This is a work or creativity. As such, you may see words, concepts, scenes, actions, behaviors, pictures, implements, and people that may or may not be socially acceptable and/or offensive. If you are sensitive to adverse and alternative subject matter of any kind, please do not proceed, because I guarantee you’ll find here. You have been warned. Read at your own risk.
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 27—Tipping Point
We had one semi-quiet day at home with the weekend looming over us. Valerie is on the fence about going to Mia’s shower on Saturday without Ana although my sister has assured my wife that she will be welcome even if they have to change venues for the shower. This has yet to be confirmed according to my wife, and she has no intention of groveling for the privilege of attending an event she’d rather not anyway—not because of my sister, of course, but because of the other women who will be in attendance.
The beautiful temperatures earlier in the week lulled us into a false sense of security. It’s Friday, and we had hoped to enjoy some of the last of the warmer temperatures of summer with the twins in the backyard today. However, it turned out to be a bit cooler than we anticipated, so we kept the festivities inside. Somewhere around lunchtime, my phone starts buzzing like mad in my pocket. It’s a number that I don’t recognize, so I let it go to voice mail, intent on answering it later since I’m spending time with my wife and children. Apparently, whomever this is trying to get in touch with me has other plans.
“I’ll be right back,” I say to Butterfly. I head to the elevator and answer the call. Whoever the fuck this is will certainly get a piece of my mind.
“You son of a bitch! Is this how you play?” His voice is frantic. It only takes a moment, but I figure out who it is immediately. Even though I know who it is, I play dumb.
“Who the fuck is this?” I hiss into the phone.
“You know the hell this is, you bastard!” he barks. Shit, what did Alex do?
“No, I don’t know who the hell this is, you asshole, and I’m hanging up now!”
“Don’t you dare hang up on me! I’ll call off the goddamn ticket patrol if you just bring her back!” Bring her back? What the hell? Now, I’m really lost. What did Alex do—kidnap his damn wife?
“Who. The hell. Is this. And what. The fuck. Are you talking about?” I say, perturbed and still playing dumb. Well, not necessarily playing, because I really don’t know what the fuck is going on. I step off the elevator and walk over to the bar, taking a seat on one of the stools.
“Hammerstone, you piece of shit!” he hisses. “My wife!” he barks. Oh, God, Alex really did do something to his wife. Fuck, this is crazy. When I said any means, I didn’t mean these means. Stay cool, Grey.
“Speak. English,” I growl. “You’re the reason my people are getting tickets for sneezing?” I say, ignoring that he pretty much just told me that his wife is missing.
“I don’t give a fuck about those fucking tickets!” he declares. “I said I’ll call them off if you bring her the fuck back.”
“I don’t give a fuck about whatever the fuck is going on with you and your goddamn wife!” I yell back into the phone, equally irritated… for any ears that might be listening. “All I fucking care about is the fact that my people have been getting tickets for bad hair days and you’re telling me that’s because of you? You’re that fucking salty about not being able to come to my sister’s wedding? It’s a goddamn wedding, man! At least one is happening every fucking Saturday in Seattle! Find another fucking wedding! You got real problems! Real fucking problems!” Another academy award winning performance. I hear him sigh again. If I didn’t know better, I would think the good judge is at his wits end. Then again, I would be too, if my wife were missing. I’ve got to get to the bottom of this soon.
“Grey,” he says, his voice low and controlled, “my wife is at her wits end.”
What? Has there been a call for ransom?
“And?” I reply callously. “What does that have to do with me?”
“You’ve got to bring her back,” he continues. “Janise is losing her damn mind without that fucking dog.”
Wait a minute… what?
“Huh?” I say, truly unable to fake my surprise anymore. “Who the fuck is Janise? And what dog are you babbling about?” He sighs again.
“You don’t have to pretend like you don’t know!” he hisses loudly. “Janise is my wife and you’ve got her dog! I’ll call off the tickets. I’ve already done it. Now, bring back the damn dog!” I look at the phone like it just bit me.
“This. Is about. A dog?” I say in surprise. Hammerstone is silent when I put the phone back to my ear. “This is about a damn dog?” I repeat, my surprise more evident. Jason comes out of his apartment at just the right moment and decide to address the question to him. “A dog?” I ask again. Jason looks at me confused.
“Sir?” he asks.
“A damn dog? This call is about a damn dog?” With only a moment’s hesitation, Jason nods and Hammerstone explodes.
“Cut the shit, Grey, and bring back my damn Löwchen!” he barks into the phone.
“You named the dog Löwchen?” I ask, sarcastically.
“It’s a breed, you fuck, now bring back my damn dog or I’ll make your fucking life miserable.”
“You’re calling me begging about a fucking dog and you’re talking about making my life miserable? Think about that for a second,” I say coolly and await his response.
“Just give the goddamn dog back!” he yells.
“You found Neveah?” I hear a frantic female voice say.
“Shut up, Janise!” he hisses at his wife. “And you can forget going to that goddamn wedding! We’re never speaking to those fuckers again!”
“What? What do you mean? The Greys have something to do with this? I’m calling Grace right this second!”
“Call that bitch and you can go move in with them!” he declares loudly. “Not a word! Not one fucking word, do you hear me?” The line is quiet for several moments before he comes back. “Bring me my goddamn dog,” he says, his voice calm and menacing. I chuckle in his ear.
“Call off your ticket brigade and make the ones we’ve already gotten go away… all of them, every single one, including the one my wife got last week. I want proof. Back the fuck up off me and I’ll see what I can do about getting my men on your dog,” I reply. Admit nothing.
“That’s right, Grey. Keep it PC, just bring back my fucking dog,” he reiterates.
“You just mind what I said,” I reinforce, “back up off me or a dog may be the least of your worries. Take that however you want.” I end the call and look over at Jason, incredulously. “A dog?” Jason shrugs. I quickly dial Alex on Facetime. I don’t give a fuck at this point who’s listening.
“You took his dog?” I say, in disbelief, almost unable to speak through my laughter. “This man just called me in pure turmoil… about a dog?”
“Know your opponent,” Alex says matter-of-factly. “His wife loves that dog. She treats that dog better than she treats her children, although they’re not children anymore. She’s a fickle, materialistic old bat… who loves her dog. So, she can choose the wedding or her damn dog.”
“How did he know it was me?” I ask, still laughing.
“We’ve sent pictures.” I freeze.
“Evidence??” I ask. Alex scoffs.
“You know me better than that. Untraceable,” he confirms.
“That still doesn’t explain how he knows it was me,” I state.
“In the last picture, the dog was wearing a wedding dress.” I stop and let that sink in… right before I burst out laughing so hard that my stomach aches and I have to lean on a bar stool to keep from falling over.
“Brilliant,” I manage to say. “Fucking brilliant!”
“So, what now, sir?” Alex asks, unable to hide his joy of my satisfaction.
“Wait for confirmation that he’s had the existing tickets expunged, then wait a couple more days to see if the tickets stop. Once they do, send the dog back… wearing the wedding dress. Send some kind of subtle message that this ain’t over if he still wants to play.” I’m trying to be serious, but I’m still chuckling as I speak.
“Consider it done, sir,” he says as he ends the call. I’m yowling when I close that Facetime window. I swear, I don’t think I’ve laughed this hard since Butterfly beat Elena’s ass half-naked in my apartment.
A dog… a goddamn damn… fucking priceless!
No sooner my husband disappears down the elevator that my phone starts buzzing in my pocket. I pull it out to see Courtney’s number pop up on the screen. My three-second funnel is in full effect now. She’s at Helping Hands right now; I know she is. She’s most likely calling me for some catastrophe that they’re having and I’m not coming in there while Grace is acting like a raving lunatic. At the same time, she’s staying in my condo and I can’t afford to ignore her call, because something could be wrong on that front—nor would I really want to ignore Courtney’s call because that would be downright rude.
Into the three-second funnel goes all these damn options and scenarios and every possible outcome and out pops…
“Hi, um, Ana.” Her voice is nervous and trepidatious. This is not the nature of our relationship and I’m immediately on notice.
“Hey, Courtney. What’s up?”
“Um, I’m sorry to bother you, but Miss Grace asked me to call and find out if… um, if you’ve quit.”
Wow, really? She’s put Courtney in the middle of this? I sure the hell hope she’s given this girl a raise for having to shovel her shit.
“Wow, Courtney, I’m so sorry about this. Listen, just tell her that you weren’t able to reach me, okay?”
“Well, I would do that, but she’s standing right here in front of me and… she’s knows that I’m talking to you.”
What the fuck?
“Is that so? So, basically, you were bullied into calling me, right?” I ask.
“Um, I… well…”
“No need to respond to that, darling. Put me on speaker and don’t say a word.” When I hear the background change, I start talking. “Courtney, I am very sorry that you’ve gotten dragged into a situation that has absolutely nothing to do with you. Unfortunately, I have no response for you to give to Grace. The reason I have no response for you to give to Grace is because I am not a child—I am an adult, and when I have something to say to another adult, I will say it directly to that other adult and not send a message through a third party like middle-schoolers passing notes in class. Miss Grace had some pretty strong words for me the last time that she spoke to me, so I’m finding it remarkable that she doesn’t have the gumption to say what she has to say to me now. Nonetheless, make no mistake, when I decide to relinquish my position and responsibilities at Helping Hands, she’ll be the first to know! Oh, and Courtney?”
“Know that if you or anyone else is ever put in this third-party, messenger girl position ever again, I won’t answer any questions at all. That takes the responsibility off you having to worry about your job security because someone else has suddenly lost the desire or nerve to speak up for themselves. Now, you let me know if you need me for anything else and you have a good day, dear.”
I end the call with no other words. I should be upset, but I’m not. I’ve quickly grown weary of Grace’s childish antics and I’ll be happy to offer my sincerest apologies if we discover that she—like Val—is suffering from a malady beyond her control. But she’s a doctor and she saw what happened to her daughter-in-law and still won’t go get help to find out. As far as she’s concerned, she’s just being a bitch and we just have to deal with it, so c’est la vie.
“That didn’t sound good,” Gail says coming from the kitchen. I shake my head and stand.
“This situation with Grace is going to get worse before it gets better,” I tell her. “Christian and the family are meeting on Sunday. They’re giving her one week to sit down and talk rationally about what’s going on and what can be done about it before they start taking drastic measures.” Gail sighs.
“After what happened to Valerie, she can’t see that something might be terribly wrong?”
“If you’re talking about my tumor, no,” Val says coming into the kitchen and interrupting my conversation. “The best I can tell you is that it’s like a movie playing in front of your face. You’re watching it, but you really have no control over it.” I suddenly feel very self-conscious that Val walked in on this conversation.
“Val, we weren’t talking about you behind your back,” I begin.
“I know. You were talking about Grace,” she says, going to the refrigerator and retrieving one of her health drinks. “Elliot and I are both on the fence with this one. Grace seems more cognizant of her actions than I was, but that doesn’t mean anything. It hits people in different ways, so…” She shrugs as she takes a large swallow of her health drink. “I think, though, that we should probably be looking at other ailments.”
“Such as?” I press.
“Depression? Early onset Alzheimer’s?”
Alzheimer’s. Fuck, I hadn’t even thought about that.
“Her behavior seems a bit drastic for early onset Alzheimer’s, but who am I to say that? I have no experience with it,” I say with a shrug. Val reaches into her pocket and pulls out her phone. Looking at the screen, she sighs.
“What?” I ask.
“It’s Mia,” she says. “I’ve kind of been avoiding her call. I don’t want to go to that shower without you. It’s going to be a nightmare.”
“Well, I’ve told her my terms and she hasn’t gotten back with me yet, so…” Speak of the devil… The moment Val’s phone stops ringing, my phone rings next and, of course, it’s Mia.
“Can’t hide forever,” I say, swipe the screen. “Hey, Mia.”
“Anakins, is Val there?”
“Yeah, I’m sure she’s here somewhere. What’s up?” I say, making a face at Val.
“The cow isn’t answering her phone!” she says in the petulant child voice. I roll my eyes.
“She doesn’t carry it around with her all the time. It’s probably in one room and she’s in another.” She sighs.
“Well, just so you guys know, I didn’t fall down and bump my head. I know she won’t come to my shower without you, so are you coming?” Get right to the point, why don’t you. I make a gesture like I’m choking myself with one hand and Val covers her mouth to keep from bursting out in laughter.
“Mia, I told you, your Mom…”
“Yeah, so, Mom’s off wedding duty, so like I said, I expect for you to be at my shower tomorrow.” My eyes widen. What?
“Excuse me? Grace is off wedding duty?” I repeat. Val’s eyes mimic mine.
“Yes, and I’ve met with the wedding planner and kiboshed half that shit she had going on.” Oh, fuck. Now, I know my name is Mudd.
“Please tell me you’re joking,” I lament.
“Ana, there were belly dancers,” she says.
“Belly dancers?” I exclaim. “Why?”
“I have no idea,” she says. “There’s no reason whatsoever in the world that I can imagine that she would fathom that I would want belly dancers at my wedding. Half-naked women gyrating in front of my new husband? Seriously? Whose grand fucking idea was that? You wouldn’t believe the shit that she had Dad paying for and we can’t even get refunds on most of this crap. Did you know that she has half of downtown blocked?”
“Yes, I did,” I inform her. “But Mia, how did she have all this going on and you not know?”
“Most of this she kept hidden from me!” she exclaimed. “Yeah, I’ll admit, I got caught up in the splendor of a lot of it. I mean, it’s my wedding—it’s really easy to fall down the rabbit hole. But then she kept saying things like, ‘Oh, I have this wonderful surprise for you,’ and ‘This is going to be the event of the century,’ and ‘Every mother wants to give her daughter a wedding that she’ll never forget,’ and every time she said something like that, all I kept seeing was sparkles and stars. I didn’t see pink flamingos and goddamn belly dancers!”
Suddenly, Mia sounds as if she has grown up; like she’s the parent and Grace is the child.
“Well, there’s still the tiny issue of that being Grace’s home. You need to know that I had a few choice words for your mother today,” I inform her.
“And what else is new?” she says. “What happened?” I explain the Courtney call to her and she sighs. “Well, here’s the thing. I’m not going to let my mom ruin my day for me. I don’t plan on getting married again, so I don’t plan on any other wedding showers. So, there won’t be any do-overs. If she can tolerate the pretentious posers that she invites to this house for charity meetings at least once a month, she can tolerate the woman that her son fell in love with and that she chose as assistant director for her charity for an afternoon!”
Whoa! Mia has done a complete one-eighty! I’m not sure exactly what happened, but she is all about business and not apologizing for it.
“Okay,” I say with uncertainty, “but I have to tell you. The moment Grace becomes belligerent or unkind to me, I’m leaving.”
“The moment Mom becomes belligerent or unkind to you, I’m leaving, because it’ll become blatantly clear that she doesn’t care about my happiness on that day. She only cares about herself.” Apparently, the princess has spoken. I throw a knowing look at my friend.
“In that case, Val and I will see you tomorrow.”
“I guess no one believes in being fashionably late anymore,” Val comments as we round the drive at Grey Manor. There are at least twelve cars parked here already—late model sporty numbers, most of them, and here I come with my high-priced, luxury, Mom-mobile. The valet rushes to my door to open it for me and Chuck is right behind him, having come up from the Audi behind us.
“Mrs. Grey, you look ravishing,” he says as he eyes me hungrily. I give him a suspicious smirk from behind my Jackie-O’s.
“Thank you,” I reply skeptically as he hitches one eyebrow at me. Chuck clears his throat from behind the guy and he steps away to allow me to exit the car.
“Park the cars, Skippy,” Chuck warns. “Flirt with the single women and try to avoid the wealthy wives with jealous, possessive, billionaire husbands that can ruin your life, okay?”
The young guy narrows his eyes at Chuck as Chuck ushers me away from the car. Val laughs and retrieves our gifts for Mia before we walk to the front door. I can’t blame the poor kid. I’m wearing an extremely figure-flattering sleeveless, cream mini-dress with a revealing v-split at the thigh. I’ve complemented it with a large gold cuff choker necklace and a draping forearm bracelet and a pair of sky-high stilettos—the kind that my husband says make my legs go on for miles. The poor guy didn’t stand a chance.
“God, Chuck, did you have to cut him down like that?” I ask quietly with a little mirth. Chuck shrugs.
“I told you, you’re like my kid sister… and that was disrespectful. He was eyeing you up like the next item on the menu.” I smile. It makes me feel good that we’re so close and his protectiveness doesn’t come solely from a sense of duty.
“And you say my husband is possessive,” I tease as we walk towards the house.
Another unfamiliar face opens the door for us and I realize that Grace and Mia must have hired additional staff for today’s festivities. Moving on into the great room, there’s a momentary gasp, then silence, and then a groan or two from various occupants of the room. I’m a little puzzled by the reception until Val leans in and informs me,
“Ah, the collective sound of disappointment.” I turn a quizzical eye on her and she mouths, “no Grey boys.”
“Oh,” I whisper quietly as we proceed to join the party. Silly us, getting their hopes up only for them to see li’l ole Chuck.
“Oh, God, I’m so glad you guys came,” Mia says, making her way to us and taking one of each of our hands. “I was so afraid you were going to change your minds.”
“No, we’re here as promised,” I say with a smile.
“Well, sit. Join the festivities. The games and such should be starting shortly.” She kisses us both on the cheek and takes her seat again. Val and I each take a glass of champagne and find a seat. We smile at various people, but are mostly greeted by fake half-smirks or nothing at all. Most of the girls are the lot that Val kicked off my yacht. Oh, joy! Just as I settle into my seat for an afternoon of Haterade, the cattiness begins.
“And the queen gold digger has arrived,” I hear one of the cats say just loud enough for the others to hear, and they all share a giggle.
“Okay,” Mia says, rising from the sofa and clanging her engagement ring to her champagne glass. “Your attention—everybody’s attention here, please.” A hush gradually falls over her party. “I have just realized a great malfeasance on my part. I have made a huge assumption for quite some time and I am about to correct that.” She walks over to me and Val.
“This is Valerie Grey, and this is Anastasia Grey. These are my sisters because they are married to my brothers. I have never introduced them as my sisters—I just assumed that you knew, but now I understand that you had no way of knowing. So, allow me to clarify that right now.” She gestures to Val, then to me, then to herself as she says, “Grey, Grey, Grey, and this is Grey Manor. When you enter Grey Manor, you are required to treat any Grey woman with the same respect that you would treat me or my mother. Having said that, allow me to present you with your options.
“You have two choices. You can put those high-priced, boarding school educations to good use, plaster a smile on those veneer-coated capped teeth and those chemical waxed faces, present yourselves like the high-class debutantes that you were taught to be, drink my expensive champagne, eat my expensive food, play these fun games, win some expensive prizes, get my expensive parting gifts, then return in a few weeks and enjoy my extravagant bachelorette party and participate in my even more extravagant wedding. However, all of this would require that you treat my sisters with the decorum and respect that you would treat me, my mother, or any Grey. Your other option would be to continue to behave like the uncivilized cunts that you’re behaving like right now and get the hell out of my sight and don’t come back. Which will it be, Lily?”
Mia folds her arms and looks squarely at the culprit who apparently was the ringleader for the ridicule. Oh. Lily. I’ve heard about her. I just haven’t committed her face to memory enough to care. Maybe I should do that now.
“I’ll behave,” Lily says begrudgingly.
“Good,” Mia says. “You can start by apologizing to Ana. You’re always atrocious to her when you see her.” Lily rolls her eyes.
“Sorry,” she spits like a petulant child. Mia scoffs.
“Oh, you can do much better than that,” Mia scolds. “I’d tell you to act as if Christian were watching you, but if you do it too well, she might deck you.” Lily’s shoulders fall in defeat and she sighs.
“I’m very sor…”
“Ah, ah, ah,” Mia interrupts, “eye to eye.” Lily rolls her eyes again and then makes eye contact with me.
“I’m very sorry that I called you out of your name,” she states. I really don’t care for the apology and I didn’t really want it, but I appreciate what Mia did.
“Apology accepted,” I say, and Lily returns to her seat.
“And what about the rest of you cows?” Mia says, turning on the rest of her party. “I’m getting married in a few weeks with or without you. I didn’t take kindly the last time somebody ridiculed one of my sisters and I’m not taking kindly to it now.”
Various members of the party utter various apologies and forms of “I’m sorry,” to which I don’t bother to respond.
“I guess that’ll have to do,” Mia acquiesces. “Don’t make them feel like shit and don’t ostracize them for the rest of the afternoon. I’ll be paying attention.” She releases a sigh. “Now, you bitches have effectively ruined my shower. What are you going to do about it?” One of the girls stands from one of the sofas and grabs Mia’s arm.
“You know we love you, bitch. Come on, let’s have some fun,” and she drags her off to the dining room. Val and I look at each other as a cluster of the girls follow. One of them looks back at us and comes over to us. She twists her lips in that what can I say kind of way, hooks arms with me and says, “Come on, let’s go eat expensive food and drink expensive champagne.” I grab Val’s hand and the three of us follow the cackling cluster to the dining room.
After Mia’s speech, we move the party to the garden and we’re having a surprisingly good time at the shower. When they’re not acting like spiteful, jealous cunts, these girls can actually be a lot of fun. The expensive champagne is flowing and the party games are a downright riot. I find out a bit more about Ethan than I think I ever wanted to know and poor Mia has turned several shades of embarrassed on nearly every revelation. The food just keeps coming, and we’re having a marvelous time. Grace hasn’t made an appearance, which I find very strange. I know that she’s been nixed from wedding duty, but I didn’t think that meant she couldn’t attend the shower at all.
Our good time is interrupted when we see one definite uninvited guest begin to make her way across the finely manicured lawn. I’m thinking that I must have had too much champagne because I’m certain she shouldn’t be here. The closer she gets, the more I feel like I must be hallucinating. The exclamation from my friend to the right of me lets me know that my vision is perfect.
“No fucking way!”
Val’s voice is deep and menacing, drawing the attention of the rest of the party to the figure walking across the grass. She must be out of her mind showing up here!
“Isn’t that Kate Kavanaugh?” one of the girls says. “You invited Katherine Kavanaugh? I thought you didn’t like her.” I turn to see Mia scowling in Kate’s direction.
“I don’t,” she replies, “and I didn’t.” She stands and begins to walk towards Kate. I go with her because I’m certain that Mia might just kill her, and if she comes anywhere near Val, Val will pulverize her, and Elliot will finish the job.
“Stop right there,” Mia warns. “I can guarantee you it’ll be way too dangerous for you if you come any further. What the hell are you doing here?”
“I…” Kate pauses. Now there’s a first. Katherine Kavanaugh at a loss for words.
“Spit it out, I don’t have all day and you’re interrupting my shower.” Kate looks down at the box that she’s carrying and hands it to Mia. It’s beautifully wrapped in blue paper with a pretty silver ribbon and bow.
“I don’t want your gift, Kate. However, I would like to know why you’re even here.” She clears her throat.
“I just… I’ve been horrible to your family and… I want to say I’m sorry. You’re going to be a part of my family soon and… our family is so fucked up and I just want to try to make things better.”
Mia stands gaped-mouthed at her and I must admit I’m a bit shocked, too, but I say nothing. I’m only here to keep Mia from lunging at the girl.
“Did you know that we have other siblings?” she says, her voice a tragic laugh. Hmm, I wonder how that came out. “A sister and brother, I think. A brother definitely.”
Mia is a still as a statue, dumbfounded by the intruder in her home. I’m afraid that she’s going to snap.
“Mia?” I say softly.
“Have you lost your mind?” Mia says immediately, my voice some kind of alarm clock from her trance. “You came to my parents’ house and crashed my bridal shower under the impression that we would hug and be sisters because I’m about to marry your brother? And what do you come telling me—that you’ve got two siblings somewhere? Like that’s supposed to make a bit of difference to me? Which is it—debutante give up a baby for adoption so that she didn’t roll down the aisle at graduation or whorish father had some kids stashed away that you guys are just finding out about?”
We all turn our heads to the deep voice that just revealed the cause for Kate’s most recent family reunion to see an extremely angry Ethan walking across the lawn. “What the fuck are you doing here, Kate?”
“I… I was trying to make… Our family is shit, Ethan! It’s falling apart! It’s terrible! I was trying to find… I was… trying to make amends!”
“Make amends!” Mia nearly roars. “You’ve got to be kidding me! Make amends for what, exactly—for the shitty way you treated me the moment you thought your name was going to be Grey? Oh, wait, maybe it was for cheating on my brother after he put a ring on your finger that you clearly didn’t want or deserve. No, no, that can’t be it. Oh, I know! Could it be for publicly humiliating him and trying to pin a baby on him that you knew didn’t belong to him? Oh, hold up! I got it—it was when you tripped his wife—a cancer survivor—at a garden party at the country club, then stood there laughing as she took a face plant in the grass. Am I getting warm yet, Kavanaugh? Please, enlighten me—for which of your endless malfeasances will you be seeking absolution today?”
Kate looks like she’s going to cry and I’m feeling physically ill at the display. No sooner I think the words, Mia speaks them.
“Get her the fuck out of my parents’ house—now!” Mia demands.
“You heard her, Kate,” Ethan growls. “Get the fuck out before you embarrass yourself and the family even more than you already have.”
“My God, people! Have none of you ever made mistakes in your life?” Kate cries.
“Not as many as you, I suspect,” Val says from her seat before taking a sip of her champagne.
“You’re all heartless and cruel!” Kate sobs. Mia laughs at her dismay.
“This coming from the queen of cold and heartless!” she taunts. “You actually teased me and my brother for having terms of endearment, you cold-blooded cum-sucker, and now you have the nerve to come here spitting insults and looking for sympathy?” Mia glares at a speechless and tear-logged Kate before throwing her hands up and turning back to her party. She’s had her say, and now it’s time for Ms. Kavanaugh to find her way to the door.
“Mia, wait! I didn’t mean…” Kate’s path is halted by Chuck, who steps in front of her and glares directly in her face. Kate glares back at him with that indignant “he’s the help” look on her eyes.
“Chuck,” I begin, “my sister-in-law clearly stated that she wanted this person the fuck out her parents’ house. Did you hear that?”
“I did, ma’am,” he says, without taking his eyes off Kate.
“That means that at this point, she’s trespassing. Can you please make sure that she finds her way to the door?”
“Yes, ma’am,” he says as he closes the space between them and gestures towards the house. “Ms. Kavanaugh.” She turns her hateful gaze to me.
“You’re such a bitch!” she hisses through her tears.
“Takes one to know one,” I say without emotion. “You should probably leave. Trespassing is severely frowned upon in Washington, and he now has reason to forcibly remove you if you don’t leave on your own volition, la chienne.” She does that appalled gasping thing she did when we first met and turns to Ethan.
“You’d let him do that to me?” she asks her brother, and she sounds genuinely hurt.
“I’d help him,” he replies stoically. Kate’s lip trembles and her shoulder fall. For the first time since I’ve known her, she looks utterly defeated. She doesn’t bother with any smart remarks or throwing any harsh looks my way. She takes in a deep breath and stares at her brother for long moments, and just when Chuck is about to step in and urge her to leave again, she turns and silently begins the long walk towards the French doors. Chuck falls in step behind her, and Ethan doesn’t even turn around to watch her walk away.
“What made you come?” I ask him. “Did you know she was coming?” He shakes his head, looking angrily at the ground.
“I just came to crash the shower,” he says, “have a little fun with my Kitten. I didn’t know she was going to crash it, too. I didn’t think she had the nerve to show her face in this house.”
“Yeah, she’s got a lotta nerve,” I confirm. It almost makes him laugh. “You’ve got siblings?” He nods.
“My father’s a whore,” he says. “You do the math. We’ve probably got siblings he doesn’t even know about.” We both look over at Mia, who’s ready to go absolutely nuclear. I’m about the head in that direction when Ethan draws my attention elsewhere.
I turn to the sound of his voice and I see Mrs. Johnson running across the lawn from the house like a wild woman. She recognizes me and stops, grabbing my arm frantically.
“Please! Come!” she says, completely out of breath.
“What is it?” I ask, moving to fall in step behind her.
“It’s Dr. Grey. Come quickly!” In moments, the three of us are sprinting back to the house. That old woman can move, even out of breath! We burst through the French doors and into the kitchen where Grace stands surrounded by members of the staff while others scramble around the kitchen completely out of sorts. They’re all looking down at something and I hear water running.
“What is it? What’s wrong?” I ask.
“She’s bleeding!” someone declares.
“Who’s bleeding?” I demand as I push my way through the crowd to see what’s happened. It’s Grace. Her forearm is cut haphazardly, but dangerously close to her wrist and she and about 150 other people are running the cut under cold water. Okay, maybe it’s not 150 people, but there’s a fucking lot of them over here and not one of them knows what they’re doing…
… Including—it appears—the good doctor.
“Oh, God! No! Stop!” I damn near elbow everybody out of my way and snatch Grace’s arm from the water. “What are you trying to do—kill her?” I grab the nearest cloth I can find, which is a hand towel, and bunch it over the cut. It’s pretty bad—a huge, jagged cut that looks incredibly painful. “How did this happen?” I demand.
“She was cutting fruit for the drinks,” one of the staff say.
“Why was she in here cutting fruit?” I bark. All this fucking staff and you assholes still need help?
“She wanted to,” Mrs. Johnson interjects. “We told her that we could handle it, but she wanted to help…”
She was removed from wedding duty. She wanted to help. Dammit. The towel is soaking through quickly with her blood, so I find the pressure point in the bend of her elbow and press to slow the blood flow.
“Water, Grace?” I scold gently. “Were you trying to bleed out?”
“It was an accident!” she exclaims frantically. “I was cutting melons… then I saw Kate… I wasn’t paying attention…” I can understand why seeing Kate would cause her to lose concentration, but why was she in here cutting melons? She’s got all this staff and… it just doesn’t make sense. At that moment, Mia bursts into the room with Val running in behind her.
“Oh, my God, Mom, what’s going on?” Mia nearly shrieks. Ethan is by her side in moments. He knows that he needs to keep her away from Grace or she’ll really freak out.
“There was an accident,” he says, his voice soothing. “Ana’s got it under control.”
Mia clearly doesn’t believe him, but I turn my attention back to Grace’s arm, her blood now all over my white dress.
“Grace, what are you doing?” I say more to myself than to her, trying to pay attention to the cut and apply pressure to the wound and the pressure point in her elbow. She grabs my wrist with her uninjured hand, causing me to look up at her. Her blue eyes are wet, panic stricken, and full of fear. Her hands are shaking and her gaze begs me to hear her.
“I don’t know,” she says, her voice small and shaking. She looks like a helpless toddler asking for her mommy, like she has absolutely no control over the situation.
“Has someone called the paramedics?” I ask, my gaze never leaving Grace’s.
“Yes. I did. They should be here any minute.” The voice is unfamiliar, but I just need to hear the words.
“I’m here, Grace,” I say firmly. “I’m here.” Her shaking becomes violent, but she nods. I look over at Ethan and Mia. Poor Mia. Her shower is ruined and she’s caught in the middle of so much shit right now. I spot Val on the phone and I immediately know who she’s talking to.
“Tell them not to come here,” I tell her. She raises her gaze to me. “Tell them that the paramedics are en route and they’ll only get in the way. Tell them to stand by and as soon as we know what hospital she’s going to, we’ll tell them.” Val nods and keeps talking. I turn my gaze back to Grace. She’s getting weaker.
“What’s your blood type?” I ask, trying to stay calm.
“A… A positive.”
“Are you allergic to anything?” She shakes her head.
“Is there anything I should know? Advanced directives? Living Will?” Mia weeps heavily at my line of questioning, but I have to ask before she loses consciousness. She shakes her head.
“No… heroic measures… Cary knows…” She’s starting to fade. No heroic measures… fuck.
“You’ll need blood, Grace,” I warn.
“That’s… that’s fine… Cary…” Suddenly, all hell breaks loose. Paramedics rush in and take over, quickly bandaging her arm and putting in an IV. I tell them what I know, but get out of their way so that they can work. They have Grace IV-ed, bandaged, and on the stretcher in less than five minutes, which is good since she’s losing consciousness.
“Listen,” I tell the paramedics. “She has to go Seattle General. There are just too many reasons that I can’t get into, but she has to go to Seattle General. Is that possible?” He looks at his colleague, then back at me.
“We’d be cutting it close,” he says. “We can’t be responsible if…”
“Can you physically do it without her dying?” I ask.
“Just barely,” he says. I sigh and look at Grace. She nods.
“Then let’s go right fucking now,” I say. I try to let them take her, but she won’t let go of my hand.
“Just come on,” the paramedic says.
“Seattle Gen!” I yell out as Grace and the paramedics drag me to the ambulance.
I swear that paramedic did a 15-minute drive in six minutes, but that was enough time for Grace to slip in and out of consciousness twice. She’s upset and the EMT tells me to do my best to keep her calm, so I try, but she’s too busy apologizing—for what, I’m not sure, and I’m praying to God that she didn’t do this on purpose. Did she feel that helpless? That depressed? Things like this don’t just happen out of nowhere. How did we not see this coming?
When we get to the hospital, they take us in through the ambulance entrance. Grace is still holding my hand, and she won’t let go. Neither will I. When they get her into one of the private areas and start to examine her, she loses consciousness again and releases my hand. At that point, the doctors and nurses take the opportunity to shoo me out of the room and closed the door while they get to work on Grace. I stand there in the middle of the emergency room for a moment, watching her through the window. They quickly assess the cut and start a skin bonding process to stop the bleeding. A-positive blood is put on an immediate infusion as they cut her clothes off. She’s pale from the blood loss and her body is shaking. She’s going into shock.
“Is that Dr. Grace?”
It’s not until I hear the voice that I realize one of the nurses—a tiny thing—has come out of the room and is talking to me. I purse my lips together, trying to maintain myself, and nod.
“Are you… Anastasia?” she asks. I move to nod again, but when I drop my head, I see my dress. It’s completely ruined, covered in my mother-in-law’s blood. I look at my hands—more blood. More blood… on my hands. Oh, God… oh, God, I think I’m going to be sick.
I can’t stop the blood-curdling wail that comes from my stomach. I truly don’t know what I’ll do if Grace didn’t come out of this okay. All the implications of this—the entire family would beat themselves down for years to come if she doesn’t pull through this okay. My stomach hurts so badly that I nearly curl into a ball on the floor, wailing. The tiny nurse who was standing next to me curls her body over mine and lets me cry, right there in the middle of the floor. I only cry for a few moments, because the Grey men will need an explanation, and no one really knows what happened but me. I uncoil myself from the floor, trying to control my sobs.
“She’ll be alright, Ana,” the nurse says. “She got here in time. We’ll take care of her, and so many of us love her. I promise you, we’ll take the best care of her that we can.”
I nod, but her words afford me very little comfort. I’m hoping to God that we didn’t push Grace to this. I look at my hands and my clothes and I break down crying again. The tiny nurse takes my hand and leads me down the hallway. I follow her blindly and she takes me—still sobbing—into a locker room. She leads me to the back where the showers are.
“Get undressed,” she says and hands me a plastic bag. “Put your clothes in here. Put your jewelry on top… except your rings. Get the blood off of you. I’ll have something that you can change into when you’re finished.” I blindly follow her instructions and strip out of my clothes and large pieces of jewelry. I allow the water to run over me and watch the red fluid run down the drain. More and more red fluid… so much red fluid that it doesn’t seem like it’s going to end. It’s everywhere—in my nails, on my hands, in my hair, in my rings… I have to scrub for nearly 30 minutes before the water is finally clear. I put the bloodstained clothes and shoes in the plastic bag, intent on tossing the whole damn thing at my earliest convenience, and clean my jewelry in the sink. Tiny nurse comes back into the locker room.
“Here,” she says, handing me some pink scrubs. “I couldn’t find shoes, I’m sorry, but these will protect your feet from the cold floor, unless you want to wear your stilettos.”
No, I won’t be wearing the stilettos, so I dress in the hospital scrubs and the hospital socks with the treads on the bottom. These treads are cute little feet. It’s enough to bring my adrenaline down for a moment. She gives me a small velvety pouch and I put my jewelry inside.
“How do you know who I am?” I ask, sitting on one of the wooden benches between the lockers after I put the footies on. I look up at her and her head is cocked to the side with a knowing smirk on her face. I raise one hand and shake my head.
“Forget I asked the question,” I say. “As you know, it’s been a trying day.” She sits down next to me.
“Do you need a minute?” she asks. Honestly, I do, but I’ll only cry some more, and I don’t want to be alone. Besides, I have to go talk to my husband and his family about what’s going on.
“You know I’m a doctor, right?” I ask the nurse.
“Yeah,” she says softly.
“Can I ask you a question that I’m probably not supposed to ask?” She raises an eyebrow at me.
“You can ask, but I won’t guarantee that I’ll answer it,” she replies. Fair enough.
“Has Grace been okay at work?” I ask. “I’m not asking about her performance. I’m asking about her demeanor. Has she been herself, or has she been short-tempered? Distracted or depressed, maybe?” The nurse examines me carefully, then straightens her back.
“I’m not sure I should answer that,” she says firmly and professionally. I smile at her.
“That’s okay,” I say softly. “You just did.” I drop my face in my hands and sigh heavily. There’s a long silence in the room for a moment.
“We all love Dr. Grace very much,” she says, breaking the silence. “She’s like a surrogate mom to me. My mom is back east and Dr. Grace is so sweet to me. She’s like our family…” She trails off and when I look over at her, she’s wringing her hands. “We don’t want anything bad to happen to her. We’ll do everything we can to keep anything bad from happening to her.”
I know what she’s saying, but I have to put her on the right track. They can’t lie or do anything to protect Grace from the truth. She obviously needs help.
“What’s your name?” She rolls her eyes and I can see the beginning of tears.
“Quinn,” she says. “I hate my name. It’s a boy’s name. My mom loved the name—she said it sounded distinguished and she wanted me to have a distinguished name. I don’t think so, but I won’t change it because I love her so much and she loves the name… and I’m rambling. I ramble when I’m nervous.” She stops talking abruptly and goes back to wringing her hands. I put my hand over both of hers.
“The very first day I met Grace, she was kind and hospitable, gracious, professional, fiercely defensive of her family, and most of all, honest. I’ve seen some changes in her in the past weeks, which means that something is wrong. I love her, too, very much. I’m sure her entire family is in the waiting room right now, and they love her, too. But something is wrong. If we want to get our Grace back, if we want to keep her around, we have to find out what it is. It’s a horrible way for her to get here, but now that she’s here, we can.” Quinn raises her eyes to me.
“I’m not asking the hospital to do anything unethical,” I interject. “All I’m asking… begging… is don’t prevent the natural course of care.”
She blinks several times until the tears trek down her cheek, then quickly wipe them away. She holds her head down and nods.
“I’ll be talking to Carrick and I’ll be advising him along the way. Let everyone know that I’m a doctor and I love her as much as you do—probably more.” She raises her eyes to me again, and I don’t take it back. “She’s like family to you… she is my family.” Quinn nods again, cleans her face and stands.
“We… should probably go see if we can get an update,” she says. I stand with her and we leave the locker room with me carrying my bag of bloody clothes and small bag of accessories.
We make our way back to the room where Grace was brought in and there’s someone cleaning the blood from the floor—but no Grace.
“Where’s Dr. Grace?” Quinn asks the woman in the room.
“She’s in OR 5. That gash was pretty deep. It’s taking more than a few stitches to fix it.” She keeps cleaning like we just asked her what the fucking weather was.
“This is her daughter-in-law, Dr. Grey,” Quinn says through her teeth, “Christian Grey’s wife?” The girl stops mopping and looks closely at me.
“Oh!” she says with realization. “What are you doing back here? She can’t be back here!” she says, her voice panicked.
“She came in with Grace!” Quinn informs her firmly. “Her clothes look worse than those bandages,” she adds, pointing to bloody bandages all over the floor. “And did you not hear me? Dr. Grey?” She reiterates the “doctor” part. The “cleaning” girl sighs heavily. I don’t know if she drew the short straw or she’s really on the cleaning staff, but she’s wearing pink scrubs, too.
“Dr. Grey,” she says calmly, “she in the operating room getting her laceration sutured. As you can see, she needed blood, so it wasn’t something that we could effectively do in the ER. You should know that we’ll take the best care of Dr. Grace, and we’ll give you an update as soon as we get one, but we don’t have anything right now.” I know that whoever she is, she can’t give me much more than that, and she’s probably already given me more than she should have.
“Thank you,” I say sincerely. “I appreciate the information.” I need to filter what I give Christian and the family. If I give them this feedback with no further information, Christian will definitely become the proverbial bull in a China shop. I turn away, examining my scrubs for signs of blood. None. Good. I have to give my family an update.
“I know that I’ve imposed on your kindness quite a bit,” I tell Quinn, “but you probably want to find someone from hospital administration and let them know that Grace Grey’s entire family is in the ER waiting room, and that’s probably not a good thing.”
“Oh,” Quinn says, breathily, her brow furrowed. “Yeah… no… probably not.” I nod. I look at the double doors leading out to the waiting room as if they are the elevator doors from Final Destination 2 right before Nora loses her head. Good God, what am I supposed to tell Christian? And Carrick? And Elliot? And Mia? I don’t want to lie to them and I have no idea how long I’ve been back here or what’s even filtered out to them by now. This is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do… I don’t know, maybe. Why am I debating this right now?
I’m stalling. I’m stalling and hoping that someone is going to swoop up behind me and rescue me from having to face them with no real update, but that’s not going to happen and it’s cruel to make them wait.
I take a deep breath and exit the doors headed to the waiting room.
A/N: la chienne—bitch (literally “the bitch”)
Pictures of places, cars, fashion, etc., can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/raising-grey/
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