Raising Grey: Chapter 18—I Can See Clearly Now…

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 18—I Can See Clearly Now…

CHRISTIAN

“I’m sorry, Marilyn, but I’m not waking her. Anastasia had a rough night last night, and I don’t expect for her to wake for at least another three hours.”

“I’m sorry, Christian, but this is really important,” Marilyn presses. “There are two shows vying for her attention and she’s been trying to get both spots for weeks! If she doesn’t make a decision today—like now, they’re going to give these spots to someone else!”

“Then, make the decision,” I say calmly. “That’s why she hired you.”

“I wouldn’t dare make this decision without her input!” she retorts. “She’d have my head on a platter.”

“Well, you’re going to have to make it today,” I say calmly. “Listen… I swear I’m not being difficult. She had a bad night, a very. Bad. Night. Unless you tell me that you see Armageddon coming over Lake Washington, I’m not waking her.”

Butterfly has been asleep for maybe two and a half hours after staying awake all night keeping an eye on me. Unless she comes down those stairs on her own, I’m not disturbing her for at least another three hours. Even my mother has called about some letter she wrote to the licensing board and I refuse to disturb her right now.

“I’ll take whatever fallout you would take for this, but I’m not waking her. She needs to rest.” I hear Marilyn sigh on the other end.

“She’s going to have my neck,” she says defeated.

“Did you do anything wrong?” I ask.

“No, but she gave me specific instructions that the moment either of these GM’s called to find her wherever she is.” I lean back in my chair and sigh.

“Okay, let’s talk,” I say. The line gets quiet.

“What?”

“Let’s talk. What’s going on with these two GM’s?”

“Well, they both need somebody to fill their Monday morning spot,” she says.

“And this same thing happened last weekend,” I tell her. “What is it? Do they all wait until Sunday afternoon to fill their Monday morning spots?” I’m serious with this question. I recall that Butterfly wasn’t happy when the radio station called eighteen hours before show time to move her mid-morning interview to 5am.

“I don’t know,” she says. “I think they sometimes just have a change in programming.”

“So, let me tell you what’s happening,” I say crossing my legs and getting comfortable. “Butterfly had a somewhat volatile interview last Monday, after which she dropped a little fire on the press on the sidewalk when she left. I breezed through and threw a little gasoline on that fire so that when she had her Wednesday and Thursday interviews, they were pretty tame for the most part… but the fires were already burning. Are you following me so far?”

“Um, yeah,” she says with a little uncertainty.

“Now, there are a few unanswered questions as well as some fuses that can be lit for the first show that can get her on the hot seat, which is what they’re trying to do now—not necessarily trying to back her into a corner, but trying to pin her down to information before she gives it to anyone else. Have you seen today’s society page?” The line is silent again.

“Since when do you read the society page?” she asks.

“Since my wife started doing radio interviews,” I tell her, “and since a boater somewhere captured pictures of us making out on my private yacht! You wanna know why both of those stations are burning up your phone right now? Because we’re in the news today… not only because we were stealing kisses while sharing an ice cream cone at the zoo yesterday, but also because that asshole disk-jockey Judd whatever the fuck his last name is, was making noise at a bar last night after having too much to drink about recently being placed on administrative suspension after five women from the radio station accused him of sexual harassment. This after my wife made it very clear that he behaved inappropriately towards her on the air. You wanna know why they’re chomping at the bit to get her to commit to them before the sun goes down? Because they know that Butterfly is prone to do any impromptu interview if you shove a mic in her face and they’re trying to avoid that. They want an exclusive.

“Let them know that she’s not available right now and that when she is, she will discuss with them when and if she can make an appearance. Be firm, Marilyn. Let them know that as important as her cause is to her, she will not be pressured into committing to a Monday morning live spot less than 24 hours before the red light comes on. No matter who it is that’s asking for the interview, it’s unrealistic, and it’s not going to happen. You know it and I know it and if she were standing here, she’d tell you the same thing. She’d say that she needed to think about it and to try to come up with an alternative. So, give them that choice—to come up with a reasonable alternative and I’ll bet you that if they want her bad enough and they’re not up to anything sneaky, they will.” She’s silent for a few moments.

“Yeah… that makes sense,” she says, uncertainly.

“Of course, it makes sense,” I tell her. “They’re not calling the shots, she is. I know my Butterfly. She doesn’t want to come off as a diva and she doesn’t want to be difficult, but she won’t be ‘pushed over’ either and they need to know that. KNTZ tried that shit and totally lost the interview. They wanted the Senator in her spot and they got it. It was a good gamble, but in the process, they lost Butterfly. I can guarantee you that somebody somewhere is banging their head against a wall wondering if there’s some way that they could have secured both of those interviews without trying to stick her in a spot when the roosters crowed. Because that’s what cost them the interview—it wasn’t that they wanted to move her. It’s where they wanted to move her to. Think like they are and negotiate slots. She depends on you to tell her what her schedule is. You are Ana when she’s not there. You represent my wife to the public before they see her. You’re as important as she is, if not more, because you’re the gatekeeper. They can’t both have the same slot. Negotiate the space—it’s as simple as that. One of those spots is more attractive than the other and you know it is. You just have to think outside the box to figure out which one it is.” There’s another pause.

“Thank you, Christian,” she says. “You’ve helped me a lot… but please tell Ana to call me as soon as she wakes, okay? Maybe by then, I will have smoothed out an interview schedule for tomorrow.”

“Good deal,” I say before exchanging pleasantries and ending the call. Just as I’m picking up the paper again, Jason taps on my office door. I raise my head as he walks in.

“You look somber,” I say. He sighs heavily.

“I’m trying to get myself ready,” he says. I nod. He and Sophie have to be in court tomorrow for the custody case. They usually don’t move this quickly, but Shalane Deleroy is looking at jail time… plus, I know a few influential people and I wasn’t going to chance that crazy bitch getting “cleaned up” and taking Sophie away from Jason. So, as long as we could get the case in front of a judge while she’s still awaiting trial, it’s cut and dried.

“Are you ready?” I ask.

“Oh, I’m more than ready for the trial,” he says, “but this bitch is coming over here today.” I sit up in my seat.

“Today?” I bark. “Why?”

“She wants to see Sophie,” he says. I roll my eyes. He has to make Sophie available for reasonable visitation. It’s likely that he’ll have to do that even if Shalane has to do time. I shake my head.

“Don’t leave her alone with that bitch,” I say. “Make her come inside.” Jason furrows his brows.

“You want her in the house?” he asks, surprised.

“No, I don’t want her in the house,” I say, “but she can’t be outside of this house with Sophia. She tried to sell her to a drug dealer, for God’s sake. Why does she want to see her now?” I shake my head. “No, I don’t trust that bitch for shit. They can bring her through the mud room and around the back. She can talk to Sophie in the community room, in her apartment, or on the back patio, but she can’t leave the grounds with her.”

Jason examines me for a moment, then his eyes soften.

“You would think Sophie was your daughter,” he says, trying to hide a smirk.

“Well, she’s my honorary niece and I feel responsible for her,” I retort. He smiles widely.

“Thanks, Boss,” he says sincerely, “I thought we’d have to go to a park again. The paps were getting wise to that routine and Shalane likes an audience.”

“Don’t mention it,” I tell him. “When can we expect the witch?” He looks at his watch.

“In about an hour,” he laments.

“Why is she coming to see Sophie the day before she’s supposed to go to court?”

“Probably to guilt trip her into saying something nice about her tomorrow. She doesn’t understand that it won’t matter. The judge wants to hear what Sophie has to say, but with what Shalane is charged with, it won’t make a bit of difference in the decision.”

“You should be able to keep her from influencing Sophie that way, or at least trying to,” I protest.

“I don’t want anything to get in the way of tomorrow,” he says.

“Trust me, that bitch tried to sell your daughter. Nothing’s getting in the way of tomorrow.”

*-*

My wife awoke rested and feeling much better a few hours later. Chuck and I are treated to a show of our women doing yoga in the backyard near the pool. Chuck has that faraway look in his eyes when he watches her and we talk for a while about their future and when he plans to propose to her again. He insists that he doesn’t want to rush it, but that he’d marry her on a moment’s notice if she said, “Yes.” Jason comes out to the patio to sit with us, joking that it’s a good thing that his and Gail’s apartment is in the middle between Chuck’s apartment and Sophie’s or Chuck would need soundproof walls. Chuck apologizes and promises to keep it down to muffled screams of passion from now on. Just as we comment that Shalane is two and a half hours late for this oh-so-important visit with Sophie, Jason gets a call that the witch has arrived. He goes off to get Sophie just as my hot wife and our nanny finish their session.

“Did you enjoy the show?” she asks, toweling off the sweat from her body.

“Bring that body over here and I’ll show you how much I enjoyed the show,” I say, wagging my eyebrows. She walks closer to me, still drying her body.

“God, you’re insatiable, Mr. Grey, and I’m all sweaty,” she protests. I grab her wrist and pull her quickly into my lap, eliciting a fit of giggles that I love to hear from her so much.

“And you point is?” I say, situating her firmly on my lap. “I love the way you smell,” I confess, kissing her sweaty neck.

“Behave, now,” I say. “We have others around.” At that moment, I look over at our “others” and Chuck has a handful of Keri’s ass, proclaiming what a “fine piece of meat” she is.

“I don’t think they care,” I say, nuzzling back into my wife neck and licking the salty sweat from her skin. She giggles again and I hear someone clear their throat behind me. We all turn our gaze to see Lawrence and Shalane Deleroy standing on the patio just this side of the French doors. Deleroy looks nervous, but not nervous enough to put a leash on her tongue as she distastefully observes the PDAs she’s witnessing while Lawrence’s gaze seems to be transfixed on… Keri.

“Well,” Deleroy says indignantly, “so much for decorum.” My wife is rising off my lap and talking at the same time.

“Bitch, you are all the way in my house now and I have no love lost for your ass. Keep talking shit in my house and I will happily slap your ass back across the bridge!” I catch my wife’s wrist just as she gets to Deleroy, who is now cowering behind Lawrence.

“Whoa, settle, tiger,” I say softly. “That’s not your fight.”

“It is when she walks in my house talking shit,” she hisses before turning back to Deleroy and pointing a finely manicured finger at her. “One more word,” Butterfly threatens, “Just one more word out-of-line…”

“Making friends as usual, I see,” Jason says as he, Sophie, and Gail all come from the direction of the apartments.

“Sophie! Baby, I’ve missed you!” Deleroy says a little too enthusiastically as she holds her arms open for Sophie, who doesn’t move towards her mother.

“What do you want, Mom?” Sophie says softly. Deleroy drops her arms.

“I see he’s turned you against me,” Deleroy says. Sophie turns to leave. “Sophia!” she calls, and her voice sounds a little desperate. Sophie stops and comes back to Jason’s side.

“I already told you, Mom, I’m not going to let you talk badly about Dad anymore. If that’s why you came, then you can leave.”

This girl is way too wise and has seen way too much to be so young. She’s gaining some of her childhood years back being here with us and being around the babies, and around Luma’s girls when they come over. Even her apartment, though fully functional, is decked out with things that a little girl her age should have. She’s been much more rounded since she been here than I remember when she first got here. She’s more outspoken and she seems to have more fun. She’s relaxed… until her mother comes around.

“Let’s go, Sophie. I’d like for us to have a talk,” Deleroy say.

“In light of the circumstances and the case tomorrow, your visit with Sophia will take place on the grounds today,” Jason says, firmly. Deleroy looks horrified by this revelation.

“You’re saying that I can’t even be alone with my child anymore?” she asks in dismay.

“Of course, you can. You just can’t leave the grounds,” Jason says, before turning to Sophie. “Sophie, where would you like to visit with your mother?”

“She can come to my apartment,” Sophie says, her voice none too pleased.

“Your apartment?” Deleroy exclaims. “These people have you living alone and you’re only twelve?”

“There’s the word!” I have to catch my wife around her waist to prevent her from lunging at Deleroy, who turns white as a ghost at the gesture. Sophie, however, is not one to let the comment drop so easily.

“No, Mom, I’m not alone here! I’m never alone here. There are people here with me all the time—Momma Gail, Daddy, Mr. Christian, Ms. Ana, Chuck, Keri—and when they’re not here, there’s always somebody else. What you did—leaving me in that house with no food and no phone for three days while your creepy drug dealer kept coming by looking for you right before you tried to trade me off for drugs—that was alone. This is not alone. I’m not alone here. I’m never, ever alone!”

The patio is silent while Sophie faces off with her obviously delusional mother.

“And I realize that I’m not a priority in your life and I don’t think I ever was, but try to keep up, Mom. I’m thirteen.” Though her voice was shrill and angry moments ago, Sophie’s voice is low and cool when she delivers this bit of information. Then, she drops the final bomb on her mother. “Your visit was at twelve. It’s two thirty. You’re late and I don’t want to see you. You can leave now.”

Sophie turns and walks back towards the apartments.

“Sophie!” Deleroy calls after her, but she doesn’t stop walking. “Sophia!” Still no response as Sophie disappears into the jungle patio. “Go get her!” she hisses at Jason. “The court says I still have visitation!”

“Yes,” Jason agrees, “supervised visitation at an agreed time. Your visitation was at noon. You missed it.” Deleroy wrings her hands, looking past Jason as if she’s desperate for Sophie to return.

“I was detained,” she says, her voice shaking.

“I know,” Jason says calmly. “You’re tweeking.”

So, that’s why she’s shaky and nervous. Damn, it’s so fucking obvious, I wasn’t even paying attention. Deleroy narrows her eyes and lashes out on Jason, ignoring his last comment.

“You are not better than me, Jason!” she yells. “I’ve had bad luck and that’s all. I’ve made mistakes, but you can’t hold them over my head for the rest of my life! You move her into this fortress and I can’t even get to her! You and that cow and this prima donna are filling her head with bullshit…”

Butterfly almost got to her with that last statement, but I was fast enough to pull her back… and now she’s furious.

“Goddammit if you’re not gonna let me beat ‘er ass get ‘er the fuck outta my house!” She screams it all in one breath—and I do mean screams.

“You need to leave before my wife kills you!” I exclaim, because I’m a strong man, but holding back a flailing, snarling, scratching, angry cat is not an easy task. I hear some word fly back and forth, but I’m too busy trying to keep my wife from committing a felony. When things seem like they’re going completely out of control, a shrill voice brings everybody to a screeching halt.

“Go! Mom! You’re high!”

Butterfly stops flailing in my arms and all eyes are on Sophie.

“Sophie… baby…” Deleroy squeaks.

“I will. Not. See you. When you’re high! Go. Now!” Sophie’s fists are clenched and I think everyone knows to let her handle this.

“Sophie, I’m not…”

“Oh, my Goooo-ooo-ooodah!” Sophie says in pure frustration. “You’re so full of shit!” she screams. Jason’s head jerks back, but there’s nobody on this patio but Sophia Taylor and Shalane Deleroy.

“I never mattered to you!” she screams. “Even before the drugs, I never mattered! I was a way to piss Dad off, or a way to get more money from him, or in the end, a trade-off for a quick fix! I was a kid, Mom, not fucking blind!”

Gail’s eyes are large and she hisses at nearly every word that comes out of Sophie’s mouth.

“Get out! Get! Out!” Sophie’s screaming, but nobody moves. She looks at all the adults, her eyes glassy and full of fury.

“Do I live here or not??” she screams at whomever will answer. Everybody’s too stunned to reply, so I do.

“Yes, Sophie. You live here.”

“Then, get her out of here!” She’s pointing at Shalane and screaming at Lawrence. “Get her out!” I throw a quick look at Lawrence who immediately turns on Shalane.

“Ma’am,” he says, giving her an opportunity to leave on her own. She looks at him with disdain.

“You can’t make me…”

“Two of the occupants of this residence has requested your departure. You are now trespassing, which is a crime in Seattle. You can walk, or I can remove you. You have ten seconds to decide.”

Shalane looks wide-eyed at Lawrence, then at Sophie, who looks like she will beat Deleroy back across the bridge. With probably one second to spare, she decides that she would rather walk, turns indignantly, and leaves with Lawrence right on her heels. A few seconds after her departure, Sophie breaks down. Butterfly wiggles from my grasp and goes to her, wrapping her arms around Sophie as she sobs. Jason runs his hand through his hair, obviously trying not to hit something.

“I’m… sorry…” Sophie chokes through her tears as every woman on the patio cocoons protectively around her.

*-*

Butterfly and I go to court with Jason and Gail the next afternoon as moral support and witnesses for Jason. Al tried to prepare us, but we don’t know what to expect. Shalane is present with her attorney and she has brought a few witnesses with her as well. We don’t know any of these people, but of course, they all sing praises about how good a mother Shalane is and how well she takes care of Sophie. When they are examined by Al about Shalane’s drug use and attempt to trade Sophie for methamphetamines, they suddenly get the stammers and complete amnesia about these particular incidents. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see through the theatrics and determine that these are not credible or believable witnesses.

Standing against a gainfully-employed father who unwittingly supported this woman’s drug habit through generous amounts of continued child support for several years, a billionaire businessman and entrepreneur, a respected psychiatrist and member of the community who donates her time and professional services to a local community center whose mission and vision is to assist battered and unfortunate families to be self-sufficient and safe—oh, and a police officer armed with an arrest report that this strung-out mother was apprehended in a drug raid with said child in attendance, possibly with intent to trade said child for a fix—yeah… not much ground to stand on, Deleroy.

But our presence wasn’t the poison pill.

Sophie wasn’t allowed to be present during the presentation of the custody case. However, her deposition was taken in chambers with both attorneys present. The judge felt that she needed to be free to express her true feelings. Had they seen this young lady on my patio yesterday, they would have known that this wouldn’t be an issue. The video of Sophie’s deposition is played for us just before the judge renders his decision.

“How old are you, Sophie?” the judge asks.

“I’m thirteen,” she replies.

“And you know why you’re here, right?” she nods.

“You’re trying to decide if I live with my mom or my dad,” she says. The judge nods.

“What kind of grades do you get in school?” he asks.

“I get A’s and B’s mostly,” she says. “I got a ‘C’ in gym though.”

“Why did you get a ‘C’ in gym?” he asks.

“I was losing points because I kept coming to class with the wrong color shorts on,” she says.

“Why did you do that?”

“I needed yellow, green, or gray. I didn’t have any of those colors, so I wore what I had. I told my mom that I needed yellow, green, or gray and she said she would get them, but she never did. So, I got a ‘C’ in gym.” She shrugs.

“You don’t seem to care too much about that ‘C’ in gym,” the judge says.

“Worse things happen,” she says with a shrug.

“Worse things like what?”

“Like not seeing your mom at all for weeks at a time,” she says. “I mean, she was there, I just never saw her. She was asleep when I came home from school, or she was in the room with one of her boyfriends. I had to cook for myself… when there was food in the house…”

“There were times when there was no food in the house?” he asks. She nods.

“Near the end, yeah,” she says. “At first, it was just Mom wasn’t around, I didn’t have her breathing down my neck all the time, great. Then, these guys started coming around and I never saw her. Then, she would be gone for days and I knew she wasn’t there. Then, we started running out of food and I had to make what I could… Is my Dad going to see this?”

Jason sits up straight in his seat and listens carefully to what she says.

“You’re saying that you don’t want your dad to see this?” the judge asks. Sophie shakes her head. “Why not?”

“Because he’s gonna be mad at me,” she says.

“Why do you think your father is going to be mad at you?” She rolls her eyes.

“Because one day a while ago, there wasn’t any food in the house and I was hungry and I went to school and I ate out of the garbage.” Jason’s hand flies to his mouth. He closes his eyes and his head drops.

“Why do you think he would be angry with you for that?”

“Because I never told him,” she says with a sigh. “I was trying to protect my mother.”

“Why would you want to protect her from something like that?” the judge asks. “You were hungry…”

“Because she’s my mom,” Sophie says, like the answer was obvious. “She’s done some really messed-up things, but she’s still my mom.”

Now Deleroy’s head falls. She covers her face and cries.

“So, you still love her,” the judge asks.

“Of course, I love her!” Sophie nearly shrieks. “She’s just… not a good mom anymore.”

Deleroy chokes back a sob. Even for a strung-out, soulless, cold-hearted bitch who tried to sell her 12-year-old daughter, this must be hard to hear.

“Was she ever a good mom?” the judge asks.

“That’s hard to say,” Sophie replies soberly. “I think she was. I didn’t have anything to compare it to until I saw Ms. Ana with the twins…”

Butterfly covers her mouth and gasps. I reach over and grasp her hand.

“Those are babies, though. Everybody likes babies.” Sophie smiles playfully. “But when she thinks nobody’s looking, she smiles at them and she kisses them. She tells them that she loves them and I know they don’t know what she’s saying. You just… know that she would do anything for those babies…” Sophie trails off.

“You didn’t feel like that with your mother?” Sophie shrugs again and looks like she’s searching for her words.

“I’m a little older now than I was when I was living with Mom, and…” she trails off again, sighs, and starts to fidget with her fingers. “Do you know that Momma Gail calls me ‘Pumpkin?’” she says, smiling. “Daddy calls me ‘Baby Boo.’ Mom calls me ‘Sophie’ or ‘Sophia.’ Everybody calls me that. Ms. Ana and Mr. Christian call the twins ‘Minnie and Mikey.’ Isn’t that cute?” she nearly squeals.

“Yes, it is,” the judge agrees, lightheartedly.

“Mr. Christian… he calls Ms. Ana ‘Butterfly,’ and when they don’t think I can hear them, Daddy calls Momma Gail ‘Love’ and Keri calls Chuck ‘Choonks,’” she giggles.

We have to be careful around this little girl. She sees and hears everything.

“I even heard one girl’s mom at school calls her ‘Nooka.’ I don’t even know what that means, but her name is ‘Ember,’ so I know it’s a nickname.” She drops her head sadly.

“What does that mean to you?” the judge asks.

“It means that these people love each other,” she says, sadly. “Mom never had a nickname for me. As far back as I can remember, Daddy called me ‘Baby Boo,’ but Mom never had a nickname for me. Just… Sophie… Everybody calls me ‘Sophie…’” she sounds as if she’s going to cry.

“You don’t like ‘Sophie?’”

“It’s okay, it’s my name… but shouldn’t your mom have a different name for you? I mean, something that nobody else calls you? Like everybody calls ‘Minnie and Mikey’ ‘Minnie and Mikey.’ But Mr. Christian and Ms. Ana might call ‘em ‘Mouse,’ or ‘Little Man,’ or ‘Big Man,’ or something like that… I know I’m not making sense…” she says.

“No, you’re making perfect sense,” the judge says, “but just because your mom didn’t have a special nickname for you didn’t make her a bad mom, did it?”

“No, I guess not,” Sophie says, and now she’s mum on the subject.

“Why don’t we get to the important stuff—why we’re here… where you want to live,” the judge says. “Your opinion is important here.” Sophie sighs.

“Are you going to listen to me or are you going to throw out what I’m saying because I’m a kid?” she asks.

Jason looks back at me and I swear we must be sharing the same look of awe.

“I’m going to listen to you, Sophia,” the judge says. Sophie obviously looks at Allen and Deleroy’s attorney before looking at the judge, then back at her hands.

“My mom has a problem,” she says, her voice cracking. “She didn’t always have this problem, but she has it now. She wasn’t always a bad mom… she really wasn’t. She kept me away from my dad, and that hurt, but she still wasn’t a bad mom…”

Deleroy is weeping now.

“But when she started that stuff, she changed. Everything changed. I was… ten or eleven, maybe… but I could tell things were different. She lost weight, she didn’t wash, she looks old… her teeth in the back are rotting away. She smells different, she acts different… Daddy was sending a lot of money for child support. I know he was, but there still wasn’t enough! Things just got bad and then they got worse and now… Mom might go to jail. What’s going to happen to me then?

“I spent a lot of time with my mom and I was barely ever able to see my dad. I wanna live with my dad,” she says without raising her head.

“Is that the only reason you want to live with your dad?” the judge asks.

“Mom’s not a good mom anymore… I wanna live with my dad,” she says again. “She never let me see him,” Sophie says, raising her head. “When I asked to call him or go see him, she always said he was too busy. For a long time, I thought my dad didn’t want me and she let me keep thinking that. Who does that?” She drops her head again.

“Even after everything that’s happened, Dad’ll still let me see Mom any time I ask him. He’s never kept me away from her… I just can’t be alone with her because she’s on that stuff. And I want her to get better, I really do, but I can’t live with her. I was hungry and unhappy and lonely… I don’t want to live with her…”

“What if she gets better, though?” the judge asks. “What if she goes into rehab and she’s not using anymore? We can make it so that you live with your father for a little while and then go back and live with your mother once she’s all better.”

Jason visibly tenses, but relaxes again when he sees Sophie shaking her head.

“I don’t want to go back and live with my mother,” she says, tears streaming down her face. “I only have a few more years and then I’ll be a grown up. Momma Gail likes me, Ms. Ana likes me, I get to play with the twins; I don’t have to be all by myself all the time. Nobody messes with my stuff. I get to go on field trips at school… and now, I know my dad wants me. I always knew that everything she was telling me about him wasn’t true, but now, I get to see it for myself. He spends time with me and tells me about when he was a kid… even about when him and Mom were married, before they started fighting. I talk to Ms. Ana about everything! She’s smart and she wears great clothes!”

I try not to laugh at her comment, but the rest of the courtroom is not so successful.

“And she gets me. I don’t know how, but she gets me. And Momma Gail… if something makes me sad or I don’t feel good, she’s always there. She has all these different home remedies for stuff and I think she could heal anything!”

Again, we laugh.

“I wanna stay with my dad,” she says her voice breaking and becoming somber. “I wanna stay with Mr. Christian and Chuck and Ben and Keri and… I feel like I got a real family now. I don’t wanna be alone anymore. If you send me to live with my mom, I’m gonna be alone again. I don’t wanna be alone.”

There’s a long moment of silence before the judge speaks.

“Thank you, Sophia,” he says. “Any questions from counsel?” the judge asks.

“No questions, Your Honor,” I hear Allen say.

“No questions,” the other attorney says, and the screen goes black. Deleroy hits her attorney on the arm and gestures to the front of the court as if to ask why he didn’t examine Sophie. He never even looks at her.

“It’s a difficult decision to tear a child from either parent, especially in a situation like this. I know to the layman, this may seem like a cut-and-dried case. The mother is quite possibly facing jail time for being caught in a drug raid. She’s obviously battling an addiction, which always stands to destroy the family and, most of all, the life of the child. There is some question about the intention of the mother to trade the child for drugs on the night of the raid. However, without concrete evidence or an outstanding charge, this accusation is speculation and perception and could just be the interpretation of a very frightened child of the night’s events. In a case like this, I’m driven to consider giving second chances to parents who are on the track of redemption. However, I must also consider the best interests of the child.

“In speaking to Sophia Taylor, I feel that she’s a very rounded, very wise teenager. I’m certain that she’s not easily coerced and I can see right through a child who has been coached. Sophia is craving real love and attention—a healthy home life and familial relationship. Not only does it appear that she has been deprived of this in recent years, but she’s also been deprived of basic companionship and guidance in her life. Her wisdom—such as it is—has been acquired from observing situations outside of hers; from watching the children at school interact with their parents even before she saw the interactions of the Taylors and the Greys. You only saw portions of the conversation that Sophia and I had and the parts that you didn’t see revealed that Jason Taylor went a long way to teach his daughter valuable life lessons and to be an active part of her life long before she came to live with him in March.

“In weighing the parental impact on Sophia of the time that she has lived with her mother and the impact of the time that she has lived with her father and in light of the current circumstances, the pending criminal trial, the mother’s current dependency, and the testimony of the child in question, I believe it to be in the best interest of the child to grant permanent primary custody of the minor child, Sophia Loren Taylor, to the father, Jason Taylor.”

I do my best not to stand and cheer while Deleroy gasps and cries out, “No!” in one of the most dramatic and theatrical displays I’ve ever seen. The judge continues by revoking the current child support order and asking if Jason requires child support from Deleroy. He declines, citing that his suspicion is that his child support was her only source of income, so there’s not much that she can give him. The judge informs him that he is free to revisit the child support order at a later date.

“Mrs. Deleroy, I don’t think you’re completely beyond redemption,” the judge continues. “Take this time for reflection and rehabilitation. Whatever the outcome of the criminal case against you, there’s always hope for recovery, and that’s what you need to strive for. Mr. Taylor, it’s the order of this court that you must make Sophia available for reasonable visitation with Ms. Deleroy. Supervised visitation is allowable and advisable until such time as Ms. Deleroy has successfully completed a medical drug rehabilitation program. In the meantime, I wish you all luck. Court is adjourned.” And the gavel falls.

“All rise.” We all rise except for Deleroy who is crumpled in a mound on the table, weeping bitterly. When the judge leaves the courtroom, she turns and lets loose on Jason.

“You bastard!” she cries. “You took my daughter, you son of a bitch! Are you happy now?”

Jason just looks at her and without a word, exits the courtroom while she’s still screaming profanities.

A few feet down the hallway, Sophie is sitting on a bench with a social worker awaiting the outcome of the trial. When she sees her father, she leaps to her feet, her eyes wide.

“Daddy?” she says, her eyes hopeful. A smile spreads across Jason’s face.

“We’re going home, Baby Boo,” he says as he opens his arms wide. Sophie squeals with delight and runs down the courthouse hallway, launching herself into her father’s arms.


ANASTASIA

“So, Judd Rossiter…”

After I woke from a very peaceful rest yesterday and right before my outside yoga session with Keri, Christian informed me to call a very frantic Marilyn who had called earlier that morning with two shows that wanted me to appear the next day. What the fuck? When I talked to Marilyn, it was Good Morning Seattle and Prominent Pacific, two of the shows that I had been targeting ever since I decided that I wanted to do radio interviews.

Fuck!
Fuck!
Fuck!

“What’s happened?” I had asked Christian. I knew something had to happen for them to suddenly be chomping at the bit to get me when they kept telling me, “We’ll be in touch,” before.

“You mean besides the fact that you’re becoming famous in your own right?” he said. “Somebody turned in another impromptu picture of us at the zoo cuddling under that umbrella.”

“That’s not news,” I told him.

“Oh, and Judd Rossiter is going down for sexual harassment of five women on his job—after you made a stink about that clit tattoo.”

So, that’s it. Juicy gossip about a local radio personality with a pussy on his arm. None of my causes were worth radio time, but the great Christian Grey takes down a disc jockey for flashing cooch at his wife, now that’s news! Okay… I’ll play your game, but you’re not going to like it…

So, Marilyn booked Seattle for Monday morning at 10am and Pacific for Tuesday at the same time. And now, here I sit with Sandra Price on Good Morning Seattle with her trying to get some gossip out of me. I told her when I sat down that I wanted to talk about my causes, and she went straight in to Rossiter.

“What about him?” I ask innocently.

“Give us the scoop. What’s the deal?” she says, leaning in for the kill.

“I don’t know what you want to hear,” I say shrugging. “You know as much as I do about the situation.” She glares at me a bit.

“Oh, come on, Ana. Inquiring minds want the deets. We hear that he’s being sued for sexual harassment by five women at the station.”

“Well, there you have it. What do you need me for?” I ask. “Was this a lead-in for how this relates to my treatment by the licensing board for those fabricated sexual misconduct accusations? Because if it was, we can skip the lead-in and go right to the story.” Sandra glares at me for about four seconds and I smile at her. “Sandra, I think this is what they call ‘dead air.’” She snaps out of her trance and tries to get back on track with the interview.

“I was just trying to get your side of the story, but if you don’t want to tell it…” she taunts.

“I’ve already told it, Sandra. I realize that you’re probably not supposed to listen to the competition, but if you want to stay on top of what’s going on in Seattle, you probably want to listen to that interview.” Tired of beating around the bush and trying to get information from me about the story, she starts asking direct questions.

“Is it true that Christian went down to the station all He-Man and demanded that Rossiter be fired?” she asks. I shrug.

“You have to ask Christian that question,” I say, knowing that an answer in the affirmative or the negative would both be a confirmation.

“Surely, you know if your husband came down to the radio station,” she prods further.

“I didn’t see him,” I answer honestly, and leave it at that.

“Don’t be coy, Ana, it’s not cute,” she quips, still trying to get me off my game.

“Don’t be deceptive, Sandra, it’s not professional,” I retort, and her eyes narrow again. “I love good gossip as much as the next person, but I only talk about what I know. I know that this topic was exposed on another radio station last week and that if you would like the ‘deets’ of that occurrence, you should probably get a sound bite from the radio station like everybody else did. I also know that your people called my people on a Sunday morning to book me for this slot today, at which time, you were informed that I would talk about my treatment by the licensing board after being falsely accused of sexual harassment charges as well as the work that I and my mother-in-law are doing at Helping Hands. Yet, when I get here, you’re asking about something completely unrelated—something that I was not and am not prepared to talk about, and I wonder if you ambush all of your live guests this way.”

Sandra’s mouth flies open. We’re live—she can’t stop me. She was hoping to catch me up in the Judd story, and now I’ve turned the tables.

“’Ambush’ is a pretty harsh word, don’t you think?” she says, in the most non-threatening tone she can muster.

“Oh,” I say, with the same pretentious softness, “I’m so sorry if I misspoke. What exactly are we doing?” Sandra’s eyes cut to something behind me and I look over my shoulder. In the control booth behind me is another woman in a red blazer with her arms folded. She’s glaring at Sandra with a look of death and there’s a man beside her with a large white dry-erase board with instructions in big bold black letters.

ASK ABOUT THE LICENSING BOARD

I turn back to Sandra, who’s still looking over my shoulder. I clear my throat and get her attention. When she turns her glare to me, I point to her microphone.

“Dead air,” I say. She looks down at her card.

“Of course,” she says, “just trying to brighten our dull little lives with a little juicy stuff. You know how that is.” She flashes a phony smile. I retort with the phoniest laugh I can muster to be blasted across the airways. Before we have a chance to start the interview back up again, Sandra’s recorded voice comes over the sound system with,

“We’ll be right back after these messages.”

“Clear,” I hear from the control booth and Sandra suddenly pales. In two seconds, the red blazer storms into the room and gets in Sandra’s face.

“Stick to the goddamn script and cut the ratings whore shit unless you want to end up back on the 4am weather report tomorrow.” Red Blazer says the entire thing through her teeth and Sandra doesn’t respond. She quietly picks up her index cards and stacks them without a word. Red Blazer doesn’t even acknowledge me. She breezes right back out of the booth and Sandra and I sit there for two minutes of total silence. When the control booth calls out “We’re on in five,” I’m almost relieved to hear the intro music start up again.

“And welcome back to Good Morning Seattle. Our interview continues with Dr. Anastasia Steele-Grey, psychiatrist and assistant director of Helping Hands…”

And just like that, we did the interview that I agreed to. The person who conducted this interview was nothing like the “ratings whore” sitting in the room two minutes ago. It’s like the body snatchers came into the room and took the first bitch away, replacing her with this professional woman asking relevant questions about my issues.

As it turns out, this had nothing to do with me. Good Morning Seattle really did want to get me into a morning slot because of the exposure that I’ve been getting lately, and they were totally fine with me discussing the licensing board and Helping Hands. It was Sandra Anchorbitch who, like Judd Loser, was trying to get a few minutes of more fame with her “ratings whore shit,” as Red Blazer put it. Honestly, there’s always one. That’s how the sacrificial lamb was born in the first place. They’re not on every show and hopefully, there won’t be one on Prominent Pacific, but we’ll just have to see.

The afternoon is much better than the morning, although I must admit that I didn’t know what to expect at Sophie’s custody hearing. Courtrooms and I haven’t been the best of friends, and I didn’t relish the idea of having to be in one again, much less having to take the stand. The case is very volatile and I have no idea what’s going to come out in the examinations, especially since Sophie will be living in our house if… when the judge grants Jason full custody. People tend to villainize me and Christian at every turn and I expect for this situation to be no different.

I had no idea how wrong I would be.

I don’t know where Shalane found this attorney, but she should have kept searching. If I didn’t know better, I would swear that Jason hired the guy! He made Jason’s point for us more times than not. Shalane’s character witnesses were unreliable at best. I wouldn’t say that they were shady, but they didn’t help her case any. The attorney’s cross examination did nothing to pick apart our testimony. His questions basically only clarified what we had already said.

The most agonizing part of the entire case was listening to Sophie talk about how she didn’t really feel motherly love. She went on and on about nicknames and I don’t know if that meant anything to the case, but it meant everything to me as a psychiatrist. She never felt the special love that a child should feel from a mother than turns your heart to mush… the love that make my voice turn into Alvin and the Chipmunks when I see “Mommy’s little man” or “Mommy’s Minnie Mouse.” She clearly missed out on that from her mother, and although she had a hard time verbalizing it, she did so perfectly.

Shalane can’t see past her own loss. She’s so busy blaming Jason for her problems that she can’t see her own mistakes. When Jason walks out of the courtroom without a word with my husband on his heels, I just watch and listen as Shalane spews profanities at him. There’s no mention whatsoever of being a better parent or taking care of her child, just what he took from her. I stay behind for a moment and watch the temper tantrum. Jason doesn’t even react. He just leaves the courtroom while she’s screaming at him. She finally turns her gaze to me, still sniffling and slobbering.

“What?” she weeps. “You wanna kick my ass now?” she says, recalling our near-encounter yesterday. No, Shalane, you’re doing a good enough job of that all on your own.

“Stop. Thinking. About. Yourself,” I say coolly. Shalane’s anger falls and her face turns to stone. “You are her mother. No one will ever take your place. She loves you. Nothing will ever change that. Get yourself together! She needs you! She will always. Need you!”

I don’t know if I got through to her, but she didn’t rebut. I can only see Carla and how everything was always about her. It wasn’t always that way, but it was that way when it counted. I moved past it, but I’ll never get over it. I’ll never get over not being important enough to my mommy. I don’t want that fate for Sophie.

I glance over at her attorney who gives me a nearly infinitesimal nod. It turns out that he really is one of the good guys.

When I leave the courtroom, an elated Sophie is wrapped around her father and they’re both laughing like they’re at Disneyland. When he walks out hand in hand with his little girl, we’re met by a few paparazzi on the stairs, always looking for a story. The little lady handled like a pro.

“I’m going home with my daddy. That’s all.”

And that was all.

*-*

“Listen, Ana,” Shelby Fisher says as I sit in the preshow briefing, “I want to hear about Judd Rossiter, too. I heard the radio show. I heard what you said to him. The world knows that Christian Grey went down to that radio station, although nobody really knows what happened because the station is mute about it. Judd is talking about it on every slime show he can do and freedom of speech says that he can do that. I’d like to get some inside on it, but I won’t if you say ‘no.’”

I sigh. So, Judd is mud-slinging. It’s not just bar talk; it’s more than that. I nod.

“How much time before we go on the air?” I ask.

“About fifteen minutes,” she says. I nod again.

“Let me talk to my publicist really quickly and I’ll get back to you on that, okay?” She nods.

“That’s fair,” she says. I pull Marilyn into one of the nearby conference rooms and lock the door. I hope nobody was using this room right away.

“Google Judd Rossiter,” I tell her as I dial Grey House.

“Elva McIntyre.”

“Vee, it’s Ana. Listen, Judd Rossiter is apparently running off at the mouth about his stroke of bad luck with the ladies at his job. Do you know what he’s saying?” I can hear her typing away at her keyboard.

“I know he was yapping about it, but so far nothing’s come up about you or Christian. Just sour grapes about the women who are accusing him…”

“Oh, shit,” Marilyn’s voice breaks through Vee’s explanation.

“What?” I ask.

“Seattle Nooz’ live webcast this morning has him portraying you as a prude that needs a good fucking and Christian as the billionaire messenger boy that you’ve got by the balls. He’s basically saying that Christian came into the station after you called him and that because of that visit, the girls making the accusations were planted… and the Nooz is running with that.” I sigh and roll my eyes. This shit happens all the time, but I just don’t need it when I have two major causes that require the spotlight.

“I heard,” Vee says, “and I see. You can’t avoid it. Address it, but don’t focus on it. Don’t stoop to his level. Do it like Ana. Handle it… don’t feed it.” I nod. I know what to do.

“Tell Christian,” I say. “He doesn’t need to be blindsided by this. I’ll be at Grey House this afternoon before I go to the Center.”

“You got this, Ana,” she says before she ends the call.

“Yeah, I got this,” I mumble, before turning to Marilyn. “You’re coming into the booth with me. Find as much as you can…”

“So, what’s the verdict?” Shelby asks. I sigh.

“I appreciate you letting me know that you want to address the issue. Because you asked instead of ambushing me, we’ll devote no more than ten minutes to that discussion, but we must remain professional. I reserve the right not to address something, but I’ll try to answer your questions.” She nods.

“That’s all I can ask,” she says. Three minutes later, we’re on the air. She begins by asking for a short recap of what’s going on.

“I really hate to focus on this situation when there are so many other important topics to discuss, but I realize that it can’t be ignored,” I begin. “Long story short, I brought to light how his behavior was inappropriate. I also mentioned that it probably made other women in the workplace uncomfortable to have to look at that. What happened after that, I can only speculate, but I’m sure that you can relate to the concept of several people speaking up after one speaks up? I can only guess that after I spoke up about the inappropriate tattoo that other women may have found the courage to speak up about their experiences with him as well.”

“He’s painting it as a big set-up from an uptight woman with an ax to grind,” she says. “I have to admit that you have never struck me as ‘uptight,’ so what’s that all about?”

“The entire time I sat in that booth with female anatomy staring at me, I took every measure to remain professional—even in expressing my distaste with his offensive tattoo and suggestive attire, I remained tactful and diplomatic. Maybe he’s not accustomed to that type of response and that’s why he calls me ‘uptight.’ I can actually understand that. If the only thing you’re used to is women diverting their gaze or gasping in horror, I would imagine that you wouldn’t know how to properly describe someone confronting you on the vulgarity of your personal representation in the workplace.” Shelby’s brow rises.

“Wow. Nice,” she says with a chuckle. “What about his comment about your husband? We all know that Christian Grey can make things happen.”

“Well, I’ll say this,” I say. “I know that my husband is very protective of me and for good reason. I’m the mother of his children; I’m the wife of a billionaire, and let’s face it—I haven’t had the best of luck, right?” I say with a shrug. “I’ll repeat what I said on Monday. I didn’t see him at the station, but if he did show up, what husband in his right mind would have the power to speak up about his wife being disrespected and not do it?

“We ask for the manager in a restaurant when the service is bad—not millionaires and billionaires and power players, just regular people who expect to be respected. Yet, my husband is being portrayed as henpecked because he may or may not have defended me against someone’s inappropriate and predatory behavior.  Maybe chivalry is dead where that guy came from, but all the upstanding men in my life defend their women—their wives, daughters, and mothers. So, I don’t really know what else to say about that.” Shelby does a small fist pump in the air and we share a silent giggle.

“What about…” She pauses for effect and to let me know that a big one is coming. “… the claims that the women that are making the accusations against him are planted?” I literally laugh out loud.

“That’s just ridiculous!” I exclaim shamelessly. “I can’t even begin to speculate what kind of planning has to go into executing something so ludicrous! You would have had to know exactly when I was going to be on the show then plant people months in advance as employees to be ready for when I showed up! What’s more, you would have had to know that he would have flashed this thing at me! Do you see how ridiculous that really is?” I say, my voice high.

“Clearly,” Shelby agrees.

“I would really like to know how those women feel about that accusation,” I say, matter-of-factly. “I’d be interested in knowing what the station has to say about it. This is an open investigation on his professional behavior. Seriously, if these women are traumatized enough by this, it could lead to workplace lawsuits and he’s just talking about it everywhere like it’s the weather. He’s got a bone to pick with me because he’s got an open vajayjay in my face and he’s not even thinking about these other women. Then again, he wasn’t thinking about them in the first place, now was he?”

Shelby shakes her fists and looks to the heavens mouthing, “Gold!”

“Oh, my God, vajayjay!” she says, through her laughter, and I just realized I let that out of my mouth. Oh, well… she loved it.

“I’m not going to have a sparring match with this man,” I begin after our laughter subsides. “There’s a character flaw at play when you think it’s okay to display a tattoo like that to women with whom you do not have intimate relationships. It’s that simple. It’s offensive. It’s suggestive. It’s vulgar, and somebody spoke up about it. When that one person spoke up about it, all of the people who felt that his behavior—whatever his behavior may have been—was offensive, suggestive, or vulgar all spoke up about it. When you make a decision to go against the grain, you have to live with the consequences. I’m all for self-expression, but he can’t show up with an exposed naked woman on his arm in the workplace any more than I can show up naked to my job at the help center.” Shelby makes that shrug face.

“I… think that says it all,” she says with a nod. “Thank you so much for addressing that and so eloquently. Now, let’s get to the real reason for your visit. I know you normally talk about the licensing board first, but I’d like to switch it up and talk about Helping Hands. Apparently, your mother-in-law, Dr. Grace Trevelyan Grey is a successful pediatrician here in Seattle and she’s been the director of this organization for many years. I hear that you guys have been doing some great things for the community down there…”

Best interview I’ve had yet. I got to address that asshole, Judd, without going into the gutter and Shelby had really done her research. She painted Helping Hands in the best possible light with statistics and testimonials, even bringing to light the span of services that we’ll be able to provide once the accreditation is complete. I’m thoroughly pleased with the outcome of this appearance and Shelby has asked me to come back for an update after the accreditation goes through.

“You. Are. Phenomenal!” Vee says when I call to check in with her after we leave the station. “You’re going to put me out of a fucking job, you know that?”

“Not a chance,” I tell her. “We need you. As you can see, I need you.”

“He needs you,” she says quietly. “Don’t ever repeat this, but he’s been such a better man since you’ve come along. His image was taking a silent hit that year you showed up—stoic, cold ass businessman with no heart and he was fine with that. Now that you’re here… he just a better man.” I smile.

“Thanks, Vee,” I say sincerely. “Tell that better man that I’m on my way there.”


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

 

The Email That Became A Post

Okay, we gone try this one mo’ gin.

I hope you all will forgive my frustration, but I keep getting asked the same questions, and then I keep answering them. And then I get the same question over again, like people aren’t listening to what I’m saying.

I realize that my little stories don’t make the world go ‘round and they’re not the center of everybody’s life. But when I must answer the same questions because people aren’t listening the first 10 times that I answer them, it’s gets a little irritating. So, here is the answer to all of your questions… again! Please, try to pay attention this time if you didn’t before…

  • Golden is not my baby. The Butterfly Saga is my baby. Golden is an itch that my Muse and I are trying to scratch. It’s probably only going to be about 15 chapters long. I don’t know if it’s going to be an HEA yet because I’m letting these characters battle it out and let me know how it’s going to end. You might be surprised to know that there are about four more itches that’s been needing to be scratched for about a year. One of them just died. They come as they come, but they are not my primary focus, so there won’t be weekly updates like there are of Butterfly Saga.
  • I have a limited number of emails that my emailer will allow me to send out per month. There are nearly 2000 people on my mailing list. While I’m working to sort the list into people who regularly open emails versus people who haven’t opened an email since Raising Grey began (16 weeks), it’s a process. To that end, I can’t send an email out every time I post “Golden” because that’s 2000 more emails to send when I post it. So, I send out an email for Golden with the email for Raising Grey. Posts from my WordPress automatically go to my social media sites. So, yes, those who follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and Tumblr will know even before I send out an email. Those who do not will not know until I send out the email for “Golden” and “Raising Grey.” If you send me a request to follow me on Facebook, send me a message so that I know who you are or you most likely may not be added. I have stalkers and creepers.
  • Once you’re on the mailing list, you’re on the mailing list for ALL POSTS. You are not required to join a second mailing list for “Golden.” I just don’t send out separate emails for each post right now. I don’t have the capacity (see #2 above).
  • Not only does “Golden” have a disclaimer that is an entire chapter, it also has this disclaimer at the beginning of every chapter…

This ain’t your everyday Christian and Ana story. Don’t expect anything. Just read it as it goes along or go away.

And yet, I’m still getting, “How are you going to make this work? I don’t see how you’re going to make this work. I can’t see how this is going to turn out. Is this going to be an HEA? If this isn’t an HEA, I can’t read it. How can they possibly get together?” That’s because you’re still looking for hints of the original Christian and Ana, even though I’ve already told you this ain’t them. If you don’t want to read the story, that’s fine. If you want to read the story, just read the story… please? Don’t try to get me to explain my theories and outline the synopsis unless it’s already come up in a chapter. I’ll explain all that as the story goes along… in the story.

  • Somebody somewhere had the question, “Is this how this is going to go?” The short answer, “Yes.”

 

Hopefully, I have addressed all of the questions that have come over my email, my messenger, my social media, and in comments. Feel free to ask questions and I will answer them at my convenience and discretion. However, if I feel like I’ve already answered it here and it’s asked again because someone feels like they deserve a separate response all to themselves because they didn’t feel like reading this one, I’m not going to answer it again. This email will now be a post and I will politely send you a link or refer you to it if you continue to ask the same repetitive questions.

 

Raising Grey: Chapter 17—I Know Those People Personally

I posted a chapter of Golden this week. Be sure to go and check it out.

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 17—I Know Those People Personally

ANASTASIA

“I did everything he asked me to. I wanted him to be proud of me.”

Val and Elliot have gone to bed and Burt and I retire to the patio after dinner for a talk about his feelings after his father attacked him. The scars on his face aren’t horrendous, but they’re certainly noticeable. He has to have some serious dental work for the teeth that his father knocked out. Right now, he’s trying to make sense of the whole thing.

“I wish I knew why he did it,” he says, sadly. “I wish I knew why he attacked me. I didn’t do anything wrong. I got off the plane, I walked down the gangplank and I saw him waiting for me at the gate. He was already mad, probably because we decided to go to Seattle in the first place. I asked where Mom was, he asked where Nollie was. As soon as I said she wasn’t coming back, his face changed in a second. I was about to explain what I knew, but the next thing you know, I see lightning, then pain, then lights out.”

He rubs his jaw and I’m assuming that’s where Freeman hit him that he can remember. They even had to cut some of his hair to put stitches in his scalp.

“I woke up in the hospital. I didn’t even know what happened. I thought it was an earthquake or something fell on me or I was hit from behind… I didn’t think for a second that Dad…” His voice cracks when he says the word.

“I only wanted him to be proud of me,” he says, crying now. “I’ve played this thing over and over and over in my head, and I don’t know what I did to deserve this! Yeah, I’m gay, but he already knew that. So, what changed? What made him do this to me?”

“Burt, you may never get the answer to that question, and even if you could, would you want to hear it? What could your father possibly say to you that would make this situation any better? What could he possibly say that could make you understand his motives?” I ask.

“I don’t know, but it would give me closure,” he claims.

“No, Burt, it wouldn’t. It would piss you off. Think about this, and I’m not trivializing what you’ve gone through, but the concept is the same. A girl finds out that her man has cheated on her with four other girls. She’s crying and begging to know, “Why did you do this to me?’ but she doesn’t really want to know. If he broke down all the reasons why he is a lying, cheating piece of scum, it still wouldn’t make her feel any better. What she’s really asking is, ‘How could he do this to her?’ She loves him, she’s been faithful, she has been and done everything she thought he wanted and he was still unfaithful to her. How could he? How could he do this to her?

“But it’s still a rhetorical question. What answer could he give to her that would ease her hurt and satisfy her sense of betrayal? Nothing. What could Freeman say to you right now that would make you sigh and say, ‘At least I know?’ Any answer he gave you for what he did to you would piss you off even more.

“‘I attacked you because I was angry at Nollie.’ So, Nollie didn’t do what you wanted her to do and you attacked me?

“‘I attacked you because you’re gay. Yes, you’re perfect in every other way in my eyes, but this one and it pisses me off.’ So, instead of taking me somewhere and talking to me about it years ago when I came out to you, you attack me in the middle of a crowded, public airport so badly that now I need false teeth?

“‘I don’t know why I attacked you. I just snapped.’ So, of all the things that you could have done, that you were even thinking of doing at that moment, attacking me and nearly killing me was the most prevalent, and when you snapped, that’s what jumped into your head? Beat the hell outta Burtie?

“Tell me, Burt, which one of those scenarios would give you any closure? Which one of those would make you feel any better? Oh, there’s one more. ‘I’m just a psychotic asshole who’s angry at the world and you were the closest thing to hit.’ How about that one? Which one of those will make you feel better?”

“I wanted him to love me!” Burt exclaims. “That’s all I wanted. I just wanted him to love me! And I thought he did! I loved him!” Burtie is sobbing now and I put my arm around his shoulder.

“We can’t help who we love,” I tell him. “And you’re supposed to love him. He’s your father. Man, I could tell you some stories about my mother that would make your hair curl,” I say, dropping my head for a moment and going back to that young girl who just wanted her mother to love her. “But I still loved her, even though she was a self-centered sow, I still wanted her to love me.”

“Did she beat you?” he asks, turning his head to me. I sigh.

“No, she didn’t beat me,” I say, trying to keep my voice from cracking, “but it probably would have been better if she had. At least, that pain goes away after a while,” I add, dropping my head.

“You said, ‘was,’” he says. “‘She was a self-centered sow…’ Is she dead?” I raise my head and look out at a clear blue starry night and think about the possibility of her protesting Ray’s adoption of me.

“She is, to me,” I say, before turning back to Burt. “I don’t know if she has me listed as her next of kin, but when she dies, I’ll go to Vegas, clean up her affairs, bury her, then leave.”

“Wow,” he says, wiping his eyes. “That’s pretty damn cold.” I twist my lips to fight the tears.

“Yeah, well, she was pretty damn cold to me,” I say, ending the sentence on a whisper. “I wanted to die. I thought I would. I thought the pain from everything—mental and physical—would swallow me up and take me to hell. Instead, I just held on, pressed on through, and here I am.” I so want to get off this topic.

“Physical… you said she didn’t beat you,” he presses. I won’t recount this.

“I can’t relive this right now,” I say, nearly choking on my words, “but I was beaten… and I was conscious for most of it. When it was over, I was comatose for three weeks. When I awoke, all I wanted was my mom. When it was happening, all I wanted was my mom… but she didn’t care. She was then and still is a self-serving, heartless bitch!” I spit the words out while fighting the tears, one escaping anyway. I quickly wipe it away.

“I healed a bit through helping other people with their problems. I was able to overcome the constant pain, but there are still some remnants.” I sniff and wipe away another tear that has fallen. “I speak from experience when I say that if he tells you why he did what he did, it’s not going to bring you closure. It’s only going to piss you off. She was 100% honest with me as to why she was the way that she was during those years—why she was so cold and heartless and why she did the things that she did, and it didn’t bring me closure. It pissed me off and it hurt even more. I paid her to leave and never come back and I cried and cried and cried, and then I had to just let go.

“Without her confession, I could have just let go. I could have told her how I felt and then I could have just let go, and you can do that in a letter or an email. No, I had to hear it. I had to let her break my heart all over again and what did it bring me? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.”

“When did you have this conversation with your mother?” he asks.

“Early last year,” I tell him. “And to answer the unasked question, the beating was over ten years ago.” He sighs.

“So, I may never get an answer to this question.” It’s a statement, not a question.

“Even if you do, I don’t think it would help,” I say. “In my professional—and personal opinion, it would do more harm than good.” He nods and looks out at the stars. I gaze out at them with him, thinking about those nights I spent in that bed praying for God to either make time go faster so that I could hurry up and get out of there or praying for death to end my suffering. Either one would have sufficed. I cried so many nights, so many tears, and I can even hear myself crying now—painful, mournful sobs that screamed for relief from the hell I was in… only, my cries were silent and stymied, not loud and mournful like this.

Who’s crying?

Burt sits up in his seat and we see Christian’s head moving and hear a woman wailing.

“Mom! What is he doing to my mom?” Burt leaps from the seat and bursts into the family just as Nollie makes her way over to Christian and Nell. I’m right on Burt’s heels as I see Christian cradling Nell in his arms while she’s sobbing mournfully. I know that hold. She’ssimba-lion-king-6 broken and he’s trying to hold her together. I grasp Burt’s arm and try to help him focus, as he has that “Simba—Lion King” look in his eye.

“Look,” I say softly. “Look at them.” He blinks a few times and watches as Christian holds his mother, rocking her gently and stroking her hair, trying to soothe her with an occasional, “Sssh.” Burt’s gaze softens immediately and he closes his hand over mine. He needs support? Solidarity? I don’t know.

“Mommy?” he says softly as he breaks from my grasp. He falls on his knees in front of his mother, his arms resting on her thighs. “It’s going to be okay, Mommy,” he says, his eyes filling with tears. “It’s going to take a while, but we’ll be happy again. I promise.”

Nell continues to cry into Christian’s chest as she reaches for her son’s hand. He kisses her hand hard and presses it against his cheek while he cries. Christian’s hand has moved to Nell’s back and Nollie has taken over stroking her hair, weeping along with her mother and brother. I make my way over to Leo, who is holding a cooing Minnie Mouse while watching his wife in mourning.

“This is so hard for her,” he says. “I hate to see her like this.” I take a seat next to him.

“I really wish you all had informed us that you planned to stop overnight in Seattle,” I tell him. “There was no need to book rooms at the Fairmont. We have more than enough room here.” He gazes at his wife and sighs.

“If that offer is still good, I’d like to take you up on it. I think it would be better for them to stay here than to try to get them back to the hotel.” He turns questioning eyes to me and I smile.

“You’re a good man, Leo,” I say patting his shoulder. “I’ll have our security staff go and get your things.” He shakes his head.

“That won’t be necessary,” he says. “One of my men is still at the hotel. I’ll have him shut down the rooms and check out… but thank you.”

“What about the cost of the rooms?” I ask. “I’ll be happy to reimburse you…”

“You’re too kind,” he says. “You’ve already let us use the jet. It would have been a nightmare getting their things properly shipped to California. Now, you’re opening your home to us… and look at that.” He gestures to Christian basically holding the family together. “They need that so much right now. Don’t worry about the rooms… it’s only money. She’s worth so much more.” I sigh heavily as I watch my husband do something he couldn’t do when I first met him.

“We’ve got big responsibilities, Leonardo,” I say, looking adoringly at my husband. “We’ve married into a very tight-knit family. Except for one lone asshole, I’ve never seen a family stick together like this… not even my own.”

“Well, on that note, I’m lucky,” he says. “My family is extremely close, and they love Lanie. So, I think we’ll be very happy together and quiet as it’s kept…” He leans in to me. “I have a cousin in the Bay area who came to visit me in Farmington when Lanie and I first started getting serious. He met Burt while we were there and has had a crush on him ever since. I told him what happened with Burt and Freeman and that Burt is on his way to California, and he’s waiting on baited breath for Burt to get there.” I smile at Leo.

“You’re a matchmaker?” I tease. He chuckles.

“No, nothing like that,” he says. “I just know he has a crush on Burt, so I told him that Burt was coming. I hope Burt doesn’t mind. I’m not trying to hook them up, but I want him to at least have a friend when he gets to Cali.” He looks back at the family. “Nell is going to be a different story.”

I can imagine that she is. You don’t stay with someone for decades and just watch them mistreat your daughter without a reason. Either she was afraid or she loved that man something fierce despite his obvious shortcomings. Either way, she’s got some massive deprogramming and some hard nights ahead of her. I turn to Gail, who is still holding Mikey and trying to give the Greys as much privacy as she can under the circumstances.

“I’ll take him,” I tell her and hold my hands out for my son. “Can you please get the rooms ready if it’s not too much trouble? They’re going to stay tonight.”

“It’s no trouble at all,” she says as she deposits Mikey into my hands. “Keri, I know it’s not part of your job, but…”

“Nawnsense!” Keri says softly, her accent flowing hard on the word. “I’ll be glad to help.”

While they head off to get the rooms ready, Leo holds a cooing Minnie in one hand and his phone is the other, giving instructions to someone to bring their things to Grey Crossing. I reach in my boob and grab my phone, texting Jason that Leo’s security will be bringing their things and to make sure they can get into the gate.

“Hello, my handsome man,” I say to my son as I put my phone away. “There’s Mommy’s little boy.” Mikey coos and kicks his feet happily in my lap. I sit him in the corner of the sofa and get on my knees on the floor in front of him.

“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands…” I sing and clap, then wait for my little man to follow. He smiles and claps wildly. I repeat the line and his hands clap wildly again, causing him to fall forward a bit on the sofa.

“If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it…” I tickle his little stomach and he giggles madly, his hands flailing and patting the sofa cushion.

“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!” He doesn’t clap this time, but his hands are still flailing and he’s still giggling.

“If you’re happy and you know it, stomp your feet…” I lift his little feet and push them up against my cheeks. My son giggles wildly again. I repeat the line and the gesture, eliciting another giggle from him. By the time I get to the last line, I do a raspberry on his feet and his laughing becomes a bit maniacal.

“If you’re happy and you know it, say ‘hurray!’” I wave my fingers and stretch the word out so that my little boy knows he should repeat it. He repeats something—it wasn’t “hurray,” but it was something.

“If you’re happy and you know it, say ‘hurray!’” By now, he’s reaching for me, babbling whatever word he’s picked that’s supposed to mean, “hurray.’”

“If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it. If you’re happy and you know it, say ‘hurray!’” On the last “hurray,” I pick up my little bundle and snuggle him to my face. He giggles and pats my face as I shower kisses on his chubby little cheeks. I love my baby boy. He’s coming into his teething phase now that Minnie has cut her first few and is past the worst of it. I try to keep him bubbly and distracted since it’s such a trying time for them. So far, Mikey isn’t having such a bad time of it as Minnie did, knock wood and thank God, but he still has some discomfort.

“Who loves you? Who loves that baby boy?” I coo at my son. It’s not until now that I realize that every eye in the room is trained on me, from Nell sniffling in Christian’s arms to Minnie quietly slipping off to sleep in Leo’s lap.

“What?” I say, coyly.

*-*

“I can’t begin to thank you for all your kindness,” Nell says as we’re walking arm in arm to the car on Saturday morning. “After my last visit here with Freeman…” She trails off and shakes her head. “The next few months will be… interesting.”

“They won’t be easy, Nell, but you’ll get through them. I promise. Just… lean on your family, okay?” She smiles at me and squeezes my hand.

“I will… and it’s Aunt Nellie.” I return her smile.

“Aunt Nellie,” I repeat, kissing her on the cheek before she hugs me and gets into the cat.

“Now, it’s your turn to come down to California and let us show you some hospitality,” Leo says as he exits the house with his wife and my husband. “Maybe we’ll go to Napa. Have you ever been on the Wine Train?” Christian and I throw knowing looks at each other.

“In fact, we have,” he replies. “We loved it.”

“Well, then, we’ll plan something else, but you guys have to come down. I want you to see where we are, maybe take a tour of the company.”

“I’d like that very much,” Christian says, extending his hand to Leo. “Take care of yourself and take care of my cousins… and my aunt. We’ll see you soon.” Leo smiles and shakes Christian’s hand.

“Without a doubt. Thanks again for everything.” Leo gets into the car and Christian turns to Lanie, as I discovered everyone is calling her now.

“It’s your time, cousin,” he says, taking both of her hands. “It’s time to be happy.”

“I have everything now,” she says, her smile wide. “I have all the loves of my life with me. I couldn’t be happier.”

“Yes, you can,” Christian retorts. “Now, go do it.” She throws her arms around him and he doesn’t even flinch when he returns the embrace.

“Thank you, Christian,” she says, her voice cracking. “I was beginning to lose hope in people… until I met you and Ana.” She kisses him on the cheek and releases him as Burt walks over to me. I smile at him, reaching up to cup his face like a child.

“Your sister loves you so much,” I tell him. “She thinks the world of you. She calls you ‘the perfect child,’ and she’s serious. She’ll do anything in this world to protect you. I just thought you should know.”

“I know,” he says with a shy smile. “I’ve always known. She’s always looked out for me. Even now…” He trails off and smiles sadly.

“Look ahead,” I say softly. “Don’t look back. All you need to take with you from this experience is that it’s not your fault. None of this happened because of you.” He sighs heavily.

“It’s going to be tough coming to grips with this, but I believe you.” He hugs me and I kiss him on his cheek.

“You be happy, too. Okay?” I say. He nods and Christian puts his hand on Burt’s shoulder.

“Never let anything or anybody stop you from being who you are. Life is too short to live a lie,” Christian tells him. Burt fights to hold back his tears.

“Thank you, Christian,” he says, his voice cracking. “I know my family has thanked you a thousand times, but… there are no words, man.” Christian nods.

“We’ll see you when we get down there, okay?” Burt nods. He’s a gentle soul and has broken down many times since he’s been here. Healing is going to be tough for him. He gets into the car and closes the door behind him. Christian and I stand in front of the house as we watch the rental round the driveway and exit the gates. He exhales heavily as if he were holding his breath.

“I don’t understand how anybody could hurt that kid,” he says. It sounds strange to me since Burt is not much younger than me. “I can’t even see how he could do something so horrible to his own son… his own flesh and blood.” I look up at him and he’s still staring at the gate where the car just exited.

“Are you okay?” I ask, putting my hand flat on his stomach. He nods.

“Yeah, but now I need ‘normal,’ like right now.” He grabs my hand and leads me back into the house.

About an hour later, I and my husband, our twins, our nannies, little Miss Sophie, and about four bodyguards dressed in very casual clothing are strolling around Woodland Park Zoo. The guys brought a couple of wagons to carry the truckload of items that we brought from the house to make our day more enjoyable. We really didn’t need the nannies, but Christian thought it would be nice for Gail and Keri to come along since Jason and Chuck are there. Elliot and Val decided not to join us. Even though Rebe and Tate are in attendance to help guard the twins, it looks more like an outing of friends than the Greys and their entourage going to the zoo.

And would you believe it? It worked!

Since we came in the west entrance, the first thing we see is the penguin exhibit. There’s a whole line of them on the bank across the water in the exhibit and Minnie goes absolutely bonkers. She’s just babbling and pointing like any of us knows what she’s saying. Her feet are just kicking and her brother looks over at her as if to say, “Yo, sis, chill out.” Two of the penguins are staring at each other like a standoff at the O.K. Corral and a third actually comes and pushes one of them away. I can imagine him saying, “Just walk away, bro, just walk away.”

One of the penguins is standing on one of the higher cliffs with his arms outstretched, holding a deep mellow note for a long time before taking a breath and crooning again. I can’t help but think about the songs of the penguin from Happy Feet. While I’m paying attention to the crooning penguin, Christian’s camera—the same one from the playroom—is snapping away, but not at me. I look down to see what he’s photographing and our daughter is reaching out of her stroller as far as she can for a very large penguin who has jumped into the water and swam right up to the glass in front of her.

And he taps on the glass with his beak!

“Are they trained?” I ask Christian. He shrugs at me from behind his camera.

“I don’t know,” he says, following his shrug.

We could have spent the entire day there watching the penguins swim and frolic and play—and stand off—as far as Minnie was concerned, but there’s a lot more zoo to see.

The next exhibit is right up my alley. My obsession with all things butterfly since my husband adopted the nickname for me means that I spend quite a bit of time in Molbak’s Butterfly Garden, which is sensationally beautiful and educational. We’re lucky, because the butterfly habitat only opens for the summer, so we wouldn’t have had much more time to enjoy these pretty little things.

They fly everywhere, freely in this exhibit. There is various flora in the tent to make them feel at home, so they just flutter from flower to tree to plant. One of them even landed on Keri.

In a glass casing, there are several species of larvae and cocoon and as I was reading about each one, I hear Sophie’s voice.

“Ms. Ana, look at this one!” she says in amazement. I follow her gaze and look on the second row of the larva exhibit… and one of them has “hatched.”

“Christian!” I whisper his name as loud as I can without drawing attention to him. He comes over to me and I point to the butterfly hanging protectively on its cocoon. He smiles at me and takes a picture.

“Look, Butterfly, here’s another one,” he says before snapping a picture. Sophie and I look to where he’s pointing and a beautiful orange one has “hatched” and is hanging onto its cocoon. It almost looks like a monarch, but not quite.

“Look, here,” he says, pointing to a third that looks just like the first one—large brownish wings with large white spots all over and hints of orange.  I look behind me at my baby girl and she has her hands palm up, opening and closing her fists as if beckoning the butterflies to come to her. Mikey is more attentive now, sitting up in the stroller and watching the butterflies as well. None of them come to her like the penguin did, which is a good thing. She might have tried to eat them.

Our next stop is the Tropical Rainforest Aviary, where the tropical birds and monkeys are. I’m enjoying the beautiful birds in the first two exhibits when I hear my husband’s voice.

“Hey, baby, come look at this.”

I’m admiring the white-tailed trogon when my husband drags my attention to the next exhibit. I let out a small yelp and try not to jump out of my skin.

It’s a fucking neon green snake.

“Oh, my God,” I gasp after I’ve backed away from the glass, still holding my chest.

“What’s the matter? It just a snake,” he says chuckling at me. I throw a death glare at him. You think that shit was funny? “I want one,” he says, matter-of-factly.

“Not in my house!” The words are out of my mouth before I even realize that I’ve garnered some attention.

“Aaaawwww,” he whines. “C’mon, honeeeeey. Pleeeeease, can I have one?” Sophie is trying not to giggle. I’m going to kill him.

“Chri—” I stop before I say his name and draw more attention to us. “No.”

“What if I got one and put it in a room where you never even saw it?” he asks, half joking, half serious. I fold my arms.

“Go ahead. Bring a snake in the house,” I reply, facing off with him to the amusement of some of the onlookers.

“What would you do if I did that?” he says, smirking at me.

“Move out,” I announce firmly.

“Okay no snake,” he says without hesitation and moves on to the next exhibit.

“I’m glad we understand one anoth—oh God!” I draw more attention to us by nearly leaping into my husband’s arm when, in the next exhibit, a black and white-striped snake is somehow slithering up the glass, appearing to be right next to my face. My heart is racing and if I could meld into Christian’s skin, I definitely would right now.

“Okay… definitely no snake,” he says, softly while gently rubbing my arms.

“Look at the next exhibit, please,” I say, unable to hide the tremble in my voice. He wraps his arms around me and leans over to see what’s in the next exhibit.

“You’ll like this one,” he says, taking my hand and leading me to the glass. He was right. There’s a cute little orange furry thing in there.

“Ooooh, he’s cute!” I croon. “He looks like a tiny lion.”

“He is,” Christian says, pointing at the plaque. “It’s a Golden Lion Tamarin.”

I stand there looking at the grumpy-faced little golden monkey for a while and soon, all thoughts of the green python are forgotten.

In the next cage is a white-face saki monkey and let me tell you—that’s a face that only a mother could love. I don’t spend time looking at the strange little thing and just move on to the next exhibit, a large cage in the middle with several birds in it. Many of them hiding from sight for some reason, but we see a few. I hear Minnie cooing in the double stroller behind us while Mikey is just laid back and taking in the sights. To this day, I find myself secretly apologizing to my son for thinking that he was the lead soccer player in my belly when it’s crystal clear that the entire time, Minnie was the real hellion.

The large cage at the end was pay dirt, though, with several more tropical birds including a toucan. Finally, we’re allowed to go into an open aviary with a canopy where the birds can actually fly around the room around you and Minnie. Goes. Batshit. She would grab one of those suckers and take it home if she could.

We leave the aviary to visit the rest of the animals in the rainforest. The red ruffled lemurs didn’t feel like giving us a show, but the gorillas were an entirely different story. One big king gorilla sits high on a cliff in the back just watching over things while munching on carrots while a second gorilla comes right up to a rock near the glass and sits on it, looking at us like The Thinker, also munching on a carrot. A third smaller gorilla was determined to get the spotlight, rolling around in the grass and under a tree branch causing several of the small children in attendance to giggle wildly.

We leave the gorilla exhibit and get to the jaguar exhibit just in time to see the large tan and black cat take a sip from the stream. Mikey still watches with what can best be described as detached amusement while Minnie observes attentively as if the animal requires careful study.

“His coat is absolutely beautiful,” I say, “or her coat.” The jaguar finishes drinking from stream, crosses over, and begins to walk away from us.

“Noooooo, that’s a he,” Christians says definitively. “That’s definitely a he! Whoa!” I keep my laughter inside. I’ve got a feeling Christian got an eyeful of something that he didn’t really want to see.

“You sure about that, baby?” I tease.

“Without a doubt,” he retorts. “There was no mistaking that!” he says as he tries to shield Sophie’s inquisitive eyes. I can no longer hold in my laughter as we move on to the next section.

We see the flamingos to the right of us at the beginning of the Temperate Forest exhibit, but it appears that neither of the children were impressed with them. I think the flamingos were a bit too timid for their tastes. Several crows invade the space and the flamingos flap their long wings to shoo them away. A couple of ducks float into the area, but don’t seem to bother the flamingos. When I see Minnie yawn—most likely from boredom—I know it’s time to move on.

I’ve personally never seen a red panda before, so I thought the little guy was really cute, eating with his little hands. He’ll never get as big as the black and white panda, but he’s holding his own up in the trees of his exhibit. He’s red on top and black on the bottom. He looks like a really pretty fox and is about the size of a really large housecat with a big, fluffy tail that’s about as long as his body. Minnie perks up when she sees this little creature and can only point and say, “Oooooooo.”

The Bug exhibit was a definite “no” for me, as was the petting zoo. Christian tried his best to get me to go into the bug building, but I’m too damn heebie-jeebie to carry my ass in there. As much as Dr. Dolittle is aching to touch some furry little woodland creature, my six-month-old babies are getting nowhere near those germy animals in the petting zoo. We wait patiently, however, while Sophie, Gail, and Jason go inside to play with the goats. Keri is on hand the minute they emerge with baby wipes and hand sanitizer.

Go, Keri. I love that girl.

The first thing—or things—that catch our eye when we enter the African Savanna portion of the zoo are the giraffes. The African Savanna is a huge open habitat that you can view from just about any part of the zoo. So, across the grass, we see the zebras, the gazelle, and the guinea fowl. There’s a new baby giraffe in the giraffe exhibit, just released in the “savanna” as they call it. She apparently likes to play, but the gazelle and the guinea fowl are a little cool to her debut. There’s also another aviary in the Savanna, but the birds are a little too loud for the babies’ taste, so we didn’t stay in there for long. We briefly watch the hippos emerge and re-submerge in the water before we head over to the lions and the warthogs.

And Dr. Dolittle is alive and kicking again.

Minnie is animated once more as the lions roam around the habitat before the female settles in a grassy spot in the sun while the male finds his comfort in the shade. She’s nearly bouncing out of her seat, once again hoping to get behind the glass with the furry animals. Directly across from the lion exhibit, we find the warthogs. They’re both covered from head to toe in mud and fast asleep right next to one another.

“Look, Mikey,” Christian says, stooping down to his son whose eyes are fixed on the two lumps of mud in the exhibit. “It’s Timon.”

I think it’s cute that he remembers the characters from The Lion King, even though we just watched it with the twins about a week ago, but he’s got the characters confused.

“No, dear, that would be Pumbaa,” I correct him. He frowns.

“Are you sure?” he asks. “I thought Timon was the warthog.” I shake my head.

“No, darling. Pumbaa is the warthog. Timon is the meerkat.”

“That’s a meerkat?” he exclaims. I laugh aloud.

“What did you think he was?” Christian shrugs.

“I don’t know. I just didn’t know that he was a meerkat.” I shake my head and look down at Mikey.

“That’s Pumbaa, little prince, not Timon,” I tell him before kissing my husband on the cheek.

“Smart ass,” he mumbles under his breath.

“I heard that,” I retort playfully.

“I meant you to,” he jabs back.

We move on to the Tropical Asia exhibit where the warty pig downright resents our presence and won’t engage us at all. The tapir is a sight to behold, however. Ginormous black and white creature that I’ve never seen before and—much like the leopard—walked away from us so that we have no doubt what gender he is.

We move on to the next exhibit and find the Siamangs—southeast Asian apes. There are two of them and they’re sharing a heart-shaped popsicle. It’s kind of cute. They’re perched up on a rock and the popsicle is sitting on the rock between them. Minnie is blubbering something, as usual, hoping to draw their attention to the glass. They each pick at the popsicle and lick and eat the fruit inside the frozen treat. It’s obvious that they’re a couple, because they sit there and share like well-behaved children… not that the heart-shaped, fruit filled popsicle wasn’t a dead giveaway.

While Minnie and I are enjoying the Francois Langur Monkeys and the very friendly red orangutans, Christian is spellbound at something in a nearby exhibit. I walk over to him to see what he’s looking at.

“What’s got you so quiet?” I ask. He quickly grasps my arm and begins escorting me away before I even get to him.

“Weren’t you looking at the monkeys or something?” he asks, guiding me away from the exhibit. I jerk my arm away.

“What were you looking at?” I ask.

“You don’t want to see it,” he says, still trying to direct my attention elsewhere.

“How about I decide what I want to see and what I don’t want to see?” I chide, like a petulant child. The truth is, I’m just nosey. I just want to see what he was looking at.

“Butterfly, it’s a…” Too late. I get to the damn exhibit and there’s another fucking snake. Fucking ginormous fucking snake on the ground, long as fuck and fat as fuck and I can just see it eating me or some other poor soul. I’m so scared, I could shit my pants. Serves me right. I literally run out of the exhibit onto the boardwalk just over the orangutans. Christian catches me about twenty feet outside of “snake world,” and I’m shaking again.

“I tried to tell you, Butterfly,” he says, pulling me back into his arms and holding my shaking body against his.

“You really want a fucking snake?” I nearly shriek, but manage to keep my voice down. If he really wants one, he’s going to find a way to get one. He’s a damn billionaire!

“I wasn’t even looking at the snake; I was looking at his stats,” he defends. “I saw it, I saw that it was a huge motherfucker and I just wanted to see how huge they get.” I shake my head.

“What was that thing?” I ask.

“Indian Rock Python,” he responds.

“Do I even want to know how big that fucker is… or how big it can get?” I ask.

“No,” he says, then he cups my face in his hand. “No snakes. I promise.”

He was reading my mind.

“I think it’s time for lunch,” Gail says as she walks past us with the double stroller. Christian puts his arm around me and follows Gail. Christian stops before we get to the next exhibit.

“How are you with komodo dragons?” he asks. I shrug.

“They’re just big lizards,” I reply. Gail has already passed the komodo dragons, so we don’t spend much time looking at the big lizard. However, she’s compelled to stop when Minnie goes nuts at the next exhibit.

Meerkats. Adorable little meerkats standing on their hind legs looking at us.

“Look, Mikey. It’s… Timon,” Christian says, still holding my hand. I laugh and elbow him in the side. He got it right this time.

We cut between the Tropical Asia and the Australaisa exhibits and to get to the North Meadow where we’ve decided to have our lunch. On our way past the tiger cage, we watch the three brothers fight over a felled pine branch. Then we watch the Asian otters play in the water and groom each other. We get to the North Meadow around three in the afternoon and set up our picnic. There’s a lot of room on the manicured lawn as no one really wants to be out in the sun this afternoon. However, our boy scout men had the foresight to bring the large umbrellas along for just such an emergency.

I cover myself and allow Minnie to latch on while Christian lovingly feeds me finger foods from the picnic basket. Mikey takes a bottle with ease that has been thawed to room temperature during our walk. We see a few people nearby throw distasteful looks at me for breastfeeding in public, but I don’t care. I have every right to feed my child whenever she’s hungry and even though I could whip a tit out right in their faces and there’s not a damn thing they could do to stop me, I consider others when I breastfeed in public and cover myself and my baby with a receiving blanket.

I’m okay until one couple just keeps glaring at us. The man finally makes a comment to his significant other about my breastfeeding and before I have a chance to retort, Christian turns around and calmly lets loose.

“State law dictates that she can breastfeed my children anywhere that you can eat a piece of pizza. If you don’t like it, contact your state legislature… and stop glaring at my wife!”

Apparently, the thought of shaming a breastfeeding mother was fine with this asshole. However, the idea of going toe-to-toe with her over-protective, control-freak husband isn’t so appealing. He narrows his eyes at Christian, but never says another word. Instead, he and his companion gather their things and leave the area. We’re surprised to hear a small applause from a few other families as they leave.

We’ve enjoyed our lunch and our babies are napping in their covered stroller while Christian and I enjoy an ice-cream cone under an umbrella and Jason and Gail take Sophie to the carousel. There’s a small bit of canoodling going on between my husband and me before we move on to the final two exhibits.

4028ba3be392ea552548707decc0d89bWe’re advised by zoo staff to skip the bird feeding house as the birds are uncontained and swoop down onto people for food. They’re justifiably concerned for the twins, but I so want to tell them that little Elmira here might grab one of the poor birds and love it to death. Nonetheless, we skip the bird feeding and go through the Willawong Station instead.

As if it knows that she wouldn’t want to miss what’s next, some bird swoops down right out of a tree and smacks hard face first into the glass right in front of Minnie’s side of the stroller. The loud “thump” even startles me and Christian, and Minnie’s eyes jolt open and she starts to cry. Keri quickly retrieves her and puts her binky in her mouth, hoping to get her back to sleep. But that same asshole bird throws his head in the air and lets out a call of the wild that I always thought came from a monkey, but now I know that it was this damn bird all along.

And both of my children are awake and crying now.

I take Mikey out of the stroller and give him his binky. He’s immediately silent and observing the bird who broke his slumber as if he would reach into the exhibit, grab the feathery little bastard and twist its scrawny little neck.

“I’m with you, Mikey,” I say as I throw a dirty look at the bird. In all honesty, I can imagine that Dr. Dolittle over there called to him in her sleep and he was just trying to get to her when he slammed into the window. That tortured call he did moments ago was probably him screaming profanities at the bird gods for allowing him to slam into the glass in the first place.

The last exhibit at the end of the open-ended Willawong Station is the wallaroo room. Wallaroos are large Australian kangaroos and there are three pretty big ones inside the exhibit, but they’re all lounging on the floor and the rocks with their backs to us, staring at the sunlight shining through the opening that leads outside.

“Geez, some of these animals are really diva today, aren’t they?” I say to Keri, recalling that a few of the other animals either retreated to the shadows or turned their butts to us completely when we came to their exhibits. She snickers as she pats Minnie on the back. I’ve been having a lot of Look Who’s Talking moments with my children and the animals today, and right now, I’m imagining the kangaroos sitting in these lounging positions saying, “I vant to be alone… I just vant to be alone,” like Greta Garbo in Grand Hotel. Minnie has turned her attention to the glass and Keri catches her binky just as it falls out of her mouth when she opens it to demand the attention of the lounging wallaroos, but even the animal whisperer can’t get them to turn around.

Just outside the exhibit in the open air are more wallaroos along with a few emus. These joeys are small, most likely the babies of the ones inside. The emus are pretty large and they put on a strutting show for us, but like their parents, the joeys just sit around uninterested in the zoo goers.

Into the Northern Trail we go, the last exhibit on the trail, and the first thing we see are the gray wolves. Now the warty pigs weren’t much to look at, but the gray wolves make up for that! They frolic in the water, then get out and roll around in the leaves in the shade—probably to keep cool since the sun is in full force today. I’m looking past the wolves at the elk in the enclosure behind the wolf exhibit, and my attention is drawn back to the wolves. For whatever reason, four wolves are now clustered together howling all at the same time, like a barbershop quartet—and Mikey is spellbound. I’m sure that at any moment, he’s going to stand up in his stroller and start howling with them. In fact, he begins to make some sort of cooing sound that indicates that he’s trying to do just that!

We come to the grizzly bear exhibit and once again, Minnie is in love. Although these things are ginormous, they’re pretty docile right now as they lounge around their “pool” enjoying ice treats to keep cool in the heat. The ice treats are frozen salads made of lettuce, watermelon, pineapple and frozen fish. The pool is also stocked with trout so that the bears can hunt and eat. Pool is a relative word, though—it’s more like a bear park with rocks and cliffs and a small waterfall and lake all their own and they really look adorable chomping on their ice treats.

We get to the otter exhibit just in time for the trout activity. Otters move very quickly under the water, so when live trout are released into the “pool,” they actually play with them for a while. They swim around and chase them and when they catch them, they don’t eat them right away. Instead, they release them again so that they can chase them some more. Then, when they’ve worked up an appetite, they stop chasing and eat them.

This was a bit too surprising for little Miss Minnie.

She loved watching the otters glide around the pool and chase the fish. She laughed and reached for the glass as she watched them flow effortlessly through the water. However, when the first otter tired and ate the first fish, she fell silent. She turned her attention to me as if to say, “Why he do that?” I don’t think anything of it until the second otter does the same thing, and my little animal rights activist turns to me again as if to say, “Mom! Do something!” Sorry, Minnie. I can’t jump in and save the fish, though I do bring Minnie’s expression to Christian’s attention, indicating that I think she’s had enough of the trout activity.

Glorious and majestic as it was, the yellow-beaked sea eagle did nothing to improve Dr. Dolittle’s mood after the whole “trout torture” demonstration. The final exhibit on the trail is the amphibian and reptile exhibit… and I was having none of that.

“Oh, no, that’s not for me,” I say, avoiding the area all together.

“Me, eidah!” Keri quickly agrees, her accent thick in her denial as she vigorously shakes her head. Chuck takes her hand as I observe the disappointed faces of the other men.

“You guys go,” Chuck says. “I’ll stay here with the ladies.”

“What about the twins?” I ask concerned.

“No offense, baby, but the snakes give you the willies. Minnie’s just fine with them.” My husband kisses me on the cheek and takes Minnie from Keri and Mikey from me. Safe in Daddy’s arms, my twins disappear into the reptile exhibit. I tap Jason on the shoulder and he turns around.

“Get a picture of that for me,” I tell him, “… without any snakes.” He chuckles and nods, giving me a thumbs up as he, Gail, and Sophie disappear behind Christian and the twins along with the other members of the security team.

“So, what do you hear from Anguilla these days?” I ask Keri as we wait for the rest of our party to emerge. We talk about her students and how her friend Tawni keeps her up to date on what’s going on with them. She admits to getting a little homesick sometimes, but not enough to ever return without her Choonks. It’s clear to see that they’re desperately in love with each other… an island fling that turned into a lifelong commitment. It’ll only be a matter of time before Chuck proposes… again.


CHRISTIAN

It was a good day.

I enjoyed myself immensely at the zoo with my family. There’s no use calling any of them anything else. Both of the men that are contracted to protect me and my wife have put their lives on the line to save ours—literally. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for either of them, so they—and their significant others—are part of our family.

I don’t see much of Sophie these days and she’s probably off doing whatever young tweens do these days, but watching her enjoy her day at the zoo gave me a bit of satisfaction as well. I have no idea how her childhood has gone with that sorry excuse of a mother that she’s had, but she appears to be a bit more sociable now than she was when she first came to live with us.

The amount of snuggling at the dinner table informs me that the outing was just what everyone needed today and the night will be quite amorous for us all. I waste no time in tasting of my gorgeous wife once we’ve put our exhausted twins down for the night.

She feels so good as I fuck her from behind in her shower. As far as showers go, we usually fuck in mine, but I couldn’t wait for her to finish her shower before I got my hands on her. My dick gets so hard and so thick inside of her that I can barely pull it out to stroke. Grasping her tits with her hands under mine also grasping her tits, I plunge inside of her getting maximum stimulation as her ass swallows me and burns me with each thrust. Fuck, this is so fucking good that I almost can’t stand it. In fact, I get the perfect angle inside of her and my face is right in the water, so I can’t breathe in.

No matter. This shit is too good to fucking move now.

I get a little light-headed from the asphyxiation factor of holding my breath, wouldn’t you know it—it heightens my sexual arousal causing my dick to throb and pulse with added excitement. I come so hard that I lose my footing and have to slide down the wall behind me in the shower. I’m panting and sputtering, thinking how fucking fantastic that orgasm was while taking my wife with me to the floor…

“Christian! Christian! Oh, God, Christian!”

I hear Butterfly’s frantic voice, but it sounds like she’s far away. I open my eyes and realize that I’m still on the floor in her shower leaning against the wall. When I come to, my wife is slapping me wildly on the face, trying to rouse me. I cough the water out of my throat and try to lift my head. I’m still dizzy.

“Oh, thank God!” I hear her sob. She leans into my chest, weeping and I wrap my arms around her with all the strength I can muster.

“I’m… sorry…” I choke. “I didn’t mean… to scare you.”

She continues to weep. She’s inconsolable. With the water in my mouth, somehow, I lost consciousness and stopped breathing… and scared the living shit out of her. She manages to compose herself enough to get us off the floor and out of the shower. She helps me to our room and lays me on the bed. I’m sopping wet…

And she’s still crying.

She gets several towels, wrapping one around her body and another around her head. She uses two more to begin to dry my body and hair. Then she gets a T-shirt and pulls it over my head, nothing else, just a T-shirt.

And she’s still crying.

She puts on a nightshirt and her hair is still sopping wet. She instructs me to sit up against the headboard, which I do, and she puts a pillow behind me.

“Cough,” she says between sobs, so I do. She’s patting me on various parts of my chest, like she’s burping one of the children, but harder.

“Cough,” she sobs again. “Keep coughing.” What the hell? Whatever it is, she needs it, so I do it. I keep coughing while she’s patting and as far as I can tell, nothing’s happening…

Except that she’s still crying.

I try to show her some concern, but she just tells me to keep coughing, so I do.

After a few minutes, she puts me on my stomach with the pillow now rolled under my hips and she pats my pack the same way that she was patting my chest. After about two minutes of patting and coughing, a kind of warm feeling goes through my chest and throat… and then a not so good feeling in my nose.

Fuck, it’s water! There’s water coming out of my nose! Now, I really need to cough!

My first instinct is to leap out of the bed, but Butterfly makes me lay there and hands me one of the towels to wipe my face. Now, I’m coughing like one of my lungs is going to come through my throat at any moment, but it doesn’t. Only small amounts of water with each cough.

And she’s still crying.

After a few minutes of coughing and swimming in my bed, she turns me to the same position on my back, patting my chest again, and I’m sure I’m going to drown like this. But I don’t. More coughing, more tiny bits of water, and after another stint on my stomach while she pats my back, the coughs come up dry. My head hurts from the coughing, but at least it’s clear now.

And she’s still crying.

“Butterfly, please. I’m fine now,” I say, trying to stop her tears. She waves me off and goes into my dressing room. She returns with a pair of my boxer briefs.

“Put these… on,” she sputters, and I remember the last time I saw her cry like this. It was on the plane on the way back to the states from Anguilla. I’m certain that she didn’t want to cry; she just couldn’t stop. Geez, I hope she doesn’t need to do a thousand sit-ups to get through this spell. I take the boxer briefs from her and put them on.

“Is there anything I can do?” I ask as her sputtering sobs become a bit violent. She shakes her head and tries—and fails—to activate the two-way communications. I call out to the system for her then at her request, summon Gail.

“Yes?” Gail calls out.

“S… s… soup… with b… broth,” she says, and I can barely hear her.

“Gail, do we have any soup ready… with broth?” I ask, my voice weak from coughing.

“Yes, my chicken soup. I’ll warm some up… You sound terrible.”

“Small mishap. I’ll be fine. Will you bring it to the master bedroom please?” I look at my hyperventilating wife. “Two bowls, please.”

“Okay. Is that all?”

“Yes.”

“Good. End two-way communications.” I guess she thinks I need to rest my voice.

“Come here,” I say, holding my arms open to her now that I’ve coughed up the water and I’m sitting up in bed. She crawls over to me and I put my arms around her, trying to calm her. “I need you to breathe. I’m okay. I’m sorry I scared you. I won’t do that again. I thought I was fine until I wasn’t.”

She nods and continues to cry until Gail brings the soup. Not wanting to explain her state, she escapes to her en suite while Gail serves the soup. When she’s gone, Butterfly emerges from the en suite after having washed her faced, somewhat more composed but still sniffling terribly.

“Come. Eat, my love,” I say, holding my hand out to her.

The soup feels wonderful going down. My irritated throat thanks Gail for having it on hand, and Butterfly for knowing. It seems to have a calming effect on her, too, because the crying and sniffling has stopped while she finishes the soup.

“How did you know to do that?” I ask her and she turns to me. “The patting thing and the positioning.” She swallows her soup.

“When I was a kid,” she begins while looking into her soup, “a bunch of us went to the community pool like we usually did. Nothing out of the ordinary happened—we splashed around, we swam, then we went home. The next day…” She put her soup on the nightstand. “… we all discovered that one of the neighbor kids that went swimming with us had died in his bed. We found out that it was secondary drowning.” She crosses her legs lotus-style and turns to face me.

“The short explanation is that he inhaled a lot of water in the pool and later that night, the water sitting in his lungs gave him breathing distress and he ‘drowned’ in his sleep. I had never heard anything like it before, ever. And it scared me. A lot of us were even afraid to swim for a while after that.” She shrugs.

“Anyway, Daddy made sure that I learned the precautions of choking on or breathing in water and how to get fluid out of the lungs should someone breathe it in. When I got to medical school, I learned even more about it. Breathing in water can cause pulmonary edema, which is simply put, water on the lungs, but it’s really dangerous and it could cause infection or death. The whole drowning in your sleep thing normally only happens to children and it’s very rare, but this kid was twelve and his was pretty big. And even as a large adult male, you breathed in enough water to cause you to lose consciousness.”

I don’t bother to tell her that part of the breath depravation came from holding my breath, not from inhaling water. She’d probably put me over her knee and spank me, which I kind of deserve right now.

“I’m sorry, Butterfly,” I say, inwardly apologizing both for holding my breath to prolong the floating effect and for standing there letting the water fill my mouth. My wife was scared shitless, but her doctor brain always kicks in even when she’s in distress, just like it did when Jason was shot.

“You should go to the hospital,” she says, flatly. I shake my head.

“I’ll be fine, Baby,” I say. “My head is clearer already and my throat and chest are feeling much better.”

“Are you tired?” she asks. I shake my head.

“I was,” I reply, “really tired, but I’m not anymore.” She nods.

“Well, that’s a good sign.” She pulls her knees to her chest and wraps her arms around them. She’s not crying anymore, so the adrenaline must be at normal levels, but she’s still miles away. Maybe she’s thinking about the kid who died…

“Talk to me, Butterfly,” I say, pushing her hair behind her ear. She sighs and lays her head on her knees.

“You almost died,” she says, softly. “You could have died, Christian. My whole life flashed before me in an instant and I couldn’t see wanting to do anything else with it without you. I couldn’t see tomorrow. It wasn’t that I wanted to die or anything, I just couldn’t see tomorrow. I couldn’t see beyond that moment and you choking on the floor and dying in my arms. I couldn’t see it. At the end of that three-second funnel, I was Mrs. Havisham and all I could think of was getting you to wake up. I couldn’t. See. Anything. Else.”

“That’s why you cried so hard?” I ask, shaken. She sighs.

“I cried because even after you regained consciousness, I still couldn’t see anything,” she confesses. “Even while you were coughing up water and apologizing to me…” she raises her eyes to me. “Even now, I can only see minute by minute with you in front of me, but you’re not unconscious on the floor with a mouth full of water, so that’s why I can stop crying.” I pull her into my arms. Even when she was in the coma, I couldn’t see my life without her, so I just hold her, completely understanding how she feels.

“I’m fine, Butterfly,” I try to reassure her. “You’ve saved my life.” She nods, but I’m certain that she’s not convinced. “What do you want to do?” I ask, snuggling into her and holding her close to me.

“Disney,” she says, with a sigh. Disney? She reaches over to the nightstand where her soup has now gone cold and picks up her iPad. After a few swipes and moves, the screen comes alive with the “When You Wish Upon A Star” Disney intro and then I hear orchestra music, like from the old movies. I look down at the screen just in time to hear dogs barking.

101 Dalmatians.

“Oo, I haven’t seen this one,” I say.

“I know,” she replies sweetly. We snuggle in together as some groovy jazz horn plays the opening credits to how two black and white dogs become one-hundred and one.

*-*

When I open my eyes, I’m lying comfortably in my wife’s lap with my arms wrapped around her body. I swear, that must have been the best sleep I’ve had in weeks. Well, probably comparable to the last time I fucked my wife in her Kryptonite, valium-laced ass. She, on the other hand, looks worn out and tired. She’s still sitting up with her iPad in her hand and from what I can hear, she’s watching The Notebook… the love story that ends with the lovers dying in bed with each other at a ripe old age after living a long and beautiful life together.

How fitting.

I crawl up the bed and kiss her lips, then her cheek and her temple.

“You haven’t slept,” I say softly.

“You wouldn’t go to the hospital,” she replies just as softly.

“I would have gone had I known you wouldn’t sleep,” I chide. She sighs.

“It’s okay,” she says. “Somebody had to watch you, and you were right… you were fine.”

Now, I wish I had told her that I didn’t inhale as much water as she thought. I kiss her gently on the temple and take the iPad from her hands. After placing it on the nightstand, I coax her to lie down in bed. I softly massage her temples and the effect is almost immediate… her eyes flutter to a close with her lashes fanning over her cheek.

“It’s my turn to take care of you, now,” I whisper softly as she falls asleep.


A/N: I feel like the title deserves a bit of explanation. It’s an homage to Minnie.

A very long time ago, I used to work with this lady who lived on a farm as a child. When she became an adult, we noticed that every time we ordered lunch, she refused to eat any meat with bones in it. Cold cuts, ground hamburger, anything like that was fine. Chicken thighs or wings, T-bone steaks, turkey drumsticks—out of the question. 

I finally asked her… I said, “All meat came from something with a bone.”
She said, “Yeah, but some meat doesn’t have bones in it anymore.” 
I asked, “Why don’t you eat meat with bones?” 
She answered, “Because I knew those people personally.”

A bit of foresight—Minnie will most likely be a vegetarian. 

Dr. Dolittle—Ana repeatedly refers to Minnie as Dr. Dolittle. For those who may not know, he’s a character from books in the 1920’s then a movie in 1967 later remade in 1998 with Eddie Murphy with various sequels in the years that followed. Dr. Dolittle is the doctor that could talk to the animals.

Elmira—Ana also refers to Minnie, at one point, as Elmira, who is a character from a cartoon series from the mid-1990s called Animaniacs. She literally “loved” animals damn-near to death.

Mrs. Havisham—I might have spoken about her before. She’s the jilted bride from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations who ran around the house stopping all the clocks when and spent the rest of her life in a tattered wedding dress after her groom left her at the altar.

I’ve included pictures with links to the Woodland Park Zoo page as well as a movie or two if you would like to experience the zoo and animals for yourself on https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/trip-to-the-zoo/

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

Fifty Shades Golden: Chapter 2

Explicit details of sex and BDSM scenes from here on out. Some may be hot while others may not be to your taste… and not necessary CG with Ana together. Proceed at your own discretion, but don’t say that I didn’t warn you.

This ain’t your everyday Christian and Ana story. Don’t expect anything. Just read it as it goes along or go away. 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 new saga continues…

CHAPTER 2

Trey Chapter 2 TREY

It’s been three weeks since I’ve seen that woman and every gold thing in the damn world reminds me of her. I haven’t been flogging or whipping anybody. I’ve just been fucking their goddamn brains out with visions of Golden in my head—my dick hammering that pussy while she hangs upside-down on that damn pole; her body writhing over my rod like she did in her dance; that ass squeezing cum out of my aching balls as she bounces on my shaft like she bounced on the floor. Fuck, I’ve had some of the most explosive orgasms fucking other women while thinking of her than I’ve had in my whole goddamn life!

I knew she would be gone by the time I had worked over Caramel and Platinum—my names for the two girls I fucked to the moon that night, but I couldn’t help but hope that I would see her again after my balls weren’t knotted with the need to fuck her. I went to that club every damn night for a week looking for her, running into Elena only once. She knew why I was there and she taunted me, but I didn’t give her the satisfaction of confirming her suspicions. Instead, I opted to fuck Caramel again, who now sits on the bench next to Elena in a sensational corset and slinky black skirt with stockings and high-heels.

“That’s fucking more like it,” I say, salivating over her ample cleavage and dying to bite those tender mounds.

“If you want her, you need to buy out her contract, Trey,” Elena threatens. I glare at her.

“I don’t want her,” I reply, “I just want to fuck her. Do I need to pay you?” Elena smiles, that fucking knowing smile again.

“Not this time,” she says, smiling as she hands me a leash of Swarovski crystals. “Next time.”

She’s luring me in. I can’t let that happen. I’m panting for Golden and I can’t even hide it. I haven’t even fucked the girl yet! I grab Caramel’s arm and snatch her against my body, squeezing her ass hard in my hands.

“It’s going to be a mix tonight,” I hiss in her ear. “I’ll hold you down, and sometimes tie you down. I’ll fuck you and you’ll fuck me. Your only instructions—don’t come.” She nods at me and I drag her to the private rooms. There will be no third tonight, and I know she’ll fail at her one command. She’ll come—several times, and I’ll punish her by fucking her more and more. After that, she’s lucky if she ever sees me again.

That was two weeks ago. I fucked that poor girl so deep and so hard in so many ways that she swore she loved me when it was over. First, I made her ride my face—those juicy pussy lips and that fat clit rolling all over my tongue making me hard as fuck until I knew she was just about to come. Then, I stopped her and made her ride me, slow and sexy. I made her slide on my dick from head to hilt every time, slow and torturous until she was shaking with the need to come. Then I grabbed her ass and held her up, edging both of us inside of her until we both exploded in our first orgasms.

Many more followed that night. I exquisitely hog-tied her then put her on top of me, fucking that sweet pussy then that tight ass from underneath her until she screamed and I exploded hot cum in that ass. Of course, I fucked her against the wall, that beautiful round ass fitting perfectly in my hand so that I could hold her open and grind against that clit as I guided her over my relentlessly hard dick and licked and kissed her all around that crystal collar. She didn’t stand a chance.

Holding her down, immobilizing her in the small of her back while holding her hands over her head and fucking that pussy through closed legs from behind. The tightness of holding her legs closed, the friction from the perfect rhythmic stroke, and the pressure from holding her body against the bed and pushing her pelvis into the mattress always results in a burning, intense, internal orgasm for the woman if you do it right. And the pulsing, squeezing on my dick ensured yet another cosmic blast for me.

Golden. This could be you.

I was right in the middle of stroking to another orgasm when she declared she could come no more. To me, that was a challenge. I knew fucking her hard would only be painful, so I convinced her that she had one more in her and began a luscious, slow fuck from behind that had her ass rising and her grabbing the sheets in almost no time. I laid my body on hers and continued the slow stroke, reaching under her to cup and caress her tits while biting and licking her back and shoulders. I turned us over on our sides and held her leg up, slow stroking in that pussy and kissing her deeply, groaning into her mouth and feeding her my arousal while building on her own. When I felt her shaking, I ordered her to stay still while I came, and that sent her over the edge the final time. She came so violently that her body ripped the last orgasm out of me. I had to close my eyes to the blinding pleasure as I mentally whispered her name repeatedly in my ecstasy…

Golden… Golden… Golden… Golden…

I left her in the room to recuperate. Then, I paid Rocthe doormana cool thousand to call me the next time Golden graced the club. I haven’t heard anything yet. No fucking, no subs, not even jacking off while I’m waiting for this Golden creature to reappear that very well may have been a figment of my fucking imagination. Elena was pissed that she couldn’t get Caramel to cooperate after I fucked her so well and let her go a week later, demanding that I buy out her contract since I ruined her as a submissive. She’s right. I did. I tormented and fucked that poor girl, the entire time thinking of someone else—still aching for Golden now more than before. I wish I knew her real name. I could have her, I know I could, if I could just find her.

I wire $10,000 into Elena’s account for her loss.


Golden Chapter 2
GOLDEN

It’s hard to find something intense that keeps you in shape and doesn’t make you bulk up like a man. That’s why I decided to do the pole-dancing in the first place. The problem with that is everybody thinks you’re a stripper. They don’t understand that people actually compete in this sport, but I don’t have time to educate the masses. So, one of the things that I had built in my house was a workout room for pole-dancing with both poles mounted into the ceiling and floor. However, in order to stay fit for the pole, you still need another form of exercise. So, today, I’m in the studio practicing my other fitness regimen.

Ashtanga and extreme yoga.

40e9dc0f58008ac25fbe3cbdb41ec423Ashtanga, I can do on my own. For extreme yoga, I need a partner. Of course, horny ass Kevin is always available… smooth milk chocolate and fine as fuck.

“One day, I’m going to taste that ass,” he says, as I bend backwards over him.

“Shut up and concentrate, dickwad,” I scold as I stretch hard, fighting to hold my position for one more count of ten.

“I can’t help it,” he says, “It’s juicy and pretty and I just want to bite it.”

I block out his confessions and manage to hold for a ten count. When I move to straighten my body, he’s still holding me in position, and my back and arms start to hurt.

“Let me go, Kevin,” I say through my teeth. He releases me quickly, such that I fall hard against his solid body… and his rock-hard dick. His hands precariously end up cupped over my breast.

“If you like your dick and balls intact, you’ll get your hands off my fucking tits,” I say in a menacing voice. He squeezes hard while rubbing both hands up my breasts before releasing them.

“You can’t blame a guy for trying,” he says, his voice hoarse with arousal. I have to wiggle a bit to get off his body. He moans and grunts as our bodies part. When I turn to look at him, his legs are bent, his eyes closed, and his dick is so hard that it’s poking out the top of his gym shorts. I’m half tempted to grab it and jack him off, but I’m a Domme with a dick fetish—I’m not a common slut. I laugh and shake my head.

“Bye, Kevin,” I say, turning away from him. I can see him in the mirrored wall in front of me, rubbing his dick as he watches me walk away.

I’m enjoying the silence and privacy of the sauna after my workout when I hear the door open and close. I don’t open my eyes; I just relax and detoxify.

“You’ve got a new admirer, it appears.” Elena’s voice breaks my solitude. I move my towel from my face and look at her strangely.

“Who? Kevin?”

“No,” she chuckles. “He’s wanted to fuck you for almost a year. I’m talking about Trey. He’s desperate for a little Golden.” I furrow my eyebrows. Is this bitch stalking me?

“Who the fuck is Trey?” I ask, confused. She raises her eyebrow.

“Oh, he’s not going to be happy to hear that,” she says. “Trey? From the club?”

Trey… Oh, Trey! She means Chopper. I’d forgotten all about him. I lean my head back on the wall and cover my face with my towel again.

“Yeah, you remember Trey,” she continues. “He came to the club every night for a week hoping to get a glimpse of you. He’s hot for you, Ana. He’s got all eyes on you, baby, and he doesn’t stop until he gets what he wants.” Oh, great—another die hard.

“Let me guess,” I say, disinterested. “He’s filthy rich and powerful and nobody turns him down, right?” She glares at me.

“You really don’t know who he is, do you?” she asks, astonishment evident in her voice.

“No, I don’t and I really don’t care,” I reply. I’ll admit, his arrogance and haughtiness in the face of rejection had me intrigued that first night, but not enough to want a taste. Rich, powerful men who don’t take no for an answer is the reason I don’t fuck. I get my satisfaction, but I don’t fuck. The fact that he’s walking money and obvious power makes him even more unattractive to me. My power players know their place… most power players don’t.

“He’s big time, darling,” she continues. “He could set you up for life. You’d never have to work again. You’d have anything you want right at your fingertips. No more early mornings in the office; no more grueling cases to close…”

No more Golden Girl on the scene stealing your thunder…

“I’m not interested, Elena,” I say from behind the towel covering my face.

“I’m just saying. He’s a heavy hitter. You might want to give this one the time of day.” I remove my towel and look at her.

“Are you trying to tell me that I need to protect myself?” I ask pointedly.

“No! No, nothing like that,” she back-peddles. “He just gets what he wants, that’s all.”

“Well, since you know him so well, you being very dear friends and all, make sure your friend knows that I’m not interested.” I place the towel back over my face. She chuckles again.

“You’re backing away from a challenge,” Elena says. “I guess I can’t blame you. With him, you would be… out of your league.” And now she’s egging me. She’s almost as desperate as Chopper for me to hook up with him. I almost laugh.

“No, Blondie,” I retort, glaring at her from under the lifted corner of my towel. “I’m not the one stalking Crimson hoping he walks in. He’s not out of my league. I’m out of his. Now, for the last time… I. Am not. Interested.” She puts her hands up in defense.

“I’m not trying to hook you up,” she defends. “I’m just letting you know that he has his feelers out for you. He’s a powerful man and he’s not beyond… coercing you to cooperate.”

“And now we’re back to veiled threats,” I say, completely removing my towel.

“Oh, stop being so goddamn sensitive. It’s not a fucking threat!” she says, shedding her subtleness. “The man is legend. He’s a fucking god, and I mean that literally. He just paid me $10,000 because he fucked Tammy so well in your absence that she’s worthless as a submissive now.”

“And Tammy is…?” I hiss.

“The exquisite black beauty that you told me to get up off the ground, so I did! He fucked her with a third that night you were there and he still turned her out. Came back a week or so later and got a hold of her again and she’s completely ruined! She might as well go to college or something now, because she can’t be a submissive!”

Elena sounds angry. No, not angry… pissed!

“She was just a submissive, right, Elena?” I taunt. “Just someone to crawl on the floor and do what you say. Anybody can do that, right?” I can hear her blood pressure rising through the silence.

“You know as well as I do that she was one of a kind!” she hisses. “She was the best and most beautiful piece of ass I’ve seen in ten years!”

“Then, why did you share her?” I say, feigning disinterest. I’m highly interested. Trey wants me. Badly. And Elena is doing her best to facilitate his acquisition. I need to get into both of their heads to find out exactly why.

“You don’t say no to a man like Trey. There are consequences involved and you take that however you want to. I offered to share the first night, thinking he would choose another girl. She was the only one on a leash, for God’s sake! He knew she was my primary that night! I protested, but he insisted, so I gave in. Now, I regret it, because when he saw her, he saw you. I’m sure of it!”

Well, that’s not good.

“Now, she’s fucking worthless! Two times with that man and she’s worthless. She fell asleep in the private room, for fuck’s sake—I had to go in and retrieve her!”

Now, the laughter inside is fighting to get out.

“So, if I’m understanding you correctly, he has ruined one of your prized submissives for other men and now, you want to unleash him onto me.” It’s a statement, not a question.

“Well, if anyone can tame him, Darling, it’s you,” she says, her voice softening. Oh, please, spare me this shit. You’re not hoping I tame him, you transparent sow. You’re counting on it being the other way around.

“You shouldn’t have let him fuck her and you know it,” I say, flatly. “You got your ten grand out of it, now stop whining. You wave your wad of cash around and you can find another submissive anywhere. Stop behaving as if she’s such a great loss. You had her on her knees in panties when I first met her, for crying out loud. You don’t treat them like people. Even in their submission, you treat them like objects. You can’t do that and then try to claim that they’re so fucking valuable. So, go out and find yourself a new shiny, little trinket and stop bitching about the one you lost. If you know the man is going to ruin your subs, don’t share them—say. No. Like I am right now… No. Elena.”

“You need to stop acting as if you’re so damn unapproachable…” she begins.

“I am unapproachable,” I say, surely, removing the towel from my face once more. “I say who and I say when. I do what I want when I want and I love it… and they chase me, just like your Trey. He can’t persuade me or locate me, so he sends you to do his dirty work. How tragically medieval!” Suddenly, she sees her last chance to persuade me flying out the window.

“He didn’t send to me to do his dirty work!” she hisses. “I’m not some common messenger girl. I’m a Dominatrix and a damn good one! I was cracking a whip while you were still in college!” Oooo, I’ve insulted Mistress.

“When’s the last time you gave someone a really good ass-whipping… I mean a really good ass-whipping?” I just stare at her and wait for the answer. “It’s not your thing anymore, Elena. Your thing is to have a bevy of subs coiling around you like cats so that everyone can look at you and say, ‘Oh, look at the great Dominatrix and all of her beautiful subjects!’ You’re not a Domme anymore. You’re a pimp. Even your name says you’re a pimp—‘Madame’ Petra and her specialized call girls. Subs give you something that you need; that’s why you pay them. So, be glad that your business is doing so well. I give subs something that they need. That’s why they pay me.”

“Which makes you nothing more than a gold-clad prostitute, complete with the hooker heels and the stripper pole. Don’t you see that?”

Is she trying to hurt my feelings? Oh, you’ve got to do better than that.

“You know what, Blondie? I’ll give you that one. I’m performing an erotic service and I’m getting paid for it, handsomely. So, fine, I’m prostituting my services. Big fucking deal. What you do with your toys is the equivalent of leaving a couple of Benjis on the nightstand when the fun is over. I get wire transfers, exquisite jewelry, and trips to Belfast, not to mention influential connections in very powerful positions. And just like your little toys, they’re at my beck and call. I give them what they need and they give me what I need—and then they pay me for it. I love being Queen of the Hill. It’s a title I can live with, but even if I weren’t, all I’d want is satisfaction.” She glares at me for a moment.

“What the fuck is a Benji?” I try to withhold my laughter. That’s all you got out of that? I know she got more; she just doesn’t want to acknowledge it.

“Go grab an urban dictionary and look it up.” I cover my face with the towel.

“There you go with urban speak again,” she says distastefully. “Careful… your ‘hood’ is showing.”

“You can always get the hell out of my presence,” I say calmly from under my towel. She snorts.

“Still a prostitute,” she says in a low voice. I smile. She can’t see my face anyway.

“I’d rather be the hooker than a trick,” I say impassively.

My last declaration is met with several minutes of silence. Is she reloading? If she is, she’s going to be talking to herself in a minute because I’ve been in here long enough. I may have a minute or so left in this hotbox, then she can have it all to herself.

How was I ever friends with this woman? It’s time for me to take my grooming services elsewhere. I might walk out of her establishment one day with an unfortunate infestation of lice.

“Don’t deny Trey,” she says after several quiet moments, and we’re back on this again. “You won’t like the outcome. He has his hand on the pulse of a lot of things worldwide, and he could make things difficult for you… even expose you.”

Expose me? Is she serious?

“I like my privacy, Elena, but I’m not doing anything illegal. I’m not a community leader and the success of my career has nothing to do with what I do after hours. People already think lawyers are slimy and dishonest and frankly, some of us are. But to be honest, I couldn’t give a flying fuck if somebody knew what I do. I’d probably end up richer than I am now with some of the sick fucks that want my services.”

“You say that now,” she retorts, “but when someone threatens to out you, your story will change. You’re becoming famous, Ana. Be careful.” I shake my head. “And you call them ‘sick fucks,’ but what does that say about you?”

“It says that I’m good at what I do because I recognize that and can still give them what they want. And I didn’t call them sick fucks… I called some of them sick fucks. Don’t try to psychoanalyze me, Blondie. You know how it always turns out.”

She does, too. She always ends up near tears and I end up shaking my head at her. I don’t play mind games, but hell… I’m a lawyer!

“Don’t get too big for yourself, Ana. We all do at some point,” she warns again.

“Maybe you did, but I won’t,” I retort calmly. “I do this because I want to, and it just happens to come with monetary rewards. I have strict rules and a very particular clientele. Nothing lasts forever—I know it and they know it, so we all savor the experience like it’s going to be our last. That’s how my reputation thrives. I’m not a weekend tart that you enjoy on a regular basis until the flavor gets old. I’m a decadent and taboo confection that you indulge in only once in a while—and there are a lot people willing to wait for that taste. That’s the difference between me and you—I make sure that I don’t become common. I do this because I want to, not because I have to.”

“What makes you think I have to?” she rejoinders. “I pay submissives for their time—they don’t pay me! Your activities help support your lifestyle.”

“Will you listen to yourself?” I say incredulously, removing the towel and placing it on the bench next to me. “You pay submissives for their time… why? If you’re such an expert Dominatrix, why do you have to pay them for their time? I don’t have a price list. I do what I do and they shower me with rewards. They want a menu, they go to someone else. They want the best sadist in the contiguous United States, they come to me. I’m really not a hooker, Elena. I’m an artist. You do caricatures and finger paintings while I create masterpieces, then you come to me and try to besmirch what I do because I’m on the receiving end of the reward?”

I lean back and put my arms across the back of the bench, crossing my legs. She stares at me for several moments, but doesn’t speak.

“Contrary to your assumptions, Blondie, the lifestyle is not my livelihood. I have a job and it pays handsomely—so handsomely, in fact, that I can take cases pro bono whenever I feel the need to do so. The lifestyle is my release… my hobby… I’m just damn good at it. Now, I think it’s time we either change the subject or completely end this conversation before I forget that we are at least somewhat cordial.” She raises an eyebrow at me.

“I thought we were friends,” she says, suspiciously. No, you didn’t, you pretentious cunt. You no more consider me a friend any more than I consider you as one. You want to keep me close, to observe me and keep an eye on me—just like I refuse to turn my back on your conniving ass.

“All the more reason to drop this conversation,” I say without confirming or denying her thoughts.

“I’m just looking out for you,” she says, feigning concern… and quite badly at that. “I’ve seen many come and go, and some of their exits have not been pretty ones. Please… watch yourself.”

Again… warning or threat?

“Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine,” I tell her. “It’s those who attempt to cross me that you should be concerned about.” And now, she’s sitting in the proverbial seat where I was a moment ago. But I’ll help you out on this one, Blondie. It’s not a warning…

This is what she wanted to make of herself, how she defines herself. Not so for me. It’s not like I’m living my life’s dream. Nothing is the way I wanted it, the way I expected it to be. There’s no fragile world around me to come tumbling down. Nothing to be protected, because anything that I need to protect, I can do that myself or I have people that can do it for me. I live life by my own terms making my own rules. No one gets hurt in the process because I do nothing to no one that they don’t want done.

I’ve perfected my craft by watching my subjects, gauging their reactions and adjusting my techniques so that they get what they want while I get what I want from the experience.

Once a month, I choose someone to kiss—once. It’s a delicacy they savor for eons and some of them even fall in love.

There are only a handful of them that I fellate even though I make all of them come, and they are all required to supply certified clean bills of health before I’ll even agree to touch them… even with a whip.

I’m meticulous and brutal. The agony I inflict is exquisite, and it comes at a very high price—even though I don’t set the price, because if you have to ask, you can’t afford me. No one can be hurt by my exposure except me and I can’t be hurt. I have more people by the balls in this state than I can count and they have more to lose than I do, so they’ll guarantee my privacy should the threat of exposure ever become a problem for me. There’s no one vulnerable around me. The only people I ever loved in my life either died or abandoned me, so I just live for today—for the pleasure, for the immediate gratification…

For the kill.

Fuck tomorrow.


tumblr_mu1wdpvixa1qi3oh4o1_250 TREY

I’m white-knuckle gripping the steering wheel as I guide my car down the narrow street that leads to crimson. I’m trying not to speed, but I’m sure that I only have moments to get there and see her before she disappears like a figment of my fucking imagination. This drive has been an agonizing twenty minutes that’s normally a leisurely thirty-five had I not broken the sound barrier to get here when I got the call.

“Golden just walked in. From the looks of her, she’s got an appointment.”

I didn’t even bother to change. Fuck! I can’t go in there looking like a Seattle businessman! Luckily, I have a pair of jeans and black suede boots in the trunk. I strip right there in the parking lot and slide into the jeans and boots. I still have the black leather jacket in the truck, too, thank fuck. I can’t walk in there in just a T-shirt looking like a total fucking dork.

What the hell is wrong with me? I haven’t salivated over a girl since college—this is fucking ridiculous!

“Where is she?” I say, nearly bursting into the club after the spy has let me in.

“She’s already occupied, but you’re in luck. She’s in exhibition room nine—but the observation room is packed to the walls already,” he informs me.

“Thanks,” I say, walking into the club. I look around for one of the dungeon masters.

“I need viewing for exhibition room nine. Tell Max Trey is asking.”

“No need, Sir,” he says and leads me back to one of the small private viewing rooms. I thought they’d all be taken. “Enjoy the show.”

I sit in the large, comfortable chair in the middle of the room—more like a broom closet, but big enough for my needs—and the two-way mirrored wall transforms into a window into exhibition room nine. This is one of the few white rooms in the club, and of course, ambient lighting casts a gold hue onto the walls.

My dick is instantly hard the moment I see her…

This gold catsuit looks like PVC netting all over her body giving you a gorgeous view of her alabaster skin and you can see that she’s not wearing anything underneath—not even underwear. Her nipples are protruding from holes in the netting and she has long, chandelier nipple-rings dangling from them. An auburn wig graces her head and signature gold and crystal stilettos caress her feet. I can see the golden contacts from here. Even her lips are golden tonight and I’m thrilled to discover that the show has just begun.

Her submissive is a fairly fit subject, not overly muscular. He’s a large man in that he appears tall, even while lying prostrate with his wrists bound straight out to his sides, naked except for a golden submissive gimp mask with holes for his nose and mouth. There’s a spreader bar attached to his ankles, but I’m sure it’s just for visual effect as his legs are strapped down on wide-spread leg rests.

She’s circling him, not yet touching him, her heels making ominous clicking noises on the floor. She has something in her hand… a wand of some sort—long and shiny, gold of course. Is she going to stick that thing in him? She circles him a few more times and without stopping her revolutions, she touches his chest with the wand and quickly removes it. His body jerks and he gasps. She circles him again, touching his thigh this time. He jerks again. She repeats this step on his torso and nipple and he groans loudly.

It’s an electro-stim wand.

She repeats this torment several times until he’s writhing and sweating, crying out in agony or ecstasy, I don’t know which. She’s meticulous and I find myself leaning forward in the chair and gripping the armrests, getting as close to the window as possible. He’s breathing heavily, gasping for air, as she places the wand on a nearby table. She stands over his head and smooths her hands down his body. He’s trying to catch his breath. She comes back up to his ear and you can barely hear her whisper…

“More?”

“Yes!” he pants. “Please, Mistress… please…”

And with this one demonstration, I can see why Elena wants her off the scene. She hasn’t admitted as much, but I can tell that she does by the level of contempt I feel between them masked by cordial banter—bad banter at that.

Blondie. Indeed.

There’s a new Queen Bee in town and contrary to what Elena would like for me to believe, she’s not a passing fancy. She’s not a fad that’s just going to wear off. Her only “gimmick” is her golden fascination. She has a talent that’s not easily duplicated. The line between the power exchange is blurred just enough so that you never really know who’s in control. Even now, I can’t tell, but I’m so fascinated by it that I want to know what the guy on the table is thinking right now. Whatever it is, it’s clear to see that she has mastered a concept that Elena can never grasp.

Our submissives service us. She services her submissives.

His moaning snaps me out of my analysis of the situation, and I realize that I almost missed the next act of the show. He’s now attached to nipple clamps and his body bows as far as it can in the restraints as Golden sends electric current through wires attached to a controller in her hand. As he grunts and groans, I follow her gaze and see that her eyes are locked on his dick—hard and thumping, standing at full and perfect attention, his balls restrained in a heavy golden cock ring. The man appears to be in total agony, but his dick looks like he’s going to blow any second.

Golden runs her golden tongue along her golden lips and I nearly expire. Well, maybe her tongue isn’t golden, but that’s what I see. What I wouldn’t give to have that sparkling mouth wrapped around my cock right now.

She subjects him to several more agonizing volts and I see his dick seep a little precum—not a show I prefer to see, but watching Golden in action has my temperature rising so quickly that I have to remove my jacket. Fuck, she’s driving me insane and she’s not even touching me!

She places her controls next to him on the table and crawls between his wide-open legs. With neatly cut, golden-chromed nails, she teases his abdomen until he starts to groan again. Both hands wrap around his cock and squeeze and his groaning turns to tortured moans. I watch as her hands manipulate his shaft up and down, back and forth, over his balls and around the cock ring. My dick is so hard and so tight in my pants as I watch this poor soul strapped to the table and completely at her mercy.

Suddenly, her hands are oily. I don’t even know where the oil came from, but those magic hands are wrapped around his dick again. One of them caresses his balls then disappears and I can only assume that it must be in his ass. His head jerks back and forth as she edges the rim of his dick. It’s turning veiny and angry… and shiny now, and I can once again only imagine what this poor sucker must be feeling at her mercy. She quickly slides her hand off the top of the head and the damn thing is standing straight up and jerking. A small salute of cum is her reward—a ruined orgasm that causes her poor submissive to jerk and groan in agony and disappointment.

With her finger still in his ass, she grabs his dick again only to realize that he’s still too close to his ruined orgasm. He nearly shoots his load again when she releases his cock, and again, a small salute greets her—more than the last time. He’s ready to blow and she’s tormenting him deliciously. Her fingers are still in his ass and she’s still manipulating him, not allowing him to come completely down from his second ruined orgasm. I can see him struggling on the table, desperate to break free and find his release, but she has him securely strapped down and eagle-spread and there’s no escape for him.

She fingers him for several minutes until he calms a bit, but is still aroused. Then, she does something that makes me want to cry.

She wraps those golden lips around the head of his cock. Restrained or not, his head pushes back on the table and he cries out to a higher deity. She pushes and pulls those lips, teasing his frenulum with her tongue before dropping her mouth down his cock until the entire thing has disappeared into her mouth—and her tongue is still able to caress his balls.

“Fuck!” I hiss before I know it. I’ve had some fantastic head… I mean fucking fantastic head—from submissives and from exes. A lot of women can deep-throat, but I have yet to have one swallow my cock and lick my balls at the same time. I’ve had one on my cock and one on my balls, but not the same girl doing both jobs. That shit is fucking impressive.

And her poor submissive is losing his mind.

When she closes her lips over his cock and glides up to the head, pausing there to suck and suck while licking his frenulum with her mouth closed, he releases a guttural groan and she releases his dick. This time, she removes her fingers, too. His dick is jerking now in his third ruined orgasm and although there’s no salute, the jerking and pulsing indicate that he is experiencing probably the worst pleasure-pain experience of his life.

He’s panting now, grunting like a caged animal fighting to get out of his binds, and she picks up that damn golden wand again. What the fuck is she going to do with that thing now?

She torments him again by touching it to various parts of his body until he’s crooning and shivering with need. My mouth is watering waiting to see what she’s going to do next. That luscious body is eye-candy for any human being, but her skill will have you sweating and hoping and wishing all the way through the goddamn show.

After several minutes of electro-torment over his body, she does exactly what I thought she would do… electro-torment that dick.

She only touches it for a second or so, but it’s enough to set her submissive on fire. His dick is not only thick and veiny now, but it’s also changing color… and getting harder, as if it could.

“Shall I stop?” she goads and she touches his dick again.

“No! Mistress, please, no! I need… ah!” She zaps him again. “I need… to come… please… ah! Plea… please, Mistress!”

He can’t take too much of that zapper on his dick unless she’s going to make him come that way, but her next move makes me want to come.

She puts the zapper/wand away but rolls another table right between his legs. I can’t see what’s on the table, but I’ll soon find out. She walks to the head of the table that he’s strapped to and climbs on so that her body is straddling his face.

She’s wearing PVC netting… I know he’s smelling nothing but pussy right now. My dick is rock hard. No… fuck rock—steel… hard as fucking steel.

His voice is muffled and I can tell by his contented groan and her momentary gasp that he’s somehow licking that pussy.

Fuck, I want to come.

His cock is still hard and angry and ready for action, and she’s going to give it to him. She retrieves what looks like a long silver pen with ridges from the table. It’s attached to some power source and I immediately think he’s about to be zapped again…

But he’s not.

She takes his screaming angry erect dick and sticks the head of this rod into the head of his dick. Now, I’ve heard of this, but I’ve never seen it. This is a sounding rod, and she’s about to sound this man’s dick while he’s strapped to the table. I don’t know whether to watch or turn away, but it’s like a train wreck. I can’t turn away, not to mention that her lower body is gyrating a bit over his head, so I know that tongue and that pussy are getting very well acquainted right now. I don’t know whether to watch the sounding or the grinding, so I do my best to watch them both.

The rod goes deeper and deeper into his cock, and I hear a small moan of pleasure from him each time it pushes further in. The vein up the front of his shaft that fattens when we come is plump and full at this moment, and he’s making short semi-orgasmic sounds already. She pauses again and closes her eyes, dropping her head back momentarily.

Yeah, he’s eating that pussy.

She pushes and pulls the sounding rod in and out of his dick and now, I can imagine how that feels. When that vein pulses, it’s the hottest and most euphoric feeling in the world. I can only imagine that directly stimulating it from the inside would be one continuous pre-orgasmic frenzy.

The golden torturer… or torturess combines an oily hand stroke with the in and out of the sounding rod, and her submissive groans in pleasure again. Her hand moves to his balls, and she’s caressing them and cupping them while sounding his dick. She reaches over and adjusts a knob only slightly, and his body starts to tremble. I already know, she’s hit the e-stim switch.

“Do you like that?” she purrs. He groans his pleasure into her pussy. “Mmmm, I like that, too,” she rewards him. “Would you like some vibration?” she asks coquettishly. He groans the affirmative into her pussy once more, and she sets another knob and flips a switch. I hear a small hum… and a loud groan, coupled with Golden’s unexpected cry of ecstasy. She steadies herself on his torso for a moment while she catches her breath. Apparently, the vibration from the sounding rod gave her submissive such a jolt that his lips or tongue gave her an extra added treat.

“You… like that… do you?” she pants in passion. Her submissive only groans. She turns her attention back to her task.

She begins pushing and pulling the sounding rod in and out of his dick again—e-stimming… and vibrating… and sounding… from the inside out. I can’t fucking stand it anymore. I want to stand up and bang on the glass, demanding that she stop teasing the man… stop teasing me… she evidently knows what he likes, because she’s got him strapped to a table, begging for release while eating her pussy at the same time.

She’s still grinding on his face and caressing his balls masterfully while pushing and pulling the sounding rod in and out of his cock. I’ve never heard these tormented sounds come from any man and I swear, he would break that table if he could.

He can’t stand it…
I can’t stand it…

There has to be an orgasm this time. His dick is so hard and so veiny that it looks as if it’ll burst right out of its own skin. She stops the push and pull of the sounding wand, but has inserted it—still vibrating and no doubt, still e-stimming—all the way down into his dick, which is jerking and pulsing on its own. She closes her eyes and licks her golden lips for a moment, most likely enjoy the feel of his groans and cries on her pussy, then her hands lock on his dick again, both pulling and pushing and squeezing that poor thing to the hilt of satisfaction. If he doesn’t come this time, I’m fucking going to curse.

His groans are long and deep now, buried under her pussy. Her hands work his balls and his shaft while the sounding rod is still inside him—up and down and up and down in glorious rhythmic strokes, his balls swollen like shiny bubbles, his orgasm still held captive by a wide metal ring. Then she adds her final element of torture.

One of the electrodes from the nipple is now attached to a second ring that’s right under the rim of his penis… and she turns that thing on.

“Aaaaahhh! Mistress! Please!”

Wasn’t a safeword, but he’s about to come.

She watches his body, pays attention to his cries, masterfully stroking his cock and balls and occasionally pulling and pushing the sounding wand. She’ll get him to the point where no matter if she stops or not, he’s going to come and one way or another, the job will be finished. As he obviously comes closer and closer to climax, she’s not stopping the stimulation. His cries and moans never stop now and his fists clench in… pain? Mindless pleasure?

I assume the later when she pulls the sounding rod from his dick in a flourish and sits back on his face to watch the show. The muffled words from his mouth confirm that the grand finale is indeed about to start:

“Golden! Fuck! Golden!”

His dick jerks wild and violent as stream after stream of cum shoots from the head. He’s writhing helplessly as his shaft and balls explode in one of the most spectacular candle-lighting displays I’ve ever seen in porn or real life, myself included. He’s crying out like a wounded dog with every long squirt of semen that flies into the air and she watches with salacious eyes while caressing her own breasts through her catsuit. It’s only now that I realize several streams of cum on my own chest, my dick gripped violently in my fist, my balls banging with the aftershocks of a massive orgasm, my breathing wild and erratic. I don’t even remember undoing my pants but thank fuck I took my T-shirt off!

The window goes black.

I lay my head back on the seat for a moment, catching my breath and rubbing my dick, only just remembering the feeling of that intense orgasm while watching Golden sound another man and groping her own breast. Shit. Coming all over myself as the result of a peepshow—a fucking glorious, live peepshow, but a peepshow nonetheless. This revelation could ruin my fucking reputation. I retrieve wipes from a nearby end-table drawer and clean my stomach, chest and dick before putting myself together and leaving the room. And guess who’s not even ten-feet away from me coming from the main observation theater. She smiles knowingly at me.

“Enjoy the show?” she asks. I raise my eyebrow at her.

“Yes, I did. Were you taking notes?” I ask. Her smile widens.

“I don’t need to,” she says, confidently shifting her weight on her hip. “She’ll fade, just like the others.”

“Oh, that’s where you’re wrong,” I taunt. “She has something you’ll never have and if she ever leaves, she’ll take it with her. You’re trying to figure out what it is—that’s why you keep watching her. It’s so obvious what it is, but only to someone who’s not trying to be her,” I add, hiding my smirk. That got under her skin.

“I’m not trying to be her!” she seethes quickly. “I was the best before she came along and I’ll be the best long after she’s gone!” I lean in to her face.

“But not while she’s here,” I declare. All the color leaves her face and flood into her eyes until they’re red with fury.

“I guess that’s something that you and I have in common, then,” she jeers, “because you’ll never get what she has, either!” Touché, you nipped and tucked bitch.

“At least I still have a chance,” I counter. “You’re old news, Petra, same old licorice and aged at that!”

“Oh!” she says, “We’ve turned to swapping insults. Well, you might like to know that I’ve already put my feelers out on that little piece of gold candy that you’re salivating over like a pubescent teenager and she wants nothing to do with you! She doesn’t even fuck and if she did, she doesn’t like your type. What’s more, she’s out of your league—her words, not mine.”

I’m silently seething now. This pinned-together Barbie doll has been discussing me behind my back, and I don’t like it one bit. More than that, my desired conquest has told her that she doesn’t want me at all, no doubt because this bleached-blonde bucket-head has pawned herself off as my fucking representative. How much has she said about me? I snatch her roughly by the arm and she gasps in surprise.

“What does she know about me?” I hiss in Elena’s ear. She rightfully gazes at me in fear. “I said what the fuck does she know?”

“Nothing!” she hisses back, pretending to mask her fear and not doing a very good job of it. “She didn’t even remember who you were when I brought you up!” she sneers. You brought me up. You bitch!

“Does she know my name?” I demand. “Answer me!” I shake her after a pause.

“No!” she nearly squeals. “If she does, she didn’t get it from me!”

After feeling certain enough that she’s not lying, I roughly release her. She’s close to tears as she stumbles to maintain her footing.

“You go ahead—be that simpering fool hoping to get a taste of that gold-plated ass. You’ll never get her, and I’m going to enjoy watching you squirm!” she declares, her voice shaking.

“Your time is over,” I say coldly. “You may have been really hot in your day, but you’re not a sex symbol anymore. You may have use, but not in the arena you’re shooting for. She’s pissin’ all over you, Blondie, and you can’t stand it. So, go back to your corner and occupy yourself with your litter of kittens, because that’s all you’re good for now.” I walk away and leave her standing there to ponder that thought.

I’m standing outside the door leading to the exhibition rooms for twenty minutes before I see her. What the fuck was she doing after the lights went down? There’s only so much aftercare you can do in those rooms. She breezes out the door and I almost miss her.

“Excellent show,” I say, as she passes. She turns around to face me, the smell of sex filling my nostrils.

“Yes, it was,” she says. The hell she doesn’t fuck. She smells like she worked that man over something terrible after she worked that man over. Hopes springs inside me. Elena was probably lying to me all this time.

“You enjoy yourself doing that, I see,” I say, trying to keep her attention.

“Of course, I do,” she says, matter-of-factly. “Why else would I do it?”

“It’s quite the exhibition. Very… entertaining,” I say suggestively.

“I should hope so,” she purrs. “Who would pay for boring?”

“You know what they say… the best things in life are free,” I say, raising an eyebrow to her.

“That may be true,” she says, “but I’m not.” There’s a revelation. They pay her for this… I sure as hell would.

“Not what?” I ask, “The best thing in life… or free?” She raises a golden glare to me and even though her practiced control has never slipped in my presence, my keen instincts inform me that she’s been unnerved. I’ve shaken her a bit.

“You figure it out,” she says impassively as she strolls away from me with a sexy, meticulous walk. One day, Golden… one day, I’m going to crack that impenetrable shell and when I do, I’m going to lap up that creamy stream of golden lava inside like a starving man.

I follow her to her table and watch as she downs a double shot of clear liquid—vodka or gin, no doubt—then unwraps one of her golden lollipops and envelope it in her mouth, settling into comfortable satisfaction. I can feel her watching me through those mirror glasses as I draw closer to her, approaching with care like a lion stalking his prey, only… I’m not sure which of us is the lion tonight. Ignoring the menacing looks from the slave guarding her table, I lean in and ask,

“What can a man do to have the pleasure of your company?” She turns to me and sniffs, an almost unnoticeable move… almost.

“It appears that you’ve already had the pleasure of someone’s company this evening,” she says with a raised eyebrow. She’s fucking better than I thought.

“I have,” I admit. “Yours… though only vicariously.” She pulls her glasses down and glares at me. Her contacts have me awestruck—ancient clocks with golden backgrounds that circle her pupils. I’m surprised that she let me get close enough to see them.

“You’re captivating,” I confess.

“I know,” she says, confidently. “It’s a gift.”

“And cocky,” I observe.

“Not cocky,” she corrects me. “I don’t have one of those.” Well, that’s a fucking relief.

“Self-assured,” I say, searching for another term.

“To say the least,” she replies.

“Conceited,” I finally say.

“Absolutely,” she says, without pausing. I lean closer.

“Don’t you think modesty would be a better attribute in one so… stunning?”

“Would you be standing here right now if it was?” she retorts. Good point.

“You haven’t answered my question,” I say, my voice slipping into seduction again.

“Which one?”

“What must I do to enjoy the pleasure of your company?”

“So, you would insult me, then ask to have the pleasure of my company?” My brow furrows.

“I beg to differ, Golden. I never insulted you.”

“No?” she says. “You ponder it for a while. But you’re wasting your time. I choose, Chopper.”

Chopper? What the fuck?

“Who the hell is Chopper? What the hell does that mean?”

“That’s for me to know and you to find out. In the meantime, you may want to leave my table. You’re blocking my afterglow.” She’s dismissing me.

“You still haven’t answered my question,” I press.

“Hope,” she says. “Pray, maybe. I choose. That’s it.”

And that was it. She replaces her glasses and her lollipop, and I no longer exist.

I sit at the bar watching her for the next half hour. I also watch Elena, watching her… watching me watching her. Elena’s a fucking thorn in my side. If I have a chance in hell of getting close to this woman, I have to do so without her associating me to Elena. I wouldn’t trust me either if I were her. I look over at Elena once more and see her looking at me, smirking. In a bold move, I stand up and walk out of the club.

“If I send something here to Golden, can you make sure that she gets it?” I ask Roc. He furrows his brow.

“You’ll have to ask Max if that’s okay,” he says.

“Can you clear it with Max for me?” I ask. “Say that the packages will be clearly marked that they’ll be from Trey.” He nods and call his boss.

“Max, Trey wants to send some gifts here for Golden. He wants to know if it’s okay…” After a pause, “he says he’ll mark it clearly so we’ll know they’re from him…” Another pause and he ends the call. “Go ahead and send them.”

I nod my thanks and go out into the night air. My balls are significantly lighter from one of the hardest, self-imposed orgasms I’ve ever had. Now, to figure out how to get that talented little nymph into my bed.


A/N: The Pinterest board for this story can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/fifty-shades-golden/.

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 16—Days of Our Lives

For everyone who tried to open the link for “Meet the Slayer” from the email last week, I’m sorry. There was something wrong with it… I have no idea what it was. Hopefully, there won’t be the same problem 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 16—Days of Our Lives

ANASTASIA

Well, this is a mess.

Milk everywhere and the sheets are sticking to me.

I’m hung over like fuck and my husband is nowhere to be found. The rocking of the boat is making me nauseous, so I’m going to have to get off here soon, but fuck if I can move.

We fucked like animals last night.

First, I just had to fuck him. And then, the motion of the boat swaying on the water was enticing—while I was drunk anyway—so I had to fuck him again. Then more fucking and more fucking and after the fourth cosmic orgasm, I tapped out. I know he thinks I won’t remember what happened last night, but I remember every single stroke.

And now, I’m sick.

I don’t appreciate that he left me here with no clothes. What does he expect me to do—go back to the house wrapped in a sheet like a goddamn toga? Where the fuck is my phone? I lift my head to locate some form of communication…

Who the hell shifted the room?

“Oh, God,” I lament, falling back onto the bed in dizzy helplessness.

“Whoa, easy there, killer,” my husband’s voice wafts to my ear as he enters the stateroom. “You’re paying for those Cosmos… and dearly.”

“What did you put in those killer cocktails?” I accuse, throwing my arm over my face.

“Only the best vodka and triple sec known to man,” he says, pushing something into my hand. “Here.”

I open one eye to see that it’s ibuprofen. I put them in my mouth.

“Drink this,” he presses. I shake my head. “Drink,” he says more firmly. I try to lift my head and he lifts it further, forcing me to take several swallows of orange juice. “You’re going to have to sleep it off. I’ll stay here with you. You’re going to make me do something I’ve never done before.” I open one eye and look at him questioning. “Work on my boat.”

“No,” I protest, “don’t do that. I can get to the house.” I try to lift my head again to no avail.

“You can’t even get out the bed, Butterfly,” he teases. “I’ll work here. It’ll be another first. And if it makes you feel any better, all of the Grey wives are in the same condition.”

Which means no one will be at Helping Hands today, but I just can’t be concerned about that right now.

There’s an obvious pause in the air.

“Do you remember last night?” he asks. I nod.

“Every stroke,” I reply. I hear him sigh.

“I enjoyed it immensely,” he begins, “but I was hoping that I didn’t take advantage of you.” I close my eyes.

“I told you, I took advantage of you,” I say, and that’s the last thing I remember.

I awake still in the main stateroom, sweating like a pig. I’m still sticky as fuck and my boobs weigh a fucking ton. I realize that the smell of food and the sound of running water is what woke me. My head still stings, but my stomach is no longer doing flip-flops… except from hunger. I lift my head as much as I can and try to sit on the edge of the bed.

“Whoa-hoa, wait, wait.” My husband rushes to my side. He looks fucking scrumptious bare-chested in just jean shorts. I think my mouth actually starts watering.

“Damn, woman,” he says, as he saunters over to me, reading my mind. “I can barely fucking keep up with you. I’m gonna have to start working out every day again.”

He gently gathers me into his arms and the sticky sheets fall reluctantly from my naked body. He carries me into the bathroom and slowly lowers me into a hot bubble bath.

“Too hot?” he asks. I shake my head as I sink down into the water.

“It’s perfect,” I say, closing my eyes.

“Don’t fall asleep,” he says, taking his phone out of his pocket.

“I won’t.” He puts his phone up to his ear.

“She’s out of bed. You can come in now,” he says before ending the call. My brow furrows.

“Who was that?” I ask.

“Staff. They need to change the sheets.” I sigh.

“How long have I been asleep?”

“All morning.” I glare at him. “I only woke you to eat. I’d let you sleep all day.” He hands me a glass of ice water from the vanity beside him. “Hydrate.”

I taste the water against my parched lips and before I know it, the glass is empty.

“That makes me happy,” he says as he refills the glass from a nearby bottle. I nearly empty it again before handing it back to him.

“My babies,” I protest.

“You have nannies,” he chides, “and enough breast milk stored to feed them for a week.” I nod. I still want to see them. I need to see them every day. I miss them when I don’t see them… and my milk starts leaking.

“I need to pump,” I tell him. He shakes his head.

“No, you don’t,” he says. He sits on the edge of the bath and cups underneath my breast under the water with one hand. With the other hand, he starts up near my shoulder and does a firm but gentle stroke down to the areola and nipple. The bubbles near my breast dissipates a bit as milk spills into the water. My boobs are full and with no little mouths here to empty them, they’re demanding immediate relief, and getting it at the gentle touch of my husband’s hands. Several minutes later, the first boob is light and empty and he starts on the second and I’m effectively getting a milk bath in my own breast milk.

“Where did you learn to do that?” I ask. “I mean, how did you know?”

“I learned to do it when you first decided to breast feed,” he replies. “I just never got the chance because you were always feeding the twins or pumping. We have two babies and you probably produce twice as much milk as you need to.” I raise my eyebrows.

“You like it, too,” I remind him, remembering all the time he’s latched onto my nipples while we were making love, sometimes hastening my orgasms… including last night.

“Yes, I do,” he admits while still relieving my breast. “Have you ever tasted your breast milk? It’s sweet.”

I have, but I don’t admit it. I just look coquettishly up at him as he fondles my breast.

“I can’t milk you like this,” I tease. He turns his gaze to me.

“Oh, yes you can, and you do. Often,” he retorts. After several minutes of relieving the second breast, he retrieves one of my natural sponges that he most likely had brought out from my bathroom sometime this morning, wets it with the milk bath and begins to squeeze the water over my back and shoulders. It feels heavenly.

“I thought the idea was to wash the milk off me. Now I’m bathing in it.”

“Ssh,” he chides as he continues wet my back with the water from the sponge. I sit silently as he bathes me, then washes my hair with a luxurious foaming shampoo that smells like lavender. Washing my hair is such a task because it’s so goddamn long, but I think he likes it. I think he would wash it and condition it and play in it every single day if I let him.

But then, neither of us would do anything else.

I’m squeaky clean and smelling like lavender and something else—jasmine, I think—as he dries me off and dresses me. When he leads me back to the main stateroom, now fitted with fresh, clean bedding, I realize that there’s yet another thing my husband likes.

Boho. My husband likes boho. And vintage. Vintage boho is even better. Oh, and white. Me in white does something for him. That’s why I’m always in white when he chooses a weekend for TPE. It’s probably also why he nearly lost his shit during the White Wash Fashiongate back in the spring. Anyway, I shake my head when I see that of all the things that could have been chosen for me to lazy around in today, I find white lace undergarments and a short white boho cold-shoulder dress. And of course, he must dress me.

Brunch. It’s about 2:00… he’s let me sleep the morning away.

“I don’t give a damn. I would have let you sleep all day,” he said.

We eat in the dining salon, only because we don’t want the insects to bombard us on the deck. Brunch starts with an insane antipasto tray—tri-colored olives, artichoke hearts, seasoned mozzarella balls, peppadew peppers, Jamón Ibérico, prosciutto, manchego cheese made from lamb’s milk, and slices of fresh French bread and Melba toast along with an assortment of domestic and exotic sliced fruits including figs, mango, kiwi, dragon fruit, mulberries, and fresh coconut.

The main courses are even more insane—oversized biscuits with bresola and melted havarti cheese and a smear of citrus jam; Moroccan baked eggs with red peppers and spinach; broccoli and cheesy cheddar pie; butterscotch sticky buns and homemade fruity Sangrias—minus the alcohol, of course. I tried to be dainty and ladylike, but I was so damn hungry, that food didn’t stand a chance. I ate enough food for me and for two other people and once I had my fill, Christian told the skipper to set sail again and off we go on a little coast of the small lake in our big boat.

Christian leads me to the forward deck, where we get comfortable on that bench in front of the helm where I thought no one would sit while the boat was moving. Surprisingly, it’s very pleasant up here with the breeze blowing gently on us, whipping my husband’s hair around and giving him that model look again. I crawl into his lap and he cradles me there while still managing to work on his laptop.

At first, I’m fine to interrupt my husband’s busy afternoon, if you can call it that, and just snuggle on his lap as he masterfully manages to tap away on his laptop while still cradling me close in his arms. I close my eyes and think of how blessed I am to be in this place at this moment. I’m rich. I’m filthy fucking rich… but that’s not even the best part. The best part is this man who loves me with everything that he has inside of him and never fails to show me what I mean to him. Even when he’s being an asshole, nine times out of ten, he has my best interest at heart—my safety and the safety of our children.

Oh, and our children—maybe they’re the best part. I’m a mom—I’m twice blessed with a little prince and princess, and I get to love them and watch them grow into a young man and young woman. I get to shape their lives and help make them upstanding citizens and good human beings, like Daddy did for me.

Daddy… maybe that’s the best part. In spite of my hateful, vengeful, selfish mother, he has loved me through everything… even things he could really grasp, like discovering that Christian and I practice a BDSM lifestyle. He has always come to my rescue even when Mom tried to keep us apart. Our reunion may have been delayed, but it couldn’t be denied. Now, he’s given me a cool stepmom and an adorable little brother, and he’s going to adopt me… He’s going to be my real daddy.

I’m a successful doctor. I have my family and my friends and my health… my health. Twice, outside forces tried to take me out of here, tried to kill me or at the very least, break me. But I survived. I pulled through comas twice. Twice, for fucks sake! Most people don’t recover from one and I came back twice! If that’s not a sign that I’m supposed to be here, I don’t know what is. I have a bigger purpose and it’s not meant for me to die yet. Whatever that purpose is—whether I’m living it now through these many blessings or whether it’s something huge that’s still to come—I’m supposed to be here, and I’m thankful for every minute.

I raise my nose to my husband’s neck and sniff. He smells delicious… and clean. Not his usual Armani… something fresh and musky. I sniff again and his smell fills my nostrils and bombards my brain. He smells divine. It causes a warmth to flow through my body and settle into my stomach. I press my lips onto his neck and kiss him gently. He doesn’t respond, so I kiss him again. He’s still tapping away at his laptop, so I kiss him again… and again, enjoying the feeling of his skin on my lips; enjoying being cradled in his lap on the deck of his boat—our boat—in the sunshine; feeling his heartbeat against my hand under the warm skin of his chest.

I close my eyes and allow the sensations to envelop me, to comfort me, sitting comfortably in his lap with his strong arm wrapped around me and still tapping away on his computer, running the world. I gently brush my lips across the skin of his neck, admiring him, loving him. This gorgeous, powerful man loves me… me. A nobody from Montesano with a broken past who clawed herself out of tragedy, and he wants me.

I feel his head turn toward me, blocking my access to his neck, and I open my eyes. He’s gazing at me with unknown emotion in his eyes—his knowing look mixed with power and a touch of desire and something else, I don’t know what. He places his laptop on the seat next to him and presses the gentlest kiss on my lips. Then again… and again. I close my eyes again as one arm tightens around my body while the other hand cups my jaw and he kisses me softly, again and again until the kisses become longer and firmer. I hear another boat on the lake pass us by, but it’s just background noise to me.

The hand on my cheek sinks into my hair and he holds my head steady as he kisses me even deeper, both of us taking little nips and tastes of the others lips and mouth. It’s a soft, sensual necking session—not hard and dirty like the others we’ve had, but gentle and emotional, passionate nonetheless. What a beautiful way to spend a Monday afternoon—on the forward deck of our superyacht, lounging in the sun, indulging in the sweet taste and kisses of my man.

*-*

“So, we’re here live today with one-half of Seattle’s power couple, Anastasia Grey. Mrs. Grey hit the scene about two years ago when she snagged the heart of Seattle’s richest and most eligible bachelor, Christian Grey, becoming the Ana in the now famed ‘AnaChris.’ Now, Ana, we know that you have some very pressing and important issues that you want to discuss, but you have to give us a little entertainment for our boring lives. Now, we talked about a few things before the show, so I know to watch my step if I want to keep my job.”

Radio personality Robert Large of KVFT’s “Rappin’ with Rob” morning show laughs at his own joke, but he’s knows it’s the truth, that he better keep the conversation respectful if he wants to stay employed and avoid the wrath of Christian. Since KNTZ dropped the ball by trying to force me to appear on their show at 5am instead of the 10am spot that I was originally booked for yesterday, I kyboshed the entire interview and decided to discuss my issues with Rob instead. I should thank KNTZ because I got to spend the day with my husband and decompress and now, I can press my agendas with a fresh mind.

“I don’t know how much entertainment I can offer you, but let’s see what you got,” I reply with a smile.

“First, I’ve been dying to know. Who came up with AnaChris?”

“I have no idea!” I respond, eliciting a laugh from Rob and the two other personalities in the studio. “I think it’s… strange, to say the least, that they merge our names together like that—like we can’t stand alone, but I’m used to it now.”

“So, this wasn’t yours or Christian’s idea to let the world know that you were ‘for keeps?’” he asks.

“Why would we need a nickname for that?” I respond to his question with a question of my own. “It didn’t work out too well for Bennifer, and if that’s my only hope, I might as well throw in the towel now.” Light chuckles fill the studio.

“So, um, how did you guys meet?” he asks.

“Well, I don’t want to divulge too many details, but I’ll tell you that it certainly wasn’t a match made in heaven,” I confess. “I hated him and I think he hated me, too.”

“You hated Christian Grey?” one of the other personalities asks in awe. I shrug.

“I didn’t know who he was,” I reply. “I didn’t have a reason to know who he was. All I knew was that I didn’t like him. Even if I had known who he was, I still wouldn’t have liked him. Granted, he’s gorgeous and everything, but he had it all and he knew it and he wanted to make sure that everybody else knew he knew it… and I just didn’t like it.”

“So, how did he finally win you over?” Rob asks.

“Let’s just say persistence pays,” I laugh. “He didn’t chase me or anything, but he was the one who made the first move. Let’s face it, with a face like that, it’s not hard to be persuaded by charm.”

“So, charm is what got you?” the third personality says. I look over at him and glare.

“Yes, charm is what got me,” I say with no further explanation. Rob clears his throat.

“Yeah, yeah, I could see that,” he says, throwing a threatening glare at Personality #3. “So, let’s talk about other things. It was in the news that the Greys recently had a death in the family…”

We talk for a minute with no more words from Personality #3. I think he feels it’s his job to sit and wait for an opportunity to trip me up. I’ll have to watch him.

“So, your best friend married Christian’s brother Elliot…”
“What, if anything, can you tell us about Mia’s upcoming nuptials…?”
“I sorry about your loss. How is the family holding up during this time…?”

About ten more minutes of frivolous ice-breaking talk before we get to the meat of things.

“So, now, I know you have some big issues that you want to address, so let’s get to them.”

“Okay, which one do you want to talk about first?” I ask.

“Why don’t we start with the accusations that you indicated were brought against you, if that’s alright with you.” I nod.

“Yes, well, I’m hoping to get some kind of investigation going on the governing body that handles investigating these kinds of charges. Not that I need another project, but my treatment by the board has sparked a bit of a crusade on the whole ‘fair practices’ thing involving complaints filed against doctors for abuse.”

“Can you be more specific about the situation?” Rob asks.

“Since it’s still under investigation, I’m limited as to what I can say. However, a nameless, faceless person made an unwarranted and untrue anonymous accusation against me and I was called before a panel of ‘professionals’ to state my case. Only, it was far from a professional situation. I had to turn in all my jewelry, electronics, and my purse at the door of the establishment as if I was being booked for a crime. They had me in a room for more than four hours with no clock and no person who wouldn’t even speak to me. I had no idea who had accused me. I had not opportunity to examine any witnesses or defend myself. When they called me before the panel, they were disrespectful to me. They wouldn’t address me by my professional title. They asked completely irrelevant questions about things that had nothing to do with the case and they treated me like I had already been convicted.”

“How can any question meant to sniff out someone accused of patient abuse be irrelevant?” Personality #3 strikes again.

“For instance, my dress has nothing to do with a patient being abused,” I retort.

“It does if your dress was being used to entice the patient,” he says matter-of-factly.

“That’s just clothing,” I retort. “Nothing I wear makes me guilty of a crime unless it’s a crime of fashion. It certainly doesn’t make me guilty of abusing a patient and—as I said—was completely irrelevant to the situation at hand. People wear different clothes for different reasons because they like how they look or they serve a purpose. Someone else’s perception of what I wear should not be used as evidence that I may be guilty of misconduct. For example, I take great offense to your shirt. So, you say ‘blondes do it better.’ Blondes do what better? I’m a brunette and you knew that I was coming on the show today, yet you chose that shirt.

“And while we’re talking about inappropriate and offensive attire, let’s discuss that tattoo prominently displayed on your arm directly in my face. I find it extremely offensive to have to sit in this studio to your immediate right and have to stare for the better part of an hour and a half at a woman spread wide-legged on your extremely large bicep with her clitoris showing in very great detail.”

Rob rolls his eyes and puts his hands in his hair.

“Notwithstanding the colorful slogan on your shirt and the even more colorful tattoo, I think it’s unprofessional that you didn’t put some mousse or something in your hair to tame that wild, awful mohawk. But those are all just perceptions, right? No one in the real world has to see you except the poor women and interns who work here and must be subjected to your suggestive shirt, offensive tattoo and bad choice of hair. That may mean that your judgement and your taste in clothing might need tweaking, but it doesn’t mean that you’re guilty of sexual harassment… or does it?”

I let the question hang in the air for a while as Personality #3 shifts uncomfortably in his seat.

“And with that, we’re going to commercial,” Rob says.

“Clear,” I hear from the booth behind me. I gesture to Marilyn to come over to me and I stand and meet her halfway.

“Find out who he is,” I whisper to her. She nods and leaves the room.

“What the fuck, Judd, are you trying to become the next sacrificial lamb?” Rob hisses at Judd, who looks at Rob like he has no idea what Rob is talking about, which he probably doesn’t. “Shut the fuck up for the rest of my goddamn interview, you hear me, you attention-seeking clown?”

I pretend not to listen the conversation, and although Judd has only rubbed me the wrong way, he appears to have pissed Rob the hell off.

“She’s just being sensitive, man,” Judd defends. “I didn’t say shit wrong to her.”

“The show is called ‘Rappin’ with Rob,’ not ‘Rappin’ with Judd.’ I’ve been trying for damn near a year to get this interview and you’re not going to fuck it up for me. Now, shut the fuck up before I have you removed from the goddamn booth, live!

Rob turns his attention to me as I return to my seat.

“I’m sorry about this, Ana,” Rob says. “I swear…” I hold my hand up to silence him.

“It’s okay,” I say, readying myself for the next part of the interview.

“I think… to get your point across, it might be better if from this point on, I referred to you as Dr. Grey,” he says, observing me for reaction.

“I think that’s a good idea, thank you,” I say with a nod.

“I will be presenting some opposing point of view next. Please don’t take it personally,” he cautions. I nod.

“Thanks for the warning,” I tell him. “Blindsiding someone who has agreed to a live interview is uncomfortable and extremely unprofessional.” I didn’t turn my gaze to Judd, but I didn’t have to. The look from hell that Rob throws in his direction says it all.

“Again, I apologize for that, Dr. Grey. I’ll do my best to assure that it doesn’t happen again,” he says through clenched teeth while still glaring at Judd, who is now sitting back in his seat with his arm prominently pushed forward and giving me a better view of his offensive tattoo than I had before. You want attention, you got it. I pull out my phone, open the camera, and snap a picture of the offensive thing as well as Judd’s profile. My phone is back in my purse before anyone can even question what the click was. The booth is quiet for the rest of the break before we hear the signal that we’ll be back on the air in fifteen seconds.

“We’re back and you’re listening to ‘Rappin’ with Rob.’ Our guest today is Dr. Anastasia Steele-Grey and we’ve been talking about—among other things—these accusations of abuse that have been levied against you and your subsequent hearing and the treatment by the panel. You indicated that they treated you like a criminal.”

“Yes,” I continue. “I was sequestered in a room very much like a holding cell—and not just from the people who were witnesses in my hearing. I was sequestered from anybody except from one person left in the room to watch me and who didn’t speak to me for hours. That’s mental warfare, Rob. It’s a textbook tactic used to break down any defenses that you have before you meet with the panel… and it worked.”

“It broke down your defenses?” he asks.

“Yes, it did,” I confirm. “By the time I met with the panel after sitting in that room in silence for hours, I was already convinced that I wouldn’t be extended fairness and impartiality. When I went before the panel, I was set to just answer their questions and let the chips fall where they may… until they started firing questions at me about my personal life that had nothing to do with the accusations.”

“The board gave a statement, dismissing your claims as opinion and conjecture,” Rob interjects. “What do you say to that?” I chuckle.

“I say that’s pretty strange, because those are the exact words that I used with them about the accusations against me,” I respond. “A disgruntled person called and made false accusations against me and as a result, I was treated worse than a criminal.”

“Who called?” Rob asks. “Have you confronted the person?”

“We located the source of the call and because it’s still an open case, I’m unable to speak on it at this time. However, I will say this. Not only were the allegations bred out of pure jealously and made solely to harm me, my livelihood and my reputation, but they were also totally fabricated. So, my impeccable record had the potential to be smudged and possibly irreparably impacted not due to any wrongdoing on my part, but simply because somebody had an axe to grind. That’s completely unacceptable.”

“But what about those people who really do abuse the position?” Rob asks. “There are laws in place right now that require another person be present during more intimate examinations because of misconduct by doctors who have taken advantage of patients in vulnerable situations. Isn’t this process in place to hold doctors to a level of accountability?”

“Of course,” I reply. “The system is supposed to work that way. It’s supposed to be engineered to protect the patient because they trust us with their health, both mental and physical. What I’m purporting is not a dismantling of the system—that would be in total opposition of patient safety. What I am recommending is a re-evaluation and reconstruction of the process by which they go about fact-finding. Knowing what I know now, I’m concerned about the omnipotent power given to a disgruntled patient, an angry ex-boyfriend, or some unstable person with a vendetta against a hospital for the color of their scrubs.”

“Dr. Grey, aren’t you exaggerating just a bit?” Rob retorts.

“Not at all,” I defend. “Someone called the board and lied on me, and the lie was absurd! With absolutely no concrete evidence, they pulled me in, put me in a cell for four hours, and treated me like a criminal before they even questioned me. They summoned patients from the group therapy sessions that I was facilitating at the time—totally violating their privacy—my husband, my former superior… When they didn’t get what they wanted from those witnesses, they pulled me in and began an interrogation that not only called into question my style of dress but also accused me of having… and I quote… ‘a lover’s quarrel’ with my husband in front of twenty other people before we even became a couple.

“They went on a vicious fishing expedition based on a fabricated accusation and with that kind of unchecked power afforded them, good doctors are going to be afraid to properly treat patients, concerned that someone’s displeasure is going to result in the loss of their license. You tell me if that’s an exaggeration.” Rob nods.

“I admit, it does seem a little drastic to say the least,” he continues. We talk a little more about the hearing and what I would like to see in terms of fair treatment for the accused as well as thorough due-diligence. We move on to Helping Hands and I refrain from discussing our problems with yet another licensing board, focusing instead on our current projects, work in the community, and success stories. I completely forget that Judd is in the room until I hear him shift in his seat and grunt at one of my comments about the women’s self-defense classes I’ve been teaching.

“You need a bathroom break, there, Judd?” Rob warns, ready to make good on throwing him out on live radio.

“Naw, I’m good,” Judd replies, and I still don’t turn my attention to him. Rob and I engage in some harmless banter about my being able to take down a man much bigger than me in a self-defense situation, sharing a few secrets on air about how women can protect themselves in an attack. I continue my plugs for Helping Hands, peddling the services that we offer to anyone who may be in need while covertly requesting donations to keep the services available to the community. The interview ends on a good note with us having addressed all of the issues I hoped we would while throwing in a little entertainment as well. The drama was minimal as far as I’m concerned, but I’m sure that a certain control-freak billionaire will feel otherwise.

“I really appreciate you coming today, Dr. Grey, and even more so completing the interview after that little bump in the road that we experienced.”

“Oh, that’s okay,” I say waving him off. “I’m a psychiatrist and well-versed in the workings of the human mind. I’ve learned a lot in my studies and my experiences and much like Freud and his discussions about the male preoccupation with size and its compensation, I’ve learned that a person’s constant need to seek attention and attempts to make others feel small or inferior are often cries for help or signals of a much deeper-seated problem on their part.”

I can feel Judd sizzling to my right, but I don’t give him the satisfaction of looking at him at all. Instead, I reach in my purse and pull out my phone while Rob is doing his wrap-up and turn up the ringer. I fully expect to see at least three texts from my husband asking about the asshole to my right, but I’ve got none.

Clear,” I hear again from behind me.

“Thank you again, Ana, really,” Rob says again. “I wish it could have gone just a little smoother for you.”

“Happens all the time,” I tell him. “Somebody somewhere always wants to unseat the ‘princess.’ I’m more accustomed to it than you can imagine.” Marilyn comes into the booth and hands me a business card. “Arnold Jay,” I read it aloud before looking up at Rob. “General manager?” He nods.

“Um, yeah,” he says, twisting his lips and dropping his head to rub his neck. I turn the card over.

“Judd Rossiter,” I read aloud. I don’t see it, but I can feel Judd’s head rubberneck when he hears his name. I look up at Rob again.

“Um…” he pauses and slowly points at Judd.

“Hmm,” I say with a nod before dropping the business card in my purse and proffering my hand to Rob.

“You’ve been great, Rob, a real professional even in your rebuttals. If I know my rich, powerful husband at all, he or someone in his camp has been glued to the radio for the last hour and a half. I’m sure you’ll be hearing from him.” Before the words are out of my mouth, my phone starts singing, “Love All the Hurt Away.” I look at the screen and see my husband’s coy smile staring back at me. I swipe the screen and answer the phone.

“Hey,” I say softly.

“Still in the booth?” he asks firmly.

“Yes,” I respond.

“Still with an audience?” he asks.

“Yes.”

“Did that asshole really have a woman’s clit staring at you for the last two hours?”

“High up on the bicep, in vivid color, with a sleeveless T-shirt. You can’t miss it, and it was only an hour and a half,” I reply. “I have a picture for you. I’ll send it to you. I was accused of being sensitive even though I wasn’t supposed to hear it. I’ll let you be the judge.” I hear a combination of a sigh and a throaty growl on the other end while behind me in the DJ’s booth, Judd murmurs, “What the…?”

“I’m on my way to the GM’s office right now. It shouldn’t take long. Send me that picture.”

“I figured you would be. Love you.” We end the call and I quickly text the picture to my husband. “Looks like you might be hearing from him sooner than we thought. You’ve been a delight, Rob,” I say with a smile before nodding to Personality #2 and walking out of the booth.

“It’s been real, Judd,” I hear Rob say in a low voice as I’m walking out.

When I get outside, there are two more Audi SUVs parked right in front of the radio station with three members of GEH security standing in front of them. Geez, he really wants his presence known. I hear Chuck groan next to me as we both spot the paps off the right waiting for me to exit.

“You know the drill, Chucky,” I say sweetly. “It happens at every appearance.”

“Yeah, I know,” he says and opens the door for me to exit. The cameras flash and the questions start flying, but I don’t answer any of them because I just gave an interview, until one question makes me stop at the door of the SUV.

“It is a free country, Mrs. Grey, and no one could see the guy. What was wrong with him having a tattoo?” I turn around and face the reporter.

“He can plaster whatever he wants on his body, but when you come to work, there’s a level of decorum that you need to maintain, especially when you’re dealing with the public on any level. Even the most casual and physical jobs have some kind of policy for appearance and unless you’re a bouncer in a strip club, I highly doubt that fully exposed genitals in graphic detail is considered appropriate for the workplace. Although someone may find that thing interesting and attractive, I’m a straight, heterosexual wife and mother, and I have no interest whatsoever in female genitalia besides my own. So, no, I didn’t appreciate having that thing staring at me for an hour and a half—which he never bothered to cover it up—and contrary to your claim that ‘no one could see the guy…’” I pause and raise my hand. “…Someone did! I wonder how many other women who work here wishes that he would have the common courtesy to cover that damn thing up, or did he just put it on display for li’l ole me?”

I don’t wait for a rebuttal. I get in the SUV and close the door behind me. Marilyn is beside me in moments with Chuck and Carol sliding into the front seat. Carol is Marilyn’s personal security and she’s good at her job. I once saw her body-check a reporter who was trying to grab Mare’s skirt to make her turn around.

“He’s got us sandwiched. I think he wants us to wait,” Chuck says, observing the SUVs on both our bumpers. I sigh and text my husband.

**Tell them to move. **

About a minute later, the SUV in front pulls forward and Chuck starts the car, pulling away from the curb.

“Where to?” he asks.

“The Center,” I reply.


CHRISTIAN

“I’ve heard about your threats to the press, Mr. Grey,” Jay says to me as I stand in his office. “We enjoy a level of protection from that sort of thing, but I still would rather not have the wrath of Grey descend upon our little local station here.”

“Well, then, I suggest you do something about the asshole who sat in front of my wife for two hours like this!” I hiss, showing him the full and clear profile of the fucker putting an open pussy on display for a young wife and mother after she informed him that the tattoo offended her. “That’s completely distasteful, disrespectful, and unacceptable and no one should be subjected to seeing that for nearly two hours on a live radio show, let alone a married, heterosexual mother of twins!”

“I agree that this was highly inappropriate and I assure you that I will address it immediately,” he says with authority. “May I please have your assurance that there won’t be bids on my station or retaliatory action from GEH?” He knows me well.

“As long as you’re sure to address this issue, you have my word,” I tell him. He nods.

“I’m very glad that we could come to an understanding, Mr. Grey,” he says, proffering his hand to me. I shake firmly.

“Good day, Mr. Jay,” I say and leave the office. As I’m walking out, I get a glimpse of the three DJs who interviewed my wife this morning. I pick out the Judd character from the profile and that obscene tattoo on his arm. He’s a big guy, probably a bully, and my fists clench as I see him sitting all cocky in his chair outside of the GM’s office.

“Sir,” Jason says, breaking my train of thought. He knows me enough to know that I’m ready to crack this meathead’s fat neck. His voice causes Judd’s head to rise and he meets my gaze. I glare hard at him—make a move, you steroid-pumped asshole. I’ll drop you to your knees. Instead, Judd never moves from his seat, but doesn’t relay anything with his eyes or expression, either, because I’m two seconds off that ass.

“Sir, we have to go,” Jason warns again and I turn and fall in step behind him.

“You really fucked up, man” I hear someone say behind me. “Jay is going to fry your ass.”

He better.

I’m not happy to find that my wife has already left when I exit the building, even though I already knew that she would be gone. I really needed to talk to her about the pictures that were released in the tabloids and on the internet this morning. Now, she’s going to see them before we get the chance to talk. Mac was in my office before I even had my coffee, showing me the latest headline on AnaChris:

My Kind of Day at the Office

Apparently, one of the boats on the river yesterday got some pretty candid shots of my wife and me on the deck of our yacht. The photos are grainy, but you can still tell that it’s us. So, even though it wasn’t the paparazzi, thank God, now we have to worry about just anybody taking pictures of us in a public restroom or walking across the street, much less on our private yacht!

Who among us wouldn’t love to spend Monday afternoon on a luxury yacht with a beautiful girl on your lap? This is what it means to have it all. Christian Grey is pictured here with his… boat, cruising down Lake Washington with a brunette beauty on his lap. And who is that beauty? Why, it’s Ana, of course. Measuring at least 130 feet, the Slayer—as this monstrosity is named—can do no more than float down this tiny lake with Seattle’s king and queen on its forward deck. One picture may say a thousand words, but these pictures tell an epic saga of love and passion. We’re surprised the photographer didn’t catch more than a mere hand on a thigh with the way these two are going at each other. So, sorry ladies. AnaChris appears to still be wild and kicking!

The article had a series of pictures with Butterfly in my lap while I work on my laptop and proceeding through our make-out session, catching shots of our passionate kisses and the few times that I groped her outer thigh under her dress. I sigh, not certain how Butterfly will feel after she’s seen the article if she hasn’t seen it already. That’s probably why that gorilla asshole felt like he could take liberties with her today. We’re married, you fuck. What makes you think she would want to see a pussy shoved in her face just because someone caught pictures of her husband groping her? Asshole.

Al told me that my wife needs more normal, but I don’t know if or how we’re supposed to get it with radio spots and cameras shoved in her face all the time.

“Hey, Christian,” my cousin’s voice comes through my speaker once I’m back at the office.

“Hey, Nolanda, how’s it going?” she laughs in my ear.

“Must you always be so formal?” she teases. I nod as if she could hear me.

“Old habits are hard to break,” I say with a smile.

“Well, since you haven’t started calling me Nollie, yet, please call me Lanie. I really hate that name.”

“Lanie it is, then,” I assure her. I hear her sigh on the other end.

“I just wanted to give you an update,” she says. “Call it postcards from Hell,she says. I brace myself for the news she’s about to give me. “I was right to hire a bodyguard for Mom. My father has lost his mind. All of our childhood, my mother’s mementos, things that her mother gave to her that she wanted to give to me… gone. Baby pictures, her parents’ wedding picture, her mother’s jewelry box—all gone. That asshole busted an antique armoire with a sledgehammer and left the pieces on my grandmother’s lawn.”

“Fuck, are you serious?” I lament. Freeman is out of his skull. What the fuck is wrong with this man?

“Completely,” she says. “Grampa still hasn’t been interred next to Grandma, so we think he’s just keeping the ashes. There was a very small ceremony here for him, but it’s my understanding that barely anyone attended. That pissed him off even more. He’s staying away from Burtie because he doesn’t want to go back to jail, but he’s doing every hurtful thing he possibly can. I did find out, though, that Burtie doesn’t have a boyfriend because he’s afraid to openly live his life. So, he really won’t be leaving anything behind… but Mom…” she pauses.

“What about your Mom?” I ask.

“The house and home she helped to build, her life, her friends, her parents… This is really hard on my mother.” I hear her sigh heavily.

“What is she going to do?” I can’t hide my concern.

“She’s certain that she can’t stay,” she says. “My father is too unstable. Her attorney assures her that she doesn’t have to be present for any of the divorce proceedings unless they call her for something to testify so… she and Burtie are coming back to California with me on Friday.” I sigh heavily. That’s really good news to me even though I know it will be hard for Nell.

“I take it that she’s not happy about it,” I say.

“Not at all,” Lanie replies. “She built her entire life here and now she has to leave it because she married a psycho, sadistic, beyond narcissistic asshole. I’ll just be glad to get my family out of here. I know that it’ll take some getting used to, but they’ll love it out in California. No more snow and cold weather; it’s beautiful all the time; and by the time she takes my father to the cleaners not to mention my husband’s unending stream of income, she’ll be set for life. There are all kinds of activities and things she can become involved in and Leo and I plan on spoiling her to death. We’ve had enough of this hell that man had put us through all these years!” I nod.

“What about her parents?” I ask. “You said he knows where they live.” I hear Lanie laugh through the phone.

“Oh, we don’t have to worry about them. My father dumped some wood on the lawn, but I can guarantee you that’s as far as he’ll go with Mr. and Mrs. Weldon. My grandfather is retired military and has an armory in his dining room. Dad wouldn’t dream of fucking with this man.”

“Well, it sounds like everything is all planned out. How’s Burtie doing? Will he need plastic surgery?”

Lanie and I talk for a little while longer about her brother’s condition, her family’s impeding exodus to the west coast, and her father’s stroke of bad luck—what with losing his family, charges for assault and battery and harassment, and this mysterious IRS audit of his last three years earnings and assets right when Nell’s attorney is doing discovery for their divorce. Go figure.

I arrange to have the jet ready at Detroit Metro Airport for their return as they will most likely have too much stuff to check baggage and way too much to ship. It’s easier to just bring it all down at once. When I’ve finished the call with Lanie, my mind immediately goes back to Butterfly and her need for normal. She’ll be going to the Mariners game with Ray next weekend, so I think I’ll set up some normal for us this weekend. I make a few calls and just as I’m finishing up, I get a text from my wife.

**Have you seen the headlines? Someone caught us on the boat… **

*-*

**It appears that we’re having guests for dinner. **

Butterfly texted me from her session with Ace on Friday afternoon to tell me to come home as soon as possible as people were descending on our home. When I get there, I barely have time get inside and put my briefcase down when the front door beckons that our guests have arrived, and I still don’t know who it is.

Windsor escorts our guests into the dining room and I’m greeted by my two cousins and my aunt—Lanie, Burt, and Nell—along with Lanie’s husband, Leo. As it stands, they’ve arranged to stay the night at the Fairmont and take the jet to California in the morning. Butterfly and I welcome them to our home and we all sit at what could be an awkward dinner. However, Butterfly is determined not to let that be so.

“How are you feeling, Burt?” she asks. He doesn’t look as bad as I thought he would, but he’s clearly wearing the scars of his battle with his father. I feel bad for him because he’s a fairly attractive young man and now, he needs extensive dental work and maybe some reconstructive surgery.

“As well as can be expected,” he says, his voice sad. Butterfly immediately picks up on his tone.

“Are you talking to anyone?” she asks, and everyone raises their eyes to her. Burt drops his gaze and shakes his head.

“No,” he says. “My medical is through Dad’s job and… and… I don’t want him to know anything.”

“They wouldn’t be able to tell him anything about your treatment,” Butterfly informs him. “I can tell that this may be a bit difficult for you, so we’ll talk later, okay?” Burt nods like a child and doesn’t say much of anything else for the rest of the meal. Lanie and Leo talk about the plans they have for the family when they get back to California. They’re going to buy Nell a place of her own on the coast, but she and Burt will live with Lanie and Leo until they find exactly what they want. They haven’t yet decided if they want to live together or have their own spaces, but they plan to play it by ear when they get to California.

“So, what line of business are you in, Leo?” I ask.

“Silicon Valley,” he says. “Technology—hardware and software. You name it, we can build it.” I nod.

“Really?” I say, with interest. “Mergers and acquisitions here. I’m just about to acquire a company with a supposedly revolutionary new transmitter…”

“I know,” he says, “the Waymark XRC90. It’s the talk of the technology industry.”

“It is?” I say, throwing a look at my wife. “How so?”

“It’s going to revolutionize the industry,” he says. “Many firms in the valley and across the country were hoping to get their hands on the technology, but once the word got out that they were in bed with Grey Enterprises, everybody just fell back. The bids are still coming, you know, but most of us are sure that you’ll get the deal. There are still the diehard hopefuls, though.”

“Hmm,” I say. “My wife found some discrepancies in the test results and ordered another set of prototypes be built which confirmed the inconsistencies.” Lanie turns to Butterfly.

You found the discrepancies?” she asks. Butterfly nods.

“My husband and the executive team always have their eyes on the big picture. Someone in the management team usually catches things like this and I’m sure that they would have given the opportunity. He was going over some of the particulars of the deal with me when I noticed the skewed results in the statistical data.”

“Damn, Montana,” Elliot interjects, “I didn’t know you were involved with the business like that. Way to go!”

Montana?” Leo asks.

“Yeah, Ana Montana. It’s a nickname that just kind of developed when we first met,” Elliot clarifies. “I have a way of just giving people nicknames that may fit.”

“That, he does,” I add, recalling the colorful names that he had for one bleached-blonde pedophile… and let us not forget You-Are-Not-The-Father Kate.

“I should tell you that in addition to being one of Seattle’s best psychiatrists, my wife is 50% owner of my company,” I say, bringing the conversation back around to its original content, and now all eyes are on my wife.

“How did that come about?” Leo asks.

“Wedding present,” Butterfly responds. Leo looks at Christian.

“Really?” he asks. “I love my Lanie, but I don’t think she could handle 50% of Carpathia Technologies.”

“I know I couldn’t,” Lanie says.

“I don’t have to handle anything I don’t want to,” Butterfly clarifies. “This was more of a measure of securing our children’s future and the continuity of the company should anything happen to my husband.”

“Wouldn’t the board take care of that?” Leo asks.

“I don’t have a board,” Christian clarifies. “I’m privately owned.” Leo whistles.

“All that money,” he says, “I was sure you were a publicly traded company.” Christian shakes his head.

“You’re looking at GEH’s stockholders, besides my children in the near future. Butterfly is really smart. She’s proven time and time again that she has an eagle eye and can make tough decisions if need be. I trust her implicitly.”

“You’re Butterfly?” Nell says, pointing to my wife. Butterfly nods. “That’s really sweet.” It’s the first thing she’s said all night and her voice is laced with melancholy.

“I never put together that my Lanie could possibly be a Grey related to Grey Enterprises,” Leo says matter-of-factly. “Small world.”

“That’s been the consensus,” Val says. “So famous and yet… not,” she adds with a shrug.

“Hear, hear,” Butterfly agrees. “Except here in Seattle, where we can barely get a moment’s peace.”

“In certain arenas and certain situations, everybody knows who we are. Other times, people don’t even know we exist,” I point out.

“I sure as hell didn’t,” Burt says quietly.

“Neither did I,” Lanie says. “I didn’t know anything about Grey Enterprises until… all this.”

All this… what a mess all this has been.

“So, Christian, has your team figured out why the results of the transmitter are skewed?” Leo asks. I shake my head.

“No, not yet. We’ve been working on it, but none of the testing is consistent.”

“You’re family now, so I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Hopefully, one day, you’ll return the favor.” He winks at me. “There’s a fatal flaw with the schematic. Your usual IT guy won’t be able to find it. You’ll need a specialist…” He hasn’t met my usual IT guy, but luckily, I have a specialist, too. “It’s not in the construction, Christian, it’s in the processing.”

“Why don’t you just tell me what it is?” I ask.

“I just did,” he says. “That’s as far as my guys were able to get while we had the schematic.”

“How did you get the schematic?” I ask. “It’s already patent-pending.”

“We were in the running,” he says with a smile, “until GEH showed up.” He shrugs. “It’s okay. I had sour grapes before, but knowing that the technology will be secured by someone in Lanie’s family, I feel better about losing, just… don’t put me out of business, okay?” I laugh.

“Don’t hurt my cousin and you’ve got a deal.” He returns my laugh then turns to Lanie and squeezes her hand.

“Not a chance,” he says. “This woman is going to be the mother of my children. She’s my whole life. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for her; nothing I wouldn’t give her. Everything I have belongs to her now.” I look over at Butterfly.

“I know, I know,” she says with a coy smile.

“So, what’s for dessert?” Elliot says.

*-*

Butterfly has stolen Burt out to the patio off the family room and Lanie and Leo are occupied with Gail and Keri, all cooing at the twins who have bellowed for their 9pm feeding right before going off to bed. My brother and his wife decided to turn in early and Nell sits quietly in Butterfly’s recliner, sipping coffee and watching her daughter and son-in-law interact with the babies. I walk over to the ottoman near the recliner and sit down.

“Is it okay if I invade your space?” I ask. She sits her coffee on the end table next to the recliner.

“Actually, it’s me who’s invading your space,” she says. “I can’t thank you enough for what you all have done for Nollie… for my whole family. I feel like I’ve failed them.” I’m not the shrink here, but I can’t help but ask…

“Why?” Nell shakes her head.

“I should have protected them more… both of them. I feel like there’s more that I should have done as a mother so that this wouldn’t be happening right now.”

“You had no way of knowing that Freeman would snap on Burt this way,” I protest.

“I… I can’t agree with that,” she confesses. “Somehow, someway, I think I knew something like this would happen. Burtie is perfect—the perfect student, the perfect child, but he’s gay. Not my husband’s idea of the ideal heir to the Grey name.”

“Do you think that’s why Freeman attacked Burt?” I ask in horror, “Because he’s gay?” Nell shrugs.

“I have no way of knowing what made Freeman snap on Burtie,” she says. “Nollie’s right, he resented her for not being born with a penis. He treated her deplorably and you can’t tell me that wasn’t partially my fault for not protecting her better.” I don’t argue with her on that point. Part of Freeman’s arrogance and haughtiness—if not all of it—stemmed from the fact that no one challenged him on his asshole behavior. “I was trying to make sure that life was at least bearable for all of us. In the process, Nollie took the brunt of the emotional abuse. He even resented me for having her.” She wipes a tear that has escaped down her cheek.

“Was he ever violent before?” I ask. She shakes her head.

“Not towards his family,” she replies. “He’s a hothead—always has been, but he never hit any of us.” She sighs heavily. “He put all his hopes in Burt—his boy, his man-child. Then Burt announced that he was gay. We’ve known for years. I knew when Burtie was a teenager, before he even told us. Freeman refused to listen. It was like if he didn’t accept it, it couldn’t be true.” Nell shakes her head.

“I don’t know, Christian. I don’t know if this was the last straw for him… that Nollie wasn’t going to be around for him to bully anymore, so he turned his attention to Burt—to his imperfectly gay son and lashed out on him just for choosing to love differently.” I’m getting angrier and angrier at this asshole.

“Have you tried to talk to him at all?” I ask. “Have you asked him why he did it?” Tears flow freely from her eyes now.

“I still love him, Christian,” she says, raising sad, brown eyes to me. “I don’t want to leave him, but I have to. He’s a monster—he’s a terrible person inside. I don’t know why I stayed so long. I knew that he would take care of me, that he would be strong. He came from a family with good, solid moral values…” She sniffs. “I know that Burtie would like to know why this happened, but I don’t. I would rather believe that the man I’ve loved for more than thirty years just snapped and couldn’t deal with his anger when he lashed out on my only son—our only son—and beat him near to death, than to believe that he looked at the son that he loved, that he put on a pedestal and hung all his hopes on, saw what he felt was an imperfection and did this to him.” She begins to weep bitterly.

“I’m sorry, Christian,” she says through her tears. “I’m sorry for being so weak and for not being able to protect them. I’m sorry for pulling your family into this mess, and I’m sorry for the way that he treated you and your father when we were here the last time. I’m sorry for not speaking up when I knew his behavior was so deplorable.”

I close her in my arms and allow her to cry for a few moments.

“Sssh,” I say, caressing her back gently. “Don’t cry, Aunt Nell,” I comfort her. “You couldn’t control his actions any more than you could stop loving him at the drop of a hat, even if he is a raging asshole.” Her crying calms a bit. “A very wise woman once told me that everything happens for a reason. You can’t stop Burt from being who he is and I hate that Freeman brutalized him so badly, but Lanie has a safe place for you guys to go and even though you have to start over again, you can still be very, very happy.” I pull her face back and look at her.

“And Aunt Nell, that asshole did one thing right. He married you. That means that you’re my family, and if you ever need anything… you or Burt or Lanie… you let me know.” She smiles through her tears.

“You call her ‘Lanie,’” she says, her voice cracking.

“She asked me to,” I reply.

“I like that. It’s pretty. I think I’ll call her ‘Lanie,’ too,” she says.

“I think she’ll like that.”

“You called me ‘Aunt Nell,’” she says, and I smile. “All my nieces and nephews call me Aunt Nellie. Can you call me ‘Aunt Nellie?’” I smile widely at my aunt.

“I can do that,” I say, nodding at her and wiping the tears from her cheek.

“You have a beautiful smile,” she says. “It says something about your heart. I can see why she loves you.” Her lip begins to tremble again. “I wish I didn’t love him so much,” she weeps quietly. “I wish I could hate him, but I can’t! I just… can’t forgive him for what he’s done to my children! I was such a fool! I’m still a fool!”

She sobs harder and harder, mourning the breakdown of her family, and I can only hold her while she cries.


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