pretty damn busy. Nonetheless, all of the captions on all the pictures describe how pretty and professional I look, spouting accolades about how I toned up after the twins were born and how angelic I look in my white garb—and this from a tabloid! The only dark spot is the speculation of why I’m suddenly wearing all white all the time, and where is my billionaire white knight while I’m strutting the streets in perfection.

“I still don’t see the damn problem,” I say to no one, leaving the gossip rag on the counter and going down to my own office. When I look through the aquarium that adjoins our offices, he’s not in his study.

“Great. Now he’s going to walk around moping,” I grumble. I can’t believe he’s acting like such a child. I’m mean, seriously, this is really unbelievable. I sit at my desk and put my glasses on, open my laptop, and start with the task of sorting out my life for the next few weeks.

*-*

I don’t how much time has passed, but it’s dark outside when he enters my office. I’ve been so engrossed in my work that I’ve missed dinner and completely lost track of time. I remove my glasses and rub my eyes, never making eye contact with him.

He moves to stand behind my chair and runs his hand over my shoulder, then down my chest, cupping my breast. Fuck! I slap his hand away from me. It’s not that easy, Grey. He slides the other hand down the other breast, gripping it firmly and causing one of my buttons to inadvertently pop open. When I slap that hand away, he quickly attacks both breasts with both hands, coming up from beneath and pinning me to the chair, cupping them while massaging my nipples with his fingertips. I look down and all I can see are his hands and forearms from behind the chair, owning my tits. I can’t stop my nipples from hardening under his touch—fucking traitors—and that doesn’t get past him. In seconds, he’s concentrating on the erotic little pebbles, but I push his hands away from me again, take a deep breath, and go back to my laptop.

Not to be outdone, Mr. Grey—already on his knees—swings my chair around quickly and effortlessly to face him. I gasp, taken aback by the swift movement, but I’m more caught off guard by the hunger in his eyes when I look at him. I swallow hard and screw up my resolve.

“No, Christian,” I say, petulantly. “You’re not going to just walk in here and sex me like everything is okay.” He rubs his hands under my skirt on the outside of my thighs.

“Are you sure about that, Anastasia?” he says, his voice thick, deep and sure—his confidence and cockiness traveling right to my core. “Mmm, stockings… no wonder I can smell you.” I figure out too late that he’s skipping foreplay and going right for the money—right for my crotch. I try to close my legs, but his hand is already there, massaging me outside of my panties.

“Open them,” he says in a firm, sing-songy voice.

“No!” I hiss, determined not to make this easy for him.

“Open,” he says again, pronouncing each syllable in the most delicious way that almost makes my knees part on their own.

“No!” I reinforce, holding firmly on to the armrests for support. He shakes his head and “tsk’s” at me. Placing his knee on the floor between my feet, he wedges his hip between my knees and effortlessly separates my legs.

“O-pen,” he says victoriously, as his hand massages my lips and clit roughly through my lace panties. I’m panting… angry… horny… burning against his hand as it rubs my pleasure center deep and hard to a reluctant burn, the fingers of his other hand digging into my hip and holding me still.

“You want this,” he hisses, his hand and fingers causing a vicious fury as he closes the space between us.

“No!” I say through my teeth, determined not to give in although I am quickly losing the battle. He releases my hip and grabs the nape of my head roughly, taking a handful of hair in his fist and snatching my head back, snatching away my air with it. I gasp as his tongue starts at the valley of my breasts and quickly, but skillfully moves up my chest, my neck, my chin, and deliciously across my mouth, causing me to involuntarily part my lips.

“Liar!” he whispers roughly before thrusting his tongue into my mouth and kissing me so powerfully and passionately that whatever fight I had left is broken and oozing into my panties now. I’m still holding on to the armrests, but more so that I won’t float away than anything else. Once he has explored every crevice of my mouth, he rips his lips from mine and torments my clit some more with the sopping lace. As only Christian Grey can, he grasps both hips with both hands and quickly drags them to the edge of the seat before I have an opportunity to protest. In moments, he has dived between my legs and his lips and tongue are tantalizing me through the soaked crotch of my lace panties.

Fuck! It feels so good!

I’m moaning uncontrollably as he holds my thighs down, his lips and tongue and the lace causing a burn that I’ve never felt before. Shit, this is hot! It’s good and… painful and… fuck, I want to come but… shit!

I release the armrest and thrust both hands into his hair, holding my head back. He moans into my panties and I feel the heat of his breath against my clit. Fuuuuuuck! I want to grind, but he’s holding me down, and now, he pushes my legs further apart, the burn going deeper, the pain more intense, and my skirt moving higher. I groan because I feel my release coming and just when it’s about to hit, he stops.

No! No no no no no!

I want to fucking hit him!

He blows on my clit to calm the burn and kisses the inside of my thighs. Fucking asshole. After a few moments, I hear him inhale deeply—smelling me—and groan.

“Well, these are pretty goddamn useless, aren’t they?” he declares in a low sexy voice, and my panties are snatched from my core. I look down and see them hanging harmlessly from one stiletto before he dives in again, this time on my naked pussy.

“Fuck!” I call out as his hot mouth devours my core. It feels so good that I almost want to cry. He has my thighs over his shoulders this time, my ass lifted off the chair so that he can feast more freely—and feast he does! He pushes my skirt up… up… up until I have an unobstructed view of him indulging in my sex. I watch for several moments—his gray eyes never leaving mine, his copper hair bobbing and rolling as his nose and part of his face disappears and reappears to allow each part of his tongue maximum enjoyment of flavor, manipulation, and penetration. He is soooooooooo good! I play with my breasts roughly outside my shirt and the buttons begin to give way. I lick my lip and reach into my open shirt under my bra. I tweak my breasts and just as I feel that burn creeping up on me again, he stops again.

And I want to fucking hit him again…

But this time, he quickly frees his throbbing cock from his pants and boxer briefs. With no warning, he thrusts deep into me.

“Motherfuck!” I scream, grabbing roughly on to his shoulders.

“You want me!” he says through clenched teeth, rolling his hips into me. I nod feverishly.

“Yes!” I declare emphatically.

“Say it!” he growls pounding hard into me once and I cry out again.

“I want you!” I cry, tortured, wanting to come, my body begging him to go harder, faster, deeper, don’t stop, please…

“What do you want?” he growls, grabbing the back of the chair and using it to steady himself so that my pussy can’t escape the relentless, delicious pounding of his fat, angry dick.

“Oh! Oh God! I want you to fuck me!” I beg, the burn rising. He rolls his hips and pounds deeper, leaning in to me so that our bodies are close, but that dick is still ruling me.

“Say it again!” he says, right to my face.

“I want you to fuck me!” I confess again, his dick tormenting me deliciously.

“Say it again!” he grunts in my ear.

“I want you to fuck me!” I say again.

“How?” he growls, drilling into me. “How do you want me to fuck you? Tell me!”

“Deep!” I beseech him. “Deeper, baby. Harder! Fuck me harder!” He hooks my legs under the knees so that I’m wide open and plunges into me to the hilt. I scream, feeling every inch of him hit every wall of me, causing me to feel fucking dizzy.

“Fuck you like that, baby?” he growls huskily.

“Yes! Yes! Just like that…” We are primal and I’m just aching for him to own me, to fuck me until I can’t see straight, until I completely forget why I was even angry. I fall back in the chair and hold on to the armrests again, using them for support so that I can push against his pulsing, pounding dick.

“Fuck! Baby!” he growls and clasps his hands over mine, locking me down, restraining me and pounding that poor pussy into total delectable submission.

“Two babies!” he growls. “Two babies and you are still. So. Fucking. Tight!” He thrusts into me with every word and I fight not to succumb to the pleasure. It feels so good and I don’t want it to end yet. My God, we’re like animals, grunting and making these noises. He reaches around me and grabs my ass. Holding me solidly, he fucks me relentlessly and I can only let him. My panties are still hanging from my stiletto and I fight to shimmy out of my open shirt, but now I want him out of his. I can’t get the buttons open fast enough so I start tearing at the damn thing. I don’t know where this strength comes from, but the entire time, it spurns him to fuck me harder and faster, so I just keep ripping.

“Fuck me, Baby,” I groan. “Fuck me!”

He groans and lifts me off the chair by my ass. Still holding me in place and showing incredible strength, he bends his knees and fucks me hard and deep standing in the middle of the room.

“Yes, Baby,” I breathe. “Own this pussy!”

Who the fuck is this talking? I don’t know, but I like her. And Christian loves her!

“Goddammit, Ana!” he growls, thrusting harder and faster. If he stops now, I swear to God, I’m going to kill him!

“Bite me!”

He only has to say it once. I find a soft patch of sweaty skin between his neck and shoulders and sink my teeth in. He cries out like a howling dog, holds me closer to him and moves like the master that he is.

I’m a goner.

“Don’t let go! Don’t let go!” he begs as he maintains that stroke that promises to have me screaming to the heavens in mere moments. I won’t… I won’t let go. I clamp those teeth and suck, concentrating on this pulsing pussy and this throbbing dick inside of it.

“Yes… yes, baby…j-just like that…” He’s fighting to keep control, but he’s keeping it. In and out and in and out and in and out he pumps and I’m clinging to him like a vise, my legs suspended in one of the most trying endurance exercises I’ve ever done, but my pussy burning and pulsing to a degree that I’ve never felt before

I’m being fucked—deep and well. Good God, am I being fucked!

It starts in my anus. It’s almost like I can see it, and because he’s holding me open, I can’t stop it. Fuck, is he going to stop? This is going to be astronomical.

“Shit. Yeah, Baby. Fuck, feel it, Baby.” He knows it’s coming. Dear God, don’t let him stop. My legs are killing me, but the pain adds to the pleasure. He doesn’t change that stroke—in and out and in and out and in and out… push and rock and push and rock and push and rock…

I whimper.

“Look at me.”

I release the bite on his shoulder.

“Sssss, ah fuck!” He almost loses his stroke. He throws his head back in a moment of uncontrolled passion, and when his gray gaze meets my royal blue, he’s primal again. He doesn’t blink. He stares at me, pushing into me without faltering or stumbling, grinding perfectly into me until I’m panting, until I can see us in my mind’s eye fitting perfectly together, him gliding in and out of me; me wrapping perfectly around his angry, pink, veiny, pulsing dick as it disappears inside of me and reappears again, wet and shiny with the evidence of our arousal.

He teases me with his lips, like he’s going to kiss me but he doesn’t. It makes me hotter and he knows it does. He does it again, making me boil before he goes for the finale. He slides his hands further under my ass, cheeks and thighs, pulling me further apart and lifting me higher so that when he strokes, not only am I wider, but the stroke is longer and it goes deeper.

It’s exquisite.

He treats me to a few luscious, wet, sensual kisses because he knows that’s all it will take. When the moment comes, he’s looking in my eyes again, his hips rising to meet mine as he masterfully drops mine to meet his. I feel him pulsing. I feel his balls tightening. I feel him growing. Fuck, he’s hitting me everywhere!

“Come. Give it to me. Come on…” he growls at me, only breaths away from my mouth, glaring at me, my orgasm reflected in his eyes. “Come on, baby. Come, you sexy ass bitch, come!” With those words, I explode helplessly around him, pulsing relentlessly like I have no control over my own body, my pelvis contracting so hard that my stomach hurts. He reaches a long finger over to my asshole and strokes my rosette because he knows it will make my Kegels contract involuntarily.

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck!

“That’s it, you fucking siren, you fucking beautiful ass siren, goddammit oh fuck!” He’s grinding into me on every word, drawing out this massive head-rocking climax finally stilling on the last “fuck,” only thrusting infinitesimally into me while he violently jerks out his orgasm, grunting like an animal. We only take a moment to catch our breath before we hungrily seek each other’s mouths, lapping each other, devouring each other’s essence. It’s untamable. I have no idea what’s going on, but the monster inside has to be fucking fed.

“More?” he groans, never releasing his death grip on me.

“More,” I respond, hungrily, my body begging him to thrust into me again, which he gladly obliges.

“More,” he growls, sitting me in the chair and picking up the stroke right where he left off before his orgasm and my loins can hardly believe the pleasure has started anew.

“Oh, yes, yes,” I groan helplessly, lying back as he drills into me once again.

“Fuck, baby, what are you doing to me?” he moans as he powerfully grasps my hips, holding them in place while rolling his against them. Fucking hell, he’s good. “Look at that pussy. Shit, it’s so pink and wet.” I look up at him and he licks his lips with every thrust, thoroughly enjoying himself. I reach between my legs and touch my clit.

“Aaahh!” I cry out, my fingertips burning my pleasure center.

“Goddammit, Ana!” he says between clenched teeth and I know the sight is exquisite for him. He sits me down in the chair and quickly undoes my bra. He’s nearly ripping my bra and what’s left of the shirt off his body and tossing into the chair behind me while he kicks off his shoes. Without coming out of me, he steps out his pants and boxers and now stands unrestricted before me. My skirt is a bunched mess at my waist and he lifts my hips again, slowly thrusting into me now.

“Do it again, baby,” he hisses. “Play with that clit.” I reach down and rub my clit in slow circles and he watches closely while biting his lip, breathing hard with every slow stroke like he almost can’t take the burn.

“I have to stop,” I pant. “I’m going to come.”

“Come as much as you want, baby,” he growls, never losing his stroke or moving his eyes. “I’m not done fucking you yet!” With his declaration, I burst into another orgasm, burning deliciously and pressing on my clit and he glides slowly in and out of me. I tremble with each stroke and it’s fabulous!

“Oooo, fuck, look at all that cream all over my dick,” he says. He takes my hand and rubs it on his dick and I feel it going in and out of me. “Rub that on your pussy, baby.”

I take the moisture from his shaft and spread it up and down my lips and clit. Shit, it’s sensitive, but it feels fucking divine. I groan as I hold my lips apart and feel the texture of his dick sliding between my fingers as it slides in an out of me.

“Fuck! Baby, that looks so good,” he moans, dragging the words out as he rolls his hips. He thrusts deeper into me and groans loudly as he lifts me off the chair and takes me to the desk. I clumsily knock various items onto the floor to clear our way as he sets my ass on the desk and I prop myself up on my elbows to get a better view. Hooking his arms under my legs again, he parts my thighs and dives deep and hard into me.

“Aaaaggghhhhh!!” he groans, and he grinds into me again. I put my hand between my legs again and outline our sex. He watches for several moments, stroking deeply with a pained expression on his face. He throws his head back in ecstasy, his thrusts becoming rougher and deeper he pulls my body against him with every pump. I look down my body at him, his muscles and abs flexing with every thrust, his torso glistening with sweat, his hips pumping hard against mine and his pelvis moving in rhythm to the delicious strokes into my pussy. If I strain, I can almost see the base of his beautiful dick. I raise my eyes and I’m caught watching.

“Do you like what you see?” he growls, pumping into me.

“Yes!” I hiss, through clenched teeth.

“You want more?” he taunts, and right about now, I’m tired of him having all the fun. I steady myself against the desk and remembering my grueling abs exercises, I roll my hips and counter his thrusts.

“Yes!” I growl back at him.

“Fuck, baby!” he protests, attempting to still my hips, but it’s no use. I’ve had enough of you running this show, Grey. It’s my turn for a little bit. Remember that first time? Against the wall in my dining room? Remember that, Grey? You couldn’t get away from me. You tried, but you couldn’t get away. He takes one of my legs and throws it over his shoulder so that my stiletto is at his ear.

Oh, no you don’t!

I wrap the other leg tight around his hip and continue my grind. We’re equally matched now. He has one leg over his shoulder so that he can pound into me, but I have one wrapped around his hip so that I can ride him from whatever position I’m in.

“Fuck! Baby!” he groans.

“Mm-hmm,” I moan, acknowledging his pleasure… and my own. He’s holding that thigh against him and thrusting into me. With his other hand, his thumb strokes my clit. He’s starting to build and he needs me to come first, and this is a sure-fire way to make it happen. I instinctively reach for my breasts and they’re wet.

Fuck! My milk is leaking!

I look up at Christian who looks down at my breasts. He releases the leg over his shoulder and wraps it around his waist, both of his hands moving to my breasts. He never stops his stroke as he squeezes them gently and watches the milk flow out.

Now, why is that hot?

My hips roll instinctively against his and his thumbs roll across my nipples. Fuck! Milk or no milk, that shit always turns me on… but milk is fluid and this is a very expensive wooden desk…

Almost as if we were on the same thought pattern, he lifts me again and sits in the chair with me on his lap. My legs are over the armrests and his arms around my back. I’m spread open and he’s pushing up into me.

“You can’t get away now,” he says, his hands on my ass again, pushing me hard into his thrust as I gasp. I grab the back of the chair and counter his thrusts. His mouth falls slack.

“Who said I wanted to get away,” I reply rolling my hips. He rubs them sensuously, allowing them to move freely over his.

“Mrs. Grey,” he moans, “You’re so talented.”

“Thank you, Mr. Grey,” I breathe, getting lost in the pleasure. He plays in the garden for a while and kisses me deliciously. Oh, God, I’m rising high and hard. He moves my hands from the back of the chair behind him.

“Lean back,” he says, “on my knees.” I lean my hands back on his knees and I am spread out before him… leaking milk and all. He helps me insert my legs over his thighs, but under the armrest—better traction on his dick, but I’m thinking about my milk spilling all over both our torsos.

“Ride,” he commands softly. I pause for a beat, but start to ride. It feels good, but my milk…

“Ride!” he says again, his hand rubbing my hips gently and his hips rising when mine fall. Fuck! Okay! I’m riding! I’m riding!

“Yes! Ride, baby,” he encourages as one hand holds my grinding hip and the other pushes up between my wet breasts. Fuck! This is crazy! And hot!

“Don’t stop, baby,” he breathes as he squeezes one breast and produces fresh milk. “It feels so good.”

God, he’s nuts! But this is so kinky! And I keep riding, rising higher and higher. Then his tongue outlines my soaked breast and he hungrily laps at the milk covered mound. He moans.

“Mmmm,” he says as he laps up the spilled milk. “Sweet, as usual.” He attacks my breast, chest, and torso, hungrily licking and cleaning anywhere his tongue can reach, and I’m still fucking him, once again reaching a level of pleasure I’ve never known.

“Christian!” I mewl, throwing my head back and getting lost in this wonderful feeling—this unbelievable Euphoria. He moans as his lips gently envelop my nipple and I almost can’t function. He gently squeezes with his hands, then laps the milk up with his tender lips and talented tongue, all while he’s gliding in and out of me and I am rising, rising, rising, higher and faster than I can control it.

“Ride me,” he says against my nipple. “That’s it, baby. Clear your mind. Ride this dick.”

So, I do. I clear my mind and I ride. I ride and it feels so good. I feel him sucking my breast, relieving me and satisfying me… and it feels so good.

“Mmm, yeah, baby. Ride it hard, baby. Deep, baby. Feel me…”

I’m lost. I’m lost in some sort of whirlwind, spiral, emotional, mindless, weightless, fifth dimension that envelops my body and causes me to lose track of time and space. My entire being has temporarily drifted off into this other realm where matter and elements are of no consequence. When I return, I am spent and sated and crying and limp, my entire body trembling and pulsing, and my love is holding me against him, rocking into me seeking his release, still latched onto my breast.

Moments later, it hits and he stills—his hands on my butt. His eyes are screwed shut and he’s holding me up onto his dick. I can feel him pulsing hard inside me as he holds me in place. He’s not breathing. He’s sucking hard—very hard—emptying my breast like I’m emptying his balls; each long draw matching a hard throb, which I imagine is matching a long, painful, delectable stream from his shaft. This goes on for quite some time, several seconds of long draws and painful throbs, and me suspended in the air over his stilled body.

Finally, he drops me down onto his member, now nestled deep inside of me. He wraps both arms around me and holds me in place. He releases a huge breath and relaxes his eyes, but never opens them. He unlatches one breast and immediately latches onto the other and begins to suckle, firmly, while gently rocking his hips into me, breathing through his nose as he catches his breath. We’re not having sex, but he’s enjoying the warmth of being inside of me, and I’m enjoying his remaining firmness against my walls before his erection subsides. While our organs enjoy each other’s’ company, he holds me solidly in his arms and sensually empties my swollen breast. I cradle his head in my arms and relax as he continues to soothe my body.

*-*

Several minutes later, I’m still sitting on his lap, straddling him, exhausted. His arms are wrapped around me and his head is buried in my chest. He’s still inside of me. My arms are wrapped around his neck and my chin rests on his hair. I stare blankly at the bookshelf behind him.

We’ve solved nothing.

“I know that sex won’t solve our issue,” he says solemnly, reading my mind as usual. “That’s not what I was trying to do. It’s just that…” He looks tormented. I know it’s something that he has to say, but he doesn’t quite know how to get it out. So, I won’t interrupt him. He raises his eyes to me and they’re so lost and uncertain. I want to reach out and hold him; bring him to me and tell him that it’s okay—but I need to hear what he has to say and he needs to say it. We can’t just let it blow over.

His eyes are beseeching because he knows that I want to fill in the blank with some fix-all statement that will make everything better, but I won’t do it. He has to talk to me. He has to tell me what he’s feeling and then we need to get to the bottom of things. Resolved to his fate, but still desperate for help, he sighs and closes his eyes.

“When you pull away… I feel myself losing you,” he begins. “I feel you slipping away from me… not like you’re going to leave me or divorce me, but like…” He sighs again but doesn’t open his eyes. “… Like my Butterfly is leaving our world… our little Ana and Christian world.” He opens his eyes and when he focuses on me, he almost looks like he’s going to cry. There’s a sharp pain in my heart and I can’t move. I can only sit there and listen.

“Sometimes, I can deal with it, because I know it’s not real. Whatever journey you’re on, it’s only temporary and you’ll be back. But sometimes…” He closes his eyes again, but forces himself to open them again. “When I’m not buried in my own selfish ego and feelings, I see yours—I see you separating yourself from me. That lifeline between us… it’s so strong, but during those times it’s like… spider silk… and your delicate hands can break it with one little…” He looks at his hand and makes a gentle gesture with his fingers as if snapping an invisible thread there. He looks at his hand, now studying the imaginary fragmented fibers—heartbroken. “… And I would die,” he adds softly. He’s still looking at his hand and I don’t know if this is my cue to speak, but I don’t. I wait for him. He turns to me, now looking at my breasts and my body.

“You’re more beautiful now than when we first met, if that’s even possible,” he says, still caressing my skin. “You’re soft in all the right places and beautiful and firm where it counts. And when you walk, your ass has a delicious controlled roll that it didn’t have before. It makes me want to take you right then and there. And your tits… God, your tits…”

He turns and kisses the insides of each mound.

“I’ve never considered myself a breast man. I’ve just… been a body man. I appreciate the body… until these!” He says it with such hunger that I almost think we’re going to get started again when he squeezes them in his hands. “I can’t stand the thought of anyone else looking at you—enjoying the view of what’s mine.”

So, that’s the problem with the clothes. He’s undressing me with his eyes and far as he’s concerned, everybody else is, too.

“When I saw that heading—Where’s Chris—I felt like I was losing you and the whole world knew it. Your beautiful form displayed in sexy glory, and I’m nowhere to be found.”

Shit. He’s usually telling me not to let the tabloids affect me. Now look what they’re doing to him.

“When I claim you,” he begins, rubbing the skin on my arms and watching by body react infinitesimally, “it reminds me that you’re still here, that you haven’t left. Sometimes, we reach that connection and sometimes we don’t…” He’s stroking both arms now, examining my body like he’s seeing it for the first time. “Sometimes, we reach that place where we’re one again and other times, we just… come.”

He drops his head as if he’s ashamed of the last part. I can imagine that he’s talking about the punishment fucks that always left me feeling like a piece of meat. My body yearns for him, but my heart and soul always felt pretty shitty when we were done.

“I want to be gentle with you,” he says, reading my thoughts, gently stroking my shoulders, my chest, my breasts… exploring my skin as if this was his first time feeling it or seeing it. The gesture is sending shockwaves of need through my body, but not sexual desire. It’s more like a longing or a yearning… an empty chasm needing to be filled or a little boy needing to be held.

“I want to love you and bring you back to me, but the Neanderthal almost always comes out instead.” He says the last part with regret and a touch of contempt. “It’s like ‘Woman! Mine!’ and he just takes over. That ownership asshole shows up and if Butterfly doesn’t bring the tenderness back…” He drops his head, shaking it back and forth almost in disbelief. His anguish is radiating off him and I don’t think I’ve ever felt this before.

“I know you don’t like it,” he says, his voice cracking, “but I love when the papers call us ‘AnaChris.’ They could have called us ‘ChristiAna,’ but they must have known that there was no me before you.” He can barely get the last words out. He’s never told me any of this before. Of course, I know how he feels about me, but I’ve never bothered to ask what’s in the mind of the Neanderthal. I didn’t think I needed to know. It was just “ungawa” and that was it. Jump, move, obey, come, and that’s it—but there was more. There was so much more, and knowing Christian the way that I do, I should have known that there was more to it than just that.

“I’m… I’m sorry…” No, Christian! Don’t! Don’t apologize for what you’re feeling. “I just… I lo… I love you so much…” He’s holding my body in his hands as if he’s hoping to keep me from flying away. “I tr…” He swallows hard and clears his throat. “I try not to be that priapic, insensitive asshole and… sometimes, I succeed…”

You succeed more than just sometimes, baby…

“I’m just so accustomed to having things my way. I know it’s not right, but I go back to those base instincts when…” He trails off again. He can’t finish his thoughts, but he’s truly said enough. I know what he’s saying now.

“I can’t lose AnaChris,” he says, his voice cracking with tears now. “I can’t lose us… I can’t lose you…” He finally raises his eyes to me. “I’m not trying to make our problems go away with sex. I just have to know that I’m not losing you.”

I take his face in my hands and kiss his tear-filled eyes. My mouth moves to his and I kiss him softly and deeply, gently stroking his hair off his face and back along his head. I hear him gasp in his chest as his arms tighten around me and he allows himself to sink into the kiss. His eyes are still closed when I break our kiss and he looks like he’s floating. I kiss his forehead while still stroking his scalp and his hair.

“We can’t solve our problems through sex,” I say softly, “but you’re not losing me.”

He chokes out a quiet sob as I pull him into my breast and cradle his head in my bosom while he weeps softly.


CHRISTIAN

It’s a beautiful day in Bellevue. The sun is high in the sky and it’s unseasonably warm. Granted, summer is the time for warm weather, but today, it’s downright hot. We’re weaving down the street headed towards Grey Manor. I’m driving Butterfly’s Audi with my wife in the passenger seat and our two children sleeping peacefully in the back in their car seats. It seems almost criminal that such a beautiful day had to be cast in such a horrible shadow.

As we weave silently through the tree-lined streets of the affluent neighborhood where my parents live, my mind wanders to the phone call that we received earlier today. Yes, we were expecting it, but of course, not looking forward to it. Pops has taken a turn for the worst. Dad and Uncle Herman are putting on the brave face, but both of them—according to my mother—look like they’re going to break down any minute. I’m not doing much better. Pops and I have become very close in the months that he’s been in Seattle—nearly a year. I have to admit that I’m a bit angry with God for giving me someone else to love just to take him away a few months later. It’s selfish to say I would have been better off not knowing him, but I would have been spared the pain of the loss I already feel.

My mind drifts back to the disagreement I had with my wife about her clothes. To me, it was so clear that every man on the planet would be ogling her and her choice of wardrobe was inviting that attention. To her, not so much…

Two weeks prior…

“Good morning.” I turn my head when I hear her voice and examine her attire when she comes into the kitchen after her shower. She’s wearing white again—two-piece pants suit with black lapels and a vertical bow and black sling backs. Her hair is pulled back in a bun with the usual flower to hold the short hair in place.

Ana's pant suiit“You’ve made the paper,” I say, laying the paper down flat on the breakfast bar so that she can see it.

“What?” she says, surprised, after pouring a cup of coffee. “For what?” She walks over to me and looks at the paper.

“Fashion, I think,” I respond, trying not to reveal my ire. She looks at the picture and smiles a bit to herself. Oh, you find this amusing?

“Since when do you read the society page?” she asks with mirth.

“Since my wife seems to always be on it,” I respond, the humor evading me completely.

“I’m not always on the society page…” She turns to me and her smile falls. “What’s wrong?”

“What do you mean?” I ask, feigning ignorance.

“You’ve got that Grey-CEO-waiting-for-the-shoe-to-drop look on your face.” She knows me well.

“That dress is quite provocative,” I point out. She frowns. She looks at the picture, then back at me.

“Uh… it’s fitted,” she says, bemused, “but I wore fitted clothes before I got pregnant.” You weren’t Mrs. Grey then.

“Showing off your after-baby body?” I ask, trying not to sound perturbed. I don’t want the whole world looking at her like she’s a piece of meat. Yes, she’s sexy— even sexier now than before—but that’s for me to know, my eyes only. She’s even more confused by my question and begins shaking her head while attempting to answer them.

“I…” she releases an exasperated breath. “I wasn’t…. I mean, yeah, I like the fact that I’m not as big as a cow anymore, but I wasn’t trying to…” While she’s stumbling over her tongue, I’m starting to feel more and more like shit. “I mean, I might have wanted people to notice that I wasn’t a cow anymore, but nothing like tha…” and the penny drops. I see it before I can even say anything. Realization is only one of the many expressions that flash across her face when she asks, “Christian, am I going to have to go through this every time I get dressed up?”

Her tone causes me disquiet. There’s no malice, no accusation—but there is defeat, like she knows exactly what I’m thinking. How do I tell her that this picture took me all the way back to the donors ogling her at that restaurant? That’s my insecurity, and I shouldn’t impose it on her.

“No, Baby,” I tell her, pulling her into my arms. “You look beautiful. I just have to get used to sharing you with the world, that’s all. We’ve kind of been to ourselves for the most part, since the twins were born and now, everybody gets a part of you. Don’t pay me any attention.” I give her a gentle kiss on her lips, but I can tell that the damage is already done. Dammit, Grey!

“I… I have to get ready to go,” she says, her voice small.

“You haven’t eaten anything,” I protest. “You haven’t even finished your coffee.”

“My stomach is a little uneasy. I’ll get something to eat after it settles.” She won’t make eye contact with me. I try to raise her eyes to mine and she fights me, but then looks up at me. Her eyes tell it all. She doesn’t know what to make of this. I don’t want to apologize, that would only make it worse right now. So, I come as close to it as I can.

“I shouldn’t have said anything,” I tell her. “You look beautiful… really.” She nods slightly.

“I have to go,” she says, dropping her eyes again.

“I’ll see you after work.” I’m trying to get some kind of connection. She just nods and walks out of my grasp. I hear her heels clicking across the marble floor through the dining room. I strain to hear them clicking through the grand entrance so I can see if she slams the door.

She doesn’t. She’s not angry, she’s hurt…

I’ve since come to grips with my wife’s wardrobe. After a hot fuck and a long talk, I understand that she’s right—she’s a sexy woman and unless I want her wearing mom jeans and moo-moos all the time, she’s going to be sexy in her clothes and I just have to accept that. And I can… she’s my wife, after all. She brings that sexy body home to me every night. Let them admire her. Let them ogle her and dream about her. She’s mine and she knows it, and she makes sure that I know she’s knows it. As superficial as it sounds, I should be grateful that I’m not married to a troll. I’d love her no matter what at this point, but the fact that people notice her is only a testament to her flawless beauty… and my good taste.

Now to deal with the issue at hand.

I drive up my parents’ circle drive and Dad meets me at the door. I get out and help Butterfly out of the passenger seat before taking one of the twins. I walk to my father who looks like he’s aged 10 years. I shake his hand with my free hand.

“How’s it looking, Dad?” I ask. He shakes his head.

“Not good,” he says. “Not good at all.”


A/N: John Holmes was a porn star during the “Golden Age of Porn” in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Although the length and girth was never confirmed, he was famed at the time to have the biggest human dick in the world.

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

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~~love and handcuffs