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
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.
“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.
“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.”
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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