Disclaimer, Backstory, and Character Introduction

See what happens when Dominants clash

This is not the same story I’ve been writing or that you’ve been reading. This is not the same couple or family that you’ve seen in the movies. There aren’t any “tortured souls,” so to speak. However, resentment, disappointment, and misunderstandings have laid the foundation for a lot of the storyline. There may or may not be an HEA—I don’t know yet, so save yourself the frustration and don’t try to sway the direction of the story. Be warned that there will be sex with other people, although it will not be considered cheating. I HATE cheat fics even though in the past, I’ve read some well-written ones.

Be prepared to see some extreme—though hopefully, not gross—sexual scenes and know that this story will have an ending. I don’t know if it will be 15 chapters or 50 chapters, so please don’t rush it. As long as the Muse is wrapped around the concept, I’ll write it. When she says, “no more,” it’s done. So, if my Muse gets killed, I drop the story and take it down.

Some of these concepts came to life while I was pulling together Christian and Elena’s story before Ana (yes, that will be a future fic as well, but I don’t know how far in the future yet), so some of the sexual acts from one story may be repeated in another—nothing new under the sun, right?

I hope I don’t completely gross anyone out, but know that these characters are quite deviant from what you’re used to seeing. So, please, I ask in advance that I not be bombarded with “Christian would never do that” or “Ana would never say that” because one—you’re right, they wouldn’t, and two—I’m just going to tell you to stop reading.

For those of you who haven’t been scared away, here is an introduction of some of the characters. Others will be introduced as needed throughout the story. Feel free to ask questions, but depending on the content, I reserve the right not to answer.

Some of you may not agree with my character choices, but that’s okay, too. You can’t please everybody, but hopefully, some of you will be pleased.

Fifty Shades Golden—Character Development
Subtitle: Clash of the Dominants

Briana Evigan 2Anastasia Olivet—32, Attorney by day and Dominatrix by night known as Golden or Golden Girl. She was Anastasia Steele. Carla and Ray were an interracial couple initially in a marriage of convenience. Ana was still Ray’s step-daughter. However, Ray adopted her and gave her his name. They were killed in a car accident when Ana was very young and Ray’s brother, Richard, then took her in. Ana got into trouble at fifteen and Richard abandoned her. Ana lived in a vacant house for a year and finished high school, but to survive, she sometimes did some unsavory things, developing a fetish for something that would lead her willingly to the BDSM lifestyle. As a side note, Ana was never abused. She married English student Paxton Olivet in college to help him get American citizenship. They divorced after three years once his citizenship was finalized and she kept her married name. She has now run back into ghosts of her past while dealing with a persistent stranger in her present. Which will be her future?

Eric Dane-greys-anatomyChristian Trevelyan Grey—34, Billionaire businessman and Dominant only known as Trey. Grace and Carrick Grey’s biological son. Introduced to the BDSM lifestyle about 12 years ago and took to being a dominant immediately. Has his sights set on Golden, but as they are both Dominants, he realizes that he won’t be able to acquire this tasty morsel by normal means… if he can acquire her at all.

Natasha Henstridge 3Elena Lincoln—40, Salon owner and Dominatrix. Friends with Christian, frenemies with Golden, who has a very condescending nickname for Elena. She was once the biggest thing in BDSM until Golden came along. She and Christian met in the lifestyle seven years ago when he asked permission to play with one of her submissives. They have played together on occasion, some D/s with Christian as the Dom but mostly kinky fuckery. They haven’t been intimate for a few years, but now, Elena wants to push Christian onto Golden so that she will leave the scene and Elena can reign supreme once again. Not a friend of the family, only an acquaintance of Christian’s.

Javier Bardem 1Blake Haviland—45, Ana’s house submissive and slave. Background to be revealed later.

heather-locklearGrace Trevelyan Grey—54, Pediatrician and Christian’s biological mother.

Dermot Mulroney-3Carrick Grey—57, Judge and Christian’s biological father. Carrick has a not-so-small secret in his past that nearly ended his marriage. Loosely associated with Ana through professional relationship only.

michael-beachRichard Steele—54, Attorney in the prosecutor’s office. Anastasia’s uncle and Ray’s brother. Took Ana in with his family after Ray and Carla were killed in a car accident when Ana was 10. Abandoned her when she got in trouble for a small thing at 15. Didn’t see her again until she was 32.

40e9dc0f58008ac25fbe3cbdb41ec423Kevin Sheardon—33, Ana’s yoga instructor and possible love interest.

7249404ce47984055f683fecffc5be62Jake—32, just Jake. Blast from Ana’s past, background to be revealed later.

There will be other characters introduced as needed (maybe), but for now… meet the cast of Fifty Shades Golden.


A/N: I won’t be updating this story every week. It will be updated as it is written as I’m still working on Raising Grey. The Pinterest board for this story can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/fifty-shades-golden/.

 

 

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Raising Grey: Chapter 14—Desperately Seeking “Normal”

I’ve had a few emails that have been bouncing and I want to make sure that everyone is getting their notifications since I’ll be writing more than one story soon. I started the new email list at the end of “Becoming Dr. Grey” and I’ve been using it ever since. So, if you’re on my mailing list and you haven’t received an email up to Chapter 13 of Raising Grey, let me know and make sure that I have your updated email because I’m going to start posting Golden sometime this week.

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 14—Desperately Seeking “Normal”

ANASTASIA

I need normal.

I need normal in the worst way. If I don’t get it, I’m going to explode.

I’m sitting in my office listening to Marilyn talk about all the radio spots that I promised to reschedule once we made it through Pops’ death. I don’t know how or when I’m going to fit all the people in that want a sit-down with Anastasia Grey. My last two appearances were harmless enough—talk about Helping Hands with a couple of pokes into mine and Christian’s personal life, nothing too invasive and nothing disrespectful, but I’m just waiting for that one radio host who expects to get famous at mine or my husband’s expense. I’m not looking forward to it, but the sheer law of averages dictates that it’s coming.

Not only that, but no matter how many times I review our reports and submissions and guidelines, I can’t find any reason whatsoever to hold up our licensing for the Center. Did that bitch just throw our petition in the garbage or what?

“… And there’s a garden party at the Broadmoor this weekend.” It’s only just now that I realize that Mare was talking to me for I don’t know how long about I don’t know what. Now, she’s talking about a garden party at the country club.”

“What?” I ask, trying to refocus my attention back to her.

“The Broadmoor? Garden party? Josephine Kennedy personally sent you an invite and you haven’t RSVP’d.” I frown. Josephine Kennedy—why do I know that name?

“From where do I know Josephine Kennedy?” I ask. Marilyn’s eyes grow large.

“Um, she’s your sponsor??” she says incredulously. Oh, fuck, how did I forget that? Children’s charities, lost a child to leukemia, very active volunteer. My life has been fucking crazy these last few months—hence, the immediate need for normal.

“Garden party—hell. What day?”

“Saturday.” Saturday afternoon garden party.

“RSVP for three plus security. Ask what the protocol is for staff. Christian won’t let me go without them, nor would I want to.” She nods.

“Three?” she asks.

“It’s a garden party, a bunch of catty women. I can easily bring two people to a club where I’m a member and I’m snagging Mia and Val. No use in me suffering alone.” I shake my head. “This is getting to be too much.” Marilyn frowns.

“What is?”

“The Garden parties, the radio shots, fifty percent owner of Grey Enterprises, the paparazzi always in my face. I miss the days where I could just go to the aquarium or take a walk in the Marketplace, have a ferry ride, or just take a midnight stroll in a park somewhere without a three-man escort or it being national news.” I drop my face in my hands. “This past spring, my wardrobe was tabloid fodder. Why, because I wanted to wear white. I’ve never been that girl. I’ve never been the girl who always wanted the spotlight or wanted to be famous or even wanted money. Two years later and I’m still not used to being famous.”

“Well, you hide it well,” Marilyn says. I raise my head to her. What the fuck is that supposed to mean?

“Put the claws away,” she says, noting my hostility. “All I’m saying is that when you’re in front of the cameras, you never once let them see you sweat.” I sigh.

“I need. Normal, Mare,” I lament. “I have to have some normal in my life or I’m going to go crazy. My anniversary—running around Seattle like a teenager, going out to dinner and dancing among regular people—was the most fun I’ve had all year. Even sitting around the pool yesterday and chewing the fat, we end up talking about Mia’s Million-Dollar wedding. As much as I love her, I can do without this affair!” Marilyn looks at me with sympathetic eyes.

“Yeah, you did look a little verklempt while she was talking about it.” I shake my head.

“In two months, that woman is getting married in a theater that seats 2000—a theater! And she wants her guests to be red-carpet ready. Christian’s right, this is going to be outrageous, and I really don’t want to go!” I’m sitting here dreaming about sitting at my condo in the middle of the floor in baggy pajamas and warm ankle socks with a bowl of popcorn and a bottle of Cabernet, watching reruns of Sex and the City. God, I need normal… and soon!

Later that afternoon, Al brings over the petition for adoption, which really makes me incredibly happy. During our drive to Kent, I vent to him about needing my normal back and missing my trips to the Marketplace with the Scooby Gang. Things have changed so much and although I love my kids and my husband and my life, I feel like I’m losing touch with who I am and who I used to be. At times, I feel like I’m floating over life instead of walking through it and experiencing it. I don’t want to seem ungrateful; I just miss the simple shit.

Not being treated with utter disdain simply due to who I am, the money I have, or who I married…

Wanting to see Maleficent or 22 Jump Street when it first came out in theaters instead of waiting for it on Blu-ray or maybe clearing out a whole damn movie theater just to see it…

Not being the target or jealous subs, psychopaths, or delusion women all wanting a piece of my husband in one way or another…

Being able to suffer my tragedies in private like the rest of the world…

Succumbing to the nervous breakdown that I so richly deserve right now without it being headline news…

Not needing a Presidential motorcade to go to the goddamn grocery store…

Being able to go to the goddamn grocery store!

Just being left alone…

Al quietly listens to me rant the entire way to my father’s house. I’m more than mindful of his introspective listening, but right now, I just need to vent. When I’m done having my temper tantrum, we knock on Daddy’s door and are greeted by Mandy wearing a chef’s apron.

I even miss that.

“Hey, Ana, come on in,” she says, stepping aside. “How are you?”

“I’m fine,” I say, kissing her on the cheek. “What smells so good?”

“Coq au Vin,” she says, “Are you staying for dinner?” I turn to Al.

“Who am I to turn down a free home cooked meal?” he says, with a shrug. I turn back to Mandy.

“If it’s not too much trouble,” I say. “I don’t want to impose…”

“I’m going to pretend like you didn’t say that,” Mandy says with mirth. “Ray’s in the den. Dinner will be ready in fifteen.”

“Annie! What are you doing here? Is everything alright?” Daddy says as we walk into the den. Harry climbs off his lap and wobbles over to me. With Fuzzlewuzzers in his hand, he holds his little fat arms open to me and blubbers something that sounds somewhat like “Annie.”

“Hey, Harry,” I say, lifting my little brother in my arms and kissing his chubby little cheeks. “How’s the best baby brother in the world?” Harry briefly jabbers some incoherent answer to me and shows me Mr. Fuzzlewuzzers.

“Really?” I say, like it’s the most interesting thing I’ve ever heard. Harry nods as if I completely understood the gibberish coming from his cute little mouth. I kiss him and he honors me with a tight hug before I put him back on the floor and he wobbles back to Daddy.

“Hi, Daddy,” I say, kissing him on the cheek while Harry takes his place back in Daddy’s lap. My God, he’s the spitting image of my father. I wonder if this is how Daddy looked when he was a baby. “Nothing’s wrong, but I have a very important question to ask you.”

“Oh,” he says, nestling Harry under his arm. “What do you need?” I sit on the arm of the sofa and put my arm around his neck.

“I want you to be my father,” I say. He frowns up at me.

“English, Sunflower,” he says. I look to Al, who hands me the petition.

“That’s it,” I say, handing him the forms. “I want you to be my father.” Daddy puts Harry on the sofa and takes the papers from me. He stands and starts to walk a bit while he reads the document.

“You can do this now?” he asks, turning back to me. “You’re a mother with children of your own.”

“Yes,” I tell him. “I’m an adult. I just need your permission.”

“What about Carla?” he asks. “Don’t you have to ask her?” I shake my head.

“I’m an adult, Daddy,” I repeat. “I don’t need her permission. I just need yours.” He sighs heavily and lifts his glasses to rub his eyes.

“Annie, I don’t need a piece of paper to tell me that you’re my daughter,” he says, puzzled.

“No, you don’t,” I agree, “but I need a piece of paper to tell the world that you’re my Daddy.”

Ray’s lips tremble and his eyes instantly fill with tears as he pulls me into his arms, hugging my tightly.

“I love you, Sunflower,” he says, his voice cracking.

“I love you, too, Daddy,” I reply.

And so it was that on Tuesday morning, July 22, 2014, Raymond Steele filed a long-overdue petition with the King County Family Court to officially adopt his stepdaughter, Dr. Anastasia Rose Steele-Grey, MD. We had lunch together after—a normal lunch—at one of our favorite delis downtown… corned beef on rye with mustard and sauerkraut. When we left the deli, a few paparazzi had gathered. I turned to my Daddy and hugged him tightly, smiling pretty for the cameras. Daddy smiled and waved nervously, wrapping his other arm around me.

Sometimes, you just have to cooperate.

“What are you up to downtown, Ana?” one of the reporters asks.

“Nothing,” I lie, “just lunch with my dad.”

“You look great!” another calls out.

“Thank you,” I reply with a smile.

“Mr. Steele, you proud of Ana for making it big?” A third calls out.

“I’m always proud of Ana, no matter what she does,” he replies smiling down at me and kissing me on the forehead. The cameras go wild. Media gold…

“What’s going on with you, Mr. Steele? Anything big and fabulous?” someone else asks. Daddy shrugs his free arm.

“I’m a simple man,” he says, “what you see is what you get.”

“It’s obvious where Ana gets her pleasant demeanor,” the first reporter notes. Daddy smiles.

“I wish I could take credit for that,” Daddy says, smiling down at me. “She has a kind heart. It just comes naturally.” God, I love my Daddy.

After a few more harmless questions and pictures, the paps let us go our way without problem. That had to be one of the least taxing interviews I’ve ever given… impromptu at that.

After parting ways with Daddy for the afternoon, Chuck and I go back to Helping Hands and I draft a letter to the licensing board about the status of our accreditation. They have no reason to hold us up and if that bitch Gloria Felton thinks that she can get away with this, I’ll just have to file a complaint against her with the proper agencies. First, however, I’ll need a paper trail.

My strongly worded letter included inquiries concerning how long it takes the average institution to secure licensing in similar situations as well as which requirements we haven’t met that would delay our accreditation. I emphasized that we would be more than willing to submit whatever documentation was still necessary if we were only apprised of what could be holding up our licensing. Blah blah legal jargon, blah blah brownnosing, blah blah blah, then I sent the damn thing certified mail. I plan to send something similar every three days until I get a response.

I’m a little worn out when I get home that night. After I put the twins to bed, I decide to partake in that Cabernet, popcorn, and Sex and the City I talked about the day before. I snuggle into my recliner with my favorite throw and watched Carrie send Big off to Paris while I wait for dinner…

I feel fingertips gently caressing my forehead and awake to stunning gray eyes gazing at me. My husband… could he be any more beautiful?

“Rough day?” he says softly, while pushing my bangs from my face. I uncurl from the chair, stretching my extremities.

“What time is it?” I ask, groggily.

“About nine o’clock,” he replies, now caressing my cheek. “No one wanted to wake you, the cowards.” He chuckles softly. I had to think about my day. It was emotionally charged, but not rough.

“I’m just tired,” I say, stretching again. “I wrote a letter to the licensing board today. I had to be firm while kissing their ass without asking them what the fuck is their problem. It took a lot out of me,” I add, honestly.

“Are you hungry?” he asks. I nod.

“I could eat,” I respond.

“Ms. Solomon made beef stew. It’s delicious.” My mouth waters at the thought of it. I try to move the blanket from my legs, but Christian stops me. “No, you stay. I’ll get it for you.” I look up at him and settle back down in my recliner. He’s wearing a turtleneck and a pair of slacks. Second only to his sexy suits, this is my favorite look on him. He wears business casual very well.

I’ve gotten comfortable in my recliner again by the time that he brings a steaming bowl of beef stew back to me on a portable tray with a homemade biscuit and a refill of my Cabernet. He sits on an ottoman nearby, sipping his own Cabernet. He’s right, this beef stew is delicious.

“You filed the petition today,” he says, a statement, not a question. I nod, my mouth full of food. “Did everything go okay? No hiccups?” I nod again. “How long did they say it would take?”

“A couple of months,” I say after swallowing my food. “It’s not as difficult as actually adopting a child, so there shouldn’t be any delays.” He nods and sips his Cabernet.

“You made the news, but you knew that,” he says. “Daddy’s Girl,” he adds with a smile.

“Is that the headline?” I ask. He nods. “They caught us coming out of Market-House. It was just easier to smile and give them what they wanted.”

“It was nice,” he replies. “It made you look… human. Were they nice to you?”

“They were,” I tell him. “We didn’t see them until we were leaving the deli. They took their pictures, asked their questions, and gave us our space… and it was only a handful of them. Do you think it’s the Papa Bear effect?” I raise my eyebrow. He shrugs.

“It could be,” he says before sipping his wine again. “I know how you just want peace sometimes. I want that, too. Maybe they listened.”

His silence after that said more than his words before.

“Al talked to you, didn’t he?” I ask. I didn’t swear him to secrecy, but even if I had, he’s my best friend and he’s known to spill the beans if he feels that something is detrimental to me.

“He did,” he says. “I understand how you feel. It’s a lot becoming an extension of my life. I’ve always been used to this—growing up a Grey and then becoming a self-made billionaire. I get how someone who mostly grew up in the normal world could find this a bit daunting.” I nod and put my thumb and index finger close together.

“Just a bit.” He reaches into his back pocket and pulls something out, handing it to me. Upon closer examination, I realize that it’s…

“Mariners tickets?” I question. He nods.

“August 10th, against the White Sox. I thought you and Ray might want to go. Have some hot dogs, beer and peanuts… and a normal afternoon.” I look at the tickets.

“Box seats?” he shakes his head.

“Behind the dugout, where the action is.” I’m not much for baseball, but I always loved going to the stadium and watching Daddy’s reaction when one of the players hit a triple or a homerun.

“Daddy loves baseball,” I say. “This will be fantastic!” Then I pause. “Security?”

“Covert,” he says. “It’ll be a fairly normal day.” I smile at him.

“I love you,” I say. He kneels down to me again and kisses me gently.

“I love you, too,” he says. “Finish your stew and I’ll run us a bath…”

*-*

I prepare myself for a not-so-normal Saturday at Josephine Kennedy’s garden party on the flawless golf lawn of the Broadmoor. I’m not really sure how to possibly work this crowd, but this is why I joined the country club in the first place—networking, raising funds and awareness for Helping Hands. The country club scene is really not my thing, but it’s a means to an end.

Mia was all for going to the garden party. She had been to enough of them growing up and wanted to see which snooty women would be attending this one. It was her opportunity to gossip about the who’s who in the Seattle area. She wore a simple white Ali & Jay short, fitted sweater-dress inlaid with pointelle-knit motifs and a pair of around-the-ankle pumps with a white summer organza cloche hat—understated and very pretty.

I go with vintage 50’s cream chiffon with blue flowers accented with green leaves… sleeveless with a wrapped empire waistline and a swooping neckline. I add with a matching blue vintage wide brim Kentucky Derby sun hat and blue strappy high-heeled sandals. Val wears a gorgeous purple dress with a sweetheart neckline that has a sleeveless black lace overlay with a crew neckline—also vintage cut with a full skirt and empire waistline. She’s wearing a large, dramatic purple spring hat, also organza with cloche and a pair of black pumps. Quite frankly, she’s the most stylish of the three of us.

The women are mingling when we arrive and Josephine makes a beeline to me the moment she spots me.

“You have no idea how pleased I am that you could make it,” she says, taking my hand with a sincere smile. I return her gesture.

“I took far too long to respond, please forgive me. You know what’s been happening with my family,” I apologize.

“I do, I’m very sorry,” she says solemnly. “All the more reason I’m glad you could make it. I’m sure this is a very difficult time for you all,” she says, exchanging glances with Val and Mia to include them in her sentiment.

“It is, but we’re holding up okay, leaning on each other,” Mia says sweetly.

“Josephine, these are my sisters-in-law, but it’s just easier to call them my sisters—Mia Grey and Valerie Grey.” I gesture to Mia and Valerie. Josephine takes each of their hands in one of hers.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you both,” she says, with a smile. “Welcome to my little party and please, make yourselves at home. Ana, there are some people you should probably meet. Ladies, please, join us…”

Josephine begins to introduce us to the who’s who in the charity circles, which is exactly what I wanted. I spend quite some time learning the ropes for fundraising, advertising the Center for maximum exposure, exchanging business cards, and networking. Mia and Val go to our table as I continue to work the crowd, wishing I had brought Marilyn along to help me remember all these people. I’ll put a pin in that for the next garden party/soiree I attend like this. I finally make my way back to our table where a tall cranberry spritzer is waiting for me.

“Oh, you ladies love me,” I say, taking several large swallows of the refreshing drink. “Why did you leave me though?”

“It’s hot out here,” Val says. “I just wanted to sit down. Plus, you seemed to be doing just fine out there by yourself. You’ve got this thing in the bag, Steele. You’re a natural.” I shrug.

“I wouldn’t say that, but I can hold my own,” I say.

“Yes, and I’ve been working the crowd a bit, too, trying to find out how many of these women have been invited to my wedding. I think Mom invited the entire tri-county area. Most of these of women have already RSVP’d!”

“Most?” I say, looking at the daunting crowd and, once again, dreading the day I must attend this wedding. Did anyone feel this way coming to my wedding, I wonder?

“Yeah,” Mia says, “at least one person here did not get an invitation. Three tables behind me, one o’clock, red and white flowered dress.”

I follow her description to a table of blonde, obvious bottle jobs except for one… Katherine fucking Kavanaugh. Oh, good Lord, we belong to the same country club? Of all the clubs we interviewed and vetted, she belongs to mine? I thought Christian checked out the membership before we joined. How could this have happened? I sigh and shake my head.

“Oh, hell,” I say as Val spots her over her shoulder. “Does she know we’re here?” Mia shrugs.

“I don’t know,” she says, “I didn’t speak.”

“Well, let’s just assume that she doesn’t and try to keep our distance,” I lament. “I’m sorry, Val.”

“Fuck that bitch,” Val says quietly, unfazed. “I accomplished what she couldn’t… I married him. I don’t care what she says or thinks.” Val sips her sweet tea and smirks. “She’s the one that should be upset and ashamed. She lost a gold mine in more ways than one and then she was publicly humiliated by trying to pin the baby on him.” I shrug.

“You’re right. I can’t argue.”

We turn our attention away from Kate and I begin talking about the contacts that I made and how much the information we’ve shared will help with positive publicity for the Center. We enjoy delicious fruit salads and summer foods, a large variety of finger sandwiches, fresh smoked salmon dip, spring linguini with basil, shrimp and bacon deviled eggs, hot cross buns, and an assortment of deserts and teas. I’m very happy to take a break from being the center of conversation when Val brings the conversation around to her house.

“The house is huge, Ana,” Val says. “Nearly 4,000 square feet and five bedrooms! What am I going to do with five bedrooms?”

“Maybe Elliot is trying to tell you something,” I say, sipping my coffee having opted for it instead of tea at the end of the meal. She nods.

“He’s not trying to tell me anything. I already know that he wants a brood of children, but we haven’t even started yet.” She shifts uncomfortably in her seat and I throw a glance at Mia, who shrugs.

“What’s wrong, Val?” I ask. “What are you afraid of?” She shrugs.

“Have you ever had the feeling that it’s all too good to be true?” she asks, solemnly, “like you’re going to wake up one day it’s all going to be a dream… the good and the bad?” I nod.

“More times than I care to admit,” I tell her. “There are days when I wish I would wake up and it would be a dream. And then there are days when I open my eyes and I’m so glad that it’s real. It’s still surreal to me—after everything that’s happened. I’m married… with children… and I’m filthy rich. I didn’t see any of this ten years ago.” I briefly recall the normal conversation I had with Al earlier this week.

“I’ll be moving into a $3.5 million-dollar house!” Val exclaims. The ladies at the table next to us look at her, then go back their conversation. “Elliot said he always wanted a house with a view of the lake. The rear of the house is almost all glass. Nearly every room has a view of the lake. It’s 4000 square feet of house on 10,000 square feet of land. The lake is right at our back door. Elliot wants to do some renovations and it should be ready in a month or so. It’s stunning.”

“So, what’s the problem?” I ask.

“Nothing,” she says. “It’s just that… well, just like you thought you wouldn’t be here ten years ago, I thought so even less.” I glare at her and she nods.  “After that dating fiasco in college, I had no intention of falling in love, believe me. I planned on dating the hot guys and stacking away some money from my fantastic job. Then, before I got too old, I’d marry some old fart and either spend the rest of my life as a nipped and tucked trophy wife or living in your attic as crazy old Aunt Val helping to raise my godchildren.” My eyes widen and I glare at her.

“You’re not serious!” I say, appalled. She nods.

“I’m dead serious,” she replies. “Love was not in the cards for me. Elliot was supposed to be a quick fling. I’m sorry, Mia. I don’t mean to offend you.”

“I get it,” Mia says. “That’s probably what you were supposed to be, too. My brothers were the exact opposite of the spectrum—Christian was the curmudgeon, Elliot was the manwhore. I didn’t expect to see either of them get married before me. But…” She raises her hands as if to say, “See what happened?”

“I mean, look at him,” Val continues. “He’s gorgeous; he rich—not as rich as Christian, but rich—so he wouldn’t be threatened by the money I was making. Tall, blonde, no sports car, and just broke up with his fiancée, so definitely not looking for a long-term relationship… or so I thought. What did it take, like a month for me to fall in love with that man? It happened so fast, I didn’t even have time to count!” She laughs out loud. “He just swept me off my feet and in no time flat, I was a fucking goner. I’m a pussy.” She takes another drink of her tea.

“I can’t talk. I hated the man I married,” I say matter-of-factly while gently spinning my cup around on its saucer. “To this day, I can’t tell you exactly what happened. We crossed that thin line between love and hate and that was all she wrote.”

“Is that really what happened?” Mia asks. I nod.

“Yep,” I say. “I couldn’t stand his ass. But then he kissed me and my panties got all wet. There was no turning back from there.” Val covers a snicker and Mia can’t stop the hoot that comes from her mouth, drawing attention to our table yet again.

“I have to go to the ladies’ room, you guys. I’ll be back.” Val rises from the table and heads toward the club. I turn to Mia.

“So, Paramount Theater?” I ask. “It’s just about right around the corner.” She nods.

“I pretty much just tell Mom what I want and hand it to her,” she says. So I noticed.

“Yeah, she’s in Seventh Heaven,” I say, finishing my coffee and looking at my watch. It’s about time for us to go.

“Yeah,” Mia says. “Planning my wedding was more work than I thought it would be and she was chomping at the bit since she and Dad are paying for it. So, I just picked my dress and let Mom plan the rest. I contribute my suggestions—favors, invitations, etc., but she has the final say. Oh, yeah… remind me to thank Val for wearing Mom’s dress. She was a mess that I wouldn’t wear it.” I laugh quietly.

“I’m sure she didn’t mind. She loved that dress, and it looked great on her.” Mia smiles.

“I have to admit, it did, didn’t…” Her eyes grow large and her mouth flies open. She’s reaching for something in front of her and rising out of her chair at the same time. I turn my head just in time to be too late to stop the disaster about to occur. My eyes meet Val’s and the next few moments move in slow motion. Val is headed face-down into the grass of the garden, her normally fast pace halted by a deliberately-placed Manolo Blahnik on the foot of one Katherine Kavanaugh. I rise from my seat as she face-plants into the grass, her garden hat flying in one direction and her wig flying in another.

Fuck. Me.

I scramble over to her as several ladies in the garden party laugh hysterically at Val’s mishap. Brood of insensitive bitches. I rush to my friend’s side and hide her face as she spits out grass, trying not to cry.

“Are you okay?” I ask softly.

“Give me a minute,” she says, taking several deep breaths before attempting to stand. Mia and I get her back to her feet and she’s physically unhurt, but emotionally mortified. Mia hands Val her wig and garden hat, but she doesn’t bother to cover her short, buzzed hair. It’s out there now.

“Nice haircut,” Kate teases, drawing another round of laughter from several women. I turn a burning glare to Kate who pretends to cover her mouth and stifle her laughter, but bursts out in another round moments thereafter. I begin eyeing every woman that I see laughing, my glare enough to make several of them stop laughing.

“Laugh it up,” I say to the cackling women, “really hard. Just remember, Karma’s a bitch. You should know,” I say, turning my attention to Kate, “after that unfortunate incident where you didn’t quite know your baby’s paternity and tried to pawn the kid off on Elliot.” The ladies silence and whispers float across various tables, including Kate’s. “Tell me, did Roger ever step up to his responsibility, or was he eliminated from paternity as well?”

Her brows furrow deeply and the expression on her face is a cross between embarrassment and pure rage. Her fists are clenched and I stop the progression of her thought process before she makes the mistake of her life.

“Don’t worry, Kate,” I say, “you probably didn’t want his attitude around your son anyway. When my husband contacted him about being a man and owning up to knocking you up, he made it clear that he wanted nothing to do with—what were his words? Oh yeah… that shrew!” I lean in closer, but by no means do I lower my voice.

“Her hair is short because she’s recovering from brain cancer, you insensitive cow,” I say, flatly. When I straighten my back, I can see the collective look of horror on several women’s faces and hear the silence fall over the party. Val wasn’t keeping her illness a secret; it just hadn’t been publicized.

“So, that’s why Elliot married her,” Kate sneers. “He thought she was dying and now, he’s stuck with her.”

The reaction of the women at the table is anything but impressed. Some are glaring at Kate in utter disbelief while others divert their gaze in shame, looking down or away from the table or simply shaking their heads.

“You wanted to shame my friend?” I reply. “You wanted an audience, Kavanaugh? Look around. Look at the reactions of your audience.” Kate takes a moment to examine the women around her, no doubt gauging the lack of the support she had moments ago before I announced Val’s battle with brain cancer.

“You’re a miserable human being and I’m terribly shocked that motherhood hasn’t changed your outlook, or could it be that you’re still the same vicious, spiteful bitch you’ve always been and your son is closer to his nanny than he is to you?” She narrows her eyes at me and I know that I’ve hit the nail on the head.

“Be careful,” she warns. “You never know what a spiteful bitch will do.” I scoff at her.

“Are you threatening me?” I ask, my voice a high mix of incredulous and mocking laughter. “Did you forget what happened to you the last time you crossed me?” Her pupils constrict just a bit. “Yeah, you remember,” I say, “and I wasn’t Mrs. Christian Grey, then. So, go ahead. Try me and see where you end up this time, Little Paper Girl!”

I remember meeting my husband years ago and how him talking about my little doctor mind pissed me the hell off. Val gently lays her hand on my arm, grabbing my attention and instantly cooling my anger.

“Leave it alone, Steele,” she says softly. “Having a brush with death has a way of making you find your place of Zen,” Val says calmly as she starts to walk away. I step back from Kate, but Val stops abruptly.

“On second thought…” She turns around, walks back to Kate and stands right in front of her. The next thing that follows would be the slap heard ’round the world.

giphy

And now, that’s two.

“That’s for deliberately tripping a recovering cancer patient,” Val says while Kate holds her cheek in shock. Kate leaps from the chair and lunges at Val, but soon finds herself in the same patch of grass that Val occupied moments ago when Val sends her sailing to the ground with fast right jab.

That’s for trying to pawn your son off on my husband when you knew that Elliot wasn’t the father,” Val says. No one moves to help Kate off the ground as she glares up at Val, holding the same cheek, which has now been hit twice in the span of a few minutes.

Add that to mine, and that’s three times this bitch has been hit in the face by the Grey Girls.

giphy1

“Get up,” Val taunts. “My hair may be short because of the chemo, but that’s the only thing that’s slow about my recovery. Come on, Kavanaugh. Get up. I’ve got plenty more reasons to deck your ass.”

Val’s voice is so soft and controlled that I worry a bit for Kate’s safety. There’s no rage or anger in her tone, only purpose. I conspicuously look from Val to Kate a few times, then back to Kate.

“If I were you, I’d stay down and shut up,” I tell Kate.

“No,” Val says calmly. “She wanted her scene, she got it. She wanted the spotlight, it’s on her. Now, get up and finish what you started, if you’ve got the guts.”

“Val, please,” Mia says, putting her hands on Val’s arms. “This stress can’t be good for you and if something happens to you, my brother will kill us.” Val looks over at Mia and immediately “powers down.” Mia couldn’t allow the opportunity to pass her by, so she turns back to Kate.

“You’re wrong about my brother,” she says. “He and Val love each other very much. That’s something that you should take comfort in.” Kate has made her way back to her chair before she turns and scoffs at Mia, still nursing her red cheek.

“What?” she hisses harshly.

“Yeah. Would you rather it be known that the two of you just grew apart and he fell in love with someone else, or that he would rather marry a woman that he thought was dying—someone that he would have no hope of a future with—than to marry you?”

Holy. Cow. Batman. I feel the pain of the daggers of that comment and they weren’t even aimed at me. Mia turns and walks away from Kate, giving Val a high five as she passes. Val smirks at Kate before we turn and walk back to our table.

“We are now the center of attention and the talk of the party. Should we make our exit, ladies?”

“Yes,” Val said. “I think I’ve had enough fresh air and sunshine from this flowery group.” She’s the first to stand, putting her purse on her shoulder and leading the way out of the garden party. She walks right back the way we came, past Kate and making eye-contact with her, daring her for a repeat of her previous action. Kate quickly breaks eye-contact with Val as she passes the table. Note to self—have security check the guest list before accepting any invites to any parties.

“Ana… I am so sorry about this,” Josephine says, rushing to catch us before we leave. “She’s not even on the guest list. She must have come as someone’s plus one.” Well, that’s comforting. At least she’s not a member of my country club.

“Josephine, please,” I say, squeezing her hand. “You can’t control people’s behavior. There’s no way that we blame you for this.” She smiles and turns to Val.

“Please accept my apologies, Mrs. Grey,” she says contritely to Val. “Security is having her removed. Is there no way I can convince you to stay?”

“It’s Valerie,” Val says, touching Josephine’s hand. “Really, I’ve had enough excitement for one day and I think I’d just like to go home. It really was a lovely party… until that.”

“Allow me to make it up to you,” she continues to grovel. “A ladies’ lunch or a shopping trip perhaps?” We watch as Kate and the person who plus one’d her are ceremoniously and conspicuously escorted off the property. I’m sure that was enough for Val, knowing that she was publicly ejected from the garden party, but she accepts the olive branch.

“I’d like that very much,” Val says warmly. “Ana knows how to reach me.” Josephine smiles and sighs heavily.

“Good,” she says relieved. “I’ll be in touch, then.”

“I look forward to it,” Val says sincerely before releasing Josephine’s hand. We all share parting words before proceeding out to the valet. To our left, Kate’s host is giving her a mouthful of a tongue lashing while Kate tries and fails to defend her actions. We say nothing as the girl gets into the driver’s seat of black Lexus and leaves Kate standing on the sidewalk. We silently watch her public humiliation as she’s now left with no ride and must ask the valet to call her a taxi.

The other valet drives up in Val’s convertible four-seater BMW and I’m suddenly happy that she begged to drive. Val gives him a large tip and makes a big deal about putting the top down as the three of us secure scarves and sunglasses. When we’re sure Kate is watching, Val drops a gear and squeals away from the club, the security Audi SUV close behind us.


CHRISTIAN

“My wife is going to have a nervous breakdown,” I lament, rubbing my eyes. I look up and see Elliot eyeing me bemused. “I just got a text from Chuck. Apparently, an unexpected guest was at the garden party.”

“Okay, I’ll bite,” he says. “Who?”

“Kate.” His eyes grow large.

“Kate?” he says in surprised dismay. “You mean You-Are-Not-The-Father Kate? With my wife?” His voice is so laced with concern, I’m remiss to tell him the rest of the story.

“Yeah, that would be her. Your wife just dropped Mia off at her apartment and they’re on the way back here. Apparently, Kate showed up at the garden party as somebody’s guest and when Valerie was on her way back from the restroom…” I trail off. My brother is going to lose it when I tell him what this crazy cow did to his wife.

“What?” he asks sitting on the edge of his seat. “What, Christian? What did she do? Don’t fuck with me, man, is Val okay?”

“Yeah, yeah, she’s fine,” I tell him. “Kate tripped her.”

Elliot turns white. When I say white, I mean stock white—whiter than the whitest white boy, like whiter than loose-leaf paper white.

“Elliot?” I say to his stunned silence.

“She tripped my wife?” he asks, his face blanched. “Did she fall? Was she hurt? Is she okay?”

“I don’t know,” I tell him. “I don’t think she’s hurt, she’s driving…” Elliot is dialing his phone before I can finish my sentence. He must be calling Val.

“You sick sadistic bitch!” he says into the phone. Okay… definitely not Val. “You tripped a goddamn cancer patient?… I don’t give a fuck that you didn’t know! You tripped my fucking wife!… I swear to God, Katherine, if there’s a scratch on my wife when she gets back in this house, I’m gonna find you and personally fuck you up!… I don’t give a good goddamn who you tell, you hateful, spiteful witch! My wife better not have a hair out of place when I see her or your ass is mine! And if you ever come near her again, I’m gonna fuck you up beyond all recognition and you can put that shit it print!”

He angrily ends the call and is now sitting with his elbows on his legs and his head down fighting to regain his composure. Not ten minutes ago, we were sitting here drinking beer… and Near Beer… talking about the NBA summer league and now, he’s ready to kill this crazy bitch for tripping his wife. I hope to God that Val looks okay when she gets back to the Crossing. I can honestly say that in all my life, I have never seen my brother lose his cool like this.

“Elliot?” I say, trying to get his attention.

“Give me a minute, man,” he says, still trying to calm himself. Shit, I don’t know if I should call Dad and prepare him for B&D… Bail and Defense.

“Not that I’m trying to contribute to your delinquency, but do you want a beer?” He shakes his head.

“I might need one if my wife is bruised at all when she gets back here,” he says, his voice low. I text both Chuck and Butterfly asking if Valerie is okay. I might need to do damage control. Chuck is the first to respond.

**As far as I can tell, yes, but she came out of the garden party sans her wig. **

Oh shit, something happened. She took off her wig in public. Butterfly’s text comes in next.

**Yeah, she’s fine. News travels fast, I see. What do you know? **

I reply,

**Elliot’s a nervous wreck. I put my foot in my mouth and told him what Chuck told me, which wasn’t much. He just got off the phone with Kate. Threatened her goddamn life. **

A few moments of silence and I look back at my brother, who’s still trying to regain his composure.

**Oh, hell. This is going to be bad. Well, let him know that she’s wearing a scarf, but only because we were driving with the top down. We were all wearing scarves. **

That’ll help.

**Val’s not hurt anywhere, is she? Elliot is going on a woman-hunt if Val is bruised anywhere. **

I wait for a response and just when it looks like my brother may be calming down, I get one.

**Her hand is bruised. Maybe a little swollen. She decked Kate. **

“She what?” I say out loud before I realize it. Elliot’s head shoots up and he’s glaring at me with sharp blue eyes.

“What?” he asks. “What is it?” I sigh.

“Val has a bruise,” I tell him. “Her hand might be a little swollen. She knocked Kavanaugh on her ass.” Elliot’s brow furrows deeply.

“Fuck. Are you kidding me?” His hand runs over his buzz cut and back to his neck. He keeps it cut short until Valerie’s hair grows back to a length that’s comfortable for her. He’s not doing well at all with the fact that his wife might be in the tiniest bit of distress. I didn’t think anybody alive could have it as bad as me, but he does.

“You got it you got it bad, when you’re on the phone, hang up and you call right back…” I sing the lyrics to an old R&B Usher song, trying to lighten the mood.

“Don’t tease me, Christian, I’m trying to deal with this,” he says, his voice maudlin.

“Lelliot,” I retort, “she decked the bitch… in front of the whole party. She dropped that bitch on her ass.” He sighs.

“If that self-centered, heartless tramp had stayed away from my wife in the first place, none of this would have happened. She’s determined to keep fucking with me and I want blood, man. She better leave us the fuck alone or I won’t be responsible for my actions if I ever see her again.” I shake my head.

“Give me your phone.”

“What?” he says with a frown.

“Give me your damn phone!” He hands me his phone, a bit bemused. I text Katherine’s and Val’s number to my phone. “Why do you even still have this woman’s number in your phone?”

“Did you erase it?” he asks.

“No, but why do you even have her number in your phone?”

“So that I know if she calls,” he says without hesitating. “You got psycho, can’t-let-go bitches all around you, and I see how they act and the crazy shit that they’ll do. That’s the only psycho, can’t-let-go bitch in my life. She already tried to pin a baby on me and just when I think it’s safe to go into the water, she attacks my wife. Why? What did Angel ever do to her? Not a goddamn thing but marry me. Now if she thinks I’ll stand by and worry about her attacking my wife somewhere around town while she’s going to get a fucking manicure, she’s got another think coming. I’ll beat her ass on sight!”

Elliot is coming unhinged. I’ve got to put water on this fire immediately.

“I’m going to get you a beer,” I say as I rise from the chaise and go inside. Once out of Elliot’s sight, I quickly call Butterfly.

“Hello, darling.”

“Hey, baby. How close are you guys to the Crossing?”

“No more than ten minutes. What’s up?”

“Elliot is coming unglued. He needs to see that Valerie is okay or he just might kill Kavanaugh, and I’m not kidding.” Butterfly sighs.

“Tell him to keep his shirt on, we’ll be there in a minute. And her hand is just a little red. It doesn’t look like a boxing glove or anything,” she says.

“Just… the two of you be in a really good mood when you get here, okay?” I instruct her. She sighs.

“Fine, but the next time something like this happens, let his wife break the news to him.”

“Deal,” I say before saying my goodbyes and ending the call. Next, I call the sadistic cow.

“Hello?” she answers.

“Look,” I begin. “I really don’t care if you listen to me or what you do with this information. I’m only calling because I care about my brother and if you see him or his wife in public ever again, I suggest you go the other way.”

“Oh, now you’re threatening me!” she says haughtily.

“I’m not threatening you, Kavanaugh. I’m giving you fair warning. You don’t know how big a pile of shit you just stepped in and you need to listen. When my brother spoke to you, did he threaten to ruin you? Did he threaten your family? Your fortune? To put you in jail? No! He threatened you! Physically. My brother is incensed! He is beyond livid. He can’t hear anything. And if his wife comes back here in any condition except as perfect as she was when she left, he’s coming for blood—yours! And I already have to prepare him that she’s coming back in here without her wig.”

The line is silent for a while. I don’t know if she’s processing what I’m saying or filing her fingernails, but I keep going.

“You really need to know that my brother would give his life for Valerie. When we came to him to talk about her treatment, he would have gone up against each and every one of us if he thought what we were suggesting was not in her best interest. He went toe to toe with her oncologist because he felt like certain aspects of her care could be improved, and he was right. He’s been there for every doctor’s appointment, every surgery, every treatment. Nobody touches Valerie or gets near Valerie without his permission, and you touched her today. You violated her and you tried to humiliate her, and her husband is animalistically pissed!

“He got a taste—just a taste—of what it might feel like to lose her throughout this cancer ordeal, and he fought. He fought doctors; he fought anxiety; he fought exhaustion; he fought everything if it meant he could keep his eye on her and help her get well. I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of him. We were in the news a week ago. One guess why he cut off all his hair.”

The line is silent again, but I hear her sigh. Yes, dear, you’re familiar with Elliot’s passion and you know he’s in love with this woman. Time for the death blow.

“My brother adores that woman, you need to know that,” I say to her. “You need to understand that, internalize it and believe it like you’ve never believed anything else in your life. Anything you do to her, you do to him and he will make you pay… in blood. He’ll take his revenge in pints and since the body only has six to eight, I think you should pay attention.” When the phone is quiet this time, I decide to end the call.

“Goodbye, Katherine.”

Elliot’s head rubbernecks when I come outside with two beers.

“Butterfly says they’ll be here in just a few minutes.” I hand him an open beer. “Just in case.”

charade252caudreyindisguiseHe nods and takes the beer from me. He doesn’t drink it. He just holds it in his hand. I think the fact that it’s there is giving him comfort. I take a swallow of my beer and just as I’m planting my butt on the chaise, I hear the laughing voices of our wives coming from covered patio. They’re both walking around the patio looking like fresh flowers from the garden, my wife in her eternally classic Jackie-O look and Valerie reminding me a lot of Audrey Hepburn.

The moment the ladies make their way out to the pool, Elliot leaps from his seat and rushes to Valerie’s side.

“Angel! Baby, are you alright?” He’s checking over her body as if he’s looking for bruises. He looks briefly at her hand, takes note of it, then continues checking over her body.

“I’m fine, El,” Val says, smiling slightly as her husband checks her like an injured child.

“What did she do? Did she hurt you anywhere?” Elliot is still checking his wife as if he hasn’t heard a word she’s said. Valerie takes his face in her hands and brings him to her eyes. They stare at each other for a moment.

“I’m fine, baby,” Valerie says. “She didn’t hurt me.” His hands freeze on either side of her waist as he gazes at his wife.

“I’ll kill her,” he says, matter-of-factly. “I’ll fucking kill her if she touches you ever again.” The corners of Valerie’s mouth rise.

“Not if I see her first,” she says, placing her lips gently on my brother’s. “I love you, El,” she says. “She’s just butt-hurt because I got you and she didn’t.”

“Sucks to be her,” he says, pulling his wife in for another kiss and closing his lips over hers. I pull my wife into my lap on the chaise.

“I hope you weren’t expecting that party to be normal.” She shakes her head.

“Not even close,” she says, “although we were having a really good time before Katea-paloosa. Helping Hands is apparently getting more publicity than I thought, and I got some pointers on fundraising and different ways to bring more attention to our cause. I networked with several important people and the food was fantastic… and not one of them asked about my husband.”

“This is a good thing?” I say, acting affronted.

“Yes, Christian, this is a good thing,” she replies. “I’m being recognized for me and for my cause, not just as Mrs. Christian Grey.” That is a good thing. She wanted to make a name for herself and be useful based on her own momentum and now it’s happening for her.

“So really good networking?” I ask. She nods.

“Really good, but next time, I’ll have to bring Marilyn with me. I have a purse full of business cards and now, I’ll have to try to remember all these faces so that I don’t make a fool of myself the next time I see them.” I nod.

“I know you’ve seen that movie The Devil Wears Prada,” I say. She nods. “If you remember, Miranda Priestly took her assistants with her everywhere. She never remembered anybody’s name; they remembered for her.” She looks at me and frowns.

“How do you possibly know that?” she asks. “The Devil Wears Prada? Seriously?” I shrug.

“I don’t know…” which I really don’t, “… but hell, it’s true.”

“You don’t take Andrea with you everywhere,” she protests.

“People don’t expect me to remember their names,” I reply. “Let’s face it. I’m in a different line of business and at a different level, no offense. They need to remember me, and they know it. For you, for what you do, it’s crucial.” She nods. She knows I’m right. We look over at Elliot and Valerie who are still caught in a “nobody’s here but us” lip lock.

“He’s not taking this well at all, is he?” Butterfly asks. I shake my head.

“You have no idea,” I tell her. “I feel sorry for Kate if he sees her again any time soon. I’m certain he’ll kill her.” She gazes at me incredulously. “He got a glimpse of being without her when she went through the tumor surgery. As long as he’s breathing, he’s not going to let that happen.” I rub her back. “I know exactly how he feels.”

She brings her beautiful, guileless blue eyes back to mine and I could easily get lost in them.

“You were right about the Waymark transmitter,” I add. I meant to tell her yesterday when I got home, but it slipped my mind.

“I was?” she says, her eyebrows rising. I nod.

“The findings weren’t terribly off, but they were skewed—enough so that the XRC90’s impact on the technology division would have been grossly overstated. The question now is, were the finding submitted erroneously… a small variance in testing, or were they inflated as an attempt to make the company look better?”

“How will you determine that?” I shrug.

“I don’t know. I think I’ll have a third set of tests run on another group of prototypes and see which—if either—results are duplicated. Either way, making the prototypes and running the additional tests was a very good idea. As quality, I’m surprised he didn’t come to me with that idea before you did. It would have taken us longer to break even had we closed the deal without knowing this first. That wouldn’t have been the worst thing that could have happened. I mean, we’ve got the money, we could afford it, but why waste money that we don’t have to? People are faster to play with someone else’s money than they are to play with their own.” I run my hands through my hair.

“I think Rollins was just getting lax,” I lament. “It seems like he was getting comfortable in his position. The fact that he was so dismissive with you proves that he thought he was untouchable. I wonder how many of the others are feeling that way…” She frowns.

“What’s making you think that way?” she asks.

“First, I bring in my wife as a 50% owner. People think I’ve lost my mind. Then, I bring in Lorenz—a total outsider—and put him in VP’s position. Given the opportunity, not one of those entitled-acting assholes would even step up and say they thought they could do the job. Yet, many of them resent me for passing over inner management and going straight to a qualified pool. I don’t owe anyone an explanation, but I didn’t have time to try to train someone for this job. Lorenz comes highly recommended by everyone who has ever even met him. I’m tearing my hair out trying to figure out how I’ll get Uncle Stan out here before Pops passed away, and Finney makes one call to the Detroit… The next thing I know, the head honcho from the UAW union out there is calling me telling me that Uncle Stan is on his way!”

“Who’s Finney?” Butterfly asks.

“That’s what the guy called Lorenz!” I declare. “I don’t even have a nickname in the business world, unless it’s asshole!” Butterfly can’t stifle her laughter.

“So, I take it Lorenz is working out well,” she says.

“Very well,” I respond, rubbing her back. “Ros decided to take Gwen on an impromptu vacation for a week and Lorenz fell right in line, taking her meetings and following up on her projects. I didn’t even notice that she was gone and she’ll be back on Monday. He only had one non-negotiable term and that was that under no circumstances will he work on Sunday. He’s a religious man and he has a wife and children. Six days a week, we can work him like slave labor, but Sunday is for church and his family. He’s a very successful and well-known executive and he’s worked enough to retire on his income right now, but he loves what he does and the program has kept him financially secure and happily married for more than a decade.” I scratch behind my ear. Maybe he’s onto something.

“Why doesn’t he have his own business?” she asks.

“He doesn’t want the responsibility,” I reply. “He doesn’t mind making a name for himself making other companies successful, but he’s much more of a ‘take the money and run’ type of guy than a ‘take the reins and run the company’ type of guy.” She nods.

“He sounds fantastic,” she says. “I sure hope he’s not too good to be true.”

“If he is, he has a whole shitload of my colleagues fooled, including my headhunter,” I tell her. “As a cleaner, for lack of a better word, his reputation rivals mine. I just didn’t know because I wasn’t looking.” She nods and looks out over the water. Elliot and Valerie have moved to the chaise in a similar position as me and my wife.

“Is that a beer at Elliot’s feet?” Butterfly asks. I look over at the untouched beer.

“Yeah, it was that bad; I thought he would need it. Turns out he didn’t… all he needed was Valerie.” My wife snuggles into my chest. “You know, I think Lorenz may be on to something.” She looks up at me.

“I’m listening,” she says.

“You need more normal and our family dynamic has change drastically. I have a third in command now. Maybe we should start trying to introduce a little more normal into our lives.” She raises her eyebrow.

“How do we do that?” she asks. “There’s never anything really normal about us… we’re billionaires.”

“Well, that’s where I’ll need your help,” I tell her. “Except for the first four years of my life, I’ve always been privileged or rich, so the normal part is going to be totally Greek to me. But with a little compromise, I’m sure that we can achieve some semblance of normal at least a few times a month. It’ll be a great adventure for me and it’ll help you keep your sanity.” She smiles.

“That sounds perfectly delightful,” she says. “However, I do have one bone to pick with you.” My turn to raise my eyebrows.

“And that is?”

“We’ve been together for over two years. We have two beautiful children and we live in a gorgeous mansion. You have that beautiful boat sitting in that gorgeous boat resort and you haven’t taken me out on it once.” I smile widely at her and take my phone from my pocket.

“Yes, Sylvester… I need you to come to the Mercer House and check out the Slayer. I need her ready to sail by noon tomorrow…”


A/N: That was all she wrote—“It’s all over; there’s no more to be said.”

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

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~~love and handcuffs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raising Grey: Chapter 13—We Are Family

Okay, so far in the casting for Ana in “Golden,” Jessica Parker Kennedy is getting dusted. Brianna Evigan is in first place and Mila Kunis is a very close second. So, I think it’s safe to say that our choices will be between Brianna Evigan and Mila Kunis. Stay tuned!

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 13—We Are Family

CHRISTIAN

That was torture.

Pure, unmitigated, undiluted torture.

That woman’s ass is kryptonite and I could barely get inside before I was pulsing and pounding and ready to come and what do I do? I ask her not to come so that I can make love to her for the rest of the night. I regretted it the moment I suggested it, because I knew the process would be damn near unbearable. The thought nearly brought tears to my eyes. Not only was my inner horndog Rumpelstiltskin-stomping-mad, but Greystone was already promising to make me pay dearly for that request.

And make me pay, he did.

Butterfly’s ass is a thing of beauty and a wonder to behold, but when I get to sex it…

God, she was so tight and ready. Thrusting into her ass while holding her close to me, kissing her and gazing into her tormented eyes, I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I had come several times in her ass—tiny, involuntary orgasms and seepages of semen that I had absolutely no control over, and Greystone didn’t wane. This wasn’t Dom Dick; this was something else, something that enjoyed the tiny releases, but threatened a deadly detonation when the act was finally complete; something that knew that I had to keep my stamina until the bastard that was currently sharing our bed was gone forever.

Rubbing that ass and pushing her down onto me…
Grabbing that waist and those hips and guiding her to grind into me…
Throwing her leg over my hips, kissing those breasts and lips while I massaged her clit and penetrated her core while still loving her ass…
Holding her hard against me and gently squeezing her neck while I pump repeatedly into her…

The small bursts were more torment than pleasure as the big explosion loomed dangerously in my balls and back. It was agony—sweet fucking agony—to keep from blowing wildly inside of her as I took her ass and loved her for hours from every possible angle. I made sure that sweet, hot pussy didn’t get neglected, but my dick stayed in that ass for the rest of the night.

And her orgasm was the longest she had ever had. When it started, it hung there for a minute, not coming to full climax for quite some time. I was inside of her holding back this crippling explosion when she first stiffened, so it seemed like for-fucking-ever before she finally hit her pinnacle, but if I’m honestly estimating, it was only about two minutes. But, shit, two minutes is a long fucking time to hold back a climax. We’re talking like 26 in orgasm years!

“Oh, God. Oh, my God, you feel so good. So good… it feels so good… so good…”

I was in her ear encouraging her to let go and come. No matter how hard she fought it, she wouldn’t return from this one. Tears were streaming down her face and her breaths were heaving and tortured as I held her close to me and continued to drive slow and deep into her, sensually rubbing her breasts and her body while licking and tasting her skin. A when she finally came…

God, when she finally came…

A mournful sob wrenched from her tortured soul and could feel her ascending, slipping away from me… so I held on. I held on and buried my body into hers as the atomic explosion in my balls blasted brutally through my dick and flooded us both with so much cum, we should have drowned. Holding her tight against me was as much to keep her from floating away into the heavens as it was to still her violent gyrations on my expanding, pulsing dick. When I say that my dick was popping, I mean that it was thumping and bumping and pulsing and popping and aching and not only was her tight anus flexing and tightening and squeezing every bit of seed from me, but her round, luscious, slippery ass cheeks were rubbing against me, massaging and tormenting me into one of the deadliest nuclear blast I’d ever felt in my life! Skyrockets and firecrackers can’t even begin to describe what was going on and I can only imagine that a camera shot down there would have captured a scene of such immense pulsing, vibrating, expanding, and throbbing of my dick and balls that it most likely imitated my shaft still fucking and thrusting into her ass on its own!

David had to be exorcised.

We had done it once, but this time, he made it in through her insecurities. I saw it in her eyes even though she said nothing. He was in her soul and her mind and our bed and he had to be purged.

So, I did.

I kissed her and loved her and touched, rubbed, and sexed every inch of her body until she knew that she belonged to me and I belonged to her. Nothing and no one would ever cause me to stray and she had to know that my body and soul are unequivocally and irrevocably hers.

Hopefully, she knows that now.

I knew she was unconscious before my dick stopped pulsing in her ass, but I couldn’t move. Even after the orgasm waned, there was still unbelievable pulsing in my dick inside of her ass that made it impossible for me to pull out, impossible for me to move, so I pulled her tighter against me and stayed buried inside of her, kissing her shoulders, skin, neck and hands gently until her breathing regulated and I knew she had moved from unconsciousness to sleep. I wasn’t worried. I know that it happens sometimes with real intense orgasms, but I couldn’t rest until I knew she had transitioned from one state to the other.

I fell asleep with my dick still pulsing in her ass.

Now, I find myself with morning wood buried deep inside of her, trying to find a way to pull out that will cause the least discomfort. Rip the Band-Aid off, I guess.

So, I did…

And while my Butterfly only whimpers in her exhausted slumber, I actually come again, squirting small amounts of semen on her beautiful ass. Kryptonite, I tell you. Fucking Kryptonite…

I grab a cup of coffee and go down to my office to check my emails. The house is alive with activity and Marlow has stopped by to help Taylor with some project in Sophie’s apartment. She’s all giggly and girly, something that appears to be flying right over Marlow’s head, but doesn’t get by Taylor in the least. I shake my head and dread the moment that Minnie Mouse gets that look in her eye about some young… guy. I move on to my office and fire up my computer. I normally don’t look at alerts with my name on them unless they say something about the business world, but this one caught my eye immediately.

Papa Bear Grey Goes Ballistic

What the fuck? Was somebody in that club last night? This can’t be good, and I was a lot of things with that bitch at that table last night, but Papa Bear is not one of the terms that I would use to describe it. I click on the link and realize that the headline has nothing at all to do with Greta Ellison or that club. A still of a surveillance photo appears on my screen—surveillance from my goddamn office! I’m sitting at my desk and Mac is standing in front of it.

What the ever-loving fuck!! Not again! Not fucking again! Barney assured me that we were safe! What the fucking fuck!!

I already know what conversation this is. This is when she cautioned me about threatening the press and, of course, the article describes me as the great protector, ready to throw myself in front of the oncoming train to keep my family out of the limelight during their suffering. That’s all well, fine, and good—Mr. Hero—but right now, I only have one question burning in my head.

Who the fuck am I firing today?

I call Barney’s cell first.

“Sir?” his voice is surprised, no doubt wondering why I’m calling him on a Sunday.

“I’m looking at surveillance from my office on the internet right now. It makes for a very interesting story. Can you tell me how this happened when you assured me that we’re airtight?” There’s silence for a moment.

“What?” he asks bemused. “That’s impossible! Security cameras are on their own servers all by themselves. They’re not even on the same mainframe. When I tell you that surveillance is unhackable, I mean it’s totally unhackable! It would be like hacking someone’s pedometer. It’s so a network all its own, even the most skilled computer technologists would have no fucking idea how to get in there.” My eyes narrow.

“If it’s so damn unhackable, why isn’t the entire mainframe on the same network? And how did someone upload private surveillance to the internet?” I seethe.

“Imagine trying to put your entire mainframe on a pedometer,” he says matter-of-factly. “You may want to call Alex on this one.”

“Don’t make plans for the day,” I growl. “I’ll be in touch.” I end the call and dial Alex.

“Sir,” he answers.

“Can you tell me why the hell I’m looking at surveillance from my office on the goddamn internet right now?” The line is quiet.

“You don’t know?” he says hesitantly.

“I. Don’t. Know. What?” I ask as patiently as I can. Another pause.

“Oh, fuck, I’m not taking the fall for this!” Alex bellows into the phone.

“I think you better tell me what the fuck is going on!” I bellow right back. “Who the fuck is responsible for this shit?”

“That would be me.”

A confident, casually-dressed Mac strolls into my office, folding her arms when she gets to the front of my desk.

“Her!” Alex says into the phone. “When she’s done explaining what’s going on, call me if you have questions, but know that as your publicist, she has almost as high a level of security clearance as I do. Can I go now?” I narrow my eyes at Mac.

“I’ll be in touch,” I say before ending the call. “I’m waiting.”

“It’s perfect PR,” she says, closing the rest of the space between her and my desk. “The phones have been ringing all morning. It’s brilliant! Take me, but leave my family alone. You can’t write this stuff. It’s media gold.”

“I’m still not feeling the love,” I hiss, “and I fail to see how this is media gold, as you put it.”

“They need to see you as a person, Christian,” Mac says, “a man, with real feelings, instead of this robot who walks around mindlessly destroying people if they don’t bend to his will. There’s no use in pretending that you don’t have weaknesses—they already know you do. Your wife and children are all over the news and now, your mourning family. You don’t know how to use candid moments to your advantage. You had to be convinced that Ana was media gold even though you’d seen it for yourself. Or have you conveniently forgotten the very first time a camera was shoved in her face and a very unfortunate reporter named Cheryl Deems who couldn’t get anybody to hire her after she became Ana’s first sacrificial lamb?”

“That wasn’t the first time a camera was shoved in her face,” I correct her, while simultaneously making her point. “I don’t like surprises, Mac. I wake to this on a Sunday morning with no warning whatsoever.”

“Would you have let me do it if I told you?” she says, taking her stance once more. I don’t respond. I really don’t need to. “I’m totally responsible for your public image now and you have to trust me to know what I’m doing.”

“I don’t see where this was necessary at all,” I continue to protest. “It’s like you said, everybody already knows that I would give anything and do anything for my family. What good did this do?” Mac sighs.

“When the story broke with you threatening the press at your grandfather’s funeral, you came off as a hothead. It didn’t matter that your family was grieving over the loss of its patriarch. You’re news; anything that happens to you is news, no matter how tragic. And all these people were trying to do was their jobs and report the news, and you issued a personal threat to the entire crowd that made the news for several days thereafter. My guess is that after today, you won’t hear another word about the hothead who threatened the press, but you will hear a whole lot about Papa Bear Grey.

“You can’t buy this type of publicity, Christian, and if you must be in the public eye, have them on your side as a defender and protector and not the haughty asshole who thinks he can do whatever he wants whenever he wants to whomever he wants, even if it may be true.”

I sigh and fall back into my seat. I would prefer no publicity at all and I’m certain that given a few days or so, the threats to the press would have been yesterday’s news. I would rather the splendor of it would wear off like it does with every other hot news bit that has occurred so far. No one even talks about the Pedophile or Edward David anymore—even though he unwelcomely crept into our bedroom last night, so to speak—neither of them are news anymore. Even the Green Valley case has gone somewhat quiet in the past few months. The Pedophile’s accusations against Butterfly never went public, so yes, the media is chomping at the bit for AnaChris news and the most exciting thing they’ve gotten is dinner and a nightclub. But if they think that exploiting my grandfather’s death and my family’s suffering is going to be the way to get their headline, they’re sorely mistaken and I’m just the one to show them.

So, I guess the whole Papa Bear thing isn’t such a bad idea after all.

“Mac,” I sigh, “you and I are going to have to do something about our communication. This is completely unacceptable… and you get to apologize to Barney and Alex for the reaming I gave them this morning, and I expect you to do just that.” She nods. “So, what now? I thought ‘leak’ and the rest of the world is going to think ‘plant,’ which is what it is.”

“Let them think what they want,” Mac replies. “We’ll be mum on it for the first few days and see where the monster goes on its own. Something like this is always a calculated risk, which is why you play it carefully. Whichever way it goes, we let it go.” I frown.

“So, if the public believes that this is a plant, we let them believe that?” She nods and I frown deeper. “I don’t see where that’s a good idea.”

“The more you deny, the more it makes something true,” Mac retorts. “If they really believe it’s planted information, big deal—people plant information all the time, but your reaction was real. And planted or not, they’ll be able to see that. You were primal in your rage when you talked about your family and how the press never gives you peace. Yeah, they may believe that the footage was deliberately given to the press, but they sure as hell won’t mistake your reaction for acting. Josh and I were a bit terrified by you.” I roll my eyes.

“And if they think it was leaked?” I ask.

“We go with it,” she replies. We’ll tell them that a disgruntled now-ex-employee leaked the footage and we keep the comments to a minimum—possible legal action, punitive damages, gag order, blah, blah, blah. You get the idea.” I’m still not certain about her tactic, but she’s right. I can only trust her at this point. I shake my head and turn to my computer screen.

“So,” she says, sitting in the seat in front of my desk. “Rollins?” I look at her briefly, then back to the computer screen.

“He disobeyed a direct order from my wife that directly had to do with GEH. He had to go.” She nods again.

“I know, but did you have to make such an example of him?”

“Yes, I did,” I reply. “These people have to know how serious I am about my wife being half owner of my business. Do you know how smart my wife is? Have you really sat down and talked to her? She minored in finance in college and while I’m sitting here chatting with her about one of the mergers we’re doing as a distraction from my grandfather’s death, she immediately spots skewed results in the statistical data.

“I can see it in your eyes, Mac, that wasn’t a setup,” I say, calling her out on her obvious suspicions. “She saw the error, she went to quality, and she told him to build the prototype and try to mimic the results. It had nothing to do with me until that asshole had spent the entire day sitting on his fucking hands before he came to me to nix the whole idea and handle things with the little wifey. I expect for people to jump when she’s says jump just like they do when I say jump. I know they may not respect her like me, but they very well better start!” She nods again and smirks.

“It appears she’s full of surprises,” she says knowingly. “Remember this conversation the next time you try to argue with me about what she can and can’t do.” She winks and heads for the door. “Can I go now?” I wave my hand for her to leave and look back at my emails. I swear to God the women in my life will one day be the death of me.


ANASTASIA

Pool party!

It’s the middle of July and I have this beautiful pool that I have not yet used. So, just before lunchtime, I activate the contingency and let everyone know that there will be Food and Libations all afternoon poolside at Grey Crossing. Be there or be square.

Be there or be square… good grief.

I found an adorable wraparound swimsuit just before Pops fell ill and never got a chance to wear it under the circumstances. Today is the day—a multicolored bandage high-waisted bikini that accentuates my new body perfectly.

When I go in search of my husband, Gail tells me that he’s down in his office with Mac, and I’m certain that I don’t want to know what fire requires her presence at our home on a Sunday morning unless he chooses to share it with me.

“I need a summer poolside feast for the afternoon,” I tell her. She raises her eyebrows at me like I’ve lost my mind.

“It’s… already afternoon,” she says, a little dismayed.

“Yes, and there’s a lot of afternoon left,” I inform her. I smile playfully. “I should have been more specific,” I say. “I want to spend the afternoon poolside with my friends and whoever wants to join us. Since we’ll be poolside, we’re talking things like fresh fruits, kabobs, chicken salad, finger sandwiches… that kind of thing.” Her eyebrows rise in acknowledgement.

“Oh,” she says, her voice lighter, “you had me scared for a minute. That, I can do.” I nod.

“I’m sorry,” I say mirthfully. “I know Sophie’s doing some remodeling today and you have your hands full with the regular duties. I can try to order something if it’s too much.”

“Nonsense!” Ms. Solomon’s voice says from the pantry. “You have a staff! That’s why we’re here. Let us earn our paychecks!” Gail smiles and shrugs one shoulder.

“What she said,” she replies. I return her smile and go to prepare my babies for a day at the pool. Christian and I agreed that we wanted to keep our relationship with the newer staff at a strictly professional level, but we both must admit that it’s been hard to do that with Windsor and Ms. Solomon, and especially with Keri. Speaking of which…

When I get back to the nursery, my two little bundles are already dressed and ready for a day at the pool. Keri is wearing a beautiful tropical wraparound maxi dress and she’s cooing at Mikey while Minnie enjoys tummy time in her crib. My little darlings are two delicious in their matching Mickey and Minnie Mouse swim suits.

a9d4f1d6357e101d717559bb21a44f7e“Oh, don’t you just look scrumptious!” I say to Minnie. She pushes up onto her knees and rocks feverishly, smiling widely at the sound of my voice. Her two little front teeth have cut in and she’s happier and more sociable now that she’s not in constant discomfort. She’s babbling these days and as far as we can tell, she’s forming some word close to “bottle” or “boob.” We just know that it’s a bah-bah-bah sound and usually comes around feeding time. Mikey is a little slower with his development and I would be remiss to say that I’m not more than a little worried. However, Dr. Nahabedian has told us not to worry; that boys are generally slower to develop than girls. Still, I’m a bit anxious.

“How is Mommy’s little Minnie Mouse?” I coo as I lift her from her crib in her black suit with a red frilly skirt with polka dots and white ruffle-butt bloomer. She smacks my cheeks softly while giggling profusely as I make the “brrrr” noise with my lips. I carry her over to her brother’s crib where Keri is having similar interactions with Mikey.

“Have you already put sunscreen on them or do we need to do it now?” I ask Keri. She nods.

“Yes, I’ve already done it,” she says, still smiling at Mikey.

“Where would I be without you?” I say, sincerely.

“Lost,” she says, sweetly, “just like I would be without you.” She winks at me and I know she’s referring to us giving her a job as our au pair.

“You know you’re helping us just as much as we’re helping you, right?” I ask.

“I find that hard to believe, but thank you… for everything.”

We gather my children and their diaper bags and head for the elevator to go to the pool. When we arrive, the baby tent is already set up with the Pack-n-Play’s nearby. Keri gets the twins set up inside with their toys while I inflate their floaties for when we’re ready to take them into the water.

653d170e88444f26a95956b1b1102b8dSlowly, but surely, my friends begin to show up and the food is brought out to the outdoor dining room. The staff has managed everything I recommended and included guacamole and chips, sunny orange-lemonade, refreshing flash-frozen fruit chunks, and a plethora of other summertime goodies as well and my usual favorites—pinwheels and bruschetta. Christian has even fired up the grill and is cooking hot dogs, bratwurst, and hamburgers… under Jason’s watchful eye and tutelage, and Chuck has set up as bartender in the outdoor dining room for mixed cocktails and Mojito slushies made to order, and he can also watch Keri with the twins in her hot little two-piece with the black wrap-bra and tiny bottoms with the Aztec designs.

 

Of course, Al is the first to show up. He saunters over to where I’m enjoying a cocktail and

Keri is nearby, splashing her feet in the pool while keeping an eye on the twins in the baby tent.

“Damn, diva! You are rocking that suit!” Al says, as he joins me on a chaise near the pool.

“Thank you, Mr. Fleming-Forsythe,” I reply, “You’re looking rather spiffy yourself,” I comment about his electric blue swim trunks with black stripes. “But tell me… is it safe to let your man out the house looking like 150 pounds of ripped chocolate in a black and white nylon wrapper?” Al’s mouth falls open.

“You’re one to talk!” he accuses quietly. “You got Diamond Dick over there with his jewels barely tucked and stuffed into a navy-blue holster! If he sneezes, I’ll get a good look at cut and clarity!”

I was just taking a sip of a Cosmo at that moment. He’s lucky he’s not wearing it.

“Damn, Allen, seriously?” I say, choking down the alcohol.

“Hey, you started it,” he says as he lays out on the chaise. “I need to cook a bit, my love. My skin is a bit too alabaster.”

“I know what you mean,” I say, examining the total lack of pigment in my own complexion. “I’m feeling a little lily-white myself these days.” I begin to put suntan lotion on my skin.

“Did you see the news about your husband this morning?” Al says as he dons his shades and gets comfortable. I sigh.

“No, but I knew something was up when Gail told me that Mac was down in his study with him this morning.” I finish my arms and grab a towel. “Can you untie me please?” Al sits up and glares at me.

“You’re going topless?” he gasps, dismayed. “With that rack? You might make my husband go straight!” I laugh out loud.

“Not completely, silly,” I chuckle, “but I can’t tan right with the wraparound because the straps are too wide. Now, untie me… and do my back while you’re at it.” Al unties my wraparound bikini top while I cover my breasts with the towel.

“Well,” he says as he applies a generous portion of suntan lotion to my back, “the day of the funeral, you saw that the paparazzi were present en masse…”

“Fucking vultures,” I say before I know it. Those fuckers are worse than that church that camps out at the funerals of fallen soldiers and homosexuals to protest the service and harass the family of the deceased.

“Well, your husband felt the same way, so much so that he had his security team taking pictures of the photographers and issued personal threats to each one of them.” I spun around in my seat and looked at him.

Personal threats?” I ask. Al nods. “To each of them?” He nods again. “Oh, fuck.”

“Mac shared your sentiment,” he continues. “She confronted him about the appropriateness of his actions on Thursday when he got back to the office, well after one of the reporters had aired his threats. He went nuclear on her—told her that he didn’t care if they came after him; that he wanted them to come after him; that if they ruined him, then maybe he wouldn’t be news anymore and they would leave his fucking family alone. He was totally willing to sacrifice himself if they left his family alone. He didn’t apologize for his actions and he vowed that he meant every word. He was like a lion standing on his hind feet to protect the pride.” He does the gesture for me to turn around.

“Okay, so, what happened? Why is this news again if it broke on Thursday?” I ask, turning my back to him so that he can finish with the suntan lotion. I have to admit that I hadn’t seen or heard anything about the threats until just now and I was at Grey House on Friday.

“She had this conversation with him in his office, which is always under security surveillance. The surveillance went viral this morning.” I spin around to face him again. “Dammit, Jewel! Be surprised while you’re facing the other direction, please!”

“You just told me that private surveillance from my husband’s office just went viral! Do we have another hacker?” My mind immediately goes to all the times we fucked in that office.

“It was Mac! Now turn around!” he barks.

“Mac was the hacker?” I ask horrified.

“No! She got the footage from Alex and leaked it on purpose—to make Chris look more human for threatening the press. Now, turn around!” I narrow my eyes at him.

“You could have led with that, you cow,” I say begrudgingly turning around so that he can finish my back.

“Shut up and listen, heifer,” he retorts. “We’re waiting to see where the media is going with it. Our response right now is silence. No one’s giving them anything. But you’ll probably notice that you haven’t seen any paparazzi hiding in bushes or around corners all week.” Come to think of it, I haven’t. “They’re taking him at his word, seeing if he’ll do what he said. My guess is that a few heads are going to roll, even though no pictures of your family from the funeral ended up in the media… only the footage of him threatening the press and the subsequent surveillance footage. They’re calling him Papa Bear Grey.

“Papa Bear Grey?” I nearly cackle. “You can’t be serious.”

“Totally,” he says. “Nobody would dare fuck with him or any of you right now.” I shake my head.

“I take it he didn’t know about this. Otherwise, there would be no reason for Mac to be here on a Sunday morning.”

“I’m not sure, but I don’t think he did. Now that he does, he’s just waiting like the rest of us… silently.” He finishes my back and closes the suntan lotion. “All done, my dear.”

I situate myself on the chaise and cover my boobs with the towel, folding it so that it only covers my mounds and not the rest of me.

“I can’t wait to see how this ends up,” I say, facetiously.

Al and I sunbathe for a while as I tell him about the night Christian and I had confronting Greta Ellison. I leave out the part where we fuck all night because seeing him charm Greta gave me flashbacks of the dirty, lying cheater with two first names. I finish my Cosmo and listen to my babies cooing behind me as my skin tans to a lovely shade. Al is still talking about… something… as I feel myself drifting off to sleep…

“Hot damn, that’s a sight,” I hear my husband’s voice say. I open my eyes to see him standing over me, playfully licking his bottom lip and smiling at me. He looks hot as fuck with windblown hair and sunglasses, gazing down at me with the sun shining behind him. I know I’ve fallen asleep, but I don’t know for how long. I’m not burned, so it must’ve only been a few minutes.

“Cut and clarity,” Al says from the chaise next to me. I throw a horrified look at him.

“Allen!” I hiss as quietly as I can.

“What?” Christian asks, curiously.

“Just Allen being an ass,” I say through my teeth. I hold my towel against my breasts as I sit up to greet my husband. “What brings you over here? You wanted to get a better look?” I ask, raising my eyebrow. He smiles and sits on my chaise.

“No, but that’s a good reason to stay,” he says playfully. “How are you?” I know what he’s talking about. Last night was an intense night, emotionally and physically. I couldn’t find the words to tell him what I was feeling. I knew that the insecurity that I was feeling about his interaction with Greta Ellison was unwarranted, but when you get into a certain state of mind—particularly one that you’re already familiar with—it’s hard to get out of it.

“I’m fine,” I tell him. “You did a good job of reassuring me,” I add with a smile.

“It was my pleasure… literally,” he says, closing in on me.

“Too much information!” I hear from the peanut gallery to my left.

“Then stop listening!” I hiss at my best friend.

“Kind of hard to miss it,” he says, still lying on his back and soaking up the sun.

“Roll over or you’ll burn, Snow White!” I bark, hoping that giving him a task will distract him from our conversation.

“Take your own advice, Fairest of the Fair,” he says, shifting position onto his stomach.

“He’s right, you know,” Christian says, gently rubbing my skin. “I’d hate for you to burn, and not just because it means I couldn’t touch you.”

“Yes, heaven forbid Mr. Grey can’t have his playtime.” Goddammit, Allen!

“Allen, if you don’t shut up, I’m going to begin a detailed conversation about cunnilingus,” Christian says calmly.

“What?” Allen protests, mocking innocence. “She doesn’t have a bratty little brother… well, she’s got a little brother, but he’s not old enough to be a brat, yet. Somebody’s got to fill in.”

“Eating hot, dripping wet pussy,” Christian says.

“Shutting up,” Al replies, and I have to stifle my laughter. Christian turns back to me.

“Are you okay? Really?” I can see his soft, concerned eyes. I shrug.

“Sometimes you can’t avoid old ghosts creeping up on you.” I gently stroke his cheek, slightly prickly from his designer stubble. “But you do a very good job of chasing them away.” I hear Al on the chaise next to me take a breath to retort.

“Clitoris,” Christian says before he can speak.

“Not a word,” Al says quickly. Christian turns back to me.

“I’ll talk to yours later,” he whispers. “Now, turn over.” I do as he says while he holds my towel over my breasts. “Do you need me to do your back?”

“No, Al did it for me earlier,” I reply.

“You been fondling my wife?” he asks Al.

“Sure have, and you can fondle me to get even if you like,” Al retorts.

You asked for that one, Grey.

“I’ll send your husband over,” Christian replies, a bit uncomfortably. Al chuckles.

“I was just fucking with you,” Al says, “Chocolate covered me already.”

And they just keep flying.

“You really want to have that pussy-eating conversation, don’t you?” Christian shoots back.

“Good Lord, what did we walk in on?” I hear Maxine’s voice and a cooing Mindy off to my right.

“My husband and best friend are sparring,” I say, without lifting my head. “They’re trying to see who can make the other more sexually uncomfortable.”

“Who’s winning?” I hear Elliot’s voice say.

“I can’t tell just yet,” I say. “Christian had Al on the ropes with talk of vaginal satisfaction, but Al came back with a request for Christian’s man-hands and now, I’m a little unclear what the score is.”

“It’s two to three I think, Chris’ favor,” Al says, “but I haven’t said anything yet about my obsession with the taste of chocolate.” I roll my eyes under my sunglasses. This will never end.

“Hey, Al?” Christian says. Al foolishly turns to look at my husband, who does a “V” with his fingers and flicks his tongue between them several times. Al shakes his head and lays back down on the chaise.

Game. Set. Match.

Christian slaps my ass and goes back to the barbecue kitchen to man the grill with Jason. Once he’s out of earshot, Al pulls his glasses down and glares at me.

“What?” I ask him as Maxie gets comfortable on the chaise on the other side of me while Phil holds Mindy.

“Jewel!” he says. “That thing is long as fuck! He needs to put it on a leash!”

You should see his dick.

“Exactly which part of him got you pregnant?” he continues, as if reading my mind.

“Fuck!”

All seven adult heads spin to see which angel-baby voice produced this word. Mindy is sitting there proudly clapping her hands for her audience… and her new word.

“She’s talking?” Val says with large eyes, having joined the party with Elliot and the Guests.

“Repeating,” Phil says, none too pleased, “only particular sounds that she hears with emphasis,” he adds, looking at Al.

“Sorry,” Al says, lying back on chaise. Maxie leans back and begins to play with Mindy.

“Al, when you have kids, I’m coming to your house and saying random curse words all day,” Phil threatens.

“Who says I’m having kids?” Al retorts. I frown.

“You don’t want kids?” I ask.

“It’s not on my immediate agenda, no,” he replies.

“I thought you wanted kids,” Val says, slathering sunscreen on her arms. “James doesn’t want them?”

“We’ve had the conversation,” he says. “I’m not in any rush and we’re both a bit hesitant, what with still having to fight for gay rights. It’s hard to imagine having to bring up a child in a society that doesn’t really accept its parents as a couple.” I sit up, holding my towel to my breasts.

“But you’re godfather to my children,” I protest, garnering the attention of all the people at the party now. Al sits up and faces me.

“Here’s the thing, Jewel,” he says, resting his elbows on his knees. If—heaven forbid—something happens to you and Chris, there are going to be a lot of people in line to take The Incredibles over there. I doubt that there will be any battles, but you have Carrick and Grace, Ray and Mandy, and even Elliot and Val or Mia and Ethan are in line before me. They’re family… and I’m a lawyer. I know my pecking order. But rest assured, Chocolate and I have already talked about this and if that dreaded day ever comes and no one protests it, my hat is still in the ring.”

I’m suddenly deflated. I hadn’t even thought about the fact that Al would truly have no legal right to our children if something happened to us. I don’t know why I didn’t think about it. I just didn’t.

“Hey, Steele,” Val interjects, noting my obvious change in demeanor. “Everybody knows how important Al is to you and to the Wonder Twins. Even if they do go to someone in the family, no one would try to keep him out of their lives.”

That brings comfort, but very little.

“Okay,” I nod. “I know. If you’ll excuse me…” I move to get off the chaise and grab my bikini top. I look over into the baby tent and my two little angels are fast asleep.

“Jewel, I’m sorry… I….”

“No, it’s not you,” I stop him. “I need to pump.” I walk to the house with my breast covered and quickly go to the nursery. When I’m attached to the breast pump, I go over the conversation I just had in my head. Al called them the Incredibles and Val called them the Wonder Twins. Everyone else refers to them as Minnie and Mikey—a play on “Minnie and Mickey.” Everybody calls them some sort of cartoon character, and right now, they’re napping by the pool wearing costumes of their original namesakes. I smile to myself thinking of how much everyone loves them, and hoping beyond hope that there won’t be a battle for them if something ever does happen to me and Christian…

“Hey,” I hear my husband’s voice quietly come into the nursery. “You okay? Everybody’s worried about you.”

“Yeah,” I say as the miracle contraption fills one bottle and Christian attaches a second. “Mindy blurted out a very colorful word after hearing Uncle Al say it, to which Phil responded that he would get revenge by cursing around Al’s children every day. Al then announced that he had no intentions of immediately having children, which brought us around to the conversation of him being our children’s godfather. He brought up that legally, he’s the last man on the totem pole and probably wouldn’t get the kids anyway, but he would always be available to them. And it just got me thinking…”

“Thinking what?” he asks.

“We hope to be here for our babies, but what happens if some terrible accident occurs and we’re both untimely ripped from this earth? What’s going to happen to our babies? I would hate to think that our families would fight over the twins, but we both know that death brings out some very bad emotions in people. I don’t think I could stand the thought of our children being in a tug-of-war.”

“Our families would never do that,” he says.

“We don’t know that, Christian,” I retort. “What do we want for our children? I always assumed that Val and Al would take some kind of joint responsibility for my kids if something happened to me, but I never, ever considered the other people that would be involved—the baby’s father, his family… Common sense dictates that this should be considered, but I never did. I never have.” I raise my eyes to the ceiling and finally admit my thoughts—the thoughts of a young, broken woman years ago…

“I knew that I was going to have children. I was certain of that… but I was so busy seeing myself alone that I never considered the other half of the child.” I bring my eyes back to Christian. “We’ve got to definitively decide the fate of our children if something happens to us. When I checked out, Maxie showed you that someone will step up and try to take the reins even if they don’t have the authority.” He examines me and sighs. I move the breast pump to my other breast and begin to empty it.

“And consider this,” I say once the pump is reattached. “My mother is the only blood relative that I have that I know of except for a grandmother that I don’t really care to know. What’s to stop either one of them from trying to lay claim to my children once we’re gone? They have just as much right as anybody—even more so than Ray—to our children. This one little door left open could let all kinds of rodents into the barn.”

He drops his head. He knows I’m right. Minnie and Mikey will be heirs if something happens to the two of us and although our close family may have no concern with that, vermin are very likely to come out of the woodwork should Christian and I come to an unfortunate demise.

“What should we do?” he asks.

“Call a family meeting,” I say. “Include Allen. He’s an attorney. So is Carrick, and as far as I’m concerned, they both have an interest in this. Find out how everyone feels, then put our wishes in a will and everybody has to stick to it.”

“What’s to stop someone from contesting the will?” he asks as he replaces the bottle on the pump.

“It’s a chance that we have to take,” I say. “Who among our family can you see contesting the will except for my mother and any of my long-lost blood relatives? We’ll include in the will that I’ve been estranged from my mother since I was seventeen. If I die tomorrow, that’s still more than ten years. Any judge anywhere would see that she was only in it for the money and that being with her—someone my children won’t even know exists—would not be in the best interest of the children. Not being a snob, but I’m about to… Even my step-father is more financially well-off than my mother… Oh, my God!” Christian frowns.

“Baby, what’s wrong?” he says, noting my change of demeanor.

“Why didn’t I think of this sooner?” I ask aloud. Whether he decides he wants my children or not, I should have done this the moment I turned eighteen.

“Baby, you’re scaring me. Please tell me what’s going on,” Christian says. I turn to him.

“I’m going to ask Daddy to adopt me.” He frowns again.

“You’re… it’s a little late for that, don’t you think?” he asks.

“No, it’s not,” I tell him. “If you are incapacitated, Daddy is my power of attorney. He should have just as much rights and say-so to anything and everything that I have or anything to do with me as my mother ever had, and hate it or love it, if we both die, she’s my next of kin!” He shivers at the thought.

“Fucking hell how soon can we get this ball rolling?” he asks all in one breath…

*-*

“Jesus Christ, Jewel, what did I start?” Al asks dismayed when Christian and I get back to the pool.

“A conversation that really should’ve happened more than ten years ago,” I tell him. “We’re going to have a family meeting to decide what happens to our children, and you’re going to be a part of that meeting, but in the meantime, I need you to start the process for my dad to adopt me.”

“You want Ray to adopt you now?” Marilyn asks, she and Gary having joined the party while I was pumping milk.

“Yes. We would have done it sooner, but my mom’s a bitch,” I say flippantly. “Once I was free from her, I didn’t think about it until now. He needs all the legal rights that any father would have because he is my father, and I don’t want anyone trying to squash his rights.” Al looks over at Christian.

“She’s not talking about my family,” he says, answering Al’s gaze. “In terms of blood relatives and any legal rights, Carla can come through here and brush him aside. As much as it pains me to say, if we’re both gone, she’s Butterfly’s biological next of kin. And when we went national with Butterfly’s retrieval from that asshole on Vashon Island, she was on the first available bird to get to Seattle—once she discovered her daughter was dating a billionaire. What do you think is going to happen if something happens to us and she can get her hands on two miniature cash cows?”

“Your family would fight her tooth and nail on that and most likely win. She doesn’t have the resources…”

“I don’t care!” I interrupt Al. “My dad is my dad, and we should have made it legal a long time ago. I want to make it legal now. Does Carla have to be notified because she’s my birth mother?” Al shakes his head.

“You’re an adult,” he replies. “In the state of Washington, Ray can adopt you, but Carla doesn’t lose her parental rights.”

“Carla lost her parental rights a long time ago,” I retort, “and I’m going to make sure that our will says that she is to have nothing to do with my children, but I don’t want her whisking in here on her broom thinking she has rights to lay claim to anything and brush my father out of the way. That’s what this is about. Whatever we decide to do with our children, with our fortune, with whatever we leave behind, she can no longer say that Daddy is not my Daddy. That’s what this is about.” Al sighs and nods.

“I’ll get right on it,” he says. I sigh heavily.

“How long will it take?” I ask.

“Well, you’re an adult, so we don’t need an adoption report. We’ll need an adoption petition, consent form from you, then findings and conclusions filing and the decree of adoption. It’ll take me about a day to draw those up, then you and Ray sign them and we file them with the court. After that, the process can take six weeks to six months, usually shorter for adult adoptions with no contest,” he says.

“Can Carla contest it?” Christian asks.

“She could. It would delay the proceedings a bit, but most likely not stop them. But she can’t contest what she doesn’t know.” I purse my lips.

“I’ll pay her,” I say immediately. Christian looks over at me.

“Butterfly…” he protests.

“I’ll pay her!” I repeat. “If she finds out about the adoption and she contests it, I’ll pay her to go away. Whatever she wants, I’ll give it to her.” Christian sighs. He and Al have a silent conversation and Christian nods almost unnoticeably.

“Fine, I’ll get on it first thing tomorrow. You may want to let Ray in on this, though,” he says almost facetiously. I nod. Daddy is finally going to really be my Daddy. I’m so happy, I could burst.

“Can we party now?” Val interrupts. “I’m ready to hit the pool and eat and have cocktails. This serious shit is starting to be a real downer.”

“Shit!” Mindy declares, clapping her hands wildly and giggling profusely. Dear God, please don’t let Minnie start speaking that soon. She’s going to know every curse word in the English language, and some in French.

*-*

Once we turned attention away from the serious shit, as Val put it, the party was back to the light-hearted banter we started with. Val freely took a dip in the pool and lazied away in the sun without her wig. Mia and Ethan finally joined us around dinnertime and talked happily about wedding plans. Grace is in seventh heaven that she gets to plan Mia’s wedding down to the last detail and we’re certain that it’s going to be the Broadway production that Grace has been waiting for. She and Mia think exactly alike, so we’re expecting a grandiose affair… even before Mia announces that we should be “red carpet” formal for the reception. Christian immediately rolls his eyes, totally dreading the fanfare that he knows will be his sister’s nuptials. I squeeze his hand and kiss his cheek.

“We were married in a castle, dear,” I say softly in his ear.

“And my mother still thought it wasn’t big enough,” he reminds me. “She’s in charge this time. The reception will be standing room only. Mia had a marquee at the Faces of Abuse premier. She may have the damn color guard at the door. The paparazzi will be her photographers…”

“Stop,” I chide him as Mia continues to describe her wedding.

“Her wedding will be at the Paramount theater,” he continues whispering in my ear, “a venue that holds 2000. She won’t know most of the people in attendance. Her wedding will be displayed across the marquee—The Greys present Mia and Ethan’s Wedding, September 20, 2014, 6pm. We need to be ‘red carpet ready,’ which means if the police don’t have the street blocked off, we won’t be able to get to the front door.”

As much as I hate to admit it, the more he describes this event, the more it sounds like this is really what’s going to happen.

“Um, Mia, how about security and access?” I ask. “How will you be sure that those on the guest list can get in and those who aren’t don’t?”

“Private security and the police,” she says. “The mayor and the governor will be there.” Oh, of course, I think to myself.

“Along with every judge in King County,” Christian whispers in my ear.

“I know what you’re thinking, big brother,” Mia calls him out. “You can have your precious security there to protect you from the paparazzi, but it will be totally unnecessary. No one will be there that wasn’t invited.” Christian doesn’t look convinced.

“I know I shouldn’t be thinking about ditching my sister’s wedding, but I’m thinking about ditching my sister’s wedding,” Christian whispers to me.

“Don’t you dare!” I whisper back.

“This coming from the woman who won’t be in her wedding,” he says quietly.

“Don’t try to blackmail me, Christian,” I retort a little firmly. Mia wanted me to be in her wedding, but seeing the responsibility that I carried taking care of Val while she was sick, my twins, and all the other day-to-day things that were going on in my life, I got a pass from all the dress fittings and bridesmaids duties, as did Val for reasons of her health, of course. After seeing the lineup of the twelve women that she will have in her bridal party, I was glad not to be part of it.

Four of the women are bratty little debutants, far worse than Courtney ever was. However, since none of them tried to blame Mia for their thievery, I guess they made the cut. Five of them are Mia’s sorors, or—as they refer to themselves—sands. I’ve never liked sorority girls and to be honest, I didn’t know that Mia was a sorority girl. Had she not been my husband’s beloved Meelo, I’m not sure we would have hit it off. Though I do love her dearly, I now understand some of the traits that I see in her that drive me batshit.

I’m not saying that all sorority girls are bad, don’t get me wrong. However, the ones that I encountered during my college years at U-Dub were the quintessential mean girls. I don’t know what the issue was or why not being part of a sorority at the time made you pond scum, but these Gamma Phi Sigma Gamma Beta Rho Kappa bitches really rubbed me the wrong way. I was a poor pre-med student. I didn’t have time for that shit. It was Green Valley all over again. The only difference was that I had gone through self-defense classes with Daddy and had started Krav Maga with Luc. I would have fucked the bitches up for touching me. They were verbally cruel very often, but hell—I had already been through the worst. That shit they were talking… sticks and stones. It left a bitter taste in my mouth for sorors, though.

The final three women—including Mia’s best friend, Lily—are none other than three of the daughters. Yes, those daughters. Two of them were present when I beat the Pedophile’s ass the first night that I met the Greys. Lily wasn’t one of them. But apparently, she had… or still has… a big thing for Christian even though he completely ignores her presence when she’s around. It actually borders on rude behavior, causing me to ask him if there was history between them.

“Not per se,” he had responded. “She just seems like trouble to me.”

I asked Elliot if I needed to be on my guard around her. She had come to the Manor a few times to discuss wedding plans while we were staying there. She was obvious and downright irritating with her greeting to Christian… and in her blatant refusal to greet me. I didn’t let it bother me, because I felt like it was just sour grapes on her part. Elliot told me Lily did everything in her power to get Christian. Even when the family thought he was gay, she was determined to convert him back to pussy. She was so pushy and overbearing that Christian just resolved to have nothing to do with her.

“It was embarrassing,” Elliot had said. “She would throw herself in his path; she would speak to him and he wouldn’t acknowledge her. One day, she nearly chased his car down the street.”

“Oh, you have to tell me this,” I prodded.

“He was leaving, going back home or wherever he was going, and she came out and went to his driver’s side window. She was talking to him, and he started the car. He actually started rolling away from her and she was still talking, running next to the car. She didn’t even have enough sense to be embarrassed by it. She just kept talking and running, saying that something must be wrong with him not to want her. That night when you met the family, had she known he was there, Madam Creeps-A-Lot would have been the least of your worries.”

“Who the hell is Madam Creeps-A-Lot?” I had choked.

“That Lincoln bitch,” he said matter-of-factly. “No, Lily would have been your biggest competition for Christian’s attention that night. You could have been sitting in his lap and she still would have been hitting on him. When you guys went upstairs to go to bed, she would have been knocking at the door.”

Sure enough, Lily’s facial expressions every time she sees me are worse than bitter-pill-swallowing Liona. I hadn’t seen or heard of this woman anytime during our relationship or my pregnancy, but when we moved into Grey Manor, she was there once or twice a week easily. Mia would whisk her off to some room and they would talk wedding stuff as far as I knew, but the moment Christian showed up, there she was. She was in his face, smiling and batting her eyelashes, and he never gave her a moment’s notice. Yet, when she turned her attention to me, she looked like those ugly people on the Twilight Zone whose faces turned into those horrible masks they wore.

c2d8b6c0edc02e2b7635960d7247108f

The visual is actually pretty scary.

“Hey, I was just kidding,” I hear my husband’s voice say, pulling me back to the here and now. “Where did you go?”

I just shake my head. The truth is that I would rather not be in Mia’s wedding. If my wedding was considered ostentatious, her wedding is going to be a three-ring-circus for sure. Mine wedding was the party of the century. Hers will be the event of the millennium. It should truly be televised. The over-the-top creation of a mother who didn’t get to plan her sons’ weddings and a daughter who wants every bell and whistle imaginable. I wouldn’t want that type of attention.

Then the thought of having to spend any extended amount of time with pampered and spoiled debutantes who have probably never seen a hard day in their lives and stuck up sorority girls who are probably worse than anything I ever encountered at U-Dub. Oh, and let’s not forget the scorned daughters of the fundraising committee who saw me at my best and worst, defending my then-boyfriend from a predator and—much like that predator, believe I put some spell on him to make him marry me. Maybe I trapped him with my twins. I was pregnant when we got married after all, right?

I swear, I won’t allow this to make me look at my sister-in-law any differently. She has some annoying ways about her, but she’s still one of the sweetest and bubbliest people I’ve ever met, even though her friends are stuck-up little bitches who would rather see me dead or disappear…

“Baby, are you okay?” Christian asks with concern in his eyes. Mia still hasn’t stopped talking about her wedding plans and Pops’ suggestion that she use votives with gray rocks as centerpieces and lavender in her bouquets instead of baby’s breath. I remember being that excited about my castle and my one of a kind dress and my vintage Bentley. Was anybody thinking of me the way I’m feeling about Mia’s wedding party right now? I sigh.

“I’m just… beginning to feel the same way you are about this wedding,” I confess. He frowns.

“I’m sorry… I didn’t mean… I was just kidding,” he says.

“Part of you was,” I say, looking over my shoulder at him. “Part of you is having the same feeling of dread that I’m having right now and wishing the whole thing was over… the cameras, the publicity, the paparazzi, the fanfare… From what I hear, the bridesmaids are all… not my type of people. Do you know anything about the groomsmen?” Christian shrugs.

“Friends of Ethan, I’m told,” he says.

“Possible family?” I ask. “Definitely possibly Kavanaughs?” He sighs.

“I know some of his mother’s side will be there. Daddy Kavanaugh is not invited.” I sigh and nod.

“And then there’s that,” I say. “Mia’s going to be a Kavanaugh. Has anybody really thought about that?” Christian twists his lips.

“She’ll always be a Grey,” he says. I shake my head.

“No, Christian, she’s about to be a Kavanaugh. How do you and Elliot feel about that?” I look over at Val, laughing happily with Mia as she continues to regale details of her big day. “How will Val feel about that?”

God, I’ll be glad when this is over.

A wedding at an historic theater that can accommodate 2000 guests…

Holy cow, Batman.


A/N: 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 12—“Sleeping” With The Enemy

Once again, I sincerely want to thank those of you who encouraged me and supported me through that unfortunate Facebook incident last weekend. My filter may be off for the next couple of weeks or so. Wild dreams and bullshit and now, a crazy ass plot bunny has sprung up that may be the birth of a brand new fanfic. I’ll let you know how that goes. In the meantime…

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 12—“Sleeping” With The Enemy

CHRISTIAN

“You are going to cause a goddamn riot,” I say to my wife as she checks her make-up in the back of the SUV.

“No,” she says, matter-of-factly, “just a stir.”

“Well, you’re causing a stir right now in one very precarious place,” I say, running my hand up her thigh. She stops my ascent, to my shock and awe.

Vamp lips“Ah, ah, ah,” she says, tightly grasping my wrist. “I need that extra testosterone and pinned-up aggression for that poser bitch,” she adds. She places my hand back on my own knee before turning her attention back to her compact and vamp lips so dark that they look almost black.

All I can think about are those lips wrapped around my dick.

“Focus, Grey,” she says as if reading my mind. Fuck, I love it when she’s dominant!

PuckerJason pulls in front of a fetish club named C.C.’s where I have arranged to meet one skank, Greta Ellison. I want to kiss my hot wife, but she’s having none of it. I have a feeling she’s trying to get into character, too. When I lean in to kiss her, she squeezes my cheeks together hard so that my lips are caught in an unintentional and uncomfortable pucker.

“Save the charm for the whore,” she says, her voice menacing. My brow furrows.

“You want me to kiss her?” I say, my voice distorted through the pucker.

“Don’t test me, Grey,” she warns. “I’m already trying not to go Rambo.” She releases my face and turns to the window. “Don’t go easy on her,” she says, and nothing else.

She’s not pleased.

I don a Venetian phantom mask and a beaver fur felted Stetson fedora to hide my identity until I get inside the club. We’re purposely early as I want Jason and Chuck in position and I don’t want any surprises. I’m very unhappy that Butterfly must even be exposed to this part of my life, but there was no other way. This cunt wronged my wife, too. I don’t think she would ever forgive me if I didn’t include her in this.

In a black shirt with black jeans and a black suit jacket, I sit in a round booth facing the door and the dance floor waiting for my “guest.” I see my lady enter a few moments after I sit, walking like she owns the place. Her ensemble this evening would have any man in this joint—and probably, many woman—falling at her goddamn feet. Her ample hips sway back and forth in a “tight-as-skin” black leather skirt as she strides to a nearby table. Her hair is pulled up in the front in a smooth, high, flowing ponytail and is loose in the back, cascading over her shoulders and milky white skin. I hardly notice Jason and Chuck—both in black T-shirts and jeans—taking position near each of their charges.

She crosses her legs when she takes her seat, gladiator stilettos wrapping around her calves and inviting hopeful suitors to approach her. She’s looking extremely fuckable and untouchable at the same time and I literally pity the fool that attempts to approach her tonight. Even behind her extra-large, blacked-out Ray Bans, I can tell she’s not looking at me. She’s looking in my direction, but not at me. She’s plotting in a way that makes me worry about her current state of mind—not worried for her, but worried for me… or for anyone else who dares to cross her.

A waitress comes over to her with a fruity drink of some kind and Butterfly gestures for her to sit the drink down. She hands the woman a few bills and says something to her. The waitress walks away and Butterfly never touches her drink. Just when I was thinking that was the fastest service I had ever seen, some guy comes sauntering up to my wife’s table and invites himself to sit next to her. My hairs are up and I’m trying not to charge over to the table. He’s really close to her, caging her in with his arms. She sits still and never flinches, talking to him calmly. Her only movement is to raise her hand, and I notice Chuck halting his approach to her. She’s got it under control, but I still want this leather-clad fucker away from my wife.

The waitress comes back to the table with a black drink in a large martini glass. Apparently, Leather Man sent over the fruity drink which remains untouched on the table, and my wife has ordered a Black Martini instead.

This should be interesting.

Leather Man continues his conversation while closing the space between them and caressing the exposed skin of my wife’s chest, but she doesn’t react in the shocked and appalled manner that I would prefer. Instead, she continues conversing with the asshole and he continues the trek of his fingertips over her skin… and I’m grinding my teeth to keep from leaping from this fucking table.

The conversation appears to continue when suddenly, Leather Man looks a little sick. My wife’s expression hasn’t changed and her mouth is moving, but nothing else is happening. Leather Man moves his hand from her chest and places it on the table, and they stay in that position for maybe another minute or so. My wife then lifts her glass and takes another sip of her martini as Leather Man stands from the table. He says something to her and he appears to be angry. She says something back to him and throws a menacing look over her Ray Bays before he leaves the table.

What did she say to him?

I look over at Chuck who glances at me and shrugs. I get the same response from Jason. I look back at my wife who I can now tell is looking right at me from behind her Ray Bans, still quietly sipping her drink and giving me no clue of her current mood… except that she’s not the happiest camper. I need to loosen up and be ready when the treacherous, thieving cunt gets here, so I gesture to Jason to get a waitress so I can get a Scotch. In his usual efficiency, he returns instead with two fingers of Scotch, single malt, neat.

About ten minutes later, she walks in wearing a slinky, plunging black dress and a collar. She’s ready for action and she wants me to know it. I fight to keep my eyes on her approaching form and not glance over at my wife. She sashays up to the table and stands in front of me like she’s displaying the goods… which she is. If she sneezes, I’ll be able to see if her carpeting matches the drapes, or if there’s any carpeting at all.

“Ms. Ellison,” I say, my voice low and inviting.

“Mr. Grey,” she replies. “I was a bit surprised that you contacted me. Do you normally have your security team set up your dates?”

“As a matter of fact, no—never. This isn’t a date.” She smiles as I sip my drink.

“Of course, it’s not,” she says, coyly. “You haven’t invited me to sit.” I gesture at the bench seat next to me and she sits, sidling in as close to me as she can get.

“So,” she begins, crossing her legs and turning toward me in the bench, “to what do I owe this pleasure?”

“You’re referring to my intense need to see you?” I respond. She smiles a knowing smile.

“Took you long enough,” she remarks. “Your cute little girl next door not cutting it anymore? You lookin’ for something a little more… tantalizing?”

“You can definitely say that I’m looking for something,” I say, sipping my Scotch.

“Well… Mr. Grey, you’ve definitely come to the right place.” She reaches up to fondle the buttons on my shirt and I catch her hand at the wrist.”

“Ah, ah, ah,” I say. “No one touches me there except the cute little girl next door,” I chide. Her expression is bemused and she snatches her hand away from me.

“What is this?” she hisses. “You asked to meet me! I didn’t come looking for you. So, what the hell do you want?”

“Quiet!” I hiss back, turning on my Dom voice. Her pupils constrict at first, then her eyes widen. I lean back in the booth and put my arms around the back of the seat. “Sit up straight, feet on the floor, hands flat on the table.”

Her brows furrow and she makes no attempt to change position.

“Excuse me?” she says with distaste.

“I said. Sit up. Straight. Feet. On the floor. Hands. Flat. On the table. Don’t make me say it again.”

She blinks a few times and after a pause of about ten seconds, she turns her body and straightens her back, puts her feet on the floor and lays her hands on the table in front of her. I lean closer to her.

“Palms down,” I say in her ear, “and close your eyes.” Her breath quickens and she closes her eyes. I begin to stroke the skin on the back of her hand and I can feel her temperature rise.

“Relax,” I say softly in her ear. “Concentrate on the sound of my voice.”

There’s music blaring around us, but I can tell when her lips part that she can hear only me.

“That’s it,” I say clearly. “I need you to hear me. I need you to concentrate… very carefully.” The dumb bird is panting. I move my fingers down to her wrist. “Do you remember the night we met? How you told me that you liked male Doms better than female Dommes?”

She’s damn near salivating.

“I didn’t choose you that night,” I say. “Maybe if I had, things would have turned out differently.” I close my hand gently around her wrist. The corner of her lips turns up slightly in what looks like triumph.

“Now, I want you to relax and let your mind go back to when you saw me in the marketplace with that good little girl… You were so sure I just needed a push in the right direction, weren’t you?”

“Yes, Sir,” she breathes, nearly unable to hide her arousal.

“Good, good. Now think back to that day last February. Think really hard… let your mind go back…” I slightly tighten my grip on her wrist and gently stroke up her back to the nape of her neck just above her collar. “Go back to the day when you let yourself into my fiancée’s condo and stole her Beretta out of her night stand.” Her eyes fly open and she starts to shift, but my grip tightens on her wrist while my other hand grasps a handful of her hair, holding her head steady.

“Move and I’ll break it!” I hiss. “Make a sound other than to tell me what I want to hear and I’ll snap it in pieces! I’ll gladly do the time for this one because that bitch almost killed me with the gun you gave her!”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” she squeals. I tighten my hand in her hair.

“Well, maybe I can help you remember! And lower your fucking voice!” I growl. She closes her eyes tightly. “That’s right. Play the little victim,” I taunt. “You’ve dressed the part, so anybody here is just going to think I’m disciplining my unruly submissive!” She swallows hard before speaking.

“You don’t know it was me!” she says through clenched teeth after a pause, confirming my suspicions.

“I’ve got you on film!” I hiss in her ear, jerking her head with the phrase. She lets out a small yelp. “You’re a goddamn submissive… a good one, I suspect. You know how to shut the fuck up, so cut that shit out!”

I’m usually not this brutal with women. I think the act of manhandling a woman for any reason other than consensual mutual pleasure is barbaric and something that doesn’t appeal to me at all. However, this creature that was an accessory to the act that could’ve cost my life, that nearly cost me my best friend… yeah, this bitch, I could hang her over a cliff by her hair and watch her squirm.

“You see that guy?” I jerk her head in the direction of a menacing looking Jason cloaked in shadow and leaning against a beam just in front of us and to the left. “A bullet from that gun did hit him; nearly put him out of commission, and he knows exactly who you are and where to find you. So, stop with that whimpering puppy shit before I turn you over to him!” I squeeze her wrist a little tighter. “Now, fucking tell me everything or we’ll both be wearing some not-so-pretty new wrist adornments tonight!”

When she opens her mouth, I tighten my hand in her hair to remind her not to scream.

“She didn’t tell me that she was going to fucking shoot anybody!” she chokes out angrily.

“It was a goddamn gun! What the fuck did you think she was going to do with it—bake cookies?”

“She said she just wanted to scare her; to let Anastasia know that she could get to her.”

“How did you get the key?” I demand.

“You already know how I got the key…”

“Humor me!” I hiss, tightening that hand in her hair again. She groans at the pain and winces.

“She told me to meet up with this guy!” she spits. “Redhead, crazy eyes! She said that he had an inside track and was giving her all the information that she needed to bring you two down.”

“And you were only too happy to help.”

“I had to!” she defends. “She had given me a bonus for securing the contract and wanted it back because I didn’t seal the deal with you. I had already spent some of the money and couldn’t recover it…”

“Cry me a river,” I huff. “What else?”

“What else do you want?” she hisses.

“I want it all!” I retort, snatching her hair again, eliciting an “Ow! Aw fuck!” from her. She’s going to have a splitting headache when this is all said and done.

“I don’t know what else to tell you!”

“How long had she been talking to the redhead?” I growl.

“Fuck!” she complains again. “I don’t know! Since the holidays of the year before, I think!” Fucking hell, this man had been tracking me for a year before he made his move. It would explain how Elena got her information long after Francesca was gone. “You’ve got nothing on me. If you did, you would have turned me over to the police by now. Now, either break my wrist or fucking let me go, because I’m about to scream!”

I release her hair, but not her wrist.

“I’ve got something on you,” I say. “I’ve got you leaving the building with no disguise just as content as you please.”

“So?” she proclaims. “That building has hundreds of units. I could have been visiting anybody.”

“But you weren’t,” I say. “You were visiting Anastasia. I’ll admit that it took a while to figure it out from the camera shots, but keep fucking with me and we’ll find out how circumstantial the police find this evidence if I turn it over,” I say coolly, releasing her wrist with a jolt. “Now get the fuck out of my face. Your presence makes me ill.”

She squirms quickly out of the booth and turns to face me.

“You think you’re so much,” she scowls, attempting to smirk, but close to tears. “You’re not untouchable, Mr. Grey, and I’m just the one to prove it!”

“You give it your best shot,” I taunt. “You seem to know a lot about me. That doesn’t scare me, but it should scare you. Consider what you know of me. Think about it very, very carefully. Of all the people who have ever fucked me over that you know of—since you have so much information—exactly how many of them have gotten away with it?” I say the words coolly, with meticulous calculation, knowing that she can still hear me clearly over the blasting techno music. When her face blanches, I add, “Don’t worry, I’ll wait.” I sit back and put my arms around the back of the seat. “Watch your back, Miss Ellison. You’re now on that list.”

Her eyes narrow, then widen before she turns around and proceeds to march away from the table. She doesn’t get three steps before she runs right into my wife, looking exponentially hotter than Greta in that sexy ass vintage bondage top and leather skirt with vamp make-up. Butterfly squares her shoulders and lands a slap so hard across Greta’s face that it actually rings over the dance music, causing some of the patrons to turn around to see what happened. Greta shrieks a bit and wants to retaliate, but stands down when she sees Jason and Chuck appear behind Butterfly.

“That’s for stealing my gun, you scrawny little cunt!” Butterfly shoots while Greta holds her obviously stinging face. “Don’t let the big bad men stop you. Whenever you want to go toe to toe with this, you name the place. I’ll meet you anytime, anywhere. Just you and me… I’m sure you know how find me.”

My wife’s menacing voice captures the complete attention of her nemesis. A mix of anger and fear flashes through Greta’s eyes as she attempts to stare Butterfly down, but my wife stands her ground—fists clenched through leather and gold slave bracelets and cut biceps bulging from brass upper arm cuffs—waiting for this trick to make a move. She doesn’t and instead, wisely decides to make a hasty getaway.  I stroll over to my wife and look down at her, feasting on her appearance while talking to Jason just behind her.

“Put a watch on her—immediately, the works. She’s got more, and I want to know what it is.”

“Yes, sir,” Jason says, and starts talking into his sleeve. I run my hands down my wife’s luscious body and stop at her hips, giving them a squeeze.

“Let’s dance,” I growl in her ear.

“I thought you’d never ask,” she replies, leading me to an open spot on the dance floor. She turns around to face me and slides her hands up my chest to my collar. The first button is already open, so she undoes the second button, then the third. Bodies are writhing around us, but she concentrates on the buttons before stroking the light dusting of hair on my chest with her fingertips. I stand stock still as she teases me, looking down at her face even though she doesn’t raise her eyes to meet my gaze. She’s concentrating on my chest. She caresses the skin causing a chill to run through me. She caresses a little longer before sliding her hands back up the shirt and around my collar until her arms are around my neck and resting on my shoulders. She still doesn’t make eye contact with me. She watches my lips as her hips begin to sway. Fuck! I’m so hard so fast that my dick is aching… straining against these damn jeans. She’s moving so sexy against me, so hot—then the music changes and I hear a familiar tune playing.

Shit… it can’t be…

My wife turns around in my arms and moves away from me, only infinitesimally… just enough so that she’s not touching me, but she’s a breath away from me. Her head tilts from one side to the other, and then her arms raise over her head.

Fuck, not this again… please, not this…

Her hips start to move again, back and forth before she bends her knees and grinds toward the floor.

Fuck… this happened before… to this song… and I couldn’t touch her. Hell if I’m not going to touch her now.

I move my body against hers, my front to her back just as she’s rising from the floor, her body writhing against mine as she ascends, her juicy, leather-clad ass grinding right against my dick. I gasp and clench my teeth, allowing my hands to brush against her skin as her body torments mine.

Cum angelis et pueris, fideles inveniamur
Attollite portas, principles, vestras…

She leans back against me and it’s everything I can do not to grab her and fuck her right here on the floor. She slides her arms around my neck behind her and continues her sensual dance against me. I stand stock still as the slightest movement may result in a dry fuck on the dance floor.

Sade, dis-moi…
Sade, donnes-moi…

I’m transported back to the first time I watched her dance to this song—that night at the McElvoy. I couldn’t touch her and had she known I was there with her, she might have screamed.

Sade, dis-moi, qu’est-ce que tu cas chercher?
Le bien par le mal? La virtue par le vice?
Sade, dis-moi, pourquoi l’evangile du mal?
Quelle est ta religion? Ousnt tes fideles?

She’s transcending in the music now, just like she did that night, except this time, she’s doing it against my body… and I can touch her. I breathe deeply to control this fucking heat that she’s causing inside me right now. I want her so badly and the way that she’s grinding her ass against my hips is cruel and unusual punishment.

The principles of lust are easy to understand.
Do what you feel, feel until the end.
The principles of lust are burned in your mind.
Do what you want, do it until you find love.

I rub my hands up her body like I wanted to do that night. From her hips, up the sides of her torso and her breasts, without touching them. She clamps her arms around my neck and pulls my head down to her until my nose is buried in her neck. I inhale deeply and her smell and essence fill me, breaking down whatever defenses I may have left.

The principles of lust are easy to understand.
Do what you feel, feel until the end.
The principles of lust are burned in your mind.
Do what you want, do it until you find love.
I am to come…

I curl my body into hers, wrapping myself around her like a vine, mimicking her movements and joining her sensual dance. Our bodies move as one as her head lays back on my shoulder and mine lays forward on hers. Her chest jets forward causing her luscious breasts to push out further. It’s everything I can do not to grab one right here in front of all these people. Instead, I put one hand on her hip and one hand around her body just under her breast.

Not a good idea. With my hand on her hip, it feels like we’re fucking.

Sade, dis-moi… Hosanna
Sade, donnes-moi… Hosanna
Sade, dis-moi… Hosanna

I groan mournfully into her neck as I hear the song about to end. I’m fucking aching, ready to blow. No woman has ever been able to just grind against me and make me come—nobody, that is, until Anastasia. I’m panting and hungry and tormented. She turns around in my arms. My lips are parted trying to get air in. I’m watching her mouth and she’s watching mine, and when she licks her lips, I nearly expire. Fuck, she’s killing me.

She grabs a handful of my hair, brings my head down to hers and assaults my mouth with the wettest, most sensual kiss. I snatch her into my arms and return her fervor, feasting on her lips and taking as much as I’m giving with this kiss. I don’t know how long we maul each other on the dance floor, but she pulls her lips away from mine and we’re both out of breath.

“Put me down,” she breathes, and it’s only now that I realize that I’ve lifted her off the ground during our public necking session. I place her gently on her feet and, to my surprise, nobody is paying us any attention. Everyone around us has their own grind session going on. I’m a little dazed as she takes my hand and starts to lead me through the crowd. We’re off the dance floor in a few minutes and headed towards the restrooms. She’s leading the way and stops short as she sees another short hallway with a door at the end on the way to the restrooms. She examines the hallway for a moment. It’s dark at the end and you can barely see the door.

She leads me down the hallway and I’m sure I know what’s on her mind. I just don’t know how she thinks were going to pull it off. When we get to the end of the hallway, she pushes me against the wall… hard! It’s dark down here and I can barely see, but can sure as hell feel her rub her hand against my erection. I grit my teeth as the friction of her hand and the denim is almost unbearable. I can’t fucking stand it. I squeeze her hip as I’m breathing through my teeth. By some stroke of genius, she thinks to try the door with her free hand and it creaks open. She moves her hand from my throbbing dick and goes to investigate.

Thank fuck! I was about to blow in my jeans in a few moments, and there was no way in hell that I was stopping her, but that would have made for a bit of an uncomfortable trip home. I stand there for a moment with my hands on my knees, trying to collect myself. She’s been in there for more than a minute and just as I turn my head to investigate what’s on the other side of that door, she appears and pulls me inside by my jacket. To say that she surprises me is an understatement.

She slams the door behind us and pushes me against it. Then her lips are on mine again. We’re hungrily devouring each other and Greystone is right back up to where he was before she released me on the other side of the door. She kisses me hungry and deep as I feel her reach around me and lock the door. When she releases my lips, I focus on the dimly lit room and discover that we’re in a large storage room or cleaning closet. She takes my hand and leads me to the back around some shelves where I see a two-stair stepstool, a mop bucket with a mop and a utility sink along with some other cleaning supplies. Some lone light flickers in the corner and before I can protest, Butterfly is undoing my pants.

Oh, shit, this is going to be quick.

She releases my dick from my pants and boxers without pulling them down.

“Sit,” she instructs me, “on the step-ladder.” I do as I’m told and in no time flat, those black-red lips are wrapped around my dick.

“Fuuuuuuuck!” I grind out, unprepared for the assault. I lean back, white-knuckle gripping the back of the step-ladder behind me and using my feet on the floor to keep my balance.

“Fuu-uuuuck!” I was already there, but this is insane. She’s doing a hard, slow suck and Greystone is already purple, veiny, and throbbing. She’s sucking so hard that I’m almost lifting off this damn stair every time she pulls back on my dick. And I swear to God that lipstick must be tattooed on because through all the wild kissing, biting, nipping and now sucking, that shit hasn’t smeared once! She looks up at me, sucking hard and slow and I’m watching my dick disappear and reappear in and out of those hot, crimson lips. Oh, God, I’m going to die.

“Uuuuuggghhh!” I groan hard deep within my chest, knowing that these strokes are going to draw out this pleasure but never bring me to orgasm. That’s when she releases my dick with a pop. I’m watching it bob around feverishly, but only for a moment before she slowly raises that leather skirt just to where I can see the triangle of her black thong and the tops of the thigh high stockings along with the garters holding them up. She straddles my lap and I feel the thin silk of her panties rub against my dick.

“You’re wet,” I groan. “You’re fucking soaking.”

“Damn straight,” she growls as she continues to rub against me.

“I can smell you,” I growl back, rocking my hips so that we get more friction. She hisses.

“Do you like it?” she taunts. “You like smelling my wet pussy?” Oh, fuck, she’s going to fucking kill me.

“Yes,” I hiss. “I love the way your pussy smells, when I’m eating you, licking that clit and when you’re about to come…”

“Yeah?” she pants. “How about when that big, fat, hard dick is inside of it?” Lightning fast, she raises up, pulls her thong over and slides down onto me. The breath is fucking snatched out of my lungs as she is so wet that she’s able to slide all the way down to the hilt in one go.

“Shit, baby… shit!” I gasp, still holding on to the back of the step-ladder.

“Don’t move,” she says. “Stay right there.” My head is back and I’m trying to control my dick while she rides it mercilessly. Fuck… Fuck… My eyes are screwed shut and I’m trying to concentrate.

100… 99… 98… 97…

“Open your eyes!” she commands me and my eyes fly open. “That’s it, baby. Let me see you.” Her voice is breathy and full of lust. She puts her feet up on something behind me and intensifies her stroke. She had better hurry up, or else…

“I’m close… I’m real fucking close…” I warn, hardly able to breathe. She quickens the intense stroke. Oh, hell…

“Wait! Wait!” she pants as she rides me hard and fast. Shit! Shit! I fucking can’t….

“Anastasia! Fuck!!” and I’m gone. I can’t hold it. It’s too fucking hot, too fucking good and I’m shooting my load faster than I ever had before.

“So big… so hard… throb… bing… Fuck!” she groans as she tightens her legs around me and throws her head back. She’s grinding hard into me as her neck cranes toward the ceiling, a plastered sex grimace marring her face as she subdues her screams. My teeth are grinding as her tightening pussy grips my dick hard and squeezes out every last bit of semen. Goddamn, that was hot!

When she collapses from her orgasm, I catch her in my arms, both of us sweating and breathless from blinding release.

“Fuck! Oh, fuck!” I pant in her hair. “That shit was so hard, my junk hurts.”

“Oh, God,” she’s panting, too. “Don’t move… please, don’t move.”

“It’s all you, baby,” I promise. “Just… warn me before you get up.”


ANASTASIA

This fucking asshole can’t be serious!

First, you send me a screaming orgasm, one of the most suggestive drinks in the world in a goddamn fetish club. You couldn’t be more creative than that? They’ve got an interesting sounding drink called “tie me up, tie me down;” another one called “shackles and chains;” and even a not-so-original “leather and lace;” and you send this froufrou fruity shit. I’m so not in the mood for this shit tonight. I reach into the pocket of one of my slave bracelets and pull out some cash.

“For your trouble,” I say, handing her the bills and gesturing to the table for her to set the drink down… away from me. “May I have the Domme’s Delight? That looks delicious.” She smiles.

“Yes, ma’am,” she smiles and goes off towards the bar. About a minute later, the fucking asshole wanders over to my table and invites himself to take a seat. I never even look at his face.

“You’re hot,” he says, confidently, “but you clearly don’t belong here.”

“Is that so?” I respond with as much disinterest as I can muster. “Is that why you sent that Shirley-Temple-ass drink to my table?” He chuckles.

“Feisty, too, I see,” he says, closing the space between us. I continue to stare off into the club, no eye-contact with anyone. I’m looking for this bitch to arrive.

“It’s rude not to at least take a sip when someone buys you a drink,” he says, his voice softening.

“It’s presumptuous to think that woman would accept a drink from a stranger,” I retort.

“Lighten up, hotness,” he says. “Men buy drinks for women all the time. It’s not a crime…” As he’s making his point, the waitress returns with my drink—a large black creation in a martini glass with black sugar or salt crusting the rim and long strings of some kind of black fruit rind curling out of the drink like menacing, long claw-like fingernails.

Now this is more like it.

“Damn, baby. I didn’t know you were into the serious shit!” I don’t respond as I take a sip of my Domme’s Delight. It’s strong… and delicious. I take another sip before setting on the table in front of me. “I see you’re not the typical girl.” I roll my eyes. I’m in a fetish club, you asshole.

“Apparently not,” I respond, still looking for the bitch who stole my gun. I feel his hand brush the skin of my shoulder as he pushes my incredibly long black tassel earring off my chest. I fight not to shiver at his touch, but my blood is boiling.

Motherfucker, who gave me permission to touch me.

“I could teach you a few things,” he says, touching my skin between the splits in my vintage Versace gold hardware-embellished leather bondage top. This time, I can’t avoid the shiver, though I manage to maintain my composure.

“I don’t want to make a scene, so I’m only going to warn you one time to get your fucking hand off me.” He chuckles lightly.

“Don’t be so mean, baby,” he says. “I only want to get to know you. You can’t come into a place like this dressed like that and not expect an admirer or two to come and say ‘hi,’” and he’s still touching me, his fingers now coming dangerously close to my décolletage.

I warned you, fucker.

He reminds me a lot of Edward, speechless in the Marketplace with his mouth hanging open while I have a painful death grip on his family jewels.

“I said. Get. Your fucking. Hand. Off me.” Trying not to gasp for air and look like a crushed puppy, he moves his hand from my chest and places it on the table. I can see Chuck gesture to move toward me, but I raise my hand in an inconspicuous gesture for him to stand down.

“I’m not here alone. My bodyguards are here. I’m not looking for company, and you should’ve taken the hint when I didn’t accept your drink. Just because a female is wearing a sexy dress doesn’t mean that she’s inviting you to accost her. As you will obviously not be partaking in my company this evening, please remember this with the next young lady that you approach tonight. You’re right, this usually isn’t my scene, but the fact that I’m here doesn’t mean that I have a ‘free pussy’ sign stapled to my forehead. Now take what you’ve learned from our encounter and try to approach the next young lady with a little more interest and a little less asshole.” I release his balls and take another sip of my drink. “You can go now.”

My would-be suitor slides carefully out of the booth and adjusts his leather pants, most likely to get a little relief.

“You… crazy fucking… bitch!” he hisses, barely able to speak as he squares off in front of my table.

“Say it while you’re hobbling away,” I hiss back, glaring at him over my glasses. 

The few moments that I watched my husband seduce this woman, using his Dom skills to lure her into a false sense of security, were nearly un-fucking-bearable. Not only did I want to scratch her fucking eyes out right there in the goddamn club, but I also had to keep myself from biting through this martini glass or from throwing the whole goddamn drink back in one gulp. I first-hand watched what he does to me—the power that he exercises over women without even trying—being exercised on another woman. It was the most strenuous exercise in control I had ever experienced.

When she scurried away from the table, angry and dejected, it was everything I could do not to snatch her by the hair and beat her to a useless, bloody pulp right there in the middle of the club. Instead, I halted her escape and slapped her so hard that I felt the foundation of the building shake before inviting her to challenge me any fucking time she was ready. Bitch, I will beat you into another decade!

Then, I fucked my husband.

I fucked him well. I fucked him until I felt his dick pounding in my chest and hoped his cum would shoot out of my ears.

Goddamn fucking Greta Ellison!

Taylor and Chuck got the show of their lives—again, because I almost fucked him in the car on the way back to the Crossing. Then he carries me up the stairs by my ass, throws me in the bed and fucks me to damn near unconsciousness once again. I’m wild and tearing at his skin while we fuck and for some reason, I can’t be sated. I come and come and come, but I still need more. I feel like a fucking animal and I don’t know what’s wrong with me! We get to a point where he binds me to the bed and I still feel feral and untamed. He keeps teasing me and bringing me close to orgasm, then letting it wane… and it’s pissing me off!

“If you’re not going to fuck me, don’t fucking touch me!” I growl. He raises his eyes to me, a challenge sparking in his gray irises.

“That didn’t sound like a safeword,” he taunts.

“It’s not!” I reply, my voice menacing. He laughs.

“Poor little Anastasia,” he teases. “You still seem to think you’re in control. I can fuck you all night and keep you right on the edge of orgasm and there wouldn’t be a thing you could do about it.”

“Try it and see,” I respond, cockily. I’m up for a challenge. He smiles wickedly and begins playing his little game of orgasm denial again. I’ve come so many times tonight—hard and hot—that I’ve lost count, and I still want more! I need more! I must have more, and this teasing shit is not fucking working.

Some way still unknown to me, I escape from one of my binds. I use my free hand to release my other wrist and the next time he decides that I’m not going to come, I thrust my own hand into my core and finish the job myself, panting and thrashing wildly as I come from an orgasm denied at least eight to ten times. He grabs both my wrists and pins me down to the bed. His face is breaths away from mine and he. Is. Pissed. He’s breathing like he’s out of breath and glaring at me like I’ve just broken the Cardinal Rule…

Which I have.

I stare back up at him. I’m not afraid. I’m not challenging him, but I’m not afraid. I wait for the backlash. What will it be—the usual spanking? Punishment fuck? That won’t work right now. More denied orgasms? I have a feeling that I’d just Houdini again and work that out on my own. So… what?

“What’s wrong?” he asks. I frown at his words.

“I was ready to come.”

“I know that,” he says, his voice sharp. “But what’s wrong?”

“I was ready to come,” I repeat. “I told you I was ready…”

“No, you didn’t,” he cuts me off. “You demanded that I fuck you. You challenged me to deny your orgasms, but you never said that you were ready to come. So, what the fuck is wrong?”

He’s right. I didn’t tell him that I was ready to come. He knew that I was with that orgasm denial shit, but I didn’t tell him that I was ready. I just slipped out of my binds and jacked myself off, right in the middle of his game. He raises slightly away from me and briefly examines my face.

“Seeing me with her,” he says, “It released something in you, didn’t it?”

I don’t answer. I don’t want to entertain the thoughts going through my head right now. I watched Edward charm woman after woman after woman. Sometimes, they didn’t care if I saw them. Other times, they didn’t think I knew. I was powerless to stop them, or at least it felt that way. I was the butt of the joke, the topic of conversation when our friends got together. It was horrible and cruel and I hated the feeling. The way they touched him; the way they looked at him; the way they treated me. It was emotionally one of the worst times of my life second only to living in Nevada with my mother and the walking moonshine still.

I didn’t really know it until now… feel it until now, but watching him charm that bitch gave me the same powerless feeling. I knew it was different, but it took me back to that time—to that mindset if only for a moment, only I’m not powerless this time. I control what happens to me this time and I’ll never be in that situation again.

“I’m not David,” he says, reading my thoughts like he always does. “I never will be. I’ll never put you in that situation.”

I don’t answer again. I don’t want to talk about this. I don’t want to invite Edward or even Greta Ellison into our bed. I want to shake this shit off and fuck!

“You have to know there’s only you,” he says. “You have to know that by now.”

I still don’t reply. I don’t know how. I don’t know how to reassure him because right now, I’m feeling way too vulnerable. It’s a strange feeling to maneuver when you’re trying to exercise control. He rolls us over so that I’m on top of him, straddling him.

“You must know that you’re the only woman I want,” he says emphatically. “You must!

It’s not that I don’t believe him. It’s just that I don’t have the strength to debate the topic at all, for lack of a better word. Seeing him charm Greta was just a bit too much on my psyche, no matter how much I tried to prepare myself, no matter how much I knew it was make-believe and that he actually detests the woman. No matter how hot the sex has been tonight, sometimes you can just travel too far down Memory Lane and into the abyss that you just have to find your way back whenever you find your way back.

He holds me close to him, professing his love to me over and over and I just lay on his chest and allow him to caress me and talk to me. It’s soothing and I feel myself begin to relax. He reaches for the olive oil that I keep next to our bed for when my nipples get a little dry. He pours it down my back and starts to gently rub it into my skin. I moan at the massage and he intensifies his caress, from the top of my butt to the bottom of my butt cheeks… and I like it. He cups my ass as he moves back up, his oily fingers sliding between the cheeks and caressing my rosette with each pass. Knowing my body the way he does, he hardens at my response and starts a slide between my legs—against my core and a little between my butt cheeks.

I grunt quietly, trying not to give away how good it feels each time his fingers glide over my anus. God, if he only knew how much I’ve missed this. I know it hasn’t been that long since we’ve had ass play or anal sex, but it sure seems like it for some reason. His breathing quickens and his knees part, causing my legs to open and that incredible dick to reach farther between my ass cheeks. He holds my cheeks open slightly and I feel his head rubbing back and forth, back and forth, back and forth against my rosette. I involuntarily press my hips against him and he groans loudly, then stops, holding his head back and breathing deeply. I hear an expletive or two before he brings fiery gray eyes back to mine.

“Yes?” he asks, his voice thick with arousal. I know what he’s asking and I nod.

“Yes,” I breathe. He slides underneath me, further down on the bed so that we’re now face to face, me looking down into his hungry eyes. He spreads both our legs wider and uses oily hands to grip my thighs right at the base of my ass cheeks.

“Help me,” he nearly growls, and I can see, feel, and hear his anticipation. It fires inside of me and I nearly burst into orgasm before he’s even inside of me. I reach behind me and locate his pulsing and now oily shaft. Feeling my way and tilting my ass, I begin to guide him to my rosette. He releases one cheek and guides the base of his penis while I guide the head. Slowly, we both guide and push—gently—until the very tip of his head is inside the sensitive bundle of nerves. I gasp and swallow.

“That’s it,” he coaxes, his eyes tiny slits of arousal. “That’s it, baby. Take it slow… easy.”

I move my hand and he uses his fingertips to guide himself in as he slowly pushes past the resistance of my anus.

“You can… you can push harder,” I breathe.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” he protests at the very edge of his wits. He wants this as badly as I do, so bad that he’s actually shaking.

“You won’t,” I say, trying to work my way onto his cock, to push him deeper into to me. He grabs my ass with both hands and buries his mouth in my neck at my shoulder.

“Still, baby,” he growls. “Let me.” Fuck! That was so hot and so tender at the same time that I grind my teeth to keep my body from exploding. There’s a new phenomenon that has come over me since the babies were born that adds an amazing dimension to our sex life. The right stimulation of my senses—touch, emotion, words, mood—can ignite an orgasm in me. Although clitoral and vaginal stimulation facilitate it immensely, neither has to be present for me to have an orgasm… except with that whole orgasm denial thing. Then he has to wiggle or kiss the bean or fuck me.

But listening to his tortured voice as he pushes into my ass, feeling his strong hands holding my skin and knowing that his dick is pulsing and red and thick behind me, feeling his breath against my neck and shoulder and feeling this wall of man against me, controlling me… sacre bleu! My breath quickens and I tighten my grip on his arms as my teeth find my bottom lip and I try to stay still.

“Settle, baby,” he croons. Well, that’s not helping. Taking my cue, he thrusts harder so that more of him is inside of me—maybe three inches or so, I would think. I gasp again as he stretches me, somehow squeezing my ass without his grip slipping from the oil. He pulls out a bit and thrusts again, even further this time. I whimper at the invasion.

“Gah! Jesus!” he hisses, sucking the skin of my shoulder into his mouth as his dick pulses in my ass. I try to calm my senses, try to calm my thoughts about how hot this is, how this must feel for him. Pleasure causes my body to collapse into his and he groans in his chest, thrusting deeper into me and finally stilling. I gasp and whimper loudly and he starts to move, in and out, in and out, in and out, and I’m already transcending.

“When is the last time I’ve loved you like this?” he breathes. “Have I ever? Held you close to me and looked into your eyes, claiming your ass and loving you this way? I’ve fucked you… but have I ever loved you this way?”

He’s still moving inside of me, slowly thrusting in and out of me, holding my ass solidly in his hand as he pushes up into me again and again and again…

“No,” I gasp, unable to break his penetrating gaze as he deeply loves my ass and gazes into my eye.

“You feel so good, Butterfly,” he confesses. “I feel you everywhere… everywhere! Kiss me… please…”

I bring my lips to his and he immediately takes over. His tongue wraps around mine and he dominates my mouth just like he’s dominating my body, my soul, my ass. His deep, sensual kisses become loud, smacking kisses as he probes into my ass. It seems like it’s been forever and I want this so badly. I relax into him and allow him to do whatever the fuck he wants to my body. I feel his dick get even harder and he releases my butt, moving his large hands so that they control my waist and the top of my hips. His dick is hard enough now so that it can probe on its own without him holding my ass open… and probe it does. His hands guide my hips and waist in a damnable rhythm that gives my ass and my core an unbearable sensation. I feel heat all over my fucking body and the mind trip is insane.

“Christian,” I breathe against his lips, “I going to come…”

“I don’t want you to come yet,” he breathes. “I just want to love you… please…”

I’m panting. It’s been so long since he’s taken me anally and that orgasm is right there waiting to present itself. I focus on him and what he’s doing instead of how this is feeling or this is going to be over really soon.

“Can you do it, baby?” he beseeches. “Can you hold out and let me love you?” He slows his stroke to allow me to get my bearings. “I promise I’ll hold out as long as you do.” I take deep breaths to compose myself.

“Yes,” I say, fighting the pleasure with every fiber of my being. “Yes… I can…”

And I do. I hold out and concentrate on him holding me, kissing me, touching me, saying sweet things to me. He loves me and loves me and loves me, anally, in several positions and when the sun finally breaches the horizon, I surrender to a body-crushing orgasm that has me weeping and weary, exhaustion taking me over before the aftershocks have even finished.


A/N: 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 11—The Unsinkable Greys

There was a comment on the last chapter where someone tried to scold me for having Christian out Burt to his father. Christian didn’t out Burt. Nollie said in the previous chapter that Burt outed himself several times to his father. Freeman just refused to accept it. Christian was just twisting the knife, just like he was with Nollie. Don’t be so quick to throw something at me before you even get your information correct.

You should always get your facts straight before you try to check someone. Always!

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 11—The Unsinkable Greys

CHRISTIAN

Nolanda and her husband took my private jet and two of my security staff along with one of her husband’s bodyguards back to Detroit with them last night to see about her mother and her brother. My staff will report back to me, but I have asked Nolanda—and she has agreed—to please keep me posted as I now have charges pending against her father as well. She called Butterfly first thing this morning in hysterical tears over the condition of her brother. She informs us that nothing could have prepared her for what she saw and that her mother told her that they didn’t want her to know, since Nell suspected that she had eloped and was probably still on her honeymoon.

This did nothing to make her feel better about the situation.

She begged her mother to let her take Burt back to California with her and Leo so that Nolanda can nurse him back to health and Nell can focus on filing for the divorce. Nell reluctantly agreed and Burt is all for leaving, indicating that he would notify the court of his new address so that he can return to testify against his father in the battery case and leave immediately. Nell took a little more convincing, saying that she needed to tie up the necessary loose ends before she leaves Michigan.

“I asked her honestly, if she plans on going back to him,” Nolanda says over the speaker phone while my wife and I are having breakfast in our bedroom.

“What did she say?” Butterfly asks.

“She said, ‘No’ and that she just doesn’t want to leave yet. She has an appointment with Melody West on Monday and needs to know the best course of action so she doesn’t fuck up.” I frown.

“Melody West… why do I know that name?”

“Probably because she was in Forbes late last year—youngest female attorney to ever be listed as one of Greater Detroit’s legal power players. She’s a shark… cutthroat and merciless. Whoever my father gets in the courtroom with her, she’s going to chew them up, spit them out, and leave them for dead. My father’s going to be lucky if he’s left with his pension, which he won’t be.”

“Have you seen your father?” I ask.

“No,” she says.

“Do you intend to see your father?” I press.

“No,” she replies, “even more now than ever, I think he’s the devil and I need to get my family away from him as quickly as possible. We’re just waiting for the doctor to give Burtie the okay to fly and whatever drugs he’ll need until we get him set up with a doctor and a plastic surgeon in Cali.”

“A plastic surgeon?” Butterfly says. “He’ll need that?”

“He might,” Nolanda says. “It looks really bad and we’ll have to see. I just want to get him out of here. Whatever he needs, we’ll pay for it. That’ll really piss my father off, but at this point, I really don’t care about him. I’m just concerned about my brother and my mother and their safety.”

“Do you think Nell is in danger?” I ask.

“I don’t know,” she admits. “I wouldn’t have thought Burtie was in danger, but look what happened.”

“We can hire her a bodyguard until she leaves,” I offer.

“Thank you, Christian. You’ve done so much already that I couldn’t dream of asking for more, but you’re right about one thing. Leo and I will hire a bodyguard for Mom until she comes to California with us. I won’t leave until I know someone’s in place to protect her. My father is off his rocker, even more so than usual to put his hands on Burtie.

“I’m telling you guys, Burtie was an ideal child. I don’t just call him Golden Boy out of spite. I’ve never seen Burtie get punished… ever, but he never stepped wrong. He’s the perfect example of what total love and encouragement can do for a child. He was encouraged to do whatever he wanted to do and be what he wanted to be and he was constantly rewarded for his achievements. He really was and is the Golden Boy. So, when I tell you that there was absolutely no reason whatsoever for my father to put his hands on Burtie, I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

“Burtie is perfect. My mother will tell you that he was never a moment’s trouble and I can attest to that. He’s every parents’ dream—he’s smart, driven, focused. He now has his Master’s in Applied Science and Engineering. Leo can’t wait until he’s back to health so he can give Burtie a job with his company. His only flaw in my father’s eyes would be that he’s gay, and my father wouldn’t accept that, so he’s probably still in denial on that one, but that wasn’t why he hit him.”

“I told him before we ended the call,” I confess. Nolanda pauses.

“All the more reason for me to get him out of here,” Nolanda says. There’s a conversation on the other end and I hear her tell someone that I spilled the beans.

“He knows,” I hear another female voice say. “Everybody knows. I just want you guys out of here as soon as possible. He’s unstable and I’m going to have to get this battle underway. It’s only going to get worse from here.”

“Serves him right,” Nolanda says. “I hope he gets just what he deserves. I’m getting you a bodyguard, Mom.”

“I don’t need a bodyguard,” she says. “I can handle your father. He won’t hit me.”

“I bet Burtie was saying the same thing right before he woke up in the hospital,” Nolanda retorts, matter-of-factly. There’s silence for a while before she speaks again. “I won’t sleep until you have protection.” Now, she sounds like me.

“Okay, Nollie,” I hear her say. “Whatever you think is best. I won’t fight it. I… wouldn’t have thought he would have done this to Burtie, either.”

Butterfly comes to Grey House with me, just to make an appearance. We go over a few things, and I still can’t help the lingering thoughts of my grandfather and the ache in my heart that appear continuously and sporadically throughout the day. My beautiful guardian is here to watch over me and can tell the moment my mood takes a downturn, even for a second.

“Tell me about this one,” she says, pointing to one of the smaller mergers GEH is considering when she sees my mood take a nose dive. She pulls a chair around my desk so that she’s sitting beside me. I play her game and start to explain the fundamentals of the deal—a small telecommunications company that will most likely be absorbed into our technology division under the original guise of a merger. It’s friendly, but will eventually become a takeover and I explain how that will happen. Her eyes shine with understanding and I find myself explaining more and more what’s going to happen once the deal is complete as well as other companies that may follow suit. We’re deep in our conversation when my phone buzzes, indicating a that I need an update from Barney on possible breaches.

“Come with me,” I say, standing from my desk and taking her hand. “I need to check on something.” She has a questioning look on her face but follows me to the elevator and I press the button to take us to Barney’s realm.

“Where are we?” she asks when we exit the elevator.

“After the severity of that last breach, we’ve taken extra precautions to protect our mainframe. Very few people have access to this floor. You’re one of them.” She nods.

“Okay,” she says as she quietly follows me to the IT area. Barney is somewhat surprised to see me, or maybe he’s surprised to see Butterfly. Either way, he’s surprised.

“Sir,” he says, straightening when we walk into his area. “I didn’t expect you. Come in. Mrs. Grey,” he says with a nod. Butterfly nods back.

“Barney, it’s good to see you again.” She leans in to him. “And call me Ana when nobody’s around.” She winks and he smiles. Stop flirting with the staff, love.

“I was trying to get an update on that assignment I gave you,” I say.

“No update,” he says. “It’s complete. I was going to come and see you this afternoon. We’re clean, sir, clean as a whistle.”

“We’re clean?” I ask. He nods.

“There’s nothing, sir. Nothing else at all. I had James double-check everything I concluded and I double-checked, too. We’ve been clean since the unspeakable breach.” I nod.

“Has Alex been made aware of this?” I ask. He nods.

“Alex got the transcripts from the case to go over that woman’s testimony—where you were saying that she knew things she shouldn’t have known? Everything she said, mentioned, alluded to, whatever, in that case occurred before the red-headed carrier pigeon was shot out of the sky. We’ve all come to the same conclusion that he was her informant—either directly or indirectly—and if there was a third party involved, it had to be the brunette from the condo. We’ve got lines on all your past…” He looks over at Butterfly.

“Companions,” she says, after a pause. He clears his throat.

“Yes… companions,” he confirms. “Alex will have a report for you, but nothing indicates that they have any information or could have been feeding anything to her. Some of them were still… employed by her, but only until she was arrested the first time and then they jumped ship when the money ran dry. The ones that stuck around were the ones that still had… assignments and were required to give her a cut. That’s how she survived for a while between arrests. Once she was caught and denied bail, her well ran dry. Like I said, Alex can give you details and I’m sure they’re looking more closely into the dealings of one or two of them, but not because we think they have any dealings with information breaches or GEH at all.”

“But something somebody found is giving us cause for concern,” I say.

“Again, Alex could tell you more accurately than I could.”

“Then why isn’t he here?” I demand.

“I didn’t know that you were coming down here, sir, so I’m sure that he didn’t either.” I sigh and nod.

“Fine, I’ll go up there now, unless there’s something else that you need to tell me.” Barney shakes his head.

“Nope, you’re all caught up,” he says. I grab Butterfly’s hand and head down the hall. She follows quietly until we get to the elevator.

“Why don’t you go see Alex alone?” she says as I push the button to call the elevator. “I don’t think I need to be present for this meeting.” I examine her closely.

“You know I have nothing to hide from you,” I tell her.

“Yes,” she says with a nod, “and because of that, you also have nothing to prove to me. Go and see what Alex has to say and if there’s anything pertinent that I need to know, you’ll tell me.” I examine her again and deduce that she would just rather not be introduced to my past all at one time. I pull her into my arms and into the elevator as it closes. A short make-out session ensues with soft kissing and gentle tasting of one another.

“Where will you be?” I ask her.

“I want to go down to quality control,” she says. “Something you mentioned about that telecommunications company didn’t jive well with the report you showed me on their quality results. I just want to see how we measure based on how the company measures their standards right now.” I raise my eyebrows.

“Very well, Mrs. Grey. His name is Rollins… the head of quality control. Lunch in my office?” she smiles.

“I’ll see you then.”

*-*

Butterfly was right to avoid meeting with Alex with me. I find myself following the horrific parade of my past before my eyes.

They were all beautiful women—gorgeous, in fact. I had a knack for attracting some of the most beautiful women in the world, women who shared my interests and wanted the same thing I wanted…

An intense BDSM relationship in complete secrecy and a hard, hot fuck every weekend… maybe two or three hard, hot fucks.

Some of them wanted more. Then, they suddenly weren’t the most beautiful women in the world. They became snarling monsters hell-bent or taming me or destroying me. That’s what I saw. That’s why I could never give them more. I always thought that it might have been fear—fear of attachment, to be precise. But now, I know that’s not what it was. Although each one of these women are physically striking, achingly beautiful, to me they each look like death and destruction, the end of life as I knew it. That’s why I couldn’t be with them. If they loved me, they would eventually hurt me, or leave me, or take everything I own… somehow become a woman scorned and destroy my empire, something. But no matter what, loving any one of these women would have been the death of me. I knew it then and I know it now. No wonder some of them lost their fucking minds when they found out that I fell in love with Butterfly.

Inoa Kekaula… my first contracted submissive after Elena and training. She was beautiful, a Samoan girl—exotic and shapely, and I was soon to find out not what I wanted at all. That contract ended very quickly.

Raquel Zorita… spicy, young, and Latin, and sexy as fuck! We lasted for quite some time. She was a bit psycho, a pain whore, and she could take whatever I dished out. I fucking loved it. She was perfect and I would have kept that contract forever, but it turned out that I became routine to her and she wanted to move on. Who would have thought I would have found someone more sadistic than I was… besides the psychopath who trained me, that is?

Arianna Wells… typical contract, but wanted more after the trial period. She only lasted the three months.

Summer Austin… not necessarily a pain whore, but she could take a good flogging and a hard anal. She lasted for quite some time, too. I can’t quite remember why we parted ways.

Ericka Lawson… she was about the closest to a relationship I ever came. She lasted for years and then one day, she just broke the contract. She admitted that she was falling in love with me and knew that she couldn’t have me, so she just went away quietly. I was a little remiss to see her go. She was everything I wanted in a submissive… everything, but there was no way in hell that I could give her any more than the Saturday beating and fucking, besides the material things, of course. She admitted that it wasn’t enough for her, but that she couldn’t be around me anymore. She would only fall harder. She was a true professional.

Charity Robinson, Priscilla Barnett, Tabitha Morgan, Sarah Bradley… all your standard submissives. Charity and Priscilla wanted more, but didn’t really care if they got it from me or not. They just wanted a more relationship. When I couldn’t give it to them, they ended the contract and went in search of more permanent Doms. Tabitha was reckless. I ended our contract because she wouldn’t abide by my rules of taking care of herself. Sarah just outlived her contract. I got bored.

Natasha Gaines… tall, German, not a natural brunette I found out when she missed a waxing and the drapes didn’t match the carpeting. I couldn’t get past it. Blondes are a deal-breaker.

Shawn Gibson… the sub that showed up at Amanda and Ray’s baby shower. She wanted more, too—again, not necessarily from me, but she wanted a 24/7 D/s relationship and I didn’t. I was just fill-in until she found what she wanted. I didn’t appreciate the fact that she was unfaithful to me, looking for a full-time Dominant while still under contract with me. The Dom that eventually followed me got a real earful when I found out that he was playing with her on my contract. He ended up being banned from the exclusive parties and if I understand correctly, Shawn ultimately chose and married someone else.

Cassie Hamilton… Cassie fucking Hamilton, the bitch that tried to out me with my wife—then, fiancée. Her big mouth was the very reason that I ended our contract. She was beautiful and a great submissive, but she was too cocky, and I’m the only cocky motherfucker in a D/s relationship. So, that was a definite no-go.

Miriana Rucker, Lena Jakes, Naomi Adams, and Greta Ellison… my last four submissives or in Greta’s case, submissive wannabes, and all four landed in the “Almost Doesn’t Count” in some way or another. This was the time when Elena started to get sloppy—when she had that Francesca bitch in my company, feeding her information. These women were all duds… either too clingy, disobedient, or untrustworthy, all of them.

So, where are they now? That’s the million-dollar question.

Inoa is free agent. She currently has a Dom and could give a fuck less about me and my wife.

Raquel became a Domme about a year after our contract ended. That’s what she should have been in the first place. Even then, she had the ability to bring a man to his knees—if he allowed her. Of course, I wouldn’t. She’s found her calling, though.

Adrianna is happily married, along with Charity, Priscilla, and Shawn, of course.

Summer, Sarah, and Miriana all still worked for Elena until she was arrested for attempted murder. Now, they are all free agents, still doing interim contracts or looking for Doms—none of them causes for concern.

Tabitha, Lena, and Naomi… or I should say Vernetta… are all dead. Tabitha died of breast cancer. Lena was drinking and driving and drove her car into a brick wall and Naomi… yeah, she tried to kill my wife.

Cassie Hamilton is still stuck in obscurity, trying to piece her life back together, but still staying as far away from me as she can.

So, the two that are causing Alex and Jason concern are Ericka Lawson and Natasha Gaines. These two fell off the grid a while back—Ericka several years ago and Natasha several months ago. Jason swears that he told me, but for the life of me, I don’t remember. I’ve told him and Alex to concentrate their efforts on finding these women. In the meantime, Alex has managed to secure a time to meet Ms. Ellison, but not a place. She’ll meet with me tomorrow evening, but I need to secure the locale. Before I dare meet with this cunt, I need to talk to Butterfly.


ANASTASIA

I find Mr. Rollins in the back of the Research and Development department. Since his department is on another floor and I literally had to search for him, I’m curious as to why he’s in this area. I’ll get around to squeezing the answer out of him in comfortable conversation.

“What are we working on?” I ask as I approach a table with him and two other gentlemen. They’re mulling over the plans for some electronic piece of something, and I’m hoping it’s the transistor from the merger that Christian was talking to me about earlier. They all do a double-take when I approach the table and await a response.

“Mrs. Grey, hello,” Mr. Rollins says, more than a small bit surprised. “Are you lost?” I try not to glare at him.

“Why? Do I look lost?” I say, effectively hiding my ire.

“No ma’am, I just… wouldn’t know why you would be down here in R&D,” he says, attempting and failing to clean up his statement. Dear Lord, I’m trying not to bring the Tiger Lady out.

“I see,” I say, folding my arms. “In that case, wouldn’t you think ‘How can I help you’ or ‘What can I do for you’ might be a better greeting than ‘Are you lost?’” He straightens his tie and clears his throat.

“I apologize, Mrs. Grey,” he says. “What can I help you with?”

“I’m actually looking for you,” I say, the other two gentlemen still eyeing my like Winkin’ and Blinkin’. “I’m curious of what you think about the XRC90 transmitter from Waymark Industries.”

“In what terms?” he asks.

“Well, do you think it’s feasible breakthrough technology or is it just another transmitter?” I clarify. He rubs his chin, pondering.

“I think it has potential,” he says… and nothing else.

“Be more specific, please,” I press. He raises his eyebrows.

“Uh, in what way?” He’s acting like I’m taking up his time. What the hell? Just answer my question.

“In what way can this product be profitable for GEH in a manner that would mean that we would acquire more than just another electronics division?” I ask, trying not to get irritated with this man. “My husband can buy a building, hire some people, throw in some equipment, and have his own additional electronics division built from scratch for much less than it would cost to acquire Waymark Industries. Is this mini-miracle creation going to solidify GEH’s position as a techo-leader or is this just another pretty toy with lots of lights and buttons that’s going to cost us a lot of money? If this is the next big thing, how did you come to that conclusion?”

This fucker almost rolls his eyes at me, and he doesn’t think I caught it.

“There’s no such thing as a fix-all when it comes to technology, Mrs. Grey,” he says with an undertone of impatience. “These decisions are very intricate…” and as soon as he goes into a spiel of completely unnecessary garbage in an attempt to avoid the question, I put my hand up to silence him.

“Mr. Rollins, have you ever heard of a product called Vip?” I ask, folding my arms again. He furrows his brow.

“No, I can’t say that I have,” he answers curiously. I nod.

195d6517e5d1b304f9e2b9a2fd07d6ab“Well, I can almost guarantee you that Mr. Grey has,” I tell him. “He’s a fan of old movies. He used to watch them with his mother all the time. Vip is an imaginary product—well, not-so-imaginary—from a movie in the 60’s called Lover Come Back. In short terms, an ad exec was forced to come up with a product that he mistakenly advertised, even though the product didn’t exist. By the end of the movie, his genius scientist created Vip, a delicious, harmless-looking candy that several people consumed by the handfuls. What the scientist didn’t reveal was that each piece of candy had the alcoholic potency of a triple martini.”

The two men from R&D are looking at each other and back at Mr. Rollins with puzzled mirth while I continue my story.

“Needless to say, Vip caused all kinds of mayhem in adult hands, so there was no telling what kind of hell would have ensued in a child’s hand. Several bad decisions were made and ultimately, high-level individuals from the alcohol industry bargained to have the menacing candy shelved for an extreme amount of money. So, even though the ad exec and the scientist made out like bandits, Vip was basically useless.

“By today’s standards, a product that volatile wouldn’t have even made it into advertising. Of course, the entire comedy of the story was that the commercial wasn’t supposed to air in the first place. The product was accidentally hyped before it was even created or tested. It’s guinea pigs turned out to be a bunch of stuffy executives from the ad council who all ended up making bad decisions under its influence. With today’s technologies, certain precautions are in place to prevent that kind of thing—such as Research and Development,” I say gesturing to the two gentlemen who remain unintroduced, “Marketing, who would test supply and demand patterns, and quality control…” I now gesture toward Rollins.

“The findings don’t jar, and I think you may agree with me since the three of you were examining the schematics for the XRC90 when I walked in.” I take an educated guess on the plans they were reading and, when no objections are raised, I know I’m correct.

“Yes, there are some inconsistencies,” Rollins says. “And yes, we are reviewing the plans to see if we can locate those inconsistencies.”

“Good, then it appears that we’re on the same page,” I declare. “As quality control, you would be the first to pinpoint if the technology is what it claims to be. A new set of tests would be the perfect gauge of that information.” His brow furrows deeply.

“Why would we perform a whole new set of tests?” Rollins asks. “We have the results on the technology’s accuracy. I hardly see the use in doing this all over again.”

“Because the benchmarks used to measure the performance and effectiveness of the transmitter were a bit skewed to begin with—or at least, it appears that way to the naked eye—the evaluation of statistically significant variations may have produced misleading results. I can’t tell on first glance if this is an honest mistake made in haste or a deliberate act to make underdeveloped and flawed technology appear more attractive to potential buyers. You see something askew and you can’t pinpoint it. Neither can I, that’s why I’m here. Hopefully I don’t need to remind you of the bullet we dodged that was the fiasco of Fairlane, LLC last year.”

I now have the undivided attention of all three men. I stamp down that initial “little lady” feeling and await a response.

“I see what you’re getting at,” Mr. Rollins says, “but what do you suggest we do? We’ve reviewed the data collected about the technology as well as the findings on the market testing.”

“Whose findings?” I ask. “Waymark? They’re trying to make a deal. Have you done any of your own hypothesis testing? Did you pay attention to the product’s statistical graph? That thing is skewed way to the high right and nobody found this strange for a company that appears to be failing? This company should be releasing news flashes; stock should be on the rise; this company should be on the exact opposite end of the spectrum with an up-and-coming breakthrough technology like this one is being promoted to be, and everybody’s just waving their hands around going ‘look what we found?’

“You’re in the perfect place with the perfect people to run tests that were not handed to you by Waymark and evaluate fresh statistical data to come up with a p-value that has a level of marginal significance that represents the true probability of the results occurring that we found on that graph. You’ll either prove or disprove those findings and either way, that information is invaluable.” I point to the blueprint of the transmitter we’re speaking of. “You have the plans there. There’s nothing to stop you from building one and trying to reproduce the great results Waymark claims to have had… or are you waiting for the product to come to you so that you can pull it apart and tinker with it to see what makes it tick?”

The look of awe on their faces as I break down the quality control process is priceless, but not as priceless as the nervousness that replaces those looks when I realize that I’ve hit the nail on the head. Oh, fuck, this will never work. I lean on the table and hold my head down.

“Gentlemen,” I say after releasing a long, exasperated sigh. “Mr. Grey has to keep his eye on a lot of tiny details related to the bottom line. In order for this company to stay afloat and be as successful at it has been in the past decade, he depends heavily on your professional expertise in situations like this. None of us can afford to play guessing games with a technology that stands to make or break the value of a company that he intends to purchase. I don’t need to tell you how detrimental this situation really is and I can assure you that there will be no happy endings like the one in the movie if the XRC90 transmitter turns out to be Vip.”

The two members of R&D—whom I still don’t know—start whispering and nodding to one another while Rollins rubs the back of his head as if trying to find a way to explain to me why he still can’t do the testing. Fine, let’s try this a different way.

“You’re to begin immediate construction of the XRC90 transmitter,” I’ll tell him. “Make ten of them exactly to schematic. That shouldn’t take long with GEH’s information technology and production capabilities. Once they’re complete, begin immediate hypothesis testing—a different variable on each prototype. We won’t commence our own market research until we get the statistical data from the new testing.” I wait.

“Mrs. Grey, that could take quite some time,” Mr. Rollins protests. I frown.

“You were going to perform some kind of testing on this thing before you allowed Mr. Grey to purchase this company, weren’t you?” My arms are folded again.

“Well, yes… once we received the prototype from Waymark,” he replies haughtily.

“And how long have you been waiting?” I ask. They look at one another, but no one comes up with a solid answer. Too long… I gesture to the schematic. “Why would you wait for the prototype to come from the company when you have the plans here to build one yourself?” I inquire. I’m beginning to lose my patience. “I realize that a lot of what goes on in your department is way over my head, but this is not rocket science. Build the prototype and test it. This way, we have hands-on results to hand to the executive team when it’s time to negotiate terms.” He sighs.

“I’ll do what I can, Mrs. Grey,” he replies. My teeth grind in my mouth.

“That’s not a suggestion, Mr. Rollins,” I say firmly. His eyes pierce at me through his glasses.

“Have you run this by Mr. Grey at all?” he says it in a tone that sounds more like “Have you asked your father?”

Now… I’m mad.

I take a page from Christian Grey’s book of Don’t Fuck With Me and change my stance—feet shoulder length apart, hands clasped in front of me, head cocked slightly to the side, my blue gaze piercing and trained on his ass. I wait for a moment for the pose to sink it. It has the desired effect on all three men.

“I’m fifty percent owner of this company,” I say, my voice firm and low. “So, you tell me, Mr. Rollins… do I need permission?” Once again, he tries and fails hide his discomfort.

“I’m… I wasn’t…” he stammers.

“I’m not interested,” I cut him off. “Start immediate production of the prototypes. The sooner they’re complete, the sooner the testing can begin. Any questions?” He clears his throat. He seems more perturbed than nervous now.

“No, ma’am,” he says pointedly. I take note of his ire, then ignore it before turning to the two members of R&D. “Who are you?” They straighten immediately and introduce themselves.

“I’m Nathan Burgess, ma’am,” the first says.

“And I’m Paul Hammock, Mrs. Grey,” the second says. I nod before turning back to Rollins.

“Mr. Rollins,” I say garnering his attention, “I’m going to assume that you’re so fantastic at your job and that you spend countless hours perfecting your skill and tweaking your department.” He sees the sarcasm in that statement before I even get to the punchline. “To that end, I assume that’s reason you have such deplorable social skills.” I hiss. His brown eyes pierce at me as I continue.

“Not only was your initial greeting to me inexcusably condescending, but you must clearly be unaware that if someone comes into your presence—especially one of your bosses—and you are speaking to two other people, you assume that he or she doesn’t know these people and you properly introduce them. It’s Etiquette 101… even more so in business!” I allow my glare to linger on him before turning to the other two gentlemen.

“Mr. Burgess, Mr. Hammock.” I give a tight nod before leaving the area.

*-*

I stop at the restroom and take a few moments to stamp down my anger at the idiot in quality control and to touch up my lipstick before I meet my husband back in his office for lunch. I’m pleased to see chicken kabobs and bruschetta from my favorite deli, but not so pleased to see my husband.

“You look a fright,” I say when I enter his office and close the door behind me.

“Let’s just say that the trip down Memory Lane wasn’t all that fun,” he says, running his hands through his hair. “I was a really fucked-up motherfucker.” I walk over to his desk and sit in his lap.

“But you aren’t anymore,” I say, stroking his hair.

“Only because of you,” he says, brushing his lips against my cheek and slipping his arms around my waist.

“And you,” I breathe. “You had to want it, Christian. How many of those women wanted the same thing I did, but you didn’t want it with them?” He kisses me deeply until I feel butterflies in my stomach.

“You know you saved me… don’t you?” he says, breathless, his forehead against mine. I nod.

“You saved me, too,” I breathe, my eyes closed, inhaling his essence. His lips close over mine as his tongue requests entry. I part my lips and his tongue slides leisurely through my mouth, his hand gently caressing my cheek and chin. His touch sends instant sparks through my body and I suddenly can’t remember the last time we made love… was it Friday? Saturday? Christian and I rarely ever go an entire week without having sex at least once unless something is ghastly wrong.

I guess losing Pops would definitely fall into the “ghastly wrong” category.

I melt into his touch and his kiss, wanting so badly for him to make love to me. We’ve done it before in this office, but for some reason, I’m feeling that today won’t be the day for that. I cross my legs under the guise of getting comfortable in his lap, but more so that the burning wetness in my crotch doesn’t seep through my pants. Our lips part with a soft “smack” and my husband gazes down at me with love and reverence, still caressing my cheek. I try to match his gaze, but know that I inject a small amount of lust into mine.

“Are you hungry?” he asked softly. Ravenous! Not necessarily for food, but I know what he means.

“I could definitely eat,” I say softly. He pecks me gently on the lips, then helps me stand from his lap. We go over to the small dining table that he has in his office and he serves me up chicken kabobs with pita bread and hummus and delicious bruschetta with cranberry spritzers that he makes themselves.

“So, how did your visit to quality go?” he asks. Should I tell him that Rollins was a real asshole? I don’t think so. I’d like to think I can handle some things without him always having to come to my rescue.

“It was pretty routine,” I say with a shrug, downplaying the disastrous meeting as much as I can. “He was in R&D and they were already looking at the schematics when I got there.” That’s part was true.

“So, he agreed with you that there may be inconsistencies?” Christian asks, taking a mouthful of chicken and vegetables.

“He did notice some discrepancies, yes,” I respond. “It should be as simple as just running a few tests of our own and comparing the results.” I don’t include that the fucker gave me a hard time and I had to basically order him to run the tests.

“That’s good,” he says, after swallowing his food. “You’re quite the asset, Mrs. Grey. I only barely discussed that merger with you and you pinpointed a potential problem in no time flat. I may have to bring you to the office more often.” He smiles impishly.

“It’s just the analytical eye,” I protest mirthfully. “I don’t want to change careers any time soon, Mr. Grey. Besides, we both know that we would never get any work done if I was here all day.” He reaches across the table strokes my hand with his fingertip. Fuck! It’s making me hot all over again.

“This is true,” he says, his voice low and sensual. “My sleeping quarters back there is almost finished. It should be about another week.” My core tightens at the thought of fucking him right before one of his department head meetings.

“Hmmm, we could get up to some real mischief in there,” I say, suggestively wagging my eyebrows.

“Yes… we could,” he says, matching my suggestive glance. I sigh heavily and know that I have to detour this conversation or there’s going to be a wet spot in this chair.

“So,” I say, loading my fork with more chicken and vegetables, “without going into too much detail, tell me the results of your meeting with Alex.” He sighs heavily.

“I may have to give you more detail than you expected,” he says. “We’ve identified the person who entered your apartment and stole your gun as Greta Ellison.”

Greta Ellison. I’m trying to place the name, but I don’t remember it. She had to be someone from his past, but I’m supposed to know who she is… Then, it hits me. Greta Ellison was that bitch that served herself up to Christian right in the middle of the Marketplace with her tits spilling out of her goddamn blouse like two puppies about to escape from a leash! She was so unbelievably disrespectful that I wanted to claw her eyes out right there in the Public Market for everyone to see. Women have ogled him before with no regard for me, but she was blatantly discourteous—coming on to my man while I was standing right there. I never forgot that.

And there goes my appetite.

“I see,” I reply. “And has she been arrested?” I ask.

“No,” he says, after a pause. “We can’t have her arrested because we can’t directly place her in the apartment, just at the apartment complex, but process of elimination and following the tapes lets us know that she definitely got the key from someone who aided her entry and escape…”

He spends the next few minutes explaining to me how he and his team deduced that this sub-bitch-wannabe entered the condos in disguise and left as her slutty little self, thereby drawing little attention to herself as the person who broke into my apartment. We had all been so focused on my apartment throughout the course of the investigation that we didn’t focus on the complex or parking garage until after the fact. Even so, one person arrived, but a different person left. And only a trained eye would have thought to put together the situation with the cars.

“So, she was Elena’s little helper then,” I say, anger building up inside me almost faster than I can tame it. I take a long swallow of my cranberry spritzer to try to abate the adrenaline rush.

“Yes,” he says. “We think she knows a lot more than we thought, and we’re certain that she was Elena’s puppet throughout all of this.” I sigh heavily. The adrenaline is starting to win.

“So, what now?” I hiss. “The bitch just gets away with stealing my gun—a blatant crime and an accessory—because we can’t prove that she was in my apartment?” My fists clench on the table and the angry tears start to fall unbidden down my cheek.

“Butterfly,” Christian’s hand envelops my fist. “Please, don’t cry. She won’t get away with this. Don’t be upset…”

“I’m not upset I’m pissed!” I say all in one breath. “It’s the adrenaline. So, tell me… what now?” I nearly demand. He pauses again.

“She’s agreed to meet with me.” I raise incredulous eyes to his.

“What?” I nearly bark. “Why the fuck would you want to see her?” I wail.

“To confront her!” he says, forcefully. “You should want to confront her, too. You were wronged by her, too.”

“I want to do a whole fucking lot more than confront that bitch!” I seethe.

“You’ll get your chance,” he replies. “You’re coming with me.”

The red I was seeing moments ago slowly dies to the a blue-green kind of angry haze, like fire at the base of the flame. I’m still pissed, but not as much as I try to process the words that just came from his mouth.

“I’m going with you…” It’s a statement, not a question. He nods.

“There’s no fucking way I’d meet that woman alone, but she has to think I am. I need some information and I need to make a point.”

“Where’s the meeting?” I ask. “What could possibly be a convenient place to meet this bitch? Escala?” He ponders the thought, I can tell.

“No,” he says, “Way too intimate and too many opportunities to fuck up.”

“Where, then… a restaurant?” I suggest, tears still falling down my cheeks.

“Too public. The paps would have a field day with that one even if you are there.”

“A bar? A club?” I keep suggesting. He shakes his head again.

“Better, but still too out in the open. Cell phone cameras and such…”

“A BDSM club,” I say finally. His eyebrows rise.

“Yes,” he says, after a pause. “A semi-private club… they still protect your privacy, but I wouldn’t want to bring that riff-raff to any of the exclusive clubs where I retain membership.” I frown.

“You still have membership at the exclusive clubs?” He shrugs.

“It never goes away with some of the clubs,” he says. “You become known in certain circles and it just follows you.” I nod. I’m not 100% comfortable with this concept, but I can’t let it bother me right now.

“Please stop crying,” he says as he rises out of his seat. I had forgotten that I was still crying. It’s a physical response, not an emotional one, and until my blood pressure comes down, the tears are going to continue to fall.

“I’m pissed off, that’s all,” I protest as he tugs my hand to pull me out of the seat. “There’s nothing wrong,”

“There is,” he says, pulling my body against his. “You’re feeling like this and you’re crying. You can’t tell me there’s nothing wrong with you when I see you crying.”

“You know me, Christian,” I say, my voice deflating and he gently kisses each eyelid. “I’ll be fine. I just need to calm down.”

“Mm-hmm,” he says as he cups my face and gently kisses my temples, my cheeks, my earlobes and neck…

“Christian,” I protest weakly as I start to feel the fire rise in my core again.

“Hmm?” he says as his lips continue to caress my skin. He’s not doing anything overtly sexual. It’s just his mouth on me, making me want him like it always does. I swallow hard as my body becomes putty in his hands. His mouth finally travels around to mine and he sensually molds his lips to my lips. I’m going to combust.

“My favorite part is also my least favorite part,” he says before kissing me again. “Your lips are always so soft and kissable when you’ve been crying… but you have to cry for them to be that soft.” He kisses me again, oh so gently. “I’d rather you not…”

“I’d rather not,” I breathe as he continues to taste my lips and I savor his tasting. God, this man does such things to me—emotional things, sexual things… There’s nothing in the world I wouldn’t do for him… except give him up. “Kiss me again.”

His lips mold to mine again and his hands travel to my back, pressing me hard against him even though his lips and tongue are a gentle massage. I moan into his mouth and he rewards me with a moan of his own. He breaks the kiss and hovers his mouth just above mine, our lips breaths apart.

“I met her the same time that I met you,” he says, his voice thick with longing. “She didn’t stand a chance.”

He brings his lips down to mine again, molding and tasting, and I push my fingers into his hair. He groans and I can see him in my mind’s eye clearing his desk so that we can fuck. I want him so badly, I could just scream…

“Mr. Grey?” Andrea’s voice floats through the room after a short beep from the phone. Christian groans his displeasure.

“Yes?” he calls into the air, between kissing me.

“You and Mr. Fineman have the meeting with Bernhardt in conference room three in fifteen, and some of the department heads are hoping to catch a moment if you have it this afternoon.” Christian continues molding his lips to mine, but breaks only momentarily to answer his assistant.

“Fine. I’ll need you or Luma for the meeting and pencil in whoever is trying to see me right after. Fifteen minutes each.”

“Yes, sir.” His lips are back on mine before the intercom dies.

“You’re irresistible,” he breathes when our lips part again. “You’ll drive a man insane. I’m damn-near out of my mind as we speak.” His hand slides up my body and possessively slides around the side of my neck as he kisses me again.

“You must know that you have the same effect on women… on me…” I whisper against his lips. “Look at the lengths they go through to get you when they never even had you… but you’re mine!” I breathe possessively.

“Damn straight!” His kiss isn’t gentle this time. It’s searing and bruising and I swear I nearly come from its intensity.

“Go run your empire, Mr. Grey,” I say, my legs wobbly as he holds me against him.

“You didn’t finish your lunch,” he protests softly.

“I’ll be fine,” I say. “My stomach is nervous, as you can imagine. If I get hungry, I’ll get a snack. Otherwise, I’ll see you at dinner, my love.” He kisses me gently again.

“Go shopping,” he says. “Get something forbidden, provocative for tomorrow night. I want you hot and delicious and making every man jealous of me when we walk into that club tomorrow night. I want that spiteful bitch to have no fucking doubt that she’s got nothing on you. Vamp hair, vamp lips… I want you fucking delectable tomorrow, and I want you to feel it and know it. Do you understand?”

“Completely,” I respond. It’s time to visit the fetish shop.


CHRISTIAN

“You’ll be meeting Ms. Ellison at Jagged tomorrow night, sir,” Jason tells me when I’ve completed the meeting with Lorenz and Bernhardt. Good. I hope Butterfly finds something tantalizing and dangerous to wear tomorrow. I know she wanted to fuck at lunch time. She crossed her legs several times and it could smell her arousal even if I had been in another room. I’m not so sure that it was a good idea to send her out into the world that way, not because I think she’d find satisfaction elsewhere, but because if I could smell her, I know some other horny bastard can as well.

I want her primal tomorrow, though, so I intend to make her wait. That’s going to be hard for me as I want her as much as she wants me. I don’t want her to be afraid to pick something particular risqué to wear. I don’t want her to be safe—I want her to be decadent.

After meeting with three of the department heads about projects they have on the table or input on procedures, my last meeting is with Rollins from quality control. I remember Butterfly telling me that she instructed him to test the XRC90 transmitter earlier this morning. I’m certain the tests can’t be complete already.

“Thank you for seeing me on such short notice, Mr. Grey,” Rollins says as he strolls into the room. I hadn’t noticed how short he was before now. That could also be because he’s usually sitting when we meet and I rarely meet with him one-on-one.

“Your meeting, Mr. Rollins,” I say as I take the seat behind my desk.

“Yes, sir, it’s about the XRC90 transmitter…” I know that. Get to the point. “An idea is on the table to replicate the transmitter in our factory and conduct a separate set of hypothesis testing on the product.”

And…? I’m waiting for the point here.

“I just want to know how you feel about it, Mr. Grey.” How I feel about it? What the fuck does he mean how I feel about it? I frown, showing my confusion.

“I don’t get where you’re going with this,” I say, folding my arms.

“It’s just that… there’s a dollar value involved in replicating the technology before we have the actual prototype in hand from the original manufacturer, not to mention the man-hours involved in the duplicate testing.”

I still don’t see where he’s going with this. Butterfly told him to build the prototypes and do the testing. Now, he’s standing here in my office asking me if he should build the prototypes, which means he hasn’t even gotten started on it yet. Why the fuck is he in my office instead of building the goddamn prototypes? This entire deal is hinging on whether these things do what they say they can do or not.

“Where did this idea come from?” I ask. “How was this course of action brought to your attention?” I already know; I just want his sneaky, sniveling ass to tell me.

“Well, Mrs. Grey suggested that we rebuild the prototype and rerun all the hypothesis testing already performed by Waymark Industries. You know that they have an open book/open door policy. We can review any of their documentation and procedures. They have no reason to hide anything from us.” Yeah, just like Fairlane had no reason to hide anything. My blood turns cold

“Did Mrs. Grey say why she wanted you to build the prototype and run the tests?” I ask, impassively.

“She said that the graph of the test findings showed that the product performed extremely well in test markets and in quality control testing and wanted to rerun the tests to confirm or disprove the results.” He chuckles and I see absolutely nothing funny. “She compared the transmitter to something called Vip,” he says with mirth. Yeah, Rock Hudson, Doris Day, disastrous alcohol candy. I look down at my laptop and the graph Butterfly saw when I was describing the merger/acquisition and the XRC90 transmitter. She’s right. That graph portrays a product that could save the company, which means a merger would actually be against their interest. I saw the graph, but I have other analysts to determine the profitability of the products. I’m focused on the profitability of the company as a whole.

There’s some kind of hidden meaning here and Butterfly picked up on it. She acted promptly on it and asked for more data—as the analysts would have ultimately done when they got to this part of the project—and this fucker is up here asking me questions and wasting time instead of doing what my wife and business partner instructed him to do. Mommy told you to do something, so you go ask Daddy if you really have to do it…

Oh, fuck. That’s exactly what he’s doing. Fucking hell. Nothing she said got through to these fuckers. My actions must be swift and sure.

“Mr. Rollins, do you know that Mrs. Grey graduated with a minor in business finance?” I say without raising my eyes to him.

“Uh… no, sir, I didn’t,” he says, uncertain. I nod.

“You can go now.” I can almost hear his frown in the room.

“Well, what should I do, Mr. Grey?” he asks. I laugh inwardly as I raise my eyes to his.

“That’s a good question, Mr. Rollins,” I say, and nothing else. He stands there for about ten more seconds before he finally realizes that the meeting is over. I wait for a minute or two before I call out to Andrea.

“Yes, sir?”

“Send an emergency appointment to each department head and assistant department head that we will be having a meeting at…” I look at my watch. “… Four thirty this afternoon. Attendance is mandatory, even if they’ve already left the building. If they’re not in the Cayman Islands somewhere or laid up in the hospital, I expect them to be at this meeting. Call Mrs. Grey. Tell her that it’s imperative that she be present as well. The meeting will be downstairs on the twelfth floor in the Baldor Conference Room, if it’s available.”

“Yes, sir,” she says without pausing. I end the call.

*-*

“My apologies for my rudeness, everyone.” Butterfly says. “I didn’t know there was a meeting today.” She breezes into the conference room ten minutes late for the meeting looking flawless in a House of Fraser blue-gray three-pocket, two-button Corsivo men’s suit. That body makes that suit look illegal and no man anywhere would dare try to make it look as good as she does with plain black pumps and a dress shirt with two buttons open… and that’s not what she was wearing when she left three hours ago.

“There wasn’t,” I say, rising from my seat along with every other man who wasn’t already standing. Her hair is straight now, two, when earlier, it was curly. We’ll have to discuss that later.

“Please, sit,” I say, gesturing to the chair next to me. She sits and I remain standing and get right down to business.

“In recent months, I’ve learned to temper a bit of fairness with my iron fist. I’m sure some you have seen it, even if you don’t admit it.” There are various murmurings around the room. “My wife can be quite ruthless when she needs to, I’ve seen it, but I’m sure that she’s going to feel that this is one of those moments where I’m not being fair.” I don’t even turn my gaze to Butterfly. I know her gaze is upon me, wondering what the hell I’m talking about. I’m about to prove a point. GEH is about to have its first sacrificial lamb.

“Rollins, stand up.” Rollins slowly makes his way to his feet, his gaze uncertain. “You’re fired.”

There are gasps around the room and everyone sits as still as statues, eyes either on me or on Rollins.

“S… sir?” he says uncertainly, like he knows that he couldn’t have heard what he just heard.

“Yes, you heard me correctly. You’re fired.” I turn my gaze down to my wife, who is staring directly at me gaped mouth. “Dr. Grey, is there something you would like to say?”

Her brow furrowed, her mouth open, her eyes relaying nothing but sheer horror, she has several false starts before she finally delivers an uncertain, “No.”

“You’re half-owner of this company. If you have certain feelings or opinions, you have a right to express them,” I urge her. Her gaze swivels from Rollins to me a few times, her expression screaming what the hell just happened. Say it, Butterfly. It won’t make an impact if you don’t tell them.

“I just…” She gestures to Rollins. “I don’t mean to undermine your authority, Mr. Grey, not that I could,” she proceeds cautiously, “but you know that I asked Mr. Rollins to perform some additional quality control testing in one of the technologies we stand to acquire in the Waymark deal. I felt the test were necessary based on our earlier discussion about the condition of the company and its possible profitability. I felt that additional testing would reinforce or dispel the original findings, thereby delivering more succinct and usable findings to improve the end-result. If there was a problem with this theory or testing, that’s my fault, Christian, not his.”

And there it is. Thank you, Butterfly.

“There’s no problem with the testing, Dr. Grey,” I say and her brow furrows again. “He never implemented it. He never even started production of the prototype.” To her bewildered expression, I say, “Rollins came to me this afternoon questioning your instructions.”

“This afternoon…” she repeated as if testing the phrase.

“Yes, this afternoon, after you left.” I turn to Rollins. “I would venture to say that even after our little meeting, you still haven’t approved production, have you?”

“I… um…” he stutters.

“That’s a yes or no question,” I inform him.

“No… sir, I haven’t… but…”

“I parted ways with Dr. Grey this morning at 11:30,” I interrupt him. “She was back in my office for lunch around 12:10. She told me that she was going to see you. Did she?” He swallows hard.

“Yes, sir, she did,” he croaks.

“During that time, she asked you to test the XRC90 transmitter for possible discrepancies in the results. Correct?”

“Yes, sir,” he admits.

“I wasn’t present for that meeting. How receptive was Mr. Rollins to your request, Dr. Grey?”

Butterfly is still shell-shocked, but recovered quickly and answers, “He was a bit resistant.” I frown.

“Resistant?” She didn’t tell me this. “Resistant in what way?” She opens her mouth to speak, but Rollins begins to speak before she does.

“Mrs. … Dr. Grey came to R&D just as Nathan, Paul, and I were examining the schematics for the transmitter. It was then than she asked if we were going to build a prototype…” He trails off when he realizes that both Butterfly and I are both glaring at him like death. Trying to dig a bigger hole there, Rollins? I turn back to my wife.

“Resistant in what way?” I repeat my question.

“I did locate him in R&D. I asked questions about the findings from Waymark Industries. I pointed out that the results were skewed high-right, which isn’t indicative of a failing company. Even if they were failing, the results indicate that they have a miracle technology that can save the company. I told him to make ten prototypes and repeat the testing to see if he could reproduce the results. His response was the equivalent of ‘I’ll think about it…’”

I jerk back when she tells me this. Surely, she was mistaken.

“He didn’t say that, did he?” I ask, appalled. “Maybe you misunderstood?” I question further.

“Well, his exact response was ‘I’ll see what I can do,’” she informs me, to my horror. “When I informed him that this was not a request, he proceeded to ask if I had gotten your permission…”

“Dr. Grey, I didn’t… I asked if you had spoken to Mr. Grey. I only wanted to know if he was aware of the requ… instructions. It’s not the same thing…”

“It is the same thing,” I correct him firmly. You might try to pull that bullshit on somebody else but it’s not going to work on me, and it apparently didn’t work on my wife. He’s silent again and I turn back to Butterfly. “Anything else?”

“Except for the fact that he was unendingly condescending to me and never bothered to introduce me to Mr. Burgess or Mr. Hammock even though all three of them were present when I walked into the room.” Are you fucking kidding me? I pinch the bridge of my nose.

“Condescending?” I ask. “To one of the owners of the company?” She sighs.

“When I asked what they were looking at, his greeting was ‘Are you lost?’ Every time I asked a question about the transmitter or the findings, he gave me clipped answers like I didn’t know what I was talking about. I’ve already mentioned that even though he was the only one in the room who knew who I was, he didn’t bother introducing me to the other two gentlemen in the area. A moment ago was the only time he called me Dr. Grey all day. I didn’t bother correcting him. I pointed out the same thing that you did—that I’m fifty-percent owner of this company. I thought we had an understanding by the time I left the floor, but apparently I was mistaken, as he still felt like I need Daddy’s permission to make a decision.”

She’s getting pissed now, but she was already pissed because she didn’t direct him to call her Dr. Grey. Now I’m wondering if this is the reason that she went over the edge so easily at lunchtime… because she was upset. I’m beginning to take this bastard’s behavior a bit personally.

“Oh,” she adds, “and contrary to the connotation, I didn’t make any requests of Research and Development—only Quality Control.” I shake my head. I know why she clarified that.

“May I ask why you didn’t bring any of this to my attention at lunch?” I ask in front of the department heads. She raises her hands in a mock shrug.

“I thought it was all taken care of—that Mr. Rollins understood his marching orders and was going to proceed as he was told.” She turns to Rollins. “Obviously, I was wrong.” I shake my head and turn my gaze to Rollins.

“How much experience do you have in business finance, Mr. Rollins?” I ask. He shakes his head.

“I-I know cost analysis, sir…” he begins.

“That’s enough to answer this question, I think,” I interrupt him. “In your professional opinion, which one is more costly to a particular outcome—double-spent man-hours or wasted time?” He shakes his head again.

“Both are detrimental to a company, Mr. Grey,” he says bemused.

“That’s not what I asked you. I asked which is more costly?” I repeat.

“I’d need to have that question in context in order to answer properly,” he says. I nod. That’s fair.

“Mr. Henton,” I direct my question to the Production department head, “has the production floor ever had to go into overtime to meet a deadline?”

“Um, yes, sir,” he says cautiously.

“In your opinion, would it have been more beneficial to the cause or the company for you to accept defeat and stop production of whatever item you were producing, thereby saving the money on production because the man-hours weren’t being used?” Henton frowns.

“Well, no… sir. I think that would have been counterproductive.”

“Can you tell me why you feel that way?” I ask.

“Well, if we didn’t finish the product and get it shipped to the customer on time, it would have caused all kinds of problems. We wouldn’t have gotten the product on the shelves. We would have broken a promise to one of our customers to deliver product. We may have lost the contract… all kinds of things.”

“So, in your opinion, was it more beneficial and cost effective to the company and the cause to use the double man-hours than it would have been to do nothing?” I pose the question to him.

“Well, yes, sir. That seems obvious,” he replies.

“Apparently, not so obvious,” I say, turning back to Rollins. “At noon at the very latest, my wife—a major owner of this company—told you to start production on the XRC90 transmitter so that you could test it and see if Waymark’s results were reliable. All other points aside—logical or illogical—that was four and a half hours ago that she gave you that command. You puttered around doing God only knows what for more than two hours waiting to meet with me about marching orders that you already had. Then you puttered around for two more hours after you met with me and still did nothing. You wasted four and a half hours, during which time, you didn’t get one prototype made. No trial and error, no ‘Can we do it,’ no molds, no nothing. You stand there now, looking surprised because you spent the afternoon with your head up your ass instead of following instructions.

“My wife and I said the same thing—don’t try to use us against each other. In case that somehow was unclear, that also means don’t use one of us to try to veto the command of the other. Isn’t that what you meant?” I ask my wife.

“It certainly is,” she says finitely.

“And tell me, how would you feel if you went back to Rollins for an update and he told you that I had nixed your request?” She twists her lips only slightly and I nod. “The same way that I would feel if one of my department heads told me that you put the kibosh on one of my direct orders.” I turn to address the department heads in the room. “This is the consequence for trying to pit me against my wife and business partner. This is a team—all of us, we are a team! I know first-hand that if one of us is weak, one of us is compromised, we are all compromised!” I harden, recalling Dodd’s betrayal and the subsequent hacker situation.

“We must trust each other. We must trust each other’s judgments, and professional disagreements or differences of opinions must be handled in a diplomatic and businesslike manner, not by sneaking behind one another’s backs and trying to get a consensus, whatever that consensus may be. Mob mentalities, faction behavior and clique-like office politics only serve to divide the whole, to weaken the team and I won’t have it. Each of us needs to trust the other to carry out necessary requirements to keep the company solvent and profitable as a whole or tomorrow, we won’t have jobs. There will be no mutiny or hostile takeovers inside my company or I will bury you, and treacherous activities among the department heads is where it starts. We have to trust each other implicitly…” I turn to Rollins. “… And you are not trustworthy.”

I let the words float around the room for a bit.

“You can sign the separation papers currently being prepared by human resources indicating that you’ll go away quietly and take three months’ severance pay and benefits and your accrued vacation payout, or you can sue me for wrongful termination. I’ll give that money to my fantastic team of lawyers instead and let them wipe the courtroom floor with your face, after which you’ll be required to pay my legal fees. Manchester will take you to pack your belongings and you will speak to no one on your way out. Remember that you have an NDA that I will enforce to the fullest extent of the law and it extends to libel, slander, and any type of espionage. Oh, and while you ponder your decision, remember… don’t fuck with me. You know how I operate!” He frowns deeply then turns a hateful gaze at my wife. Before I can speak to defend her, she defends herself.

“Don’t fuck with me, either,” she responds to his hateful gaze. “I can take down a man twice your size and I carry a Glock.”

All the color leaves his face. She actually scared him.

“That may have been too much information,” I say quietly to her.

“I didn’t think so,” she responds, fearless as usual.

“Mr. Welch?” I say. Alex nods to Manchester, who proceeds to walk out with Rollins. With a few taps in his phone, he begins to deactivate Rollins’ clearances. I turn back to the room.

“Any questions?”


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